Re: Request for a glossary of acronyms

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2004 15:30:50 +0100

Thank you Jesse for your clear answer. Your comparison
of your use of both ASSA and RSSA with Google ranking system
has been quite useful.
This does not mean I am totally convince because ASSA raises the
problem of the basic frame: I don't think there is any sense to compare
the probability of "being a human" or "being a bacteria" ..., but your
"RSSA use of ASSA" does not *necessarily* give a meaning to such
strong form of absolute Self Sampling Assumption, or does it?
I think also that your view on RSSA is not only compatible with
the sort of approach I have developed, but is coherent with
"Saibal Mitra" backtracking, which, at first I have taken
as wishful thinking. OK you make me feel COMP could be a little less
frightening I'm use to think.
Concerning consciousness theory and its use to isolate a similarity
relation on the computational histories---as seen from some first person
point of view, I will try to answer asap in a common answer to
Stephen and Stathis (and you) who asked very related questions.
Alas I have not really the time now---I would also like to find a way to
the consciousness theory without relying too much on mathematical logic,
but the similarity between 1-histories *has* been derived technically in
the part
of the theory which is the most counter-intuitive ... mmh I will try soon ...


At 00:02 01/02/04 -0500, Jesse Mazer wrote:
>>From: Bruno Marchal <>
>>Subject: Re: Request for a glossary of acronyms
>>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.
>Thanks for reviving this post, it's in the archives here:
>It was part of this thread:
>>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.
>Well, the idea I discussed was somewhat vague, I think to develop it I'd
>need to have better ideas about what a theory of consciousness should look
>like, and I don't know where to begin with that. But as for how the ASSA
>is incorporated, I'll try to summarize again and maybe make it a little
>clearer. Basically my idea was that there would be two types of measures
>on observer-moments: a relative measure, which gives you answers to
>questions like "if I am currently experiencing observer-moment A, what is
>the probability that my next experience will be of observer-moment B?",
>and an absolute measure, which is sort of like the probability that my
>current observer-moment will be A in the first place. This idea of
>absolute measure might seem meaningless since whatever observer-moment I'm
>experiencing right now, from my point of view the probability is 1 that
>I'm experiencing that one and not some other, but probably the best way to
>think of it is in terms of the self-sampling assumption, where reasoning
>*as if* I'm randomly sampled from some group (for example, 'all humans
>ever born' in the doomsday argument) can lead to useful conclusions, even
>if I don't actually believe that God used a random-number generator to
>decide which body my preexisting soul would be placed in.
>So, once you have the idea of both a relative measure
>('probability-of-becoming') and an absolute measure
>('probability-of-being') on observer-moments, my idea is that the two
>measures could be interrelated, like this:
>1. My probability-of-becoming some possible future observer-moment is
>based both on something like the 'similarity' between that observer-moment
>and my current one (so my next experience is unlikely to be that of George
>W. Bush sitting in the White House, for example, because his memories and
>personality are so different from my current ones) but also on the
>absolute probability of that observer-moment (so that I am unlikely to
>find myself having the experience of talking to an intelligent white
>rabbit, because even if that future observer-moment is fairly similar to
>my current one in terms of personality, memories, etc., white-rabbit
>observer-moments are objectively improbable). I don't know how to quantify
>"similarity" though, or exactly how both similarity and absolute
>probabilities would be used to calculate the relative measure between two
>observer-moments...this is where some sort of "theory of consciousness"
>would be needed.
>2. Meanwhile, the absolute measure is itself dependent on the relative
>measure, in the sense that an observer-moment A will have higher absolute
>measure if a lot of other observer-moments that themselves have high
>absolute measure see A as a likely "next experience" or a likely "past
>experience" (ie there's a high relative measure between them). This idea
>is based partly on that thought experiment where two copies of a person
>are made, then one copy is itself later copied many more times, the idea
>being that the copy that is destined to be copied more in the future has a
>higher absolute measure because there are more future observer-moments
>"reinforcing" it (see for
>more on this thought-experiment). I think of this whole idea in analogy to
>the way Google's ranking system works: pages are ranked as more popular if
>they are linked to by a lot of other pages that are themselves highly
>ranked. So, the popularity of a particular page is sort of like the
>absolute probability of being a particular observer-moment, while a link
>from one page to another is like a high relative probability from one
>observer-moment to another (to make the analogy better you'd have to use
>weighted links, and you'd have to assume the weight of the link between
>page A and page B itself depends partly on B's popularity).
>The final part of my pet theory is that by having the two measures
>interrelated in this way, you'd end up with a unique self-consistent
>solution to what each measure would look like, like what happens when you
>have a bunch of simultaneous equations specifying how different variables
>relate to one another, and they determine a unique solution. This would
>provide a rationale for having a non-arbitrary choice of absolute and
>relative measure (see my comments about the 'arbitrariness problem' in my
>very first post on this list at
> ). Also, this type of TOE
>would give a precise answer to the 'problem of the reference class' which
>Nick Bostrom talks about in his work on the self-sampling assumption, the
>answer being that you should reason as if you were randomly sampled from
>the set of all observer-moments, weighted by their absolute measure. The
>final benefit of this type of theory is that you wouldn't need a two-step
>procedure of first coming up with a measure on "universes" and then
>afterwards adding anthropic considerations as a second step--I think that
>two-step idea depends on a fundamentally dualistic view of the mind/body
>problem, as I said in my post at
>So, does any of this help explain how I try to save the ASSA? I guess it
>depends on what you think the basic problem the ASSA has that requires it
>to be "saved", I think Hal Finney was saying the problem was that it could
>lead to predictions incompatible with those of the RSSA, while others seem
>to have more of a philosophical problem with talking about the
>"probability" that my current observer-moment could be anything other than
>what it actually is (if 'I' were someone else, 'I' wouldn't be me!) What
>is your basic objection to the ASSA, and do you think my pet theory offers
>at least one possible way to resolve it?
>Jesse Mazer
>Find high-speed ‘net deals — comparison-shop your local providers here.
Received on Tue Feb 03 2004 - 10:18:03 PST

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