Re: relevant probability distribution

From: Saibal Mitra <>
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2002 01:24:52 +0200

Russell wrote:
> 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
> example.
Tha must be explained by the unlikeliness of such a situation. Why would
anyone simulate me living happily on the surface of Venus? They could have
taken any possible person....

> 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...

I think that one should first define oneself as a particular program, and
then look at where and how often that program is actually running. Amoebas
are incapable of running me. Maybe artificial intelligent agents pose more
of a problem. Why am I not a robot, that can copy himself as many times as
he pleases?

B.t.w. Ken Olum made an interesting remark in his paper in which he
advocates the Self Indicating Assumption (SIA) (see If
universes with more observers are more likely than universes with less
observers, then why don't we live in a universe in which the number was
pre-programmed to be some ridicolously large number, say N = 10^1000000000?
(Ken gave a different example). He concludes that apparently such universes
must be unlikelier by a factor of at least N, to compensate for the factor N
coming from the number of observers. This fits in nice with the idea that
more complex programs should have lower measure. You can see that the
measure of a program must decrease faster than 2^(-p) where p is the length
of the program.

Received on Fri Jun 14 2002 - 16:27:38 PDT

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