On 23 February 2010 04:45, Jesse Mazer <laserma...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> It seems that these thought experiments inevitably lead to considering a
>> digital simulation of the brain in a virtual environment. This is
>> usually brushed over as an inessential aspect, but I'm coming to the
>> opinion that it is essential. Once you have encapsulated the whole
>> thought experiment in a closed virtual environment in a digital computer
>> you have the paradox of the rock that computes everything. How we know
>> what is being computed in this virtual environment? Ordinarily the
>> answer to this is that we wrote the program and so we provide the
>> interpretation of the calculation *in this world*. But it seems that in
>> these thought experiments we are implicitly supposing that the
>> simulation is inherently providing it's own interpretation. Maybe, so;
>> but I see no reason to have confidence that this inherent interpretation
>> is either unique or has anything to do with the interpretation we
>> intended. I suspect that this simulated consciousness is only
>> consciousness *in our external interpretation*.
> In that case, aren't you saying that there is no objective answer to whether
> a particular physical process counts as an "implementation" of a given
> computation, and that absolutely any process can be seen as implementing any
> computation if outside observers choose to interpret it that way? That's
> basically the conclusion Chalmers was trying to avoid in his "Does a Rock
> Implement Every Finite-State Automaton" paper
> at http://consc.net/papers/rock.html which discussed the implementation
> problem. One possible answer to this problem is that implementations *are*
> totally subjective, but this would seem to rule out the possibility of there
> ever being any sort of objective measure on computations (unless you imagine
> some privileged observers who are themselves *not* identified with
> computations and whose interpretations are the only ones that 'count') which
> makes it hard to solve things like the "white rabbit problem" that's been
> discussed often on this list.
It seems to me that perhaps the main reason for assuming that
counterfactual behaviour in the brain is needed for consciousness is
that otherwise any physical system implements any computation, or
equivalently every computation is implemented independently of any
physical reality that may or may not exist, and this would be a
terrible conclusion for materialists.
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