On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 08:52:47PM +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> 
> Hi,
> 
> Those who dislikes introduction can skip up to "THE FIRST THOUGHT  
> EXPERIMENT AND THE FIRST QUESTION".
> ---------------------
> 
> 
> INTRODUCTION
> 
> MGA is for Movie Graph Argument (like UDA is for Universal Dovetailer  
> Argument).
> 
> By UDA(1...7), the seven first step of the UDA, we have a proof or  
> argument that
> 
> 
>      (COMP + there is a concrete universe with a concrete universal  
> dovetailer running forever in  it)
> 
> implies that
> 
>   physics is emerging statistically from the computations (as seen  
> from a "first person points of view").
> 
> Note: I will use "computationalism, digital mechanism, and even just  
> mechanism, as synonymous.
> 
> MGA is intended to eliminate the hypothesis that:
> 
> there is a concrete universe with a concrete universal dovetailer  
> running forever)
> 
> 
> Leading to:  comp implies that physics is a branch of (mathematical)  
> computer science.
> 
> Some nuances will have to be added. But I prefer to be slightly wrong,  
> and understandable, than to make a long list of "vocabulary" and  
> pursuing in some obscur jargon.
> 
> 
> But in case you have not read the UDA, there is no problem. MGA by  
> itself shows something independent of the UDA, indeed it shows (is  
> supposed to show) that the physical supervenience thesis is false.  
> Consciousness does not supervene on the *physical activity* of the  
> brain/computer/universe. This shows that mechanism is incompatible  
> with materialism (even weak form) or naturalism or physicalism,  
> because they traditionally assume the physical supervenience thesis.
> 
> It is more subtle than UDA, and I expect possible infinite  
> discussions. (Zombies will come back!)
> 
> 
> Now a preliminary remark for clarifying what we mean by MECHANISM.  
> When the mechanist says "yes" to the doctor, it is because he believes  
> (or hopes) he will survive QUA COMPUTATIO (sorry for the latin). I  
> mean he believes that he will survive because the computational device  
> he will get in place of its old brain does the "right" computations  
> (which exists by hypothesis). he does not believe something like this  
> (although he could!). I believe that there is God who will, by its  
> magic means,  pull out my soul, and then put it back in the new  
> computational device.
> A mechanical theory of consciousness, as well explained by Dennett,  
> should rely of the fact that we don't attribute knowledge or  
> consciousness, still less prescience, to the neurons, or elementary  
> logical gates, or quarks, ... that is to the elementary part of the  
> computational device. (The elementary parts depends of course of the  
> substitution level choice).
> 
> This means, assuming both mechanism and naturalism (i.e. the physical  
> supervenience thesis), that when consciousness supervenes on the  
> physical activity of a brain, no neuron is aware of the other neurons  
> to which they are related. Each neuron is "aware" only of some  
> information they get of the neurons, not of the neurons themselves. If  
> that was not the case, so that some neurons have some prescience of  
> the identity of the neurons to which they are connected, it would just  
> mean, when keeping the mechanist hypothesis, that we have not chosen  
> the right level of substitution, and should go down further.
> 
> Now come the first thought experiment and the first question.
> -------------------------
> 
> THE FIRST THOUGHT EXPERIMENT AND THE FIRST QUESTIONS   (MGA 1) : The  
> lucky cosmic event.
> 
> One billions years ago, at one billion light years away, somewhere in  
> the universe (which exists by the naturalist hypo) a cosmic explosion  
> occurred. And ...
> 
> ... Alice had her math exam this afternoon.
>  From 3h to 4h, she solved successfully a problem. She though to  
> herself, "oh, easy, Oh careful there is trap, yet I can solve it".
> 
> What really happened is this. Alice already got an artificial brain,  
> since a fatal brain tumor in her early childhood. At 3h17 pm one  
> logical gate did broke, (resp. two logical gates, three, 24, 4567,  
> 234987, ... all).

I think it makes a difference if all gates, including the output gates
are broken. But if the output gates are intact, and are all activated
in the correct way by your "happy rays" (rayons heureux), then your
argument should be correct.

> 
> But Alice was lucky (incredibly lucky). When the logical gate A did  
> break, and for example did not send a bit to logical gate B, an  
> energetic particle coming from the cosmic explosion, by pure chance,  
> did trigger the logical gate B at the right time. And just after this  
> happening another energetic particle fixed the gate problem.
> 
> Question: did this change Alice's consciousness during the exam?
> 
> I ask the same question with 2440 broken gates. They broke, let us say  
> during an oral exam, and each time a gate broke, by sending a wrong  
> info, or by not sending some info, an energetic particle coming from  
> that cosmic explosion do the job, and at some point in time, a bunch  
> of energetic particle fix Alice's brain.
> 
> Suppose that ALL the neurons/logical gates of Alice are broken during  
> the exam, all the time. But Alice, I told you, is incredibly lucky,  
> and that cosmic beam again manage each logical gates to complete their  
> work in the relevant places and times. And again at the end of the  
> exam, a cosmic last beam fixed her brain. In particular she succeed  
> the exam, and she can explain later to her mother, with her sane  
> (artificial) brain, that she thought  tp herself, during the oral  
> exam: "oh, easy, Oh careful there is trap, yet I can solve it".
> 
> The last question (of MGA 1) is:  was Alice, in this case, a zombie  
> during the exam?
> 
> I let you think.
> 
>   Bruno
> 

I think Alice was indeed not a zombie, and that her consciousness
supervened on the physical activity stimulating her output gates (the
cosmic explosion that produced the "happy rays"). Are you suggesting
that she was a zombie?

I can see the connection with Tim Maudlin's argument, but in his case,
the machinery known as Olympia is too simple to be conscious (being
nothing more than a recording - simpler than most automata anyway),
and the machinery known as Klara was in fact stationary, leading to a
rather absurd proposition that consciousness would depend on a
difference in an inactive machine.

In your case, the cosmic explosion is far from inactive, and if a star
blew up in just such a way that its cosmic rays produced identical
behaviour to Alice taking her exam (consciously), I have no problems
in considering her consciousness as having supervened on the cosmic
rays travelling from that star for that instant. It is no different to
the proverbial tornado ripping through one of IBM's junk yards and
miraculously assembling a conscious computer by chance.

Of course you know my opinion that the whole argument changes once you
consider the thought experiment taking place in a multiverse.

Cheers

-- 

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