Stathis Papaioannou wrote: > Peter Jones writes: > > > Stathis Papaioannou wrote: > > > Peter Jones writes: > > >

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> > > > The requirement that computations require counterfactuals isn't > > > > ad hoc, it comes from the observation that computer programmes > > > > include if-then statements. > > > > > > > > The idea that everyting is conscious unless there is a good > > > > reason it isn't -- *that* is ad hoc! > > > > > > No, it follows from the idea that anything can be a computation. I think > > > this is trivially obvious, > > > like saying any string of apparently random characters is a translation > > > of any English sentence > > > of similar or shorter length, and if you have the correct dictionary, you > > > can find out what that > > > English sentence is. > > > > But that is actually quite a dubious idea. For one thing there > > is an objective basis for claiming that one meaning is the > > "real" meaning, and that is the meaning intended by the writer. > > There might have been a particular meaning intended by the writer, but > remember materialism: all > you have really is ink on paper, and neither the ink nor the paper knows > anything about where it > came from or what it means. Suppose a stream of gibberish is created today by > the proverbial > monkeys typing away randomly, and just by chance it turns out that this makes > sense as a novel in > a language that will be used one thousand years from now. Is it correct to > say that the monkeys' > manuscript has a certain meaning today? If the "intention" criterion is correct it doesn't. What is your point ? > Or is it meaningless today, but meaningful in a thousand > years? If the latter, does it suddenly become meaningful when the new > language is defined, or when > someone who understands the new language actually reads it? What if the > manuscript never comes > to light, or if it comes to light and is read but after another thousand > years every trace of the language > has disappeared? If it was created intentionally, it had a menaing. The fact that the meaning can become lost does not affect that. > I don't think it makes sense to say that the manuscript has intrinsic > meaning; rather, it has meaning in > the mind of an observer. Similarly, with a computation implemented on a > computer, I don't think it makes > sense to say that it has meaning except in its interaction with the > environment or in the mind of an > observer. Why should computations have meaning at all ? Maybe the criteria for something being a computation are different fromt he criteria for something being a written message. > Any string of characters or any physical process can be seen as implementing > a language or > a computation, if you have the right "dictionary". Not by the intentionallity criterion. > There is a very interesting special case of this if we > allow that some computations can be self-aware, in the absence of any > environmental interaction or > external observer: by definition, they are their own observer and thus they > bootstrap themselves into > consciousness. Assuming that computation requires interpretation. Maybe it doesn't. > > For another, your translations would have to be complex > > and arbitrary, which goes against the ususal modus operandi > > of seeking simple and consistent explanations. > > It may be inefficient, but that does not mean it is invalid. It *is* invalid by the standards of physical science. > > > This is analogous to finding an alien computer which, when power is > > > applied, > > > is set into motion like an inscrutable Rube Goldberg machine. If you get > > > your hands on the > > > computer manual, you might be able to decipher the machine's activity as > > > calculating pi. > > > > You might not need the manual. Numbers don't > > have arbitrary semantics in the same way words do. > > That's why SETI uses mathematical transmissions. > > Mathematical truths are eternal and observer-independent, but mathematical > notation certainly is not. > SETI assumes that there will likely be greater similarities in how different > species express mathematical > statements than in their non-mathematical communication. Something that would only be possible if maths did not have the same arbitrary semantics as natural language. > There is nothing to stop the aliens using a > mathematical notation that varies according to the moods of their emperor or > something, making their > broadcasts of mathematical theorems seem completely random to us. If they understood the nature of mathematics, they would realise that their approach *is* arbitrary. > Maybe that's why we haven't > recognised them yet. > > It is also something Everythingist arguments rely on. > > You can't exist as a computation in a numbers-only universe > > if computations require external interpretation. > > The computation is a mathematical object that exists in Platonia. The > implementation of a computation on > a physical computer so that we can observe it is something else. It is like > the difference between the > number 3 and a collection of 3 oranges. Do computations require intpretation or don't they ? You seem to have come down on both sides of the question. > > > Moreover, > > > you might be able to reach inside and shift a few gears or discharge a > > > few capacitors and make it > > > calculate e instead, utilising the fact that the laws of physics > > > determine that if the inputs change, > > > the outputs will change (which, I trust you will agree, is the actual > > > physical basis of the if-then > > > statements). > > > > > > > > > Now, in human languages as in machine design, there are certain > > > regularities to make things > > > easier for user. It might be possible, albeit difficult, to decipher a > > > foreign language or figure out > > > what an alien computer is computing by looking for these regularities. > > > However, it is not necessary > > > that there be any pattern at all: the characters in the unknown language > > > may change in meaning > > > every time they appear in the string in accordance with a random number > > > generator, a cryptographic > > > method called a "one-time pad". Similarly, the meaning of the physical > > > states of the alien computer > > > could change with each clock cycle according to some random number > > > sequence, so that if you had > > > the key you could figure out that the computer was calculating pi, but if > > > you did not its activity would > > > seem random. > > > > Assuming that computational states have an external semantics like > > words. > > Of course they do. Does Intel or Microsoft follow some universal rule of > computer design? What has that got to do with anything ? If computation has no external semantics then there are not Intel semantics or microsoft semantics. > Any computer > can be emulated on a UTM, but that doesn't mean the computer can't be based > on otrageously bizarre > and unpredictable rules, inscrutable to anyone not in the know. *That* doesn't mean that implementing a computation in an uneccearily complicated way turns it inot a different computation. 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1 is just a complicated way of writing 17, not some completely different number. --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED] For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---