Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
2010/1/11 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:
But aren't you assuming that consciousness is produced by the abstract
Platonic computation - rather than by the actual physical process (which is
not the same) - in other words assuming the thing being argued?
No, I'm at this point assuming only that consciousness is produced by
the physical process. We can assume for simplicity that the two
machines M1 and M2 have similar architecture and similar operating
systems. Once the program is loaded into M2 from the disc, S2 proceeds
exactly the same as it would have had the computation been allowed to
continue running on M1. Therefore, at least after the first few
milliseconds, the subjective content of S2 must be the same as it
would have been on the one machine. Could the subjective content be
different at the transition between S1 and S2 if the computation is
split up? If there is a subjective difference it won't be something
the subject can notice because, later in the course of S2, he can have
no memory of it.
But if you're only assuming that consciousness is produced by the
physical process then the process of downloading and uploading the
microstates and shifting the data into registers in the CPU and memory
could produce a difference in consciousness. These are all computations
too, done by the operating system. And why can't there be memory of it
in the sense that it effects some later conscious state? There are
traces of the transfer process left on the original computer, the disc,
and the second computer. Some subsequent program could retrieve these
traces, as is done in forensic cases. If physical processes instantiate
consciousness, why shouldn't these make a difference.
It also can't be a difference that would disrupt the
completion of a task or thought that requires continuity of
consciousness spanning S1-S2, since again the subject cannot have any
evidence that such a disruption occurred.
Unless we have a theory of how consciousness is related to the physical
computation I don't think we can conclude that. We already know that
subliminal perceptions can affect conscious thoughts - so why not
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