Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
2010/1/8 Brent Meeker <>:

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 your
brain in the usual manner, do you agree that you would still be
experience them as consecutive if they were generated by chance by
causally disconnected processes?
No, I don't.  Of course if they had durations of seconds or minutes, I
would experience much the same thing.  But it is not at all convincing
to me that the experience at the beginning and end of the period would
be identical - and hence in the limit of infinitesimal duration, discrete
states I'm not sure what the experience would be, if any at all.

We should consider experiences of long duration, say a minute, before
going on to infinitesimals. I think you are saying that there is a
problem with the connection between S1 and S2 if they are generated by
causally disconnected processes, but not if they are generated in the
usual manner by causally connected processes. Is that right?

No. I'm not sure that causal connection is enough - and in any case causality is hard to define in physics at a fundamental level where it seems to be time-symmetric and QM is unitary (one of the motivations for "everything" explanations). I think the connection can be that S1 and S2 overlap, since at the level of substitution each one consists of many thousands of computation states.

Suppose S1 is being generated by a virtual reality program on machine
M1, then after a minute the human operator saves the program and data
to disc and shuts down M1, walks over to machine M2, loads the data
from the disc and runs the program, which then generates S2. There is
a clear causal connection here even though M1 and M2 are separate
machines. Do you think there would be normal continuity of
consciousness in this case?

No, at least I can see reasons to doubt it. Of course if the start-up of the program on M2 were very fast it might not be very noticeable and a rational person might still say "yes" to the doctor. But that wouldn't generalize to the infinitesimal "observer moment".

In a second experiment the operator finds when he gets to M2 that the
data on the disc is completely corrupted. The only information he can
be sure of is that the data comprised a maximum of n bits, this being
the capacity of the disc. Worried that he might be responsible for the
death of a conscious being, the operator decides to systematically
load into M2 all 2^n possible sets of data that the disc could have
contained. Do you think that this time there will be a discontinuity
between S1 and S2 when S2 is eventually generated?

I think there will be difference except in the case where he has loaded S1 and S2 is generated from it.

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