Brent Meeker writes:
> >>> If every computation is implemented everywhere anyway, this is equivalent
> >>> to
> >>> the situation where every computation exists as a platonic object, or
> >>> every
> >>> computation exists implemented on some computer or brain in a material
> >>> multiverse.
> >> But if implementing a particular computation depends on an observer, or a
> >> dicitonary, or somesuch, it is not the case that everything implements
> >> every
> >> computation unless it can be shown that evey dictionary somehow exists as
> >> well.
> > The computation provides its own observer if it is conscious, by
> > definition.
> I'm always suspicious of things that are true "by definition". How exactly
> does an
> observer provide meaning or whatever it is that makes a computation? And how
> consciousness fulfill this function. I, in my conscious thoughts, certainly
> "observe" the computation that my brain performs. In fact my thoughts seem
> to spring
> from nowhere more or less spontaneously in coherent trains or as prompted by
Let's not try to define consciousness at all, but agree that we know what it is
experience. Computationalism is the theory that consciousness arises as a
computer activity: that our brains are just complex computers, and in the
computers, could be emulated by another computer, so that computer would
consciousness in the same way we do. (This theory may be completely wrong, and
perhaps consciousness is due to a substance secreted by a special group of
or some other such non-computational process, but let's leave that possibility
now). What we mean by one computer emulating another is that there is an
between the activity of two physical computers, so that there is a mapping
definable from the states of computer A to the states of computer B. If this
function is fully specified we can use it practically, for example to run
Windows on an
x86 processor emulated on a Power PC processor running Mac OS. If you look at
PC processor and the x86 processor running side by side it would be extremely
see them doing the "same" computation, but according to the mapping function
inherent in the
emulation program, they are, and they still would be a thousand years from now
even if the
human race is extinct.
In a similar fashion, there is an isomorphism between a computer and any other
system, even if the mapping function is unknown and extremely complicated.
That's not very
interesting for non-conscious computations, because they are only useful or
if they can be observed or interact with their environment. However, a
is interesting all on its own. It might have a fuller life if it can interact
with other minds, but its
meaning is not contingent on other minds the way a non-conscious computation's
is. I know
this because I am conscious, however difficult it may be to actually define
The conclusion I therefore draw from computationalism is that every possible
computation is implemented necessarily if any physical process exists. This
seems to me very
close to saying that every conscious computation is implemented necessarily in
Platonia, as the
physical reality seems hardly relevant.
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