On 3/11/2010 2:34 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
On 12 March 2010 04:17, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  wrote:

We can do a thought experiment. A brain is rigged to explode unless it
goes down one particular pathway. Does it change the computation being
implemented if it is given the right input so that it does go down
that pathway? Does it change the consciousness? Is it different to a
brain that lacks the connections to begin with so that it does not
explode but simply stops working unless it is provided with the right
input? What do you lose if you say both brains have exactly the same
conscious experience as a normal brain which goes down that pathway?
You might have diminished consciousness.  If you identify consciousness with
a computation, as in a digital computer, then any specific computation will
leave some components unused.  But 0's are as much a part of the computation
as 1's.  So just because the same causal chain of gates or neurons is used
it is not the same computation unless it is relative to the same possible
computations.  Or at least that's one way to look at it.  It's not magic,
it's just that computation and consciousness maybe holistic properties of a
When a brain is not being consciously used at all, because the person
is in dreamless sleep, the counterfactuals are all still there;

Hmmm. Are they? Suppose instead of being asleep the person is anesthetized and cooled so there is no activity at all in the brain...it's inert. Are counterfactuals still there? From an information processing standpoint, counterfactuals only exist because they are alternate possibilities. "Possibility" though is too vague to base a theory on. Suppose it is refined by saying the counterfactuals are defined by the probabilities of quantum mechanics. I think this is what Jack is getting at when he appeals to "physical laws".

just don't have any effect. As the person is waking up their
consciousness for the first second might be very limited, while again
the counterfactual behaviour is still there. A common sense conclusion
would be that only that part of the system which is being used
contributes to consciousness. What reason is there to reject this

Because it leads to the MGA, where consciousness is instantiated by just a recorded sequence. Bruno uses this to argue that the consciousness must be associated with the abstract counterfactuals which are part of the computation. But that raises the problem that arbitrarily many abstract computations exist which include that same part. Bruno makes a virtue of this by saying that is why there are multiple worlds in QM (although it seems to allow many more worlds than QM would). But if we're going to appeal to things happening in the multiple worlds we can maintain the counterfactuals without going to Platonia.


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