# Re: computationalism and supervenience

```
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes:
>
> > > 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? If so, where do we
> > > draw the line?
> >
> > I'm not sure I understand your example.  Are you saying that by simply
> > existing, two
> > apples and 3 oranges compute 2+3=5?  If so I would disagree.  I would say
> > it is our
> > comprehending them as individual objects and also as a set that is the
> > computation.
> > Just hanging there on the trees they may be "computing" apple hanging on a
> > tree,
> > apple hanging on a tree,... but they're not computing 2+3=5.
>
> What about my example in an earlier post of beads on an abacus? You can slide
> 2 beads to the left, then another
> 3 beads to the left, and count a total of 5 beads; or 2 pairs of beads and 3
> pairs of beads and count a total of 5
> pairs of beads, or any other variation. Perhaps it seems a silly example when
> discussing consciousness, but the most
> elaborate (and putatively conscious) computation can be reduced to a complex
> bead-sliding exercise. And if sliding
> beads computes 2+3=5, why not if 2 birds and then 3 birds happen to land on a
> tree, or a flock of birds of which 2
> are red lands on one tree and another flock of birds of which 3 are red lands
> on an adjacent tree? It is true that these
> birds and beads are not of much consequence computationally unless someone is
> there to observe them and interpret
> them, but what about the computer that is conscious chug-chugging away all on
> its own?
>
> > >That is what I mean
> > > when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system.
> >
> > But as you've noted before the computation is almost all in the mapping.
> > And not
> > just in the map, but in the application of the map - which is something we
> > do.  That
> > action can't be abstracted away.  You can't just say there's a physical
> > system and
> > there's a manual that would map it into some computation and stop there as
> > though the
> > computation has been done.  The mapping, an action, still needs to be
> > performed.
>
> What if the computer is built according to some ridiculously complex plan,
> plugged in, then all the engineers, manuals,
> etc. disappear. If it was conscious to begin with, does it suddenly cease
> being conscious because no-one is able to
> understand it?
If it was consicous, it ws consicus as the result
of whatever computation it is performing, and that is *not* the
computation resulting froma complex process of re-interpretation.
As I have shown, such a process is a separate computation in
which the "computer" figures as a subrouting -- possibly
even an unimportant one.```
```
It is also possible that the "computer" isn't conscious, but
the total system of comptuer+reinterpretation is conscious
In that case, if the apparatus that implements the mapping is
dismantled,
the consciousness disappears.

The thing to remember is that just because one physical
systems is desgnated a computer, and another isn't, that doesn't
mean the first systesm is in fact doing all the computing. The
computing
is taking place where the activity and the complexity is taking place.

> It could have been designed according to the radioactive decay patterns of a
> sacred stone, in which
> case without the documentation, its internal states might appear completely
> random. With the documentation, it may be
> possible to understand what it is doing or even interact with it, and you
> have said previously that it is the potential for
> interaction that allows it to be conscious, but does that mean it gradually
> becomes less conscious as pages of the manual
> are ripped out one by one and destroyed, even though the computer itself does
> not change its activity as a result?
>
> > >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.
> >
> > I don't see any problem with supposing that A and B are equally conscious
> > (or
> > unconscious).
>
> But there is a mapping under which any machine B is emulating a machine A.
> Figuring out this mapping does not change the
> physical activity of either A or B.

But without an phsyical activity to actually implement the mapping
(the kind of thing which, I have ben arguing, is computation itself)
that is a mere possibility.

> You can argue that therefore the physical activity of A or B is irrelevant
> and consciousness
> is implemented non-corporeally by virtue of its existence as a Platonic
> object;

If you wanted to beg the whole question.

> or you can argue that this is clearly nonsense and
> consciousness is implemented as a result of some special physical property of
> a particular machine.

Or you can still argue that it is implemented by the computational
activity of the machine, since it is not implemented by a merely
hypothetical mapping, and an actual mapping or re-interpretation is
another, different physical system, and another, dfferent computation.

> Stathis Papaioannou
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