This fits in well: the philosopher of consciousness and mathematician,
David Chalmers, coined the phrase:
"Experience is information from the inside; Physics is information from
the outside."

Which I quite like. It's in his book "The Conscious Mind: towards a
fundamental theory" which is heavy going, but seems to have some really
good ideas.



On May 18, 2005, at 8:26 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

I was using the term "information" loosely, to include what is commonly termed qualia, subjective experience etc. I agree that if a physical system is fully specified, then that is all you need in order to duplicate or emulate the system. The new system will do everything the original one did, including have conscious experiences. It's worth stressing this point again: you don't need any special, non-physical information to emulate or duplicate a conscious system; you don't need God to provide it with a soul, you don't need to purchase a mind-body interface kit, you don't need to meditate and wave quartz crystals around, and you don't need to have 1st person knowledge of its subjective experiences. All you need is a few kilograms of raw materials, a molecular assembler mechanism, and the data which indicates where each bit goes. Once the job is finished, you automatically have a system which talks, eats, and is conscious. Psychology and biology have been reduced to physics and chemistry. Consciousness has been shown to be just be an emergent phenomenon in a particular type of biological computer. Agree so far? OK: having said all that, and assuming at this point that we know the position and function of every atom in this newly created system, I *still* would wonder what it feels like to actually *be* this system. My curiosity could only be satisfied if I were in fact the duplicated system myself; perhaps this could be achieved if I "became one" with the
new system by direct neural interface. I don't have to go to such lengths to learn about the new system's mass, volume, behaviour, or any other property, and in *this* consists the essential difference between 1st person and 3rd person experience. You can minimise it and say it doesn't really make much practical difference, but I don't think you can deny it.

--Stathis Papaioannou

From Lee Corbin:
Jonathan contrasts descriptions and what the descriptions describe:

> > Stathis: Your post suggests to me a neat way to define what is special
> > about first person experience: it is the gap in information
> > between what can be known from a description of an object and
> > what can be known from being the object itself.
> But how can "being an object" provide any extra information? I don't see
> that information or knowledge has much to do with it. How can "being an
> apple" provide any extra information about the apple?

Let's remember some naive answers here. First, for a fixed physical
object, there exist infinitely many descriptions. It's a common
belief that beyond a certain amount of accuracy, differences don't
really matter. For example, one ought to be quite happy to teleport
even if there is one atomic error for every 10^20 atoms.

Second, a common interpretation of QM asserts that beyond a certain
accuracy, there is *no* additional information to be had whatsoever.
That is, that there exists some finite bit string that contains
*all* an object's information (cf. Bekenstein bound).

Still, the naive answer is that a description (or even a set of
descriptions) of a physical object is different from the physical
object itself: a physical object is a process, and a set of
descriptions is merely a set of bits frozen in time (and here
we are back again, you know where).

However, I hold with these "naive" answers, as do a lot of people.
And so therefore I proceed to answer the above question thusly:
"Being an apple" provides *no* information beyond that which would
be provided by a sufficiently rich description. Even if an
emulation of a person appreciating the sublime, or agonizing to
a truly horrific extent, or whatever----no information obtains
anywhere that is not in principle available to the experimenters,
i.e., available from the third-person.

You could make the experimenter *hurt*, and then say, "now you
know what it feels like", and given today's techniques, that
might very well be true. But this is only a limitation on what
is known and knowable today; it says nothing about what might be
knowable about a human subject of 20th century complexity to
entities living a thousand years from now.

(We ignore the possible effects on the experimenter's value
system, or possible effects on his incentives: we are just
talking about information as bit-strings, here.)

> Obviously there is a difference between *an apple* and *a
> description of an apple*, in the same way there is a difference
> between *a person* and *a description of a person*, but the
> difference is one of physical existence, not information.

Yeah, that's the way it seems to me too.


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