Re: consciousness based on information or computation?

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 16:10:04 -0800

On Fri, Jan 15, 1999 at 02:39:26PM -0800, wrote:
> I think there could be other ways of varying the measure of experiences
> than by having multiple copies of them. An objection sometimes raised
> to the MWI is that any event with two outcomes should always have 50-50
> odds. That's because the universe splits into two pieces, you go into
> each piece, you observe one outcome in each universe, and so the odds
> should be perceived as equal.
> My response is that even if there are just two universes, they could have
> different measures. I assume that the measure of a universe branch is
> an inherent property of it, and that variation in measure of branches is
> not caused by variation in how many identical copies of that branch exist.

I don't think your position is consistent. If you apply what you said "All
that really matters is whether the program is instantiated at all." to the
wavefunction as a whole, then either a program is instantiated in the
wavefunction or not, and therefore a conscious experience must have the
same measure as any other conscious experience.

If consciousness is based on computation, than it must be that some
computations are instantiated "more often" than others. What "more often"
means depends on what "instantiated" means, but so far we don't have a
formal definition of "instantiation of a computation," which is why I
currently lean towards the position that consciousness is based on

Let me ask my question in another way that avoids this issue for the
moment. In the MWI, there is a branch of the wavefunction where a spin
measuring device outputs the brain state (or consecutive brain states if
you like) of someone who does not exist in that branch as a flesh and
blood being or as any other kind of computation. Now the question is does
this branch make any contribution to the measure of the conscious
experience that someone has in that brain state?
Received on Fri Jan 15 1999 - 16:24:12 PST

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