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.
That's generally useful; but when we understand little about something, such as consciousness, we should be careful about assuming what's "theoretically possible"; particularly when it seems to lead to absurdities. How do we know it's a contingent, and not essential, fact about brains...and conscious thought? > > >>>>>>>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. As I understand your argument, the manual doesn't have to be a one-to-one translator of states, and so it can "translate" from the null event to any string whatsoever. So the physical event is irrelevant. Brent Meeker --~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~ You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to email@example.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 -~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---