RE: delayed reply

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 11:02:26 -0000

Great post from Juergen Schmidhuber. A superb explanation, from an
unexpected source (computer science), of the subjective nature of
everything. Lots of people - like me until recently - talk about
subjectivity and fail to see the enormity of the idea. I have ccd this to
Vic Stenger, who I have failed to move even slightly towards this view,
which he regards as bordering on solipsism (Hi, Vic, hope Japan doesn't sink
into the sea as our economic data indicate).

One point of disagreement with Juergen: you don't need infinite strings of
great programmers. There need be no great programmer, just the program. And
since there's no programmer to make it complicated, the program is as simple
as it can be.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: 25 February 1999 14:02
> To:
> Subject: delayed reply
> A somewhat delayed reply to certain previous posts. I apologize
> if there is some redundancy with subsequent messages by others.
> Gilles Henri writes:
> > I have much more objections in fact to models like Schmidhuber's one:
> > again what are these Turing machines, Big programmer and so on made of?
> This does not seem essential and is therefore left unspecified. You can
> try to make one of the stuff you find in your own universe. Note that
> many of the Great Programmer's universes indeed feature another Great
> Programmer who programs another (possibly different) Big Computer to
> run all possible universes. Obviously there are infinite chains of
> Great Programmers.
> > Who is "interpreting" a string as a Universe?
> This may be a somewhat misleading question. It seems based on the
> assumption that the interpreter is not himself part of a computable
> world representable by bitstrings. E.g., your internal state changes
> and email messages and worries about "interpretations" are just part of
> the computable evolution of a particular universe. It does not matter
> that we may produce computable outputs claiming otherwise ("it doesn't
> feel like it"), to be interpreted by other computable interpreters like
> ourselves. None of us needs to be aware of the bitstring representation.
> > Is it true that in this model every "state" is finite, that is the set
> of
> > all possible states of all possible universes is countable?
> Yes, definitely! Just like sqrt(2) is describable by a finite
> algorithm. Most real numbers, however, are not describable at all -
> they convey infinite information. We cannot even talk about them. No
> room for them in any of the Great Programmer's universes!
> > Does it mean for example that the possible values of physical
> > constants are discrete?
> Discrete or at least computable. In none of the Great Programmer's
> universes there is Super-Turing computability, although the concept
> has become fashionable in our particular computable universe, and lots
> of computable people make computable noises about it.
> >The simplest program just enumerates all integer
> >numbers. If you can tell me which integer describes the existence of
> >consciousness or to the existence of anything like an electron or
> whatever
> >you want, I would be very grateful to you!
> To comment on this in the spirit above, I took a paragraph from my little
> paper and replaced every occurrence of "life" by "consciousness":
> What is consciousness? The answer depends on the observer. For instance,
> certain substrings of E_k may be interpretable as the evolving
> consciousness of a living thing L_k in U_k. Different observers will
> have different views though. What's consciousness to one observer will
> be noise to another. In particular, if the observer is not like the
> Great Programmer but also inhabits U_k, then its own consciousness may
> be representable by a similar substring. Assuming that recognition
> implies relating observations to previous knowledge, both L_k's and
> the observer's consciousness will have to share mutual algorithmic
> information: there will be a comparatively short algorithm computing
> L_k's from the observer's consciousness, and vice versa.
> And Bruno wrote:
> > ...I will be very short. Nevertheless, about Schmidhuber, although there
> > is some superficial resemblance with my thesis, I realise Schmidhuber
> has
> > an inconsistant understanding of the computationnalist hypothesis. More
> > on this latter....
> Did I miss a follow-up message? I guess I haven't seen any subsequent
> explanation of Bruno's claim.
> The Great Programmer religion is a religion of simplicity. One may
> believe in it until (a) there is evidence against it (e.g., someone shows
> that our own universe won't run without all the real numbers), or (b)
> someone
> comes up with an even simpler explanation of everything. Right now neither
> option seems very likely to me. ;^)
> Juergen Schmidhuber
Received on Fri Feb 26 1999 - 03:06:28 PST

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