Conscious is an informal term, so it depends how you want to use it. I
think of consciousness as the top level meta-awareness of a hierarchy
of levels which might be called awareness, perception, sensation, and
detection, where another person's idea of consciousness would equate
all of those terms. In my usage, the awareness that one is aware,
which would include something like dreaming or hallucinating. A more
medical use of the word might distinguish consciousness as the ability
to respond to external stimuli or produce electrical activity in
particular areas of the brain, etc.

Replacing parts of the brain depends what the artificial circuits are
made of. For them to be experienced as something like human
consciousness then I think they would have to be made of biological
tissue. Awareness isn't calculation, 'information', or
'interpretations'. Those are high-level cognitive abstractions.
Awareness is visceral, concrete, low level sense experience - a
primary presentation rather than a representation.

I'm only using computer screens as an example, but if you extend the
example to include other human devices like an airliner or hospital,
those things still have to be filled with human beings to give them
human meaning. A computer autopiloting an empty plane in a post-
apolcalypse world devoid of life would only have electronic and
physical meaning - circuits pushing toward equilibrium, meaningless
bodies of mass hurtling through the atmosphere. It doesn't know what a
plane is. A hospital without any people is an archeological ruin, no
matter how many computers are still connected to it.

Meaning is not only conferred by interaction with the world, meaning
is the world. If you are a human, then your world is a world of human
meaning, which includes condensed reflections of all other meanings to
which our technologically extended neurology permits us access.

On Jul 8, 2:44 pm, meekerdb <> wrote:
> On 7/8/2011 5:46 AM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
> >> That's what I thought he said.  But I see no reason to suppose a UD is
> >> >  running, much less running without physics.  We don't know of any
> >> >  computation that occurs immaterially.
> > All computation occurs materially and immaterially. An abacus doesn't
> > count itself. You ultimately have to have a conscious interpreter to
> > signify any particular text as quantitatively meaningful. Unplug all
> > monitors from all computers and what do you have left? Expensive
> > paperweights.
> But the question is what makes a conscious interpreter conscious.  
> Would replacing part of your brain by artificial circuits that are
> computationally equivalent preserve your consciousness?  Your example of
> computers without monitors makes a good point, but one I think different
> from your intention.  Computation must have some meaning, at least
> implicitly.  Meaning is conferred by interaction with the world.  
> Computers with monitors interact rather narrowly via humans.  But
> consider a computer that runs the utilitIies in a hospital or flies an
> airliner.  They don't need humans to look at a screen to give meaning to
> their computation.
> Brent

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