Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
>>>That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me 
>>>on the list, and
>>>I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
>>>physical system
>>>implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
>>>computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
>>>idea that a
>>>computation can be conscious in the first place.
>>You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
>>implements one computation, whether it is a
>>conscious computation or not. I don't see what
>>contradicts it.
> Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
> as every rock 
> is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it. 
> Those three aspects 
> of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
> appreciate them. 
> Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping are 
> calculating pi 
> that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
> determining that mapping, 
> and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless 
> you built another 
> general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does 
> not mean the rock 
> isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer). 

I think there are some constraints on what the rock must be doing in order that 
can be said to be calculating pi instead of the interpreting computer.  For 
if the rock states were just 1,0,1,0,1,0... then there are several arguments 
based on 
for example information theory that would rule out that being a computation of 

>However, if busts of Einstein were conscious 
> regardless of the excess rock around them, or calculations of pi were 
> conscious regardless of the 
> absence of anyone being able to appreciate them, then the existence of the 
> rock in an otherwise 
> empty universe would necessitate the existence of at least those two 
> conscious processes. 
> Computationalism says that some computations are conscious. It is also a 
> general principle of 
> computer science that equivalent computations can be implemented on very 
> different hardware 
> and software platforms; by extension, the vibration of atoms in a rock can be 
> seen as implementing 
> any computation under the right interpretation. Normally, it is of no 
> consequence that a rock 
> implements all these computations. But if some of these computations are 
> conscious (a consequence 
> of computationalism) 

It's not a consequence of my more modest idea of computationalism.

>and if some of the conscious computations are conscious in the absence of 
> environmental input, then every rock is constantly implementing all these 
> conscious computations. 
> To get around this you would have to deny that computations can be conscious, 
> or at least restrict 
> the conscious computations to specific hardware platforms and programming 
> languages. 

Why not some more complex and subtle critereon based on the computation?  Why 
hardware or language - both of which seem easy to rule out as definitive of 
consciousness or even computation?

Brent Meeker

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