Stephen Paul King wrote:

Could I oppose the idea that consiousness is not Turing Emulable without being a "biological chauvinist"? ;-)The main problem I have is that these two assumptions are mutually exclusive!

1) Observer-moments exist: This requires that observer-moments have an ontological status that does not depend on anything other that they consistensy; they are elevated by postulation to having the same status as mathematical tautalogies, like 1 = 1, 1+2 = 3, etc.

Arguably, the existence of an observer-moment is *at least* as fundamental as the truth of a mathematical tautology. If I think or write "1+2 = 3" a little debate is implicitly generated, since this may or may not be consistent, depending on the meaning of the symbols etc. If I just *think*, from the first person perspective, there is no debate, no definitions, no question that I may be mistaken in thinking that I have thought. Cogito, ergo cogito.


2) This mysterious consciousness thing is "Turing emulable": This requires that for ANY 1st person experience that ANY observer might have that there exist at least one string of binary numbers that, when encoded on a UTM, will generate an simulation that if feed into a full sensory Virtual Reality interface, will be indistinguishable from the 1st person content of the consiousness.

Yes, OK so far.

Now, you might point out that it is obvious that the binary strings are members of the mathematical tautologies and thus have a "timeless" ontological status. I would agree with that completely, but I would point out that the notion of a UTM or UD does not have the same timeless status because it requires that there be some kind of physical process and memory traces/tapes/chicken scratchings/etc.
Additionally, unless we have some kind of observer, even if it is a UTM or UD itself, that can be interogated via some kind of physical interface by some other observer, it is logically impossible to claim that consciousness exists. Such would be equivalent to wondering whether of not some black box where capable of emulating a conscious experience without allowing any form of interface with the black box! The "Yes Doctor" idea requires that the consciousness that is transfered from a biological brain to silicon be capable of reporting its 1st person states otherwise our claims are reduced to mere speculations. For example see the discussion of Zombies.

OK, I agree. AI research is an experimental science. It may or may not be possible to build and program a computer so that it behaves like an intelligent and self-aware entity. Even if this difficult feat is eventually accomplished, there will then be the philosophical questions casting doubt on whether it is *really* conscious. This is the old problem of possibility of knowing whether other people really have minds like us, or whether they are just zombies acting like conscious beings. Ultimately, and regretfully, we can only be sure that we ourselves are conscious, and we have to take the existence of other minds on faith. However, if we believe that other humans are conscious because they seem to behave like we do, but refuse to believe that a computer which behaves in the same way (i.e. passes the Turing test) is conscious, then we are being inconsistent, and it is this inconsistency which I have called biological chauvinism.


Having said that, it was not the purpose of my original post to show that observer-moments are Turing emulable. Rather, it was to show that Bruno Marchal's UDA can work without explicitly defining or explaining consciousness. I believe Bruno himself has aknowledged that the computational hypothesis (which he calls "comp") may ultimately have to be taken as a matter of faith. This sort of bothers me because I spent a large part of my adolescence heaping scorn on religion and other faith-based belief systems, but I can't do anything about it.

--Stathis Papaioannou


----- Original Message ----- From: "Stathis Papaioannou" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>; <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Cc: <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 11:20 AM
Subject: RE: Everything Physical is Based on Consciousness



This is a wonderfully clear explanation of Bruno's UDA. Perhaps Bruno could confirm that it is what he intended.

As for the observer - or more fundamentally, the observer-moment - I think you can get away without explicitly defining it. All you need is two assumptions:

Firstly, you have to assume that observer-moments exist. I think it is pretty clear that this is the case; you know it and I know it. You may not know how to explain it, define it, or even describe it, but you definitely know that observer-moments exist if you are a conscious being.

Secondly, you have to assume that this mysterious consciousness thing is "Turing emulable". It is not nearly as obvious that this second assumption is true, and biological chauvinists may continue to deny it no matter what progress AI research may make. At some point, as Bruno says, you may have to take "comp" on faith; for example, say "yes doctor" to the offer of a durable new electronic brain when yours is starting to break down.

It should now be clear that if both of the above assumptions are true, then the UD should generate all the observer-moments as per Bruno and Brian. The "observer" is then a derivative entity, made up of certain subsets of observer-moments. You know what an observer-moment is through direct experience, but you have nowhere been forced to explicitly define it. If you want to say that consciousness is something utterly mysterious forever, you can say this, and the UDA still holds.

--Stathis Papaioannou


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