Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
>> And such a universe could be emulated as a running, deterministic process. 
>> But 
>> that won't get you into Plato's heaven, because it is a *running* process -- 
>> it
>> is still dynamic. A recording of the process could exist in Plato's heaven, 
>> but
>> it wouldn't have all the counterfactuals, so the computationalist is not
>> required to believe that it contains any real sentience -- the simulated 
>> beings
>> in it would have no more consciousness of their own than the characters in a
>> movie!
>> Likewise, the computationalist is not required to believe that an unexecuted
>> programme is sentient (even though it has, theoretically, the 
>> counterfactuals).
>> No-one would believe that a brain-scan, however detailed, is conscious, so  
>> not
>> computationalist, however ardent, is required to believe that a progamme
>> gathering udston a shelf is sentient, however good a piece of AI code it is.
> Leave aside for the moment the computer running in Platonia and consider a 
> real
> computer. You say that a computer program is defined in part by its ability to
> handle counterfactuals, distinguishing it from a mere recording, but it is 
> this
> distinction with which I have difficulties. The characters in a film are not
> conscious because the film only simulates external appearance, not because it
> lacks if-then statements. A film obviously does handle if-then statements, 
> because
> if the patterns on the film are different the projection on the screen would 
> also
> be different. 

That's not a proper example though.  It would imply to a rock - it would be 
if it weren't a rock.  To be intelligent (much less conscious) the if-then must 
inresponse to different environmental inputs.

>A computer program basically does the same thing: it consistently
> produces a certain output for a certain input. 

That's why you can't tell whether a program is intelligent by giving it a 
input".  There must be a variety of inputs and the response will in general be 
different depending on their order (smart programs have memory).

>In the MWI of QM a computer program
> or human mind may have more luxuriant branchings than a recording, 

This seems to reify the branches as part of the program.  They are part of the 
*process of running* the program.  The branches arise from different inputs.

>but that is
> just a matter of degree, and in any case there is no reason to suppose that a
> program is any less valid or less conscious because of the presence or 
> absence of
> near-copies segregated in parallel universes. In the CI of QM it would be 
> possible
> to introduce true randomness into a computer program but the same could be 
> done
> for a recording, and again there is no reason to suppose that a program is any
> less valid or less conscious because it isn't random. Randomness and/or 
> parallel
> processes are not a prerequisite for a classical computer to function.

I agree with that.

> You might say that a computer program has a two-way interaction with its
> environment while a recording does not, but it is easy to imagine a situation
> where this can be perfectly reproduced by a recording. In run no. 1, you 
> start up
> the computer program and have a conversation with it. In run no. 2 you start 
> up
> the computer program and play it the recording of your voice from run no. 1. 
> As
> far as the program is aware, it receives exactly the same inputs and goes 
> through
> exactly the same responses on both runs, but one is a recording and the other 
> is
> not. Run no. 2 is exactly analogous to a film: a fixed input resulting in a 
> fixed
> output, even though if the input had been different the output would also have
> been different. I don't see how you could say that the computer is conscious 
> in
> run no. 1 but not in run no. 2.

If the program is intelligent it'll be bored by 2. :-)  You seem to mixing 
of discovering whether a program is intelligent, with what it means for it to 

Brent Meeker

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to