On 11 Mar 2010, at 17:57, Brent Meeker wrote:
On 3/11/2010 1:59 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
I don't see how we could use Tononi's paper to provide a physical
or a computational role to inactive device in the actual
supervenience of a an actual computation currently not using that
I'm not sure I understand that question. It seems to turn on what
is meant by "using that device". Is my brain using a neuron that
isn't firing? I'd say yes, it is part of the system and it's not
firing is significant.
Two old guys A and B decide to buy each one a car. They bought
identical cars, and paid the same price.
But B's car has a defect, above 90 mi/h the engine explode. But both A
and B will peacefully enjoy driving their car all the rest of their
life. They were old, and never go quicker than 60 mi/h until they die.
Would you say that A's car was driving but that B's car was only
What about a brain with clever neurons. For example the neurons N24
anticipates that he will be useless for the next ten minutes, which
gives him the time to make a pause cafe and to talk with some glial
cells friends. Then after ten minutes he come back and do very well
its job. Would that brain be less conscious? He did not miss any
The significance of the neuron (firing or not firing) is
computational. If for the precise computation C the neuron n is not
used in the interval of time (t1 t2), you may replace it by a
functionally equivalent machine for the working in that time interval.
There is no problem when you make consciousness supervene on the
abstract relevant computations, that the existence of some relations
between some numbers (given that I have chosen the "base" elementary
arithmetic (it is Turing Universal).
To attach consciousness on "physical activity" + the abstract
counterfactual, is useless. It introduces more difficulty than what it
solves. With comp that needed "physical activity" has to be turing
emulable itself: if not it means you make consciousness depending on
something not turing emulable, and you cannot say "yes" to the doctor
I see Tononi's theory as providing a kind of answer to questions
like, "Is a Mars Rover concsious and if so, what is it conscious
of? Is it more or less conscious than a fruit fly."
I tend to work at a more general, or abstract level, and I think that
consciousness needs some amount of self-reflection, two universal
machines in front of each other, at least. If Mars Rover can add and
multiply it may have the consciousness of Robinson Arithmetic. If Mars
Rover believe in enough arithmetical induction rules, it can quickly
be trivially Löbian. But its consciousness will develop when he
identifies genuinely and privately itself with its unameable first
person (Bp & p). Using Bp for public science and opinions. It will
build a memorable and unique self-experience.
To be clear, Mars Rover may still be largely behind the fruit fly in
matter of consciousness. The fruit fly seems capable to appreciate
wine, for example. Mars Rover is still too much an infant, it wants
only satisfy its mother company, not yet itself.
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