Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent Meeker writes:
>  > Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 21:57:15 -0800
>  > To:
>  > Subject: Re: ASSA and Many-Worlds
>  >
>  >
>  > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>  > > Brent Meeker writes:
>  > >
>  > > > > > OK, but that means "observer moments" are not fundamental and the
>  > > > > "illusion" of their continuity may be provided by the continuity of
>  > > > > their underpinning. But I don't see how a strictly stepwise 
> discrete
>  > > > > process as contemplated in the UD can provide that continuity. It
>  > > was my
>  > > > > understanding that it assumed consciousness could be provided by a
>  > > > > series of disjoint states.
>  > > > > >
>  > > > > > Brent Meeker
>  > > > >
>  > > > > It's an assumption of computationalism that the discrete 
> computational
>  > > > > steps will lead to continuity of consciousness. Moreover, it's an
>  > > > > assumption of computationalism that a discontinuity in substrate of
>  > > > > implementation (i.e. from brain to digital computer) will preserve
>  > > > > continuity of consciousness.
>  > > >
>  > > > Maybe that assumption is inconsistent.
>  > > >
>  > > > Computational steps have an order in Platonia. In implementing them
>  > > in the material world, as in a computer, the sequentiallity (is that a
>  > > word?) of the steps is provided by the underlying physics just as 
> the 1s
>  > > and 0s are provided by switches. But without the continuity of the
>  > > substrate it seems the states need some axiomatic, inherent order 
> as in
>  > > Platonia. So then it is not clear that states can be chopped 
> arbitrarily
>  > > finely and still function as computations - or a stream of 
> conscious states.
>  > > >
>  > > > Brent Meeker
>  > >
>  > > I don't see how it is possible to mix up something any more thoroughly
>  > > in the real world than it is already mixed up in Platonia.
>  >
>  > Sure. In the real world I can write 1 2 4 7 6 3... But in arithmtic 
> Platonia (a small part of the kingdom) there's no spacial or temporal 
> order that can conflict with the inherent order.
> But "1 2 4 7 6 3..." is a string in Platonia, always "there" even if you 
> don't explicitly state it (as you must do in the real world), and it 
> doesn't manage to confuse the order of the counting numbers.
>  > >It's not as
>  > > if God has to explicitly put the integers in line one after the other:
>  > > they just naturally form a sequence, and they would no less form a
>  > > sequence if they were written on cards and thrown to the wind. 
> Explicit
>  > > ordering in the physical world is important from a third person
>  > > perspective. If the putative sequence has a first person 
> experience, and
>  > > the substrate of its implementation is transparent to that first 
> person
>  > > experience (eg. an entity in a virtual reality environment with no
>  > > external input) then the implicit ordering in Platonia is 
> sufficient to
>  > > create the first person impression of continuity.
>  > >
>  > > Stathis Papaioannou
>  >
>  > I don't disagree with that. But that means that a conscious, 1st 
> person, pair of experiences, i.e. pair of numbers can have no order 
> other than the inherent order of the numbers. And if an experience 
> corresponds to just a number, then experiences are discrete and can't be 
> chopped finer than some limit.
> The order of a pair of experiences is set by the fact that one is 
> considered first and the other second, perhaps because there is a 
> subjective sense of the passage of time, perhaps because the second 
> experience contains a memory of the first, perhaps due to some other 
> subtle aspect of the content of the experiences. 

But on this view an experience is a complex thing, far from the atomic 
perception of a red flash, and even includes parts that are not conscious.  
This comports with my speculation that a conscious atom is fairly complex and 
has a significant duration such that it overlaps the conscious atoms before and 
after. This overlap provides the ordering and the sense of time and continuity.

> In the real world, the 
> subjective content reflects brain activity which in turn reflects 
> environmental input (that's why the sense of order evolved in the first 
> place), but this relationship is only a contingent one. 

Well that's the question isn't it. Comp assumes it, but comp also leads to 
strange if not absurd conclusions. 

> If the pair of 
> experiences are experienced in the order AB there is no way for the 
> experiencer to know whether they were actually generated in the order AB 
> or BA, unless reversing the order changes the content in some 
> significant way.

That assumes the experiences can be discretely separated with not overlap.  
Certainly there are instances like that: the experience just before you lose 
consciousness due to a concussion and the experience just as you regain it are 
disjoint in this way.  You only recover continuity through accessing memories 
and there is a gap even in that memory.  But in ordinary circumstances the 
continuity might be inherent in the overlap of conscious atoms.
> This means there is no natural order of physical states (or abstract 
> machine states): the order can be anything, and the subjective order of 
> experience will be unchanged. It also means there is no natural order of 
> subjective states: that which seems first, seems first and that which 
> seems second, seems second. This is good, because it doesn't depend on 
> any theory or assumption about consciousness.

No natural order of physical states?  Are you denying causality?
>  > I guess I need a more explicit idea of how experiences occur in 
> arithmetic Platonia. Are we to imagine that some large number 
> 3875835442... is a single, atomic experience and another number 
> 3876976342... is another single, atomic experience and they have no 
> other relation than their natural order? In that case, they would be 
> experiences in a certain bundle of streams of consciousness just in 
> virtue of having some digits in common or having factors in common or 
> what? Or are we to imagine another Platonic object, a Turing machine, 
> that generates both these numbers in a certain sequence (maybe the 
> reverse of their natural order) - and that's what makes them parts of 
> the same experience bundle?
>  >
>  > Brent Meeker
> I would say that the relationship between abstract machine states does 
> not have anything to do with how mental states are ordered or even if 
> they belong to the same person, except insofar as related machine states 
> may lead to mental states with related content.

That's the question I was intending to raise.  If comp is true then a 
computation may instantiate some consciousness, i.e. associates a number and a 
conscious state in one model anyway.  Are these states ordered by inherent 
properties of the numbers?  Or are they ordered by their order of generation by 
the machine?  I think you favor the former; that states of consciousness exist 
timelessly in Platonia.  But each one is so complex that there is an inherent 
ordering, as though each one contained pointers to successors and/or 
predecessors. I can understand that, but seems to me make conscious states much 
more complex than "observer moments" and to include much that is not conscious.

Brent Meeker

Brent Meeker

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