# Re: The Game of Life

From: Marchal <marchal.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Thu Dec 23 08:56:23 1999

>I don't see how the distinction can _itself_ be observer-relative?
>Let Observer Independence (OI) and Observer Relativity (OR) be
>higher order properties of any property P of any substrate s. Then surely,
>(-(p&-p)) --> (s(P)(OI)), for s(P) = OI/OR? I.e, it can
>hardly be in the eye of the beholder whether any given feature of the
>world is in the eye of the beholder or not. For instance, in a solipsist
>world W, the fact of solipsism is an intrinsic (=OI) fact about W. This
>does not preclude that observer-relativity is a recursice property, of
>course. For example, semantics may be an OR feature of syntax, which is
>itself an OR feature of the physical world.

I don't understand "(-(p&-p)) --> (s(P)(OI)), for s(P) = OI/OR"
I don't understand "s(P)". If P is a property do you mean P(s), i.e.
s has property P ?
If you could be a little more specific here, it could help me.

>Do you mean that the correct *application* of this distinction is itself
>observer-relative for some P, where this observer-relativity is somehow
>comparable to e.g. the relativity of simultaneity in Relativity theory?
>Not that I really understand how this analogy might be possible.

It is a little more like Everett's Relative States. But Everett is still
somehow naive with the observer. He modelises the first-person by what the
first person writes in his diary book, in fact it is the results of the
measurements he does. The problem with comp is that there is definitely
no way for the observer to put a line between itself and the possible
environment. The MWI solves this problem in the QM realm, but with
comp it is far less "easy".

> But then
>I make no claim to understand your metaphysics, which to me (a diehard
>external realist) appears exotic in an interesting way. Shall take a

I would be relieved if you find a fatal error! Sometimes I don't believe
in "my" metaphysics too. The problem is that I derive it from some
at least plausible philosophical assumptions (and this in two independent
ways).
Note that I'm not the first who realise the incompatibility between
computationnalism and materialism (even in the doubly---dualist---
Cartesian form). Maudlin discovers that too. We discuss that before in the
list (see "Maudlin" or "crackpot proof" in the archive).

>Second thought: Just possibly we need to distinguish the case of
>(i) [s = reality as a whole] from (ii) those of [s = any element of
>reality], so that for (ii) but not (i) it is in some sense OR whether s(P)
>is OR or OI.

What are you trying to say here?

>But I have no clear idea of what exactly this sense might
>be. This deserves some hard thought (*damn*).

I guess so!

>>You take "the
>> molecular structure" as intrinsic and I will tell you below why
>> I don't. It seems you take the notion of "physical things" as granted,
>> but I don't.
>
>Right. My point here is that even you must assume _some_ intrisic
>features of reality. The metaphysical bucket must stop somewhere.

I agree. This is a fundamental point.
The metaphysical bucket stops, with comp, with the Arithmetical Truth.
Three reasons for that.
1) We don't need more;
2) With more we will be falling in the delicate problem of choosing a
univoquial mathematical reality.
3) With less we will never retrieved arithmetical truth. This follows
from Godel or Lowenheim-Skolem theorems.
Then, by fixing an arbitrary Universal Turing Machine and by using Godel's
arithmetisation technic we can put a mathematical structure on the
possible discourse of the (self-referentially correct machines), and go
searching for the "physical" discourse.

>> But even if there were intrinsic features of physical reality, it is
>> hard for me to understand how consciousness would rely on it.
>> What in the brain/body/universe do you think to be intrinsically
>> necessary for consciousness ? Sodium ions? Carbon atoms? Quark?
>> Quantum phenomena in microtubules?
>
>To the naturalist, this is a poorly understood empirical question: The
>inclusive disjunction of causal requirements simply isn't known by any
>member of this species (and will probably never be, because of the limited
>light cone).

But how could *any* empirical discovery help here?

> All we know at present is that certain sorts of
>electrochemical pulses in certain sorts of carbonbased neural tissue are
>jointly sufficient for certain sorts of consciousness.

Let us say we bet on it. It is reasonable, but we can hardly say
we *know* that. At least, not *for sure*.

>As I see it, the
>case for the computationalist hypothesis is weaker then the case for, say,
>the possibility of zero point propulsion, which seems at least predicted
>by QM. I.e., it makes good SciFi, which is no mean thing. (It can't be
>said about the microtubule speculations, for example).

Here too I would be glad if you have the time to be a little more
specific. I hope you mean by "weaker" "less demanding". I agree then.

>> (Searle's comparison between aware-thinking and photosynthesis is
>> really a philosophical category mistake, I think).
>
>Yeah, so it would presumably seem to a computationalist; but can it be
>shown to be so on logical grounds?

Searle seems to agree there is a consciousness problem. There is
no equivalent "photosynthesis" problem. As Nagel put it clearly,
the consciousness problem is that there seem to be no exhaustive
set of third person description capable of explaining the
very private and quasi-incorrigible feature of the first person
experience. Nowhere in biology can we find something equivalent,
with the notable exception of the question "what is matter?".
I do thing that this can be shown on logical+arithmetical ground
once we assume comp.

>On the observer-relativity of computation: When a brain computes
>some function or other, that process is observer-independent as
>it does not depend on how anything _outside_ that physical system treats
>or interprets it. But if one somehow uses an electronic device, the
>surface of a soap-bubble, or an elephants' trunk to the same end, then
>there is only a brute physical process unless a computational
>interpretation is assigned to it by some transformation function. This
>OR, however, does not imply what Searle would call epistemic
>subjectivity (ES): The truth value of a computational result R is not
>determined by individual attitudes to R. More on mathematical epistemic
>objectivity (EO) below.
>
>How, then, does the _brain_ compute anything? Clearly there is no
>conscious interpretation of non-intentional neuronics? I guess the brain
>simulates a subset of the relations between a subset of abstract patterns
>by means of its symbolic capability: It uses its unique physical
>ability to treat certain physical objects (inks on paper, wrinkles on an
>elephant's trunk, or even mental pics) *as* something else (patterns and
>metapatterns). A special case of this special case of toolusing is what
>computation boils down to for the naturalist, I suppose.

Interesting remarks, but astonishing also when there are made by someone
accepting the downward causation theory of free-will.
Note that I do not pretend having a solution of those questions, except
in the sense that I show why some "self-referentially correct"
computations
must lead machines to similar questions.

>3) a minimal amount of arithmetical platonism. I
>> guess this is maybe unnatural for a biological naturalist. It is
>> nevertheless the simple idea that arithmetical truth is independant of
>> me. For exemple the idea that the statement "there is an infinite
>> number of primes" is true independently of me.
>
>It is indeed, and that is not so unnatural. As suggested above, math
>objects must be seen as the class of possible patterns and relations
>between those, some of which are physically implemented (or all, according
>to the everything idea.) I don't think we disagree here. As to the
>location of non-implemented abstract patterns: I don't agonize so much
>over this, but I guess it adds to the attraction of the everything idea.

Yes, indeed. It is amazing that you agree here. In general "naturalist"
inclined people are willing to drop out any form of mathematical
platonism. I guess this explain perhaps your presence in the list.
Could you tell me for further reference what do you thing about
the Many World interpretation of QM ?

Happy Christmas and All That Sort of Things,

Bruno
Received on Thu Dec 23 1999 - 08:56:23 PST

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