[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 12:03:49 UTC 2007

On 3/27/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:

To amplify Russell's remarks somewhat, there's an assumption running
> through this thread that there can be "information" without an
> observer, thus the talk about "information flowing" during a "causal
> process", but not in the case of a lookup table. There's an essential
> subjective element that's being ignored here.  Just as any pattern of
> bits may be validly said to "be random" or to "contain information",
> it depends on the observer.  Without specifying the observer, the
> statement is meaningless.

Indeed. But it gets weird when the observer is himself the product of the
information, bootstrapping itself into a self-awareness. Noise can be seen
to contain any information you want, if you look at it the right way. A page
covered in ink contains any given English sentence, but in a trivial or
meaningless sense unless some external observer already knows the sentence
he is looking for. However, what if a particular English sentence had the
property of being self-aware, in the absence of any external observer? In
that case, this unusual sentence would indeed be lurking, self-aware but
perfectly hidden, in the ink-covered page. Similarly, if computations can be
self-aware, then self-aware computations must be lurking all around us in
noise, perhaps in elaborate virtual worlds, but never able to interact in
any way with the substrate of their implementation. The only way to avoid
this strange idea is to say that computations can't be self-aware.

Stathis Papaioannou
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