Brent Meeker wrote:

> > 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.

Most of the counterfactuals that make up a computation
are internal. There has to be some sense in which
it could have gone down the other branch of an if-then
statement (or that is must have gone fown the same one)

> 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.

The underlying physics of the thing will tell youwhether
it is capable of supporting countefactuals without
running a programme at all. There is something objectively
machine-like about machines -- complex , but predictable
behaviour.


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