RE: consciousness based on information or computation?

From: <>
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 08:55:41 -0800

James Higgo, <>, writes:
> There is no difference between noise and signal except in the eye of
> the beholder. No integer describes anything except in the eye of the
> beholder.

I would say that there is a sense in which an integer describes something
in an objective sense, rather than just having it be subjective and in the
eye of the beholder.

Specifically, if the integer is very large, trillions of trillions of
trillions of bits in size, and if it can be compressed down to a much
smaller value via computational techniques, then that compression is an
objective way of summarizing the information in the integer.

Suppose that the integer can be best compressed by treating it as the
output of a program which implements some kinds of "laws of physics",
starting from some specified initial condition. This integer could then
be considered as the result of actually running a universe simulation.
This would be an objective interpretation, not dependent on a particular

Looking at this objective interpretation of the integer as the history of
a universe, we might then be able to see space and time dimensions,
an analog to entropy increase and an arrow of time, causation, evolution,
and information flow. We might even be able to identify structures which
process information and which behave in the same manner as intelligent,
conscious minds like our own. In that case we would have reason to say
that, in an objective sense, this integer represents a universe which
has conscious minds.

Even our own universe can be considered as a four-dimensional space-time
structure, which is in effect a static block of information. It is not
known at this point whether the universe is fundamentally discrete or
continuous, but certainly we cannot rule out the possibility that it is
discrete at the lowest level. In that case our own universe can be
fully represented as an integer.

Received on Mon Feb 01 1999 - 09:09:26 PST

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