Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Thu Mar 06 2008 - 03:41:14 MST

On 06/03/2008, Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> > Yes, I was exploring the idea that a random system might still have
> > "objective meaning". It will of course be meaningless to any external
> > observer, but it might be meaningful to its own *internal* observers.
> That's a remarkable thesis, and I'm a little skeptical. If by "random"
> you mean that the system really does have KC equal to its size in
> bits, (what I mean by "random"), then it defies my understanding
> that it could even have internal observers.

The decimal expansion of pi looks random but contains any string of
digits you care to nominate, if you calculate it to enough places
[actually I don't think this has been proven, but it is conjectured to
be so]. That is, the ensemble looks random, but it contains islands of
structure hidden in the noise. If these islands of structure contain
observers, they will be no less conscious for the fact that an
observer outside the ensemble can't find them.

> Don't want to be picky, but how long is a "moment"? For me, if
> there is no information flow, there cannot be consciousness. <sigh>
> I admit that by "information flow" I'm subscribing to a belief in
> the importance of time as a basic physical reality---I've never
> bought into Barbour's views or any of that. It's all too theoretical
> and unsure.

You seemed to agree earlier on that there wouldn't be a problem if the
moments lasted a day. You would experience Monday followed by Tuesday,
each day subjectively one day long, no matter what the details of
their separate implementation. Even if they occurred in separate
Hubble volumes (as indeed they must, purely by chance, if the universe
is infinite) with no chance of information flow between them you would
experience Monday followed by Tuesday.

> For example, if you were right, then it could be that coherent local
> small systems like Lee Corbin are only 0.00000000001 of where
> I really get my runtime. In that case, it wouldn't matter if this
> particular organization in this little corner of California in this little
> corner of our galaxy continued to execute.
> Important: morally, it wouldn't be such a great crime to wipe out
> people here on this little planet, since .9999999999 of their
> experience would go on just as before (on the reading, say, that
> our level-one universe is incredibly vast, but not infinite, and there
> is just one planet Earth).

If every computation is necessarily implemented by virtue of its
status as a platonic object then there is no basis for saying that
there is a separate "real" universe. Instead, what you think of and
everyone has always thought of as the real universe is a subset of a
wider mathematical reality. Your living in a world with orderly
physical laws would then have to be explained probabilistically as
following the computational paths of highest measure. For example,
algorithmic probability theory predicts that given a universal machine
generating and running random programs, shorter programs have a higher
probability. It takes much less information to specify a universe
according to a set of simple physical laws and parameters than to
"hand code" a universe in which all sorts of weirdness takes place.

Stathis Papaioannou

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