Brent Meeker writes (quoting SP):

> >>> Every physical system contains if-then statements. If the grooves on the
> >>> record were different, then the sound coming out of the speakers would 
> >>> also be
> >>> different.
> >> 
> >> That's not a statement contained in the physical system; it's a statement 
> >> about
> >> other similar physical systems that you consider possible. You could as 
> >> well
> >> say, (print "Hello world.") contains an if-then because if the characters 
> >> in the
> >> string were different the output would be different.
> > 
> > 
> > I don't see how you could make the distinction well-defined. 
> That's my point.  Counterfactuals are defined relative to some 
> environment/data/input 
> which we suppose to be possibly different.  It's not so much that it's not 
> well 
> defined, but that it's aribtrarily defined.  So I think lz's point about 
> intelligence 
> requiring counterfactuals is the same as saying intelligence is relative to 
> some 
> environment - a view with which I agree.  In the case of reproducing 
> organisms the 
> organism/environment distinction is clear.  In a simulation it's not.

Sorry to keep returning to this, but it's important. I still don't see how you 
can distinguish 
between the conditionals in a computer program and the conditionals inherent in 
physical system. A computer is a device set up so that input A results in 
output B, while 
input C results in output D. The conditional is inherent even if the C->D 
branch is never 
realised because it *could* be realised. But a rock is also a device set up so 
that input 
A results in output B while input C results in output D: if you push it on its 
left side (A) it 
moves to the right (B) while if you push it on its right side (C) it moves to 
the left (D). The 
rock has this inherent conditional behaviour even if the C->D branch is never 
because it *could* be realised if things had been different. If you include the 
data in the program then it becomes an inputless system, a self-contained 
simulation. If 
you include yourself, the rock and everything else that might interact with it 
in one system 
you have a self-contained, inputless universe. Both the closed simulation and 
the universe 
(in the absence of CI type quantum randomness) are at least as deterministic as 
what we 
normally call a recording, despite all the conditionals, because it is rather 
more likely that I 
will change a recording than that God will intervene to push rocks around or 
computers with miraculous inputs.

Stathis Papaioannou
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