Stathis Papaioannou writes:
> (c) A random string of binary code is run on a computer. There exists a 
> programming language which, when a program is written in this language so 
> that it is the same program as in (a) and (b), then compiled, the binary 
> code so produced is the same as this random string.

I don't know what you mean by "random" in this context.  If you mean
a string selected at random from among all strings of a certain length,
the chance that it will turn out to be the same program functionally is
so low as to be not worth considering.

But ignoring that, here is how I approach the more general problem of
whether a given string creates or instantiates a given observer.  I made
a long posting on this a few weeks ago.  In my opinion it follows simply
from assuming the Universal Distribution (UD).

In this model, all information objects are governed by this probability
distribution, the UD.  One way to think of it is to imagine all possible
programs being run; then the fraction of programs which instantiate a
given information object is that object's measure.

So to solve the problem of whether your program instantiates an
observer is a two step process.  First write down a description of the
information pattern that equals that observer.  More specifically, write
the description of the information pattern that defines that observer
experiencing the particular moments of consciousness that you want to
know if your program is instantiating.  Doing this will require a much
stronger and more detailed theory of conciousness than we now possess,
but I don't think there is any inherent obstacle that will keep us from
gaining this ability.

The second step is to consider your program's output and see if it
is reasonably similar to the information pattern you just defined.
The simplest case is where the output is identical.  Then you can
say that the program does instantiate that consciousness.  However it
could be that the program basically creates the same pattern but it is
represented somewhat differently.  How can we consider all possible
alternate ways of representing an information pattern and still let
them count, without opening the door so wide that all patterns count?

The solution follows rigorously from the definition of the UD.  We append
a second interpretation program to the first one, the one which ran the
putative conscious program.  This second program turns the output from
the first one into the canonical form we used to define the conscious
information pattern.  The concatenation of the two programs then outputs
the pattern in canonical form and we can recognize it.

The key point now is that the contribution to the measure of the
observer moments being simulated is, by the definition of the Universal
Distribution, based on the size of the program which outputs the
information pattern in question.  And the size of that program will be the
size of its two component parts: the first one, that you were wondering
about, which may have generated a consciousness; and the second one,
which took the output of the first one and turned it into the canonical
form which matched the OM pattern in question.

In other words, the contribution which this program makes to the measure
of a given observer's experience will be based on the size of the program
(smaller is better) and on the size of the interpretation program which
turns the output of the first program into canonical form (again, smaller
is better).  Obviously a sufficiently large interpretation program can
turn any output into what we want.  The question is whether a small
one can do the trick.  That is what tells us that the pattern is really
there and not something which we are forcing by our interpretation.

Standard considerations of the UD imply that the exact nature of the
canonical form used is immaterial, however it does matter how precisely
you need to specify the information pattern that truly does represent a
set of conscious observer moments.  That second question is a matter of
psychology and as we improve our understanding of consciousness we will
have a better handle on it.  Once we do, this approach will provide an
in-principle technique to calculate how much contribution to measure
any given program string makes to any given conscious experience.

Most importantly, this follows entirely from the assumption of the
Universal Distribution.  No other assumptions are needed.  It is a simple
assumption yet it provides a very specific process and rule to answer
this kind of question.

Hal Finney

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