Since you told me that you accept comp, after all, and do no more  
oppose it to your view, I think we agree, at least on many things.
Indeed you agree with the hypothesis, and your philosophy appears to  
be a consequence of the hypothesis. That is all my work is about.  
Indeed I show you are right in a constructive way, which leads to the  
testability of the computationalist hypothesis.

It remains possible that we have a disagreement concerning the  
probability, and this has some importance, because it is the use of  
probability (or credibility) which makes the consequences of comp  
testable. More in the comment below.

Also, I will from now on, abandon the term machine for the term  
number. Relatively to a fixed chosen universal "machine", like  
Robinson arithmetic, such an identification can be done precisely. I  
will come back on this to my explanation to Kim, if he is still  
interested, and patient enough ...

On 27 May 2009, at 09:05, Kelly Harmon wrote:
> On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM, Bruno Marchal <>  
> wrote:
>> Actually I still have no clue of what you mean by "information".
> Well, I don't think I can say it much better than I did before:
> In my view, there are ungrounded abstract symbols that acquire
> meaning via constraints placed on them by their relationships to other
> symbols.

Exactly. And those constraints makes sense once we make explicit the  
many universal numbers involved. I will have opportunities to say more  
on this later.

> The only "grounding" comes from the conscious experience
> that is intrinsic to a particular set of relationships.

I agree, but only because I have succeeded to make such a statement  
utterly precise, and even testable.

> To repeat my
> earlier Chalmers quote, "Experience is information from the inside;
> physics is information from the outside."

Again this is fuzzy, and I think Chalmers is just quoting me with  
different terms (btw). I prefer to avoid the word information because  
it has different meaning in science and in everyday talk. Either you  
use it in the sense of Shannon, or Kolmogorov, or Solomonov, or  
Solovay or even Landauer (which one precisely?), in which case  
"information = consciousness" is as much non sensical than saying  
"consciousness is neuron's firing", or you use it, as I think you do,  
in the everyday sense of information like when we ask "do you know the  
last information on TV?". In that case information corresponds to what  
I am used to call "first person view", and your identity  
"consciousness = information" is correct, and even a theorem with  
reasonnably fine grained definitions. So we are OK here.

>  It is this subjective
> experience of information that provides meaning to the otherwise
> completely abstract "platonic" symbols.

As I said.

> Going a little further:  I would say that the relationships between
> the symbols that make up a particular mental state have some sort of
> consistency, some regularity, some syntax - so that when these
> syntactical relationships are combined with the symbols it does make
> up some sort of descriptive language.  A language that is used to
> describe a state of mind.  Here we're well into the realm of semiotics
> I think.

Here you are even closer to what I say in both UDA and AUDA. No  
problem. It takes me 30 years of work to explain this succesfully to a  
part of the experts in those fields, so as to make a PhD thesis from  
that. Sorry to let you know that this has been already developed in  
details. My originality is to take computer science seriously when  
studying computationalism.

> To come back to our disagreement, what is it that a Turing machine
> does that results in consciousness?

 From the third point of view, one universal number relates the 3- 
 From the first person point of view, all universal and particular  
numbers at once imposes a probability measure on the histories going  
through the corresponding 1-information.

> It would seem to me that
> ultimately what a Turing machine does is manipulate symbols according
> to specific rules.

In the platonic sense, yes. And it concerns 3-information or relative  
computational states.

> But is it the process of manipulating the symbols
> that produces consciousness?

No. Nothing, strictly speaking, ever produce consciousness. It will  
appear to be the unavoidable inside view aspect of numbers in  
arithmetical platonia. AUDA explains this thanks to the fact that self- 
consistency belongs to the G* minus G theory. It is the kind of things  
which a number (machine) can "produce as true" without being able to  
communicate it scientifically (prove) to another machine, including  

> OR is it the state of the symbols and
> their relationships with each other AFTER the manipulation which
> really accounts for consciousness?

Preferably indeed. The "manipulations" are all existing in the static  

> I say the latter.  You seem to be saying the former...or maybe you're
> saying it's both?

No, I say the later. We agree on this, I think.

> As I've mentioned, I think that the symbols which combine to create a
> mental state can be manipulated in MANY ways.

Exactly. This is the key point which, when made precise, will show  
that we can deduce the laws of the observables (physics) from computer  
science/number theory, making comp a scientific theory, that is an  
empirically refutable theory in the sense of Popper.

> And algorithms just
> serve as descriptions of these ways.  But subjective consciousness is
> in the states, not in how the states are manipulated.

You can say that, although I could explain that you could run into  
some subtle but unimportant language difficulties related to the MGA,  
but it is OK. The key point if that the stability of the "subjective  
consciousness" "or first person views" is determined by some relative  
measure on the relatively consistent histories, which are related to  
the universal (or particular) numbers generating those histories in  
the universal deployment. This makes sense mathematically thanks to  
Church thesis and its incompleteness consequences. CF UDA-7 and AUDA.

>> With different probabilities. That is why we are partially  
>> responsible
>> of our future. This motivates education and learning, and commenting
>> posts ...
> In my view, life is just something that we experience.  That's it.
> There's nothing more to life than subjective experience.  The feeling
> of being an active participant, of making decisions, of planning, of
> choosing, is only that:  a feeling.  A type of qualia.

Here we differ. Frankly, you say above that "I would say that the  
relationships between the symbols that make up a particular mental  
state have some sort of consistency, some regularity, some syntax - so  
that when these syntactical relationships are combined. It does make  
up some sort of descriptive language.  A language that is used to  
describe a state of mind.  Here we're well into the realm of semiotics  
I think". Why not taking yourself seriously on this point. Life is not  
"just" something we experience. Consciousness is "just" something we  
experience, but life and histories related those experience in such a  
way that our planning makes sense relatively to realities and reality.  
Now, if you take computer science seriously enough, then you can  
replace the fuzzy semiotics by the mathematical theory of meaning  
(model theory) and work on the conclusion of your assumption. It is as  
fun as a (first person) salvia experience, and 100% third person  
sharable (unlike salvia!). It is much more informative and leads to  
precise way to test comp, and up to no, crazily enough, the quantum  
theory (without collapse) confirms comp, even its most startling  
aspect (like the fact that we are multiplied into continuum of version  
"all the time").
You also mention the role of the relationship between the states  
above. Again: why not taking them into account to explain why I see  
red things in front of stable subjective and relative object supported  
by computational histories?

> Okay, it's past my bedtime, I'll do probability tomorrow!

Don't tell me you have a problem with the first person indeterminacy,  
because we would be back to the beginning of the talk on this list,  
and usually, people who refuses the 1-indeterminacy are those  
materialist who understand very well all the UDA steps, but are  
allergic to idealism, so they try to stop the reasoning at its root.  
It would be a pity that you just disagree with the point which make  
your own philosophy a scientific theory.

But of course if you have a *real* trouble with the notion of first  
person indeterminacy, it is a pleasure for me to explain, give more  
examples,  or discuss it in details. First person indeterminacy is my  
oldest "discovery", and I am used to people taking some time to  
swallow it, but after it is like they found it by themselves ... It is  
the Columbus Egg of indeterminism. It is simple, and with the abandon  
of the physical supervenience thesis, it is what can transform your  
comp-correct intuition into a real workable and refutable theory. Of  
course, you can also just enjoy your cute philosophy and take pleasure  
in just knowing it has already been working out. But comp makes the  
use of computer science, including mathematical logic, unavoidable,  
when we look at the details. Is that not obvious?


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