Re: Request for a glossary of acronyms

From: Joao Leao <>
Date: Wed, 05 Nov 2003 17:57:54 -0500


Waht about a definition of Observer-Moment?
That would surely help me...



Hal Finney wrote:

> Jesse Mazer writes:
> > In your definition of the ASSA, why do you define it in terms of your next
> > observer moment?
> The ASSA and the RSSA were historically defined as competing views.
> I am not 100% sure that I have the ASSA right, in that it doesn't seem
> too different from the SSSA. (BTW I have kept the definitions at the end
> of this email.) (BTW, BTW means By The Way.) But I am pretty sure about
> the RSSA being in terms of the "next" moment, so I defined the ASSA the
> same way, to better illustrate its complementary relationship to the RSSA.
> The real difference between these views was not addressed in my
> glossary, which is that the RSSA is supposed to justify the QTI, the
> quantum theory of immortality, while the ASSA is supposed to refute it.
> That is, if you only experience universes where your identity continues,
> as the RSSA implies, then it would seem that you will never die. But if
> your life-moments are ruled by statistics based on physical law as the
> ASSA says, then the chance that you will ever experience being extremely
> old is infinitesimal.
> Personally I think the ASSA as I have it is somewhat incoherent, speaking
> of a "next" observer moment in a framework where there really isn't any
> such notion. But as I said it has been considered as the alternative
> to the RSSA. I invite suggestions for improved wording.
> > Wouldn't it be possible to have a version of the SSA where
> > you consider your *current* observer moment to be randomly sampled from the
> > set of all observer-moments, but you use something like the RSSA to guess
> > what your next observer moment is likely to be like?
> That seems contradictory. You have one distribution for the current
> observer-moment (sampled from all of them), and another distribution for
> the next observer-moment (sampled from those that are continuous with
> the same identity). But the current observer-moment is also a "next"
> observer-moment (relative to the previous observer-moment). So you can't
> use the ASSA for current OM's and the RSSA for next OM's, because every
> next is a current, and vice versa. (By OM I mean observer-moment.)
> > Also, what about a weighted version of the ASSA? I believe other animals are
> > conscious and thus would qualify as observers/observer-moments, which would
> > suggest I am extraordinarily lucky to find myself as an observer-moment of
> > what seems like the most intelligent species on the planet...but could there
> > be an element of the anthropic principle here? Perhaps some kind of theory
> > of consciousness would assign something like a "mental complexity" to
> > different observer-moments, and the self-sampling assumption could be biased
> > in favor of more complex minds.
> Yes, I think the possibility of weighting OM's is implicit in these
> definitions. We often use the term "measure" to indicate that some
> OM's carry more weight and more probability than others. For example,
> one theory is that OM's which take a larger program to output would
> have lower measure than ones which are described by a short program.
> By this definition we might think that less complex minds would have
> more measure, the opposite of your idea.
> I haven't heard of anyone suggesting that complex minds would inherently
> have higher measure. Instead, it seems that most people use a somewhat
> arbitrary cutoff for complexity which is necessary to qualify as an
> observer. In the anthropic literature this general issue is discussed
> as the problem of the reference class. I'm not that familiar with all
> the ideas which have been proposed.
> Your idea, and my alternative about less complex minds having more
> measure, have the problem that it seems that much more and less complex
> minds should exist in the multiverse, and as you note we obviously have
> evidence of less-complex minds existing in abundance right here on Earth.
> So if more complexity is better, why aren't we super-intelligent aliens?
> > Likewise, one might use a graded version of the RSSA to deal with "degrees
> > of similarity", instead of having it be a simple either-or whether a future
> > observer-moment "belongs to the same observer" or not as you suggest in your
> > definition. There could be some small probability that my next
> > observer-moment will be of a completely different person, but in most cases
> > it would be more likely that my next observer-moment would be basically
> > similar to my current one. But one might also have to take into account the
> > absolute measure on all-observer moments that I suggest above, so that if
> > there is a very low absolute probability of a brain that can suggest a
> > future observer-moment which is very similar to my current one (because,
> > say, I am standing at ground zero of a nuclear explosion) then the relative
> > probability of my next observer-moment being completely different would be
> > higher. Again, one would need something like a theory of consciousness to
> > quantify stuff like "degrees of similarity" and the details of how the
> > tradeoff between relative probability and absolute probability would work.
> This seems hard to motivate because it fails to satisfy the desire of
> RSSA proponents to get quantum immortality, while still introducing
> the problematic notions of identity which the ASSA was supposed to free
> us from. Also, you would need to come up with some rules for how big the
> threshold has to be in order to kick you out of your current identity-line
> and into someone else's. It looks problematic to me.
> Hal
> : SSA - The Self-Sampling Assumption, which says that you should consider
> : yourself as a randomly sampled observer from among all observers in the
> : multiverse.
> :
> : SSSA - The Strong Self-Sampling Assumption, which says that you should
> : consider this particular observer-moment you are experiencing as being
> : randomly sampled from among all observer-moments in the universe.
> :
> : ASSA - The Absolute Self-Sampling Assumption, which says that you should
> : consider your next observer-moment to be randomly sampled from among all
> : observer-moments in the universe.
> :
> : RSSA - The Relative Self-Sampling Assumption, which says that you should
> : consider your next observer-moment to be randomly sampled from among all
> : observer-moments which come immediately after your current observer-moment
> : and belong to the same observer.

Joao Pedro Leao  :::
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
1815 Massachussetts Av. , Cambridge MA 02140
Work Phone: (617)-496-7990 extension 124
Cell-Phone: (617)-817-1800
"All generalizations are abusive (specially this one!)"
Received on Wed Nov 05 2003 - 18:00:56 PST

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