David Nyman wrote:
> On 23/06/07, *Russell Standish* <[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
> <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>> wrote:
> RS:  Perhaps you are one of those rare souls with a foot in
> each camp. That could be be very productive!
> I hope so!  Let's see...
> RS:  This last post is perfectly lucid to me.
> Phew!!  Well, that's a good start.
> RS:  I hope I've answered it
> adequately.
> Your answer is very interesting - not quite what I expected:
> RS:  In some Platonic sense, all possible observers are already
> out there, but by physically instantiating it in our world, we are in
> effect opening up a communication channel between ourselves and the
> new consciousness.
> I think I must be missing something profound in your intended meanings of:
> 1) 'out there'
> 2) 'physically instantiating'
> 3) 'our world'
> My current 'picture' of it is as follows.  The 'Platonic sense' I assume 
> equates to the 'bit-string plenitude' (which is differentiable from 'no 
> information' only by internal observers, like the Library of Babel - a 
> beautiful idea BTW).  But I'm assuming a 'hierarchy' of recursive 
> computational emergence through bits up through, say, strings, quarks, 
> atoms, molecules, etc - in other words what is perceived as 
> matter-energy by observers.  I then assume that both 'physical objects' 
> and any correlated observers emerge from this matter-energy level, and 
> that this co-emergence accomplishes the 'physical instantiation'.  IOW, 
> the observer is the 1-person view, and the physical behaviour the 
> 3-person view, of the same underlying complex emergent - they're 
> different descriptions of the same events.
> If this is so, then as you say, the opening of the 'communication 
> channel' would be a matter of establishing the means and modes of 
> interaction with any new consciousness, because the same seamless 
> underlying causal sequence unites observer-world and physical-world: 
> again, different descriptions, same events.
> If the above is accepted (but I'm beginning to suspect there's something 
> deeply wrong with it), then the 'stability' of the world of the observer 
> should equate to the 'stability' of the physical events to which it is 
> linked through *identity*.  Now here's what puzzles me.  ISTM that the 
> imputation of 'computation' to the physical computer is only through the 
> systematic correspondence of certain stable aspects of its (principally) 
> electronic behaviour to computational elements: numbers, 
> mathematical-logical operators, etc.  The problem is in the terms 
> 'imputation' and 'correspondence': this is surely merely a *way of 
> speaking* about the physical events in the computer, an arbitrary 
> ascription, from an infinite possible set, of externally-established 
> semantics to the intrinsic physical syntactics.
> Consequently, ISTM that the emergence of observer-worlds has to be 
> correlated (somehow) - one-to-one, or isomorphically - with 
> corresponding 'physical' events: IOW these events, with their 'dual 
> description', constitute a single 'distinguished' *causal* sequence.  By 
> contrast, *any* of the myriad 'computational worlds' that could be 
> ascribed to the same events must remain - to the computer, rather than 
> the programmer - only arbitrary or 'imaginary' ones.  This is why I 
> described them as 'nested' - perhaps 'orthogonal' or 'imaginary' are 
> better: they may - 'platonically' - exist somewhere in the plenitude, 
> but causally disconnected from the physical world in which the computer 
> participates. The computer doesn't 'know' anything about them.  
> Consequently, how could they possess any 'communication channel' to the 
> computer's - and our - world 'out there'?
> Of course I'm not claiming by this that machines couldn't be conscious.  
> My claim is rather that if they are, it couldn't be solely in virtue of 
> any 'imaginary computational worlds' imputed to them, but rather because 
> they support some unique, distinguished process of *physical* emergence 
> that also corresponds to a unique observer-world: and of course, mutatis 
> mutandis, this must also apply to the 'mind-brain' relationship.
> If I'm wrong (as no doubt I am), ISTM I must have erred in some step or 
> other of my logic above.  How do I debug it?
> David
>     On Sat, Jun 23, 2007 at 03:58:39PM +0100, David Nyman wrote:
>      > On 23/06/07, Russell Standish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]
>     <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>> wrote:
>      >
>      > RS: I don't think I ever really found myself in
>      > disagreement with you. Rather, what is happening is symptomatic of us
>      > trying to reach across the divide of JP Snow's two cultures. You are
>      > obviously comfortable with the world of literary criticism, and your
>      > style of writing reflects this. The trouble is that to someone
>     brought
>      > up on a diet of scientific and technical writing, the literary paper
>      > may as well be written in ancient greek. Gibberish doesn't mean
>      > rubbish or nonsense, just unintelligible.
>      >
>      > DN: It's interesting that you should perceive it in this way: I
>     hadn't
>      > thought about it like this, but I suspect you're not wrong.  I
>     haven't
>      > consumed very much of your 'diet', and I have indeed read quite a
>     lot of
>      > stuff in the style you refer to, although I often find it rather
>      > indigestible!  But on the other hand, much of my professional
>     experience has
>      > been in the world of computer programming, right back to machine
>     code days,
>      > so I'm very aware of the difference between 'syntax' and
>     'semantics', and I
>      > know too well how consequences can diverge wildly from a
>     difference of a
>      > single bit.  How often have I heard the beleaguered self-tester
>     wail "I
>      > didn't *mean* that!"
>     Interesting indeed. I wouldn't have guessed you to have been a
>     programmer. Perhaps you are one of those rare souls with a foot in
>     each camp. That could be be very productive!
>     ...
>      >
>      > However, in the spirit of the original topic of the thread, I
>     would prefer
>      > to ask you directly about the plausibility (which, unless I've
>      > misunderstood, you support?) of an AI-program being in principle
>      > 'conscious'.  I take this to entail that instantiating such a program
>      > thereby implements an 'observer' that can respond to and share a
>     reality, in
>      > broadly the same terms, with human 'observers'.  (I apologise in
>     advance if
>      > any paraphrase or short-hand I adopt misrepresents what you say
>     in TON):
>      >
>     It seems plausible, certainly.
>      > TON, as you comment in the book, takes the 'idealist' stance that
>     'concrete'
>      > notions emerge from observation.  Our own relative status as
>     observers
>      > participating in 'worlds' is then dependent on computational
>     'emergence'
>      > from the plenitude of all possible bit-strings.  Let's say that
>     I'm such an
>      > observer and I observe a 'computer' like the one I'm using now.  The
>      > 'computer' is a 3-person 'concrete emergent' in my 1-person
>     world, and that
>      > of the 'plurality' of observers with whom I'm in relation: we can
>     'interact'
>      > with it. Now, we collectively *impute* that some aspect of its
>     3-person
>      > behaviour (e.g. EM phenomena in its internal circuitry) is to be
>     regarded as
>      > 'running an AI program' (i.e. ISTM that this is what happens when we
>      > 'compile and run' a program).  In what way does such imputation
>     entail the
>      > evocation - despite the myriad possible 'concrete' instantiations
>     that might
>      > represent it - of a *stable* observer capable of participating in
>     our shared
>      > '1-person plural' context?  IOW, I'm concerned that two different
>     categories
>      > are being conflated here: the 'world' at the 'observer level'
>     that includes
>      > me and the computer, and the 'world' of the program, which is
>     'nested'
>      > inside this.  How can this 'nested' world get any purchase on
>     'observables'
>      > that are 'external' to it?
>      >
>     It is no different to a conscious being instantiated in a new-born
>     baby (or 18 month old, or whenever babies actually become
>     conscious). In some Platonic sense, all possible observers are already
>     out there, but by physically instantiating it in our world, we are in
>     effect opening up a communication channel between ourselves and the
>     new consciousness.
>      > As I re-read this question, I wonder whether I've already
>     willy-nilly fallen
>      > into the '2-cultures' gap again.  But what I've asked seems to be
>     directly
>      > related to the issues raised by 'Olympia and Klara', and by the
>     substitution
>      > level dilemma posed by 'yes doctor'.  Could you show me where -
>     or if - I go
>      > wrong, or does the 'language game' make our views forever mutually
>      > unintelligible?
>      >
>      > David
>      >
>     This last post is perfectly lucid to me. I hope I've answered it
>     adequately.
>     Cheers
>     --
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
>     Mathematics
>     UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]
>     <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
>     Australia                                http://www.hpcoders.com.au
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     > 

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to