Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent meeker writes:
>>>>[If] a computatation only "dreams" then how could you know whether it was 
>>>>intelligence, or just noise?
>>>We wouldn't know, but the computation itself would know if it were 
>>>creating its own observer. If we say that noise contains hidden information 
>>>that may be true in a trivial sense, but it's meaningless: information 
>>>hidden in 
>>>noise is not accessible to anyone and is no different to no information at 
>>>But if the information hidden in noise is a conscious computation, then it 
>>>accessible to someone: itself, by definition. If you don't like this 
>>>then you have to either reject computationalism (as John Searle does using 
>>>this argument) or impose ad hoc limitations on it, which amounts to the same 
>>I'm considering rejecting the idea that a computation can be 
>>distinguished from noise by some internal characteristic of the 
>>computation.  I don't think you can make the idea of "information hidden 
>>in noise" well defined.  By Shannon's measure noise is information.
> Would you allow that one machine or computation may be emulated by another 
> following some sort of mapping rule, and that consciousness may be preserved 
> in this process? This would seem to be an assumption at the basis of 
> functionalism 
> and computationalism. But what if the mapping rule were the equivalent of 
> what 
> in cryptography is called a one-time pad, determined by some stochastic 
> process 
> such as radioactive decay? The states of the emulated machine would then seem 
> to vary randomly, but if you had access to the mapping rule you would be able 
> to 
> "read" it (and perhaps interact with it) just as if it followed some simpler 
> code, like 
> shifting each letter of the alphabet by one. Are you prepared to argue that 
> the 
> emulated machine is only conscious if an external observer has the relevant 
> mapping rule at hand and/or is actually "reading" it or interacting with it 
> using 
> this information?
> Stathis Papaioannou

Yes, that's roughly my idea.  Of course you can't insist that a 
computation interact continuously to count as computation, only that it 
does occasionally or potentially.  In your example I would say that you 
can only know that there is computation, as distinct from noise, going 
on if the computer, via the emulation code, can still interact with its 
environment (i.e. you).  I don't believe the simplicity or complexity of 
the internal operations is relevant.  For example, if you could see the 
movements of electrons in my computer, you couldn't tell whether it was 
displaying this email or just doing something random - but if you look 
at the dispaly screen you can.  On the other hand, to the alien from 
alpha centauri, the screen might also look random.

Brent Meeker

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