Re: relevant probability distribution

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 11:26:59 +1000 (EST)

Saibal Mitra wrote:
> So, I am not saying that only certain programs are conscious and others not.
> I am really saying that if you the universe is running (in some
> approximation) a certain program in my head. That program defines me. If you
> run that program on a computer, that computer would have my consciousness,
> i.e. that computer would be me. Since most members of this list (except for
> Russell?) believe that our universe itself a program, you could say that in
> some sense it is conscious. Most of us think, however, that our universe's
> program is very simple. A retarded amoeba would probably be more
> intelligent.

I take "consciousness" to be that property essential for the operation
of the Anthropic Principle. The universe is the way it is because we
are here observing it as conscious beings.

The first problem this raises is why does the anthropic principle
work? - one can conceive of being immersed in a virtual reality which
is totally inconsistent with our existence as conscious observers, for

However, let us accept the AP. After all, it has passed observational
test with flying colours. We should also expect that we should be an
example of the most likely form of consciousness.

The second problem is raises is that if ameobae are conscious, then
why aren't we amoebae? There are many more amoebae on the planet than
there are human beings. I can well accept that dolphins and
chimpanzees (for instance) _could_ be conscious, since there are
vastly greater numbers of humans around today than there are of these
other species, but there is something special that we have that amoeba
(or even ants, lets say) don't have.

Not sure about ant nests (Hofstadter style). Anyone got a good
estimate of the number of extant ant nests vis a vis human population?

One possibility is that there is some kind of measure function that
rates our consciousness as far more likely to be occupied than an
amoeba's, however I'm personally sceptical of this. Consciousness seem
to be so much of an either/or thing...


A/Prof Russell Standish Director
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Received on Wed Jun 12 2002 - 18:31:44 PDT

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