RE: Observer-Moment Measure from Universe Measure

From: Jonathan Colvin <>
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 16:19:44 -0700

Hal Finney wrote:
>Jonathan Colvin writes:
>> There's a question begging to be asked, which is (predictably I
>> suppose, for a qualia-denyer such as myself), what makes you think
>> there is such a thing as an "essence of an experience"? I'd suggest
>> there is no such "thing" as an observer-moment. I'm happy with using
>> the concept as a tag of sorts when discussing observer selection
>> issues, but I think reifying it is likely a mistake, and goes
>> considerably beyond Strong AI into a full Cartesian dualism. Is it
>> generally accepted here on this list that a
>substrate-independent thing called an "observer moment" exists?
>Here's how I attempted to define observer moment a few years ago:
>Observer - A subsystem of the multiverse with qualities
>sufficiently similar to those which are common among human
>beings that we consider it meaningful that we might have been
>or might be that subsystem.
>These qualities include consciousness, perception of a flow of
>time, and continuity of identity.
>Observer-moment - An instant of perception by an observer. An
>observer's sense of the flow of time allows its experience to
>be divided into units so small that no perceptible change in
>consciousness is possible in those intervals. Each such unit
>of time for a particular observer is an observer-moment.
>So if you don't believe in observer-moments, do you also not
>believe in observers? Or is it the -moment that causes problems?

I don't believe in observers, if by "observer" one means to assign special
ontological status to mental states over any other arrangement of matter.
This is similar to the objection to the classic interpretation of QM,
whereby an "observation" is required to collapse the WF (how do you define
"observer"?..a rock?..a chicken?..a person?).

But this was in response to a comment that "it was time to get serious about
observer-moments". An observer is such a poorly defined and nebulous thing
that I don't think one can get serious about it. I'd note that your
definition is close to being circular.."an observer is something
sufficiently similar to me that I might think I could have been it". But how
do we decide what is "sufficient"? The qualities you list (consciousness,
perception etc) are themselves poorly defined or undefinable. We end up with
"an observer is an observer if I think it is an observer"; which is a bit
circular IMHO.

Jonathan Colvin
Received on Wed Jun 08 2005 - 19:28:09 PDT

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