On 7/25/2010 12:14 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
On 24 Jul 2010, at 23:02, Allen wrote:
On 7/23/2010 1:55 PM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
I think this has nothing to do with technology. It is just that
consciousness is not related to the activity of the physical
machine, but to the logic which makes the person supported by the
computation integrating that information.
Thank you for your reply.
You are welcome.
I mention technology because, as of now, we don't seem to have
any conscious artifacts. Do you agree?
Yes I disagree. But this may be not important, especially at the
beginning of the argument. I can argue that all universal purpose
computer are conscious artifact. But I agree that they have no means
to manifest their consciousness relatively to us. So it is only
through theoretical computer science that you could eventually
understand what I mean by that.
So I don't intend to insist on this point at all.
I will have to begin learning theoretical computer science, then.
I don't mean to trivialize it by stating it so lightly, but my interest
has been excited.
If so, what do we need to construct conscious artifacts?
We need only to open our own mind. It is difficult because we are
ourselves not really programmed to do that. With this respect I think
that the Greek theologians, and many mystics (from East and West), and
perhaps Salvia divinorum smoker can get some glimpse of what it could
mean to be conscious, yet completely disconnected from our fives
senses, and from time and space. Some yogic introspection technic can
also leads to such an understanding. Some sleep experience too. But I
don't expect most people to get the point without much more theorizing.
I can appreciate this, but I have not yet really grasped it.
If you don't agree, what has man constructed that is or may be
Any concrete or abstract Löbian machine or theory. Such entities can
reflex themselves entirely. Those are universal machine (thus
conscious, but once Löbian, I would say that they are as conscious as
Or is my question nonsensical?
It is juts a very difficult question, where we are deluded, by years
of evolution together with 1500 years of Aristotelian brainwashing.
The subject is really taboo. You have to be able to doubt about
physicalism or materialism. It is better if your doubt are based on
logic and observation, so that you can share them with others.
I'm coming to realize I've been having problems here.
In a sense it is just false to relate consciousness to any third
person describable activity, and in fine, if we are machine, our
consciousness, which is a first person notion, is related (not even
defined by) all the possible computations going through the logical
state of the machine. This entails that any machine looking at
itself below its substitution level (the level at which it feels
surviving an artificial digital substitution) will discover that the
apparent material reality is multiple: matter relies on
infinity of computations. This is retrospectively confirmed by
I don't want to ignore this portion, it's just more advanced
than I am, I don't have a comfortable grasp on the concepts, so I
can't make even an attempt at a response.
In fine, matter is a construction of the mind, in the case we are
digital machine. The brain does not makes consciousness, it filters
it from infinities of first person histories. Tononi is a bit naïve,
like many, on the mind-body (consciousness-reality) relationship.
The integration does not rely on what a machine do, but on what an
infinity of possible machines can do, and how consistent environment
reacts to what the machine (person) decides.
Your honesty honor you. Note that I was summing up many years of
solitary work in a highly counterintuive field, so it is not
astonishing you have difficulties. My fault. Sorry.
Thank you. I appreciate the explanations even if I do not
understand them well right now. They're guidance, good for finding
directions as to where I need to go.
I want to ask a question about "The Origin of Physical Laws and
Sensations". I don't understand it yet, I'll need to re-read the
seventh step multiple times more before I figure it out comfortably.
The fault is certainly my own ignorance, not your explanations. I'll
be returning to it, and taking your advice on reading the List's
As to my question: At the third step, you wrote "Giving that
Moscow and Washington are permutable without any noticeable changes
for the experiencer, it is reasonable to ascribe a probability of ½
to the event 'I will be in Moscow (resp. Washington).'" I don't
understand the probability here. If I am duplicated, won't there
just be two Allens, AllenM (for Moscow) and AllenW (Washington)?
To understand this it is useful to grasp the difference between third
person description and first person description.
In those thought experiment some simple definition can be used
(without preventing a more thorough treatment later).
Consider the self-duplication experiment. I suppose you have a diary,
in which you write the result of some personal testing, like "where do
I feel to be"?. So if you feel yourself to be in Brussels, you write
"I am in Brussels" in your diary. An external observer can agree with
you, here. Now you are scanned *together with your diary* (at the
right substitution level, which exists by the digital mechanist
hypothesis) and the (third person) digital information retrieved from
the scanning is duplicated and sent respectively to Washington and
Moscow. And in each city, your body, *including the diary*, is
reconstituted. Now, the external observer can indeed say that you are
both in Washington and Moscow. There are two Allens, indeed. But the
AllenM will not write "I feel myself to be in two cities at once": he
will write in his diary: "I look around and discover that I am in just
one city (M), and I have only an intellectual belief that I have a
doppelganger reconstituted in W, and, actually I cannot even know that
"he" has been reconstituted". Similarly, the AllenW will write in his
diary ""I look around and discover that I am in just one city (W). I
have only an intellectual belief that I have a doppelganger
reconstituted in M. Actually I cannot even know that he has been
None of them could have predicted in advance where they will feel to
be. If you have predicted (in Brussels) that you will feel yourself to
be in W, the one in M would have correctly thought "oh gosh, I was
The indeterminacy bears on the first person feeling, not on the third
person description. There is nothing indeterminate in the third person
description. yet the first person experience cannot be predicted with
certainty. In this case, a symmetry argument can be used that there is
as much chance to end up in W than in M (although this not necessary
to get the last point of the reasoning).
Suppose you "both" come back in Brussels, and reiterate the experience
again and again, 64 times to fix the thing. You will end up in, well
many (2^64) exemplars, all with a description, in their respective
diaries, similar to BWWWMMWMWMMMMW ... of length 64 (B is for I feel
to be in Brussels, M is for I feel to be in W, and W is for I feel to
be in W). A combinatorial argument can show that most will agree that
they cannot predict where they will *feel* to be if they reiterate
once again the experience.
Note that later, I drop out the idea that such an indeterminacy is
really a probability. It is more a degree of plausibility or degree
of belief (but I use probability to make it simple). What is important
in the reasoning, is that whatever means you are using to quantify
this *first person indeterminacy*, it will remain unchanged for a
series of changes, like introducing delays for the reconstitution, or
substituting a "real environment" (like the city of Moscow) by a
sufficiently precise virtual environment, etc.
Thank you very much for this explanation, I feel I understand it
with much more clarity now! Still, I have to take more time to think on
it. I'm sure there are implications I haven't felt yet.
When a probability becomes involved, doesn't it seem like you're
saying that there is an entity "I" who is the real Allen, and that
"I" may be AllenM or AllenW, but "I" will not be the other one.
Not really. The point is just that one "I" will feel to be in one
city, and the other will feel to be in the other city. On the
contrary, such thought experience can help to understand that "I" is a
relative concept. But we have to acknowledge that each person will
continue to use the term "I", in a sense which gives meaning to the
The "I" will appears to be absolute from its own point of view, and
relative, in any third person descriptioN. This will very well fit the
mathematical treatment which follows.
It's great that I was wrong about this, your explanations have
given me a much better perspective to read from.
The other one has some "other I". Am I misunderstanding, and - since
it's very likely - to what extent? I don't believe in I's, I
think, for lack of a better phrase, that consciousness is all one.
How do you feel about this?
If you have grasped that consciousness is all one, I may have nothing
more to explain to you. But by taking seriously both the existence of
consciousness *and* the mechanist hypothesis, the idea that
consciousness is one, can appear to be 99% describable in a theory
which has observable consequences in physics, and so it can be tested.
Usually "consciousness is one" is considered as a mystical insight.
Here it is made into a theory with observable consequences in physics.
Indeed, as confirmed by quantum mechanics, the theory predicts that we
are already multiplied all the times and are following many
differentiating paths at once, and that this is detectable if we look
at ourselves below our computationalist level of substitution. Digital
mechanism explains easily the qualitative quantum indeterminacy,
quantum non locality, and even quantum non cloning of "matter". The
math is needed to see how to extract the quantitative part of physics.
Eventually the whole of physics is shown derivable from number theory,
and the assumption (in the background) that I can survive a digital
brain substitution. The theory of everything may be just elementary
arithmetic (+ some "I am conscious", but this is not an hypothesis, it
is an experience).
I apologize for all of my responses being so short this time, your
reply has been very valuable for me. Now that you've cleared my mental
clutter, I have much more learning to do, and simply don't have much to say.
Thank you again for the explanations!
P.S. For anyone to answer: Is this acceptable to reply to
three separate posts with three separate posts of my own, all within
such a short time? I figured one would be quite lengthy, and maybe
more confusing. So I split them into replies according to who I was
No problem at all. I hope I have been able to clarify a little bit.
Don't hesitate to ask for further information.
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