On 30 Dec 2011, at 03:10, Pierz wrote:
This thread has been extremely helpful to me in terms of getting to
the heart of this problem and the whole issue of supervenience - thank
you Joseph for your clarification of the meaning of the term and for
your succinct and clear summary of the MGA, and to David for the nice
clarification of the 'qua materia'/'qua computation' distinction. But
I have yet to see why the MGA proves that consciousness can't
supervene on abstract computation + concrete implementation.
I would say it does. If you agree with my answer to Russell on
supervenience, that should be clear.
Indeed you can see MGA as proving that IF my consciousness supervenes
on abstract computation + concrete implementation then my
consciousness supervenes on abstract computation only. Concrete
implementations become explainable in term of relative abstract
implementations (kind of things you can easily translated in term of
the phi_i and the W_i, and from that, in pure arithmetic).
see that Joseph's refutation misses the mark because the issue is that
the replaying of a recording, whether on a screen or within the
original mechanism, performs no computations. But why cannot the
materialist/computationalist merely counter that Alice *is* a zombie
during the playback of the movie, because the required instantiation
of a computation is absent?
I tend to agree. but most people will not because they define the
zombie explicitly by an entity behaving like a human *in all*
situations, so that whatever they are, they handle the
counterfactuals. But accepting your sense of zombie, that I am
guessing, I am OK for saying that Alice, or any appearance of a person
in a movie can be seen as a sort of zombie.
Sure, he is committed to consciousness of
the machine if the physical activity is identical, but in the playback
of the film, the activity is not identical, since the connections
between logic gates are broken and/or overridden by the *projected*
activity (be it 'lucky rays' or the film).
Although the sequence of
firings in the network is the same, the causal connection between
firings is removed - indeed this is the point: no calculation is being
But a sequence of firings in a logic network is not the
entirety of that network's physical activity. Or rather, the physical
activity of the sequence is not sufficient to define its activity as a
computation. That requires the casual connection between firings to be
Imagine a domino computer. I can't remember where I heard this first
(maybe on this list somewhere), but we can imagine a network of
loaded dominos that are set up to spring back upright after a certain
time. By setting up rows of such dominos in a clever fashion, we can
use it to perform calculations. Let's say we perform a calculation
with a boolean output - either a domino at the end falls or it
doesn't. If we set up such a domino computer and push the first
domino, we initiate a causal chain reaction that performs the
calculation we have programmed it for. Now imagine we disable the
causality by gluing the dominos upright. Now imagine we have a set of
instructions telling us to lower and raise dominos in such and such a
sequence. Our instructions happen to tells us to raise and lower them
in exactly the sequence they would have if they had simply been pushed
without the glue. This could be a random set of instructions that just
happens to be the same (as per luck rays), or a description
(recording) of a previous actual run of the computer (as per movie
graph). This is a restatement of the MGA scenario. In that case, the
casual interaction between dominos has been removed, but the sequence
of 'firings' in the network is retained.
OK. This should help to get the conclusion that consciousness is not
supervening on the physical behavior of the dominoes, but on the
abstract relationship which makes them doing a computation. Given that
most people agree that consciousness is not a material substance, we
have no problem to attach consciousness to that abstract setting,
which includes the counterfactuals by the mathematical definition (of
Now the materialist-computationalist already believes in the odd
scenario of a consciousness instantiated by a computation in which the
steps of the computation are performed in different places in time and
space - eg one step in a calculation is performed in Sydney on one
machine in 2011 and the next is performed on another in Melbourne in
2012 (local examples rather than Brussels-Amsterdam!). It is still a
potentially conscious calculation if a causal connection between
computational steps is retained.
Remove the causality from the
scenario and it becomes meaningless and absurd - otherwise
consciousnesses would arise between all kinds of unrelated things.
bit of half written code on my computer in Melbourne could be
completed by some half written code on your computer in Sydney, even
though the computers and the programmers never interacted. And of
course, everything physical is Turing emulable, so everything physical
performs (at least trivially) calculations.
It is not clear that everything physical is Turing emulable. Neither
with QM, still less with comp.
Then it is not clear why "everything physical is T emulable would
entail that "everything physical performs calculations".
But I do agree that "everything physical performs calculations", for
trivial reason (you can interpret everything as the output of a
trivial computation, like the constant function 1.
Consciousness would arise
between all the random motions of particles that could be regarded as
performing a calculation *if* they were causally connected. Madness.
So, given that causality is physical (even if such causality is highly
indirect), then comp-phys can argue that Alice is a zombie in the
projected film scenario because of the severance of causality between
the activity of logic nodes. The computer no longer instantiates a
physical computation and comp-phys requires both a computation and a
Personally, I think the scenario of a physically atomised computation
does comp-phys in anyway. The notion of physical activity seems
stretched beyond breaking point when we extend it to the sequence of
causes that connects the steps of such a computation. No further
reductio ad absurdum is required.
Hmm... OK. But UDA-MGA is constructive, it shows where and how physics
arises, from comp. It makes "physical" into an entire "new" (except
Plato & the Mystics) perspective. It reduces effectively the mind-body
problem into a pure "belief in body problem by universal digital
machine (numbers)". It leads to a problem in computer science and/or
But the problem with any reductio ad
absurdum is that different people find different things absurd,
It is up to you, in that case, to ask them what are their assumptions.
In which theory they are working. Climbing up to the point where you
agree on what you disagree, which means the correspondent were not
working in the same theory.
The theory I work in is any theory in which I would survive thanks to
my ability to make my most probable environment able to emulate, or
approximate sufficiently well *some* computation. And I assume only he
math needed to make the argument in favor of Church thesis
In that case, I argue that physics becomes logically definable and
derivable (and thus necessary) from machine's theology (which concerns
the difference between what machine can justify rationally about
themselves and what is true about themselves.
seeing as comp-phys accepts the possibility of a temporally and
spatially atomised, conscious computer, so it can use the same
principle to refute the MGA.
But that kind of refutation becomes trivial, if you keep comp and the
whole UDA, where MGA = UDA step 8. It makes primitive matter into an
epinomenon (an invisible horse). That is why I say that MGA leads to
an epistemological contradiction and not an ontological one. It is not
unlike the Bohm move in QM (selecting one branch of the multiverse).
MGA cannot refute logically such a move, but it makes it ad hoc: it
appears only as a way to NOT solve the mathematical mind-body problem.
It invents matter, it invents a mind, it invents an identity thesis,
and it stops the search of the understanding of the relationship. It
invents three problems, and solve nothing.
Sure comp+phys forces us into absurdity,
but the absurdity has already been accepted, and the MGA adds nothing
'course, I tend to disagree with this. At UDA-7 the mind-body problem
is already reduced into a problem of a self-referential relative
measure. A pure mathematical problem (handled by AUDA or the interview
of the LUM). But UDA-7 assumes a "real" physical universe. MGA, UDA-
step-8, shows that we can eliminate that assumption. It shows that a
"real" physical universe is a read herring, as far as been used to
This is not nothing. It means comp is closer to Plato type of theology
than Aristotle type. It illustrates, at the least, that science has
not yet decided between Plato and Aristotle conception of reality.
Note that most atheists are much more close to Aristotle theological
metaphysics than most Christians, notably concerning the immortality
of the soul.
The notion of computation is tightly linked to the notion of universal
number, and their properties. Comp invites computer science and the
computers at the table where we debate on fundamental questions.
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