Bruno Marchal writes:

> Le 18-janv.-07, à 04:10, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
> >
> >> I would say "relative to a theory explaining the appearances", not 
> >> just to the appearances.
> >
> > Well, it is relative to appearance, but people go on to theorise that 
> > these appearances are "true reality".
>  From Pythagoras to Proclus, "intellectuals" were proud not making that 
> error. Aristotle is in part responsible for having made "appearance" 
> reality, coming back to the (provably wrong assuming comp) common sense 
> in those matters.
> (of course as you know we have to rely on common sense to go beyond 
> common sense).

OK, but we have to start with some basic observation. It looks like objects 
are pulled to the Earth by a force - that is a basic observation, with a 
implicit theory. General Relativity explains this differently, but it takes a 
complex series of arguments to arrive at GR. You can't call Newton stupid 
of this. Similarly, your conclusion that there is no separate physical reality 
from a number of carefully argued steps, and at the start of the chain is the 
that there does appear to be a physical world... if there did not, we would not 
having this or any other discussion. 

> > Searle's theory is that consciousness is a result of actual brain 
> > activity, not Turing emulable.
> Nooooo....... True: Searle's theory is that consciousness is a result 
> of brain activity, but nowhere does Searle pretend that brain is not 
> turing emulable. He just implicitly assume there is a notion of 
> actuality that no simulation can render, but does not address the 
> question of emulability. Then Searle is known for confusing level of 
> description (this I can make much more precise with the Fi and Wi, or 
> with the very important difference between computability (emulability) 
> and provability.

Searle seems to accept that CT implies the brain is Turing emulable, but he 
does not believe that such an emulation would capture consciousness any 
more than a simulation of a thunderstorm will make you wet. Thus, a computer 
that could pass the Turing Test would be a zombie.

See here for example:

> > This theory is in keeping with the facts
> Ah?

At least, it isn't contradicted by any empirical facts, although neither is 

> > and allows us to keep materialism as well.
> Abandoning the comp hyp. OK.

Searle is not a computationalist - does not believe in strong AI - but he does 
believe in weak AI. Penrose does not believe in weak AI either.

> > The main problem I see with it is that it allows for the existence of 
> > philosophical zombies, such as computers that act conscious but 
> > aren't. If this were possible it would mean that consciousness was an 
> > optional evolutionary development, i.e. we could all have evolved to 
> > live in a world exactly like our own, except we would be zombies. It's 
> > not a knock-down argument, but it strikes me as odd that something as 
> > elaborate as consciousness could have evolved with no real benefit.
> OK. Of course COMP admits local zombie. One day it will be possible to 
> build an artificial museum tourist, looking and commenting picture and 
> art like a real tourist, which nobody will be able to distinguish from 
> a real tourist, but which will be only a sophisticated machine looking 
> for presence of bomb in the museum.
> With comp, consciousness has a big role, many big role (relative 
> sped-up of computations, give the ability to face personal relative 
> ignorance and alternate reality guessing and contemplation, ...). Cf I 
> define in first approximation "consciousness" as the quale which 
> accompanies the instinctive believe in reality/self-consistency.
> >
> >> I agree there is no way to know whether you are being run in serial, 
> >> parallel, etc. But mathematically multiple shorter parallel streams 
> >> have to be able to be glued, at least mathematically, for 
> >> constituting a proper computation. If not literally anything can be 
> >> described as a computation. That is why I explicitly use a 
> >> mathematical definition of computation, and then(and only then) try 
> >> to figure out what is a rock, for example.
> >
> > Would you speculate that there is some indivisible atom of conscious 
> > computation?
> Not at all. Consciousness, or instinctive belief in a reality (or in 
> oneself) and/or its associated first person quale needs an infinity 
> (even non countable) of computational histories. It depends in fine of 
> all nameable and unameable relations between number. Nothing deep here, 
> the primeness of 17 is also dependent in some logical way of the whole 
> mutilicative structure of the natural numbers. Machine are lucky to be 
> able to prove the primeness of 17 in a finite time, because the *truth* 
> of even something as mundane than 17's primeness already escapes the 
> machine capability of expression.

You seemed to be disputing the idea that a serial computation cannot be broken 
up arbitrarily into parallel components, or suggesting that they need to be 
together in some way if they are. This seems to contradict most of the 
thought experiments we have discussed, in which it is sufficient for continuity 
conscious that I vanish at A and a copy with close enough brain be created at 
there need be no glue, no causal connection (although of course it would help 
make the copy if you had the right information, the result would be the same if 
copy just came about by random processes), no regard for temporal or spatial 

> > Because it doesn't seem that you need any "glue" to have a continuous 
> > stream of conscious in teleportation and mind uploading thought 
> > experiments.
> One day I will have to ask you what you really mean by computation. An 
> arbitrary sequence of sign can be interpreted as a computation (cf your 
> "rock"). I am OK with that if, and only if you can show me the 
> universal machine for which this sequence describes a computation. And 
> if you do that, each of those sign will need to have, at least,  an 
> arithmetical connection: there will be a number (finite piece of 
> information) capable of relying all the signs. This makes computations 
> non trivial object, and it is easy to prove that arbitrary sequence of 
> numbers/signs are NOT computations (there is an uncountable number of 
> arbitrary sequences, and a countable number of third person 
> computations. The glue I was thinking about is not physicalist glue, 
> but already arithmetical glue. Does that help?

If there are more arbitrary sequences than third person computations, how 
does it follow that arbitrary sequences are not computations?

Simplistically, I conceive of computations as mysterious abstract objects, like 
all other mathematical objects. Physical computers are devices which reflect 
these mathematical objects in order to achieve some practical purpose in the 
substrate of their implementation. A computer, an abacus, a set of fingers, 
pencil and paper can be used to compute 2+3=5, but these processes do not 
create the computation, they just make it accessible to the user. The fact that 
2 birds land on a tree in South America and 3 elephants drink at a watering 
in Africa, or 2 atoms move to the left in a rock and 3 atoms move to the right 
is essentially the same process as the abacus, but it is useless, trivial, lost 
randomness, escapes the notice of theories of computation - and rightly so. 
However, what about the special case where a more complex version of 2+3=5 
on the abacus is conscious? Then I see no reason why the birds and the 
or the atoms in a rock should not also implement the same consciousness, even 
though there is no possibility of interaction with the outside world due to the 
computation being lost in noise. What this really does is destroy the whole 
of physical supervenience: if you shot the elephants or smashed the rock, the 
computation could as easily spring from the new noise situation. Thus, it would 
appear that consciousness comes from computation as pure mathematical object, 
and is no more created by the physical process that addition is created by the 
physical process. Either that, or it isn't computational at all. 
> The real question is not "does a rock implement computations", the 
> question is "does a rock implement computations in such a way as to 
> changed the relative measure of my (future) comp states in a relevant 
> way?" And for answering such question we need to know what a rock 
> really is, and both physics and comp are not near at all to answer 
> this. Comp has less trouble here because it does not have to reify any 
> primary reality associated to the rock, which already emerge locally 
> from many non material computations.

No, as I implied above, a rock makes no difference whatsoever to the measure of 
computation it might be seen as implementing. 

Stathis Papaioannou
Be one of the first to try Windows Live Mail.
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at

Reply via email to