On Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 11:49 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com>
wrote:

>
>
> On Sunday, August 17, 2014, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
>
>>  On 8/16/2014 10:16 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>> On 16 August 2014 10:16, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
>> > On 8/15/2014 4:34 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>>
>> > > I think these sorts of considerations show that the physical states
>> cannot
>> > > be responsible for generating or affecting consciousness.
>> >
>> >
>> > How do they show that?  I thought they only showed that CC and
>> environmental
>> > reference were necessary to consciousness.  Are you assuming that the
>> > playback of a recording IS conscious?
>>
>> If it is true that a recording is conscious or the random states of a
>> rock are conscious then I think that does imply that physical states are
>> irrelevant to consciousness. But the argument goes that this irrelevance of
>> physical states is absurd, so some restriction is imposed on what can be
>> conscious in order to avoid the absurdity. One possible restriction is that
>> consciousness only occurs if the computations are implemented relative to
>> an environment, another is that the counterfactuals be present. But these
>> are ad hoc restrictions, no better than saying that consciousness can only
>> occur in a biological substrate.
>>
>> > > The immediate objection to this is that physical changes in the brain
>> *do*
>> > > affect consciousness. But if physical states cannot be responsible for
>> > > generating or affecting consciousness, there can be no evidence for a
>> > > separate, fundamental physical world. What we are left with is the
>> platonic
>> > > reality in which all computations are realised and physical reality
>> is a
>> > > simulation. It is meaningless to ask if consciousness supervenes on
>> the
>> > > computations implemented on the simulated rock or the simulated
>> recording.
>> >
>> >
>> > It's not meaningless to ask if there must be simulated physics for the
>> > simulated consciousness to supervene on.  Do you think you could be
>> > conscious of a world with no physics?
>>
>>  Both consciousness and physics supervene on the computations, which
>> exist necessarily. Consciousness does not supervene on the physics.
>>
>>
>> Yes, I agreed to that.  The question was can consciousness supervene on
>> computations that do not instantiate any physics?  I think not.
>>
>
> I think that a sustained stream of consciousness will probably be part of
> a computation that instantiates physics - instantiates a whole universe
> complete with physics. However, the point that I wanted to make was that if
> computation can instantiate consciousness then there is nothing to stop a
> recording, a Boltzmann Brain, a rock and so on from doing so; for these
> possibilities have been used as arguments against computationalism or to
> arbitrarily restrict computationalism.
>

As I argued earlier though, if you hypothesize that consciousness
supervenes on the logical structure of computations, you can avoid the
conclusion that a rock or a recording contributes just as much to the
measure of a given human observer-moment as an actual human brain (or a
detailed simulation of one, or any other physical process that contains the
same pattern of logical relations between propositions about events within
the process). Would you disagree that consciousness supervening on logical
structure is one way to have a form of computationalism that avoids the
conclusion that *any* system (including a rock) can be interpreted as an
instantiation of any computation?

This doesn't cover the issue of Boltzmann brains, since in a universe
lasting an infinite time you could occasionally have systems randomly
assemble that would perform the correct computations in the "logical
structure" sense, but physicists who consider such things often suggest
that in an inflationary multiverse, there would be some *physical* measure
on different systems such that most instances of complex brain-like systems
would appear in the early stages of an inflationary bubble universe, and
that brain-like systems appearing randomly in very late high-entropy eras
of bubble universes would be comparatively rare.

Jesse

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