Re: History-less observer moments

From: Jacques Mallah <>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 17:24:14 -0700 (PDT)

--- Russell Standish <> wrote:
> 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.

    Did it ever occur to you that I might actually
believe what I say? I'm not a politician to need
ulterior motives for everything.

> 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 doubt the difference in complexity is
significant, although there is a difference in depth.
At any rate, you shouldn't consider here observers who
can't use the internet because this list filters them

> 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

    Even if that were true, and it's not, it wouldn't
make any sense to make a charge of solipcism based on
such a weak analogy with the behavior of the

> So lets follow up on some of the consequences:

    Bring it on.

> 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.

    One word: huh? What are you talking about?

> (Incidently, there are two converse assertions
> making up computationalism. That Turing
> computability is necessary and sufficient for
> consciousness.

    That's not what computationalism says.
Computationalism says that certain computations, if
implemented, give rise to consciousness. It does not
say that computability is necessary. A physical
system that lacks computability can still implement
computations. It is certainly not sufficient since
not all computations are conscious.
    In addition, if one is a dualist, one can believe
that psychophysical laws link computations to
consciousness. I'm a reductionist, which means I
think that's BS. But the dualism/reductionism debate
is orthogonal to computationalism.

> 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!

    You can stop doing so.

> However, even semi-computationlism is false if this
> single observer moment is durationless.)

    I don't see your point. The observer doesn't
implement a computation; the physical system does.
For a fixed mapping, it transitions between formal
states at some instant. Thus, for a fixed mapping,
there are a finite number of formal clock steps per
unit physical time, and the transitions are
instantaneous but it dwells for some period in the
formal states. What's the problem?

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

    Why not? While I'm not quite sure what you mean
by a "quantum history", I am quite sure your statement
is false.

- - - - - - -
               Jacques Mallah (
         Physicist / Many Worlder / Devil's Advocate
"I know what no one else knows" - 'Runaway Train', Soul Asylum
         My URL:

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Received on Mon May 15 2000 - 17:28:38 PDT

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