Re: Measure, Doomsday argument

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 11:49:48 +1000

On Tue, Jun 21, 2005 at 06:13:53PM -0700, "Hal Finney" wrote:
> Quentin Anciaux writes:
> > Why aren't we blind ? :-)
> >
> > If the "measure" of an OM come from the information complexity of it, it seems
> > that an OM of a blind person need less information content because there is
> > no complex description of the outside world available to the blind observer.
> > So as they are less complex, they must have an higher "measure" ... but I'm
> > not blind, so as a lot of people on earth...
> There may be something of a puzzle there...
> Although I think specifically that blind people don't necessarily have
> a lower information content in their mental states. It is said that
> blind people have their other sense become more acute to take over the
> unused brain capacity (at least people blind from birth). So their mental
> states may take just as much information as sighted people.
> Beyond that, the puzzle remains as to why we are as complex as we are,
> why we are not simpler beings. It would seem that one could imagine
> conscious beings who would count as observers, as people we "might
> have been", but who would have simpler minds and senses than ours.
> Certainly the higher animals show signs of consciousness, and their
> brains are generally smaller than humans, especially the cortex, hence
> probably with lower information content.
> Of course there are a lot more people than other reasonably large-brained
> animals, so perhaps our sheer numbers cancel any penalty due to our
> larger and more-complex brains.
> Hal Finney

I take from this argument that the Anthropic Principle is a necessary
requirement on conscious experience. In other words - self-awareness
is a requirement. I cannot say why this should be so, as we do not
have an acceptable theory of consciousnes, only that it must be so,
otherwise we would expect to live in a too simple environment. And
this is an interesting constraint on acceptable theories of


PS: only a few species have been shown to be self-aware: Homo Sapiens
(older than 18 months), both Chimpanzees, one of the Gibbons (IIRC)
and some species of Dolphin. Naturally, I'd expect a few more to come
to light, but self-awareness does appear to be rare in the animal
kingdom. Of course homo sapiens outnumbers all these species by many
orders of magnitude.

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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
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Received on Tue Jun 21 2005 - 22:25:07 PDT

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