Re: Which universe are we in?

From: Stephen Paul King <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 10:24:39 -0400

Dear Bruno,

    If I may interleave some questions and comments. ;-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruno Marchal" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 9:25 AM
Subject: Re: Which universe are we in?

> At 22:46 -0700 8/07/2002, Hal Finney wrote:
> >
> >If my mind, as a physical or computational system, is instantiated
> >in multiple places, whether multiple universes, multiple branches of a
> >many-worlds interpretation (MWI), or even multiple places and times in
> >universe, the question is how that appears to me from the first-person
> >perspective. I am adopting a position that from my point of view, it
> >is indeterminate which of those instantiations I am now experiencing.
> >There is no "fact of the matter" as to which one is me, now.
> >
> >The alternative is to say that although all of these instantiations
> >are in some sense indistinguishable, nevertheless the instances of
> >consciousness produced by these systems are all distinct. That is, for
> >each instance of consciousness, there is a single physical system which
> >creates that consciousness. All of the physical systems are similar, or
> >even locally identical, so that the consciousness instances produced are
> >all structurally the same. But nevertheless we would not say that there
> >is one consciousness which spans all the implementations; rather, there
> >are multiple consciousnesses which merely "look alike from the inside".
> >
> >Anyway, that is the opposite of the view I am taking for the purposes
> >of this discussion. I am assuming the former position, that my present
> >consciousness is being instantiated widely throughout the multiverse
> >and I can with equal justification think that I am experiencing any
> >of those instantiations.
> Or even, perhaps, that "I am experiencing" all instantiations at once.
> Eventually it will be the relative proportion of differentiating
> (or bifurcating) history-instantiations which should count.


    Is it the difference between 1-person and 3-person that is implicit
here? It seems to me that we have expectations about our 1-person aspect of
experience that are, at best, unreasonable. On the otherhand, it seems to me
that we need to provide some explanation for the simultaneouly unique and
absolute appearence that our 1-person expereinces have - what are we to make
of the concreteness of "what it is like to be 'me' experiencing 'me'".
    One possibility that I have considered is that these two 'me's are not
one and the same, they are more like an object and its abstract

> >My consciousness, in that sense, spans many
> >parts of the multiverse, and the question of "which universe am I in"
> >has no unique answer.
> I would even say that the question is meaningless. It is not clear that
> all "my" possible experiences can be associate with "well defined


    It would indeeed be meaningless since "there is no there there". Here,
again, we find that we are projecting an abstract version of oneself (as a
voyouristic observer) into the idea of the multiverse.

> I think I agree with Hal Finney. Hal, do you defend this position or was
> only for the purpose of the discussion. Have you a definite opinion?


    I too am interested in Hal's opinion. ;-)

> ==========
> Wei, I hope my way of talking yesterday didn't seem too rude. I am really
> trying hard to understand what you don't understand about the necessity
> to take into account the comp 1-indeterminacy in TOE, once comp is
> (comp = Church thesis + minimal amount of arithmetical realism + there is
> a level of self-description such that my private experience doesn't change
> for functional substitutions made at that level).
> Bruno


    Bruno, I still don't understand how your theory dispenses with the
necessity of physical resources. Another way of posing my question is
perhaps: How can a Platonic Comp perform a computation without some analogue
of persistence of memory or duration.
    I can't seem to get the idea out of my head that information can not
just refer to information itself but merely can encode the "address" of
where and when it can be found - this is how I think Goedelization works.

Kindest regards,

Received on Wed Jul 10 2002 - 08:33:40 PDT

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