History-less observer moments

From: Russell Standish <R.Standish.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 10:50:14 +1000 (EST)

I can see why Jacques is an enthusiastic supporter of the notion that
our entire experience is a single "observer moment" unconnected with
any others. For one thing, if it were true, his argument against QTI
would work i.e. the observer moment we do see would need to be
proximally maximal - ie of high relative probability in the space of
all such observer moments. This would rule out experiencing observer
moments of advanced age.

On a side note, can anyone explain to me why the observer moment
should be of someone in their mid-thirties, rather than of a baby in
its first six months of life? Such infant observer moments are
probably the simplest compatible with conscious existence, and hence
the most probable.

I'm not entirely sure why James Higgo is so enthusiastic. Presumably
it is related to his belief in Bhuddism, but I haven't followed the

I have tended to react with charges of solipsism to this idea, mainly
because its seems that some of its proponents are unwilling to follow
through on the ideas consequences, and rather dismiss them as
meaningless questions. This is like the solipsist argument that the
real doesn't actually exists, so there is no point discussing it, or
the religious argument (not _all_ religions) that the world is just so
because God made it that way.

So lets follow up on some of the consequences:

The idea of "observer moment" initially presupposes that the moment
has no temporal duration - it is instantaneous. The problem with this,
is that there is no time whatsoever in which the observer can
experience its moment. In particular, the observer is unable to
implement a Turing machine, hence computationalism is false.

(Incidently, there are two converse assertions making up
computationalism. That Turing computability is necessary and
sufficient for consciousness. This implies that all conciousness is Turing
emulable. The former clause is simply a statement of the Church-Turing
thesis in its weakest form, and is fairly uncontroversial - it is
almost a definition. The latter clause, sufficiency, is actually a
very strong form of the CT-thesis, and personally, I don't believe
it. Consequently, I would describe myself as a semi-computationalist!
However, even semi-computationlism is false if this single observer
moment is durationless.)

If we then introduce the concept of an extended observer moment with duration,
what duration should we choose? If shorter than a "quantum of
conscious time" (about 1/10th of a second), then how does one explain
the accrual of knowledge about the observer moment. How can you be
aware of historical data? If longer, then how do you explain change
observed in the world. If change is to be included in the "observer
moment", why does the moment have to have finite duration at all?
Could it not be semi-infinite? (or a least a lifetime - whatever that
is). Unless there is some "Groundhog day" scenario (from the movie of
that name, where Tom Hanks gets trapped into living the same day over
and over again), surely in this case we get back to my picture of the
(quantum) history being the primordial object. Time is a psychological
entity. I have no problem with this. If one accepts Bruno Marchal's
conclusion, Physics and Psychology are ontologically reversed. All
physical concepts are fundamentally psychological phenomena. I suspect
that this conclusion actually follows from the Plenitude + Anthropic
Principle, without the need of some of Bruno's strong AI type
assumptions, but that remains to be seen.

In a quantum history view of the world, the lack of extremely aged observations
does not contradict QTI (Jacques' argument).

Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit, Phone 9385 6967
UNSW SYDNEY 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Australia R.Standish.domain.name.hidden
Room 2075, Red Centre http://parallel.hpc.unsw.edu.au/rks
Received on Sun May 14 2000 - 17:44:38 PDT

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