Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> 2009/1/15 Brent Meeker <> 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 

I'm not talking about the incidental EM radiation; I'm talking about the 
conduction of EM energy from one gate to another, from one part of the computer 
to another or in a brain the transfer of electrochemical potential down an axon.

> coloured or altered the resulting mental states, for what should we
> then expect from the equivalent program running on a purely mechanical
> computer?

But both the electronic and the mechanical computer are implementing a process 
that is distributed in spacetime and has causal connections.

>> 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.

I could if you lost 10ms of consciousness everytime you were teleported.


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