Maudlin's example in his paper is rather complicated. If I could summarise, he 
states that one 
of the requirements for a conscious computation is that it not be the trivial 
case of a recording, a 
machine that plays out the same physical motion regardless of input. He then 
proposes a second 
machine next to one which on its own is just a recording, such that the second 
machine comes into 
play and acts on the first machine should inputs be different. The system as a 
whole now handles 
counterfactuals. However, should the counterfactuals not actually arise, the 
second machine just 
sits there inertly next to the first machine. We would now have to say that 
when the first machine 
goes through physical sequence abc on its own, it is just implementing a 
recording and could not 
possibly be conscious, while if it goes through the same sequence abc with the 
second machine sitting 
inertly next to it it is or could be conscious. This would seem to contravene 
the supervenience thesis 
which most computationalists accept: that mental activity supervenes on 
physical activity, and further 
that the same physical activity will give rise to the same mental activity. For 
it seems in the example 
that physical activity is the same in both cases (since the second machine does 
nothing), yet in the 
first case the system cannot be conscious while in the second case it can.

There are several possible responses to the above argument. One is that 
computationalism is wrong. 
Another is that the supervenience thesis is wrong and the mental does not 
supervene on the physical 
(but Bruno would say it supervenes on computation as Platonic object). Yet 
another response is that 
the idea that a recording cannot be conscious is wrong, and the relationship 
between physical activity 
and mental activity can be one->many, allowing that any physical process may 
implement any 
computation including any conscious computation. Finally, it is possible that 
the second machine does 
somehow imbue the system with consciousness even though it doesn't do anything. 
The challenge is 
to see what is left standing after deciding on which of these ideas are the 
more absurd.

Stathis Papaioannou

> Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 21:56:13 -0700
> To:
> Subject: Maudlin's argument
> Bruno Marchal wrote in explaining Maudlin's argument:
> "For any given precise running computation associated to some inner 
> experience, you
> can modify the device in such a way that the amount of physical activity 
> involved is
> arbitrarily low, and even null for dreaming experience which has no inputs 
> and no outputs.
> Now, having suppressed that physical activity present in the running 
> computation, the
> machine will only be accidentally correct. It will be correct only for that 
> precise computation,
> with unchanged environment. If it is changed a little bit, it will make the 
> machine running
> computation no more relatively correct. But then, Maudlin ingenuously showed 
> that
> counterfactual correctness can be recovered, by adding non active devices 
> which will be
> triggered only if some (counterfactual) change would appear in the 
> environment.
> I believe the argument is erroneous. Maudlin's argument reminds me of the 
> fallacy in Maxwell's demon.
> To reduce the machine's complexity Maudlin must perform a modicum of 
> analysis, simulation etc.. to predict how the machine performs in different 
> situations. Using his newly acquired knowledge, he then  maximally reduces 
> the machine's complexity for one particular task, keeping the machine fully 
> operational for all other tasks. In effect Maudlin has surreptitiously 
> inserted himself in the mechanism. so now, we don't have just the machine but 
> we have the machine plus Maudlin. The machine is not simpler or not existent. 
> The machine is now Maudlin!
> In conclusion, the following conclusion reached by Maudlin and Bruno is 
> fallacious.
> "Now this shows that any inner experience can be associated with an arbitrary 
> low (even null) physical
> activity, and this in keeping counterfactual correctness. And that is absurd 
> with the
> conjunction of both comp and materialism."
> Maudlin's argument cannot be used to state that "any inner experience can be 
> associated with an arbitrary low (even null) physical activity." Thus it is 
> not necessarily true that comp and materialism are incompatible.
> I think the paradox can be resolved by tracing how information flows and 
> Maudlin is certainly in the circuit, using information, just like Maxwell's 
> demon is affecting entropy.
> George
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