On 12 March 2010 11:59, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:

>> The pathways are all intact and can spring into action if the person
>> wakes up. There is a continuum from everything being there and ready
>> to use immediately, to all there but parts of the system dormant, to
>> not there at all but could be added if the person has extensive
>> surgery.
>
> That would be a classical change and different from a MWI possibility.

Does that matter here? I thought the argument was that if system A is
capable of behaviour that system B is not capable, then A has
different/greater consciousness than B even when we consider the case
where A and B are performing the same activity. A and B could be
identical except that given a particular tricky question Q, A has
access to a plugin module A' that will allow it to work out the
answer, while B does not. For all inputs other than Q, A and B behave
identically. Now I agree that A is more *intelligent* than B, if
intelligence is the ability to solve problems, since A can solve one
more problem than B. Intelligence involves potential, like specifying
a car's top speed, so the counterfactuals here are relevant. But to
say that A and B differ in their consciousness even when they have
inputs other than Q (and therefore go through the same internal state
changes), on the grounds that A can discriminate between more possible
inputs, seems incredible. It would mean that the consciousness of A
when it was doing non-Q processing would be affected by what happens
to A': if it was destroyed, if it was disconnected, if the special
adapter needed to connect it was lost so that it couldn't be used. We
could do the experiment: A would describe changes in its experiences
as changes were made to A' or its connection to A'.

>> It's not incompatible with any physical observation to say that
>> consciousness is instantiated by just a recorded sequence.
>
> Is it incompatible with any physical observation to say that consciousness
> is instantiated by a rock?  The only consciousness we have observation of is
> our own 1st person.  It's not plausible that it's a recording, though in
> some sense it may be logically possible.

Our consciousness is instantiated by a machine that interacts with its
environment and has a complex, but consistent, response to
environmental stimuli. This allows one conscious entity to observe
another conscious entity, and postulate that it is conscious. If
consciousnesses were instantiated all around us by random processes
(or even by nothing at all) they would not be of the sort that can be
observed at the level of the substrate of their implementation, which
is why they are not observed. So yes, it's all compatible with our
physical observations.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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