On Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 12:53:23AM -0700, Jason wrote:
> I appreciate the quick reply and your patience in answering my
> questions.  Perhaps it would help if I explained the thought process
> that led me to where I am.  When reading your "ants are not conscious"
> paper two questions came to mind that I could not resolve:
> 1. If anthropic reasoning is valid for determining whether or not
> other species are conscious, then every rare species should conclude
> they are the only ones capable of consciousness. (sould they not?)

No - only that the more common ones are unlikely to be conscious. One
also has to take into account total numbers throughout the species' lifetime.

> 2. What if the problem were stated differently, instead of starting
> with the class of "humans" what if it had been "animals with
> brains",

My argument was based on mass classes, rather than species
classification. There is apriori a reasonable relationship between
intelligence and body mass, as well as well-known distributions.

About the most we can conclude from considering species classifications is
that most animal species are not conscious, but it doesn't say which
ones are. Since the animal world is dominated by insects or nematodes,
this doesn't really tell us very much at all. The mass classification
gives a better nuance.

> this would lead to an entirely different conclusion.  Instead of
> concluding only humans (and a few human-like) animals are conscious,
> we would have concluded only animals with brains (and brain-like nerve
> complexes) are conscious.  We could have compared the extreme rarity
> of animals with brains vs. protozoa or bacteria.

Yes - I can see this might work. But what about organisms with
toes. Since there are vastly more organisms without toes, than with,
should we conclude that toeless organisms are not conscious? In fact
the only correct conclusion is that there are more consious toed
organisms than ones without toes - it is just possible that there is a
rare species of octopus who is a toeless conscious organism for

Another scenario is that there are as many toeless conscious organisms
as toed ones. This would make being toed an uncorrelated parameter
(viz the country of birth argument I put in the paper.

> I hope that I have bot burdened you with all these e-mails, this one
> will likely be my last on the topic of "Ants are not conscious" unless
> you or others have further questions about my view.
> Best Regards,
> Jason Resch
> On Mar 28, 2:17 am, Russell Standish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> > On Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 01:28:42AM -0500, Jason Resch wrote:
> >
> > > Yes, I've read it, and I think I have a more formal way of describing
> > > my objection to it.  If there were a device that could randomly pick a
> > > conscious observer moment from among all conscious observers on earth,
> > > and allow you to experience that perspective for a moment, I would
> > > have the opinion this machine is a valid tool for drawing conclusions
> > > on the likelihood of certain creatures being conscious, even if you
> > > could only use the tool once.
> >
> > > My formal objection, however, is that making the same judgment based
> > > on one's current perspective ignore conditional probability.  It
> > > ignores a blindingly obvious premise that we already are a human.
> > > Anthropic reasoning in your paper asks "What is the probability that I
> > > should be a human?"  I think a truer formulation is really "What is
> > > the probability that I should be a human, given I am Russel
> > > Standish?".  In the example I gave where some device could teleport
> > > your awareness into a random creature, there is no preexisting
> > > condition, but when we draw the conclusion starting from already being
> > > a human, the question is meaningless.  This is just how I now see
> > > things, if you have a reason why the initial premise (of starting from
> > > a human perspective) can be ignored I am very interested in hearing it
> > > as it could change my perspective on the subject.
> >
> > > Thanks,
> >
> > > Jason
> >
> > I've heard this objection before, indeed I had a debate about it with
> > someone (I can't quite remember who it was - perhaps its was
> > you). Sadly, I really don't understand it, as I have never premised
> > anything on being Russell Standish, nor even on just being a
> > human. The only thing it is premised on is being a conscious being.
> >
> > Given this objection has come up before, perhaps there have been some
> > papers discussing it. It would have important ramifications for all
> > anthropic arguments, not just the ant one. If there are no papers on
> > the topic, then there's a publishing opportunity for you :)
> >
> > Cheers
> >
> > --
> >
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
> > Mathematics
> > UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> > Australia                                http://www.hpcoders.com.au
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Australia                                http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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