I appreciate that there are genuine problems in the theory of computation as applied to intelligent and/or conscious minds. However, we know that intelligent and conscious minds do in fact exist, running on biological hardware. The situation is a bit like seeing an aeroplane in the sky then trying to figure out the physics of heavier than air flight; if you prove that it's impossible, then there has to be something wrong with your proof.

If it does turn out that the brain is not Turing emulable, what are the implications of this? Could we still build a conscious machine with appropriate soldering and coding, or would we have to surrender to dualism/ an immaterial soul/ Roger Penrose or what?

--Stathis Papaioannou

From: "Stephen Paul King" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
CC: <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Subject: Re: Olympia's Beautiful and Profound Mind
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 20:41:04 -0400

Dear Lee,

Let me use your post to continue our offline conversation here for the benefit of all.

The idea of a computation, is it well or not-well founded? Usually TMs and other finite (or infinite!) state machines are assume to have a well founded set of states such that there are no "circularities" nor infinite sequences in their specifications. See:


One of the interesting features that arises when we consider if it is possible to faithfully represent the 1st person experiences of the world -"being in the world" as Sartre wrote - in terms of computationally generated simulations is that circularities arise almost everywhere.

Jon Barwise, Peter Wegner and others have pointed out that the usual notions of computation fail to properly take into consideration the necessity to deal with this issue and have been operating in a state of Denial about a crucial aspect of the notion of conscious awareness: how can an a priori specifiable computation contain an internal representational model of itself that is dependent on its choices and interactions with "others", when these others are not specified within the computation?


   Another aspect of this is the problem of concurrency.


   I am sure that I am being a fooling tyro is this post. ;-)

Kindest regards,


----- Original Message ----- From: "Lee Corbin" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Cc: <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 2:00 AM
Subject: RE: Olympia's Beautiful and Profound Mind

Hal writes

We had some discussion of Maudlin's paper on the everything-list in 1999.
I summarized the paper at http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m898.html .
Subsequent discussion under the thread title "implementation" followed
I suggested a flaw in Maudlin's argument at
http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m1010.html with followup
http://www.escribe.com/science/theory/m1015.html .

In a nutshell, my point was that Maudlin fails to show that physical
supervenience (that is, the principle that whether a system is
conscious or not depends solely on the physical activity of the system)
is inconsistent with computationalism.

It seemed to me that he made a leap at the end.

(In fact, I argued that the new computation is very plausibly conscious,
but that doesn't even matter, because it is sufficient to consider that
it might be, in order to see that Maudlin's argument doesn't go through.
To repair his argument it would be necessary to prove that the altered
computation is unconscious.)

I know that Hal participated in a discussion on Extropians in 2002 or 2003 concerning Giant Look-Up Tables. I'm surprised that either in the course of those discussions he didn't mention Maudlin's argument, or that I have forgotten it.

Doesn't it all seem of a piece?  We have, again, an entity that either
does not compute its subsequent states, (or as Jesse Mazer points out,
does so in a way that looks suspiciously like a recording of an actual
prior calculation).

The GLUT was a device that seemed to me to do the same thing, that is,
portray subsequent states without engaging in bonafide computations.

Is all this really the same underlying issue, or not?


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