Re: Request for a glossary of acronyms

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 16:11:39 +0100

Here is an interesting post by Jesse. Curiously I have not been able to find it
in the archive, but luckily I find it in my computer memory.

Is that normal? I will try again later.

Jesse's TOE pet is very similar to the type of TOE compatible with the comp
hyp, I guess everyone can see that.

Jesse, imo, that post deserves to be developed. The way you manage to save
partially the ASSA (Absolute Self-Sampling Assumption) is not very clear to me.


At 04:43 14/11/03 -0500, Jesse Mazer wrote:
>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.
>I think that proponents of the type of ASSA you’re talking about would say
>that the experience of consciousness passing through multiple
>observer-moments is simply an illusion, and that I am nothing more than my
>current observer-moment. Therefore they would not believe in quantum
>immortality, and they also would not define the ASSA in terms of the
>"next" observer-moment, only the current observer-moment. I think you’d be
>hard-pressed to find any supporters of the ASSA who would define it in the
>way you have.
>But as I say below, I think it is possible to have a different
>interpretation of the ASSA in which consciousness-over-time is not an
>illusion, and in which it can be compatible with the RSSA, not opposed to it.
>> > 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.)
>Well, any theory involving splitting/merging consciousness is naturally
>going to privilege the current observer-moment, because it’s the only
>thing you can be really sure of a la "I think therefore I am"…when talking
>about the past or the future, there will be multiple pasts and multiple
>futures compatible with your present OM, so you can only talk about a sort
>of probabilistic spread.
>That said, although some might argue there’s a sort of philosophical
>contradiction there, I think it is possible to conceive of a mathematical
>theory of consciousness which incorporates both the ASSA and the RSSA
>without leading to any formal/mathematical contradictions. There could
>even be a sort of "complementarity" between the two aspects of the theory,
>so that OM’s with the highest absolute probability-of-being would also be
>the ones that have the most other high-absolute-probability OM’s that see
>them as a likely "successor" in terms of relative probability-of-becoming.
>In fact, an elegant solution for determining a given OM’s absolute
>probability-of-being might be to simply do a sum over the probability of
>becoming that OM relative to all the other OM’s in the multiverse,
>weighted by their own probability-of-being.
>Here’s a simple model for how this could work. Say you have some large set
>of all the OM’s in the multiverse, possibly finite if there is some upper
>limit on the complexity of an OM’s, but probably infinite. You have some
>theory of consciousness that quantifies the "similarity" S between any two
>given OM’s, which deals with how well they fit as the same mind at
>different moments, how many of the same memories they share in common, how
>similar are their causal patterns, and so on. You also have some absolute
>measure on all the OM’s, a "probability-of-being" B assigned to each
>one—this is basically just my idea that the self-sampling assumption could
>be weighted somehow, so that the ideal way to use the ASSA is to assume
>that your current OM is randomly sampled from the set of all possible
>observer-moments, weighted by their own probability-of-being B.
>Then, to determine the relative probability-of-becoming various possible
>OM’s, I could just multiply their similarity S to my own current OM by
>their absolute measure B representing each one’s probability-of-being.
>This would insure that even though a version of me observing a dragon
>popping out of my computer screen may be have just as much similarity S to
>my current mental state, in terms of memories and the like, as a version
>of me who’s watching the computer screen behaving normally, if one OM is
>objectively less probable (lower B) due to the laws of nature, I will have
>a higher relative probability of becoming the OM who sees
>business-as-usual. This would also insure that if I step into a
>teleportation machine and the machine reconstructs two people, one whose
>brain is close to identical to mine and one who has a very different
>personality and memories, then even if the OM’s of both these people have
>about the same absolute probability-of-being B, I am far more likely to
>become the one who’s more similar to me because his similarity S to my
>current OM would be much higher.
>And as I suggested earlier, it would be neat if the probability-of-being B
>could itself be derived by something like a sum over the S’s between me
>and all the other other OM’s, each one weighted by their own B-rating.
>This idea could be summed up by the slogan "the most probable present
>experiences are the ones that are high-probability successors to other
>experiences that are themselves highly probable present experiences". In
>this way it might even be possible to bootstrap a unique B-rating for all
>OM’s, starting with only a knowledge of the similarity ratings between
>them. Consider the following simple universe with only three observers X,
>Y, and Z, and a known matrix of similarity ratings S between each pair:
> X Y Z
>X1.00 0.60 0.35
>Y 0.60 1.00 0.25
>Z 0.35 0.25 1.00
>In this case, if the B-ratings for each one were determined by a sum over
>the S-ratings for the others weighted by their own B-ratings, and you
>represent X’s B-rating by the variable x, Y’s B-rating by the variable y,
>etc., then you’d have some simultaneous equations that’d actually allow
>you to find a unique self-consistent solution for x, y, and z:
>x = (0.60)y + (0.35)z
>y = (0.60)x + (0.25)z
>z = (0.35)x + (0.25)y
>I haven’t actually planned these numbers out, so the solution probably
>leads to some variables being negative or greater than one, which doesn’t
>really make sense if the B’s are supposed to be probabilities, but the
>basic idea here is that you can bootstrap the B’s just by knowing the S’s.
>Now keep in mind, this is all a very cartoonish sketch, I don’t really
>think whatever theory of consciousness is used to determine relative
>probabilities would be as simple as multiplying a "similarity rating" by
>an absolute probability; among other things, "similarity" fails to capture
>the crucial issue of the directionality of subjective time, my current OM
>might be just as similar to an OM 2 seconds ago as it is to one 2 second
>from now, but I expect a higher probability I’ll become the one 2 seconds
>in the future. Also, I suggested earlier that the complexity of an OM’s
>consciousness might play a part in both the absolute probability (so my
>present experience is more likely to be that of a human than an insect)
>and relative probability (so I am more likely to experience becoming a
>copy with an intact brain than one with brain damage), but the model I
>presented doesn’t take that into account. Still, it’s sort of a pet theory
>of mine that the real TOE will turn out to be analogous to this model in
>the following ways:
>1. It will include a theory of consciousness that can take my present OM
>along with various possible future OM’s, and determine the relative
>probability of my experiencing each one in my future based on a
>combination of features that are inherent to each OM (analogous to the
>‘similarity’ rating in my model) and an external measure which assigns
>each one an absolute probability. The relative probability on different
>future observer-moments would be used as weights in the RSSA, and the
>absolute probability of different present observer-moments would be used
>in a weighted ASSA.
>2. Even if you don’t know the correct absolute probability of any of the
>OM’s to start with, there will turn out to be a unique self-consistent
>solution to what this absolute measure on OM’s has to look like, given
>only the theory of consciousness and the assumption that all possible OM’s
>exist (the ‘everything’ part of the theory). This would be analogous to
>the unique solution to the simultaneous equations in the cartoon model above.
>This would be neat because the laws of physics we observe could hopefully
>be derived (in principle anyway) from the absolute and relative measures
>on all OM’s, so you’d basically be deriving all the laws of the universe
>from just a theory of consciousness and platonic assumption that every
>conscious pattern that can exist, does exist. The problem with any TOE
>that incorporates a "theory of consciousness" is that it runs the risk of
>being a dualist theory if any aspect of first-person probabilities derives
>from something other than that theory (like an objective measure on
>universes rather than OM’s to explain why I don’t experience Harry Potter
>worlds), but this idea is nicely monist and simple.
>It might seem that a theory centered on consciousness and observer-moments
>would suggest that any part of the universe that isn’t observed by a
>sentient being doesn’t really exist, but I imagine identifying distinct
>"observer-moments" with something like "patterns of causal relationships"
>(or finite computations, perhaps), so that all such patterns, even the
>random jostling of molecules in a cloud of gas, would qualify as
>observer-moments with very low-grade levels of consciousness. That way the
>absolute probability of each such pattern, along with the probabilistic
>relationships between different patterns, might be used to derive what we
>ordinarily think of as the laws of physics, especially if the laws of
>physics can ultimately be stated in terms of nothing but relationships
>between elementary events, as physicists like Lee Smolin have suggested.
>This is similar to the "naturalistic panpsychism" idea I found described
>on the same website that hosts the many-worlds FAQ (although I disagree
>with them on a few points):
>Apologies for the long post, but I haven’t really outlined my own pet TOE
>on this list before, so I wanted to get all the major details in there.
>Jesse Mazer
>MSN Messenger with backgrounds, emoticons and more.
Received on Sat Jan 31 2004 - 10:17:09 PST

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