Peter Jones writes:

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > Peter Jones writes:
> >
> > > > Is it possible that we are currently actors in a single, deterministic, 
> > > > non-branching
> > > > computer program, with the illusion of free will and if-then 
> > > > contingency in general
> > > > being due to the fact that we don't know the details of how the program 
> > > > will play
> > > > out?
> > >
> > > Lots of things are possible. The question is what to believe.
> >
> > True, but I thought you were saying that such a thing was incompatible with 
> > consciousness,
> > and I see no reason to believe that.
> 
> There are a lot of prolems with what you are saying.
> 
> I don't think it is possible to get dynamism out of stasis,
> and I don't think it is possible to get qualia out of mathematical
> structues

But what about a physical computer which creates an entire virtual environment, 
complete 
with sentient beings? Once started up it would be completely deterministic, 
just as a recording 
would be. It could have if-then statements but these would not make any 
difference, given initial 
conditions. (A recording also has if-then statements, in that if the input were 
different, the 
output would also be different.) This could as easily be a real model of a 
classical universe, with 
no interference from outside once initial conditions + laws of physics had been 
set. The if-then 
statements are implicit in the laws of physics: if I throw a rock, it will 
follow a parabolic trajectory 
and shatter the window. As an inhabitant of the univerese I think I have free 
will in deciding whether 
or not to throw the rock, but in fact this is no more indeterminate than the 
workings of a clockwork 
mechanism. My understanding is that standard computationalism allows for 
consciousness to occur 
in such a universe, even if it isn't the universe we actually live in. If not, 
then you have to abandon 
computationalism and embrace something like Penrose's theory in which 
essentially non-computable 
quantum effects are responsible for consciousness; or maybe we've just all been 
issued with a soul 
by God.

Stathis Papaioannou


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