On this list, we seem to have two fairly clear camps: those who
identify observer moments as the fundamental concept, and those who
regard relationships between observer moments with equal ontological

With my TIME postulate, I say that a conscious observer necessarily
experiences a sequence of related observer moments (or even a
continuum of them). To argue that observer moments are independent of
each other is to argue the negation of TIME. With TIME, the measure of
each observer moment is relative to the predecessor state, or the RSSA
is the appropriate principle to use. With not-TIME, each observer
moment has an absolute measure, the ASSA.

On this postulate (which admittedly still fails rigourous statement,
and is not as intuitive as one would like axioms to be), hinges the
whole QTI debate, and many other things besides. With TIME, one has
the RSSA and the possibility of QTI. With not-TIME, one has the
ASSA,and Jacques Mallah's doomsday argument against QTI is valid. See
the great "RSSA vs ASSA debate" on  the everything list a few years ago.

Now I claim that TIME is implied by computationalism. Time is needed
for machines to pass from one state to another, ie to actually compute
something. Bruno apparently disagrees, but I haven't heard his
disagreement yet.


On Tue, May 03, 2005 at 11:47:30PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> ...and despite reading the last paragraph several times slowly, I'm afraid 
> I don't understand it. Are you saying there may never be a "next moment" at 
> the point where you are facing near-certain death? It seems to me that all 
> that is required is an observer moment in which (a) you believe that you 
> are you, however this may be defined (it's problematic even in "normal" 
> life what constitutes continuity of identity), and (b) you remember facing 
> the said episode of near-certain death (ncd), and it will seem to you that 
> you have miraculously escaped, even if there is no actual physical 
> connection between the pre-ncd and the post-ncd observer moment. Or, 
> another way to escape is as you have suggested in a more recent post, that 
> there is an observer moment somewhere in the multiverse in which the ncd 
> episode has been somehow deleted from your memory. Perhaps the latter is 
> more likely, in which case you can look forward to never, or extremely 
> rarely, facing ncd in your life.
> It all gets very muddled. If we try to ruthlessly dispense with every 
> derivative, ill-defined, superfluous concept and assumption in an effort to 
> simplify the discussion, the one thing we are left with is the individual 
> observer-moments. We then try to sort these observer-moments into sets 
> which constitute lives, identities, birth, death, amnesia, mind 
> duplication, mind melding, multiple world branchings, and essentially every 
> possible variation on these and other themes. No wonder it's confusing! And 
> who is to judge where a particular individual's identity/life/body/memory 
> begins and ends when even the most detailed, passed by committee of 
> philosophers set of rules fails, as it inevitably will?
> The radical solution is to accept that only the observer-moments are real, 
> and how we sort them then is seen for what it is: essentially arbitrary, a 
> matter of convention. You can dismiss the question of immortality, quantum 
> or otherwise, by observing that the only non-problematic definition of an 
> individual is identification with a single observer-moment, so that no 
> individual can ever "really" live for longer than a moment. Certainly, this 
> goes against intuition, because I feel that I was alive a few minutes ago 
> as well as ten years ago, but *of course* I feel that; this is simply 
> reporting on my current thought processes, like saying I feel hungry or 
> tired, and beyond this cannot be taken as a falsifiable statement about the 
> state of affairs in the real world unless recourse is taken to some 
> arbitrary definition of personal identity, such as would satisfy a court, 
> for example.
> Let me put it a different way. Situation (a) life as usual: I die every 
> moment and a peson is reborn every moment complete with (most) memories and 
> other attributes of the individual who has just died. Situation (b) I am 
> killed instantly, painlessly, with an axe every moment, and a person is 
> reconstituted the next moment complete with (most) memories and other 
> attributes of the individual who has just died, such that he experiences no 
> discontinuity. Aside from the blood and mess in (b), is there a difference? 
> Should I worry more about (b) than (a)? This is of course a commonplace 
> thought experiment on this list, but I draw from it a slightly different 
> conclusion: we all die all the time; death doesn't really matter, otherwise 
> we should all be in a constant panic.
> --Stathis Papaioannou
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