Peter Jones writes:

> > 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.

You could perhaps consistently claim this, but it would be difficult to defend. 
The "interpretation" need not be a dynamic 
activity, like talking to your programmer or interacting with the environment 
via sensors and effectors. It could just be a 
potential interaction: I have the manual on my desk, and if I wanted to I could 
study it, take the case off my computer, 
attach an oscilloscope probe, and figure out what it is up to while it is 
plugged in. At what point does the computer 
gain consciousness: when I read the manual? When I have understood what I have 
read? When I attach the probe? Or 
was it conscious all along because I merely had the potential to understand it? 
What if someone sneaks in while I am on a 
break and maliciously alters the manual? What if I have a stroke and lose the 
ability to read, or the whole population of the 
Earth is wiped out by a supernova?

Stathis Papaioannou
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