John Mikes writes:

> Regarding consciousness being generated by physical activity, would it help if
> I said that if a conventional computer is conscious, then, to be consistent, a
> rock would also have to be conscious?
> JM:  Bruno:
> A rock will not read an article in the Figaro, but that is not the rock's 
> fault. It is our usage of the human terms transferred into non-human 
> applications, what I sense all over. Did we properly identified 'conscious'? 
> I feel (generalized DOWN the complexity-scale)  it is some 'mental 
> sensitivity' - maybe more. Human mentality of course. Even if animals are 
> deemed conscious, it is in human measures. Like: animals are stupid: cannot 
> talk. Washoe chimp 'talked' US sign language and how else should a creature 
> articulate its sounds (for human talk) without proper equipment to do so?
> Sensitivity with the proper premises is 'conscious' in humans - as we call 
> it. A rock has response to information it can acknowledge, it is semantics 
> what word we use to mark it. A pine tree does not run, a human does not fly. 
> (how stupid, says the chicken),

I make the claim that a rock can be conscious assuming that computationalism 
is true; it may not be true, in which case neither a rock nor a computer may be 
conscious. There is no natural syntax or semantics for a computer telling us 
what should count as a "1" or a "0", what should count as a red perception, and 
so on. These things are determined by how the computer is designed to interact 
with its environment, whether that mean outputting the sum of two numbers to 
a screen or interacting with a human to convince him that it is conscious. But 
if the environment is made part of the computer? The constraint on meaning and 
syntax would then go, and the vibration of atoms in a rock could be 
any computation, including any conscious computation, if such there are.

John Searle, among others, believes this is absurd, and that therefore it 
computationalism. Another approach is that it shows that it is absurd that 
supervenes on physical activity of any sort, but we can keep computationalism 
drop the physical supervenience criterion, as Bruno has.

Stathis Papaioannou
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