Mark Peaty writes:

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. 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 archive :-)

Recall that ordinary life does not involve anything like perfect copying of your brain from moment to moment. Thousands of neurons are dying all the time and you don't even notice, and it is possible to infarct a substantial proportion of your brain and finish up with just a bit of a limp. So although a copy of your brain will need to meet some minimum standard this standard will fall far short of perfect copying at the quantum level.
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!']

You don't actually have to emulate the entire universe, just enough to fool its inhabitants. For example, you don't need to emulate the appearance of a snowflake in the Andromeda galaxy ecxept in the unlikely event that someone went to have a look at it.
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.

They don't exist as material objects but they are true independently of whether anyone discovers mathematical truths. The number 17 is prime because it's prime, not because someone discovered it was prime.
[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. Both 
view points have limits which can be seen to derive from the view of reality 
they embody. 1st person viewpoint conflates the experience of being the 
embodiment of a view point with an experience of all that is viewable, the 3rd 
person viewpoint conflates objective models of things with the things 
themselves. There is a sense in which these are simply manifestations of the 
same raw fact of life: the model of something is not the thing, it is only 
ABOUT the thing. Amen!   :-)

What if we just use the word "cause" in place of "supervenience"? There is good 
evidence that brain activity causes mental activity, because whenever there is appropriate brain 
activity, there is corresponding mental activity, and when the brain activity stops or changes 
sufficiently, the mental activity also stops or changes. This is all very good until we speculate 
that emulating the physical activity of a brain with a computer program, so that the program can 
predict the types of behaviours a human would display in particular situations, would also bring 
with it the corresponding conscious experiences of a human: i.e., computationalism. One of the 
consequences of computationalism would seem to be that two systems may not differ in physical 
activity yet differ in mental activity. This is explored in Tim Maudlin's paper:

Maudlin, Tim. 1989. Computation and Consciousness. The Journal of Philosophy, 
vol. LXXXVI, no. 8. p. 407-432

It is also explored in Bruno's "movie graph argument" in his PhD thesis, 
although that is in French. A recent discussion in the list archive in which I attempted 
a summary of the argument is here:

http://www.mail-archive.com/everything-list@eskimo.com/msg11109.html

The irony is that computationalists are almost all hard-headed materialists, 
but it doesn't seem that you can consistently be both a computationalist and a 
materialist!

Stathis Papaioannou
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