RE: History-less observer moments

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:42:17 +0100

An interesting post, Russell, which raises sopecific important issues. A
bief answer here (I'm at work as usual so can't spend any time):

Contrary to what you write, I am 'so enthusiastic' BEACUSE of its
consequences: its explanatory power, esp. viz consciousness.

The Temporal issue: I am happy that there is no such thing as objective
time, (please read Huw Price's book).

This implies that an OM does not need to exist 'in time'. I call an OM an
'idea' - and and 'idea' can be one that incorporates the concept of time. An
idea is not implemented, it just is. Isn't that simpler than supposing there
are angels moving the stars?

No problem here, except that it makes the statement, 'Turing computability
is necessary and sufficient for consciousness' into one that is not
objectively true, although it may be true from certain perspectives, e.g.,
someone who thinks they are an individual undergoing successive experineces
in time.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Russell Standish []
> Sent: Monday, 15 May, 2000 1:50 AM
> To:
> Subject: History-less observer moments
> 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
> connection.
> 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
> Room 2075, Red Centre
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> --

The information contained in this e-mail message is confidential and may be privileged.
It is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader
of this message is not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible to
deliver it to the intended recipient, this message must not be copied or distributed to
any other person. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender
by telephone (+44-20-7337-3500) and destroy the original message. The Gerrard Group reserves
the right to monitor all e-mail messages passing through its network.

This e-mail originates from the Gerrard Group unless otherwise stated. The Gerrard Group
is regulated by SFA and is a member of the London Stock Exchange.
Received on Mon May 15 2000 - 01:44:19 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:07 PST