2008/11/16 Kory Heath <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:

>> But if any computation can be mapped onto any physical state, then
>> every computation can be mapped onto one physical state; and why not
>> the null state?
> I guess I don't really have a clear picture of why the fact that any
> computation can be mapped onto a physical state should lead to the
> belief that (say) those mappings somehow support consciousnesses. I'm
> not very comfortable with the idea that a stone implements all
> computations. It may in fact be the case that those views are
> functionally equivalent to my suggestion that mathematical facts of
> the matter play the role that physical existence is supposed to play
> for the materialist, but I'm sticking with the latter formulation,
> because that's the one I actually understand.

It's computations supporting consciousness that makes this idea
interesting. Otherwise, it's like claiming that a block of marble
contains any given statue: in a sense it's true, but you need a
sculptor to allow the statue to interact with the outside world.
Similarly, if we claim that the vibrating atoms in the block of marble
implement a computation, say calculating the product of two numbers,
we need to build a computer to do the computation in a conventional
way in order to work out what the mapping is. This would also apply if
the putative computation were conscious and we wanted to interact with
it. But what if we *don't* require that we interact with the
computation: that is, what if the computation is of a self-contained
virtual world with conscious beings? In that case, working out the
mapping explicitly would allow us to observe what's going on in this
world, but there's no reason why the consciousness of its inhabitants
should be contingent on this occurring.

Stathis Papaioannou

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