Re: Consciousness and free will

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2008 17:49:32 +0100

On 30 Nov 2008, at 20:21, M.A. wrote:

> Bruno,
> Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the detailed
> explanations. I'll post my responses in an interlinear manner using
> color to differentiate (if that's ok). M.A.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Bruno Marchal
> To:
> Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2008 3:49 PM
> Subject: Re: Consciousness and free will
> On 29 Nov 2008, at 16:45, M.A. wrote:
>> (Assuming MEC/Comp.and MWI) If the computational universe which I
>> experience
> Assuming MEC I would say *you* experience an infinity of
> computational histories.

> The term "universe" is far too ambiguous (now).
> But isn't each history separated from all others by impermeable
> walls? Do you mean that the word "universe"
> is ambiguous or just my use of it?

The word "universe" is ambiguous.
And yes, each history is separated from all others, despite all
histories are mixed in some other histories. But *you* (third person,
your bodies) belongs to a continuum of histories, and although they
does not interact, it changes your probabilities on your possible
consistent extensions.

>> is a single instance of a vast array of similar universes playing
>> out every possible variation of the initial axioms, then no one
>> universe could depart from its predetermined program since in so
>> doing it would alter its program and duplicate that of another
>> universe thus spoiling the overall mission of implementing every
>> possible variation.
> Histories can bifurcate in a way that you will find yourself in both
> histories ("you" seen from some third person point of view). Each
> histories is deterministic but, your future is uncertain.
> But what about the first person "me"? "I" am only conscious of one
> history.

Perahps. It could be a question of language. If you look at an
electronic orbital you could see a cloud of possible positions,
accessible by position-measurement. In a sense you "look" (indirectly)
at the many histories you are simultaneously in, a bit like you
computes in many histories you are in when you are using a quantum
computer. When we will accept, not only digital brain, but quantum
digital brain change of language will occur. To use the correct
language now could be like learning quantum field theory for doing a

>> It follows that each program-universe is completely detirministic
> All right.
>> and that consciousness is merely an observing passenger inside the
>> program;
> At some point I could "defined" consciousness as the state of
> (instinctively at first) betting on a history. This will speed up
> yourself relatively to your current stories, and make greater the
> set of your possible continuation. As an exemple you become aware an
> asteroīd is coming nearby make it possible for you to envisage a set
> of possible decisions, which can themselves augment your probability
> of survival.
> It seems like the present copy of "me" can "envisage these
> decisions", but be unable to carry them out unless they are part of
> his deterministic history.

Yes. In some case, perhaps not your's, this can be helped by doctor,
shaman, yoga, regime, drugs, sports, music, etc. It is difficult.

>> the conscious observer, refusing to give up the notion of free
>> will, explains the lapse by rationalizations such as: God, luck,
>> destiny, possession, halluciation etc.
> As far as I understand, the program here acknowledge its ignorance.
> If, by being too much proud, he doesn't, then he make higher some
> catastrophe probabilities.
> But isn't his problem of pride determined in some history, namely
> the one "I" experience?

Sure. It depends of our parents, education, etc. You can abstract such
problems away, but this need works. It depend on the short and long
pasts. We have inherited of million years of family trifles, we have
kept some of our reptile instincts. But we can learn, for the better
or the worse.

>> accept the intercession of supernatural powers (theology),
> "it" could just accept it belongs to a collection of deep unknown
> histories, and many other unknown things, some even not nameable
> (and deadly if named). It can consolate itself by pointing on its
> *partial* control.
> Not very consoling when entangled with the intense immediacy and
> sensitivity of one's ego.

Sure. Again here yoga and music and rest can help, but life can be
difficult. Comp does not offer any consolation, except for those who
like to search, it gives some light. But light is not necessarily
consoling, it shows you the "monster" you did not expect sometimes.

> Note also that it is not really the program or the machine who
> thinks, but the people "vehiculated" trough that machine computation
> relatively to its most probable (and local) computational histories.
> But I think as an individual, not as a group.

I agree, but I don't see the point.

>> All of which implies a schism between consciousness and one of the
>> following: the program, the universe or itself.
> Here I agree. Universal machine are born to experience such a
> schism. We can come back on this. In its purer form it is a
> consequence of incompleteness. All universal machine hides a mystery
> to themselves, and more the machine learn, more that mystery is
> bigger. (This is related to the gap between G and G*, for those who
> reminds previous explanations).
> I find this most profound.

Nice. It is related with the arithmetical interpretation of Plotinus'
Platonism. All universal self-introspective machine should be able to
discover that. It is what I like in comp, it preserves the mystery. It
even cleans it from the ten thousand superstitions.


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Received on Mon Dec 01 2008 - 11:49:41 PST

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