Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> 2008/12/6 Abram Demski <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:
>
>   
>> The causal structure of a recording still looks far different from the
>> causal structure of a person that happens to follow a recording and
>> also happens to be wired to a machine that will kill them if they
>> deviate. Or, even, correct them if they deviate. (Let's go with that
>> so that I can't point out the simplistic difference "a recording will
>> not die if some external force causes it to deviate".)
>>
>> 1. Realistic malfunctions of a machine playing a recording are far
>> different from realistic malfunctions of the person-machine-combo. The
>> person inherits the possible malfunctions of the machine, *plus*
>> malfunctions in which the machine fails to modify the person's
>> behavior to match the recording. (A malfunction can be defined in
>> terms of cause-effect counterfactuals in two ways: first, if we think
>> that cause/effect is somewhat probabilistic, we will think that any
>> machine will occasionally malfunction; second, varying external
>> factors can cause malfunctions.)
>>
>> 2. Even during normal functioning, the cause/effect structure is very
>> different; the person-combo will have a lot of extra structure, since
>> it has a functioning brain and a corrective mechanism, neither needed
>> for the recording.
>>
>> Also-- the level of the correction matters quite a bit I think. If
>> only muscle actions are being corrected, the person seems obviously
>> conscious-- lots of computations (& corresponding causal structure) is
>> still going on.. If each neuron is corrected, this is not so
>> intuitively obvious. (I suppose my intuition says that the person
>> would lose consciousness when the first correction occurred, though
>> that is silly upon reflection.)
>>     
>
> Yes, there are these differences, but why should the differences be
> relevant to the question of whether consciousness occurs or not? And
> what about the case where the extra machinery that would allow the
> right sort of causal structure but isn't actually used in a particular
> situation is temporarily disengaged?
>
> It seems to me that everyone contributing to these threads has an
> intuition about consciousness, then works backwards from this:
> "obviously, recordings aren't conscious; now what are the qualities
> that recordings have which distinguish them from entities that are
> conscious?". There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this method, but
> it is possible to reach an impasse when the different parties have
> different intuitions.
>   

Exactly so.  Consciousness is probably not the unified thing that we 
intuitively assume anyway.  There was an article in the newspaper today 
that Henry Molaison died. He had lived some 50yrs with profound amnesia 
after an operation on his brain to cure severe seizures.  He apparently 
could not form new memories.   But that only applied to verbal, i.e. 
"conscious" memories.  He could learn new tasks in the sense that he 
improved with practice even though if asked he would say he'd never done 
the task before. 

Brent Meeker

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