Quentin Anciaux wrote:
2010/1/8 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>
2010/1/8 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com
A program that generates S2 as it were out of nowhere,
memories of an S1 that has not yet happened or may
never happen, is a
perfectly legitimate program and the UD will generate
it along with
all the others. If the UD is allowed to run forever,
this program will
be a lower measure contributor to S2 than the program
How do you know this?
Why S2 is unlikely to appear out of nowhere is equivalent to
Rabbit problem in ensemble theories, which has been often
over the years on this list. Russell's "Theory of Nothing" book
provides a summary. The general idea is that structures
simpler algorithms have higher measure, and it is simpler to
program that computes a series of mental states iteratively
that computes a set of disconnected mental states from ad hoc
and similarly in any physicalist theory. But although
S2 may guess from such considerations that he is more
likely to have
been generated sequentially, the point remains that
there is nothing
in the nature of his experience to indicate this. That
is, the fact
that S2 remembers S1 as being in the past and
remembers a smooth
transition from S1 to S2 is no guarantee that S1
really did happen in
the past, or even at all.
We're assuming that thought is a kind of computation, a
information. And we're also assuming that this processing
can consist of
static states placed in order. So given two static
states, what is the
relation that makes their ordering into a computational
answer would be that they are successive states generated
by some program.
But you seem to reject that. To say that S2 remembers S1
doesn't seem to
answer the question because "remembering" is itself a
process, not a static
state. I tried to phrase it in terms of the entropy, or
content, of S1 and S2 which would be a static property -
as for example, if
S2 simply contained S1. But that hardly seems a proper
states of consciousness - I'm certainly not conscious of
my memories most of
the time. Even as I type this I obviously remember how to
maybe not how to spell :-) ) but I'm not conscious of it.
You've made this point in the past but I still don't
understand it. If
S1 and S2 are periods of experience generated consecutively in
brain in the usual manner, do you agree that you would still be
experience them as consecutive if they were generated by chance
causally disconnected processes?
No, I don't. Of course if they had durations of seconds or minutes,
would experience much the same thing. But it is not at all
to me that the experience at the beginning and end of the period
be identical - and hence in the limit of infinitesimal duration,
discrete states I'm not sure what the experience would be, if any
The requirement would be only that
the respective experiences have the same subjective content in
cases. Memory is only one aspect of subjective content, if an
important one. If S1-S2 spans the typing of a sentence, then
and S2 have to remember how to type and what the sentence they
But here you have allowed S1 and S2 to be processes with significant
duration and even overlap. They are no longer discrete, static
It may seem to be unconscious but obviously it can't be
completely unconscious, otherwise it could be left out without
any difference. Your digestion is an example of a completely
unconscious process that need not be taken into account in a
simulation of your mind. Another example is your name: you may
awareness at all of your name during S1-S2 so it could safely
out of the simulation, although at S3 when you reach the end
post and you need to sign it you need to remember what it is.
You are relying on the idea of a digital simulation which is
by a sequence of discrete states. But in an actual realization of
a simulation the discrete states are realized by causal sequences in
time which are not of infinitesimal duration and overlap.
This as no impact on the computational level, what is important is the
logic state which is discrete. What is running on an actual computer is
a program... that the physical computer use 3V or 1V or less or that it
can handle 5*10^9 instructions per second or 5000 doesn't change that
fact, the program will run the same (with regard to the (external)
execution speed). If consciousness is "digitalisable" then it follows
that it is composed of discrete states with no duration at all. The
"time" inside the program does not need to be related to an (our)
external clock. I could represent "time" in an imaginary program by a
counter... the fact that between two steps a million year has passed,
inside the program only the next counter value is given, so only "1"
has passed for the pov of the program.
So if we want to see the consequences of the computational hypotesis,
we must first take for granted that we are digitalisable, hence the
particularities of a specific physical instantiation have no impacts on
what the program is running (the consciousness). As the running of that
program on a virtual machine running on a specific physical
instantiation has no impact, as the running on a virtual machine
running on a virtual machine running ...
But the point is that the above is a lot more than needed to say "yes"
to the doctor. You could say yes to the doctor without believing that
the time and casual connection of states was irrelevant.
Ok, but it is no more the computational hypothesis.
Isn't it? Bruno presents "comp" as equivalent to betting that
replacing your brain with a digitial device at the appropriate
level of substitution will leave your stream of consciousness
unaffected. From this people are inferring that the discrete states of
this digital brain instantiate "observer moments". But suppose (which
I consider likely) the digital brain would have to have a cycle time of
a billionth of a second or less. I don't think you believe you have a
different conscious thought every billionth of a second. What it means
is that "a state of your consciousness" corresponds to a million or so
successive states of the digitial computation. These sets of a million
states can then of course overlap. So the idea of discrete "observer
moments" doesn't follow from "yes doctor".
An illusion provided by the finite duration of you brain responses.
Think of it like a computer movie file... the movie is stored by
frame... the movement is illusory.
Finite data gathering ok... finite duration is begging the question.
I'm not sure I understand that remark. ISTM the finite duration of
your visual response is essential. If it were ten times faster the
movie would look like it was being played at 3 frames/sec. Movements
in the movie look smooth because your eyes and brain blur successive
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
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