On 03 Dec 2009, at 12:12, soulcatcher☠ wrote:

> x> This raises the question of how many first person exists. I like  
> the idea
>> that the answer is one. We may be all "the universal person"  
>> appearing and
>> reappearing like if we were already duplicated many times, which  
>> makes sense
>> given that we come from the same amoeba. We are like a god who lost  
>> himself
>> in his creation.
>
> I like this answer though it kinda scares me)
> Anyway, every time i think about the me/others asymmetry, I'm coming
> to the same conclusion - maybe there is only one person and asymmetry
> becomes a convenient symmetry ...
> Ok, thank you all for answers, they definitely gave me some food for
> thoughts, and let me rephrase my question more 'rigorously'.
> ==================================
> Lets consider two "hard" questions - "why do we live in THIS
> universe?" (1) and "why am I me?" (2).
>
> (1) . Why do we live in THIS universe?


The notion of THIS universe, or even THIS body makes no sense  
(assuming digital mechanism).
It is just that some computations exist arithmetically. The idea that  
such computations, which we bet we share, defined eventually some  
unique multiverse or universe is open. But it can define unique  
physical laws




>
> Here we got:
> - string theory and anthropic reasoning present us with a landscape of
> 10^(10^N) universes that we can choose from.
> - we've got some strong constraints on the result of the choice. The
> choice can be random (or defined by some probability distribution on
> the set of all possible universes), but we should live in the universe
> compatible with our existence.
>

The problem is "why string theory"?
Are you physicalist?
If I am correct, physicalism is incompatible with digital mechanism.  
Mechanists have to extract the laws of physics from the laws of  
computations, in the mathematical sense of Post, Turing, Church,  
Kleene, Markov.




> Conclusion: we can't answer 'hard' question 'Why physical laws are
> described by string (M, F, whatever) theory,


Wrong. We can already explain why the laws of physics have to be non  
boolean, non intuitionist, verify abstract symmetries (in the case we  
accept Theatetus theories of sensation/belief/knowledge, and their  
arithmetical interpretation).

If we are digital machine, then the extraction of physics from number  
is an exercise in mathematical logic and computer science. Apparently.



> but we can at least ask
> more 'soft' question - 'Why from the set of all possible universes
> described by theory T the chosen one is this one".

Have you read Everett? There are already physicists who describe  
"reality" as a flux of information which differentiate in many  
histories, sometimes recombining by amnesia, etc.




> And this question
> sounds scientific and it seems that it should be answered before we
> can answer thr hard one.

I think it is the contrary. We can explain where the physical laws  
come from. We cannot explain the geography, nor any contingencies,  
like I am I and You are You.



>
> (2). Why am I me?
> Here we got nothing (?):
> - what is a "landscape" here, a set of all possible mes? All the
> people? All the people that ever lived and will ever live? All the
> animals? All the conscious entities? And here we stuck cause we don't
> know excatly what entity is conscious and what is not. Or, maybe the
> set contains only ONE element (only one 1st person exists ...) and
> there is no choice at all?
> - what are constraints? What machine can 'host' me (conscious  
> entity) ?

If you are willing to assume digital mechanism, the simplest  
explanation is this one. There is only the number zero, and its  
successors, and the usual laws of addition and multiplication. This  
defines a complex web of relations between all possible universal  
machine. Those machine can eventually understand and predict that they  
cannot know which universal machine they are, and that below their  
computationalist level of substitution, there is in a precise  
mathematical sense, a sort of competition between all universal  
machines.

The elementary arithmetic we learn in high school is enough complex to  
support a natural very complex video game. A sort of natural matrix,  
which has a very big redundancy giving sense, hopefully, to relatively  
stable histories. It can be a bit of scary, but we are already  
multiplied, in some sense, and differentiate through a *partial*  
control relatively to our most probable local universal computation  
type.



>
> Sorry if my questions are naive, I'm new to all this stuff. Maybe we
> should have a FAQ or wiki with naive but popular questions (what is
> consciousness? what is information? is computation sufficient for
> consciousness? What is the difference between reality and simulation?)
> that are asked again and again by everyone who's starting to think
> about TOE ...

If the mechanist hypothesis is true, it can explain why we cannot know  
that truth. In particular science will never say that comp is true.   
But we may bet on it. Bet that we can survive, in the usual clinical  
sense, with a digital brain, or a digital body. Then we can study the  
logical consequences, intuitively and then formally. Intuitively =  
implying one self in thought experiments, formally = by the study of  
machine's self reference (a branch at the cross of mathematical logic  
and computer science). Intuitively does not mean "less  
rigorous" (that's a common error).

You may read the book by Russell Standish theory of Nothing.
The book Mind's I, ed. by Hofstadter and Dennett is a good  
introduction to computationalism.
Stathis mentioned Parfit's "reasons and persons" recently on the FOR  
list, where we discuss on similar "many-reality" conception of  
reality. I would recommend it too. In particular you may read David  
Deutsch's book "the fabric of Reality".
Gunther Greindl has put some more advanced references on the web page  
of the list.

Are you aware of computer science and mathematical logic?

You could be interested by my own contribution, which I explain on  
this list, see

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/publications/SANE2004MARCHALAbstract.html

which extends Everett embedding of the subject (observer) in the  
object (the quantum wave/matrix), on elementary arithmetic, where  
universal machine are embedded in many arithmetical computations. I  
explain why the comp hypothesis makes that obligatory, and how we can  
already extract information by "interviewing" (in the sense of Gödel  
1931) a universal machine, accepting the definition of Theatetus of  
knowledge and sensations and accepting the modelization of opinion by  
provability. etc.

I am actually slowly explaining the seventh step of an argument, if  
you want a sum up of the sixth first step, I can do it with pleasure.  
I mean, are you aware of that "uda" things some people are going  
through ?

You can download the slides

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/publications/SANE2004Slide.pdf

to keep in mind which step of UDA you go through, and which you don't.

The paper above gives UDA and AUDA. UDA is an argument, addressed to  
conscious rational human being,  that IF we are digital machine, then  
physics emerges from numbers dreams (roughly speaking). AUDA is the  
same argument but addressed to an arbitrary correct universal Lobian  
machine. AUDA does not prove anything more than UDA, but it does it  
constructively.

Nothing of this is easy. It is at the cross of many disciplines. It is  
not necessarily to have big competence in each of those fields, but it  
is necessary to have a good understanding of the basics in each.

Sorry for being so long.

...

Also soulcatcher☠, coming back to your question "why I am I?", did  
the following question occur to your mind?

"why now is now?"

Is it different?


Bruno Marchal
http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/



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