Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
> > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > > Brent meeker writes:
> > >
> > > > >>>I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a
> > > > >>>conscious
> > > > >>>computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of
> > > > >>>computationalism
> > > > >>>have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements
> > > > >>>any conscious
> > > > >>>computation as evidence that there is something special and
> > > > >>>non-computational
> > > > >>>about the brain. Maybe they're right.
> > > > >>>
> > > > >>>Stathis Papaioannou
> > > > >>
> > > > >>Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every
> > > > >>possible computation
> > > > >>(which seems absurd to me)? Then allow that only computations with
> > > > >>some special
> > > > >>structure are conscious.
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that
> > > > > only computations
> > > > > implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be
> > > > > conscious. You need the
> > > > > hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a
> > > > > God-given programming
> > > > > language against which candidate computations can be measured.
> > > >
> > > > I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
> > > >
> > > > Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical
> > > > sample argues
> > > > for embodiment.
> > > >
> > > > Brent Meeker
> > >
> > > I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in
> > > rather simple cases,
> > > like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and
> > > it can also be implemented
> > > so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges,
> > > or 3 oranges and 2 apples,
> > > or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite
> > > variety. The difficulty is that if we
> > > say that "3+2=5" as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious,
> > > then should we also say
> > > that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?
> > No, they are only subroutines.
> But a computation is just a lot of subroutines; or equivalently, a
> computation is just a subroutine in a larger
> computation or subroutine.
The point is that the subroutine does not have the functionality of the
> > > If so, where do we draw the line?
> > At specific structures
> By "structures" do you mean hardware or software?
Whatever software does is also done by hardware. Software is an
ofrm hardware, not something additional.
> I don't think it's possible to pin down software structures
> without reference to a particular machine and operating system. There is no
> natural or God-given language.
That isn't the point. I am not thiking of a programme as a
of symbols. I am thinking of it as an abstract structure of branches
the sort of thing that is represented by a flowchart.
> > > That is what I mean
> > > when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The
> > > physical structure and activity
> > > of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that
> > > of computer B implementing
> > > program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should
> > > make the two machines
> > > functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently
> > > conscious.
> > So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
> > baroque-reinterpretation,
> > where is the problem ?
> Who interprets the meaning of "baroque"?
There are objective ways of decifing that kiond of issue, e.g
> > > Maybe this is wrong, eg.
> > > there is something special about the insulation in the wires of machine
> > > A, so that only A can be conscious.
> > > But that is no longer computationalism.
> > No. But what would force that conclusion on us ? Why can't
> > consciousness
> > attach to features more gneral than hardware, but less general than one
> > of your re-interpretations ?
> Because there is no natural or God-given computer architecture or language.
Which is prcisely why computationalists should regard
consicousness as supervening on a functional structure that could
be implemented on a varierty of hardware platofirms and ina variety
of langauges. After all, we can talk about a "quicksort" without
specifiying whether it is a PC quicksort of a Mac quicksort, and
whether it is a Pascal quicksort or a Java quicksort.
The "right" level of abstraction is very much a part of standard
> You could say that consciousness
> does follow a natural architecture: that of the brain. But that could mean
> you would have a zombie if you tried
> to copy brain function with a digital computer, or with a digital computer
> not running Mr. Gates' operating system.
It depends on the level of astraction.
I am not saying computationalism is a necessary truth, so it doesn't
rebut anything I am saying to point out that functionalism might not
The point is whether there is a level of description that is neither
(collapsing into physicalism) nor too high (allowing endless arbitrary
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