On 12/14/2011 10:40 AM, Joseph Knight wrote:


On Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 11:32 PM, Kim Jones <kimjo...@ozemail.com.au <mailto:kimjo...@ozemail.com.au>> wrote:

    Any chance someone might précis for me/us dummies out here in maybe 3 
sentences what
    Tim Maudlin's argument is? Nothing too heavy - just a quick refresher.

I'll try, but with a few more than 3 sentences. Suppose the consciousness of a machine can be said to supervene on the running of some program X. We can have a machine run the program but only running a constant program Y that gives the same output as X for one given input. In other words, it cannot "handle" counterfactual inputs because it is just a constant program that does the same thing no matter what. Surely such a machine is not conscious. It would be like, if I decided "I will answer A B D B D D C A C..." in response to the Chemistry test I am about to run off and take, and happened to get them all correct, I wouldn't really know Chemistry, right?

But I think Russell has reasonably questioned this. You say X wouldn't know chemistry. But that's a matter of intelligence, not necessarily consciousness. We already know that computers can be intelligent, and there's nothing mysterious about intelligence "supervening" on machines. Intelligence includes returning appropriate outputs for many different inputs. But does consciousness?

Brent



So consciousness doesn't supervene on Y. But Maudlin (basically) shows that you can just add some additional parts to the machine that handle the counterfactuals as needed. These extra parts don't actually do anything, but their "presence" means the machine now could exactly emulate program X, i.e., is conscious. So a computationalist is forced to assert that the machine's consciousness supervenes on the presence of these extra parts, which in fact perform no computations at all.

I think what Russell said about this earlier, i.e., in a multiverse the extra parts are doing things, so consciousness then appears at the scale of the multiverse -- is fascinating. But I am out of time. Hope this helped. I would recommend reading the original paper for the details.

    Jolly kind of you,

    Kim Jones



    On 12/12/2011, at 10:05 AM, Russell Standish wrote:

    Maudlin's argument relies on the absurdity the the presence or absence
    of inert parts bears on whether something is consious.

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