Re: Interpretations, subjectivity

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 15:09:16 -0700

On Thu, Jul 08, 1999 at 01:01:32AM -0400, Hans Moravec wrote:
> Thinking about interpretations brought me to the all-universes position!
> You may remember the early stages of the rumination in in Mind Children,
> where I discussed possible beings in Fourier and other transforms of
> normal space, each transform being a different interpretation and an
> independent universe, for which the others were merely background noise.
> The interpretation route connects a lot of possible worlds to our
> present experience, and opens the possibility of seeing some of
> them. I imagined a gadget that, as you turned a knob, scanned through
> a large number of possible transforms, say of the sun. Most of the
> setting would show noise, but just possibly you find a transform where
> intelligent beings had evolved like the ones I postulated in
> the Fourier domain. (Visual and audio interfaces to simulators and
> video games already do this in a premeditated way, allowing
> us to interpret confusing electron motions in a handful of silicon bits
> as the exciting life of the Super Mario Brothers.)

You must be familiar with the concept of logical depth of a string, which
is defined as the number of steps it takes for the shortest program to
produce the string as output. Now consider the logical depth of a string x
relative to y, which is the number of steps it takes for the shortest
program on input y to produce x as output. The visual and audio interfaces
of games work because the logical depth of the Super Mario Brothers video
and audio have low logical depth relative to the electron motions in the
computer chips. On the other hand we have no reason to believe that there
exist intelligent beings with low logical depth relative to the particle
positions or motions in the sun. And certainly the number of such beings
could not be more than the number of particles in the sun, which means
opportunity for interpretation would be limited if it existed at all. In
all likihood, if your gadget did work, it would have to do so by simulating
a new universe, perhaps with the sun as the "seed" and the knob determining
the physical constants. In that case I see no reason to call the gadget an
interpretation device.

> On the one hand, an engineer who completely understands a robot has no
> need to attribute subjectivity to it, since she can fully explain, and
> even predict, everything the robot does from a mechanistic model
> of the designed interaction of its parts.

Why do you believe that subjectivity is a subjective attribute? Could
subjectivity not be an objective attribute?
Received on Mon Jul 12 1999 - 15:10:53 PDT

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