2009/1/15 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:

>> In an actual physical computer the transition rules are represented by
>> the causal links between the states, so that a particular input will
>> reliably give rise to a particular output. But I return to my question
>> about what would happen if there were a discontinuity in a sequence of
>> states, so that s1 to s10 on m1 are causally linked, s11 to s20 on m2
>> are causally linked, but there is no link between m1 and m2, i.e. m2
>> just happens to start in s11 accidentally. Assuming that s1 to s20
>> occurring in a single machine results is a few moments of
>> consciousness (which is to say, assuming that computationalism is
>> true), what would happen if the sequence is broken in the way just
>> described?
>
> I suspect something is lost.  You are thinking of the states as abstract steps
> in a computer program.  But a computer program requires a computer to run and
> the computer implements distributed spatiotemporal links.  In general you 
> cannot
> take even a digitial computer and freeze it in a instant of time, call that a
> state, and restart it without any effects.  Switches are in intermediate 
> states,
> EM waves are propagating, electrons are diffusing - it is not a static thing
> like a step in a program.

But the idea behind functionalism is that an equivalent program
running on completely different hardware would give rise to the same
mental states. It is hard to see how that could be possible if, for
example, the EM radiation caused by electrical switching somehow
coloured or altered the resulting mental states, for what should we
then expect from the equivalent program running on a purely mechanical
computer?

> In terms of Bruno's teleporter, one might say yes accepting that there would 
> be
> a one-time gap in consciousness (ever had a concussion?), but one would 
> probably
> hesitate if the there was to be a gap every 10ms.

Assuming the gap did not result in accumulation of errors, a technical
problem, and assuming the environment is held constant to eliminate
100Hz flicker, I don't see how teleportation every 10ms could alter
consciousness.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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