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

From: Jacques Mallah <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 21:09:46 EDT

>From: Russell Standish <>
>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.

    I didn't ask for a full theory. I require a definition of observer
because 1) it seems obvious that, in principle, there is no such definition
that would have all the properties you want. The only way to dissuade me of
that would be to provide said definition, and 2) without the definition, I
don't know what you are trying to say.

>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

    If there is such a "generic" observer, then is he the only observer ever
to be in existance? If so, then maybe I could understand what you mean.
Otherwise, surely the Bayesian probabilities that he is the various
observers come into play, which you refuse to consider.

> > 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.

    Now that's a real red herring. Forget that and answer the question: is
it one of Harry's characteristics? And if so, shouldn't Harry still be
surprised to have such an origin? And if that too, then he is clearly
considering the measure of other observers, which he knows is larger than
the measure of freaks like 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.

    You are smarter than that, Russell. You must be to have obtained your
present position.
    In the AUH, all possibilities exist. So no information is needed to
specify which ones exist. But of course there is stucture.
    Consider the UTM analogy of the universal distribution. The universal
distribution is the distribution of output strings produced by a UTM, given
a uniform distribution of input strings.

>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.

    First, as I have said many times on this list, for the UTM analogy to
work there must exist some special UTM or distribution of UTMs which is to
be used. This does *not* mean information is required, because it should be
possible to know this distribution based only on special properties that it
ought to have. (Just as it does not take information to know that pi > 3.)
If on the other hand that is not sufficient, then nature would need to
'arbritrarily' make a choice, in which case the zero information hypothesis
should be considered FALSIFIED.
    Second, if we consider a measure distibution of conscious computations,
then obviously the definition of 'conscious' acts as a filter. To go back
to a bitstring analogy, suppose there is a uniform distribution 'D' of
strings, and we want the measure distribution of such strings given an
additional property, c. Obviously M(c) will not (in general) be uniform.
Again - no information is required to specify 'D' because it is uniform, yet
it leads to a nontrivial M(c).
M(c) is quite objective; anyone who calculates it would get the same result.
  In our case, we are interested in consciousness, so we choose that as a
filter. Me being conscious has nothing to do with the result, just as an
unconscious computer could calculate M(c).

                         - - - - - - -
               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 Sat Jun 24 2000 - 18:12:03 PDT

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