Mark Peaty wrote:
SP: 'using the term "comp" as short for "computationalism" as something
picked up from Bruno. On the face of it, computationalism seems quite
sensible: the best theory of consciousness and the most promising
candidate for producing artificial intelligence/consciousness'
That is what I thought 'comp' meant. My approach to this is to adhere,
as much as possible, to plain and simple English. Not being a
'mathematician' I stick with my type of sceptical method. To me this
does not seem deeply problematic although is does of course limit the
scope of conversations I can participate in. As far as I can see,
Bruno's grand scheme depends on 'assume', like the economists do.
Unfortunately that which is assumed remains, I believe, unprovable.
Furthermore there are deep, common sense, problems which undermine all
these theories of universal emulation possibilities, never mind those
potentially lethal :-) teleporting/fax holidays and cryogenic time shifts.
The biggest hurdle is the requirement for infinite computing ability.
Remember that Bruno is a logician. When he writes "infinite" he really means infinite -
not "really, really big" as physicists do. Almost all numbers are bigger than 10^120,
which is the biggest number that appears in physics (and it's wrong).
This is simply the recognition that all measurements are approximations
so the teleporter/fax machine could only ever send an approximate copy
of me to whatever destination duty or holiday dreamings might lead me.
Still, it is probable that I, as subjective experiencer, would not
notice most anomalies, particularly if trying to fill in the temporal
gaps caused by Bruno's gratuitous delays in reading me back out of his
This limitation hits all the 'Matrix' type scenarios as well: the
emulation system would require essentially infinite computing capacity
to reproduce any useful world that a real person inhabits. If on the
other hand the Matrix is only concerned to make A world, its virtual
reality inhabitants might be sustained [I am admitting this as a
possibility] until they started engaging in real science. As I
understand things the denizens of a Matrix type world would start to
find real anomalies in their 'reality' unless the matrix machine could
operate at a fineness of resolution unattainable by any experimental
method the matrixians could devise. There would be much less, or even no
problem at all if they were all believers in 'Intelligent Design' of
course. [I can put that very rudely as: the problem is not 'If our mind
were simple enough to understand then we would be too dumb to understand
it' but rather 'If Intelligent Design were really true then we have been
designed to be so dumb that it really doesn't matter!']
Re "Platonic objects" - I think this is illusory. The numbers that
people write down and think about are words in the language/s of
logico-mathematics. They do what they do because they are defined as
such but they do not exist apart from the systems which generate and
record them - by which I mean brains, blackboards and computers, etc...
The regularities, and exciting facts people discover about them are just
that, regularities and exciting facts about languages. I don't mean that
in any derogatory sense. We live largely BY MEANS OF our languages and
certainly our cultural lives as human beings would be impossible without
language in the general and inclusive senses. But the universe is not
made out of languages, it just exists - for the moment at least.
I incline to this view. I agree that the Platonic objects of mathematics are inventions or language - but so are our models based on material particles. An electron is almost (but maybe not quite) as abstract an invention as the number two.
[NB: it just occurs to me that certain G/goddists will say that the
universe is made out of the mind of G/god/s which could perhaps be
included as a or THE language of existence. To be 'perfect' however,
this would need to be allowed to have infinite recursion, i.e. ''made
out of(made out of(made out of(made out of ... -> inf ... ))). As far as
I can see however this would amount to an assertion of many layered
uncertainty and/or a Heraclitan in-falling in the direction of
smallwards due to the necessity of each layer of divinity maintaining
omniscience, omnipotence, and so for, over and under its 'turf'. As this
has the minimalist effect of underpinning either standard model QM, etc.
or something like the Process Physics advocated by Colin Hales and
friends [which I find attractive], all is well with the world. :-]
But, seriously, all this stuff about 'supervening' and so forth is all
based on the Cartesian assumption that mind-stuff has no physical
extension. Well the Inquisition is no longer the authority or power base
that it was and empirical science has moved on. I think the onus is
falling ever more heavily on those who deny the identity of mind and
brain to explain WHY they still do so. The 'distinction' between 1st and
3rd person view points is simply raw fact.
I think of it as a failure of communication. My brain must communicate with your brain
through the medium of language, which is inadequate to convey qualia. But maybe if we
could directly "wire" our brains together you could feel my qualia.
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