Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes:
> 
> 
>>>A non-conscious computation cannot be *useful* without the 
>>>manual/interpretation,
>>>and in this sense could be called just a potential computation, but a 
>>>conscious
>>>computation is still *conscious* even if no-one else is able to figure this 
>>>out or
>>>interact with it. If a working brain in a vat were sealed in a box and sent 
>>>into
>>>space, it could still be dreaming away even after the whole human race and 
>>>all
>>>their information on brain function are destroyed in a supernova explosion. 
>>>As far
>>>as any alien is concerned who comes across it, the brain might be completely
>>>inscrutable, but that would not make the slightest difference to its 
>>>conscious
>>>experience.
>>
>>Suppose the aliens re-implanted the brain in a human body so they could 
>>interact with
>>it.  They ask it what is was "dreaming" all those years?  I think the answer 
>>might
>>be, "Years?  What years?  It was just a few seconds ago I was in the hospital 
>>for an
>>appendectomy.  What happened?  And who are you guys?"
> 
> 
> Maybe so; even more likely, the brain would just die. But these are 
> contingent facts about 
> human brains, while thought experiments rely on theoretical possibility.
>  
> 
>>>>>>>then it can be seen as implementing more than one computation
>>>>>>>simultaneously during the given interval.
>>>>>>
>>>>>>AFAICS that is only true in terms of dictionaries.
>>>>>
>>>>>Right: without the dictionary, it's not very interesting or relevant to 
>>>>>*us*.
>>>>>If we were to actually map a random physical process onto an arbitrary
>>>>>computation of interest, that would be at least as much work as building 
>>>>>and
>>>>>programming a conventional computer to carry out the computation. However,
>>>>>doing the mapping does not make a difference to the *system* (assuming we
>>>>>aren't going to use it to interact with it). If we say that under a certain
>>>>>interpretation - here it is, printed out on paper - the system is 
>>>>>implementing
>>>>>a conscious computation, it would still be implementing that computation 
>>>>>if we
>>>>>had never determined and printed out the interpretation.
>>
>>And if you added the random values of the physical process as an appendix in 
>>the
>>manual, would the manual itself then be a computation (the record problem)?  
>>If so
>>how would you tell if it were a conscious computation?
> 
> 
> The actual physical process becomes almost irrelevant. In the limiting case, 
> all of the 
> computation is contained in the manual, the physical existence of which makes 
> no 
> difference to whether or not the computation is implemented, since it makes 
> no difference 
> to the actual physical activity of the system and the theory under 
> consideration is that 
> consciousness supervenes on this physical activity. If we get rid of the 
> qualifier "almost" 
> the result is close to Bruno's theory, according to which the physical 
> activity is irrelevant 
> and the computation is "run" by virtue of its status as a Platonic object. As 
> I understand 
> it, Bruno arrives at this idea because it seems less absurd than the idea 
> that consciousness 
> supervenes on any and every physical process, while Maudlin finds both ideas 
> absurd and 
> thinks there is something wrong with computationalism.
>  
> 
>>>>The problem remains that the system's own self awareness, or lack thereof, 
>>>>is
>>>>not observer-relative. something has to give.
>>>
>>>
>>>Self-awareness is observer-relative with the observer being oneself. Where 
>>>is the
>>>difficulty?
>>
>>Self-awareness is awareness of some specific aspect of a construct called 
>>"myself".
>>It is not strictly reflexive awareness of the being aware of being aware...  
>>So in
>>the abstract computation it is just this part of a computation having some 
>>relation
>>we identify as "awareness" relative to some other part of the computation.  I 
>>think
>>it is a matter of constructing a narrative for memory in which "I" is just 
>>another
>>player.
> 
> 
> I don't think "self-awareness" captures the essence of consciousness. 

Neither do I; I was just responding to you noting that self-awareness is 
"observer-relative".  The "observer" is really just a construct forced on us by 
grammar which demands that an action be done by someone or something.  We could 
more 
accurately say there is observation.

>We commonly think 
> that consciousness is associated with intelligence, which is perhaps why it 
> is often stated 
> that a recording cannot be conscious, since a recording will not adapt to its 
> environment in 
> the manner we normally expect of intelligent agents. However, consider the 
> experience of 
> pain when you put your hand over a flame. There is certainly intelligent 
> behaviour associated 
> with this experience - learning to avoid it - but there is nothing 
> "intelligent" about the raw 
> experience of pain itself. It simply seems that when certain neurons in the 
> brain fire, you 
> experience a pain, as reliably and as stupidly as flicking a switch turns on 
> a light. When an 
> infant or an animal screams in agony it is not engaging in self-reflection, 
> and for that matter 
> neither is a philosopher: acute pain usually displaces every other concurrent 
> conscious 
> experience. A being  played a recording of a painful experience over and over 
> into the relevant 
> neural pathways may not be able to meaningfully interact with its 
> environment, but it will 
> be hellishly conscious nonetheless.
> 
> Stathis Papaioannou

I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
withdraw it's 
hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the robot with 
"feelings", i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it would 
be 
conscious.  But if I provide it with "attention" and memory, so that it noted 
the 
painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's strong 
negative 
affect; then I think it would be conscious.

Brent Meeker

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