Re: relevant probability distribution

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2002 14:27:39 +1000 (EST)

Saibal Mitra wrote:
> 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....

I'm not sure how you could advance that argument. Bostrom's recent paper
indicates it is rather likely...

Nevertheless a clear logical argument in favour of the AP would be
most welcome.

> > 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?
> >
> 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?

No the issue concerns any conscious "program", rather than any
particular one. The fact that there are vastly more amoeba than homo
sapiens tends to argue against amoebae being consious.

> 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.
> Saibal

I'm not entirely sure where this SIA measure really comes from. From
the multiverse, we get that each observer moment is weighted by a
factor that decreases exponentially with time. Hence we can predict by
the classic SSA argument the we should expect to find ourselves in a
period of time when the population outweighs previous epochs by at
least an exponential factor, and that future populations will grow
slower than exponentially.

However, all this seems irrelevant to the conscious amoeba question.


A/Prof Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit, Phone 9385 6967, 8308 3119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052 Fax 9385 6965, 0425 253119 (")
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Received on Fri Jun 14 2002 - 21:31:25 PDT

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