Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-05 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 03 Mar 2010, at 19:30, Brent Meeker wrote:


On 3/3/2010 4:31 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:



On 02 Mar 2010, at 20:27, Brent Meeker wrote:


On 3/2/2010 10:09 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:



On 01 Mar 2010, at 20:29, Rex Allen wrote:
I don't have a problem with anti-realism about causal laws,  
since as
you say, my position boils down to consciousness is fundamental  
and

uncaused.


What does that explain? I cannot even derive from that if you  
would accept that your daughter marry a man with a 100%  
artificial body (cf Mister D).


Can you derive an answer from comp+arithmetic?



Well, with the default hypotheses ( the guy seems to be nice ,  
capable of making my daugther happy, assuming comp, and assuming I  
trust the doctor choice of level, there are no reason to say no,  
like there would be no reason to forbid my daughter to marry a man  
with an artificial heart.


I think you'd ask whether he had an artificial heart due to a  
genetic defect.  :-)


All right, then, :)

Bruno


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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-05 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 04 Mar 2010, at 06:44, Rex Allen wrote:

On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 9:26 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be  
wrote:


I may be absent for a period, for reason of sciatica.
Best,
Bruno


No worries!  I will be a bit delayed on my response anyway.  All is  
well!



I am back home ...because they have not enough room in the hospital. I  
am under the effect of a ton of legal drugs (offensive, addictive,  
expensive, etc.., but rather cool I have to say). I made impressive  
dreams this night.


I have to go back and forth from home to hospital, for doing exams.  
Which is not easy, because I cannot move my left leg. Crazy modern  
world. One day the dead will have to dig their own hole!
But it is OK, and it makes me possible to comment the mails, from time  
to time.


Anyway, take all your time, Rex, there is no rush.

Bruno




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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-03 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 02 Mar 2010, at 20:27, Brent Meeker wrote:


On 3/2/2010 10:09 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:



On 01 Mar 2010, at 20:29, Rex Allen wrote:

I don't have a problem with anti-realism about causal laws, since as
you say, my position boils down to consciousness is fundamental and
uncaused.


What does that explain? I cannot even derive from that if you would  
accept that your daughter marry a man with a 100% artificial body  
(cf Mister D).


Can you derive an answer from comp+arithmetic?



Well, with the default hypotheses ( the guy seems to be nice ,  
capable of making my daugther happy, assuming comp, and assuming I  
trust the doctor choice of level, there are no reason to say no, like  
there would be no reason to forbid my daughter to marry a man with an  
artificial heart.


Bruno



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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-03 Thread Bruno Marchal


I may be absent for a period, for reason of sciatica.

Best,

Bruno


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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-03 Thread Brent Meeker

On 3/3/2010 4:31 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 02 Mar 2010, at 20:27, Brent Meeker wrote:


On 3/2/2010 10:09 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:



On 01 Mar 2010, at 20:29, Rex Allen wrote:

I don't have a problem with anti-realism about causal laws, since as
you say, my position boils down to consciousness is fundamental and
uncaused.


What does that explain? I cannot even derive from that if you would 
accept that your daughter marry a man with a 100% artificial body 
(cf Mister D).


Can you derive an answer from comp+arithmetic?



Well, with the default hypotheses ( the guy seems to be nice , 
capable of making my daugther happy, assuming comp, and assuming I 
trust the doctor choice of level, there are no reason to say no, like 
there would be no reason to forbid my daughter to marry a man with an 
artificial heart.


I think you'd ask whether he had an artificial heart due to a genetic 
defect.  :-)


Brent



Bruno



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





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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-03 Thread Charles
I'm sorry to hear that, Bruno. Hope you get well soon!

Charles

On Mar 4, 3:26 am, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be wrote:
 I may be absent for a period, for reason of sciatica.

 Best,

 Bruno

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

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-03 Thread Rex Allen
On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 9:26 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be wrote:

 I may be absent for a period, for reason of sciatica.
 Best,
 Bruno

No worries!  I will be a bit delayed on my response anyway.  All is well!

Rex

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-02 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 01 Mar 2010, at 20:29, Rex Allen wrote:

On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 4:07 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be  
wrote:

On 01 Mar 2010, at 05:40, Rex Allen wrote:

At most (!) one of those levels is
what really exists - the other levels are just ways that we think
about what really exists or ways that things *seem* to us.


The point is that such a seeming is what we can call real from our  
points of
view. Remember that with comp, the whole physicalness is a higher  
level

first person (plural) machine coherent-dream type of notion.

Note that all your present remarks in this thread seems to  
contradict your
consciousness is fundamental posts. It looks you are searching  
for a

reductionist explanation.


Earlier in the thread I was sprinkling around assuming physicalism
disclaimers, but I stopped.  So in this thread I've been trying to
argue that even granting physicalism, Stathis's evolutionary
explanation was effectively an empty tautology.


I disagree with you. You remind me the first computer users. Some of  
them dismiss the first high level programming language because, they  
add nothing. It is the same for the babies!

In a sense, this is true: you don't change the arithmetical truth.
In another sense, it changes everything; because it defines an  
abstract person (the interpreter) which is capable to extract  
information (even if relative) from arithmetical truth.
Once they have enough induction abilities, or generalization  
abilities, they get Löbian, and inherits a theology.
(defined by the truth-notion (in the sense of Tarski, which, for  
arithmetic, is not controversial).


Stathis' evolutionary  explanation may be incomplete, but it describes  
plausibly an important type of routines (genetical algorithm)  
participating in our most probable histories.


Above the universal threshold, complexity grows. You can understand  
only by referring on something bigger.
Arithmetic, like the game of life, or the S and K combinators, or c++,  
break that treshold. Their block relaties (logicians' models)  
contains already a universal dissident, eternally unsatisfied,  
exploring well eventually the infinite mindscape.




Which connects to my main point that explaining our conscious
experiences in terms of a physical world doesn't get you anywhere
because the question just changes from what causes consciousness to
what causes the physical world.


No. If physicist did found an explanation of consciousness in term of  
a physical world, then I would have buy physics in a second.
It is because physics does not succeed, nor really address (except in  
Everett) the conciousness/reality question, that I have try to search  
why physics cannot solve that question, but how, on the contrary, if  
we assume digital mechanism, with digital made precise mathematically  
through Church thesis, the mind body problem is indeed reduce into a  
pure body problem, where the theory of mind is the study of what  
machine can prove, and guess, and intuit, and feel, about themselves  
(each term being defined by a variant of the self-reference logic,  
following Theaetetus).






With physicalism, you've explained consciousness in terms of something
which itself has no clear definition except, circularly, in terms of
our observations of it.

Which goes back to Brent's point about 1-p=3-p=1-p=3-p...ad
infinitum.  Which isn't obviously wrong, but seems unsatisfactory to
me as a proposal for how things really are ontologically (as opposed
to epistemologically). Ontologocially, why not just say 1-p and be
done with it?


Then you do the error done by many physicalist. You are confusing an  
observation with an explanation.
I try to explain what I observe, and  figure out what I believe in,  
what I know, what I expect, etc.


With comp, everyone already believe in the ontology, because it is  
taught in school: N = {0, 1, 2, ...}, structured by the laws of  
addition and multiplication. Despite Hartree Field, that theory is a  
subtheory of most general scientific theories.





Once you've given 1-p such a prominent role, what do you need 3-p for,
except as a way to explain the consistency of 1-p?  But in that case,
what explains the consistency of 3-p???


Which 3-p?

Wtih comp the basic 3-p is elementary arithmetic. The 1-p are personal  
histories of self-referential number (combinator) relatively to  
existing computations, or to proof of Sigma_1 sentences. But, cf uda,  
the consciousness flux is distiributed on the whole execution of the  
UD. Below our (sharable) level of substitution, this justifies a  
statistic on infinitely many computations.


Any way. I am just a logician. I am just saying, whatever you take or  
not the 1-p as being ontologically primitive or not, that if you  
believe your survive a digital brain/body substitution, then the  
ontology is {0, 1, 2, 3 ...} (or K, S, KK, SK, KS, ...}, and the 1-p  
and 3-p are explained by statistic on sequence of addition and  
multiplication (or 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-02 Thread Brent Meeker

On 3/2/2010 10:09 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 01 Mar 2010, at 20:29, Rex Allen wrote:

I don't have a problem with anti-realism about causal laws, since as
you say, my position boils down to consciousness is fundamental and
uncaused.


What does that explain? I cannot even derive from that if you would 
accept that your daughter marry a man with a 100% artificial body (cf 
Mister D).


Can you derive an answer from comp+arithmetic?

Just asking.

Brent

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-01 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 01 Mar 2010, at 05:40, Rex Allen wrote:

On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 10:59 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be  
wrote:


On 28 Feb 2010, at 07:33, Rex Allen wrote:


What would the causal mechanism for natural selection be?  A
selection field?  Selection particles?  Spooky selection at a
distance???





No, it is (mainly) Sex.

Selection by individual seduction. On some level.

Chatting universal chromosomes. On some other level.

The quantum wave or matrix. On some yet different level.

Consciousness selection on universal machine histories. On a yet  
deeper

level. (Frankly, you should appreciate!)

Elementary arithmetic. At the deepest level with the comp. hyp.).



But if causal laws are real


Assuming comp causal laws is never real. It is the main interest  
of comp that we don't have to rely on any notion of causality, other  
than logical implication A - B, that is: ~A v B satisfied by  
Platonia, or by the standard model of arithmetic. Causality is a  
multiform levels-intricate emerging concept. It has no ontological  
sense, it is always an epistemological notion.





then I would think that they could only
really operate at one level.


Each time a universal machine or entity generates another universal  
entity, it create a new level of autonomy, and a new explanatory realm.





 At most (!) one of those levels is
what really exists - the other levels are just ways that we think
about what really exists or ways that things *seem* to us.


The point is that such a seeming is what we can call real from our  
points of view. Remember that with comp, the whole physicalness is a  
higher level first person (plural) machine coherent-dream type of  
notion.


Note that all your present remarks in this thread seems to contradict  
your consciousness is fundamental posts. It looks you are searching  
for a reductionist explanation. But comp is incoherent with such  
reductionist programs (which explains why such reductionist account  
fails on the mind-body problem and leads to consciousness  
elimination). In a sense, with comp the appearance is derived by the  
many levels, not by any one level, except for the ontology, which  
needs only to be anything Sigma_1 complete (Turing universal). A big  
variety of causality and responsibility emerge from that. It is like  
in computer science: a high level program can be buggy, without any  
bug at the low level. It is like with human psychology: quark and even  
neuron may be 100% irrelevant in the explanation why someone commit  
some action. The Universal Machine concepts define their own  
explanatory-independence level, and below our level of substitution,  
mechanism entails indeterminacy among them all to justify what is  
observable. Somehow, we need a sum on all explanations there.
If someone asks you why you appreciate some movie, any mention of the  
low level functioning of your brain will be irrelevant. A good thing,  
because you would have to justified why you even believe in that  
brain, and this by referring to that brain, and all explanations would  
become circular.
I am astonished that someone who seems to want that consciousness  
(high level person notion) is fundamental, invokes the type of  
physicalist reductive explanation which does not even work in applied  
computer science, and leads to person and consciousness elimination.  
With comp epistemology can be said more real than the ontology.  
Plotinus is aware of this: his God is beyond being, like matter is  
somehow below being: only intelligible ideas are real or existing, and  
God is what make those ideas possibly real, and it cannot be real  
itself. The same for matter which is just the symptom of the limiting  
competence of God.


Bruno





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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-03-01 Thread Rex Allen
On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 4:07 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be wrote:
 On 01 Mar 2010, at 05:40, Rex Allen wrote:
  At most (!) one of those levels is
 what really exists - the other levels are just ways that we think
 about what really exists or ways that things *seem* to us.

 The point is that such a seeming is what we can call real from our points of
 view. Remember that with comp, the whole physicalness is a higher level
 first person (plural) machine coherent-dream type of notion.

 Note that all your present remarks in this thread seems to contradict your
 consciousness is fundamental posts. It looks you are searching for a
 reductionist explanation.

Earlier in the thread I was sprinkling around assuming physicalism
disclaimers, but I stopped.  So in this thread I've been trying to
argue that even granting physicalism, Stathis's evolutionary
explanation was effectively an empty tautology.

Which connects to my main point that explaining our conscious
experiences in terms of a physical world doesn't get you anywhere
because the question just changes from what causes consciousness to
what causes the physical world.

With physicalism, you've explained consciousness in terms of something
which itself has no clear definition except, circularly, in terms of
our observations of it.

Which goes back to Brent's point about 1-p=3-p=1-p=3-p...ad
infinitum.  Which isn't obviously wrong, but seems unsatisfactory to
me as a proposal for how things really are ontologically (as opposed
to epistemologically). Ontologocially, why not just say 1-p and be
done with it?

Once you've given 1-p such a prominent role, what do you need 3-p for,
except as a way to explain the consistency of 1-p?  But in that case,
what explains the consistency of 3-p???


 But if causal laws are real

 Assuming comp causal laws is never real. It is the main interest of comp
 that we don't have to rely on any notion of causality, other than logical
 implication A - B, that is: ~A v B satisfied by Platonia, or by the
 standard model of arithmetic. Causality is a multiform levels-intricate
 emerging concept. It has no ontological sense, it is always an
 epistemological notion.

I don't have a problem with anti-realism about causal laws, since as
you say, my position boils down to consciousness is fundamental and
uncaused.

But where is physicalism without causal laws?


 With comp epistemology
 can be said more real than the ontology. Plotinus is aware of this: his God
 is beyond being, like matter is somehow below being: only intelligible ideas
 are real or existing, and God is what make those ideas possibly real, and
 it cannot be real itself. The same for matter which is just the symptom of
 the limiting competence of God.

So your version of comp also doesn't seem obviously wrong to me
either.  But as Kant pointed out, the difficulty is not that we can
conclude too little but rather that we can conclude too much.  From
the structure of our experience of the world, it is possible to deduce
contradictory particular claims about how things really are.

For reasons I've mentioned previously, it seems best to me to go with
the simplest option, which is that only our experience exists.  Which
seems counter-intuitive at first, but I think when you break
physicalism down then it's actually not as intuitive as it initially
seems either.  First, why does the material world exist; second, why
this material world instead of some other; and third, why would an
unconscious material world give rise to something like conscious
experience instead of being populated by zombies?

All answers seem to boil down to:  It just is that way.  But we
could have said that about conscious experience without invoking the
material world.

To the extent that your proposal says that conscious experiences exist
platonically, then I guess we're in agreement.  But if you posit the
existence of additional kinds of things other than as subordinate
aspects of experience, then we part company.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 28 February 2010 17:38, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 People believe and do all sorts of crazy things, as I'm sure you know.
 The psychological capacity for just about any possible behaviour is
 there, but the very maladaptive behaviours are rare. It's not that
 it's difficult to make an animal that does not feel hungry, it's just
 that these animals don't pass on their genes. Is that not a causal
 mechanism for evolution?

 Isn't there already a complete causal account at the level of quarks
 and electrons and the fundamental forces that govern their
 interactions, stretching back to the first instant of the universe,
 for the existence and demise of any specific animal that doesn't feel
 hunger?

 If this physics-based account is complete, then what does this extra
 causal mechanism of evolution that you are proposing actually do?
 Either evolution really does something - or it's just an imaginary
 device that we've made up...a descriptive metaphorical narrative that
 is broadly compatible with a Victorian conception of how the world is,
 but which in itself doesn't actually explain anything.

I can say
(a) I ate the sandwich because I was hungry; or
(b) I ate the sandwich because signals from my hypothalamus acted on
my motor cortex which then caused the muscles in my arms and jaws to
contract in a certain coordinated way; or
(c) I ate the sandwich because of the initial state of the universe
plus the laws of physics.

All these are valid explanations for why I ate the sandwich. The first
two are explanations at a higher level of description than the last.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 28 Feb 2010, at 07:33, Rex Allen wrote:


What would the causal mechanism for natural selection be?  A
selection field?  Selection particles?  Spooky selection at a
distance???





No, it is (mainly) Sex.

Selection by individual seduction. On some level.

Chatting universal chromosomes. On some other level.

The quantum wave or matrix. On some yet different level.

Consciousness selection on universal machine histories. On a yet  
deeper level. (Frankly, you should appreciate!)


Elementary arithmetic. At the deepest level with the comp. hyp.).


Bruno

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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Brent Meeker

On 2/27/2010 10:33 PM, Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM, Brent Meekermeeke...@dslextreme.com  wrote:
   

Rex Allen wrote:

Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?
   

Why do you say evolution lacks a causal mechanism?  Natural selection causes
somethings not to occur - like animals that eat their children.
 

What would the causal mechanism for natural selection be?  A
selection field?  Selection particles?  Spooky selection at a
distance???

Even if you could find some way to frame it in terms of one of those,
would you then say that the selection field was something that
actually existed, or would you believe it more likely to just be a
calculational device?

Though, some animals do eat their children under some circumstances.
Why?  Well, according to physicialism, because of the initial
conditions of the universe plus the causal laws that govern it's state
changes over time.

Evolution would seem to be more of a metaphorical framework for
thinking about possibilities, rather than an actual scientific
explanation for anything.

   
I think you have to narrow a concept of explanation; you seem to 
confine it to causal physical chain at the most fundamental level.  If 
someone asked you whether you expected a newly discovered animal species 
to be one that ate it's offspring, would you try to find the initial 
conditions of the quark fields at that the time of the Big Bang that led 
to this creature - or would you make an inference from the theory of 
evolution?


Brent

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Brent Meeker

On 2/27/2010 10:38 PM, Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 10:35 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com  wrote:
   

On 28 February 2010 05:33, Rex Allenrexallen...@gmail.com  wrote:

 

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
could not be other than what they actually are given initial
conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
that he lives for only a day.
 

How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion
principle?

Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
conditions of that universe.

Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?
   

People believe and do all sorts of crazy things, as I'm sure you know.
The psychological capacity for just about any possible behaviour is
there, but the very maladaptive behaviours are rare. It's not that
it's difficult to make an animal that does not feel hungry, it's just
that these animals don't pass on their genes. Is that not a causal
mechanism for evolution?
 

Isn't there already a complete causal account at the level of quarks
and electrons and the fundamental forces that govern their
interactions, stretching back to the first instant of the universe,
for the existence and demise of any specific animal that doesn't feel
hunger?
   


No.

Brent

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Rex Allen
Okay, I think maybe we're getting somewhere!

On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 3:37 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 On 28 February 2010 17:38, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 People believe and do all sorts of crazy things, as I'm sure you know.
 The psychological capacity for just about any possible behaviour is
 there, but the very maladaptive behaviours are rare. It's not that
 it's difficult to make an animal that does not feel hungry, it's just
 that these animals don't pass on their genes. Is that not a causal
 mechanism for evolution?

 Isn't there already a complete causal account at the level of quarks
 and electrons and the fundamental forces that govern their
 interactions, stretching back to the first instant of the universe,
 for the existence and demise of any specific animal that doesn't feel
 hunger?

 If this physics-based account is complete, then what does this extra
 causal mechanism of evolution that you are proposing actually do?
 Either evolution really does something - or it's just an imaginary
 device that we've made up...a descriptive metaphorical narrative that
 is broadly compatible with a Victorian conception of how the world is,
 but which in itself doesn't actually explain anything.

 I can say
 (a) I ate the sandwich because I was hungry; or
 (b) I ate the sandwich because signals from my hypothalamus acted on
 my motor cortex which then caused the muscles in my arms and jaws to
 contract in a certain coordinated way; or
 (c) I ate the sandwich because of the initial state of the universe
 plus the laws of physics.

 All these are valid explanations for why I ate the sandwich. The first
 two are explanations at a higher level of description than the last.

Well, your words mean whatever you want them to mean.  So if you
intend for your statements about hunger and eating sandwiches to
exactly reduce to more detailed explanations involving initial states
and fundamental laws, then good enough!

But this would seem to support my assertion that evolution doesn't
explain anything.  Higher level descriptions don't add information -
in fact they leave out details, sacrificing definitiveness for
increased comprehensibility via the use of abstraction and analogy.

SO, what got this particular subthread going was this:

On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com wrote:

 There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
 mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
 individual travelling in the forward direction through time.

So you proposed evolution as the reason that you think of yourself as
a single individual who persists through time.  But taking the
equivalent of option (c) from your example above, what you are
*actually* saying is:

The initial state of the universe plus the causal laws of physics
have programmed me to think that I am a single individual travelling
in the forward direction through time.

Correct?  If so, I agree with you that this translation is the
equivalent of your original statement - but it doesn't sound quite as
good, does it?  It sounds less like an explanation and more like the
statement of a brute fact.  But it's just a matter of wording, not
because of a change in content.

To make it even more clear:  I think of myself as a single individual
travelling forward in time because that's the way things are.

To say that you could have been otherwise is to say that the initial
conditions of the universe and/or the laws of physics and/or random
quantum events along the way could have been otherwise.  But if they
*could* have been otherwise, why weren't they?

Ultimately I think you have to say that there is no reason that you
think of yourself as a single individual travelling forward in time.
You (or rather your OMs!) just do.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Rex Allen
On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 10:59 AM, Bruno Marchal marc...@ulb.ac.be wrote:

 On 28 Feb 2010, at 07:33, Rex Allen wrote:

 What would the causal mechanism for natural selection be?  A
 selection field?  Selection particles?  Spooky selection at a
 distance???




 No, it is (mainly) Sex.

 Selection by individual seduction. On some level.

 Chatting universal chromosomes. On some other level.

 The quantum wave or matrix. On some yet different level.

 Consciousness selection on universal machine histories. On a yet deeper
 level. (Frankly, you should appreciate!)

 Elementary arithmetic. At the deepest level with the comp. hyp.).


But if causal laws are real then I would think that they could only
really operate at one level.  At most (!) one of those levels is
what really exists - the other levels are just ways that we think
about what really exists or ways that things *seem* to us.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-28 Thread Rex Allen
On Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 2:15 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 I think you have to narrow a concept of explanation; you seem to confine
 it to causal physical chain at the most fundamental level.  If someone
 asked you whether you expected a newly discovered animal species to be one
 that ate it's offspring, would you try to find the initial conditions of the
 quark fields at that the time of the Big Bang that led to this creature - or
 would you make an inference from the theory of evolution?

I'd think about the question in the context of the theory of
evolution, but any answers that I formulated on that basis would be
very tentative.  Evolutionary theory doesn't provide for unambiguous
predictions, or even retrodictions (why do lions have manes?), since
it has no causal mechanism.  Again, it's more of a metaphorical
framework for thinking about possibilities.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 27 February 2010 14:59, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 5:55 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com 
 wrote:
 On 26 February 2010 16:41, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our
 presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over
 any amount of time?

 Of course it could. People could have any belief whatsoever, and the
 day-person belief can't even be shown to be logically or empirically
 false. It's just a contingent fact about human psychology that it is a
 rare belief.

 Assuming Physicalism:

 People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
 configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
 determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
 first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
 and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
 a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

 So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
 actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
 belief whatsoever.

 Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
 explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
 kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
 initial conditions.

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
could not be other than what they actually are given initial
conditions and physical laws? I suppose that is true, but even in a
deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
that he lives for only a day.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 5:27 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 On 27 February 2010 14:59, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
 configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
 determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
 first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
 and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
 a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

 So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
 actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
 belief whatsoever.

 Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
 explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
 kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
 initial conditions.

 I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
 could not be other than what they actually are given initial
 conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
 deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
 possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
 conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
 possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
 these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
 that he lives for only a day.

How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion
principle?

Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
conditions of that universe.

Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

On 27 February 2010 14:59, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
  

On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 5:55 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:


On 26 February 2010 16:41, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
  

Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our
presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over
any amount of time?


Of course it could. People could have any belief whatsoever, and the
day-person belief can't even be shown to be logically or empirically
false. It's just a contingent fact about human psychology that it is a
rare belief.
  

Assuming Physicalism:

People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
belief whatsoever.

Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
initial conditions.



I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
could not be other than what they actually are given initial
conditions and physical laws? I suppose that is true, but even in a
deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
that he lives for only a day.
  
That seems likley, but it's hard to know it's true.  It may happen that 
the laws of physics are such that persons (animals like us) believing 
(falsely) that they only live for a day cannot evolve.  Or maybe you 
only mean that some individuals could have this belief as a kind of 
mental pathology - as some people believe they don't exist.


Brent

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 5:27 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
  

On 27 February 2010 14:59, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:


People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
belief whatsoever.

Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
initial conditions.
  

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
could not be other than what they actually are given initial
conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
that he lives for only a day.



How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion
principle?

Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
conditions of that universe.

Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?
Why do you say evolution lacks a causal mechanism?  Natural selection 
causes somethings not to occur - like animals that eat their children.


Brent

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 28 February 2010 05:33, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
 could not be other than what they actually are given initial
 conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
 deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
 possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
 conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
 possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
 these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
 that he lives for only a day.

 How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
 WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
 fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion
 principle?

 Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
 paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
 law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
 belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
 conditions of that universe.

 Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
 impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
 you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
 mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
 mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
 that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?

People believe and do all sorts of crazy things, as I'm sure you know.
The psychological capacity for just about any possible behaviour is
there, but the very maladaptive behaviours are rare. It's not that
it's difficult to make an animal that does not feel hungry, it's just
that these animals don't pass on their genes. Is that not a causal
mechanism for evolution?


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:

 Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
 impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
 you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
 mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
 mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
 that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?

 Why do you say evolution lacks a causal mechanism?  Natural selection causes
 somethings not to occur - like animals that eat their children.

What would the causal mechanism for natural selection be?  A
selection field?  Selection particles?  Spooky selection at a
distance???

Even if you could find some way to frame it in terms of one of those,
would you then say that the selection field was something that
actually existed, or would you believe it more likely to just be a
calculational device?

Though, some animals do eat their children under some circumstances.
Why?  Well, according to physicialism, because of the initial
conditions of the universe plus the causal laws that govern it's state
changes over time.

Evolution would seem to be more of a metaphorical framework for
thinking about possibilities, rather than an actual scientific
explanation for anything.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-27 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 10:35 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 On 28 February 2010 05:33, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is it that peoples' beliefs
 could not be other than what they actually are given initial
 conditions and physical laws?  I suppose that is true, but even in a
 deterministic single universe we generally use the term physically
 possible to mean that something could have been the case if initial
 conditions had been different, while in a multiverse physically
 possible means that it occurs in at least one universe. In either of
 these two senses, it is physically possible that a person believes
 that he lives for only a day.

 How do you know?  Perhaps the physical brain state that this belief
 WOULD supervene on is not actually possible in our universe due to the
 fact that assuming that state would violate the Pauli exclusion
 principle?

 Or perhaps it wouldn't violate the violate any physical law, BUT all
 paths by which you could reach that state WOULD violate some physical
 law.  So the only universe that could contain a person holding that
 belief would have to have this person appear as part of the initial
 conditions of that universe.

 Note that I am not arguing that this particular belief is an
 impossible belief.  What I'm arguing is that evolution doesn't help
 you one way or the other in deciding...because evolution is just a
 mental tool, a way of thinking by analogy.  Lacking any sort of causal
 mechanism, it doesn't explain the way things are.  It's just a story
 that helps us think about the way things are.  Right?

 People believe and do all sorts of crazy things, as I'm sure you know.
 The psychological capacity for just about any possible behaviour is
 there, but the very maladaptive behaviours are rare. It's not that
 it's difficult to make an animal that does not feel hungry, it's just
 that these animals don't pass on their genes. Is that not a causal
 mechanism for evolution?

Isn't there already a complete causal account at the level of quarks
and electrons and the fundamental forces that govern their
interactions, stretching back to the first instant of the universe,
for the existence and demise of any specific animal that doesn't feel
hunger?

If this physics-based account is complete, then what does this extra
causal mechanism of evolution that you are proposing actually do?
Either evolution really does something - or it's just an imaginary
device that we've made up...a descriptive metaphorical narrative that
is broadly compatible with a Victorian conception of how the world is,
but which in itself doesn't actually explain anything.

Rex

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-26 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 26 February 2010 16:41, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 We could, for example, have the belief that we only survive for a day,
 and the entity who wakes up in our bed tomorrow is a different person.
 We would then use up our resources and plan for the future as if we
 only had hours to live. But people who acted as if they believed this
 would not be very successful.

 Could we actually?  I can imagine such a thing, but is it really possible?

 So, for arguments sake, let's just assume that deterministic
 physicalism holds for our universe.

 In that case, are there *any* initial conditions for our universe
 which would lead to the existence of someone similar to me who holds
 the belief that he only survives for today and that the entity who
 wakes up in his bed tomorrow will be a different person?

 Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our
 presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over
 any amount of time?

Of course it could. People could have any belief whatsoever, and the
day-person belief can't even be shown to be logically or empirically
false. It's just a contingent fact about human psychology that it is a
rare belief.

 Let's go further and assume quantum indeterminism.  With this extra
 wiggle room, is there any set of initial conditions plus subsequent
 random events (constrained by the framework of QM) that would lead to
 the existence of a person with such beliefs?

 Whether it's possible or not has nothing to do with evolution.  It is
 entirely a question of the fundamental laws of physics as applied to
 initial conditions.

 So, since evolution can't answer this question, what good is it?

 Okay.  Let's say I have some light blue butterflies, and I want to
 breed a strain of dark blue butterflies.  One might think that the
 theory of evolution would predict that the best way to go about this
 would be to  repeat the process of selecting the darkest colored
 butterflies and interbreeding them over several generations.

 BUT...if we are physicalists, we have to put this into context within
 the big picture.  What explains me knowing about Darwin, having
 light blue butterflies, wanting dark blue butterflies, and actually
 going through the process of selecting for the darker color over many
 generations?

 The initial conditions of the universe, plus the causal laws of
 physics as applied over 13.7 billion years.  That's what.

 Whether I actually succeed in breeding dark blue butterflies is also
 entirely dependent on the initial conditions and causal laws.  Given
 those, maybe it's just not possible to get from light blue to dark
 blue butterflies using nothing but selective breeding.

 So again, evolution does no work, and explains nothing.  If you think
 it's a useful concept, that's entirely because of the initial
 conditions of the universe plus the causal laws of physics as applied
 over 13.7 billion years.

 And (still assuming physicalism) what explains initial conditions plus
 causal laws?  Ultimately, nothing.  They just are what they are what
 they are.  And so the world just is what it is.

 Right?

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-26 Thread Rex Allen
On Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 5:55 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 On 26 February 2010 16:41, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our
 presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over
 any amount of time?

 Of course it could. People could have any belief whatsoever, and the
 day-person belief can't even be shown to be logically or empirically
 false. It's just a contingent fact about human psychology that it is a
 rare belief.

Assuming Physicalism:

People can only have beliefs that supervene onto one of the physical
configurations that it is possible for a human brain to take.  What
determines the set of possible physical brain configurations?  Well,
first, the laws of physics that govern the interactions of the quarks
and electrons that constitute such a brain.  And second, whether such
a configuration is reachable from the initial state of the universe.

So physical laws plus initial conditions determine what beliefs are
actually possible vs not possible for people.  People cannot have any
belief whatsoever.

Evolution has no causal mechanism, and thus doesn't add any
explanatory power to physicalism.  It's just a convenient fiction - a
kind of short hand, or a metaphor - for fundamental physical laws plus
initial conditions.

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-25 Thread Rex Allen
On Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 11:02 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 On 25 February 2010 14:46, Charles charlesrobertgood...@gmail.com wrote:

 However, I agree that the statement evolution has programmed us to
 think of ourselves as a single individual, etc is rather contentious
 as an explanation of why we think this way. It seems to imply that
 there are many other ways we *could* think of ourselves, and that
 evolution has been at work on our genes to choose those of us who
 think of ourselves this way because it confers some survival /
 reproductive advantage. However, it's possible that there are no other
 choices: we move forward in time, for example, because the entropy
 gradient won't allow any other form of creatures to exist, we think of
 ourselves as individuals because, fictional ant colonies aside, that's
 the only realistic (or simple) way to build conscious creatures
 (actually, it's quite possible we aren't individuals - we seem to
 contain at least two individuals who share a lot of their resources,
 as split-brain operations show).

 We could, for example, have the belief that we only survive for a day,
 and the entity who wakes up in our bed tomorrow is a different person.
 We would then use up our resources and plan for the future as if we
 only had hours to live. But people who acted as if they believed this
 would not be very successful.

Could we actually?  I can imagine such a thing, but is it really possible?

So, for arguments sake, let's just assume that deterministic
physicalism holds for our universe.

In that case, are there *any* initial conditions for our universe
which would lead to the existence of someone similar to me who holds
the belief that he only survives for today and that the entity who
wakes up in his bed tomorrow will be a different person?

Could our universe *actually* produce such a being by applying our
presumably deterministic laws to any set of initial conditions over
any amount of time?

Let's go further and assume quantum indeterminism.  With this extra
wiggle room, is there any set of initial conditions plus subsequent
random events (constrained by the framework of QM) that would lead to
the existence of a person with such beliefs?

Whether it's possible or not has nothing to do with evolution.  It is
entirely a question of the fundamental laws of physics as applied to
initial conditions.

So, since evolution can't answer this question, what good is it?

Okay.  Let's say I have some light blue butterflies, and I want to
breed a strain of dark blue butterflies.  One might think that the
theory of evolution would predict that the best way to go about this
would be to  repeat the process of selecting the darkest colored
butterflies and interbreeding them over several generations.

BUT...if we are physicalists, we have to put this into context within
the big picture.  What explains me knowing about Darwin, having
light blue butterflies, wanting dark blue butterflies, and actually
going through the process of selecting for the darker color over many
generations?

The initial conditions of the universe, plus the causal laws of
physics as applied over 13.7 billion years.  That's what.

Whether I actually succeed in breeding dark blue butterflies is also
entirely dependent on the initial conditions and causal laws.  Given
those, maybe it's just not possible to get from light blue to dark
blue butterflies using nothing but selective breeding.

So again, evolution does no work, and explains nothing.  If you think
it's a useful concept, that's entirely because of the initial
conditions of the universe plus the causal laws of physics as applied
over 13.7 billion years.

And (still assuming physicalism) what explains initial conditions plus
causal laws?  Ultimately, nothing.  They just are what they are what
they are.  And so the world just is what it is.

Right?

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-24 Thread Charles
On Jan 15, 5:15 pm, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou

 stath...@gmail.com wrote:

  There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
  mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
  individual travelling in the forward direction through time.

 How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?

 Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
  Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
 about what we observe.

 For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
 configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
 causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
 applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
 the universe today.

 In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
 description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
 the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
 laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
 with evolution.

 There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
 Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
 the only way that they can.

 When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
 is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
 really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
 whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
 collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

 Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
 have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

 Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
 doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
 water a bit.

 Right?  Or wrong?

That argument must apply to any form of explanation, of course. So
rather than me deciding to reply to your post, say, there are only
complicated fundamental processes doing their thing. But even so,
surely the higher-level descriptions have some explanatory power? The
fact that everything boils down to physics is generally assumed, by me
at least, but I also realise that it isn't always useful to look at
things like that. If you wish to explain something, you often need
useful higher-level approximations. Natural selection is one such,
which appears to have some explanatory power

However, I agree that the statement evolution has programmed us to
think of ourselves as a single individual, etc is rather contentious
as an explanation of why we think this way. It seems to imply that
there are many other ways we *could* think of ourselves, and that
evolution has been at work on our genes to choose those of us who
think of ourselves this way because it confers some survival /
reproductive advantage. However, it's possible that there are no other
choices: we move forward in time, for example, because the entropy
gradient won't allow any other form of creatures to exist, we think of
ourselves as individuals because, fictional ant colonies aside, that's
the only realistic (or simple) way to build conscious creatures
(actually, it's quite possible we aren't individuals - we seem to
contain at least two individuals who share a lot of their resources,
as split-brain operations show).

Charles

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-02-24 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 25 February 2010 14:46, Charles charlesrobertgood...@gmail.com wrote:

 However, I agree that the statement evolution has programmed us to
 think of ourselves as a single individual, etc is rather contentious
 as an explanation of why we think this way. It seems to imply that
 there are many other ways we *could* think of ourselves, and that
 evolution has been at work on our genes to choose those of us who
 think of ourselves this way because it confers some survival /
 reproductive advantage. However, it's possible that there are no other
 choices: we move forward in time, for example, because the entropy
 gradient won't allow any other form of creatures to exist, we think of
 ourselves as individuals because, fictional ant colonies aside, that's
 the only realistic (or simple) way to build conscious creatures
 (actually, it's quite possible we aren't individuals - we seem to
 contain at least two individuals who share a lot of their resources,
 as split-brain operations show).

We could, for example, have the belief that we only survive for a day,
and the entity who wakes up in our bed tomorrow is a different person.
We would then use up our resources and plan for the future as if we
only had hours to live. But people who acted as if they believed this
would not be very successful.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-23 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
On 23 January 2010 07:08, Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk wrote:
 Hi Stahis

 You brought up the point of personal identity.

 When someone goes to sleep they lose consciousness (I am assuming so
 anyway - perhaps during deep sleep rather than REM). OK, so some
 people say that because they wake up again there is always a branch
 where they wake up.  But suppose somebody goes into a deep coma, then
 at the time they lose consciousness then that consciousness may find a
 consistent extension in another branch but what about the vegetative
 person left behind.  Are they to be considered as vegetable rather
 than person? I wondered whether this was a cul se sac situation but
 then re-considered as below.

If they go into a coma then die, then their consciousness continues in
the branch where they wake up. The branch where they never wake up
could be called a cul de sac and in that case there are many culs de
sac (culs de sacs?); perhaps one for each OM, which lives only
ephemerally. However, there is no cul de sac for the stream of
consciousness as there is always a next moment. This next moment
is defined for the person before he goes into the coma, as during the
actual coma there is no experience so we could perhaps say every OM is
a consistent extension.

 If there are gradations of consciousness which can decay then at any
 time or level of our consciousness, as the universe splits then
 consistent extensions will always exist to carry whatever level of
 consciousnes we have through into another branch.  This would keep on
 until there was no consciousness left in some branch. I know that what
 is actually going on during sleep is probably very uncertain but based
 on this gradational assumption would you agree with my conclusions?

This is a problem for QI, because there is no guarantee that you will
continue living in good physical and mental health. You could end up
in pain, with a severe disability, or gradually dementing until your
consciousness fades away. However, I take some comfort in the fact
that I will likely survive in the most likely way this is possible. If
my head is in the guillotine it is more likely that the executioner
will change his mind or that the blade will jam on its way down than
that my head will be cut off and then reattached in some way.
Similarly, people with incurable and progressive illnesses usually
die, so it is more likely that I will recover due to some cure being
found rather than linger on suffering forever.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-22 Thread Nick Prince
Hi Stahis

You brought up the point of personal identity.

When someone goes to sleep they lose consciousness (I am assuming so
anyway - perhaps during deep sleep rather than REM). OK, so some
people say that because they wake up again there is always a branch
where they wake up.  But suppose somebody goes into a deep coma, then
at the time they lose consciousness then that consciousness may find a
consistent extension in another branch but what about the vegetative
person left behind.  Are they to be considered as vegetable rather
than person? I wondered whether this was a cul se sac situation but
then re-considered as below.

If there are gradations of consciousness which can decay then at any
time or level of our consciousness, as the universe splits then
consistent extensions will always exist to carry whatever level of
consciousnes we have through into another branch.  This would keep on
until there was no consciousness left in some branch. I know that what
is actually going on during sleep is probably very uncertain but based
on this gradational assumption would you agree with my conclusions?

Best wishes

Nick Prince

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-21 Thread RMahoney


On Jan 16, 1:06 am, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:
 Evolution doesn't count as an answer since it has to be cashed
 out in terms of some more fundamental theory, right?
 To answer evolution is dodging the question.

I think evolution is the primary driver of everything, as evolution
could be applied to non living as well as the living. It is basically
that which survives in time, adapting to physical laws. It could
apply to all forms of matter, those forms of matter too unstable
or incapable of lasting long enough to be detected, are not here.
What is left are a hodge podge of particles that survive. The physical
laws themselves within this particular universe may be the result
of a process of evolution in the relative association of quanta.

Relative association of quanta, creates time, creates space, creates
physical laws, creates forces, creates conciousness, creates pain,
creates pleasure, creates it all, level upon level upon level,
dimension upon dimension upon dimension. Pain is real to
a concious being, yet if you break it down completely, it is only
a relative assocation of quanta.

My evolved belief is that, since I know at least one possibility of
a (very complex) association of quanta exists, then nothing prevents
all possible associations of quanta from existing. So all possible
associations of quanta must exist. And since time is just an artifact
of an association between sets of quanta, none of these possible
sets goes away, the universe, or multiverse, however you want
to call it, just exists, with no beginning and no end, and what
creates the observer moments within is just the relative
association
between sets of quanta. There is no observer moment without an
interval of time, created by a string of similar sets of quanta.

Of course this means there are any number of possible subsequent
sets of quanta that follow from this very instant, when you look at
any possible set of quanta in relation to another, thus the
multiverse
concept.

It'll be that or something quite like it, my bet.  :-)

RMahoney
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-20 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/20 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

 What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
 in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
 continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
 consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
 you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
 reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.


 It's a straightforward consequence of a materialist theory of personal
 identity.  Whether you survive or not depends on which body you are and
 whether it died.

The body is gradually replaced in the course of normal metabolism so
that over a period of months, the original has completely
disintegrated and what remains is a near copy. When I point this out
to people who believe the materialist theory you describe no-one ever
says, OK, so people only live a few months. Why not? Because it's
silly; they know they didn't die a few months ago, because here they
are alive today, and no new information about what happened to their
body in the interim will convince them otherwise. Thus, while they
espouse a materialist theory, their *real* theory of personal identity
is psychological, and ad hoc adjustments are made to the materialist
theory (eg. it doesn't matter if your body is gradually replaced) so
that it is consistent with the psychological one.


-- 
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-20 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/20 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
 than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
 level changes.

 How interesting!!  I had forgotten that most people believe that
 consciousness is a classical rather than quantum process (Penrose
 excepted).  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  So the no
 clone theorem should not pose a problem for copy builders after all.

Even if perfection to the quantum level is needed for a copy (it can't
be, since our brains do change over time, whether quantum level events
are important or not) the no clone theorem says that it is not
possible to make a perfect clone at will. It is still possible to make
a perfect clone by preparing multiple variations of a copy.

 What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
 in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
 continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
 consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
 you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
 reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.

 I know.  To be consistent with my other assumptions I would have to
 believe in QTI but it is just so difficult to swallow.  I think the
 hardest bit comes when we think of what we would experience.  Suppose
 I lived in 200BC or before.  It's hard to think of ways you could keep
 on surviving apart from alien visitations with copying machines etc.
 This is one reason I have looked in some detail into Tiplers omega
 point theory.  I don't think this should be written off as being too
 whacky just because others have got onto the Tipler bashing
 bandwagon.  It has not been refuted yet in terms of the accelerated
 expansion of the universe or for other reasons which I can eloborate
 on - but that is besides the point.  If Tiplers final simulation is a
 Universal Dovetailer then anyone who has ever lived in the past could
 in principle find themselves as a consistent extension in that
 simulation.  This is one explanation how people could avoid ending up
 in a cul de sac branch.

Well, it is possible that the MWI is false. And as I understand it the
MWI does not actually say that anything that can happen, will happen,
although it is often assumed that it does; so it may be that sometimes
probabilities go down to zero, which would make the QTI false.

 According to RSSA and the RSSA your absolute measure in the multiverse
 decreases with each branching as versions of you die. According to the
 RSSA this doesn't matter as at least one of you is left standing;
 according to the ASSA, this does matter and you eventually die. The
 only way I can make sense of the latter is if you have an essentialist
 view of personal identity. Under this view if a copy is made of you
 and the original dies, you die. Under what Parfit calls the
 reductionist view of personal identity, you live.

 Hmm..  I think that what I am calling absolute measure you think of as
 relative measure or something like it.  I thought absolute measure was
 the total measure of my existence across the whole multiverse.  If I
 cannot die then RSSA implies this would be conserved. As you traverse
 down a particular branch though, your measure would indeed decrease
 for both RSSA and ASSA but it would eventually decrease to zero for
 ASSA when you died!  With RSSA it could only decrease asymptotically
 to zero, but never completly disappear.

There is the absolute measure of a particular OM, and there is the
absolute measure of all the OM's associated with a particular person,
and both of these are fixed. As you age, the absolute measure of the
OM you are experincing decreases because versions of you die. I think
everyone agrees with this.

Relative measure concerns the ratio of the measure of one OM to that
of another OM or set of OM's. The ASSA/RSSA distinction came up in
relation to QS/QTI, which concerns the probability of your next moment
of experience. The RSSA says you should consider only the OM's which
are candidates for your next moment and assume that your next moment
is sampled randomly from these. In this case, their absolute measure
is irrelevant, and only their measure relative to each other is
important. The ASSA assumes that the sampling should be over all your
OM's, so if the absolute measure of your all potential next moments is
greatly decreased because the guillotine blade is falling and is 1mm
from your neck, then your probability of surviving to the next moment
is very low. This is a corollary of the claim that you are more likely
to find yourself in a high measure OM than a low measure OM. Hopefully
someone can comment if I have misrepresented the ASSA view, because I
just don't see how it could make sense.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-20 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 20 Jan 2010, at 11:25, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:


2010/1/20 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive  
more

than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
level changes.


How interesting!!  I had forgotten that most people believe that
consciousness is a classical rather than quantum process (Penrose
excepted).  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  So the no
clone theorem should not pose a problem for copy builders after all.


Even if perfection to the quantum level is needed for a copy (it can't
be, since our brains do change over time, whether quantum level events
are important or not) the no clone theorem says that it is not
possible to make a perfect clone at will. It is still possible to make
a perfect clone by preparing multiple variations of a copy.



I agree. Quantum computer does not violate Church thesis, and are  
emulable by classical Turing machine (combinators, elementary  
arithmetics, etc.).


In particular the Universal Dovetailer does execute the emulation of  
all rational approximation of the relativistic Schroedinger equation  
applied to the quantum state of the Milky Way.


In the UD-time, defined by the (arithmetical) execution step some  
(fixed) universal dovetailing, you will have to wait gigantic time  
before the UD generate such a state, and again comparable time before  
it proceeds to the next step, but this is irrelevant because the first  
person cannot be aware of the delays of the reconstitution or  
(quatum-like) preparation.







What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you  
running
in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would  
definitely

continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance  
that

you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.


I know.  To be consistent with my other assumptions I would have to
believe in QTI but it is just so difficult to swallow.  I think the
hardest bit comes when we think of what we would experience.  Suppose
I lived in 200BC or before.  It's hard to think of ways you could  
keep

on surviving apart from alien visitations with copying machines etc.
This is one reason I have looked in some detail into Tiplers omega
point theory.  I don't think this should be written off as being too
whacky just because others have got onto the Tipler bashing
bandwagon.  It has not been refuted yet in terms of the accelerated
expansion of the universe or for other reasons which I can eloborate
on - but that is besides the point.  If Tiplers final simulation is a
Universal Dovetailer then anyone who has ever lived in the past could
in principle find themselves as a consistent extension in that
simulation.  This is one explanation how people could avoid ending up
in a cul de sac branch.


Well, it is possible that the MWI is false. And as I understand it the
MWI does not actually say that anything that can happen, will happen,
although it is often assumed that it does; so it may be that sometimes
probabilities go down to zero, which would make the QTI false.



I would say, to Nick Prince, that Tipler is a bit naïve on his  
theology, which is based on Aristotelian implicit assumptions. His  
book on immortality is very courageous, and contains interesting  
points. Yet, he completely abandon rigor when it comes to theology. It  
is more a reflexion on Christian theology by a physicist, than a  
rigorous attempt in general or theoretical theology. Of course, the  
lack of rigor in theology is almost institutionalized on this planet  
since a long time.
Then Tipler seems not to be aware that the comp hyp he is using is not  
compatible with its explicit physicalism ...
He is not aware also of the quantum immortality which follows from the  
quantum  MW, and he missed like many the comp immortality.
I don't think it makes sense that the QTI or the comp-TI can be false  
in any way (except by making the QT or comp false). To die with  
probability one you have to really find a finite proof in Robinson  
arithmetic that 0 = 1. If you find a proof that 0 = 1, you will just  
backtrack, perhaps up to Peano or Robinson arithmetic.






According to RSSA and the RSSA your absolute measure in the  
multiverse
decreases with each branching as versions of you die. According to  
the

RSSA this doesn't matter as at least one of you is left standing;
according to the ASSA, this does matter and you eventually die. The
only way I can make sense of the latter is if you have an  
essentialist

view of personal identity. Under this view if a copy is made of you
and the original dies, you die. Under what Parfit calls the
reductionist view of personal identity, you live.


Hmm..  I think that what I am calling absolute measure you think of  
as
relative measure or something like 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-20 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/20 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

  

What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.

  

It's a straightforward consequence of a materialist theory of personal
identity.  Whether you survive or not depends on which body you are and
whether it died.



The body is gradually replaced in the course of normal metabolism so
that over a period of months, the original has completely
disintegrated and what remains is a near copy. When I point this out
to people who believe the materialist theory you describe no-one ever
says, OK, so people only live a few months. Why not? Because it's
silly; they know they didn't die a few months ago, because here they
are alive today, and no new information about what happened to their
body in the interim will convince them otherwise. Thus, while they
espouse a materialist theory, their *real* theory of personal identity
is psychological, and ad hoc adjustments are made to the materialist
theory (eg. it doesn't matter if your body is gradually replaced) so
that it is consistent with the psychological one.
  


Not necessarily psychological.  A materialist theory also includes the 
idea of information preservation in material form.  In the thought 
experiment about copies, it is assumed that the information content of 
the those terminated is lost.  But it's not clear to me when you talk 
about running in parallel whether you are assuming these copies are 
really causally linked so whatever is experienced by one is experienced 
by all.  ISTM in that case there is only one consciousness anyway.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-20 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/21 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

 Not necessarily psychological.  A materialist theory also includes the idea
 of information preservation in material form.  In the thought experiment
 about copies, it is assumed that the information content of the those
 terminated is lost.  But it's not clear to me when you talk about running
 in parallel whether you are assuming these copies are really causally
 linked so whatever is experienced by one is experienced by all.  ISTM in
 that case there is only one consciousness anyway.

The copies are running in parallel because they are on computers
running the same program with the same initial parameters. After a
time, some of the computers are destroyed. Most people would probably
say that the individuals running on the computers that are destroyed
will die even though the remaining computers continue running
individuals with the same mental qualities. That is, they will
explicitly deny that psychological continuity guarantees survival.
However, they will then say that they themselves survive even if their
brain is replaced with different matter, which to maintain consistency
would mean that the people in the destroyed computers also
survive.That's why I say those who claim a materialist theory of
personal identity actually believe in a psychological theory, but just
don't realise it.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/19 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to the use of copies.  What I
 meant was why they are considered as an indication of measure at the
 beginning of thought experiments such as the one you discussed (tea/
 coffe).  Jaques Mallah uses them too (I’d like to discuss one of these
 on the list at a later time).  I am not sure why we cannot consider
 the experiment as just happening to a single copy.  That way there
 would be no confusion regarding whether “differentiation” is playing
 an important role.  Otherwise I have no difficulty in realising the
 value of using the copy idea.

If we did the experiment with a single copy that would completely
change it. The copy would have a 90% chance of dying, a 3% of
surviving and getting coffee and a 7% of surviving and getting tea.

 In particular, my views on personal
 identity have been shaped by these, and I especially can relate to
 Bruno's ideas the (eight steps of his SANE paper) at least up to the
 stage just before he discusses platonic realism as a source  of a UD
 which actually existsplatonically rather than concretely. I do need
 to think more about this part though.  In short the idea that a copy
 of me can/could be made, to such a level of detail so that it is
 essentially me, I feel intuitively is correct in principle.  However I
 am concerned that the no clone theorem might be a problem for the
 continuity of personhood.

If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
level changes.

 From what I can gather Bruno seems to think
 not - or at least not important for what he wants to convey - but I
 would want to explore this at some stage.  Otherwise I can feel that
 there should be no reason why copies should not have continuity of
 personhood over spatio-temporal intervals and feel themselves to be
 identical (I think of identity as continuity of personhood) - or at
 least consistent extensions of the original person.  Moreover I also
 believe that if a suitable computer simulation can be built to the
 right level of detail, which contained the copy as a software
 construct,  then this copy could be a virtual implementation within a
 rendered environment that would indeed similarly believe himself/
 herself to be a consistent extension of the original.  I suppose I am
 essentially a computationalist,  although I am not clear as to the
 difference between it and functionalism yet apart from Turing
 emulability. I am also comfortable with the idea of differentiation so
 that if copies can be placed in lock step, as they presumably are
 across worlds, then 10, 20 or 2000 copies will be felt to be the same
 conscious entity.  You will see that I accept the many worlds theory
 too.  These beliefs are based on either my own prejudice or my
 intuition but are really more like working hypotheses rather than
 fixed beliefs and are certainly open to revision or modification.  I
 find the QTI difficult to swallow which is why I want to understand
 the definitions and concepts associated with it.  I want to be able to
 understand the heated debate about it and QS between Jack and Russell.

What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 18 Jan 2010, at 19:40, Brent Meeker wrote:


Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:



Brent
The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
Nothing is unstable.
  -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004



So, why is Nothing unstable?

Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to  
be nothing.





I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very  
weird) quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales.
Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least  
three bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing  
universal (even /quantum/ Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is  
already a quantum computer, although to use it is another matter,  
except that we are using it just by being, most plausibly right  
here and now.



Nothing is more theory related that the notion of nothing. In  
arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty  
set. In group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no  
empty group, you need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the  
combinators: nothing may be tackle by the forest with only one  
bird, etc.



Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic.   
I'm happy to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find  
anything testable or useful that follows from them.  So why should  
I accept them even provisionally?



We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin  
of mind and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond  
unboundedly rich and deep histories, and we can prove (to  
ourselves) that arithmetic, as seen from inside leads to a sort of  
coupling consciousness/realities. (Eventually precisely described  
at the propositional by the eight hypostases, and divided precisely  
into the communicable and sharable, and the non communicable one).


This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist  
conception, which seems unable to solve the mind body problem,  
since a long time.
It took over three hundred years from the birth of Newton and the  
death of Gallileo to solve the problem of life.  The theory of  
computation is less than a century old.  Neurophysiology is  
similarly in its infancy.



But I do think that the computationalist hypothesis leads indeed to a  
conceptual solution of the mind body problem. The self-reference  
logics explain the gap quanta-qualia, free-will in a deterministic  
frame, etc. Yet, I insist that for such a solution really working, we  
have to derive the physical laws from it. In that sense, the solution  
is in its infancy.








Why shouldn't we ask the question where and how does the physical  
realm come from?. Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this  
precise way. What not to take a look?
I have taken a look, and it looks very interesting.  But I'm not  
enough of a logician and number theorist to judge whether you can  
really recover anything about human consciousness from the theory.   
My impression is that it is somewhat like other everything  
theories.  Because some everything is assumed it is relatively  
easy to believe that what you want to explain is in there somewhere  
and the problem is to explain why all the other stuff isn't  
observed.  I consider this a fatal flaw in Tegmark's everything  
mathematical exists theory.  Not with yours though because you have  
limited it to a definite domain (digital computation) where I  
suppose definite conclusions can be reached and predictions made.


OK. The main point is that the comp everything, which is very robust  
thanks to Church thesis, leads to the idea that matter is a sum on  
the everything. This is arguably the case in empiric physics as  
exemplified  by Feynman quantum sum. If this was not the case, David  
Deutsch critic on Tegmark would apply to comp. The explanation would  
be trivial.


Again, the big advantage here is that we get the whole physical with a  
clear explantion why some of it is sharable (quanta) and some of its  
is personal and unsharable (qualia).






To take the physical realm for granted is the same philosophical  
mistake than to take god for granted. It is an abandon of the  
spirit of research. It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.


Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the  
quantum machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says  
so. I show that if I am turing emulable, then in fine all  
universal machines play their role, and that the mergence of the  
quantum one has to be explained (the background goal being the mind  
body problem).


But if you follow the uda, you know (or should know, or ask  
question) that if we assume computationalism, then/ we have just no  
choice in the matter/.


Unless we assume matter is fundamental, as Peter Jones is fond of  
arguing, and some things happen and some don't.


Well,
- either that fundamental matter is Turing emulable, and then 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/19 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

  

Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to the use of copies.  What I
meant was why they are considered as an indication of measure at the
beginning of thought experiments such as the one you discussed (tea/
coffe).  Jaques Mallah uses them too (I’d like to discuss one of these
on the list at a later time).  I am not sure why we cannot consider
the experiment as just happening to a single copy.  That way there
would be no confusion regarding whether “differentiation” is playing
an important role.  Otherwise I have no difficulty in realising the
value of using the copy idea.



If we did the experiment with a single copy that would completely
change it. The copy would have a 90% chance of dying, a 3% of
surviving and getting coffee and a 7% of surviving and getting tea.

  

In particular, my views on personal
identity have been shaped by these, and I especially can relate to
Bruno's ideas the (eight steps of his SANE paper) at least up to the
stage just before he discusses platonic realism as a source  of a UD
which actually existsplatonically rather than concretely. I do need
to think more about this part though.  In short the idea that a copy
of me can/could be made, to such a level of detail so that it is
essentially me, I feel intuitively is correct in principle.  However I
am concerned that the no clone theorem might be a problem for the
continuity of personhood.



If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
level changes.

  

From what I can gather Bruno seems to think
not - or at least not important for what he wants to convey - but I
would want to explore this at some stage.  Otherwise I can feel that
there should be no reason why copies should not have continuity of
personhood over spatio-temporal intervals and feel themselves to be
identical (I think of identity as continuity of personhood) - or at
least consistent extensions of the original person.  Moreover I also
believe that if a suitable computer simulation can be built to the
right level of detail, which contained the copy as a software
construct,  then this copy could be a virtual implementation within a
rendered environment that would indeed similarly believe himself/
herself to be a consistent extension of the original.  I suppose I am
essentially a computationalist,  although I am not clear as to the
difference between it and functionalism yet apart from Turing
emulability. I am also comfortable with the idea of differentiation so
that if copies can be placed in lock step, as they presumably are
across worlds, then 10, 20 or 2000 copies will be felt to be the same
conscious entity.  You will see that I accept the many worlds theory
too.  These beliefs are based on either my own prejudice or my
intuition but are really more like working hypotheses rather than
fixed beliefs and are certainly open to revision or modification.  I
find the QTI difficult to swallow which is why I want to understand
the definitions and concepts associated with it.  I want to be able to
understand the heated debate about it and QS between Jack and Russell.



What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.
  


It's a straightforward consequence of a materialist theory of personal 
identity.  Whether you survive or not depends on which body you are and 
whether it died.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Nick Prince




 If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
 than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
 level changes.

How interesting!!  I had forgotten that most people believe that
consciousness is a classical rather than quantum process (Penrose
excepted).  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  So the no
clone theorem should not pose a problem for copy builders after all.



 What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
 in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
 continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
 consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
 you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
 reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.

I know.  To be consistent with my other assumptions I would have to
believe in QTI but it is just so difficult to swallow.  I think the
hardest bit comes when we think of what we would experience.  Suppose
I lived in 200BC or before.  It's hard to think of ways you could keep
on surviving apart from alien visitations with copying machines etc.
This is one reason I have looked in some detail into Tiplers omega
point theory.  I don't think this should be written off as being too
whacky just because others have got onto the Tipler bashing
bandwagon.  It has not been refuted yet in terms of the accelerated
expansion of the universe or for other reasons which I can eloborate
on - but that is besides the point.  If Tiplers final simulation is a
Universal Dovetailer then anyone who has ever lived in the past could
in principle find themselves as a consistent extension in that
simulation.  This is one explanation how people could avoid ending up
in a cul de sac branch.

 According to RSSA and the RSSA your absolute measure in the multiverse
 decreases with each branching as versions of you die. According to the
 RSSA this doesn't matter as at least one of you is left standing;
 according to the ASSA, this does matter and you eventually die. The
 only way I can make sense of the latter is if you have an essentialist
 view of personal identity. Under this view if a copy is made of you
 and the original dies, you die. Under what Parfit calls the
 reductionist view of personal identity, you live.

Hmm..  I think that what I am calling absolute measure you think of as
relative measure or something like it.  I thought absolute measure was
the total measure of my existence across the whole multiverse.  If I
cannot die then RSSA implies this would be conserved. As you traverse
down a particular branch though, your measure would indeed decrease
for both RSSA and ASSA but it would eventually decrease to zero for
ASSA when you died!  With RSSA it could only decrease asymptotically
to zero, but never completly disappear.


Best wishes

Nick Prince

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 19, 6:43 pm, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  2010/1/19 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

  Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to the use of copies.  What I
  meant was why they are considered as an indication of measure at the
  beginning of thought experiments such as the one you discussed (tea/
  coffe).  Jaques Mallah uses them too (I d like to discuss one of these
  on the list at a later time).  I am not sure why we cannot consider
  the experiment as just happening to a single copy.  That way there
  would be no confusion regarding whether differentiation is playing
  an important role.  Otherwise I have no difficulty in realising the
  value of using the copy idea.

  If we did the experiment with a single copy that would completely
  change it. The copy would have a 90% chance of dying, a 3% of
  surviving and getting coffee and a 7% of surviving and getting tea.

  In particular, my views on personal
  identity have been shaped by these, and I especially can relate to
  Bruno's ideas the (eight steps of his SANE paper) at least up to the
  stage just before he discusses platonic realism as a source  of a UD
  which actually existsplatonically rather than concretely. I do need
  to think more about this part though.  In short the idea that a copy
  of me can/could be made, to such a level of detail so that it is
  essentially me, I feel intuitively is correct in principle.  However I
  am concerned that the no clone theorem might be a problem for the
  continuity of personhood.

  If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
  than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
  level changes.

  From what I can gather Bruno seems to think
  not - or at least not important for what he wants to convey - but I
  would want to explore this at some stage.  Otherwise I can feel that
  there should be no reason why copies should not have continuity of
  personhood over spatio-temporal intervals and feel themselves to be
  identical (I think of identity as continuity of personhood) - or at
  least consistent extensions of the original person.  Moreover I also
  believe that if a suitable computer simulation can be built to the
  right level of detail, which contained the copy as a software
  construct,  then this copy could be a virtual implementation within a
  rendered environment that would indeed similarly believe himself/
  herself to be a consistent extension of the original.  I suppose I am
  essentially a computationalist,  although I am not clear as to the
  difference between it and functionalism yet apart from Turing
  emulability. I am also comfortable with the idea of differentiation so
  that if copies can be placed in lock step, as they presumably are
  across worlds, then 10, 20 or 2000 copies will be felt to be the same
  conscious entity.  You will see that I accept the many worlds theory
  too.  These beliefs are based on either my own prejudice or my
  intuition but are really more like working hypotheses rather than
  fixed beliefs and are certainly open to revision or modification.  I
  find the QTI difficult to swallow which is why I want to understand
  the definitions and concepts associated with it.  I want to be able to
  understand the heated debate about it and QS between Jack and Russell.

  What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
  in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
  continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
  consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
  you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
  reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.

 It's a straightforward consequence of a materialist theory of personal
 identity.  Whether you survive or not depends on which body you are and
 whether it died.

 Brent- Hide quoted text -

 - Show quoted text -




Are you saying that you do not subscribe to differentiation?

Nick Prince
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread John Mikes
Something vs Nothing?

I played with this so a decade+ ago and found that by simply realizing the
term *NOTHING* we achieved *'something*' so the *nothing* is gone. While,
however, going from *'something'* to the (elusive?) 'nothing', we have to
cut out *EVERYTHING* that may interfere with 'nothing', a task immensely
difficult and unlimited. No matter how one tries to define nothing, ANY
point makes it into a something (even the negative).

At that time I still abode in believeing in 'ontology' and my 'something'
started easily from nothing. (Since then I refuse 'ontology', which is a
STATIC imaging of nature, nonexistent in the continually changing complexity
of 'everything' (and all their relatedness). Conventional sciences - and the
philosophy on its teats - consider such 'snapshots' in the continuous change
and such snapshots represent the statically existent (so bielieved!) status,
called ontology of the world. Such snapshot-view led to Darwin's evolution
and to physical laws.
Two subsequent snapshots show change, - omitting the steps in between, hence
the term 'random mutation'. Only the timeless continuality includes the
deterministic entailment that represents the dynamics of the world (nature?
totality, wholeness, everything).

Sorry for a partially obsolete rambling.

John M




On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 1:40 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.comwrote:

 Bruno Marchal wrote:


 On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:


 Brent
 The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
 Nothing is unstable.
   -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004



 So, why is Nothing unstable?


 Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to be
 nothing.





 I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very weird)
 quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales.
 Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least three
 bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing universal (even
 /quantum/ Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is already a quantum
 computer, although to use it is another matter, except that we are using it
 just by being, most plausibly right here and now.


 Nothing is more theory related that the notion of nothing. In
 arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty set. In
 group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no empty group, you
 need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the combinators: nothing may
 be tackle by the forest with only one bird, etc.


 Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic.  I'm happy
 to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find anything testable or useful
 that follows from them.  So why should I accept them even provisionally?



 We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin of mind
 and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond unboundedly rich and
 deep histories, and we can prove (to ourselves) that arithmetic, as seen
 from inside leads to a sort of coupling consciousness/realities. (Eventually
 precisely described at the propositional by the eight hypostases, and
 divided precisely into the communicable and sharable, and the non
 communicable one).

 This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist conception,
 which seems unable to solve the mind body problem, since a long time.

 It took over three hundred years from the birth of Newton and the death of
 Gallileo to solve the problem of life.  The theory of computation is less
 than a century old.  Neurophysiology is similarly in its infancy.



 Why shouldn't we ask the question where and how does the physical realm
 come from?. Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this precise way. What
 not to take a look?

 I have taken a look, and it looks very interesting.  But I'm not enough of
 a logician and number theorist to judge whether you can really recover
 anything about human consciousness from the theory.  My impression is that
 it is somewhat like other everything theories.  Because some everything
 is assumed it is relatively easy to believe that what you want to explain is
 in there somewhere and the problem is to explain why all the other stuff
 isn't observed.  I consider this a fatal flaw in Tegmark's everything
 mathematical exists theory.  Not with yours though because you have limited
 it to a definite domain (digital computation) where I suppose definite
 conclusions can be reached and predictions made.


 To take the physical realm for granted is the same philosophical mistake
 than to take god for granted. It is an abandon of the spirit of research.
 It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.

 Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the quantum
 machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says so. I show that if
 I am turing emulable, then in fine all universal machines play their role,
 and that the mergence of the quantum one has to be explained (the background
 goal 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Brent Meeker

Nick Prince wrote:

On Jan 19, 6:43 pm, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:


2010/1/19 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:
  

Perhaps you misunderstood my reference to the use of copies.  What I
meant was why they are considered as an indication of measure at the
beginning of thought experiments such as the one you discussed (tea/
coffe).  Jaques Mallah uses them too (I d like to discuss one of these
on the list at a later time).  I am not sure why we cannot consider
the experiment as just happening to a single copy.  That way there
would be no confusion regarding whether differentiation is playing
an important role.  Otherwise I have no difficulty in realising the
value of using the copy idea.


If we did the experiment with a single copy that would completely
change it. The copy would have a 90% chance of dying, a 3% of
surviving and getting coffee and a 7% of surviving and getting tea.
  

In particular, my views on personal
identity have been shaped by these, and I especially can relate to
Bruno's ideas the (eight steps of his SANE paper) at least up to the
stage just before he discusses platonic realism as a source  of a UD
which actually existsplatonically rather than concretely. I do need
to think more about this part though.  In short the idea that a copy
of me can/could be made, to such a level of detail so that it is
essentially me, I feel intuitively is correct in principle.  However I
am concerned that the no clone theorem might be a problem for the
continuity of personhood.


If the no clone theorem were a problem then you could not survive more
than a moment, since your brain is constantly undergoing classical
level changes.
  

From what I can gather Bruno seems to think
not - or at least not important for what he wants to convey - but I
would want to explore this at some stage.  Otherwise I can feel that
there should be no reason why copies should not have continuity of
personhood over spatio-temporal intervals and feel themselves to be
identical (I think of identity as continuity of personhood) - or at
least consistent extensions of the original person.  Moreover I also
believe that if a suitable computer simulation can be built to the
right level of detail, which contained the copy as a software
construct,  then this copy could be a virtual implementation within a
rendered environment that would indeed similarly believe himself/
herself to be a consistent extension of the original.  I suppose I am
essentially a computationalist,  although I am not clear as to the
difference between it and functionalism yet apart from Turing
emulability. I am also comfortable with the idea of differentiation so
that if copies can be placed in lock step, as they presumably are
across worlds, then 10, 20 or 2000 copies will be felt to be the same
conscious entity.  You will see that I accept the many worlds theory
too.  These beliefs are based on either my own prejudice or my
intuition but are really more like working hypotheses rather than
fixed beliefs and are certainly open to revision or modification.  I
find the QTI difficult to swallow which is why I want to understand
the definitions and concepts associated with it.  I want to be able to
understand the heated debate about it and QS between Jack and Russell.


What do you think could happen if there were 100 copies of you running
in parallel and 90 were terminated? If you think you would definitely
continue living as one of the 10 remaining copies then to be
consistent you have to accept QTI. If you think there is a chance that
you might die I find it difficult to understand how this could be
reconciled with any consistent theory of personal identity.
  

It's a straightforward consequence of a materialist theory of personal
identity.  Whether you survive or not depends on which body you are and
whether it died.

Brent- Hide quoted text -

- Show quoted text -






Are you saying that you do not subscribe to differentiation?

Nick Prince
  
I'm not sure what you mean by differentiation, but I don't subscribe 
to one theory or another - I just consider them.  Above I was only 
pointing out that there are theories (in fact the most common theory) in 
which there is no QTI and in fact QTI might be taken as a reductio ad 
absurdum against the MWI.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-19 Thread Nick Prince


  Are you saying that you do not subscribe to differentiation?

  Nick Prince

 I'm not sure what you mean by differentiation, but I don't subscribe
 to one theory or another - I just consider them.  Above I was only
 pointing out that there are theories (in fact the most common theory) in
 which there is no QTI and in fact QTI might be taken as a reductio ad
 absurdum against the MWI.

 Brent- Hide quoted text -

 - Show quoted text -

point taken! I should have said are you considering differentiation as
an implausible hypothesis.  By differentiation I mean that instead of
supervening on a single world line, the same consciousness supervenes
on all identical world lines until they split  as in many worlds. When
they split the 1st person experience is then indeterminate.  Russells
book P144

Best wishes

Nick
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Rex Allen
On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 1:05 AM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:

 So I'm just trying to understand my situation here.  To me, my
 existence seems quite perplexing.  An explanation is in order.


 But you never say what would count as an explanation - which makes me think
 you don't know.  Which is OK.  But not knowing what the explanation would
 look like is a very poor reason for asserting no explanation is possible and
 things are just the way they are.

How can I describe something that doesn't exist?

Again, I base my belief that no explanation exists on the following
line of reasoning:

We have our observations and we want to explain them. To do this, we
need some context to place our observations in. So we postulate the
existence of an external universe that “causes” our observations. But
then we want to explain what caused this external universe…and the
only option is to postulate the existence of a much larger multiverse.
But then what explains the multiverse?

So this leads to the need for an infinite series of ever larger
contexts against which to explain the previous context that we used to
explain the previous context that we used to explain the fact of our
initial observations.

So nothing can be explained in terms of only itself. To explain it,
you have to place it in the context of something larger. Otherwise, no
explanation is possible, and you just have to say, “this is the way it
is because that’s the way it is.”

Basically it seems to me that there’s only two way the process can
end. Two possible answers to the question of “Why do I observe the
things that I observe?”:

1) Because things just are the way they are, and there’s no further
explanation possible.

2) Because EVERYTHING happens, and so your observations were
inevitable in this larger context of “everything”.

Do you see some other option?  Some flaw in the reasoning?


 I refer to my example of vitalism.  Until
 molecular biology was developed nobody could conceive of how understanding
 lifeless atoms and an molecules could explain life.  And in a sense it
 didn't explain it in the terms people were thinking of, e.g. finding an elan
 vital.  It didn't explain it at all; but it described it so thoroughly
 that people saw that asking for an explanation was the wrong question.  And
 that's not the only example.  People wondered what caused the planets to
 move through the sky.  Newton propounded his theory of universal gravitation
 and it became possible to predict not only the course of the planets but of
 any other body in motion through the solar system.   When Newton was asked
 to explain how gravity did this he replied, Hypothesi non fingo.

Ya, I don't find your vitalism argument convincing at all.  We've
discussed it before.

As for Newton, I quote from one of his letters:

To your second query, I answer, that the motions of which the planets
now have could not spring from any natural cause alone, but were
impressed by an intelligent Agent.

In the Scholium Generale Newton stressed that God was the Lord, Ruler,
and Pantocrator of the universe.  God ruled the universe note as one
rules one's own body, but as a Sovereign Prince.

SO, Newton had his ultimate explanation.



 The chain of thought that led to my current proposal is not that
 complicated.

 All you have to do is to consider the block universe concept, which I
 choose because it's easy to talk about - but the points hold for any
 physicalist theory of reality I think.

 So, why does this block of space-time and it's contents exist?
 Presumably there would be no reason, it just would.

 Why would things be the way they are inside the block?  Presumably
 there would be no reason, they just would be that way.

 If certain configurations of matter inside the block gave rise to
 conscious experience, why would this be so?  Presumably there would be
 no reason for this either, it just would be so.

 With that in mind, why would we prefer the explanation involving the
 inexplicable existence of a space-time block whose contents somehow
 gives rise to conscious experience *OVER* the explanation that the
 conscious experiences in question just exist uncaused?


 First, because the block universe assumes a lot more that just things
 happen in spacetime.  There is a very large and extensively tested set of
 theories about how the events in spacetime are related and why we perceive
 different people and how their perceptions are transformations of one
 another's.
 Second, we don't always prefer a block universe explanation.  In fact we
 almost always use an evolving model in which the future is not determined as
 in a block, but depends on a mixture of choices, initial conditions and
 randomness.  When we use X in an explanation of Y we don't necessarily need
 an explanation of X, we need only know what X means in some operational
 sense.

So, how is this relevant to anything I've said?  I'm genuinely
curious.  To me it looks like your just 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:



Brent
The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
Nothing is unstable.
   -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004



So, why is Nothing unstable?

Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to  
be nothing.





I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very weird)  
quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales.
Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least  
three bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing  
universal (even quantum Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is  
already a quantum computer, although to use it is another matter,  
except that we are using it just by being, most plausibly right here  
and now.



Nothing is more theory related that the notion of nothing. In  
arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty set.  
In group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no empty  
group, you need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the  
combinators: nothing may be tackle by the forest with only one bird,  
etc.



Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic.  I'm  
happy to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find anything  
testable or useful that follows from them.  So why should I accept  
them even provisionally?



We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin of  
mind and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond unboundedly  
rich and deep histories, and we can prove (to ourselves) that  
arithmetic, as seen from inside leads to a sort of coupling  
consciousness/realities. (Eventually precisely described at the  
propositional by the eight hypostases, and divided precisely into the  
communicable and sharable, and the non communicable one).


This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist  
conception, which seems unable to solve the mind body problem, since a  
long time.


Why shouldn't we ask the question where and how does the physical  
realm come from?. Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this  
precise way. What not to take a look?


To take the physical realm for granted is the same philosophical  
mistake than to take god for granted. It is an abandon of the  
spirit of research. It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.


Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the  
quantum machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says so. I  
show that if I am turing emulable, then in fine all universal  
machines play their role, and that the mergence of the quantum one has  
to be explained (the background goal being the mind body problem).


But if you follow the uda, you know (or should know, or ask question)  
that if we assume computationalism, then we have just no choice in the  
matter. The notion of matter has to be recovered by those infinite  
sum.  If not, you are probably confusing computation (number  
relations) and description of computations (number describing those  
number relations). It is almost like confusing i and phi_i. It is the  
whole point of the universal dovetailer argument (uda).


To sum up, unless we continue to put the mind under the rug, like  
Aristotelian, we have just no choice here.


The goal is not in finding a new physics, but in deriving the (unique,  
by uda) physics from logic+numbers through comp. A priori, that  
physics could be useless in practice, like quantum physics is useless  
in the kitchen. The advantage is that this solves conceptually (as  
much as it show it possible) the consciousness/matter riddle.


Bruno


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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Bruno Marchal


On 18 Jan 2010, at 00:37, Rex Allen wrote:


The patterns I've observed don't explain my conscious experience.
There's nothing in my concept of patterns which would explain how it
might give rise to conscious experience.

So I fully buy the idea that patterns (physical or platonic) can be
used to represent aspects of what I experience.  And that these
patterns can be updated in a way so that over time they represent how
my experiences change over time.

What I don't see is why this would give rise to anything like the
qualia of my conscious experience.  There is an explanatory gap.  And
I don't see how any new information about patterns or the ways of
updating them will close that gap.

And for me that's really the deal-breaker for any causal explanations
of consciousness, as opposed to considering it fundamental.




This is what computer science and provability logic explains. Digital  
pattern, once their combinatorial properties makes them universal,  
obeys a rich set of mathematical law, which justifies eventually the  
existence of true undoubtable but incommunicable, yet self-observable,  
states which are good candidate of qualia.


Consciousness is explained by being a fixed point of universal  
transformation. If you do the math (self-reference logic) it justifies  
many of our propositions intuitively believed on consciousness,  
including the existence of the explanation gap, and the non  
definability of consciousness. Consciousness is in between truth and  
consistency.


Physics does not help, except by picking up the local  universal  
machine from the neighborhood. But this physical explanation does  
not give a role to primitive matter, it just use the universal  
pattern allowed by observation, and comp has the remaining problem of  
justifying that picking up. Why quantum computations?


To take consciousness as ontologically fundamental seems rather  
awkward to me. You can only get to don't ask type of answer. It is  
the symmetric error of the Aristotelian.


At least, with the number, we have already enough to understand that  
we have to take them as fundamental, because nothing less than the  
numbers can explain the numbers. Then consciousness can be described  
by the first person state of knowledge available to the numbers.


The whole number theology is explain by addition and multiplication,  
only. It works in explaining the mystery aspect of the views from  
inside.


Sometimes I have a feeling that you are not aware that  
conventionalism in math is dead. There is no causality in math,  
but there are many sort of implications and entailment, capable of  
explaining the illusion and persistence of causal relations. Math  
kicks back.


Are our life sort of dreams? I think so, but I think this has to be  
made precise (indeed testable) and explained. Who are the dreamers?  
Why does they dream, etc. Do I interact genuinely with others? etc.


Math is not only about representations. It is also about facts.

Bruno



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



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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/18 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 If you had to guess you would say that your present OM is a common
 rather than a rare one, because you are more likely to be right.
 However, knowledge trumps probability. If you know that your present
 OM is common and your successor OM a minute from now rare - because
 there are many copies of you now running in lockstep and most of those
 copies are soon going to be terminated - then you can be certain that
 a minute from now you will be one of the rare copies. This is what
 happens in a quantum suicide experiment under the MWI. To put some
 numbers on it, if there are 100 copies of you now, and in a minute 90
 of those copies will be terminated, and of the remaining 10 copies 3
 will be given a cup of coffee and 7 a cup of tea, then as one of the
 100 original copies according to the RSSA you have a 30% chance of
 surviving and getting coffee and a 70% chance of surviving and getting
 tea; i.e. you have a 100% chance of surviving. Proponents of the ASSA
 would say you have a 3% chance of surviving and getting coffee and a
 7% chance of surviving and getting tea, or a 10% chance of surviving
 overall. I think they would say something like this - the
 probabilities may be off since the total contribution of pre/post
 termination OM's has to be tallied up, but in any case they would not
 say you are guaranteed of surviving. The only way I can understand
 this latter view is in the context of an essentialist theory of
 personal identity, according to which once a body is dead it's dead,
 and it's impossible to live on as even a perfect copy.

 Thank you Stathis, that was a really helpful reply and has confirmed
 my own thinking on this in many respects.  I'm never quite sure why
 list members work in copies though. I am hoping you (or anyone) can
 clarify the following queries.

Copies are concrete and finite, and therefore easier to grasp than
abstract OM's. Copies could in theory be made in whatever universe we
live in, if necessary biological copies if not computer uploads (in
case it turns out the brain is uncomputable). A prerequisite to most
of the discussions on this list is a clarification of your view on
personal identity, and even in the philosophical literature this is
often discussed by reference to thought experiments involving copies,
as created by Star Trek type teleportation. Derek Parfit's Reasons
and Persons is a good book to read on the subject.

 1. Can we not say that (under RSSA) my measure of existence has
 initially say 100 units and if there is a 90% chance of being blown up
 before being offered the tea or coffee then if I end up drinking tea
 my relative measure has reduced to 70 units in this branch (note the
 word relative here - I hope I'm getting this right).  If I find myself
 drinking coffee then my relative measure has reduced to 30  (my global
 measure over all universes still remains at 100 though?)

Your relative measure before the termination event is not relevant
and maybe not coherent: relative to what? The importance of your
relative measure is in trying to predict what you can expect for the
future. Looking forward, you can expect that you will certainly
survive since there will be at least one copy surviving. Of the 10
copies that do survive, each has equal claim to being you. Since the
ratio of coffee drinkers to tea drinkers is 3:7, you have a 3/10
expectation of ending up a coffee drinker and a 7/10 expectation of
ending up a tea drinker. So the relative part is in the 3:7 ratio,
whether the absolute numbers are 3:7 or 30:70 or 3000:7000. When I
consider what I will experience the next moment, I take into
consideration all the possible successor OM's (those that have my
present moment in their immediate subjective past), and my
expectations about the future depend on their relative frequency. This
is simple in the present example but becomes difficult when we deal
with infinite sets of OM's where there is a gradation between the
definitely-next-moment-me's and definitely-next-moment-not-me's.

 2. In this way (under RSSA) my relative measure continually decreases
 within each branch(hence use of word relative) but my global measure
 across the multiverse is conserved.  According to ASSA though my
 measure deceases both across universes and in each branch - in all
 branches I eventually die as well as differentiate.

According to RSSA and the RSSA your absolute measure in the multiverse
decreases with each branching as versions of you die. According to the
RSSA this doesn't matter as at least one of you is left standing;
according to the ASSA, this does matter and you eventually die. The
only way I can make sense of the latter is if you have an essentialist
view of personal identity. Under this view if a copy is made of you
and the original dies, you die. Under what Parfit calls the
reductionist view of personal identity, you live.

 3. Is this copy concept used because of the idea of differentiation
 as 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Brent Meeker

Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 17 Jan 2010, at 09:11, Brent Meeker wrote:



Brent
The reason that there is Something rather than Nothing is that
Nothing is unstable.
   -- Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate, phyiscs 2004
   


So, why is Nothing unstable?
 
Because there are so many ways to be something and only one way to be 
nothing.





I suspect Frank Wilczek was alluding to the fact that the (very weird) 
quantum vacuum is fluctuating at low scales.
Indeed in classical physics to get universality you need at least 
three bodies. But in quantum physics the vacuum is already Turing 
universal (even /quantum/ Turing universal). The quantum-nothing is 
already a quantum computer, although to use it is another matter, 
except that we are using it just by being, most plausibly right here 
and now.



Nothing is more theory related that the notion of nothing. In 
arithmetic it is the number zero. In set theory, it is the empty set. 
In group theory, we could say that there is no nothing, no empty 
group, you need at least a neutral element. Likewize with the 
combinators: nothing may be tackle by the forest with only one bird, etc.



Maybe you're a brain in a vat, or a computation in arithmetic.  I'm 
happy to contemplate such hypothesis, but I don't find anything 
testable or useful that follows from them.  So why should I accept 
them even provisionally?



We may accept them because it offers an explanation of the origin of 
mind and matter. To the arithmetical relations correspond unboundedly 
rich and deep histories, and we can prove (to ourselves) that 
arithmetic, as seen from inside leads to a sort of coupling 
consciousness/realities. (Eventually precisely described at the 
propositional by the eight hypostases, and divided precisely into the 
communicable and sharable, and the non communicable one).


This can please those unsatisfied by the current physicalist 
conception, which seems unable to solve the mind body problem, since a 
long time.
It took over three hundred years from the birth of Newton and the death 
of Gallileo to solve the problem of life.  The theory of computation is 
less than a century old.  Neurophysiology is similarly in its infancy.




Why shouldn't we ask the question where and how does the physical 
realm come from?. Comp explains: from the numbers, and in this 
precise way. What not to take a look?
I have taken a look, and it looks very interesting.  But I'm not enough 
of a logician and number theorist to judge whether you can really 
recover anything about human consciousness from the theory.  My 
impression is that it is somewhat like other everything theories.  
Because some everything is assumed it is relatively easy to believe 
that what you want to explain is in there somewhere and the problem is 
to explain why all the other stuff isn't observed.  I consider this a 
fatal flaw in Tegmark's everything mathematical exists theory.  Not 
with yours though because you have limited it to a definite domain 
(digital computation) where I suppose definite conclusions can be 
reached and predictions made.




To take the physical realm for granted is the same philosophical 
mistake than to take god for granted. It is an abandon of the 
spirit of research. It is an abstraction from the spirit of inquiry.


Physicalism is really like believing that a universal machine (the 
quantum machine) has to be priviledged, because observation says so. I 
show that if I am turing emulable, then in fine all universal 
machines play their role, and that the mergence of the quantum one has 
to be explained (the background goal being the mind body problem).


But if you follow the uda, you know (or should know, or ask question) 
that if we assume computationalism, then/ we have just no choice in 
the matter/.


Unless we assume matter is fundamental, as Peter Jones is fond of 
arguing, and some things happen and some don't.


The notion of matter has to be recovered by those infinite sum.  If 
not, you are probably confusing computation (number relations) and 
description of computations (number describing those number 
relations). It is almost like confusing i and phi_i. It is the whole 
point of the universal dovetailer argument (uda).


To sum up, unless we continue to put the mind under the rug, like 
Aristotelian, we have just no choice here.


The goal is not in finding a new physics, but in deriving the (unique, 
by uda) physics from logic+numbers through comp. A priori, that 
physics could be useless in practice, like quantum physics is useless 
in the kitchen. The advantage is that this solves conceptually (as 
much as it show it possible) the consciousness/matter riddle.


I don't see that it has solved the problem.  It has shifted it from 
explaining consciousness in terms of matter to explaining matter and 
consciousness in terms of arithmetic.  That has the advantage that 
arithmetic is relatively well understood.  But just having a well 
understood explanans is not enough to make 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Brent Meeker

Bruno Marchal wrote:


On 18 Jan 2010, at 00:37, Rex Allen wrote:


The patterns I've observed don't explain my conscious experience.
There's nothing in my concept of patterns which would explain how it
might give rise to conscious experience.

So I fully buy the idea that patterns (physical or platonic) can be
used to represent aspects of what I experience.  And that these
patterns can be updated in a way so that over time they represent how
my experiences change over time.

What I don't see is why this would give rise to anything like the
qualia of my conscious experience.  There is an explanatory gap.  And
I don't see how any new information about patterns or the ways of
updating them will close that gap.

And for me that's really the deal-breaker for any causal explanations
of consciousness, as opposed to considering it fundamental.




This is what computer science and provability logic explains. Digital 
pattern, once their combinatorial properties makes them universal, 
obeys a rich set of mathematical law, which justifies eventually the 
existence of true undoubtable but incommunicable, yet self-observable, 
states which are good candidate of qualia.


But that is like saying there are quasi-stable chaotic attractors in the 
neural processes of brains which are related to perception, feeling, and 
action and are good candidates for qualia.   Having a good candidate 
how do you test whether it IS qualia.  I think this is where the theory 
of consciousness will turn out to be like the theory of life.  The 
description of brain processes and their relation to reported qualia 
will become more and more detailed and qualia will come to seen to cover 
many distinct things and eventually the question of what is 
consciousness will no longer seem to be an interesting question.


Consciousness is explained by being a fixed point of universal 
transformation. 


Universal transformation of what?  Is there more than one universal 
transformation? 

If you do the math (self-reference logic) it justifies many of our 
propositions intuitively believed on consciousness, including the 
existence of the explanation gap, and the non definability of 
consciousness. Consciousness is in between truth and consistency.


Physics does not help, except by picking up the local  universal 
machine from the neighborhood. But this physical explanation does 
not give a role to primitive matter, 


The only role of 'primitive matter' seems to be that it instantiates 
nomologically possible things and not others.  It's the same as saying 
the world is to some extent contingent.


it just use the universal pattern allowed by observation, and comp has 
the remaining problem of justifying that picking up. Why quantum 
computations?


To take consciousness as ontologically fundamental seems rather 
awkward to me. You can only get to don't ask type of answer. It is 
the symmetric error of the Aristotelian.


At least, with the number, we have already enough to understand that 
we have to take them as fundamental, because nothing less than the 
numbers can explain the numbers. Then consciousness can be described 
by the first person state of knowledge available to the numbers.


The whole number theology is explain by addition and multiplication, 
only. It works in explaining the mystery aspect of the views from 
inside.


Sometimes I have a feeling that you are not aware that 
conventionalism in math is dead. 


I'm certainly no expert on the philosophy of mathematics, but I have a 
mathematician friend who is a fictionalist - which I think is what you 
refer to as conventionalism.  So referring to experts I seem to find 
it an open question:


http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fictionalism-mathematics/

http://philosophy.fas.nyu.edu/object/hartryfield


There is no causality in math, but there are many sort of 
implications and entailment, capable of explaining the illusion and 
persistence of causal relations. Math kicks back.


Are our life sort of dreams? I think so, but I think this has to be 
made precise (indeed testable) and explained. Who are the dreamers? 
Why does they dream, etc. Do I interact genuinely with others? etc.


Math is not only about representations. It is also about facts.


But it is about facts in some timeless, placeless world that seems to be 
rather different from this one.  Do you think there is a 
fact-of-the-matter about whether the continuum hypothesis is true?


Brent



Bruno



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





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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-18 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 18, 2:11 pm, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 2010/1/18 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:





  If you had to guess you would say that your present OM is a common
  rather than a rare one, because you are more likely to be right.
  However, knowledge trumps probability. If you know that your present
  OM is common and your successor OM a minute from now rare - because
  there are many copies of you now running in lockstep and most of those
  copies are soon going to be terminated - then you can be certain that
  a minute from now you will be one of the rare copies. This is what
  happens in a quantum suicide experiment under the MWI. To put some
  numbers on it, if there are 100 copies of you now, and in a minute 90
  of those copies will be terminated, and of the remaining 10 copies 3
  will be given a cup of coffee and 7 a cup of tea, then as one of the
  100 original copies according to the RSSA you have a 30% chance of
  surviving and getting coffee and a 70% chance of surviving and getting
  tea; i.e. you have a 100% chance of surviving. Proponents of the ASSA
  would say you have a 3% chance of surviving and getting coffee and a
  7% chance of surviving and getting tea, or a 10% chance of surviving
  overall. I think they would say something like this - the
  probabilities may be off since the total contribution of pre/post
  termination OM's has to be tallied up, but in any case they would not
  say you are guaranteed of surviving. The only way I can understand
  this latter view is in the context of an essentialist theory of
  personal identity, according to which once a body is dead it's dead,
  and it's impossible to live on as even a perfect copy.

  Thank you Stathis, that was a really helpful reply and has confirmed
  my own thinking on this in many respects.  I'm never quite sure why
  list members work in copies though. I am hoping you (or anyone) can
  clarify the following queries.

 Copies are concrete and finite, and therefore easier to grasp than
 abstract OM's. Copies could in theory be made in whatever universe we
 live in, if necessary biological copies if not computer uploads (in
 case it turns out the brain is uncomputable). A prerequisite to most
 of the discussions on this list is a clarification of your view on
 personal identity, and even in the philosophical literature this is
 often discussed by reference to thought experiments involving copies,
 as created by Star Trek type teleportation. Derek Parfit's Reasons
 and Persons is a good book to read on the subject.

  1. Can we not say that (under RSSA) my measure of existence has
  initially say 100 units and if there is a 90% chance of being blown up
  before being offered the tea or coffee then if I end up drinking tea
  my relative measure has reduced to 70 units in this branch (note the
  word relative here - I hope I'm getting this right).  If I find myself
  drinking coffee then my relative measure has reduced to 30  (my global
  measure over all universes still remains at 100 though?)

 Your relative measure before the termination event is not relevant
 and maybe not coherent: relative to what? The importance of your
 relative measure is in trying to predict what you can expect for the
 future. Looking forward, you can expect that you will certainly
 survive since there will be at least one copy surviving. Of the 10
 copies that do survive, each has equal claim to being you. Since the
 ratio of coffee drinkers to tea drinkers is 3:7, you have a 3/10
 expectation of ending up a coffee drinker and a 7/10 expectation of
 ending up a tea drinker. So the relative part is in the 3:7 ratio,
 whether the absolute numbers are 3:7 or 30:70 or 3000:7000. When I
 consider what I will experience the next moment, I take into
 consideration all the possible successor OM's (those that have my
 present moment in their immediate subjective past), and my
 expectations about the future depend on their relative frequency. This
 is simple in the present example but becomes difficult when we deal
 with infinite sets of OM's where there is a gradation between the
 definitely-next-moment-me's and definitely-next-moment-not-me's.

  2. In this way (under RSSA) my relative measure continually decreases
  within each branch(hence use of word relative) but my global measure
  across the multiverse is conserved.  According to ASSA though my
  measure deceases both across universes and in each branch - in all
  branches I eventually die as well as differentiate.

 According to RSSA and the RSSA your absolute measure in the multiverse
 decreases with each branching as versions of you die. According to the
 RSSA this doesn't matter as at least one of you is left standing;
 according to the ASSA, this does matter and you eventually die. The
 only way I can make sense of the latter is if you have an essentialist
 view of personal identity. Under this view if a copy is made of you
 and the original dies, you die. Under what 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

Rex Allen wrote:


It seems to me that you are starting with a strong bias towards matter
as fundamental, instead of starting with a clean slate and working
forward from first principles.

  

That's because taking material processes as fundamental has led to great
success, while taking consciousness as fundamental led to mysticism.



Mysticism isn't the inevitable result.

Our observations certainly exist, even if they are uncaused and
fundamental. They certainly seem to have a certain order and
consistency, even if there is no real reason for this. The scientific
method can still be applied to look for and analyze recurring patterns
in our observations, and it makes as much sense to do this as not.  We
have to do something to pass the time, after all.


  

The possible existence of matter in the form of quarks and electrons
(or strings, or quantum fields, or whatever) is consistent with our
observations, but obviously we have no direct knowledge of quarks and
electrons or the rest. Their existence, and the physical laws
associated with them, are inferred from our observations.

Even something right in front of me, like my chair, I still only know
through my conscious experience. I see a chair here, but I don’t know
that the chair actually exists. I could be dreaming, for instance, in
which case the chair exists entirely within my mind.

Now, the world that I perceive is pretty stable and orderly. What
could explain all of that order?
  

An underlying objective reality.  That's why we tend to think there is a
reality and dreams, which are less consistent, are not real.



Okay, an underlying objective reality causes the order in what we
experience - but then what causes the order in this underlying
objective reality?

You haven't answered any questions...you've just rephrased them in a
way that suggests that they've been answered.

What causes the order that we experience?  Objective Reality.

What is Objective Reality?  That which causes the order we experience.

Circles, sophistry, and question-begging.
  


If your car won't start and I tell you it's because it's out of gas is 
that circular and question begging because I don't tell you why it's out 
of gas?


  

For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?

  

No.  The randomness of radioactive decay is confirmed by observing it obeys
Poisson statistics.  It could have been falsified by observing different
statistics.  I think you are confusing random with uniformly distributed
random.  Random doesn't mean everything is equally probable; only that
some things have probabilities between 0 and 1.



If I take a radioactive decay source, map the decay events into an 4
bit number, then look for a sequence of 1000 numbers in which the
number 0 comes up 90% of the time (instead of 6.25% of the time as
would be expected for a uniform distribution), I will never, ever,
ever observe this relative frequency?

And there is a 0% chance that the very first 1000 numbers will exhibit
this relative frequency?

As I said, given enough time and enough attempts, it would seem to be
inevitable.  And this would hold equally true for sample sizes of
1, or 10, or whatever.  You'd just have to wait longer
(probably).

So, if we waiting long enough (very very very very very long),
eventually we should see a 1000 year period where the randomness of a
particular radioactive decay source was disconfirmed...it would not be
observed as obeying Poisson statistics, right?
  


No, because in considering whether it were disconfirmed or not we would 
take into account how long you had to wait to see that result.


  

Well…ultimately, nothing can explain
it. Ultimately you have to conclude that my perceptions just are that
way.

  

I'm not sure what ultimately means in this context.  I asked before what
you consider a real explanation.  Is it the same as ultimate
explanation?  Do we have to *know* with certainty the explanation is true?



An ultimate explanation I guess would be a final explanation, the
last bit of information that can (even in principle) be provided which
is relevant to the question posed.

I'd say that there is no reason for it, it just is that way is
pretty final.  And, for me at least, does produce some feeling of
understanding.


  

In other words, what caused the cause of my orderly perceptions? And
what caused that cause? And so on.

As I said in an earlier post on another thread, you either have to
postulate an infinite chain of causes, or a first cause.
  

Or you can say, I don't know yet.



Do you see room for a third option?  Or have an intuition that there
may be a third option?


  

and this inexplicableness of it seems to be necessary, not
contingent.

It seems to me that nothing is lost in concluding that 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/17 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 You can see I am struggling with these self sampling assumptions.  I
 just cannot get a handle on how to think about them.

The SSA is difficult to get one's head around, and sometimes leads to
counterintuitive conclusions. Have you looked up Nick Bostrom's
writings in relation to the SSA and the Doomsday Argument? I believe
he was the first to use the concept of the observer-moment.

 I noticed in a
 past post (Many pasts - not according to QM) you said:

I attempted something like your water tank model of the multiverse with the
game I describe here:
http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m6608.html.
My conclusion was that the relative measure is important in determining the
successor OM (I think this is what you call the RSSA, although I prefer to
spell it out when the idea is at all problematic), but the absolute measure
makes no difference from the observer's point of view (is this a rejection
of the ASSA?).

One can imagine God shuffling all the instantiations of all the OM's
associated with a particular observer and pulling out an OM at random, which
will then more probably be an OM with higher absolute measure. But this is
not how it works from the observer's point of view, contemplating his place
in the multiverse. For a start, it is impossible to know what the absolute
measure of an OM is, because it makes no first person difference. If it did,
i.e. if multiple instantiations of an OM could somehow be distinguished,
then by definition it is not the one OM.

 I could not access the link you gave. Do you have another link to it
 because I think I need an analogy to help me here. Jesse Mazer's was a
 good one (and correct as far as I know?) but your ideas relating to
 how the RSSA can be thought of in this analogy would be welcomed too.

I don't have that link and I only vaguely recall the details of the
game referred to (I believe no-one else until now has commented on
it!). My problem is that I worry that I might have misunderstood
something the ASSA proponents have said, since their position seems to
me obviously absurd. It's always worth reading Jesse's posts carefully
but I found it difficult to follow the motivation behind his water
tank analogy, other than an attempt at reconciling the ASSA and RSSA.

Some comments:
If you had to guess you would say that your present OM is a common
rather than a rare one, because you are more likely to be right.
However, knowledge trumps probability. If you know that your present
OM is common and your successor OM a minute from now rare - because
there are many copies of you now running in lockstep and most of those
copies are soon going to be terminated - then you can be certain that
a minute from now you will be one of the rare copies. This is what
happens in a quantum suicide experiment under the MWI. To put some
numbers on it, if there are 100 copies of you now, and in a minute 90
of those copies will be terminated, and of the remaining 10 copies 3
will be given a cup of coffee and 7 a cup of tea, then as one of the
100 original copies according to the RSSA you have a 30% chance of
surviving and getting coffee and a 70% chance of surviving and getting
tea; i.e. you have a 100% chance of surviving. Proponents of the ASSA
would say you have a 3% chance of surviving and getting coffee and a
7% chance of surviving and getting tea, or a 10% chance of surviving
overall. I think they would say something like this - the
probabilities may be off since the total contribution of pre/post
termination OM's has to be tallied up, but in any case they would not
say you are guaranteed of surviving. The only way I can understand
this latter view is in the context of an essentialist theory of
personal identity, according to which once a body is dead it's dead,
and it's impossible to live on as even a perfect copy.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 17, 11:51 am, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 2010/1/17 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

  You can see I am struggling with these self sampling assumptions.  I
  just cannot get a handle on how to think about them.

 The SSA is difficult to get one's head around, and sometimes leads to
 counterintuitive conclusions. Have you looked up Nick Bostrom's
 writings in relation to the SSA and the Doomsday Argument? I believe
 he was the first to use the concept of the observer-moment.





  I noticed in a
  past post (Many pasts - not according to QM) you said:

 I attempted something like your water tank model of the multiverse with the
 game I describe here:
 http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m6608.html.
 My conclusion was that the relative measure is important in determining the
 successor OM (I think this is what you call the RSSA, although I prefer to
 spell it out when the idea is at all problematic), but the absolute measure
 makes no difference from the observer's point of view (is this a rejection
 of the ASSA?).

 One can imagine God shuffling all the instantiations of all the OM's
 associated with a particular observer and pulling out an OM at random, which
 will then more probably be an OM with higher absolute measure. But this is
 not how it works from the observer's point of view, contemplating his place
 in the multiverse. For a start, it is impossible to know what the absolute
 measure of an OM is, because it makes no first person difference. If it did,
 i.e. if multiple instantiations of an OM could somehow be distinguished,
 then by definition it is not the one OM.

  I could not access the link you gave. Do you have another link to it
  because I think I need an analogy to help me here. Jesse Mazer's was a
  good one (and correct as far as I know?) but your ideas relating to
  how the RSSA can be thought of in this analogy would be welcomed too.

 I don't have that link and I only vaguely recall the details of the
 game referred to (I believe no-one else until now has commented on
 it!). My problem is that I worry that I might have misunderstood
 something the ASSA proponents have said, since their position seems to
 me obviously absurd. It's always worth reading Jesse's posts carefully
 but I found it difficult to follow the motivation behind his water
 tank analogy, other than an attempt at reconciling the ASSA and RSSA.

 Some comments:
 If you had to guess you would say that your present OM is a common
 rather than a rare one, because you are more likely to be right.
 However, knowledge trumps probability. If you know that your present
 OM is common and your successor OM a minute from now rare - because
 there are many copies of you now running in lockstep and most of those
 copies are soon going to be terminated - then you can be certain that
 a minute from now you will be one of the rare copies. This is what
 happens in a quantum suicide experiment under the MWI. To put some
 numbers on it, if there are 100 copies of you now, and in a minute 90
 of those copies will be terminated, and of the remaining 10 copies 3
 will be given a cup of coffee and 7 a cup of tea, then as one of the
 100 original copies according to the RSSA you have a 30% chance of
 surviving and getting coffee and a 70% chance of surviving and getting
 tea; i.e. you have a 100% chance of surviving. Proponents of the ASSA
 would say you have a 3% chance of surviving and getting coffee and a
 7% chance of surviving and getting tea, or a 10% chance of surviving
 overall. I think they would say something like this - the
 probabilities may be off since the total contribution of pre/post
 termination OM's has to be tallied up, but in any case they would not
 say you are guaranteed of surviving. The only way I can understand
 this latter view is in the context of an essentialist theory of
 personal identity, according to which once a body is dead it's dead,
 and it's impossible to live on as even a perfect copy.

 --
 Stathis Papaioannou- Hide quoted text -

 - Show quoted text -


Thank you Stathis, that was a really helpful reply and has confirmed
my own thinking on this in many respects.  I'm never quite sure why
list members work in copies though. I am hoping you (or anyone) can
clarify the following queries.

1. Can we not say that (under RSSA) my measure of existence has
initially say 100 units and if there is a 90% chance of being blown up
before being offered the tea or coffee then if I end up drinking tea
my relative measure has reduced to 70 units in this branch (note the
word relative here - I hope I'm getting this right).  If I find myself
drinking coffee then my relative measure has reduced to 30  (my global
measure over all universes still remains at 100 though?)

2. In this way (under RSSA) my relative measure continually decreases
within each branch(hence use of word relative) but my global measure
across the multiverse is conserved.  According to ASSA though my
measure deceases 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Rex Allen
On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 3:11 AM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:
 Okay, an underlying objective reality causes the order in what we
 experience - but then what causes the order in this underlying
 objective reality?

 You haven't answered any questions...you've just rephrased them in a
 way that suggests that they've been answered.

 What causes the order that we experience?  Objective Reality.

 What is Objective Reality?  That which causes the order we experience.

 Circles, sophistry, and question-begging.


 If your car won't start and I tell you it's because it's out of gas is that
 circular and question begging because I don't tell you why it's out of gas?

A more appropriate analogy would be me asking you why my car won't
start and you replying that it's because there's something interfering
with the process of establishing a self-sustaining state of
combustion.

This sounds good...but ultimately it just means that the car won't
start.  It could be caused by anything from being out of gas to not
having an engine in the car.  You've given me no new information, just
a new way of saying the car won't start.



 For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
 frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?



 No.  The randomness of radioactive decay is confirmed by observing it
 obeys
 Poisson statistics.  It could have been falsified by observing different
 statistics.  I think you are confusing random with uniformly distributed
 random.  Random doesn't mean everything is equally probable; only that
 some things have probabilities between 0 and 1.


 If I take a radioactive decay source, map the decay events into an 4
 bit number, then look for a sequence of 1000 numbers in which the
 number 0 comes up 90% of the time (instead of 6.25% of the time as
 would be expected for a uniform distribution), I will never, ever,
 ever observe this relative frequency?

 And there is a 0% chance that the very first 1000 numbers will exhibit
 this relative frequency?

 As I said, given enough time and enough attempts, it would seem to be
 inevitable.  And this would hold equally true for sample sizes of
 1, or 10, or whatever.  You'd just have to wait longer
 (probably).

 So, if we waiting long enough (very very very very very long),
 eventually we should see a 1000 year period where the randomness of a
 particular radioactive decay source was disconfirmed...it would not be
 observed as obeying Poisson statistics, right?


 No, because in considering whether it were disconfirmed or not we would take
 into account how long you had to wait to see that result.

Okay, granted.

So I started with the observation that Given randomness, what is the
significance of prediction generated from within the random system?

To which you responded:  That your method of prediction will yield
the right relative frequencies.

To which I then responded: Isn't it meaningless to speak of
predicting anything about a random process?

A better response on my part would have been:  that's an option
available to you from OUTSIDE the random system, not from within the
system, where your choices are by definition random.

FURTHER to take Jason's example of poker players, sure you could write
a card game that used a source of true randomness to shuffle the
deck.  And since a deck only has 52 cards, there is only a certain
number of permutations that can result in the hands dealt.  Poker has
rules about the values of the various permutations.  The rules
themselves aren't random.  The cards in the deck aren't random.  Only
the shuffling is random.

Given that there are determined aspects of the game, you can make
predictions about the overall process.  BUT you can't make predictions
about exactly which card out of the 52 available will be dealt first
from the deck for a single hand of poker...this part is fully
controlled by the random source that is used to determine the shuffled
order of the deck.

So.  I think this time your point is vitiated.


 But the fact that it's (contingently) helpful to think this way
 doesn't mean that you're justified in ascribing actual existence to
 your theoretical constructs.

 This goes for chairs and neighbors as well as electrons and quarks.


 But if they are what you use to think about the world why would you
 (provisionally) ascribe reality to something else (like consciousness) that
 you *don't* use to think about the world.  Of course you do use
 consciousness to think about other people, to whom you ascribe consciousness
 and motives and desires, etc. But I don't think that's what you mean - I
 think you are referring to thinking about the world in terms of your own
 conscious experience.

So I *know* that my conscious experience exists.  What I am conscious
OF varies over time, sometimes drastically.  Including my sense of
self.

While trying Salvia, I've actually had the feeling of being someone
else entirely, with no memory at 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 3:11 AM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

Rex Allen wrote:


Okay, an underlying objective reality causes the order in what we
experience - but then what causes the order in this underlying
objective reality?

You haven't answered any questions...you've just rephrased them in a
way that suggests that they've been answered.

What causes the order that we experience?  Objective Reality.

What is Objective Reality?  That which causes the order we experience.

Circles, sophistry, and question-begging.

  

If your car won't start and I tell you it's because it's out of gas is that
circular and question begging because I don't tell you why it's out of gas?



A more appropriate analogy would be me asking you why my car won't
start and you replying that it's because there's something interfering
with the process of establishing a self-sustaining state of
combustion.

This sounds good...but ultimately it just means that the car won't
start.  It could be caused by anything from being out of gas to not
having an engine in the car.  You've given me no new information, just
a new way of saying the car won't start.


  

For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?


  

No.  The randomness of radioactive decay is confirmed by observing it
obeys
Poisson statistics.  It could have been falsified by observing different
statistics.  I think you are confusing random with uniformly distributed
random.  Random doesn't mean everything is equally probable; only that
some things have probabilities between 0 and 1.



If I take a radioactive decay source, map the decay events into an 4
bit number, then look for a sequence of 1000 numbers in which the
number 0 comes up 90% of the time (instead of 6.25% of the time as
would be expected for a uniform distribution), I will never, ever,
ever observe this relative frequency?

And there is a 0% chance that the very first 1000 numbers will exhibit
this relative frequency?

As I said, given enough time and enough attempts, it would seem to be
inevitable.  And this would hold equally true for sample sizes of
1, or 10, or whatever.  You'd just have to wait longer
(probably).

So, if we waiting long enough (very very very very very long),
eventually we should see a 1000 year period where the randomness of a
particular radioactive decay source was disconfirmed...it would not be
observed as obeying Poisson statistics, right?

  

No, because in considering whether it were disconfirmed or not we would take
into account how long you had to wait to see that result.



Okay, granted.

So I started with the observation that Given randomness, what is the
significance of prediction generated from within the random system?

To which you responded:  That your method of prediction will yield
the right relative frequencies.

To which I then responded: Isn't it meaningless to speak of
predicting anything about a random process?

A better response on my part would have been:  that's an option
available to you from OUTSIDE the random system, not from within the
system, where your choices are by definition random.

FURTHER to take Jason's example of poker players, sure you could write
a card game that used a source of true randomness to shuffle the
deck.  And since a deck only has 52 cards, there is only a certain
number of permutations that can result in the hands dealt.  Poker has
rules about the values of the various permutations.  The rules
themselves aren't random.  The cards in the deck aren't random.  Only
the shuffling is random.

Given that there are determined aspects of the game, you can make
predictions about the overall process.  BUT you can't make predictions
about exactly which card out of the 52 available will be dealt first
from the deck for a single hand of poker...this part is fully
controlled by the random source that is used to determine the shuffled
order of the deck.

So.  I think this time your point is vitiated.


  

But the fact that it's (contingently) helpful to think this way
doesn't mean that you're justified in ascribing actual existence to
your theoretical constructs.

This goes for chairs and neighbors as well as electrons and quarks.

  

But if they are what you use to think about the world why would you
(provisionally) ascribe reality to something else (like consciousness) that
you *don't* use to think about the world.  Of course you do use
consciousness to think about other people, to whom you ascribe consciousness
and motives and desires, etc. But I don't think that's what you mean - I
think you are referring to thinking about the world in terms of your own
conscious experience.



So I *know* that my conscious experience exists.  What I am conscious
OF varies over time, sometimes drastically.  Including my sense of
self.

While trying Salvia, I've actually had the feeling of 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Rex Allen
On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 12:50 AM, Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com wrote:


 On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com
 wrote:
  Rex Allen wrote:
 
  What caused it to exist?
 
 
  Who said it needs a cause?

 Why this reality as opposed to nothing?  Given the principle of
 sufficient reason, wouldn't nothingness be the expected state of
 things?

 Imagine you and I are at two ends of a computer terminal, and you know I am
 about to send you a message.  The message encoding is such that there are
 two parts, where the first part indicates the message length, and the second
 the message.
 Notice that before I send any information, the possibility for the message I
 might send is unlimited.  You know neither the size nor the content.
 As you begin to receive my message, information I send you isn't giving you
 anything new, or creating any new possibility, instead it is restricting
 that possibility, telling you what the message is not from among all the
 infinite possibilities it might have been.
 It might be clearer to see how this works considering the multi-verse.  If I
 tell you I have a cup on my desk, but not what color it is, you can safely
 assume copies of you exist in various branches where it could be any color,
 blue, red, yellow, etc.  But if I then tell you it is indeed red, then that
 just restricted possibility.
 Now apply this concept to the question of why the universe exists, why
 something rather than nothing.  What is simpler, nothing existing, or no
 restrictions on what exists?  Using that message transfer example, to send
 you an empty message requires I send you 1 bit, it would be the bit '0',
 indicating the message is zero-length, followed by empty 0-bit long message.
  However, what if I sent no message at all?  That would take 0 bits, and all
 possibilities remain open.  Think of it as: is it easier for God to command
 that nothing exists, or easier for him to say nothing at all?
 This idea is explained in greater detail in Russel Standish's Theory of
 Nothing.

So in this view conscious exists as a fundamental entity?  Or
conscious experience is caused by something more fundamental?  Or it
supervenes on something more fundamental?

That of course is my core question...how does something unconscious
(matter, numbers, etc.) give rise to conscious experience?

You can just assert that it does as a brute fact, but there's nothing
in my concept of matter or numbers that would lead me to believe that
it should.  So, there's an explanatory gap.

My response to Brent a few minute ago I think covers most of this better.




 But, given that reality exists, why are things this way as opposed to
 some other way?


 If we follow from the assumption we were led to above, that everything
 existing is simpler than nothing existing then the laws of physics are
 determined by virtue of your ability to observe the universe around you.
  Other observers exist in other universes, with different physical laws, and
 also rightly ask why these laws?  The Anthropic principle holds that all
 observers find themselves in environments compatible with their existence,
 so these laws are what they are because they allowed conscious observers to
 evolve to become aware.

If the observer finds himself in an environment, then it is
obviously compatible with his existence.  He exists there after all.
Even if (to our way of thinking at least) it logically makes no sense
that he could.

Assuming computationalism, it seems possible to write a simulation
that would contain an observer who experiences himself in a chaotic
nonsensical reality.  So if we can generate this experience that way,
then this would seem to be part of the everything that exists.

What precludes this kind of observer existing?  You only mention
evolved consciousness in stable universes, but why not universes with
inconsistent nonsensical laws where observers come into being via
random processes, boltzmann brain-style?




 St. Augustine observed that if someone were to stand barefoot on the
 beach for all eternity, then his footmark on the sand would be eternal
 too, but nonetheless it would still have its cause – the foot making
 it. -  M. Heller, Ultimate Explanations of the Universe



 Concepts such as time, and cause and effect only exist to those inside the
 universe.  Outside of the universe it would be possible to have a 4-d view
 of the the entire evolution of the universe.  In this view it would be a
 static block.  Think of characters in a movie, with things changing frame by
 frame, but if the characters could jump outside the movie they are in they
 would see they exist on a fixed DVD, with all frames simultaneously
 existing.  They would then see that a question such as what started the
 movie playing from the beginning makes no sense, however it would still a
 legitimate question to ask where did this DVD come from?

Seems 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Jason Resch
On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 6:31 PM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 12:50 AM, Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com
 wrote:
 
 
  On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com
 wrote:
 
  On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com
  wrote:
   Rex Allen wrote:
  
   What caused it to exist?
  
  
   Who said it needs a cause?
 
  Why this reality as opposed to nothing?  Given the principle of
  sufficient reason, wouldn't nothingness be the expected state of
  things?
 
  Imagine you and I are at two ends of a computer terminal, and you know I
 am
  about to send you a message.  The message encoding is such that there are
  two parts, where the first part indicates the message length, and the
 second
  the message.
  Notice that before I send any information, the possibility for the
 message I
  might send is unlimited.  You know neither the size nor the content.
  As you begin to receive my message, information I send you isn't giving
 you
  anything new, or creating any new possibility, instead it is restricting
  that possibility, telling you what the message is not from among all the
  infinite possibilities it might have been.
  It might be clearer to see how this works considering the multi-verse.
  If I
  tell you I have a cup on my desk, but not what color it is, you can
 safely
  assume copies of you exist in various branches where it could be any
 color,
  blue, red, yellow, etc.  But if I then tell you it is indeed red, then
 that
  just restricted possibility.
  Now apply this concept to the question of why the universe exists, why
  something rather than nothing.  What is simpler, nothing existing, or no
  restrictions on what exists?  Using that message transfer example, to
 send
  you an empty message requires I send you 1 bit, it would be the bit '0',
  indicating the message is zero-length, followed by empty 0-bit long
 message.
   However, what if I sent no message at all?  That would take 0 bits, and
 all
  possibilities remain open.  Think of it as: is it easier for God to
 command
  that nothing exists, or easier for him to say nothing at all?
  This idea is explained in greater detail in Russel Standish's Theory of
  Nothing.

 So in this view conscious exists as a fundamental entity?  Or
 conscious experience is caused by something more fundamental?  Or it
 supervenes on something more fundamental?

 That of course is my core question...how does something unconscious
 (matter, numbers, etc.) give rise to conscious experience?


When I was younger I used to be dualist.  I thought: a person could be
happy, a person is made out of atoms, but how can atoms be happy?  But it is
easy to get lost in a subject if you analyze it from the wrong level.
 Consider how hard topics in biology such as cell division, or digestion
would be to understand if one attempted to analyze it at the atomic level.

Rather than asking how matter, or numbers give rise to conscious experience,
I think it is better to ask what kinds of systems are conscious, and what
properties of those systems is it that makes them conscious.  Complicating
the matter, is human experience is extraordinarily rich, your eyes take in
gigabits of data every second, and it is processed by trillions of neurons
and connections between them.

Therefore I think it helps to simplify consciousness as much as possible.
 Close your eyes in a quiet place, and pinch yourself, concentrating on the
experience of that pain and how it really feels.  Is the feeling of pain
anything more than simple knowledge coupled with a distracting compulsion to
try to stop it?  What does pain really feel like and how is the feeling
different from a lighter pinch which does not cause pain?

Imagine an intelligent being with a really simple eye, it can only tell if
it is in the presence of light or not.  When it is one group of neurons
fires and this knowledge is transfered to other parts of the brain so the
being knows and can talk about whether or not it is in light.  What would it
say if you asked it about its experience, what it is like to see light vs.
seeing dark.  Likely it wouldn't be able to communicate the difference, or
what it feels like, any more than you can describe to me how red is
different from green, it just knows they are different.

Now give this being a million such eyes, each one representing light or
darkness in a 1000x1000 grid, you could now ask the being about the status
of any of the million pixels it can see, as to the status, is it black or
white?  But with this ability the being still wouldn't be able to see as we
see, another layer of processing is needed to apply these states to a field
which could allow the being to talk about patches of lightness or darkness
in their field of vision, again this is simply knowledge, but summarized to
a simpler form to talk about.  Some people with brain damage are at this
level ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_agnosia ) so 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Rex Allen
On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 7:22 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:
 So ultimately, there is no reason you value the things you do...that's
 just the way things are.


 Suppose there was a reason - what would it be like?  And why would it make
 any difference whether there was a reason or not?   This seems like another
 instance of  the No explanation can satisfy Rex principle.  If you are
 determined to reject all explanation and rational inferences because they
 are not, in some undefinable way, complete explanations of everything then I
 can't see any point in discussing it further except to say I think you are
 philosophizing in bad faith.

Me?  Philosophizing in bad faith?  I was just thinking the same thing
about you!  Ha!

So I'm just trying to understand my situation here.  To me, my
existence seems quite perplexing.  An explanation is in order.

The chain of thought that led to my current proposal is not that complicated.

All you have to do is to consider the block universe concept, which I
choose because it's easy to talk about - but the points hold for any
physicalist theory of reality I think.

So, why does this block of space-time and it's contents exist?
Presumably there would be no reason, it just would.

Why would things be the way they are inside the block?  Presumably
there would be no reason, they just would be that way.

If certain configurations of matter inside the block gave rise to
conscious experience, why would this be so?  Presumably there would be
no reason for this either, it just would be so.

With that in mind, why would we prefer the explanation involving the
inexplicable existence of a space-time block whose contents somehow
gives rise to conscious experience *OVER* the explanation that the
conscious experiences in question just exist uncaused?

Well...I don't see why we should.  C

How do I explain the consistency and order of my uncaused experiences?
 Well, how do you explain the consistency and order of your space-time
block?

How can conscious experiences exist uncaused?  Well, how can
space-time blocks exist uncaused?

Any question you ask about my theory, I can just as easily ask about
yours...again, even if yours doesn't involve space-time blocks but
rather some other physicalist variation.

You can say that the space-time block explanation is more useful for
making predictions, but what does useful mean from inside the
context of a space-time block?

And as I've mentioned before, assuming that conscious experience is
fundamental doesn't preclude making predictions either.  In fact, the
predictions for future observations should be the same as those made
starting from physicalist assumptions.

But, whether consciousness is fundamental, or matter is fundamental,
or numbers are fundamental...the only reality that we'll ever *know*
is the reality of our conscious experience.  Life may not be a dream,
but it might as well be.

And, however things *really* are, there is no reason for it...they
just are that way.
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-17 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 7:22 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

Rex Allen wrote:


So ultimately, there is no reason you value the things you do...that's
just the way things are.

  

Suppose there was a reason - what would it be like?  And why would it make
any difference whether there was a reason or not?   This seems like another
instance of  the No explanation can satisfy Rex principle.  If you are
determined to reject all explanation and rational inferences because they
are not, in some undefinable way, complete explanations of everything then I
can't see any point in discussing it further except to say I think you are
philosophizing in bad faith.



Me?  Philosophizing in bad faith?  I was just thinking the same thing
about you!  Ha!

So I'm just trying to understand my situation here.  To me, my
existence seems quite perplexing.  An explanation is in order.
  


But you never say what would count as an explanation - which makes me 
think you don't know.  Which is OK.  But not knowing what the 
explanation would look like is a very poor reason for asserting no 
explanation is possible and things are just the way they are. I refer to 
my example of vitalism.  Until molecular biology was developed nobody 
could conceive of how understanding lifeless atoms and an molecules 
could explain life.  And in a sense it didn't explain it in the terms 
people were thinking of, e.g. finding an elan vital.  It didn't 
explain it at all; but it described it so thoroughly that people saw 
that asking for an explanation was the wrong question.  And that's not 
the only example.  People wondered what caused the planets to move 
through the sky.  Newton propounded his theory of universal gravitation 
and it became possible to predict not only the course of the planets but 
of any other body in motion through the solar system.   When Newton was 
asked to explain how gravity did this he replied, Hypothesi non fingo. 

The chain of thought that led to my current proposal is not that complicated.

All you have to do is to consider the block universe concept, which I
choose because it's easy to talk about - but the points hold for any
physicalist theory of reality I think.

So, why does this block of space-time and it's contents exist?
Presumably there would be no reason, it just would.

Why would things be the way they are inside the block?  Presumably
there would be no reason, they just would be that way.

If certain configurations of matter inside the block gave rise to
conscious experience, why would this be so?  Presumably there would be
no reason for this either, it just would be so.

With that in mind, why would we prefer the explanation involving the
inexplicable existence of a space-time block whose contents somehow
gives rise to conscious experience *OVER* the explanation that the
conscious experiences in question just exist uncaused?
  


First, because the block universe assumes a lot more that just things 
happen in spacetime.  There is a very large and extensively tested set 
of theories about how the events in spacetime are related and why we 
perceive different people and how their perceptions are transformations 
of one another's. 

Second, we don't always prefer a block universe explanation.  In fact we 
almost always use an evolving model in which the future is not 
determined as in a block, but depends on a mixture of choices, initial 
conditions and randomness.  When we use X in an explanation of Y we 
don't necessarily need an explanation of X, we need only know what X 
means in some operational sense.

Well...I don't see why we should.  C

How do I explain the consistency and order of my uncaused experiences?
 Well, how do you explain the consistency and order of your space-time
block?

How can conscious experiences exist uncaused?  Well, how can
space-time blocks exist uncaused?

Any question you ask about my theory, I can just as easily ask about
yours...again, even if yours doesn't involve space-time blocks but
rather some other physicalist variation.

You can say that the space-time block explanation is more useful for
making predictions, but what does useful mean from inside the
context of a space-time block?
  


It means when I design an airliner you needn't be afraid to fly on it.

And as I've mentioned before, assuming that conscious experience is
fundamental doesn't preclude making predictions either.  In fact, the
predictions for future observations should be the same as those made
starting from physicalist assumptions.
  


But my point is that this is a cheat.  You use all the mechanism and 
theories of physics to make the predictions even though as you point out 
there is no worked out theory of the connection between consciousness 
and physics.  On the one hand you use this to reject the physical 
reality model and on the other hand you help yourself to all it's 
predictive power and pretend it's the same as a consciousness is 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread John Mikes
Dear Brent, just a tiny (but fundamental?) question. You wrote (never mind
'on' what):

*One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?*
**
*the BIG  question:  are we in any position to identify 'real existence'
(are) vs. our assumptions - what we like to call here 'descriptions'? There
are so many as/pre/sumed thought experimental descriptions floating around
that it takes a superhuman mind to scroll back ALL with ALL consequences
included and arrive at a pristine primitive - if at all possible. Even in
such case: OUR judgement is completely blurred by the interpretations our
mind(set) formulates anything into, based on its limited computing (we call
it 'tissue-work?' with genetically differential origination?) plus the
previously absorbed experience (memory etc.) subjected to a 'human'(?) logic
what we cannot surpass (our mind?). *
**
*So how do we distinguish What - I S - ? *
**
*Bruno makes it easy: leave it to the universal machine - but I am afraid
that anyone of us imagining a universal machine and its given information
(interview?) (no matter if accepting the exclusivity of arithmetical
aspects, or not) still hovers within our presently applicable HUMAN terms
and explanations of OUR mind. It was different for Thomas Aquinas, for
Newton, for Moses, or the Vedaic sages, but WE have OUR vocabulary and
meaning-glossary to use, following our present 'ways' - and we use it that
way. *
**
*Excuse me if I do not refer to the rest of your very valuable post, I just
wanted to shoot at a presumption that bothers my agnosticism.*
**
*Best regards*
**
*John Mikes*
**
**



On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 2:06 AM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 12:05 AM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com
 wrote:
  Rex Allen wrote:
 
  On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
  stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 
 
  There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
  mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
  individual travelling in the forward direction through time.
 
 
  How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?
 
  Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
   Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
  about what we observe.
 
  For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
  configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
  causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
  applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
  the universe today.
 
  In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
  description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
  the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
  laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
  with evolution.
 
  There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
  Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
  the only way that they can.
 
  When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
  is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
  really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
  whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
  collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.
 
  Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
  have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.
 
  Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
  doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
  water a bit.
 
  Right?  Or wrong?
 
 

  You invoke physical determinism and causal laws - but you can look
  at those too as merely descriptions.

 One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?

 If the current state of the universe is a necessary consequence of
 it's initial state, then causal laws are what provide the necessary
 aspect of the relationship.  In this case, any question about why
 things are the way they are today can be transformed into a question
 about the initial state of the universe and the particular causal laws
 that govern it.  But what explains those things?  Presumably there is
 no explanation.  They just are that way.  So anything you say about
 them is merely a description of the way they are.

 BUT, if the current state of the universe could have been otherwise,
 even given it's initial state, then you are definitely correct, the
 causal laws are merely descriptions of how things happen to have
 happened.

 Surely there is some fact of the matter as to which of the above is
 the case, don't you think?  Though they both seem to lead to the same
 conclusion:  ultimately there is no explanation for the current state
 of the universe.


  Evolution assumes randomness, whether epistemic or inherent it serves to
  explain.

 So, 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 15, 6:35 am, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 2010/1/15 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

  1. Do you think dementia a cul de sac branch then (MWI or single
  world?

 There are branches where your mind gradually fades away to nothing.
 However, there are other branches where you start dementing then
 recover, as well as branches where you don't dement at all. It's the
 probability of being stuck in a branch where you incrementally dement
 but never actually reach total mindlessness that you have to worry
 about.

  2 Why is there any distinction between the RSSA and the ASSA. Can we
  just not say that the RSSA is the (apparent) consequences of some non
  uniform distribution over OM's accessed under the ASSA?
  3 Do you think this non uniform distribution is due to the laws of
  phyisics or is physics the consequence of the distribution?

 The distribution of OM's is not required to be uniform under either
 the ASSA or the RSSA. The RSSA says that given you already exist, your
 successor OM will be sampled from a subset of OM's which have your
 present OM in their immediate subjective past. The distribution of
 OM's is due to the nature of whatever process gives rise to them,
 whether that is a single human brain in a single world cosmology, an
 ensemble of brains following the laws governing the multiverse, or the
 UD running in Platonia.

 --
 Stathis Papaioannou



Thank you Stathis.

You can see I am struggling with these self sampling assumptions.  I
just cannot get a handle on how to think about them.  I noticed in a
past post (Many pasts - not according to QM) you said:

I attempted something like your water tank model of the multiverse with the
game I describe here:
http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m6608.html.
My conclusion was that the relative measure is important in determining the
successor OM (I think this is what you call the RSSA, although I prefer to
spell it out when the idea is at all problematic), but the absolute measure
makes no difference from the observer's point of view (is this a rejection
of the ASSA?).

One can imagine God shuffling all the instantiations of all the OM's
associated with a particular observer and pulling out an OM at random, which
will then more probably be an OM with higher absolute measure. But this is
not how it works from the observer's point of view, contemplating his place
in the multiverse. For a start, it is impossible to know what the absolute
measure of an OM is, because it makes no first person difference. If it did,
i.e. if multiple instantiations of an OM could somehow be distinguished,
then by definition it is not the one OM.

I could not access the link you gave. Do you have another link to it
because I think I need an analogy to help me here. Jesse Mazer's was a
good one (and correct as far as I know?) but your ideas relating to
how the RSSA can be thought of in this analogy would be welcomed too.

Kind regards

Nick Prince





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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 2:57 AM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

There is some reality independent of us but which we invent
theories about which refer to some aspects of this reality.



Is this reality deterministic or random?  

Random.


What caused it to exist?
  


Who said it needs a cause?


Why does it have the aspects that it has?  How is it that it gives
rise to conscious experience?
  


My theory is that physical processes of great complexity corresponding 
to what we call information processing and which include the 
construction of narrative histories in memory instantiate consciousness 
of a human type.  I think when we understand these processes and the 
brain better we will come to understand there are different degrees and 
kinds of consciousness and the term isn't technically useful.

So it seems to me that we have two options:

1) We can take the equations of physics as being in some way true of
an inexplicably existing independent reality.
  


We only take them a provisionally true and/or approximate.

OR

2) We can take the equations as being true of the contents of our
conscious experience. Experience which itself is fundamental and
uncaused…and thus also inexplicable.

Ultimately, I don't see any way to choose between these two options.
  
Then maybe they are the same.  Sometimes there are two ways of 
mathematically expressing a theory that are provably identical (e.g. 
Heisenberg's matrix mechanics and Schroedingers equation), yet one is 
much more fruitful.



BUT, option #2 has the benefit of greater simplicity.
  
But the ontology of physics refers to lots of things that are only very 
indirectly related to our conscious experience (like the Big Bang, and 
quarks).  I don't think (2) is simple or useful at all.  It is the 
extreme positivist philosophy which attempted to recast physics in terms 
only of relations between sense perceptions.  Mach was one its 
proponents and he refused to believe in atoms and considered them mere 
fictions because they couldn't be seen.  Now they can be seen by 
scanning tunneling microscopes.



Option #1 has the problem of explaining the existence and structure of
an independently existing universe/multiverse, 



I think you have a strange view of explanation.  We invent theories that 
described things and how they work.  If we find they have predictive 
power and are not contrary to experience we provisionally accept them 
and use them to make decisions and test newer theories.  An explanation 
doesn't have to explain everything in order to count as explanation.



PLUS also the problem
of explaining how this unconscious material world gives rise to
conscious experience…by which I mean qualia.
  


But #1 can do something to explain the events that make use believe 
other people exist and have experiences.  We can study them and their 
brains and how they function and make successful predictions about this 
or that will affect their qualia.  #2 can't predict anything except 
insofar as it can justify and take advantage of the success of #1.



Option #2 has the problem of explaining the existence and structure of
experience. But that’s it.

Note, however, that both options yield the same “ultimate
explanation”: Things just are the way they are.

The ultimate explanation for both is that there is no explanation for
the way things are.

So I’m not saying that the equations found in physics are wrong. I’m
just suggesting that they don’t mean what you think they mean.
  


What do you think I think they mean?


  

They do if they want a finite answer.



So you believe that the nature of reality is in some way infinite?


  

I would say that all that we can know are our perceptions, what we
consciously experience. From this we can derive all sorts of beliefs
about the way things *really* are. But these beliefs inevitably
involve unproved assumptions.

Therefore it seems to me that the fewer unproved assumptions, the
better. And it seems to me that the theory with the fewest of these is
that conscious experience is fundamental. Conscious experience is what
*really* exists and everything else is just an aspect of it.

  

Unfortunately that doesn't explain anything.



It's as good an explanation as anything you've provided.


  

It has no predictive power.



Ah, your fetish.

Given determinism, what is the significance of a prediction generated
from within the deterministic system?
  


That your method of prediction has some truth to it.


Given randomness, what is the significance of prediction generated
from within the random system?

  


That your method of prediction will yield the right relative frequencies.
  

 On the other hand evolution predicts that there will be a new flu virus
next year and it will be similar at the molecular level to the one this
year.



Same as happened last year.  And the year before.  Project that
forward, same as will happen next year.  Just come 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Brent Meeker

John Mikes wrote:
Dear Brent, just a tiny (but fundamental?) question. You wrote (never 
mind 'on' what):
 
/One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?/


It was Rex who wrote that.
// 
/the BIG  question:  are we in any position to identify 'real 
existence' *(are)* vs. our assumptions - what we like to call here 
'descriptions'? There are so many as/pre/sumed thought experimental 
descriptions floating around that it takes a superhuman mind to scroll 
back ALL with ALL consequences included and arrive at a pristine 
primitive - if at all possible. Even in such case: _OUR judgement_ is 
completely blurred by the interpretations our mind(set) formulates 
anything into, based on its limited computing (we call it 
'tissue-work?' with genetically differential origination?) plus the 
previously absorbed experience (memory etc.) subjected to a 'human'(?) 
logic what we cannot surpass (our mind?). /
// 
/So how do we distinguish What - I S - ?/


I don't think we do.  We formulate our theory/model of the world.  If it 
works we provisionally accept it as a good description of the world.  It 
might be true, but even it is we'll never *know* with certainty it is; 
it will always be provisional for us.  And the lesson of history is that 
it will be subsumed with a better, more accurate or more comprehesive 
theory in the future.


Brent


/ /
// 
/Bruno makes it easy: *leave it to the universal machine* - but I am 
afraid that anyone of us imagining a universal machine and its given 
information (interview?) (no matter if accepting the exclusivity of 
arithmetical aspects, or not) still hovers within our presently 
applicable HUMAN terms and explanations of OUR mind. It was different 
for Thomas Aquinas, for Newton, for Moses, or the Vedaic sages, but WE 
have OUR vocabulary and meaning-glossary to use, following our present 
'ways' - and we use it that way. /
// 
/Excuse me if I do not refer to the rest of your very valuable post, I 
just wanted to shoot at a presumption that bothers my agnosticism./
// 
/Best regards/
// 
/John Mikes/
// 
// 



 
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 2:06 AM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com 
mailto:rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:


On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 12:05 AM, Brent Meeker
meeke...@dslextreme.com mailto:meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:

 On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
 stath...@gmail.com mailto:stath...@gmail.com wrote:


 There is no real distinction between the different
possibilities you
 mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a
single
 individual travelling in the forward direction through time.


 How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal
powers?

 Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything
can it?
  Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
 about what we observe.

 For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
 configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
 causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
 applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current
state of
 the universe today.

 In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
 description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The
state of
 the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the
causal
 laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies
there, not
 with evolution.

 There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
 Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they
must…in
 the only way that they can.

 When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean
is “it
 is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
 really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
 whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
 collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

 Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
 have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

 Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
 doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
 water a bit.

 Right?  Or wrong?



 You invoke physical determinism and causal laws - but you can look
 at those too as merely descriptions.

One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?

If the current state of the universe is a necessary consequence of
it's initial state, then causal laws are what provide the necessary
aspect of the relationship.  In this case, any question about why
things are the way they are today can be transformed into a question
about the 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:

 What caused it to exist?


 Who said it needs a cause?

Why this reality as opposed to nothing?  Given the principle of
sufficient reason, wouldn't nothingness be the expected state of
things?

But, given that reality exists, why are things this way as opposed to
some other way?

St. Augustine observed that if someone were to stand barefoot on the
beach for all eternity, then his footmark on the sand would be eternal
too, but nonetheless it would still have its cause – the foot making
it. -  M. Heller, Ultimate Explanations of the Universe


Further, to quote Roger Scruton on the same topic:

“Suppose we were to accept the big bang hypothesis concerning the
origin of the universe. Only a short-sighted person would think that
we have then answered the question of how the world began. For what
caused the bang? Any answer will suppose that something already
existed. So the hypothesis cannot explain the origin of things. The
quest for an origin leads us forever backwards into the past. But
either it is unsatisfiable- in which case, how does cosmology explain
the existence of the world? - or it comes to rest in the postulation
of a causa sui - in which case, we have left the scientific question
unanswered and taking refuge in theology. Science itself pushes us
towards the antinomy, by forcing us always to the limits of nature.”


And a final quote for Wittgenstein:

“It’s not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it
exists.” - Proposition 6.44, Logico Tractatus Philosophicus



 Given determinism, what is the significance of a prediction generated
 from within the deterministic system?


 That your method of prediction has some truth to it.

Even if you accept that various configurations of matter can result in
conscious experiences, there's no reason to think that the experiences
will in any way reveal anything about the underlying system that
caused them, is there?


 Given randomness, what is the significance of prediction generated
 from within the random system?


 That your method of prediction will yield the right relative frequencies.

For randomness there are no right relative frequencies, are there?
Relative frequencies are just the number of times a particular event
occurred divided by the total number of trials.

For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?

Isn't it meaningless to speak of predicting anything about a random process?



 Why does it have the aspects that it has?  How is it that it gives
 rise to conscious experience?


 My theory is that physical processes of great complexity corresponding to
 what we call information processing and which include the construction of
 narrative histories in memory instantiate consciousness of a human type.  I
 think when we understand these processes and the brain better we will come
 to understand there are different degrees and kinds of consciousness and the
 term isn't technically useful.

You seem to have no problem with the existence of matter as a given.
No explanation needed, apparently.  Why judge conscious experience by
a different standard?

It seems to me that you are starting with a strong bias towards matter
as fundamental, instead of starting with a clean slate and working
forward from first principles.

So we start with our observations, and then we construct narratives
that are consistent with what we have observed. These narratives may
be useful in analyzing recurring patterns in the records of our past
observations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are true of
anything that exists outside of our observations.

The possible existence of matter in the form of quarks and electrons
(or strings, or quantum fields, or whatever) is consistent with our
observations, but obviously we have no direct knowledge of quarks and
electrons or the rest. Their existence, and the physical laws
associated with them, are inferred from our observations.

Even something right in front of me, like my chair, I still only know
through my conscious experience. I see a chair here, but I don’t know
that the chair actually exists. I could be dreaming, for instance, in
which case the chair exists entirely within my mind.

Now, the world that I perceive is pretty stable and orderly. What
could explain all of that order? Well…ultimately, nothing can explain
it. Ultimately you have to conclude that my perceptions just are that
way.

For instance, let’s say that I explain the order that I perceive by
postulating that a world of matter and energy with governing laws
exists independently of me. Okay, now we just need to explain this
external world. Where did the matter and energy come from? What causes
the governing laws? Why this kind of matter and energy and physical
laws as opposed to some other?

In other words, what caused the cause of my orderly perceptions? 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM, John Mikes jami...@gmail.com wrote:
 Dear Brent, just a tiny (but fundamental?) question. You wrote (never mind
 'on' what):

 One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?

 the BIG  question:  are we in any position to identify 'real existence'
 (are) vs. our assumptions - what we like to call here 'descriptions'? There
 are so many as/pre/sumed thought experimental descriptions floating around
 that it takes a superhuman mind to scroll back ALL with ALL consequences
 included and arrive at a pristine primitive - if at all possible. Even in
 such case: OUR judgement is completely blurred by the interpretations our
 mind(set) formulates anything into, based on its limited computing (we call
 it 'tissue-work?' with genetically differential origination?) plus the
 previously absorbed experience (memory etc.) subjected to a 'human'(?) logic
 what we cannot surpass (our mind?).

 So how do we distinguish What - I S - ?


Let me just through this passage about Kant out there, to see if it
gets any traction with you:

“According to Kant, it is vital always to distinguish between the
distinct realms of phenomena and noumena. Phenomena are the
appearances, which constitute the our experience; noumena are the
(presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality. All of our
synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not
the noumenal. (It is only at this level, with respect to what we can
experience, that we are justified in imposing the structure of our
concepts onto the objects of our knowledge.) Since the thing in itself
(Ding an sich) would by definition be entirely independent of our
experience of it, we are utterly ignorant of the noumenal realm.

Thus, on Kant’s view, the most fundamental laws of nature, like the
truths of mathematics, are knowable precisely because they make no
effort to describe the world as it really is but rather prescribe the
structure of the world as we experience it. By applying the pure forms
of sensible intuition and the pure concepts of the understanding, we
achieve a systematic view of the phenomenal realm but learn nothing of
the noumenal realm. Math and science are certainly true of the
phenomena; only metaphysics claims to instruct us about the noumena.

By the nature of reason itself, we are required to suppose our own
existence as substantial beings and the possibility of our free action
in a world of causal regularity. The absence of any formal
justification for these notions makes it impossible for us to claim
that we know them to be true, but it can in no way diminish the depth
of our belief that they are.”

-- Rex
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
  

Rex Allen wrote:


What caused it to exist?

  

Who said it needs a cause?



Why this reality as opposed to nothing?  Given the principle of
sufficient reason, wouldn't nothingness be the expected state of
things?

But, given that reality exists, why are things this way as opposed to
some other way?

St. Augustine observed that if someone were to stand barefoot on the
beach for all eternity, then his footmark on the sand would be eternal
too, but nonetheless it would still have its cause – the foot making
it. -  M. Heller, Ultimate Explanations of the Universe


Further, to quote Roger Scruton on the same topic:

“Suppose we were to accept the big bang hypothesis concerning the
origin of the universe. Only a short-sighted person would think that
we have then answered the question of how the world began. For what
caused the bang? Any answer will suppose that something already
existed. So the hypothesis cannot explain the origin of things. The
quest for an origin leads us forever backwards into the past. But
either it is unsatisfiable- in which case, how does cosmology explain
the existence of the world? - or it comes to rest in the postulation
of a causa sui - in which case, we have left the scientific question
unanswered and taking refuge in theology. Science itself pushes us
towards the antinomy, by forcing us always to the limits of nature.”


And a final quote for Wittgenstein:

“It’s not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it
exists.” - Proposition 6.44, Logico Tractatus Philosophicus


  

Given determinism, what is the significance of a prediction generated
from within the deterministic system?

  

That your method of prediction has some truth to it.



Even if you accept that various configurations of matter can result in
conscious experiences, there's no reason to think that the experiences
will in any way reveal anything about the underlying system that
caused them, is there?
  


It could if the experiences are perceptions of  material processes which 
can be correlated with conscious experiences - as when neurosurgeons 
electrically excite sites on the brain and at the same time the patient 
reports his conscious experience.


  

Given randomness, what is the significance of prediction generated
from within the random system?

  

That your method of prediction will yield the right relative frequencies.



For randomness there are no right relative frequencies, are there?
Relative frequencies are just the number of times a particular event
occurred divided by the total number of trials.

For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?
  


No.  The randomness of radioactive decay is confirmed by observing it 
obeys Poisson statistics.  It could have been falsified by observing 
different statistics.  I think you are confusing random with uniformly 
distributed random.  Random doesn't mean everything is equally 
probable; only that some things have probabilities between 0 and 1.

Isn't it meaningless to speak of predicting anything about a random process?
  


Certainly not.  Stochastic processes are used in prediction all the 
time.  If you fly on an airliner you're relying on the engineer's 
stochastic prediction of stress cycles due to turbulence.



  

Why does it have the aspects that it has?  How is it that it gives
rise to conscious experience?

  

My theory is that physical processes of great complexity corresponding to
what we call information processing and which include the construction of
narrative histories in memory instantiate consciousness of a human type.  I
think when we understand these processes and the brain better we will come
to understand there are different degrees and kinds of consciousness and the
term isn't technically useful.



You seem to have no problem with the existence of matter as a given.
No explanation needed, apparently.  Why judge conscious experience by
a different standard?

It seems to me that you are starting with a strong bias towards matter
as fundamental, instead of starting with a clean slate and working
forward from first principles.
  


That's because taking material processes as fundamental has led to great 
success, while taking consciousness as fundamental led to mysticism.



So we start with our observations, and then we construct narratives
that are consistent with what we have observed. These narratives may
be useful in analyzing recurring patterns in the records of our past
observations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are true of
anything that exists outside of our observations.
  

Sure, that's why they are models and theories - not THE TRUTH.


The possible existence of matter in the form of quarks and electrons
(or strings, or quantum fields, or whatever) is consistent with our

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM, John Mikes jami...@gmail.com wrote:
  

Dear Brent, just a tiny (but fundamental?) question. You wrote (never mind
'on' what):

One can look at them that way, but ARE they that way?

the BIG  question:  are we in any position to identify 'real existence'
(are) vs. our assumptions - what we like to call here 'descriptions'? There
are so many as/pre/sumed thought experimental descriptions floating around
that it takes a superhuman mind to scroll back ALL with ALL consequences
included and arrive at a pristine primitive - if at all possible. Even in
such case: OUR judgement is completely blurred by the interpretations our
mind(set) formulates anything into, based on its limited computing (we call
it 'tissue-work?' with genetically differential origination?) plus the
previously absorbed experience (memory etc.) subjected to a 'human'(?) logic
what we cannot surpass (our mind?).

So how do we distinguish What - I S - ?




Let me just through this passage about Kant out there, to see if it
gets any traction with you:

“According to Kant, it is vital always to distinguish between the
distinct realms of phenomena and noumena. Phenomena are the
appearances, which constitute the our experience; noumena are the
(presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality. All of our
synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not
the noumenal. (It is only at this level, with respect to what we can
experience, that we are justified in imposing the structure of our
concepts onto the objects of our knowledge.) Since the thing in itself
(Ding an sich) would by definition be entirely independent of our
experience of it, we are utterly ignorant of the noumenal realm.

Thus, on Kant’s view, the most fundamental laws of nature, like the
truths of mathematics, are knowable precisely because they make no
effort to describe the world as it really is but rather prescribe the
structure of the world as we experience it. By applying the pure forms
of sensible intuition and the pure concepts of the understanding, we
achieve a systematic view of the phenomenal realm but learn nothing of
the noumenal realm. Math and science are certainly true of the
phenomena; only metaphysics claims to instruct us about the noumena.

By the nature of reason itself, we are required to suppose our own
existence as substantial beings and the possibility of our free action
in a world of causal regularity. The absence of any formal
justification for these notions makes it impossible for us to claim
that we know them to be true, but it can in no way diminish the depth
of our belief that they are.”

-- Rex
  
I think Kant over generalizes and from We can't know the ding an sich 
to We can't know anything (about reality).  If there is no connection 
between what we can observe and Kant's noumena, then his ding is otiose 
and should be sliced off by Ockham's razor.  His noumena is like the 
deist God as an explanation of the origin of the universe - it adds 
nothing but mysticism.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Rex Allen
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Rex Allen wrote:
 It seems to me that you are starting with a strong bias towards matter
 as fundamental, instead of starting with a clean slate and working
 forward from first principles.


 That's because taking material processes as fundamental has led to great
 success, while taking consciousness as fundamental led to mysticism.

Mysticism isn't the inevitable result.

Our observations certainly exist, even if they are uncaused and
fundamental. They certainly seem to have a certain order and
consistency, even if there is no real reason for this. The scientific
method can still be applied to look for and analyze recurring patterns
in our observations, and it makes as much sense to do this as not.  We
have to do something to pass the time, after all.



 The possible existence of matter in the form of quarks and electrons
 (or strings, or quantum fields, or whatever) is consistent with our
 observations, but obviously we have no direct knowledge of quarks and
 electrons or the rest. Their existence, and the physical laws
 associated with them, are inferred from our observations.

 Even something right in front of me, like my chair, I still only know
 through my conscious experience. I see a chair here, but I don’t know
 that the chair actually exists. I could be dreaming, for instance, in
 which case the chair exists entirely within my mind.

 Now, the world that I perceive is pretty stable and orderly. What
 could explain all of that order?

 An underlying objective reality.  That's why we tend to think there is a
 reality and dreams, which are less consistent, are not real.

Okay, an underlying objective reality causes the order in what we
experience - but then what causes the order in this underlying
objective reality?

You haven't answered any questions...you've just rephrased them in a
way that suggests that they've been answered.

What causes the order that we experience?  Objective Reality.

What is Objective Reality?  That which causes the order we experience.

Circles, sophistry, and question-begging.


 For a random process, if you wait long enough you can get any relative
 frequency of events for any desired sample size, correct?


 No.  The randomness of radioactive decay is confirmed by observing it obeys
 Poisson statistics.  It could have been falsified by observing different
 statistics.  I think you are confusing random with uniformly distributed
 random.  Random doesn't mean everything is equally probable; only that
 some things have probabilities between 0 and 1.

If I take a radioactive decay source, map the decay events into an 4
bit number, then look for a sequence of 1000 numbers in which the
number 0 comes up 90% of the time (instead of 6.25% of the time as
would be expected for a uniform distribution), I will never, ever,
ever observe this relative frequency?

And there is a 0% chance that the very first 1000 numbers will exhibit
this relative frequency?

As I said, given enough time and enough attempts, it would seem to be
inevitable.  And this would hold equally true for sample sizes of
1, or 10, or whatever.  You'd just have to wait longer
(probably).

So, if we waiting long enough (very very very very very long),
eventually we should see a 1000 year period where the randomness of a
particular radioactive decay source was disconfirmed...it would not be
observed as obeying Poisson statistics, right?


 Well…ultimately, nothing can explain
 it. Ultimately you have to conclude that my perceptions just are that
 way.


 I'm not sure what ultimately means in this context.  I asked before what
 you consider a real explanation.  Is it the same as ultimate
 explanation?  Do we have to *know* with certainty the explanation is true?

An ultimate explanation I guess would be a final explanation, the
last bit of information that can (even in principle) be provided which
is relevant to the question posed.

I'd say that there is no reason for it, it just is that way is
pretty final.  And, for me at least, does produce some feeling of
understanding.


 In other words, what caused the cause of my orderly perceptions? And
 what caused that cause? And so on.

 As I said in an earlier post on another thread, you either have to
 postulate an infinite chain of causes, or a first cause.

 Or you can say, I don't know yet.

Do you see room for a third option?  Or have an intuition that there
may be a third option?


 and this inexplicableness of it seems to be necessary, not
 contingent.

 It seems to me that nothing is lost in concluding that consciousness
 is fundamental,

 A lot is lost, .e.g all of physical science, unless you can show that it can
 be reformulated purely in terms of conscious events - which is what the
 Positivists tried.

I don't see why anything has to be reformulated in terms of conscious events.

Our conscious experiences exist.  There are recurring patterns to what
we observe.  

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-16 Thread Jason Resch
On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM, Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com wrote:

 On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com
 wrote:
  Rex Allen wrote:
 
  What caused it to exist?
 
 
  Who said it needs a cause?

 Why this reality as opposed to nothing?  Given the principle of
 sufficient reason, wouldn't nothingness be the expected state of
 things?


Imagine you and I are at two ends of a computer terminal, and you know I am
about to send you a message.  The message encoding is such that there are
two parts, where the first part indicates the message length, and the second
the message.

Notice that before I send any information, the possibility for the message I
might send is unlimited.  You know neither the size nor the content.

As you begin to receive my message, information I send you isn't giving you
anything new, or creating any new possibility, instead it is restricting
that possibility, telling you what the message is not from among all the
infinite possibilities it might have been.

It might be clearer to see how this works considering the multi-verse.  If I
tell you I have a cup on my desk, but not what color it is, you can safely
assume copies of you exist in various branches where it could be any color,
blue, red, yellow, etc.  But if I then tell you it is indeed red, then that
just restricted possibility.

Now apply this concept to the question of why the universe exists, why
something rather than nothing.  What is simpler, nothing existing, or no
restrictions on what exists?  Using that message transfer example, to send
you an empty message requires I send you 1 bit, it would be the bit '0',
indicating the message is zero-length, followed by empty 0-bit long message.
 However, what if I sent no message at all?  That would take 0 bits, and all
possibilities remain open.  Think of it as: is it easier for God to command
that nothing exists, or easier for him to say nothing at all?

This idea is explained in greater detail in Russel Standish's Theory of
Nothing.



 But, given that reality exists, why are things this way as opposed to
 some other way?


If we follow from the assumption we were led to above, that everything
existing is simpler than nothing existing then the laws of physics are
determined by virtue of your ability to observe the universe around you.
 Other observers exist in other universes, with different physical laws, and
also rightly ask why these laws?  The Anthropic principle holds that all
observers find themselves in environments compatible with their existence,
so these laws are what they are because they allowed conscious observers to
evolve to become aware.


 St. Augustine observed that if someone were to stand barefoot on the
 beach for all eternity, then his footmark on the sand would be eternal
 too, but nonetheless it would still have its cause – the foot making
 it. -  M. Heller, Ultimate Explanations of the Universe



Concepts such as time, and cause and effect only exist to those inside the
universe.  Outside of the universe it would be possible to have a 4-d view
of the the entire evolution of the universe.  In this view it would be a
static block.  Think of characters in a movie, with things changing frame by
frame, but if the characters could jump outside the movie they are in they
would see they exist on a fixed DVD, with all frames simultaneously
existing.  They would then see that a question such as what started the
movie playing from the beginning makes no sense, however it would still a
legitimate question to ask where did this DVD come from?


 Further, to quote Roger Scruton on the same topic:

 “Suppose we were to accept the big bang hypothesis concerning the
 origin of the universe. Only a short-sighted person would think that
 we have then answered the question of how the world began. For what
 caused the bang? Any answer will suppose that something already
 existed. So the hypothesis cannot explain the origin of things. The
 quest for an origin leads us forever backwards into the past. But
 either it is unsatisfiable- in which case, how does cosmology explain
 the existence of the world? - or it comes to rest in the postulation
 of a causa sui - in which case, we have left the scientific question
 unanswered and taking refuge in theology. Science itself pushes us
 towards the antinomy, by forcing us always to the limits of nature.”


This question is more akin to asking why does the DVD exist?  The best
answer I have found comes from extending arithmetical realism, the idea that
things such as numbers exist, without cause, timelessly.  One school of
thought believes that numbers are simply ideas and human inventions, but I
disagree.  There are an infinite number of facts one could state about the
number 3, yet of course no single mind in this universe could hold all those
facts.  Should that imply that facts which haven't been in someone's head
are not true, or that numbers too big for anyone to have thought of don't
exist?


Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-15 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/15 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

  

Or why not suppose you are your body (including your genes).  Then evolution
would be able to have had the imputed effect on you that you suppose it
does.



The actual effect of any adaptive behaviour must be through the genes,
but evolution could not work directly on a belief about genes. Our
psychology may act against our genes if we are taken out of the
environment in which we evolved; for example the number of children
people choose to have in the modern world is inversely proportional to
the resources they control.


  
I guess I should be more explicit.  I found your post bemusingly 
inconsistent.  You theorized that the continuity of your experience was 
an illusion produced by evolution and you really exist as a sequence 
of discrete OMs.  But evolution is a process that acts on genes and in 
order to have any effect on the real you requires continuity, not only 
of your body moment-by-moment and day-by-day but of your genes over 
millenia.  So it strikes me as very strange to invoke it as creating an 
*illusion* of continuity.  Sort of like the Sun producing an illusion of 
daylight.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

 I guess I should be more explicit.  I found your post bemusingly
 inconsistent.  You theorized that the continuity of your experience was an
 illusion produced by evolution and you really exist as a sequence of
 discrete OMs.  But evolution is a process that acts on genes and in order to
 have any effect on the real you requires continuity, not only of your body
 moment-by-moment and day-by-day but of your genes over millenia.  So it
 strikes me as very strange to invoke it as creating an *illusion* of
 continuity.  Sort of like the Sun producing an illusion of daylight.

Genes and everything else change over time. There is no absolute basis
for saying one physical object is the same as another, although by
convention we ignore what we consider unimportant changes and say it
is the same object. Sometimes the changes are not unimportant but we
still say it's the same. For example, the infant may share almost
nothing physically or mentally with the adult but we say they are the
same person because there is a continuous series of intermediate
stages between them. But when we consider duplication thought
experiments not only is there a physical discontinuity, we may end up
with several copies each of whom has equal claim to being the same
person as the original. What is the truth of the matter regarding the
person who gets copied? Who should get access to his bank accounts?
How is it possible that I could find myself waking up somewhere other
than in my bed tomorrow if I am surreptitiously copied during the
night when the original stays in bed undisturbed? And how do I talk
about being the same person if it turns out we live in a multiverse?

At the very least, if we speak in terms of person-stages or
observer-moments it allows us to refer to what we mean unambiguously.
The specification can be a physical description of the person-stage
but from a subjective point of view it is better to speak of
observer-moments, since I am mainly interested in my mind and only
indirectly in the hardware that produces it. The duration of a
moment can be as long as it needs to be for the discussion at hand.
However, you can see that if I can be copied at any moment, then there
is no absolute reason why the next moment should be me; it's only
me contingently, because there are no competing OM's. And if there
are competing OM's there is no absolute way to say which one or more,
if any, should continue as me. In practice, I calculate
probabilities as if I am still living in the single track world in
which humans evolved.

My conclusion is that in general it is simplest to think in terms of
discrete OM's which associate into persons due to their information
content. Only in the special case of the single track world with which
we are all familiar is it simpler to say that there is a unique person
persisting through time.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/14 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

  

I agree, there is no subjective difference.  But I think there is a logical
difference, if you are only your current OM why go to work when some other
OM will enjoy the fruits of that labor?  But by attaching every OM to the
same observer then there is a reason to make sacrifices such as work to the
benefit and hopefully overall improvement of the collection of OMs.



I don't think there is a logical difference either. What you make of
this problem is probably the single most important thing in the
philosophy of personal identity.

Suppose in the future you wish to travel by means of destructive
teleportation. There are two types of ticket that you can buy: Economy
Class and First Class. Economy Class costs $500 and guarantees that
the person coming out at the receiving station has the same physical
structure, and hence the same memories and other mental attributes, as
the person who went into the sending station. First Class costs $1000
and is the same as Economy Class, except that it is additionally
guaranteed that the person coming out is the same person as the one
who went in. Which ticket would you buy?


  
The Economy Class ticket.  The First Class is a guarantee they'll 
destroy the original.  :-)


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/14 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
of them.


 How do they know this though?  If the probability distribution was
 uniform then versions of me at any age would be just as probable.
 This is what I don’t get because they must be assuming there is some
 (unknown) probability distribution which accounts for the fact that
 thousand year old people are extremely unlikely.  What they must be
 assuming is that each OM arises in a non uniform manner.  I presume
 they think this because the laws of physics underpins the biochemical
 effects which make us age and this must be represented in the
 distribution (somehow). So there is an implicit assumption about the
 probability distribution on OM’s lurking around. So why not accept
 that the distribution is based on the Born rule which means RSSA?

The probability distribution is not uniform since as you get older
more and more versions of you die, so that you take up an
ever-narrower slice of the multiverse.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/14 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 Also if QTI is true then my birth OM could be just the consistence
 extension of the consciousness of someone who has died.  QTI implies
 we always have a next observer moment.  Somehow this begs the question
 as to whether consiousness is conserved somehow. Hence there never was
 an (initial) original birth OM for me just like there will be no cul
 de sac one.

You don't need QTI or a multiverse if you want to say that your birth
OM is the consistent extension of someone who just died; it's
trivially true anyway, since at the moment of death and the moment of
birth (or perhaps somewhat earlier) there is very little conscious
content. This also implies that there will be cul de sacs of a sort
even if the QTI is true, since you could go down the path of
increasing dementia.

I'm not sure how the probabilities should be calculated in the case of
partial memory loss. Suppose you are destructively scanned and eleven
copies of you are made. One of these copies (call it type A) is
perfect but the other ten copies (call them type B) are brain damaged
with only 10% of your memories and other attributes intact. What is
your expectation that you will end up a type A or a type B copy? A
reasonable-sounding answer might be 1/2 for each, incorporating a
weighting for number of copies and degree of fidelity. But what about
the zillions of conscious beings in the universe who may each have one
zillionth of your mental attributes?


-- 
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Jason Resch
On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 1:10 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.comwrote:

 2010/1/14 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

  I agree, there is no subjective difference.  But I think there is a
 logical
  difference, if you are only your current OM why go to work when some
 other
  OM will enjoy the fruits of that labor?  But by attaching every OM to the
  same observer then there is a reason to make sacrifices such as work to
 the
  benefit and hopefully overall improvement of the collection of OMs.

 I don't think there is a logical difference either. What you make of
 this problem is probably the single most important thing in the
 philosophy of personal identity.

 Suppose in the future you wish to travel by means of destructive
 teleportation. There are two types of ticket that you can buy: Economy
 Class and First Class. Economy Class costs $500 and guarantees that
 the person coming out at the receiving station has the same physical
 structure, and hence the same memories and other mental attributes, as
 the person who went into the sending station. First Class costs $1000
 and is the same as Economy Class, except that it is additionally
 guaranteed that the person coming out is the same person as the one
 who went in. Which ticket would you buy?



I would think the business is operating a scam and possibly report them for
making deceptive claims in advertising.  There is no difference between the
economy or first class tickets other than price and so I would go with the
economy level ticket.  I don't see how this is related, however, to the
distinction between you being a single timeless OM, and only that OM, and
you being a collection of, (possibly all) OMs.  Once someone admits personal
identity can be composed of multiple OMs it becomes a very unclear where to
draw the line on where that person ends and another begins.  Consider
evolution through time, and through the multi-verse, alternate you's in
other branches where you differ so little that even you could not tell
yourself apart.  It forms a spectrum that could in extremely small steps
connect you to any other person, so under that view where can you draw the
line?  How many genes or how many memories must differ for you not to be
you?

Jason
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

 I would think the business is operating a scam and possibly report them for
 making deceptive claims in advertising.  There is no difference between the
 economy or first class tickets other than price and so I would go with the
 economy level ticket.  I don't see how this is related, however, to the
 distinction between you being a single timeless OM, and only that OM, and
 you being a collection of, (possibly all) OMs.  Once someone admits personal
 identity can be composed of multiple OMs it becomes a very unclear where to
 draw the line on where that person ends and another begins.

But personal identity is composed of multiple OM's anyway, even if
there's just one biological version of you who lives and eventually
dies in a single physical universe. You had a moment of experience
THEN and another moment of experience NOW: two OM's. Are they two
single timeless OM's or are they both part of the stream of
consciousness of the one individual? The distinction is meaningless.
OM's will either seem to be connected or disconnected due to their
content. I like to say that each OM exists independently and
transiently and continuity of consciousness is an illusion, because it
simplifies questions about personal identity.

 Consider
 evolution through time, and through the multi-verse, alternate you's in
 other branches where you differ so little that even you could not tell
 yourself apart.  It forms a spectrum that could in extremely small steps
 connect you to any other person, so under that view where can you draw the
 line?  How many genes or how many memories must differ for you not to be
 you?

There's no clear answer. This is where the idea that we live only
transiently is helpful: there is no fact-of-the-matter about who is me
and who isn't since none of them are me, but we can talk about under
what circumstances the illusion of continuity of identity would be
preserved.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 14, 9:51 am, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.com wrote:
 2010/1/14 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:







 The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
 thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
 low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
 of them.

  How do they know this though?  If the probability distribution was
  uniform then versions of me at any age would be just as probable.
  This is what I don’t get because they must be assuming there is some
  (unknown) probability distribution which accounts for the fact that
  thousand year old people are extremely unlikely.  What they must be
  assuming is that each OM arises in a non uniform manner.  I presume
  they think this because the laws of physics underpins the biochemical
  effects which make us age and this must be represented in the
  distribution (somehow). So there is an implicit assumption about the
  probability distribution on OM’s lurking around. So why not accept
  that the distribution is based on the Born rule which means RSSA?

 The probability distribution is not uniform since as you get older
 more and more versions of you die, so that you take up an
 ever-narrower slice of the multiverse.

 --
 Stathis Papaioannou- Hide quoted text -

 - Show quoted text -

So
1. Do you think dementia a cul de sac branch then (MWI or single
world?
2 Why is there any distinction between the RSSA and the ASSA. Can we
just not say that the RSSA is the (apparent) consequences of some non
uniform distribution over OM's accessed under the ASSA?
3 Do you think this non uniform distribution is due to the laws of
phyisics or is physics the consequence of the distribution?


Nick Prince
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread russell standish
On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:21:34AM -0600, Jason Resch wrote:
 If you don't believe they are you, that would imply when you put a pot of
 coffee on the stove, you do so out of altruism.  Since it only benefits
 those future observers who have memory of being you but are not.  It's not a
 useful philosophy for building anything on top of such as decision making as
 according to that theory, observers cannot make changes affecting what they
 will experience (since they only are that one moment).  Perhaps things
 really are that way, but evolution has created a useful illusion of
 continuity which leads to the overall betterment of OM's on average.  Rather
 than sit around never making coffee because it will be someone else who
 experiences it, you decide to make it knowing someone else will be better
 off for it.  As you said, there would be no observational distinction
 between whether you are one OM, one track of OMs, or all OMs, but they lead
 to different philosophies, the first being perhaps something like nihilism,
 nothing you do matters to your.  The second leads to egocentrism and
 selfishness.  The last leads to a golden rule, sacrifice for others type of
 ethic.  I think the middle one is the most complex, because it has the
 hardest definition as to what OMs to group together.  Of the first and last,
 the last is perhaps simpler too, since it could be thought to attach one
 observer to all OMs rather than an observer for each OM.
 
 
 Jason

The last viewpoint leads to a kind of fatalism - all these other OMs
exist/happen anyway, nothing I can do will change that.

To get the golden rule evolving, you need a complex system of
rewards and punishments, and perhaps a fair amount of shared DNA (see
the usual evolutionary explanations for altruism). But it still
evolves under the second option above.

Cheers

-- 


Prof Russell Standish  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Mathematics  
UNSW SYDNEY 2052 hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
Australiahttp://www.hpcoders.com.au

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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Jason Resch
On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 3:22 PM, russell standish li...@hpcoders.com.auwrote:

 On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:21:34AM -0600, Jason Resch wrote:
  If you don't believe they are you, that would imply when you put a pot of
  coffee on the stove, you do so out of altruism.  Since it only benefits
  those future observers who have memory of being you but are not.  It's
 not a
  useful philosophy for building anything on top of such as decision making
 as
  according to that theory, observers cannot make changes affecting what
 they
  will experience (since they only are that one moment).  Perhaps things
  really are that way, but evolution has created a useful illusion of
  continuity which leads to the overall betterment of OM's on average.
  Rather
  than sit around never making coffee because it will be someone else who
  experiences it, you decide to make it knowing someone else will be better
  off for it.  As you said, there would be no observational distinction
  between whether you are one OM, one track of OMs, or all OMs, but they
 lead
  to different philosophies, the first being perhaps something like
 nihilism,
  nothing you do matters to your.  The second leads to egocentrism and
  selfishness.  The last leads to a golden rule, sacrifice for others type
 of
  ethic.  I think the middle one is the most complex, because it has the
  hardest definition as to what OMs to group together.  Of the first and
 last,
  the last is perhaps simpler too, since it could be thought to attach one
  observer to all OMs rather than an observer for each OM.
 
 
  Jason

 The last viewpoint leads to a kind of fatalism - all these other OMs
 exist/happen anyway, nothing I can do will change that.



If a person or society evolves to become more altruistic it would affect the
distribution and measure of future OMs, hopefully to the positive, where
there would be fewer suffering OMs.  This does enter into the whole
pre-destination/free-will question, but so long as the measure of OMs is of
importance I don't think the last viewpoint leads to fatalism.




 To get the golden rule evolving, you need a complex system of
 rewards and punishments, and perhaps a fair amount of shared DNA (see
 the usual evolutionary explanations for altruism). But it still
 evolves under the second option above.




I have some familiarity with theories concerning how altrusim evolved, but
the type of altruism evolution has left us with is far from optimal if the
goal is to optimize the overall quality of OMs. Evolved altruism teaches us
to favor ourselves, our family, and our tribe in that order and above
strangers or less familiar people, but does this lead to optimal behavior?
 In terms of gene propagation, perhaps, not the overall quality of OMs.  For
example, most people would agree donating an organ to save a life is a good
thing, and many do to save a family member.  Far fewer would consider
donating an organ to a complete stranger, but isn't net benefit and cost the
same, regardless of who receives it?  Objectively yes, but not for the genes
of the donor.  Evolution can only take us so far, and it also leads to
occasional defectors a'la the prisoner dilemma, where a sociopath benefits
from taking advantage of other's good will.

This last viewpoint, if fully embraced, provides a framework where even a
sociopath could decide it in his or her interest to act altruistically.  Not
entirely selflessly, but with an equal balance between one's self and any
other conscious entities.  If someone would benefit more from having
something you possessed, this view would suggest you should offer it to
them.  It naturally yields utilitarianism, the golden rule, giving away a
spare coat if you have two, etc.

Jason
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread benjayk

I would say the concept of OM moments is, if taken as more then as a fuzzy
pointer to some now, is an oversimplification (or an overcomplexification,
depends on your viewpoint), so there is no absolute meaning to ASSA/RSSA.

Maybe there is only one observer moment (eternal life of god, I AM) and
in this moment sub-OM appear. For example I AM THAT 'I AM'  which might be
the realization that you are all persons or god or one or all
moments; maybe keeping it in mind is what some people would call
enlightenment? This moment of realization can apparently contain a
number of other moments, too, that seem deeply and mystically connected. I
just had it for a few seconds, but in this seconds there was no divide
between this and the next moment, I flowed in that clear and blissful
moment. I didn't feel like I was someone having to do (or being able to do)
something, but rather I felt like being the eternal watcher. It's a
beautiful feeling - you somehow become detached from time and feel like
being still, yet still witness time. 

Maybe this applies to other self-indentifications like I am the one at
home, I am the one at work, I am the one born at ... (even though less
clearly in my own perception). They are moments by themselves, but contain
other moments, too. It's like when you stare at a monitor with changing
content. The moment that contains the information about the appearance of
the monitor stays, but the moment of what happens on the monitor changes.

You can't divide life into pieces, it is an continuum of overlapping
sensations. There is a pattern of remembering old moments and experiencing
new moments embedded in the I AM moment that gives the impression of a
flowing string of events (many short, but strongly similiar moments that
have an apparent evolutionary direction)  happening to some person (a
relatively stable moment) - (maybe appearing to sort of a over-person or god
or I AM that is even more stable?).

I think this can resolve the problem of personal identity, because your
identity is just an especially stable moment, that can relate many
sub-moments to itself and thus becomes especially self-aware (or maybe aware
of its own eternal nature?).
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

 There's no clear answer. This is where the idea that we live only
 transiently is helpful: there is no fact-of-the-matter about who is me
 and who isn't since none of them are me, but we can talk about under
 what circumstances the illusion of continuity of identity would be
 preserved.

 If you don't believe they are you, that would imply when you put a pot of
 coffee on the stove, you do so out of altruism.  Since it only benefits
 those future observers who have memory of being you but are not.  It's not a
 useful philosophy for building anything on top of such as decision making as
 according to that theory, observers cannot make changes affecting what they
 will experience (since they only are that one moment).  Perhaps things
 really are that way, but evolution has created a useful illusion of
 continuity which leads to the overall betterment of OM's on average.  Rather
 than sit around never making coffee because it will be someone else who
 experiences it, you decide to make it knowing someone else will be better
 off for it.  As you said, there would be no observational distinction
 between whether you are one OM, one track of OMs, or all OMs, but they lead
 to different philosophies, the first being perhaps something like nihilism,
 nothing you do matters to your.  The second leads to egocentrism and
 selfishness.  The last leads to a golden rule, sacrifice for others type of
 ethic.  I think the middle one is the most complex, because it has the
 hardest definition as to what OMs to group together.  Of the first and last,
 the last is perhaps simpler too, since it could be thought to attach one
 observer to all OMs rather than an observer for each OM.

There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time. It's
possible to go through life not questioning this until we consider
duplication thought experiments, which evolution had not taken into
account. But having this insight does not make the illusion any less
real, nor do I have any desire to be free of it, since that would go
against my evolutionary programming. I do try to be altruistic, but
being selfish (caring for the needs of my future selves) comes more
easily.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/15 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

  

There's no clear answer. This is where the idea that we live only
transiently is helpful: there is no fact-of-the-matter about who is me
and who isn't since none of them are me, but we can talk about under
what circumstances the illusion of continuity of identity would be
preserved.
  

If you don't believe they are you, that would imply when you put a pot of
coffee on the stove, you do so out of altruism.  Since it only benefits
those future observers who have memory of being you but are not.  It's not a
useful philosophy for building anything on top of such as decision making as
according to that theory, observers cannot make changes affecting what they
will experience (since they only are that one moment).  Perhaps things
really are that way, but evolution has created a useful illusion of
continuity which leads to the overall betterment of OM's on average.  Rather
than sit around never making coffee because it will be someone else who
experiences it, you decide to make it knowing someone else will be better
off for it.  As you said, there would be no observational distinction
between whether you are one OM, one track of OMs, or all OMs, but they lead
to different philosophies, the first being perhaps something like nihilism,
nothing you do matters to your.  The second leads to egocentrism and
selfishness.  The last leads to a golden rule, sacrifice for others type of
ethic.  I think the middle one is the most complex, because it has the
hardest definition as to what OMs to group together.  Of the first and last,
the last is perhaps simpler too, since it could be thought to attach one
observer to all OMs rather than an observer for each OM.



There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time. It's
possible to go through life not questioning this until we consider
duplication thought experiments, which evolution had not taken into
account. But having this insight does not make the illusion any less
real, nor do I have any desire to be free of it, since that would go
against my evolutionary programming. I do try to be altruistic, but
being selfish (caring for the needs of my future selves) comes more
easily.


  
So you think that the continuous physical processes of evolution 
produced the illusion of continuity which you now see is really discrete 
OMs?


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Rex Allen
On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com wrote:

 There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
 mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
 individual travelling in the forward direction through time.

How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?

Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
 Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
about what we observe.

For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
the universe today.

In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
with evolution.

There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
the only way that they can.

When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
water a bit.

Right?  Or wrong?
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Rex Allen wrote:

On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
stath...@gmail.com wrote:
  

There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time.



How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?

Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
 Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
about what we observe.

For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
the universe today.

In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
with evolution.

There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
the only way that they can.

When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
water a bit.

Right?  Or wrong?
  
Evolution assumes randomness, whether epistemic or inherent it serves to 
explain.  You invoke physical determinism and causal laws - but you can 
look at those too as merely descriptions.   Yet evolution, like 
physical laws, have predictive value.  They go beyond just describing 
what has already been seen.  So what do you consider a 'real' explanation?


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

 There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you [Jason 
 Resch]
 mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
 individual travelling in the forward direction through time. It's
 possible to go through life not questioning this until we consider
 duplication thought experiments, which evolution had not taken into
 account. But having this insight does not make the illusion any less
 real, nor do I have any desire to be free of it, since that would go
 against my evolutionary programming. I do try to be altruistic, but
 being selfish (caring for the needs of my future selves) comes more
 easily.

 So you think that the continuous physical processes of evolution produced
 the illusion of continuity which you now see is really discrete OMs?

We could just consider whether we are the same person from day to day
with an intervening period of unconsciousness (Nagel's day-person),
avoiding the separate question of whether OM's are discrete or
continuous. There is no reason why a race of such people with such
beliefs could not evolve if there were some adaptive advantage to it,
such as promotion of altruism and the good of the group. A
philosophically inclined day-person might then reason thus:

I feel that I will die overnight and a different person will wake up
in my bed in the morning. That person will look similar to me and will
share most of my memories, but it won't be me, just as I am not any of
the people who came before me and whose memories I now have. However,
this belief is just a contingent fact of evolution. I feel that I am
the same person as I was an hour ago, but the relationship that
earlier self has to me is not really different to the relationship I
have to the person who will wake in my bed tomorrow. I would not be
violating any logical or empirical fact if I said either that: (a) I
remain the same person from day to day and the feeling that I don't
survive sleep is an illusion; or (b) I do not remain the same person
from moment to moment but I have the illusion that I do. If we
consider duplication thought experiments (a) becomes problematic,
since there might be two or more versions of me at the one time each
with an equal claim to being me. Therefore, I think (b) is the best
way to think about it objectively. Nevertheless, even even though I
now see that the way I've always thought about myself is an illusion,
it's not an illusion I can shake off, nor one I would want to shake
off. Such is the strength of my evolutionary programming.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Rex Allen rexallen...@gmail.com:
 On Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Stathis Papaioannou
 stath...@gmail.com wrote:

 There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you
 mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
 individual travelling in the forward direction through time.

 How did evolution do that?  By what means?  Using what causal powers?

 Evolution can't really be used as an explanation for anything can it?
  Evolution is just a useful fictional narrative that helps us think
 about what we observe.

 For example, if deterministic physicalism is true, then the initial
 configuration of matter at the universe’s first instant, plus the
 causal laws that govern the subsequent behavior of this matter as
 applied over 13.7 billion years fully determines the current state of
 the universe today.

 In this case, there is nothing for evolution to do. It is purely a
 description of what we observe, not an explanation of it. The state of
 the world is today was fixed by the initial conditions plus the causal
 laws of physics.  Any explanation for the way you are lies there, not
 with evolution.

 There is no “competition” for survival. There is no “selection”.
 Instead, events involving fundamental particles unfold as they must…in
 the only way that they can.

 When we say “competition among creatures”, what we really mean is “it
 is as though there were competition among creatures”. Because what
 really exists are fundamental particles (quantum fields, strings,
 whatever), not “creatures”. It is only in our minds that we take
 collections of quarks and electrons and form them into creatures.

 Since they aren't fundamental laws, evolution and natural selection
 have no causal power.  We just speak of them as if they did.

 Further, even allowing for some kind of quantum randomness still
 doesn’t give “evolution” anything to do. Though it does muddy the
 water a bit.

 Right?  Or wrong?

Right, in a sense, but it's like saying a computer does not do what it
does due to its programming, it merely obeys the deterministic laws of
physics which take it from its initial configuration to its final
configuration. Another example: a balloon does not expand because
heating the gas inside it causes the pressure to increase, but because
the gas molecules are moving faster and impart a greater momentum when
colliding with the balloon walls.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 1. Do you think dementia a cul de sac branch then (MWI or single
 world?

There are branches where your mind gradually fades away to nothing.
However, there are other branches where you start dementing then
recover, as well as branches where you don't dement at all. It's the
probability of being stuck in a branch where you incrementally dement
but never actually reach total mindlessness that you have to worry
about.

 2 Why is there any distinction between the RSSA and the ASSA. Can we
 just not say that the RSSA is the (apparent) consequences of some non
 uniform distribution over OM's accessed under the ASSA?
 3 Do you think this non uniform distribution is due to the laws of
 phyisics or is physics the consequence of the distribution?

The distribution of OM's is not required to be uniform under either
the ASSA or the RSSA. The RSSA says that given you already exist, your
successor OM will be sampled from a subset of OM's which have your
present OM in their immediate subjective past. The distribution of
OM's is due to the nature of whatever process gives rise to them,
whether that is a single human brain in a single world cosmology, an
ensemble of brains following the laws governing the multiverse, or the
UD running in Platonia.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

2010/1/15 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

  

There is no real distinction between the different possibilities you [Jason 
Resch]
mention, but evolution has programmed me to think that I am a single
individual travelling in the forward direction through time. It's
possible to go through life not questioning this until we consider
duplication thought experiments, which evolution had not taken into
account. But having this insight does not make the illusion any less
real, nor do I have any desire to be free of it, since that would go
against my evolutionary programming. I do try to be altruistic, but
being selfish (caring for the needs of my future selves) comes more
easily.
  

So you think that the continuous physical processes of evolution produced
the illusion of continuity which you now see is really discrete OMs?



We could just consider whether we are the same person from day to day
with an intervening period of unconsciousness (Nagel's day-person),
avoiding the separate question of whether OM's are discrete or
continuous. There is no reason why a race of such people with such
beliefs could not evolve if there were some adaptive advantage to it,
such as promotion of altruism and the good of the group. A
philosophically inclined day-person might then reason thus:

I feel that I will die overnight and a different person will wake up
in my bed in the morning. That person will look similar to me and will
share most of my memories, but it won't be me, just as I am not any of
the people who came before me and whose memories I now have. However,
this belief is just a contingent fact of evolution. I feel that I am
the same person as I was an hour ago, but the relationship that
earlier self has to me is not really different to the relationship I
have to the person who will wake in my bed tomorrow. I would not be
violating any logical or empirical fact if I said either that: (a) I
remain the same person from day to day and the feeling that I don't
survive sleep is an illusion; or (b) I do not remain the same person
from moment to moment but I have the illusion that I do. If we
consider duplication thought experiments (a) becomes problematic,
since there might be two or more versions of me at the one time each
with an equal claim to being me. Therefore, I think (b) is the best
way to think about it objectively. Nevertheless, even even though I
now see that the way I've always thought about myself is an illusion,
it's not an illusion I can shake off, nor one I would want to shake
off. Such is the strength of my evolutionary programming.


  
Or why not suppose you are your body (including your genes).  Then 
evolution would be able to have had the imputed effect on you that you 
suppose it does.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/15 Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com:

 Or why not suppose you are your body (including your genes).  Then evolution
 would be able to have had the imputed effect on you that you suppose it
 does.

The actual effect of any adaptive behaviour must be through the genes,
but evolution could not work directly on a belief about genes. Our
psychology may act against our genes if we are taken out of the
environment in which we evolved; for example the number of children
people choose to have in the modern world is inversely proportional to
the resources they control.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/13 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:

 I’ve read through a good deal of previous posts on the ASSA/RSSA
 debate but I keep reaching a stumbling block regarding how successive
 observer moments (OM) are to be expected in terms of their
 continuity.  I think Youness Ayaita  queried the same thing as I am
 here but articulated it much better - this post was a question
 concerning the ASSA/RSSA debate (Sept 18 2007).  Stathis gave an
 answer which was very helpful  (as usual) but he still referred to a
 uniform? distribution which I find difficult to understand.  Russell
 called it global!

 From the everything wiki I have looked up the relevant definitions for
 the two contentious sampling assumptions which are quote :

 The Relative Self Sampling Assumption (RSSA) is a form of anthropic
 reasoning that assumes our present observer moment is selected
 according to a measure that depends on another given observer moment
 (the prior observer moment). As such it implicitly relies on a notion
 of time that gives rise to a succession of observer moments.
 In one interpretation of quantum mechanics, observer moments are
 identified with the quantum state |psi. The measure used with the
 RSSA is just given by the Born rule

 The Absolute Self Sampling Assumption, (ASSA) is a form of anthropic
 reasoning that assumes our present observer moment is selected from
 the set of all observer moments according to some absolute measure. To
 be contrasted with the Relative Self Sampling Assumption.

 Where I have difficulty with understanding the ASSA is in terms of its
 implications for our next observer moment.  Is the absolute measure,
 referred to in the ASSA definition really intended to be a uniform
 distribution in the sense that my next OM could be equally any one
 from the multiverse?  This would be strange indeed and would result in
 me experiencing all sorts of discontinuous happenings – even if the
 reference class was restricted to OM’s which I experience. On the
 other hand, am I to understand that the ASSA does not carry with it
 any implicit assumption about the probability distribution (absolute
 measure) that OM’s are selected from?  Instead must we assume the
 nature of this distribution for picking out our next OM is to be
 determined by some other considerations like: “it is the laws of
 physics which glue OM’s together” as an example)?  (I know that a
 computationalist might come up with another solution as to how the
 OM’s are stitched together, but that is not my point).  Is it assumed
 (as a given for now anyway), that there is some additional mechanism
 or explanation as to why observer moments are stitched together in the
 way they are?  Or, if a uniform distribution is implied, then how can
 this be reasonable?

 The RSSA, as I understand it would use the Born rule to indicate which
 successive OM’s are possible and likely.

 Why the ASSA is applicable to determine our birth OM I am also not
 sure of either.  I would be very grateful to anyone who can clarify
 this for me.

The ASSA/RSSA distinction on this list came, as I understand it, from
debate on the validity of the idea of quantum immortality. This is
the theory that in a multiverse you can never die, because at every
juncture where you could die there is always a version of you that
continues living. The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
of them, as unlikely as you are to end up living to a thousand through
pure good luck in a single universe. This paper by Jacques Mallah
outlines the position: http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.0187. A point of
disagreement when we discussed this paper on the list about a year ago
is that Jacques thinks it would be a bad thing if there were many
copies of a person in lockstep and some of the copies were destroyed,
whereas if I were one of the copies it wouldn't worry me at all.

The problem with the ASSA is that it assumes that each OM is sampled
randomly from the set of all OM's. In fact, this is not how life
works. Today is Wednesday. I'm pretty sure that when I wake up
tomorrow morning it will be Thursday, and not Friday, even though
(absent some disaster) the measure of my Friday OM's in the multiverse
is about the same as the measure of my Thursday OM's. Even if there
were a billion copies of me on Friday and only one copy on Thursday, I
can still expect to go through the Thursday copy before ending up a
Friday copy. Once embedded in the multiverse, it puts constraints on
my possible successor OM.

If I'm not already embedded in the multiverse then I could be anyone,
and I am therefore more likely to be someone from a high probability
group or era. So I am more likely to be a modern human than an early
human, for example, because there are more modern humans. I think
that's what Russell means by the ASSA being aplicable in birth order.
This is a tricky 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/14 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

 Given the ways ASSA has been defined, I think there are two possible camps
 within ASSA.  One that believes there is a next moment for you to
 experience, chosen randomly from among all, and another which believes there
 is no next moment, the observer is the observer moment, an eternal thought.
  In that respect, ASSA would be more likely to tie the informational state
 to the consciousness rather than the computational process itself.  In the
 fixed, no next OM model, which one you find yourself is sampled from among
 all OMs, just who you start is is selected within RSSA.
 One might think it is absurd to believe they will never observer the next
 moment, that they might be stuck forever never having finished this
 sentence, and that 5 seconds from now will prove this idea wrong.  But
 perhaps the you who waited 5 seconds is simply the OM you will be forever.
  Problems defining personal identity only creep in between the extremes
 of believing every OM is a unique observer and believing all OMs belong to
 the same observer.  The latter idea is more interesting to me, as it yields
 reasons for why we should plan and work for the future, and why it is good
 to treat others as they would like to be treated, while the former offers no
 reason, or even ability to try or do anything.

You can't deny that it *seems* there is a next OM and it *seems* that
there is a set of OM's constituting your life. This would happen even
if in fact all the OM's were completely separate, disconnected
entities. In other words, the question of whether the OM's are
separate or belong to the one observer is meaningless, since there is
no subjective difference.


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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Jason Resch
On Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 8:32 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.comwrote:

 2010/1/14 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

  Given the ways ASSA has been defined, I think there are two possible
 camps
  within ASSA.  One that believes there is a next moment for you to
  experience, chosen randomly from among all, and another
 which believes there
  is no next moment, the observer is the observer moment, an eternal
 thought.
   In that respect, ASSA would be more likely to tie the informational
 state
  to the consciousness rather than the computational process itself.  In
 the
  fixed, no next OM model, which one you find yourself is sampled from
 among
  all OMs, just who you start is is selected within RSSA.
  One might think it is absurd to believe they will never observer the next
  moment, that they might be stuck forever never having finished this
  sentence, and that 5 seconds from now will prove this idea wrong.  But
  perhaps the you who waited 5 seconds is simply the OM you will be
 forever.
   Problems defining personal identity only creep in between the extremes
  of believing every OM is a unique observer and believing all OMs belong
 to
  the same observer.  The latter idea is more interesting to me, as it
 yields
  reasons for why we should plan and work for the future, and why it is
 good
  to treat others as they would like to be treated, while the former offers
 no
  reason, or even ability to try or do anything.

 You can't deny that it *seems* there is a next OM and it *seems* that
 there is a set of OM's constituting your life. This would happen even
 if in fact all the OM's were completely separate, disconnected
 entities. In other words, the question of whether the OM's are
 separate or belong to the one observer is meaningless, since there is
 no subjective difference.



I agree, there is no subjective difference.  But I think there is a logical
difference, if you are only your current OM why go to work when some other
OM will enjoy the fruits of that labor?  But by attaching every OM to the
same observer then there is a reason to make sacrifices such as work to the
benefit and hopefully overall improvement of the collection of OMs.  While
one might believe all OM's exist so it doesn't matter what anyone does it is
possible to escape this in believing the number or measure of OMs matters.
This has also been a matter of contention on this list.

Jason
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

...
The ASSA/RSSA distinction on this list came, as I understand it, from
debate on the validity of the idea of quantum immortality. This is
the theory that in a multiverse you can never die, because at every
juncture where you could die there is always a version of you that
continues living. The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
of them, as unlikely as you are to end up living to a thousand through
pure good luck in a single universe. This paper by Jacques Mallah
outlines the position: http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.0187. A point of
disagreement when we discussed this paper on the list about a year ago
is that Jacques thinks it would be a bad thing if there were many
copies of a person in lockstep and some of the copies were destroyed,
whereas if I were one of the copies it wouldn't worry me at all.

The problem with the ASSA is that it assumes that each OM is sampled
randomly from the set of all OM's. In fact, this is not how life
works. Today is Wednesday. I'm pretty sure that when I wake up
tomorrow morning it will be Thursday, and not Friday, even though
(absent some disaster) the measure of my Friday OM's in the multiverse
is about the same as the measure of my Thursday OM's. Even if there
were a billion copies of me on Friday and only one copy on Thursday, I
can still expect to go through the Thursday copy before ending up a
Friday copy. Once embedded in the multiverse, it puts constraints on
my possible successor OM.

If I'm not already embedded in the multiverse then I could be anyone,
and I am therefore more likely to be someone from a high probability
group or era. So I am more likely to be a modern human than an early
human, for example, because there are more modern humans. I think
that's what Russell means by the ASSA being aplicable in birth order.
This is a tricky concept to get your mind around and leads to
semi-weirdness such as the Doomsday Argument. But that I'll experience
Thursday before Friday even if there are lots of me on Friday is, I
think, relatively straightforward.


  
Is this different from your idea that experiencing Friday only comes 
after experinicing Thursday because Friday contains some memory of 
Thursday?  You seem to be assuming an extrinsic order in the above.


Brent
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Nick Prince

The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
of them.


How do they know this though?  If the probability distribution was
uniform then versions of me at any age would be just as probable.
This is what I don’t get because they must be assuming there is some
(unknown) probability distribution which accounts for the fact that
thousand year old people are extremely unlikely.  What they must be
assuming is that each OM arises in a non uniform manner.  I presume
they think this because the laws of physics underpins the biochemical
effects which make us age and this must be represented in the
distribution (somehow). So there is an implicit assumption about the
probability distribution on OM’s lurking around. So why not accept
that the distribution is based on the Born rule which means RSSA?

Kind regards

Nick
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Nick Prince


On Jan 13, 6:21 pm, Brent Meeker meeke...@dslextreme.com wrote:
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  ...
  The ASSA/RSSA distinction on this list came, as I understand it, from
  debate on the validity of the idea of quantum immortality. This is
  the theory that in a multiverse you can never die, because at every
  juncture where you could die there is always a version of you that
  continues living. The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
  thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
  low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
  of them, as unlikely as you are to end up living to a thousand through
  pure good luck in a single universe. This paper by Jacques Mallah
  outlines the position:http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.0187. A point of
  disagreement when we discussed this paper on the list about a year ago
  is that Jacques thinks it would be a bad thing if there were many
  copies of a person in lockstep and some of the copies were destroyed,
  whereas if I were one of the copies it wouldn't worry me at all.

  The problem with the ASSA is that it assumes that each OM is sampled
  randomly from the set of all OM's. In fact, this is not how life
  works. Today is Wednesday. I'm pretty sure that when I wake up
  tomorrow morning it will be Thursday, and not Friday, even though
  (absent some disaster) the measure of my Friday OM's in the multiverse
  is about the same as the measure of my Thursday OM's. Even if there
  were a billion copies of me on Friday and only one copy on Thursday, I
  can still expect to go through the Thursday copy before ending up a
  Friday copy. Once embedded in the multiverse, it puts constraints on
  my possible successor OM.

  If I'm not already embedded in the multiverse then I could be anyone,
  and I am therefore more likely to be someone from a high probability
  group or era. So I am more likely to be a modern human than an early
  human, for example, because there are more modern humans. I think
  that's what Russell means by the ASSA being aplicable in birth order.
  This is a tricky concept to get your mind around and leads to
  semi-weirdness such as the Doomsday Argument. But that I'll experience
  Thursday before Friday even if there are lots of me on Friday is, I
  think, relatively straightforward.

 Is this different from your idea that experiencing Friday only comes
 after experinicing Thursday because Friday contains some memory of
 Thursday?  You seem to be assuming an extrinsic order in the above.

 Brent-

I am thinking it must have something to do with this. The probability
distribution I brought up in my answer to Stathis must have some sort
of conditional status for OM's and so somehow each observer moment
must have a kind of date/time stamp associated with it i.e. OM at time
1 is somehow contained in OM at time 2.  However, in the past, I just
ascribed this to be because of the need for a consistency with the
laws of physics.  What puzzles me is whether the probability
distribution which accounts for these time (and space/matter)
sequenced observer moments is prior to and therefore responsible for
the laws of physics or whether it is the other way round because this
would seem to be some way to help determine the distinction between a
physicalist or an observationalist TOE.

Best

Nick Prince
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Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread John Mikes
Stathis,
I feel both ASSA and RSSA are variations WITHIN human thinking with a
minuscule difference of handling.  When I TRY to think about 'everything' I
feel I have to step out from the restrictions of the human 'mind'(?)
capabilities and (at least) imagine to grasp totality (i.e.  the wholeness)
without 'assuming' any self-sampling limitations - be it absolute, or
relative, - in its uncompromised entirety..
The fact that (today?) we cannot do it, is no argument against 'it has to be
done'.
I don't settle for half-solutions when I am looking for the theoretically
right answers. No compromise. I am 'agnostic', meaning that I condone my
incapability to reach such levels.

Are you in favor of a self-inflicted - assumed (limited) gnosis?

Yes, I am shooting at the stars: being on the Everything list is not a
ground-level compromise for (humanly?) attainable (partial) knowledge. To be
satisfied with such, one should attend Physics 101. Or: arithmetic 101 (not
even math 101).


John Mikes




On Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 4:25 AM, Stathis Papaioannou stath...@gmail.comwrote:

 2010/1/13 Nick Prince m...@dtech.fsnet.co.uk:
  
  I’ve read through a good deal of previous posts on the ASSA/RSSA
  debate but I keep reaching a stumbling block regarding how successive
  observer moments (OM) are to be expected in terms of their
  continuity.  I think Youness Ayaita  queried the same thing as I am
  here but articulated it much better - this post was a question
  concerning the ASSA/RSSA debate (Sept 18 2007).  Stathis gave an
  answer which was very helpful  (as usual) but he still referred to a
  uniform? distribution which I find difficult to understand.  Russell
  called it global!
 
  From the everything wiki I have looked up the relevant definitions for
  the two contentious sampling assumptions which are quote :
 
  The Relative Self Sampling Assumption (RSSA) is a form of anthropic
  reasoning that assumes our present observer moment is selected
  according to a measure that depends on another given observer moment
  (the prior observer moment). As such it implicitly relies on a notion
  of time that gives rise to a succession of observer moments.
  In one interpretation of quantum mechanics, observer moments are
  identified with the quantum state |psi. The measure used with the
  RSSA is just given by the Born rule
 
  The Absolute Self Sampling Assumption, (ASSA) is a form of anthropic
  reasoning that assumes our present observer moment is selected from
  the set of all observer moments according to some absolute measure. To
  be contrasted with the Relative Self Sampling Assumption.
 
  Where I have difficulty with understanding the ASSA is in terms of its
  implications for our next observer moment.  Is the absolute measure,
  referred to in the ASSA definition really intended to be a uniform
  distribution in the sense that my next OM could be equally any one
  from the multiverse?  This would be strange indeed and would result in
  me experiencing all sorts of discontinuous happenings – even if the
  reference class was restricted to OM’s which I experience. On the
  other hand, am I to understand that the ASSA does not carry with it
  any implicit assumption about the probability distribution (absolute
  measure) that OM’s are selected from?  Instead must we assume the
  nature of this distribution for picking out our next OM is to be
  determined by some other considerations like: “it is the laws of
  physics which glue OM’s together” as an example)?  (I know that a
  computationalist might come up with another solution as to how the
  OM’s are stitched together, but that is not my point).  Is it assumed
  (as a given for now anyway), that there is some additional mechanism
  or explanation as to why observer moments are stitched together in the
  way they are?  Or, if a uniform distribution is implied, then how can
  this be reasonable?
 
  The RSSA, as I understand it would use the Born rule to indicate which
  successive OM’s are possible and likely.
 
  Why the ASSA is applicable to determine our birth OM I am also not
  sure of either.  I would be very grateful to anyone who can clarify
  this for me.

 The ASSA/RSSA distinction on this list came, as I understand it, from
 debate on the validity of the idea of quantum immortality. This is
 the theory that in a multiverse you can never die, because at every
 juncture where you could die there is always a version of you that
 continues living. The ASSA proponents say that even though there are
 thousand year old versions of you in the multiverse they are of very
 low measure and you are therefore very unlikely to find yourself one
 of them, as unlikely as you are to end up living to a thousand through
 pure good luck in a single universe. This paper by Jacques Mallah
 outlines the position: http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.0187. A point of
 disagreement when we discussed this paper on the list about a year ago
 is that Jacques thinks it would be a bad thing 

Re: R/ASSA query

2010-01-13 Thread Stathis Papaioannou
2010/1/14 Jason Resch jasonre...@gmail.com:

 I agree, there is no subjective difference.  But I think there is a logical
 difference, if you are only your current OM why go to work when some other
 OM will enjoy the fruits of that labor?  But by attaching every OM to the
 same observer then there is a reason to make sacrifices such as work to the
 benefit and hopefully overall improvement of the collection of OMs.

I don't think there is a logical difference either. What you make of
this problem is probably the single most important thing in the
philosophy of personal identity.

Suppose in the future you wish to travel by means of destructive
teleportation. There are two types of ticket that you can buy: Economy
Class and First Class. Economy Class costs $500 and guarantees that
the person coming out at the receiving station has the same physical
structure, and hence the same memories and other mental attributes, as
the person who went into the sending station. First Class costs $1000
and is the same as Economy Class, except that it is additionally
guaranteed that the person coming out is the same person as the one
who went in. Which ticket would you buy?


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou
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