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 
> does 
> consciousness fulfill this function.  I, in my conscious thoughts, certainly 
> don't 
> "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 
> perceptions.

Let's not try to define consciousness at all, but agree that we know what it is 
from personal 
experience. Computationalism is the theory that consciousness arises as a 
result of 
computer activity: that our brains are just complex computers, and in the 
manner of 
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 
aside for 
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 
the Power 
PC processor and the x86 processor running side by side it would be extremely 
difficult to 
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 
conscious computation 
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 
that term. 

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.

Stathis Papaioannou
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