On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Two identical computers with identical programs taking environmental
>> input from sensors only millimetres apart could produce radically
>> different outputs. For example, the environmental input could be the
>> least significant digit in a temperature measurement and be used as a
>> seed in a random number generator.
> What would be the chances of two such divergent computations routinely
> speaking in unison?

You could put in a feedback mechanism checking each other's behaviour
and resetting if they diverge too much. Or, rather than an RNG based
on the least significant digit in an environmental measurement it
could be based on the most significant figure. I'm sure you can think
of other ways of doing it.

>> > Human beings
>> > are not programmed, they have to willingly participate in their own
>> > lives,
>> > they have to direct their attention to discover their own personal
>> > preferences.
>> If you prefer, human beings are programmed to to willingly participate
>> in their own lives
> Why do you think that participation in one's own life has to be a program?
> Did the Big Bang need a program? Does arithmetic need a program to know how
> to compute?

Yes, the Big Bang is a program. There are initial conditions and rules
that lead deterministically to the unfolding of the entire multiverse
and all its rich content. All of science is an effort to work out
details of the algorithm.

>> and to direct their attention to discover their own
>> personal preferences. "Willingly participate" means they decide to do
>> something that they want to do.
> First there has to be a 'they' there who is aware of the possibility of
> their own participation and a capacity to detect and discern the possibility
> of decision within that participation. Computers can't get to square one.
> There is nothing that they 'want' or don't want to do.

So you say, but the computers could say the same of you.

>> "Unwillingly participate" means they
>> are coerced, for example by threat or by forcibly taking control of
>> their body and moving it.
> This presumes that there is something there to resist such a coercion.


>> "Direct their attention to discover their
>> own personal preferences" means they try something and see if they
>> like it, and if they do they store it in memory as a preference. This
>> is something that has evolved because it is adaptive. Organisms that
>> discovered something unpleasant and stored it as a preference did not
>> tend to do as well.
> That can all be done just as well without any experience of 'liking'
> anything. Experiences would be monitored, stored, and analyzed. Results
> would be factored in to future computations. What's to 'like'? It could just
> as easily feel like itchy dizziness or like 7F 20 99 A6 77 01 00 03 and it
> would work just as well - better in the latter case.

Which is why it appears that consciousness is epiphenomenal; if it
were not then we would be zombies.

By epiphenomenal I mean a necessary side-effect of the type of
intelligent behaviour putatively conscious organisms display.

Stathis Papaioannou

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