On Tue, 7 Jun 2005, Hal Finney wrote:
Jonathan Colvin writes:
There's a question begging to be asked, which is (predictably I suppose, for
a qualia-denyer such as myself), what makes you think there is such a thing
as an "essence of an experience"? I'd suggest there is no such "thing" as an
observer-moment. I'm happy with using the concept as a tag of sorts when
discussing observer selection issues, but I think reifying it is likely a
mistake, and goes considerably beyond Strong AI into a full Cartesian
dualism. Is it generally accepted here on this list that a
substrate-independent thing called an "observer moment" exists?
Here's how I attempted to define observer moment a few years ago:
Observer - A subsystem of the multiverse with qualities sufficiently
similar to those which are common among human beings that we consider
it meaningful that we might have been or might be that subsystem.
These qualities include consciousness, perception of a flow of time,
and continuity of identity.
Observer-moment - An instant of perception by an observer. An observer's
sense of the flow of time allows its experience to be divided into
units so small that no perceptible change in consciousness is possible
in those intervals. Each such unit of time for a particular observer
is an observer-moment.
So if you don't believe in observer-moments, do you also not believe
in observers? Or is it the -moment that causes problems?
Obviously, its the -moment. I'm pleased to see that Jonathan and Brent
have the same problem with the concept that I do.
Being an observer is a process. Slicing it into moments is OK
mathematically, where a "moment" corresponds to a calculus dt (and hence
is neither a particular length of time nor an instant). But to regard the
"observer-state" at a particular moment as an isolated entity which is
self-aware makes as much sense as regarding individual horizontal slices
through a brain as being self-aware. It is the causal relation between
successive brain states (incorporating incoming sense data) which
constitutes intelligence, and self-awareness is just an epiphenomenon on
top of intelligence, i.e. I would not agree that anything can be
self-aware but have no intelligence.