Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):
> > What about an inputless computer program, running deterministically like a
> > recording.
> > Would that count as a program at all,
> It would be a trivial case.
Trivial does not mean false.
> > and could it be a conscious program, given that
> > computationalism is true?
> Obviously not, since people have inputs.
There are several possible responses to that. Firstly, it isn't necessarily
true that only people
can be conscious, even if people (and maybe some animals) are the only entities
we have good
reason to believe are conscious.
Secondly, there is always the possibility that an inputless, deterministic
machine might be able
to receive input. We might open the case, connect a lead with alligator clips,
and start communicating
with it in morse code. To the program, it would be like a message from God. You
would then have to
decide at which point the program became conscious: when the case was opened,
when the message
was sent, or was it conscious all along? If you say it was not conscious until
the message was actually
sent you would have to say that an entity was only conscious while receiving
input, and stopped
being conscious while it was analysing the input already received.
Finally, it is possible to have the same kind of interaction that a machine
with environmental inputs
has by connecting two previously inputless machines to each other. They can
then have a two way
conversation, each surprised by the other's responses, but the system as a
whole remains inputless
and deterministic. The ultimate example of this is, as Brent Meeker suggested,
a self-contained virtual
reality. The universe as a whole could be seen as just this, unless you believe
that God speaks to us
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