Brent Meeker writes (quoting SP):

> > 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 
> questions 
> of discovering whether a program is intelligent, with what it means for it to 
> be 
> intelligent.

No, it won't be bored because there is no way for it to know that it is going 
through the 
first or the second run. The point I was trying to make is that there is no 
real basis for 
distinguishing between a recording and a program, and hence no basis for saying 
that 
a program can be intelligent or conscious and a recording cannot. A corrolary 
to this is 
that there can be no real distinction between program and data, or computer and 
environment: they are just artificially segregated parts within a larger 
system. This 
means that in general it is not possible to say whether a physical system is or 
isn't 
implementing a computation, because the usual test of whether it handles 
counterfactuals 
will not necessarily work. This would be a trivial result *unless* we say that 
a computation 
can be conscious, in which case self-contained universes of conscious beings 
are hidden 
all around us. To avoid this conclusion you either have to drop 
computationalism or drop 
the idea that consciousness supervenes on physical activity.

Stathis Papaioannou
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