Re: Natural selection (spinoff from "History-less observer moments")

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 10:19:29 +1000 (EST)

Jacques Mallah wrote:
> >From: Russell Standish <>
> >Jacques Mallah wrote:
> > > It is clear that we don't think the same way. M(x) is simply the
> >total measure of observations with the characteristic x. M(x|y), on the
> >other hand, is undefined since "observer" is undefined. I don't understand
> >what you mean by M(x|z).
> > > For the sake of others who may have forgotten, I'll describe again
> >what is involved. The problem is to compare the measaure of 1) x = "you
> >are the product of Darwinian evolution" and 2) x' = "you are the direct
> >result of (quantum or thermal) 'random fluctuations'". Presumably, x and
> >x' would be seen by different 'observers' if that was defined.
> >Not at all. The question is: "Given you are a conscious observer, compare
> >the measures of x and x'". The observer is the same in both cases and all
> >we know about the observer is the property of consciousness.
> I don't know what you mean. First, by "given you are a conscious
> observer", I think you must mean that you are comparing the measures
> M(x|you) and M(x'|you).
> Part of the problem is you still haven't defined "observer". I don't
> see how the observer could be the same in both cases, but then I don't know
> what the term "observer" is supposed to mean.

You keep going on about requiring a definition of observer. This is a
red herring. Whilst a full blown theory of concsiouness would be nice,
it is not necessary to make progress in understanding. Recognising
certain properties of consciousness such as "Projection" or "Time"
already has some quite potent consequences.

The way the statements M(x) and M(x') that you gave are phrased, they
refer to the same "generic" observer, wondering why it sees an ordered

> Suppose I see a guy named Harry, who verifiably came into being due to
> 'random fluctuations'. Surely, whatever is meant by 'Harry', that is one of
> his characteristics and it's what makes him so popular at parties.

This would be a truly remarkable observation, and would probably put
into grave doubt the whole idea of the SSA and the Anthropic
Principle. Instead, it would make the idea of an intelligent designer
much more appealing.

If you ever find Harry, I'd be very interested to meet him!

> > > As you know, I'd sum over all implementations in the
> >multi-multiverse to find a measure.
> >
> >The problem is that this sum does not converge, because the
> >information content of the summed quantity must be zero.
> We've been over this. The sum is infinite, but that doesn't mean ratios
> are ambiguous if you do it right. As far as the info content being zero,
> that has zero relevance.

The infiniteness of the sum has nothing to do with it. As you are well
aware, infinite series may converge or diverge.

The reason why information content _is_ important, is that if your
putative absolute measure distribution did in fact exist, then the
total ensemble of possibilities has structure, it has some
information, which contradicts the "zero-information" principle.

This is my point - all measure distributions must be relative to some
information processing entity (be they observer or UTM or
whatever). These "observers" needn't be concrete, but they must have
some properties to enable information in the form of measure
distributions to be extracted.

> >Without a proper theory of consciousness, either side of the debate is
> >equally consistent, just mutually contradictory choices of axioms.
> Glad you think my side is self-consistent. I don't think yours is.

That remains to be proven. I am happy for you to attempt to
demonstrate inconsistencies, that is good science. However, you must
be careful not to impose an alternative viewpoint and claim it is an
inconsistency. It has been demonstated many times that your viewpoint
is inconsistent with mine, so that is no longer interesting.

> - - - - - - -
> 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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Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit, Phone 9385 6967
UNSW SYDNEY 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Sun Jun 18 2000 - 17:15:04 PDT

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