On Apr 20, 3:27 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> If I sent you an arbitrary binary string, it would have no meaning
> unless you either knew in advance how to interpret it or how it was
> produced.  Either interpretation or understanding of how it was
> produced can be described with computer programs, but without that
> foreknowledge the binary string is meaningless because there would be
> an infinite number of ways to interpret that string.

It seems to me that the particular causal structure of a computer
running a simulation is an "implementation detail" of that particular
computer's architecture, and that any physical system that produces
outputs that can be mapped to a conscious human brain will produce
consciousness in the same way that the human brain does. Only the
outputs matter. Which is to say that only the information matters.

Being able to follow the causal chain of the computer running the
simulation is important in being able to interpret the outputs of the
simulation, and also is important to being able to have confidence
that the simulation is actually running correctly, AND is also
important in terms of knowing how to feed inputs into the simulation
(assuming that the simulated consciousness isn't living in a simulated
world which provides the inputs).

So causality is critical to us in viewing, interpretting, and
interacting with the simulation.

However, while causal chains are useful/necessary for working with and
interpretting output from physically implemented computers, I don't
see that they are essential for producing first person consciousness
experience, which doesn't require third person interpretation.

A random physical system (say a dust cloud) could "accidently" have
the right internal structure so as to be equivalent to a conscious
human brain over some period of time (http://
schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2009/01/dust-hypothesis.html).  But,
that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to go looking at dust clouds
to find interesting simulations of conscious entities.  This would be
like converting data from a radioactive decay counter into ASCII and
scanning the resulting character stream looking for a new blockbuster
novel.  If you live long enough and never give up, you'll eventually
find your novel, BUT it's not at all an efficient way of going about
the task.

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