Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-20 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 15-sept.-06, à 13:53, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

 Yes, that's just what I would say. The only purpose served by the rock 
 is to provide the real world
 dynamism part of the computation, even if it does this simply by 
 mapping lines of code to the otherwise
 idle passage of time. The rock would be completely irrelevant but for 
 this, and in fact Bruno's idea is that the
 rock (or whatever) *is* irrelevant, and the computation is implemented 
 by virtue of its status as a Platonic
 object. It would then perhaps be more accurate to say that physical 
 reality maps onto the computation, rather
 than the computation maps onto physical reality. I think this is more 
 elegant than having useless chunks of
 matter implementing every computation, but I can't quite see a way to 
 eliminate all matter, since the only
 empirical starting point we have is that *some* matter appears to 
 implement some computations.


I agree with the idea that the only empirical starting point we have is 
that some matter *appears* to implement some computations [note the 
difference of emphasis, though].

Indeed we can only survive, with a reasonable high relative 
probability, in (2^aleph_0) computations implementing consistent 
histories. So we can predict that if we look at a sample of local 
observable matter closely enough, it must, in some sense, be 
relatively implemented  by an infinity of very similar computations 
(similar to the one sustaining us).

The feeling that our subjective mind is a product of our objective 
brain, and not the reciprocal, is somehow due to the fact that we 
have to be embedded in a relatively stable reality (whatever that is).

Bruno

http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-16 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):

  OK, but then you have the situation whereby a very complex, and to
our
 mind disorganised, conscious
  computer might be designed and built by aliens, then discovered by
us
 after the aliens have become
  extinct and their design blueprints, programming manuals and so on
have
 all been lost. We plug in the
  computer (all we can figure out about it is the voltage and current
it
 needs to run) and it starts whirring
  and flashing.  Although we have no idea what it's up to when it does
 this, had we been the aliens, we
  would have been able to determine from observation that it was doing
 philosophy or proving mathematical
  theorems. The point is, would we now say that it is *not* doing
 philosophy or proving mathematical theorems
  because there are no aliens to observe it and interpret it?
 
 Yes, and we would be correct, because the interpretation by th ealiens
 is a part of the process.
 The computer we recover is only one component, a subroutine.
 
 If you only recover part of an artifiact, it is only natural that you
 cannot
 necessarily figure out the funtion of the whole.
 
  You might say, the interpretation has still occurred in the initial
 design, even though the designers are no
  more. But what if exactly the same physical computer had come about
by
 incredible accident, as a result of
  a storm bringing together the appropriate metal, semiconductors,
 insulators etc.: if the purposely built computer
  were conscious, wouldn't its accidental twin also be conscious?
 
 Interpretation is an activity. If the total systems of
 computer+intepretation is
 consicous, that *would* be true of an accidental system, if the
 interpretational subssytem were accidentally formed as wll, Otherwise,
 not.
 
  Finally, reverse the last step: a computer is as a matter of fact
 thrown together randomly from various
  components, but it is like no computer ever designed, and just seems
to
 whir and flash randomly. Given that there
  are no universal laws of computer design that everyone has to
follow,
 isn't it possible that some bizarre alien
  engineer *could* have put this strange machine together, so that its
 seemingly random activity to that alien
  engineer would have been purposely designed to implement conscious
 computation?
 
 To the alien engineer means interpreted by the alien
 engineer. Interpretation is an activity, so it means additional
 computaiton. All your
 examples are of subsytems that *could* be conscious
 if they were plugged into a specific larger system.
 
  And if so, is it any more
  reasonable to deny that this computer is conscious because its
designer
 has not yet been born than it is to deny
  that the first computer was conscious because its designer has died,
or
 because it was made accidentally rather
  than purposely built in a factory?
 
 
 Interpretation is an activity. Possible designers and dictionaries
 don't lead to actual
 consciousness.

Perhaps you could suggest an experiment that would demonstrate the point
you are making? That is, a putatively conscious computer under various
situations, so it could be tested to see under what circumstances it is
conscious and under what circumstances its consciousness disappears.

Stathis Papaioannou


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-16 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 16-sept.-06, à 10:10, Colin Geoffrey Hales a écrit :


 5) Re a fatal test for the Turing machine? Give it exquisite novelty by
 asking it to do science on an unknown area of the natural world. Proper
 science. It will fail because it does not know there is an outside 
 world.


And you *know* that?

We can *bet* on a independent reality, that's all. Justifiably so 
assuming comp, but I think you don't.

Self-referentially correct machine can *only* bet on their 
self-referential and referential correctness.


Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-16 Thread 1Z


Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
 

 Q. What is it like to be a human? It is like being a mind. There is
 information delivered into the mind by the action of brain material which
 bestows on the human intrinsic knowledge about the natural world outside
 the humanin the form of phenomenal consciousness. This knowledge is
 not a model/abstraction, but a literal mapping of what's there (no matter
 how mysterious its generation may seem).

What is the difference between a model and a literal mapping ?

 The zombie does not have this.

Why not ?

 Nor does the Turing machine.


 No matter how good the a-priori abstraction given by the human the UM will
 do science on its sensory feeds until it can no longer distinguish any
 effect because the senses cannot discriminate it

Don't humans have sensory limits?


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-16 Thread 1Z


Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
 
 
  Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
  
 
  Q. What is it like to be a human? It is like being a mind. There is
  information delivered into the mind by the action of brain material
  which
  bestows on the human intrinsic knowledge about the natural world outside
  the humanin the form of phenomenal consciousness. This knowledge is
  not a model/abstraction, but a literal mapping of what's there (no
  matter
  how mysterious its generation may seem).
 
  What is the difference between a model and a literal mapping ?

 Real physics C(.) does something (goes through certain states).
 Real physics f(C(.)) does something (directly tracks the states of C(.).

 A state machine S that abstracts the states of C(.) is a model.

That's no help at all. What is the difference between tracking the
states
and abstracting the states ?

 f(.) is a literal mapping.

 Humans to f(.), computers do S.

 
  The zombie does not have this.
 
  Why not ?

 Because the physics of f(.) above is not there.

Zombies have the same physics as people, by definition.

 
  Nor does the Turing machine.
 
 
  No matter how good the a-priori abstraction given by the human the UM
  will
  do science on its sensory feeds until it can no longer distinguish any
  effect because the senses cannot discriminate it
 
  Don't humans have sensory limits?

 Yes, but the sensory fields are NOT what is used in intelligence.

What -- not at all ?

 The
 sensory fields are used to generate the phenomenal fields.

So they are involved indirectly.

 The phenomenal
 fields are used to be intelligent. Human phenomenal fields to not include
 a representation of neutrino flux.

Because human sensory fields don't.

 A zombie could never know of neutrinos!

It is pretty hard for anyone to.

 ...because they are incapable of observation of their causal descendants
 (no phenomenal fields). Our sensory data did not deliver evidence of
 neurtrinos...our phenomenal fields did!

Hmmm.

Well, at least I wa able to come to a conlusion on the basis of what
you said...

 In terms of the symbols above

 The zombie can construct an S from sensory fields predictive of the impact
 of C(.) on its own sensory data. But the relationship of this S to the
 outside world C(.)? It can never know. C(.) could put 5 billion other
 states in between all the states detected by the zombie sensory data and
 the zombie would have no clue. Zombie science is the science of zombie
 senory data, not science of the natural world outside the zombie.

 Of course you can mentally increase the amount of dta and the
 computational intellect of teh zombie to arbitrary levels all you are
 doing is moving the abstractions around. The zombie still has no internal
 life, no awareness there is a natural world at all.
 
 cheers
 colin hales


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-16 Thread Brent Meeker

Colin Geoffrey Hales wrote:
...
 COLIN:
 Hi a bunch of points...
 
 1) Re paper.. it is undergoing review and growing..
 The point of the paper is to squash the solipsism argument ...in
 particular the specific flavour of it that deals with 'other minds' and as
 it has (albeit tacitly) defined science's attitude to what is/is not
 scientific evidence. As such I am only concerned with scientific
 behaviour. The mere existence of a capacity to handle exquisite novelty
 demands the existence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness
 within the scientist. Novel technology exists, ergo science is possible,
 ergo phenomenal consciousness exists. Phenomenal consciousness is proven
 by the existence of novel technology. More than 1 scientist has produced
 novel technology. Ergo there is more then 1 'mind' (=collection of
 phenomenal fields) ergo other minds do exist. Ergo solipsism is false. The
 problem is that along the way you have also proved that there is an
 external 'reality'...which is a bit of a bonus. So all the philosophical
 arguments about 'existence' that have wasted so much of our time is
 actually just that...a waste of time.
 
 2) Turing test. I think the turing test is a completely misguided idea.

Curiously, Turing's test was to see whether a computer could succeed at 
pretending to 
be a woman as well as a man could.

 It's based on the assumption that abstract (as-if) computation can fully
 replicate (has access to all the same information)  of computation
 performed by the natural world. This assumption can be made obvious as
 follows:
 Q. What is it like to be a human? It is like being a mind. There is
 information delivered into the mind by the action of brain material which
 bestows on the human intrinsic knowledge about the natural world outside
 the humanin the form of phenomenal consciousness. 

But the brain is made of physical components implementing physical proceses 
(neurons, 
proteins, ions,...) - why can't they be replaced by functionally identical 
components 
(artificial neurons, etc) and still deliver this consciousness?

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Colin Hales writes: 

 Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
 sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
 encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
 zombie.
 
 Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
 Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.
 
 Note that this zombie...
 a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
 b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
 c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.
 
 I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
 of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
 zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
 would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
 ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.
 
 No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
 model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
 novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
 same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.
 
 Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
 not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
 defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).
 
 The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
 least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
 cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
 scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
 survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).
 
 In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
 finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
 the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
 ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
 would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
 can be detected. The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
 exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
 fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
 programs are).
 ---
 Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
 control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
 tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
 kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
 phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
 whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
 is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
 whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
 programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
 programs!
 
 I am a zombie expert! No that didn't come out right...erm
 perhaps... I think I might be a world expert in zombies yes, that's
 better.
 :-)
 Colin Hales

I've had another think about this after reading the paper you sent me. It seems 
that 
you are making two separate claims. The first is that a zombie would not be 
able to 
behave like a conscious being in every situation: specifically, when called 
upon to be 
scientifically creative. If this is correct it would be a corollary of the 
Turing test, i.e., 
if it behaves as if it is conscious under every situation, then it's conscious. 
However, 
you are being quite specific in describing what types of behaviour could only 
occur 
in the setting of phenomenal consciousness. Could you perhaps be even more 
specific 
and give an example of the simplest possible behaviour or scientific theory 
which an 
unconscious machine would be unable to mimic?

The second claim is that a computer could only ever be a zombie, and therefore 
could 
never be scientifically creative. However, it is possible to agree with the 
first claim and 
reject this one. Perhaps if a computer were complex enough to truly mimic the 
behaviour 
of a conscious being, including being scientifically creative, then it would 
indeed be 
conscious. Perhaps our present computers are either unconscious because they 
are too 
primitive or they are indeed conscious, but at the very low end of a 
consciousness 
continuum, like single-celled organisms or organisms with relatively simple 
nervous systems 
like planaria.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou







 From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
 Subject: Re: computationalism and supervenience
 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 04:43:54 -0700
 
 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
 
   Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
Brent meeker writes:
   
 I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that 
 a conscious
 computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
 computationalism
 have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements 
 any conscious
 computation as evidence that there is something special and 
 non-computational
 about the brain. Maybe they're right.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 
 Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every 
 possible computation
 (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with 
 some special
 structure are conscious.
 
 
  It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say 
  that only computations
  implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be 
  conscious. You need the
  hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a 
  God-given programming
  language against which candidate computations can be measured.

 I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)

 Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical 
 sample argues
 for embodiment.

 Brent Meeker
   
I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except 
in rather simple cases,
like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, 
and it can also be implemented
so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, 
or 3 oranges and 2 apples,
or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
variety. The difficulty is that if we
say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, 
then should we also say
that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?
  
   No, they are only subroutines.
 
  But a computation is just a lot of subroutines; or equivalently, a 
  computation is just a subroutine in a larger
  computation or subroutine.
 
 The point is that the subroutine does not have the functionality of the
 programme.
 
 
 If so, where do we draw the line?
  
   At specific structures
 
  By structures do you mean hardware or software?
 
 Functional/algorithmic.
 
 Whatever software does is also done by hardware. Software is  an
 abstraction
 ofrm hardware, not something additional.
 
  I don't think it's possible to pin down software structures
  without reference to a particular machine and operating system. There is no 
  natural or God-given language.
 
 That isn't the point. I am not thiking of  a programme as a
 sequence
 of symbols. I am thinking of it as an abstract structure of branches
 and loops,
 the sort of thing that is represented by a flowchart.

That is what I mean
when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The 
physical structure and activity
of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to 
that of computer B implementing
program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should 
make the two machines
functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently 
conscious.
  
   So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
   baroque-reinterpretation,
   where is the problem ?
 
  Who interprets the meaning of baroque?
 
 There are objective ways of decifing that kiond of issue, e.g
 algortihmic information
 theory.

Aren't you getting into the realm of the Platonic forms here? Flowcharts are a 
representation of an algorithm, not 
the algorithm itself, even if we are talking about the simplest possible 
flowchart. Three marks on a piece of paper, 
or three objects, might be the simplest possible representation of the number 
3 but that is not the same as the number 
3. However, this does raise an important point about measure when every 
possible computation is implemented, eg. 
as discussed in Russell Standish' book, some recent posts by Hal Finney, giving 
a rationale for why we are living in an 
orderly universe described by a relatively simple set of physical laws, and why 
our conscious experience seems to derive 
from brains rather than rocks.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):
 
  I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you 
  have
  made the point several times that a computation depends on an 
  observer


 No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
 assuming it must.
 It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.
   
OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.
   
  for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious 
  (remember,
  this is an assumption) then in that special case an external 
  observer is not
  needed.

 Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
 computation would have some inherent structural property --
 I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).
   
I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
conscious
computation has some inherent structural property.
 
  I should have said, that the *hardware* has some special structural 
  property goes
  against computationalism. It is difficult to pin down the structure of a 
  computation
  without reference to a programming language or hardware.
 
 It is far from impossible. If it keeps returning to the same state,
 it is in a loop, for instance. I am sure that you are tiching to point
 out
 that loops can be made to appear or vanish by re-interpretation.
 My point is that it is RE interpretation. There is a baseline
 set by what is true of a system under minimal interpretation.
 
  The idea is that the
  same computation can look completely different on different computers,
 
 Not *completely* different. There will be a mapping, and it will
 be a lot simpler than one of your fanciful ones.
 
  the corollary
  of which is that any computer (or physical process) may be implementing any
  computation, we just might not know about it.
 
 That doesn't follow. The computational structure that a physical
 systems is really implementing is the computational structure that
 can
 be reverse-engineered under a minimally complex interpretation.
 
 You *can* introduce more complex mappings, but you don't *have* to. It
 is
 an artificial problem.

You may be able to show that a particular interpretation is the simplest one, 
but it 
certainly doesn't have to be the only interpretation. Practical computers and 
operating 
systems are deliberately designed to be more complex than they absolutely need 
to be 
so that they can be backward compatible with older software, or so that it is 
easier for 
humans to program them, troubleshoot etc. A COBOL program will do the same 
computation 
as the equivalent C program, on whatever machine it is run on. And I'm sure the 
physical 
activity that goes on in the human brain in order to add two numbers would make 
the most 
psychotic designer of electronic computers seem simple and orderly by 
comparison. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
 
That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees 
with me on the list, and
I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: 
every physical system
implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements 
any conscious
computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or 
the idea that a
computation can be conscious in the first place.
  
  
   You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
   system
   implements one computation, whether it is a
   conscious computation or not. I don't see what
   contradicts it.
 
  Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
  as every rock
  is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it.
 
 The rock-hammer and the bust of Einstein are mere possibilities. You
 don't
 have an argument to the effect that every physical sytem is
 implements every computation. Every physical systesm
 could implelement any computation under suitable re-interpretation,
 but that is a mere possibility unless someone does the re-interpreting,
 --
 in which case it is in fact the system+interpreter combination that is
 doing
 the  re-intrepreting.

OK, but then you have the situation whereby a very complex, and to our mind 
disorganised, conscious 
computer might be designed and built by aliens, then discovered by us after the 
aliens have become 
extinct and their design blueprints, programming manuals and so on have all 
been lost. We plug in the 
computer (all we can figure out about it is the voltage and current it needs to 
run) and it starts whirring 
and flashing.  Although we have no idea what it's up to when it does this, had 
we been the aliens, we 
would have been able to determine from observation that it was doing philosophy 
or proving mathematical 
theorems. The point is, would we now say that it is *not* doing philosophy or 
proving mathematical theorems 
because there are no aliens to observe it and interpret it? 

You might say, the interpretation has still occurred in the initial design, 
even though the designers are no 
more. But what if exactly the same physical computer had come about by 
incredible accident, as a result of 
a storm bringing together the appropriate metal, semiconductors, insulators 
etc.: if the purposely built computer 
were conscious, wouldn't its accidental twin also be conscious?

Finally, reverse the last step: a computer is as a matter of fact thrown 
together randomly from various 
components, but it is like no computer ever designed, and just seems to whir 
and flash randomly. Given that there 
are no universal laws of computer design that everyone has to follow, isn't it 
possible that some bizarre alien 
engineer *could* have put this strange machine together, so that its seemingly 
random activity to that alien 
engineer would have been purposely designed to implement conscious computation? 
And if so, is it any more 
reasonable to deny that this computer is conscious because its designer has not 
yet been born than it is to deny 
that the first computer was conscious because its designer has died, or because 
it was made accidentally rather 
than purposely built in a factory?

Stathis Papaioannou

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:
 
 Brent Meeker wrote:
  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Peter Jones writes:
  
  
  That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with 
  me on the list, and
  I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: 
  every physical system
  implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements 
  any conscious
  computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or 
  the idea that a
  computation can be conscious in the first place.
  
  
  You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
  system
  implements one computation, whether it is a
  conscious computation or not. I don't see what
  contradicts it.
  
  
   Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial 
   sense, as every rock
   is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside 
   it. Those three aspects
   of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
   appreciate them.
   Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping 
   are calculating pi
   that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
   determining that mapping,
   and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer 
   unless you built another
   general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which 
   does not mean the rock
   isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer).
 
  I think there are some constraints on what the rock must be doing in order 
  that it
  can be said to be calculating pi instead of the interpreting computer.  For 
  example
  if the rock states were just 1,0,1,0,1,0... then there are several 
  arguments based on
  for example information theory that would rule out that being a computation 
  of pi.
 
 Stathis would no doubt say you just need a dictionary that says;
 
 Let the first 1 be 3
 let the first 0 be 1
 let the second 1 be 4
 let the second 0 be 1
 let the third 1 be 5
 let the third 0 be 9
 ...
 
 But there are good AIT reasons for saying that all the complexity is
 in the dictionary

Yes, that's just what I would say. The only purpose served by the rock is to 
provide the real world 
dynamism part of the computation, even if it does this simply by mapping lines 
of code to the otherwise 
idle passage of time. The rock would be completely irrelevant but for this, and 
in fact Bruno's idea is that the 
rock (or whatever) *is* irrelevant, and the computation is implemented by 
virtue of its status as a Platonic 
object. It would then perhaps be more accurate to say that physical reality 
maps onto the computation, rather 
than the computation maps onto physical reality. I think this is more elegant 
than having useless chunks of 
matter implementing every computation, but I can't quite see a way to eliminate 
all matter, since the only 
empirical starting point we have is that *some* matter appears to implement 
some computations. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

  What if the computer is built according to some ridiculously complex plan, 
  plugged in, then all the engineers, manuals,
  etc. disappear. If it was conscious to begin with, does it suddenly cease 
  being conscious because no-one is able to
  understand it?
 If it was consicous, it ws consicus as the result
 of whatever computation it is performing, and that is *not* the
 computation resulting froma complex process of re-interpretation.
 As I have shown, such a process is a separate computation in
 which the computer figures as a subrouting -- possibly
 even an unimportant one.
 
 It is also possible that the computer isn't conscious, but
 the total system of comptuer+reinterpretation is conscious
 In that case, if the apparatus that implements the mapping is
 dismantled,
 the consciousness disappears.
 
 The thing to remember is that just because one physical
 systems is desgnated a computer, and another isn't, that doesn't
 mean the first systesm is in fact doing all the computing. The
 computing
 is taking place where the activity and the complexity is taking place.

You could perhaps consistently claim this, but it would be difficult to defend. 
The interpretation need not be a dynamic 
activity, like talking to your programmer or interacting with the environment 
via sensors and effectors. It could just be a 
potential interaction: I have the manual on my desk, and if I wanted to I could 
study it, take the case off my computer, 
attach an oscilloscope probe, and figure out what it is up to while it is 
plugged in. At what point does the computer 
gain consciousness: when I read the manual? When I have understood what I have 
read? When I attach the probe? Or 
was it conscious all along because I merely had the potential to understand it? 
What if someone sneaks in while I am on a 
break and maliciously alters the manual? What if I have a stroke and lose the 
ability to read, or the whole population of the 
Earth is wiped out by a supernova?

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

 We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person 
 sense, except by analogy with our 
 own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what 
 can be known by observing an 
 entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the 
 entity, yourself. 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 
 But you are simply positing that there is such a difference.  That's easy 
 to do 
 because we know so little about how brains work.  But consider the engine 
 in your 
 car.  Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car?  You know a 
 lot about 
 it, but how do you know that you know all of it?  Does that mean your car 
 engine is 
 conscious?  I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what 
 it's like.
  
  
  No, I don't know what it's like to be the engine in my car. I would guess 
  it isn't like anything, but I might be wrong. 
  If I am wrong, then my car engine may indeed be conscious, but in a 
  completely alien way, which I cannot 
  understand no matter how much I learn about car mechanics, because I am not 
  myself a car engine. 
 
 Then doesn't the same apply to your hypothetical conscious, but alien 
 computer whose
 interpretative manuals are all lost?

Certainly: it might be conscious, but I couldn't even guess at this without 
some understanding of how it worked 
or some ability to interact with it. However, that's my problem, not 
necessarily the computer's, which might be 
happily dreaming or philosophising.

 I think 
  the same would happen if we encountered an alien civilization. We would 
  probably assume that they were 
  conscious because we would observe that they exhibit intelligent behaviour, 
  but only if by coincidence they 
  had sensations, emotions etc. which reminded us of our own would we be able 
  to guess what their conscious 
  experience was actually like, and even then we would not be sure.
 
 How could their inner experiences - sensations, emotions, etc - remind us of
 anything?  We don't have access to them.  It would have to be their 
 interactions with
 the world and us that would cause us to infer their inner experiences; just 
 as I
 infer when my dog is happy or fearful.

That's how you infer that your dog has feelings, but your dog's actually having 
the feelings is not contingent on 
your inferences, except insofar as its feelings change according to your 
reaction to them. However, you did write 
happy and fearful because they are feelings you understand. There may be a 
special emotion that dogs alone
experience when they are burying a bone and simultaneously hear a 30 KHz tone, 
for example, and we could never 
hope to understand what that is like no matter how much we study it 
scientifically.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
  From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
  To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
  Subject: Re: computationalism and supervenience
  Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 04:43:54 -0700
 
 
 
  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Peter Jones writes:
  
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:

  I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say 
  that a conscious
  computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
  computationalism
  have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything 
  implements any conscious
  computation as evidence that there is something special and 
  non-computational
  about the brain. Maybe they're right.
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
  
  Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every 
  possible computation
  (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations 
  with some special
  structure are conscious.
  
  
   It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say 
   that only computations
   implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be 
   conscious. You need the
   hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a 
   God-given programming
   language against which candidate computations can be measured.
 
  I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
 
  Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our 
  empirical sample argues
  for embodiment.
 
  Brent Meeker

 I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation 
 except in rather simple cases,
 like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, 
 and it can also be implemented
 so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 
 oranges, or 3 oranges and 2 apples,
 or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in 
 infinite variety. The difficulty is that if we
 say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is 
 conscious, then should we also say
 that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?
   
No, they are only subroutines.
  
   But a computation is just a lot of subroutines; or equivalently, a 
   computation is just a subroutine in a larger
   computation or subroutine.
 
  The point is that the subroutine does not have the functionality of the
  programme.
 
 
  If so, where do we draw the line?
   
At specific structures
  
   By structures do you mean hardware or software?
 
  Functional/algorithmic.
 
  Whatever software does is also done by hardware. Software is  an
  abstraction
  ofrm hardware, not something additional.
 
   I don't think it's possible to pin down software structures
   without reference to a particular machine and operating system. There is 
   no natural or God-given language.
 
  That isn't the point. I am not thiking of  a programme as a
  sequence
  of symbols. I am thinking of it as an abstract structure of branches
  and loops,
  the sort of thing that is represented by a flowchart.
 
 That is what I mean
 when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The 
 physical structure and activity
 of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to 
 that of computer B implementing
 program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which 
 should make the two machines
 functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently 
 conscious.
   
So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
baroque-reinterpretation,
where is the problem ?
  
   Who interprets the meaning of baroque?
 
  There are objective ways of decifing that kiond of issue, e.g
  algortihmic information
  theory.

 Aren't you getting into the realm of the Platonic forms here?

No.I am getting into the realms of abstaction. Platonistists think
abstracta exist plantoically. Extreme nominalists reject abstracta
completely. All points in between accept abstracta, but not as having
Platonic existence.

 Flowcharts are a representation of an algorithm, not
 the algorithm itself, even if we are talking about the simplest possible 
 flowchart. Three marks on a piece of paper,
 or three objects, might be the simplest possible representation of the number 
 3 but that is not the same as the number
 3.

Yes. I only said that what a computation reality is , is something
*like*
a flowchart. The point is that what a computaton really is doesn't
require inpteretation. It is is just *that* particular construction
of loops and branches, in the same way that a square is a
four-sided figure.

 However, this does raise an important point about measure when every possible 
 computation is implemented, eg.
 as discussed in Russell Standish' book, some recent posts by Hal Finney, 
 giving a rationale for why we

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Peter Jones writes:
  
 That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees 
 with me on the list, and
 I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: 
 every physical system
 implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements 
 any conscious
 computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or 
 the idea that a
 computation can be conscious in the first place.
   
   
You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
system
implements one computation, whether it is a
conscious computation or not. I don't see what
contradicts it.
  
   Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial 
   sense, as every rock
   is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside 
   it.
 
  The rock-hammer and the bust of Einstein are mere possibilities. You
  don't
  have an argument to the effect that every physical sytem is
  implements every computation. Every physical systesm
  could implelement any computation under suitable re-interpretation,
  but that is a mere possibility unless someone does the re-interpreting,
  --
  in which case it is in fact the system+interpreter combination that is
  doing
  the  re-intrepreting.

 OK, but then you have the situation whereby a very complex, and to our mind 
 disorganised, conscious
 computer might be designed and built by aliens, then discovered by us after 
 the aliens have become
 extinct and their design blueprints, programming manuals and so on have all 
 been lost. We plug in the
 computer (all we can figure out about it is the voltage and current it needs 
 to run) and it starts whirring
 and flashing.  Although we have no idea what it's up to when it does this, 
 had we been the aliens, we
 would have been able to determine from observation that it was doing 
 philosophy or proving mathematical
 theorems. The point is, would we now say that it is *not* doing philosophy or 
 proving mathematical theorems
 because there are no aliens to observe it and interpret it?

Yes, and we would be correct, because the interpretation by th ealiens
is a part of the process.
The computer we recover is only one component, a subroutine.

If you only recover part of an artifiact, it is only natural that you
cannot
necessarily figure out the funtion of the whole.

 You might say, the interpretation has still occurred in the initial design, 
 even though the designers are no
 more. But what if exactly the same physical computer had come about by 
 incredible accident, as a result of
 a storm bringing together the appropriate metal, semiconductors, insulators 
 etc.: if the purposely built computer
 were conscious, wouldn't its accidental twin also be conscious?

Interpretation is an activity. If the total systems of
computer+intepretation is
consicous, that *would* be true of an accidental system, if the
interpretational subssytem were accidentally formed as wll, Otherwise,
not.

 Finally, reverse the last step: a computer is as a matter of fact thrown 
 together randomly from various
 components, but it is like no computer ever designed, and just seems to whir 
 and flash randomly. Given that there
 are no universal laws of computer design that everyone has to follow, isn't 
 it possible that some bizarre alien
 engineer *could* have put this strange machine together, so that its 
 seemingly random activity to that alien
 engineer would have been purposely designed to implement conscious 
 computation?

To the alien engineer means interpreted by the alien
engineer. Interpretation is an activity, so it means additional
computaiton. All your
examples are of subsytems that *could* be conscious
if they were plugged into a specific larger system.

 And if so, is it any more
 reasonable to deny that this computer is conscious because its designer has 
 not yet been born than it is to deny
 that the first computer was conscious because its designer has died, or 
 because it was made accidentally rather
 than purposely built in a factory?


Interpretation is an activity. Possible designers and dictionaries
don't lead to actual
consciousness.

 Stathis Papaioannou

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):
  
   I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but 
   you have
   made the point several times that a computation depends on an 
   observer
 
 
  No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
  assuming it must.
  It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.

 OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.

   for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious 
   (remember,
   this is an assumption) then in that special case an external 
   observer is not
   needed.
 
  Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
  computation would have some inherent structural property --
  I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).

 I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
 conscious
 computation has some inherent structural property.
  
   I should have said, that the *hardware* has some special structural 
   property goes
   against computationalism. It is difficult to pin down the structure of 
   a computation
   without reference to a programming language or hardware.
 
  It is far from impossible. If it keeps returning to the same state,
  it is in a loop, for instance. I am sure that you are tiching to point
  out
  that loops can be made to appear or vanish by re-interpretation.
  My point is that it is RE interpretation. There is a baseline
  set by what is true of a system under minimal interpretation.
 
   The idea is that the
   same computation can look completely different on different computers,
 
  Not *completely* different. There will be a mapping, and it will
  be a lot simpler than one of your fanciful ones.
 
   the corollary
   of which is that any computer (or physical process) may be implementing 
   any
   computation, we just might not know about it.
 
  That doesn't follow. The computational structure that a physical
  systems is really implementing is the computational structure that
  can
  be reverse-engineered under a minimally complex interpretation.
 
  You *can* introduce more complex mappings, but you don't *have* to. It
  is
  an artificial problem.

 You may be able to show that a particular interpretation is the simplest one, 
 but it
 certainly doesn't have to be the only interpretation. Practical computers and 
 operating
 systems are deliberately designed to be more complex than they absolutely 
 need to be
 so that they can be backward compatible with older software, or so that it is 
 easier for
 humans to program them, troubleshoot etc.

Of course. That is all part of their funcitonality. All that means is
that if
you reverse-egineer it , you conclude tha this is a programme with
debug code
, or this is an application with self-diagnostic abilities. And you
wouldn't be saying anything wrong.

  A COBOL program will do the same computation
 as the equivalent C program, on whatever machine it is run on.


Of course. The programme is really the algorithm, not the
code.

 And I'm sure the physical
 activity that goes on in the human brain in order to add two numbers would 
 make the most
 psychotic designer of electronic computers seem simple and orderly by 
 comparison.

Of course, Because humans add numbers together consciously. The
consciousness
is part of the functionallity. If it went missing during the
reverse-engineering process, *that* would be a problem.

 Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Colin Hales writes: 
 
 
Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
zombie.

Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.

Note that this zombie...
a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.

I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.

No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.

Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).

The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).

In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
can be detected. The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
programs are).
---
Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
programs!

I am a zombie expert! No that didn't come out right...erm
perhaps... I think I might be a world expert in zombies yes, that's
better.
:-)
Colin Hales
 
 
 I've had another think about this after reading the paper you sent me. It 
 seems that 
 you are making two separate claims. The first is that a zombie would not be 
 able to 
 behave like a conscious being in every situation: specifically, when called 
 upon to be 
 scientifically creative. If this is correct it would be a corollary of the 
 Turing test, i.e., 
 if it behaves as if it is conscious under every situation, then it's 
 conscious. However, 
 you are being quite specific in describing what types of behaviour could only 
 occur 
 in the setting of phenomenal consciousness. Could you perhaps be even more 
 specific 
 and give an example of the simplest possible behaviour or scientific theory 
 which an 
 unconscious machine would be unable to mimic?
 
 The second claim is that a computer could only ever be a zombie, and 
 therefore could 
 never be scientifically creative. However, it is possible to agree with the 
 first claim and 
 reject this one. Perhaps if a computer were complex enough to truly mimic the 
 behaviour 
 of a conscious being, including being scientifically creative, then it would 
 indeed be 
 conscious. Perhaps our present computers are either unconscious because they 
 are too 
 primitive or they are indeed conscious, but at the very low end of a 
 consciousness 
 continuum, like single-celled organisms or organisms with relatively simple 
 nervous systems 
 like planaria.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

I even know some spirit dualist who allow that spirit might attach to 
sufficiently 
complex computers and hence make them conscious or ensoul them.

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-15 Thread Stathis Papaioannou


Peter Jones writes:

  That is what I mean
  when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. 
  The physical structure and activity
  of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to 
  that of computer B implementing
  program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which 
  should make the two machines
  functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently 
  conscious.

 So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
 baroque-reinterpretation,
 where is the problem ?
   
Who interprets the meaning of baroque?
  
   There are objective ways of decifing that kiond of issue, e.g
   algortihmic information
   theory.
 
  Aren't you getting into the realm of the Platonic forms here?
 
 No.I am getting into the realms of abstaction. Platonistists think
 abstracta exist plantoically. Extreme nominalists reject abstracta
 completely. All points in between accept abstracta, but not as having
 Platonic existence.
 
  Flowcharts are a representation of an algorithm, not
  the algorithm itself, even if we are talking about the simplest possible 
  flowchart. Three marks on a piece of paper,
  or three objects, might be the simplest possible representation of the 
  number 3 but that is not the same as the number
  3.
 
 Yes. I only said that what a computation reality is , is something
 *like*
 a flowchart. The point is that what a computaton really is doesn't
 require inpteretation. It is is just *that* particular construction
 of loops and branches, in the same way that a square is a
 four-sided figure.

Well, do computations require interpretation or don't they? Perhaps I haven't 
been quite clear on this either. I agree with you 
that what a computation really is doesn't require any interpretation. If it's 
the physical activity in a piece of matter then the 
same physical activity will obviously occur whether anyone observes it or not. 
If it's an abstraction like the number 3 then 
that abstraction will also be valid whether there are any people around to have 
the idea or not (which by the way is all I mean 
by saying that the number 3 exists in Platonia). If it's a useful 
computation, such as that occurring in an industrial robot 
shovelling coal, then it will only be useful if there is coal to be shovelled 
and perhaps a reason to shovel it. If it's an interesting 
computation such a computer game or a spreadsheet it will only be interesting 
if there is someone around to appreciate it, although 
it will still be the same computation if it occurs without anyone to interpret 
it. But in the special case of a *conscious* computation, 
provided that its consciousness is not in some way contingent on interaction 
with others (eg. the computer automatically turns itself 
off or commits suicide if there is no-one around to talk to), then it is 
conscious regardless of what else happens in the universe, 
regardless of whether its designers are all dead, and regardless of who made it 
in the first place or why.

  However, this does raise an important point about measure when every 
  possible computation is implemented, eg.
  as discussed in Russell Standish' book, some recent posts by Hal Finney, 
  giving a rationale for why we are living in an
  orderly universe described by a relatively simple set of physical laws, and 
  why our conscious experience seems to derive
  from brains rather than rocks.
 
 Why should I worry about what happens when every computation is
 implemented,
 when there is no evidence for it ?

There's no direct evidence, as there is no direct evidence of MWI, but as we 
have been debating, I think it is a consequence of 
the idea that consciousness is a computation, and the same computation 
implemented on a different substrate should lead to the 
same consciousness.

Stathis Papaiaonnou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

  I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
  rather simple cases, 
  like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and 
  it can also be implemented 
  so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 
  3 oranges and 2 apples, 
  or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
  variety. The difficulty is that if we 
  say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, 
  then should we also say 
  that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious? If so, where do we 
  draw the line? 
 
 I'm not sure I understand your example.  Are you saying that by simply 
 existing, two 
 apples and 3 oranges compute 2+3=5?  If so I would disagree.  I would say it 
 is our 
 comprehending them as individual objects and also as a set that is the 
 computation. 
 Just hanging there on the trees they may be computing apple hanging on a 
 tree, 
 apple hanging on a tree,... but they're not computing 2+3=5.

What about my example in an earlier post of beads on an abacus? You can slide 2 
beads to the left, then another 
3 beads to the left, and count a total of 5 beads; or 2 pairs of beads and 3 
pairs of beads and count a total of 5 
pairs of beads, or any other variation. Perhaps it seems a silly example when 
discussing consciousness, but the most 
elaborate (and putatively conscious) computation can be reduced to a complex 
bead-sliding exercise. And if sliding 
beads computes 2+3=5, why not if 2 birds and then 3 birds happen to land on a 
tree, or a flock of birds of which 2 
are red lands on one tree and another flock of birds of which 3 are red lands 
on an adjacent tree? It is true that these 
birds and beads are not of much consequence computationally unless someone is 
there to observe them and interpret 
them, but what about the computer that is conscious chug-chugging away all on 
its own? 
 
 That is what I mean 
  when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. 
 
 But as you've noted before the computation is almost all in the mapping.  And 
 not 
 just in the map, but in the application of the map - which is something we 
 do.  That 
 action can't be abstracted away.  You can't just say there's a physical 
 system and 
 there's a manual that would map it into some computation and stop there as 
 though the 
 computation has been done.  The mapping, an action, still needs to be 
 performed.

What if the computer is built according to some ridiculously complex plan, 
plugged in, then all the engineers, manuals, 
etc. disappear. If it was conscious to begin with, does it suddenly cease being 
conscious because no-one is able to 
understand it? It could have been designed according to the radioactive decay 
patterns of a sacred stone, in which 
case without the documentation, its internal states might appear completely 
random. With the documentation, it may be 
possible to understand what it is doing or even interact with it, and you have 
said previously that it is the potential for 
interaction that allows it to be conscious, but does that mean it gradually 
becomes less conscious as pages of the manual 
are ripped out one by one and destroyed, even though the computer itself does 
not change its activity as a result?

 The physical structure and activity 
  of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
  computer B implementing 
  program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should 
  make the two machines 
  functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently 
  conscious. 
 
 I don't see any problem with supposing that A and B are equally conscious (or 
 unconscious).

But there is a mapping under which any machine B is emulating a machine A. 
Figuring out this mapping does not change the 
physical activity of either A or B. You can argue that therefore the physical 
activity of A or B is irrelevant and consciousness 
is implemented non-corporeally by virtue of its existence as a Platonic object; 
or you can argue that this is clearly nonsense and 
consciousness is implemented as a result of some special physical property of a 
particular machine.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-14 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent meeker writes:

  We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person 
  sense, except by analogy with our 
  own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what 
  can be known by observing an 
  entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the 
  entity, yourself. 
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
 
 But you are simply positing that there is such a difference.  That's easy to 
 do 
 because we know so little about how brains work.  But consider the engine in 
 your 
 car.  Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car?  You know a 
 lot about 
 it, but how do you know that you know all of it?  Does that mean your car 
 engine is 
 conscious?  I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what 
 it's like.

No, I don't know what it's like to be the engine in my car. I would guess it 
isn't like anything, but I might be wrong. 
If I am wrong, then my car engine may indeed be conscious, but in a completely 
alien way, which I cannot 
understand no matter how much I learn about car mechanics, because I am not 
myself a car engine. I think 
the same would happen if we encountered an alien civilization. We would 
probably assume that they were 
conscious because we would observe that they exhibit intelligent behaviour, but 
only if by coincidence they 
had sensations, emotions etc. which reminded us of our own would we be able to 
guess what their conscious 
experience was actually like, and even then we would not be sure.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-14 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:


  I don't recall anything about all computations implementing consciousness?
 
  Brent Meeker

 OK, this is the basis of our disagreement. I understood computationalism as 
 the idea that it is the
 actual computation that gives rise to consciousness. For example, if you have 
 a conscious robot
 shovelling coal, you could take the computations going on in the robot's 
 processor and run it on
 another similar computer with sham inputs and the same conscious experience 
 would result. And
 if the program runs on one computer, it can run on another computer with the 
 appropriate emulation
 software (the most general case of which is the UTM), which should also 
 result in the same conscious
 experience. I suppose it is possible that *actually shovelling the coal* is 
 essential for the coal-shovelling
 experience, and an emulation of that activity just wouldn't do it. However, 
 how can the robot tell the
 difference between the coal and the simulated coal, and how can it know if it 
 is running on Windows XP
 or Mac OS emulating Windows XP?


That has nothing to do with all computations implementing consciousness


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
rather simple cases, 
like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and it 
can also be implemented 
so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 3 
oranges and 2 apples, 
or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
variety. The difficulty is that if we 
say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, then 
should we also say 
that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious? If so, where do we draw 
the line? 

I'm not sure I understand your example.  Are you saying that by simply 
existing, two 
apples and 3 oranges compute 2+3=5?  If so I would disagree.  I would say it 
is our 
comprehending them as individual objects and also as a set that is the 
computation. 
Just hanging there on the trees they may be computing apple hanging on a 
tree, 
apple hanging on a tree,... but they're not computing 2+3=5.
 
 
 What about my example in an earlier post of beads on an abacus? You can slide 
 2 beads to the left, then another 
 3 beads to the left, and count a total of 5 beads; or 2 pairs of beads and 3 
 pairs of beads and count a total of 5 
 pairs of beads, or any other variation. Perhaps it seems a silly example when 
 discussing consciousness, but the most 
 elaborate (and putatively conscious) computation can be reduced to a complex 
 bead-sliding exercise. And if sliding 
 beads computes 2+3=5, why not if 2 birds and then 3 birds happen to land on a 
 tree, or a flock of birds of which 2 
 are red lands on one tree and another flock of birds of which 3 are red lands 
 on an adjacent tree? It is true that these 
 birds and beads are not of much consequence computationally unless someone is 
 there to observe them and interpret 
 them, but what about the computer that is conscious chug-chugging away all on 
 its own? 

No it's not a silly example; it's just that it seems that you are hypothesizing 
that 
I am providing the computation by seeing the apples as a pair, by seeing the 
beads as 
a triple and a pair and then as a quintuple.  Above, this exchange began with 
you 
posing this as an example of a disembodied computation - but then the examples 
seem 
to depend on some (embodied) person witnessing them in order that the *be* 
computations.  I guess I'm not convinced that it makes sense to say that 
anything can 
be a computation; other than in the trivial sense that it's a simulation of 
itself. 
  I agree that there is a mapping to a computation - but in most cases the 
mapping is 
such that it seems more reasonable to say the computation is in the application 
of 
the mapping.  And I dont' mean  that the mapping is complex - a mapping from my 
brain 
states to yours would no doubt be very complex.  I think the characteristic 
that 
would allow us to say the thinking was not in the mapping is something like 
whether 
it was static (like a look-up table) and not to large in some sense.

 
That is what I mean 
when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. 

But as you've noted before the computation is almost all in the mapping.  And 
not 
just in the map, but in the application of the map - which is something we 
do.  That 
action can't be abstracted away.  You can't just say there's a physical 
system and 
there's a manual that would map it into some computation and stop there as 
though the 
computation has been done.  The mapping, an action, still needs to be 
performed.
 
 
 What if the computer is built according to some ridiculously complex plan, 
 plugged in, then all the engineers, manuals, 
 etc. disappear. If it was conscious to begin with, does it suddenly cease 
 being conscious because no-one is able to 
 understand it? It could have been designed according to the radioactive decay 
 patterns of a sacred stone, in which 
 case without the documentation, its internal states might appear completely 
 random. With the documentation, it may be 
 possible to understand what it is doing or even interact with it, and you 
 have said previously that it is the potential for 
 interaction that allows it to be conscious, but does that mean it gradually 
 becomes less conscious as pages of the manual 
 are ripped out one by one and destroyed, even though the computer itself does 
 not change its activity as a result?
 
 
The physical structure and activity 
of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
computer B implementing 
program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should make 
the two machines 
functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently conscious. 

I don't see any problem with supposing that A and B are equally conscious (or 
unconscious).
 
 
 But there is a mapping under which any machine B is emulating a machine A. 

But when is this mapping doing the computing 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-14 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person 
sense, except by analogy with our 
own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what 
can be known by observing an 
entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the 
entity, yourself. 

Stathis Papaioannou

But you are simply positing that there is such a difference.  That's easy to 
do 
because we know so little about how brains work.  But consider the engine in 
your 
car.  Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car?  You know a 
lot about 
it, but how do you know that you know all of it?  Does that mean your car 
engine is 
conscious?  I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what 
it's like.
 
 
 No, I don't know what it's like to be the engine in my car. I would guess it 
 isn't like anything, but I might be wrong. 
 If I am wrong, then my car engine may indeed be conscious, but in a 
 completely alien way, which I cannot 
 understand no matter how much I learn about car mechanics, because I am not 
 myself a car engine. 

Then doesn't the same apply to your hypothetical conscious, but alien computer 
whose
interpretative manuals are all lost?

I think 
 the same would happen if we encountered an alien civilization. We would 
 probably assume that they were 
 conscious because we would observe that they exhibit intelligent behaviour, 
 but only if by coincidence they 
 had sensations, emotions etc. which reminded us of our own would we be able 
 to guess what their conscious 
 experience was actually like, and even then we would not be sure.

How could their inner experiences - sensations, emotions, etc - remind us of
anything?  We don't have access to them.  It would have to be their 
interactions with
the world and us that would cause us to infer their inner experiences; just as I
infer when my dog is happy or fearful.

Brent Meeker


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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Thanks for the quotes from Dennett's Freedom Evolves. The physiological 
experiments are interesting, 
but the fact is, even if they can be shown to be flawed in some way, it would 
still be entirely consistent 
with our behaviour and our subjective experience of free will if we acted 
first, then noticed what we had 
done and decided we had acted freely. 

As for FW being a combination of random and determined, it has to be, doesn't 
it? What else is there? 
Roulette wheels also have to be a combination of random and determined, and if 
you can pin down the 
determined part, you could be rich.

Stathis Papaioannou




 From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
 Subject: Re: computationalism and supervenience
 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 09:15:12 -0700
 
 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Brent Meeker writes:
 
   I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
   withdraw it's
   hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the 
   robot with
   feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure 
   it would be
   conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
   noted the
   painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's 
   strong negative
   affect; then I think it would be conscious.
   
   
It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
*before* they experience
the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms 
with the most primitive
central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an 
afterthought to teach us a
lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of 
evolutionary utility consciousness
does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning.
  
   Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of 
   it. Are you
   familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?
 
  These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, 
  motor cortex activity
  actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
  fraction of a second.
  In other words, we act first, then decide to act.
 
 Does Benjamin Libet's Research Empirically Disprove Free Will ?
 Scientifically informed sceptics about FW often quote a famous
 experiment by benjamin Libet, which supposedly shows that a kind of
 signal called a Readiness Potential, detectable by electrodes,
 precedes a conscious decisions, and is a reliable indicator of the
 decision, and thus -- so the claim goes -- indicates that our decisions
 are not ours but made for us by unconsious processes.
 
 In fact, Libet himself doesn't draw a sweepingly sceptical conclusion
 from his own results. For one thing, Readiness Potentials are not
 always followed by actions. he believes it is possible for
 consicousness to intervene with a veto to the action:
 
 The initiation of the freely voluntary act appears to begin in the
 brain unconsciously, well before the person consciously knows he wants
 to act! Is there, then, any role for conscious will in the performing
 of a voluntary act?...To answer this it must be recognised that
 conscious will (W) does appear about 150milliseconds before the muscsle
 is activated, even though it follows the onset ofthe RP. An interval of
 150msec would allow enough time in which the conscious function might
 affec the final outcome of the volitional process.
 
 (Libet, quoted in Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett, p. 230 )
 
 This suggests our conscious minds may not have free will but
 rather free won't!
 
 (V.S Ramachandran, quoted in Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett, p.
 231 )
 
 However, it is quite possible that the Libertarian doesn't need to
 appeal to free won't to avoid the conclusion that free won't doesn't
 exist.
 
 Libet tells when the RP occurs using electrodes. But how does Libet he
 when conscious decison-making occurs ? He relies on the subject
 reporting the position of the hand of a clock. But, as Dennett points
 out, this is only a report of where it seems to the subject that
 various things come together, not of the objective time at which they
 occur.
 
 Suppose Libet knows that your readiness potential peaked at second
 6,810 of the experimental trial, and the clock dot was straight down
 (which is what you reported you saw) at millisecond 7,005. How many
 milliseconds should he have to add to this number to get the time you
 were conscious of it? The light gets from your clock face to your
 eyeball almost instantaneously, but the path of the signals from retina
 through lateral geniculate nucleus to striate cortex takes 5 to 10
 milliseonds -- a paltry fraction of the 300 milliseconds offset, but
 how much longer does it take them to get to you. (Or are you located in
 the striate cortex?) The visual signals have to be processed before
 they arrive

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

  If consciousness supervenes on inherent non-interprtation-dependent
  features,
  it can supervene on features which are binary, either present or
  absent.
 
  For instance, whether a programme examines or modifies its own code is
  surely
  such a feature.
 
 
  Even if computationalism were false and only those machines
   specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a 
   continuum, across
   different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to 
   death. The possibility
   that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or 
   at some point in the
   evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.
 
  Surely it comes on like a light whenver you wake up.

 Being alive/dead or conscious/unconscious would seem to be a binary property, 
 but it's
 hard to believe (though not impossible) that there would be one circuit, 
 neuron or line of
 code that makes the difference between conscious and unconscious.

It's easy to believe there is one line of code that makes the
difference between 
 a spreadsheet and a BSOD.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Brent meeker writes:
  
I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
conscious
computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
computationalism
have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements 
any conscious
computation as evidence that there is something special and 
non-computational
about the brain. Maybe they're right.

Stathis Papaioannou

Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every 
possible computation
(which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with 
some special
structure are conscious.


 It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that 
 only computations
 implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be 
 conscious. You need the
 hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a 
 God-given programming
 language against which candidate computations can be measured.
   
I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
   
Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical 
sample argues
for embodiment.
   
Brent Meeker
  
   I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
   rather simple cases,
   like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and 
   it can also be implemented
   so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, 
   or 3 oranges and 2 apples,
   or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
   variety. The difficulty is that if we
   say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, 
   then should we also say
   that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?
 
  No, they are only subroutines.

 But a computation is just a lot of subroutines; or equivalently, a 
 computation is just a subroutine in a larger
 computation or subroutine.

The point is that the subroutine does not have the functionality of the
programme.


If so, where do we draw the line?
 
  At specific structures

 By structures do you mean hardware or software?

Functional/algorithmic.

Whatever software does is also done by hardware. Software is  an
abstraction
ofrm hardware, not something additional.

 I don't think it's possible to pin down software structures
 without reference to a particular machine and operating system. There is no 
 natural or God-given language.

That isn't the point. I am not thiking of  a programme as a
sequence
of symbols. I am thinking of it as an abstract structure of branches
and loops,
the sort of thing that is represented by a flowchart.

   That is what I mean
   when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The 
   physical structure and activity
   of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that 
   of computer B implementing
   program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should 
   make the two machines
   functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently 
   conscious.
 
  So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
  baroque-reinterpretation,
  where is the problem ?

 Who interprets the meaning of baroque?

There are objective ways of decifing that kiond of issue, e.g
algortihmic information
theory.

   Maybe this is wrong, eg.
   there is something special about the insulation in the wires of machine 
   A, so that only A can be conscious.
   But that is no longer computationalism.
 
  No. But what would force that conclusion on us ? Why can't
  consciousness
  attach to features more gneral than hardware, but less general than one
  of your re-interpretations ?

 Because there is no natural or God-given computer architecture or language.

Which is prcisely why computationalists should regard
consicousness as supervening on a functional structure that could
be implemented on a varierty of hardware platofirms and ina variety
of langauges. After all, we can talk about a quicksort without
specifiying whether it is a PC quicksort of a Mac quicksort, and
without specifiying
whether it is a Pascal quicksort or a Java quicksort.

The right level of abstraction is very much a part of standard
comouter science.

  You could say that consciousness
 does follow a natural architecture: that of the brain. But that could mean 
 you would have a zombie if you tried
 to copy brain function with a digital computer, or with a digital computer 
 not running Mr. Gates' operating system.

It depends on the level of astraction.

I am not saying computationalism is a necessary truth, so it doesn't
rebut anything I am saying to point out that functionalism might not
succeed.

The point is whether there is a level of description that is neither
too low
(collapsing into physicalism) nor too high (allowing endless 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):

 I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you 
 have
 made the point several times that a computation depends on an observer
   
   
No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
assuming it must.
It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.
  
   OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.
  
 for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious 
 (remember,
 this is an assumption) then in that special case an external observer 
 is not
 needed.
   
Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
computation would have some inherent structural property --
I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).
  
   I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
   conscious
   computation has some inherent structural property.

 I should have said, that the *hardware* has some special structural property 
 goes
 against computationalism. It is difficult to pin down the structure of a 
 computation
 without reference to a programming language or hardware.

It is far from impossible. If it keeps returning to the same state,
it is in a loop, for instance. I am sure that you are tiching to point
out
that loops can be made to appear or vanish by re-interpretation.
My point is that it is RE interpretation. There is a baseline
set by what is true of a system under minimal interpretation.

 The idea is that the
 same computation can look completely different on different computers,

Not *completely* different. There will be a mapping, and it will
be a lot simpler than one of your fanciful ones.

 the corollary
 of which is that any computer (or physical process) may be implementing any
 computation, we just might not know about it.

That doesn't follow. The computational structure that a physical
systems is really implementing is the computational structure that
can
be reverse-engineered under a minimally complex interpretation.

You *can* introduce more complex mappings, but you don't *have* to. It
is
an artificial problem.

  It is legitimate to say that only
 particular computers (eg. brains, or PC's) using particular languages arev 
 actually
 implementing conscious computations, but that is not standard 
 computationalism.

 Statthis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Thanks for the quotes from Dennett's Freedom Evolves. The physiological 
 experiments are interesting,
 but the fact is, even if they can be shown to be flawed in some way, it would 
 still be entirely consistent
 with our behaviour and our subjective experience of free will if we acted 
 first, then noticed what we had
 done and decided we had acted freely.

And it would be consistent with our behaviour and experience if we
didn't.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

   That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with 
   me on the list, and
   I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
   physical system
   implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
   conscious
   computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
   idea that a
   computation can be conscious in the first place.
 
 
  You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
  system
  implements one computation, whether it is a
  conscious computation or not. I don't see what
  contradicts it.

 Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
 as every rock
 is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it.

The rock-hammer and the bust of Einstein are mere possibilities. You
don't
have an argument to the effect that every physical sytem is
implements every computation. Every physical systesm
could implelement any computation under suitable re-interpretation,
but that is a mere possibility unless someone does the re-interpreting,
--
in which case it is in fact the system+interpreter combination that is
doing
the  re-intrepreting.


  Those three aspects
 of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
 appreciate them.
 Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping are 
 calculating pi
 that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
 determining that mapping,
 and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless 
 you built another
 general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does 
 not mean the rock
 isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer). However, if busts 
 of Einstein were conscious
 regardless of the excess rock around them, or calculations of pi were 
 conscious regardless of the
 absence of anyone being able to appreciate them, then the existence of the 
 rock in an otherwise
 empty universe would necessitate the existence of at least those two 
 conscious processes.

That's a big if.

 Computationalism says that some computations are conscious.

They mean, of course, *actual* computations.

  It is also a general principle of
 computer science that equivalent computations can be implemented on very 
 different hardware
 and software platforms;

That doens't mean that one system is implementing multiple
computations simulataneously.

 by extension, the vibration of atoms in a rock can be seen as implementing
 any computation under the right interpretation.

ie the vibration+interpreter system could implement any computation.

 Normally, it is of no consequence that a rock
 implements all these computations.

It doesn't, in itself, It needs an interpreter.

 But if some of these computations are conscious (a consequence
 of computationalism)

Some of them *would* be consious *if* there were an interpreter
available. Otherwise they are mere possibilities. And if the
physical process is simple, and the interpreter cmplex, it
is reasonable to suppose the interpreter is doing most of the wrok
and therefore has most of the consciousness.

 and if some of the conscious computations are conscious in the absence of
 environmental input, then every rock is constantly implementing all these 
 conscious computations.

No That's a would be not an is.

 To get around this you would have to deny that computations can be conscious, 
 or at least restrict
 the conscious computations to specific hardware platforms and programming 
 languages.

No I don't. All I to do have to point out that if something is
interpreter-dependent,
it doesn't exist in the absence of an interpreter.

  This destroys
 computationalism, although it can still allow a form of functionalism.
 The other way to go is to reject
 the supervenience thesis and keep computationalism, which would mean that 
 every computation
 (includidng the conscious ones) is implemented necessarily in the absence of 
 any physical process.



 Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Brent Meeker wrote:
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
 
 
 That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with 
 me on the list, and
 I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
 physical system
 implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
 conscious
 computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
 idea that a
 computation can be conscious in the first place.
 
 
 You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
 system
 implements one computation, whether it is a
 conscious computation or not. I don't see what
 contradicts it.
 
 
  Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
  as every rock
  is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside 
  it. Those three aspects
  of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
  appreciate them.
  Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping 
  are calculating pi
  that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
  determining that mapping,
  and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer 
  unless you built another
  general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which 
  does not mean the rock
  isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer).

 I think there are some constraints on what the rock must be doing in order 
 that it
 can be said to be calculating pi instead of the interpreting computer.  For 
 example
 if the rock states were just 1,0,1,0,1,0... then there are several arguments 
 based on
 for example information theory that would rule out that being a computation 
 of pi.

Stathis would no doubt say you just need a dictionary that says;

Let the first 1 be 3
let the first 0 be 1
let the second 1 be 4
let the second 0 be 1
let the third 1 be 5
let the third 0 be 9
...

But there are good AIT reasons for saying that all the complexity is
in the dictionary


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread Brent Meeker

1Z wrote:
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
Thanks for the quotes from Dennett's Freedom Evolves. The physiological 
experiments are interesting,
but the fact is, even if they can be shown to be flawed in some way, it would 
still be entirely consistent
with our behaviour and our subjective experience of free will if we acted 
first, then noticed what we had
done and decided we had acted freely.
 
 
 And it would be consistent with our behaviour and experience if we
 didn't.

Didn't what?...decide we had acted freely?...noticed?

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread Brent Meeker

1Z wrote:
 
 Brent Meeker wrote:
 
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Peter Jones writes:



That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with 
me on the list, and
I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
physical system
implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
conscious
computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
idea that a
computation can be conscious in the first place.


You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
system
implements one computation, whether it is a
conscious computation or not. I don't see what
contradicts it.


Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
as every rock
is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it. 
Those three aspects
of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
appreciate them.
Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping 
are calculating pi
that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
determining that mapping,
and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless 
you built another
general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does 
not mean the rock
isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer).

I think there are some constraints on what the rock must be doing in order 
that it
can be said to be calculating pi instead of the interpreting computer.  For 
example
if the rock states were just 1,0,1,0,1,0... then there are several arguments 
based on
for example information theory that would rule out that being a computation 
of pi.
 
 
 Stathis would no doubt say you just need a dictionary that says;
 
 Let the first 1 be 3
 let the first 0 be 1
 let the second 1 be 4
 let the second 0 be 1
 let the third 1 be 5
 let the third 0 be 9
 ...

I don't think he would because he acceded to my point about isomorphism - 
although 
what's iso between two programs executing the same algorithm is a little hard 
to 
pin down.

Brent Meekeer


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-13 Thread 1Z


Brent Meeker wrote:

 Didn't what?...decide we had acted freely?...noticed?

if we noticed our decisions at the same time as we made them.


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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent meeker writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
  
  
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 
 Like Bruno, I am not claiming that this is definitely the case, just that 
 it is the case if
 computationalism is true. Several philosophers (eg. Searle) have used the 
 self-evident
 absurdity of the idea as an argument demonstrating that computationalism 
 is false -
 that there is something non-computational about brains and consciousness. 
 I have not
 yet heard an argument that rejects this idea and saves computationalism.
 
 [ rolls up sleaves ]
 
 The idea is easilly refuted if it can be shown that computation doesn't
 require
 interpretation at all. It can also be refuted more circuitously by
 showing that
 computation is not entirely a matter of intepretation. In everythingism
 , eveything
 is equal. If some computations (the ones that don't depend on
 interpretation) are
 more equal than others, the way is still open for the Somethinginst
 to object
 that interpretation-independent computations are really real, and the
 others are
 mere possibilities.
 
 The claim has been made that computation is not much use without an
 interpretation.
 Well, if you define a computer as somethin that is used by a human,
 that is true.
 It is also very problematic to the computationalist claim that the
 human mind is a computer.
 Is the human mind of use to a human ? Well, yes, it helps us stay alive
 in various ways.
 But that is more to do with reacting to a real-time environment, than
 performing abstract symbolic manipulations or elaborate
 re-interpretations. (Computationalists need to be careful about how
 they define computer. Under
 some perfectly reasonable definitions -- for instance, defining a
 computer as
 a human invention -- computationalism is trivially false).
  
  
  I don't mean anything controversial (I think) when I refer to 
  interpretation of 
  computation. Take a mercury thermometer: it would still do its thing if all 
  sentient life in the universe died out, or even if there were no sentient 
  life to 
  build it in the first place and by amazing luck mercury and glass had come 
  together 
  in just the right configuration. But if there were someone around to 
  observe it and 
  understand it, or if it were attached to a thermostat and heater, the 
  thermometer 
  would have extra meaning - the same thermometer, doing the same thermometer 
  stuff. Now, if thermometers were conscious, then part of their thermometer 
  stuff might include knowing what the temperature was - all by 
  themselves, without 
  benefit of external observer. 
 
 We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of the 
 temperature?  It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity 
 *could* 
 be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore 
 it must 
 be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it implements 
 all 
 conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible 
 interpretative 
 mapping).  But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared 
 environment; 
 and this greatly constrains what it can be said to compute, e.g. the 
 temperature, 
 the expansion coefficient of Hg...   With this constraint, then I think there 
 is no 
 problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level of 
 being 
 aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever else 
 is 
 within the constraint.

I would basically agree with that. Consciousness would probably have to be a 
continuum 
if computationalism is true. Even if computationalism were false and only those 
machines 
specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, 
across
different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to death. 
The possibility 
that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at some 
point in the 
evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.

 Furthermore, if thermometers were conscious, they 
  might be dreaming of temperatures, or contemplating the meaning of 
  consciousness, 
  again in the absence of external observers, and this time in the absence of 
  interaction 
  with the real world. 
  
  This, then, is the difference between a computation and a conscious 
  computation. If 
  a computation is unconscious, it can only have meaning/use/interpretation 
  in the eyes 
  of a beholder or in its interaction with the environment. 
 
 But this is a useless definition of the difference.  To apply we have to know 
 whether 
 some putative conscious computation has meaning to itself; which we can only 
 know by 
 knowing whether it is conscious or not.  It makes consciousness ineffable and 
 so 
 makes the question of whether computationalism is true an insoluble mystery.

That's what I have in mind.
 
 Even worse it makes it impossible for us to know whether we're talking about 
 the same 
 thing when we use 

RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou







 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2006 13:10:52 -0700
 From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
 Subject: Re: computationalism and supervenience
 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Brent Meeker writes:
  
  
 I think we need to say what it means for a computation to be 
 self-interpreting.  Many 
 control programs are written with self-monitoring functions and logging 
 functions. 
 Why would we not attribute consciousness to them?
  
  
  Well, why not? Some people don't even think higher mammals are conscious, 
  and perhaps 
  some there are true solipsists who could convince themselves that other 
  people are not really 
  conscious as rationalisation for antisocial behaviour. 
 
 Autistic people don't emphathize with others feelings - perhaps because they 
 don't 
 have them.  But their behavoir, and I would expect the behavoir of a real 
 solipist, 
 would be simply asocial.
 
 On the other hand, maybe flies experience 
  pain and fear when confronted with insecticide that is orders of magnitude 
  greater than that 
  of any mere human experience of torture, and maybe when I press the letter 
  y on my 
  keyboard I am subjecting my computer to the torments of hell. 
 
 And maybe every physical process implements all possible computations - but I 
 see no 
 reason to believe so.
 
 I don't buy the argument that 
  only complex brains or computations can experience pain either: when I was 
  a child I wasn't 
  as smart as I am now, but I recall that it hurt a lot more and I was much 
  more likely to cry when 
  I cut myself. 
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
 
 You write as though we know nothing about the physical basis of pain and 
 fear.  There 
 is a lot of empirical evidence about what prevents pain in humans, you can 
 even get a 
   degree in aesthesiology.  Fear can be induced by psychotropic drugs and 
 relieved by 
 whisky.
 
 Brent Meeker

But can you comment on the difference between your own subjective experience of 
fear or 
pain compared to that of a rabbit, a fish, or something even more alien? I know 
we can say that 
when you prod a fish with stimulus A it responds by releasing hormones B, C and 
D and swishing its 
tail about in pattern E, F or G according to the time of day and the phases of 
the moon, or whatever, 
and furthermore that these hormones and behaviours are similar to those in 
human responses to 
similar stimuli - but what is the fish feeling?

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou


Brent meeker writes:

 I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
 conscious 
 computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
 computationalism 
 have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
 conscious 
 computation as evidence that there is something special and 
 non-computational 
 about the brain. Maybe they're right.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 
 Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
 computation 
 (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with some 
 special 
 structure are conscious.
  
  
  It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that only 
  computations 
  implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. You 
  need the 
  hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a God-given 
  programming 
  language against which candidate computations can be measured.
 
 I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
 
 Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical sample 
 argues 
 for embodiment.
 
 Brent Meeker

I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
rather simple cases, 
like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and it 
can also be implemented 
so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 3 
oranges and 2 apples, 
or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite variety. 
The difficulty is that if we 
say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, then 
should we also say 
that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious? If so, where do we draw 
the line? That is what I mean 
when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The physical 
structure and activity 
of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
computer B implementing 
program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should make 
the two machines 
functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently conscious. 
Maybe this is wrong, eg. 
there is something special about the insulation in the wires of machine A, so 
that only A can be conscious. 
But that is no longer computationalism.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Colin Hales writes:

 Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
 sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
 encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
 zombie.
 
 Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
 Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.
 
 Note that this zombie...
 a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
 b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
 c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.
 
 I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
 of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
 zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
 would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
 ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.
 
 No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
 model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
 novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
 same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.
 
 Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
 not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
 defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).
 
 The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
 least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
 cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
 scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
 survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).
 
 In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
 finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
 the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
 ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
 would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
 can be detected. The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
 exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
 fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
 programs are).
 ---
 Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
 control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
 tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
 kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
 phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
 whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
 is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
 whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
 programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
 programs!
 
 I am a zombie expert! No that didn't come out right...erm
 perhaps... I think I might be a world expert in zombies yes, that's
 better.
 :-)
 Colin Hales

I'm not sure I understand why the zombie would be unable to respond to any 
situation it was likely to encounter. Doing science and philosophy is just a 
happy 
side-effect of a brain designed to help its owner survive and reproduce. Do you 
think it would be impossible to program a computer to behave like an insect, or 
a 
newborn infant, for example? You could add a random number generator to make 
its behaviour less predictable (so predators can't catch it and parents don't 
get 
complacent) or to help it decide what to do in a truly novel situation. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou


Brent meeker writes (quoting SP):

  Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically 
  possible to explain what consciousness 
  *is* unless you have it. 
 
 Not being *logically* possible means entailing a contradiction - I doubt 
 that.  But 
 anyway you do have it and you think I do because of the way we interact.  So 
 if you 
 interacted the same way with a computer and you further found out that the 
 computer 
 was a neural network that had learned through interaction with people over a 
 period 
 of years, you'd probably infer that the computer was conscious - at least you 
 wouldn't be sure it wasn't.

True, but I could still only imagine that it experiences what I experience 
because I already know what I 
experience. I don't know what my current computer experiences, if anything, 
because I'm not very much 
like it.
 
 It's like the problem of explaining vision to a blind man: he might be the 
 world's 
  greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is 
  like to see - and that's even though 
  he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans, 
  and can understand analogies 
  using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious computer 
  would have to run to be 
  conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not help 
  me to understand what the 
  computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself 
  experience. 
 
 But that's true of everything.  Suppose we knew a lot more about brains and 
 we 
 created an intelligent computer using brain-like functional architecture and 
 it acted 
 like a conscious human being, then I'd say we understood its consciousness 
 better 
 than we understand quantum field theory or global economics.

We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person sense, 
except by analogy with our 
own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what can 
be known by observing an 
entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the entity, 
yourself. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 Now, suppose some more complex variant of 3+2=3 implemented on your 
 abacus has consciousness associated with it, which is just one of the 
 tenets of computationalism. Some time later, you are walking in the 
 Amazon rain forest and notice that
 under a certain mapping
   
   
 of birds to beads and trees to wires, the forest is implementing the 
 same computation as your abacus was. So if your abacus was conscious, 
 and computationalism is true, the tree-bird sytem should also be 
 conscious.
   
No necessarily, because the mapping is required too. Why should
it still be conscious if no-one is around to make the mapping.
  
   Are you claiming that a conscious machine stops being conscious if its 
   designers die
   and all the information about how it works is lost?
 
  You are, if anyone is. I don't agree that computation *must* be
  interpreted,
  although they *can* be re-interpreted.

 What I claim is this:

 A computation does not *need* to be interpreted, it just is. However, a 
 computation
 does need to be interpreted, or interact with its environment in some way, if 
 it is to be
 interesting or meaningful.

A computation other than the one you are running needs to be
interpreted by you
to be meaningful to you. The computation you are running is useful
to you because it keeps you alive.

 By analogy, a string of characters is a string of characters
 whether or not anyone interprets it, but it is not interesting or meaningful 
 unless it is
 interpreted. But if a computation, or for that matter a string of characters, 
 is conscious,
 then it is interesting and meaningful in at least one sense in the absence of 
 an external
 observer: it is interesting and meaningful to itself. If it were not, then it 
 wouldn't be
 conscious. The conscious things in the world have an internal life, a first 
 person
 phenomenal experience, a certain ineffable something, whatever you want to 
 call it,
 while the unconscious things do not. That is the difference between them.

Which they manage to be aware of without the existence of an external
oberver,
so one of your premises must be wrong.

 Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

 That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me 
 on the list, and
 I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
 physical system
 implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
 conscious
 computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
 idea that a
 computation can be conscious in the first place.


You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
system
implements one computation, whether it is a
conscious computation or not. I don't see what
contradicts it.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:

  Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
   Peter Jones writes:

  We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of 
  the
  temperature?  It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity 
  *could*
  be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore 
  it must
  be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it 
  implements all
  conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible 
  interpretative
  mapping).  But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared 
  environment;
  and this greatly constrains what it can be said to compute, e.g. the 
  temperature,
  the expansion coefficient of Hg...   With this constraint, then I think 
  there is no
  problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level 
  of being
  aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever 
  else is
  within the constraint.

 I would basically agree with that. Consciousness would probably have to be a 
 continuum
 if computationalism is true.

I don't think that follows remotely. It is true that it is vastly
better to interpret a column of mercury as a temperature-sensor than
a pressure-sensor or a radiation-sensor. That doesn't mean the
thermometer
knows that in itself.

Computationalism does not claim that every computation is conscious.

If consciousness supervenes on inherent non-interprtation-dependent
features,
it can supervene on features which are binary, either present or
absent.

For instance, whether a programme examines or modifies its own code is
surely
such a feature.


Even if computationalism were false and only those machines
 specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, 
 across
 different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to 
 death. The possibility
 that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at 
 some point in the
 evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.

Surely it comes on like a light whenver you wake up.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:

  I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
  conscious
  computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
  computationalism
  have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
  conscious
  computation as evidence that there is something special and 
  non-computational
  about the brain. Maybe they're right.
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
  
  Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
  computation
  (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with some 
  special
  structure are conscious.
  
  
   It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that only 
   computations
   implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. 
   You need the
   hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a 
   God-given programming
   language against which candidate computations can be measured.
 
  I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
 
  Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical 
  sample argues
  for embodiment.
 
  Brent Meeker

 I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
 rather simple cases,
 like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and it 
 can also be implemented
 so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 3 
 oranges and 2 apples,
 or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
 variety. The difficulty is that if we
 say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, then 
 should we also say
 that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?

No, they are only subroutines.

  If so, where do we draw the line?

At specific structures

 That is what I mean
 when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The 
 physical structure and activity
 of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
 computer B implementing
 program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should make 
 the two machines
 functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently conscious.

So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
baroque-reinterpretation,
where is the problem ?

 Maybe this is wrong, eg.
 there is something special about the insulation in the wires of machine A, so 
 that only A can be conscious.
 But that is no longer computationalism.

No. But what would force that conclusion on us ? Why can't
consciousness
attach to features more gneral than hardware, but less general than one
of your re-interpretations ?

 Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread 1Z


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:

  I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
  withdraw it's
  hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the 
  robot with
  feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it 
  would be
  conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
  noted the
  painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's 
  strong negative
  affect; then I think it would be conscious.
  
  
   It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
   *before* they experience
   the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with 
   the most primitive
   central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an 
   afterthought to teach us a
   lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary 
   utility consciousness
   does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning.
 
  Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it. 
  Are you
  familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?

 These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, 
 motor cortex activity
 actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
 fraction of a second.
 In other words, we act first, then decide to act.

Does Benjamin Libet's Research Empirically Disprove Free Will ?
Scientifically informed sceptics about FW often quote a famous
experiment by benjamin Libet, which supposedly shows that a kind of
signal called a Readiness Potential, detectable by electrodes,
precedes a conscious decisions, and is a reliable indicator of the
decision, and thus -- so the claim goes -- indicates that our decisions
are not ours but made for us by unconsious processes.

In fact, Libet himself doesn't draw a sweepingly sceptical conclusion
from his own results. For one thing, Readiness Potentials are not
always followed by actions. he believes it is possible for
consicousness to intervene with a veto to the action:

The initiation of the freely voluntary act appears to begin in the
brain unconsciously, well before the person consciously knows he wants
to act! Is there, then, any role for conscious will in the performing
of a voluntary act?...To answer this it must be recognised that
conscious will (W) does appear about 150milliseconds before the muscsle
is activated, even though it follows the onset ofthe RP. An interval of
150msec would allow enough time in which the conscious function might
affec the final outcome of the volitional process.

(Libet, quoted in Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett, p. 230 )

This suggests our conscious minds may not have free will but
rather free won't!

(V.S Ramachandran, quoted in Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett, p.
231 )

However, it is quite possible that the Libertarian doesn't need to
appeal to free won't to avoid the conclusion that free won't doesn't
exist.

Libet tells when the RP occurs using electrodes. But how does Libet he
when conscious decison-making occurs ? He relies on the subject
reporting the position of the hand of a clock. But, as Dennett points
out, this is only a report of where it seems to the subject that
various things come together, not of the objective time at which they
occur.

Suppose Libet knows that your readiness potential peaked at second
6,810 of the experimental trial, and the clock dot was straight down
(which is what you reported you saw) at millisecond 7,005. How many
milliseconds should he have to add to this number to get the time you
were conscious of it? The light gets from your clock face to your
eyeball almost instantaneously, but the path of the signals from retina
through lateral geniculate nucleus to striate cortex takes 5 to 10
milliseonds -- a paltry fraction of the 300 milliseconds offset, but
how much longer does it take them to get to you. (Or are you located in
the striate cortex?) The visual signals have to be processed before
they arrive at wherever they need to arrive for you to make a consicous
decision of simulataneity. Libet's method presupposes, in short, that
we can locate the intersection of two trajectories: # the
rising-to-consciousness of signals representing the decision to flick #
the rising to consciousness of signals representing successive
clock-face orientations so that these events occur side-by-side as it
were in place where their simultaneity can be noted.

(Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett, p. 231 )

Dennett refers to an experiment in which Churchland showed, that just
pressing a button when asked to signal when you see a flash of light
takes a normal subject about 350 milliseconds.

Does that mean that all actions taking longer than that are unconcisous
?

The brain processes stimuli over time, and the amount of time
depends on which information is being extracted for which purposes. A
top tennis player can set 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
conscious 
computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
computationalism 
have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
conscious 
computation as evidence that there is something special and 
non-computational 
about the brain. Maybe they're right.

Stathis Papaioannou

Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
computation 
(which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with some 
special 
structure are conscious.


It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that only 
computations 
implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. You 
need the 
hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a God-given 
programming 
language against which candidate computations can be measured.

I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)

Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical sample 
argues 
for embodiment.

Brent Meeker
 
 
 I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
 rather simple cases, 
 like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and it 
 can also be implemented 
 so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 3 
 oranges and 2 apples, 
 or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
 variety. The difficulty is that if we 
 say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, then 
 should we also say 
 that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious? If so, where do we draw 
 the line? 

I'm not sure I understand your example.  Are you saying that by simply 
existing, two 
apples and 3 oranges compute 2+3=5?  If so I would disagree.  I would say it is 
our 
comprehending them as individual objects and also as a set that is the 
computation. 
Just hanging there on the trees they may be computing apple hanging on a 
tree, 
apple hanging on a tree,... but they're not computing 2+3=5.

That is what I mean 
 when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. 

But as you've noted before the computation is almost all in the mapping.  And 
not 
just in the map, but in the application of the map - which is something we do.  
That 
action can't be abstracted away.  You can't just say there's a physical system 
and 
there's a manual that would map it into some computation and stop there as 
though the 
computation has been done.  The mapping, an action, still needs to be performed.

The physical structure and activity 
 of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
 computer B implementing 
 program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should make 
 the two machines 
 functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently conscious. 

I don't see any problem with supposing that A and B are equally conscious (or 
unconscious).

Brent Meeker


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Colin Hales writes:
 
 
Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
zombie.

Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.

Note that this zombie...
a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.

I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.

No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.

Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).

The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).

In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
can be detected. The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
programs are).
---
Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
programs!

I am a zombie expert! No that didn't come out right...erm
perhaps... I think I might be a world expert in zombies yes, that's
better.
:-)
Colin Hales
 
 
 I'm not sure I understand why the zombie would be unable to respond to any 
 situation it was likely to encounter. Doing science and philosophy is just a 
 happy 
 side-effect of a brain designed to help its owner survive and reproduce. Do 
 you 
 think it would be impossible to program a computer to behave like an insect, 
 or a 
 newborn infant, for example? You could add a random number generator to make 
 its behaviour less predictable (so predators can't catch it and parents don't 
 get 
 complacent) or to help it decide what to do in a truly novel situation. 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

And after you had given it all these capabilities how would you know it was not 
conscious?

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 Brent meeker writes (quoting SP):
 
 
Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically possible 
to explain what consciousness 
*is* unless you have it. 

Not being *logically* possible means entailing a contradiction - I doubt 
that.  But 
anyway you do have it and you think I do because of the way we interact.  So 
if you 
interacted the same way with a computer and you further found out that the 
computer 
was a neural network that had learned through interaction with people over a 
period 
of years, you'd probably infer that the computer was conscious - at least you 
wouldn't be sure it wasn't.
 
 
 True, but I could still only imagine that it experiences what I experience 
 because I already know what I 
 experience. I don't know what my current computer experiences, if anything, 
 because I'm not very much 
 like it.
  
 
It's like the problem of explaining vision to a blind man: he might be the 
world's 
greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is like 
to see - and that's even though 
he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans, and 
can understand analogies 
using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious computer 
would have to run to be 
conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not help me 
to understand what the 
computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself 
experience. 

But that's true of everything.  Suppose we knew a lot more about brains and 
we 
created an intelligent computer using brain-like functional architecture and 
it acted 
like a conscious human being, then I'd say we understood its consciousness 
better 
than we understand quantum field theory or global economics.
 
 
 We would understand it in a third person sense but not in a first person 
 sense, except by analogy with our 
 own first person experience. Consciousness is the difference between what can 
 be known by observing an 
 entity and what can be known by being the entity, or something like the 
 entity, yourself. 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

But you are simply positing that there is such a difference.  That's easy to do 
because we know so little about how brains work.  But consider the engine in 
your 
car.  Do you know what it's like to be the engine in your car?  You know a lot 
about 
it, but how do you know that you know all of it?  Does that mean your car 
engine is 
conscious?  I'd say yes it is (at a very low level) and you *can* know what 
it's like.

This just an extreme example of that kind of special pleading you hear in 
politics - 
nobody can represent Black interests except a Black, no man can understand 
Feminism. 
  Can only children be pediatricians?

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

1Z wrote:
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
Brent meeker writes:


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Peter Jones writes:
 
 
We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of the
temperature?  It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity 
*could*
be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore 
it must
be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it 
implements all
conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible 
interpretative
mapping).  But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared 
environment;
and this greatly constrains what it can be said to compute, e.g. the 
temperature,
the expansion coefficient of Hg...   With this constraint, then I think 
there is no
problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level of 
being
aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever else 
is
within the constraint.

I would basically agree with that. Consciousness would probably have to be a 
continuum
if computationalism is true.
 
 
 I don't think that follows remotely. It is true that it is vastly
 better to interpret a column of mercury as a temperature-sensor than
 a pressure-sensor or a radiation-sensor. That doesn't mean the
 thermometer
 knows that in itself.
 
 Computationalism does not claim that every computation is conscious.
 
 If consciousness supervenes on inherent non-interprtation-dependent
 features,
 it can supervene on features which are binary, either present or
 absent.

It could, depending on what it is.  But that's why we need some independent 
operational definition of consciousness before we can say what has it and what 
doens't.  It's pretty clear that there are degrees of consciousness.  My dog is 
aware 
of where he is and who he is relative to the family etc.  But I don't think he 
passes 
the mirror test.  So whether a thermometer is conscious or not is likely to be 
a 
matter of how we define and quantify consciousness.

 
 For instance, whether a programme examines or modifies its own code is
 surely
 such a feature.
 
 
 
Even if computationalism were false and only those machines
specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, 
across
different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to 
death. The possibility
that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at 
some point in the
evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.
 
 
 Surely it comes on like a light whenver you wake up.

Not at all.  If someone whispers your name while you're asleep, you will wake 
up - 
showing you were conscious of sounds and their meaning.

On the other hand, it does come on like a light (or a slow sunrise) when you 
come out 
of anesthesia.

Brent Meeker


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Peter Jones writes:



Stathis Papaioannou wrote:



Like Bruno, I am not claiming that this is definitely the case, just that 
it is the case if
computationalism is true. Several philosophers (eg. Searle) have used the 
self-evident
absurdity of the idea as an argument demonstrating that computationalism 
is false -
that there is something non-computational about brains and consciousness. 
I have not
yet heard an argument that rejects this idea and saves computationalism.

[ rolls up sleaves ]

The idea is easilly refuted if it can be shown that computation doesn't
require
interpretation at all. It can also be refuted more circuitously by
showing that
computation is not entirely a matter of intepretation. In everythingism
, eveything
is equal. If some computations (the ones that don't depend on
interpretation) are
more equal than others, the way is still open for the Somethinginst
to object
that interpretation-independent computations are really real, and the
others are
mere possibilities.

The claim has been made that computation is not much use without an
interpretation.
Well, if you define a computer as somethin that is used by a human,
that is true.
It is also very problematic to the computationalist claim that the
human mind is a computer.
Is the human mind of use to a human ? Well, yes, it helps us stay alive
in various ways.
But that is more to do with reacting to a real-time environment, than
performing abstract symbolic manipulations or elaborate
re-interpretations. (Computationalists need to be careful about how
they define computer. Under
some perfectly reasonable definitions -- for instance, defining a
computer as
a human invention -- computationalism is trivially false).


I don't mean anything controversial (I think) when I refer to interpretation 
of 
computation. Take a mercury thermometer: it would still do its thing if all 
sentient life in the universe died out, or even if there were no sentient 
life to 
build it in the first place and by amazing luck mercury and glass had come 
together 
in just the right configuration. But if there were someone around to observe 
it and 
understand it, or if it were attached to a thermostat and heater, the 
thermometer 
would have extra meaning - the same thermometer, doing the same thermometer 
stuff. Now, if thermometers were conscious, then part of their thermometer 
stuff might include knowing what the temperature was - all by themselves, 
without 
benefit of external observer. 

We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of the 
temperature?  It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity 
*could* 
be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore 
it must 
be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it implements 
all 
conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible 
interpretative 
mapping).  But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared 
environment; 
and this greatly constrains what it can be said to compute, e.g. the 
temperature, 
the expansion coefficient of Hg...   With this constraint, then I think there 
is no 
problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level of 
being 
aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever else 
is 
within the constraint.
 
 
 I would basically agree with that. Consciousness would probably have to be a 
 continuum 
 if computationalism is true. Even if computationalism were false and only 
 those machines 
 specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, 
 across
 different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to 
 death. The possibility 
 that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at 
 some point in the 
 evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.
 
 
Furthermore, if thermometers were conscious, they 
might be dreaming of temperatures, or contemplating the meaning of 
consciousness, 
again in the absence of external observers, and this time in the absence of 
interaction 
with the real world. 

This, then, is the difference between a computation and a conscious 
computation. If 
a computation is unconscious, it can only have meaning/use/interpretation in 
the eyes 
of a beholder or in its interaction with the environment. 

But this is a useless definition of the difference.  To apply we have to know 
whether 
some putative conscious computation has meaning to itself; which we can only 
know by 
knowing whether it is conscious or not.  It makes consciousness ineffable and 
so 
makes the question of whether computationalism is true an insoluble mystery.
 
 
 That's what I have in mind.
  
 
Even worse it makes it impossible for us to know whether we're talking about 
the same 
thing when we use the word consciousness.
 
 
 I know what I mean, and you probably know what I mean 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

1Z wrote:
...
 Dennett's idea of stored conscious volition is quite in line with our
 theory. Indeed, we would like to extend it in a way that Dennett does
 not. We would like to extend it to stored indeterminism. Any decision
 we make in exigent situations wher we do nto have the luxury of
 conisdered thought must be more-or-less determinsistic -- must be
 more-or-less determined by our state of mind at the time - -if they are
 to be of any use at all to us. Otherwise we might as well toss a coin.
 But our state of mind at the time can be formed by rumination, training
 and so over a long period, perhaps over a lifetime. As such it can
 contain elemetns of indeterminism in the positive sense -- of
 imagination and creativity, not mere caprice.

Right.  Even if it's determined, it's determined by who we are.

 
 This extension of Dennett's criticism of Libet (or rather the way
 Libet's results are used by free-will sceptics) gives us a way of
 answering Dennett's own criticisms of Robert Kane, a prominent defender
 of naturalistic Free Will.

I didn't refer to Libet and Grey Walter as refuting free will - I was well 
aware of 
Dennett's writings (and Stathis probably is to). But I think they show that the 
conscious feeling of making a decision and actually making the decision are 
different 
things; that most of a decision making is unconscious.  Which is exactly what 
you 
would expect based on a model of a computer logging it's own decisions.  I 
actually 
found Grey Walter's experiments more convincing that Libet's.  It's too bad 
they 
aren't likely to be repeated.

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):

I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you have
made the point several times that a computation depends on an observer
  
  
   No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
   assuming it must.
   It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.
 
  OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.
 
for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious 
(remember,
this is an assumption) then in that special case an external observer 
is not
needed.
  
   Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
   computation would have some inherent structural property --
   I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).
 
  I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
  conscious
  computation has some inherent structural property.

I should have said, that the *hardware* has some special structural property 
goes 
against computationalism. It is difficult to pin down the structure of a 
computation 
without reference to a programming language or hardware. The idea is that the 
same computation can look completely different on different computers, the 
corollary 
of which is that any computer (or physical process) may be implementing any 
computation, we just might not know about it. It is legitimate to say that only 
particular computers (eg. brains, or PC's) using particular languages arev 
actually 
implementing conscious computations, but that is not standard computationalism.

Statthis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou


Peter Jones writes:
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
 
   Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  
  Now, suppose some more complex variant of 3+2=3 implemented on your 
  abacus has consciousness associated with it, which is just one of 
  the tenets of computationalism. Some time later, you are walking in 
  the Amazon rain forest and notice that
  under a certain mapping


  of birds to beads and trees to wires, the forest is implementing 
  the same computation as your abacus was. So if your abacus was 
  conscious, and computationalism is true, the tree-bird sytem should 
  also be conscious.

 No necessarily, because the mapping is required too. Why should
 it still be conscious if no-one is around to make the mapping.
   
Are you claiming that a conscious machine stops being conscious if its 
designers die
and all the information about how it works is lost?
  
   You are, if anyone is. I don't agree that computation *must* be
   interpreted,
   although they *can* be re-interpreted.
 
  What I claim is this:
 
  A computation does not *need* to be interpreted, it just is. However, a 
  computation
  does need to be interpreted, or interact with its environment in some way, 
  if it is to be
  interesting or meaningful.
 
 A computation other than the one you are running needs to be
 interpreted by you
 to be meaningful to you. The computation you are running is useful
 to you because it keeps you alive.
 
  By analogy, a string of characters is a string of characters
  whether or not anyone interprets it, but it is not interesting or 
  meaningful unless it is
  interpreted. But if a computation, or for that matter a string of 
  characters, is conscious,
  then it is interesting and meaningful in at least one sense in the absence 
  of an external
  observer: it is interesting and meaningful to itself. If it were not, then 
  it wouldn't be
  conscious. The conscious things in the world have an internal life, a first 
  person
  phenomenal experience, a certain ineffable something, whatever you want to 
  call it,
  while the unconscious things do not. That is the difference between them.
 
 Which they manage to be aware of without the existence of an external
 oberver,
 so one of your premises must be wrong.

No, that's exactly what I was saying all along. An observer is needed for 
meaningfulness, 
but consciousness provides its own observer. A conscious entity may interact 
with its 
environment, and in fact that would have to be the reason consciousness evolved 
(nature 
is not self-indulgent), but the interaction is not logically necessary for 
consciousness.

Stathis Papaioannou

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

  That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me 
  on the list, and
  I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
  physical system
  implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
  conscious
  computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
  idea that a
  computation can be conscious in the first place.
 
 
 You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
 system
 implements one computation, whether it is a
 conscious computation or not. I don't see what
 contradicts it.

Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, as 
every rock 
is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it. 
Those three aspects 
of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
appreciate them. 
Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping are 
calculating pi 
that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
determining that mapping, 
and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless 
you built another 
general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does 
not mean the rock 
isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer). However, if busts of 
Einstein were conscious 
regardless of the excess rock around them, or calculations of pi were conscious 
regardless of the 
absence of anyone being able to appreciate them, then the existence of the rock 
in an otherwise 
empty universe would necessitate the existence of at least those two conscious 
processes. 

Computationalism says that some computations are conscious. It is also a 
general principle of 
computer science that equivalent computations can be implemented on very 
different hardware 
and software platforms; by extension, the vibration of atoms in a rock can be 
seen as implementing 
any computation under the right interpretation. Normally, it is of no 
consequence that a rock 
implements all these computations. But if some of these computations are 
conscious (a consequence 
of computationalism) and if some of the conscious computations are conscious in 
the absence of 
environmental input, then every rock is constantly implementing all these 
conscious computations. 
To get around this you would have to deny that computations can be conscious, 
or at least restrict 
the conscious computations to specific hardware platforms and programming 
languages. This destroys 
computationalism, although it can still allow a form of functionalism. The 
other way to go is to reject 
the supervenience thesis and keep computationalism, which would mean that every 
computation 
(includidng the conscious ones) is implemented necessarily in the absence of 
any physical process.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes (quoting SP):
 
 
I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you have
made the point several times that a computation depends on an observer


No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
assuming it must.
It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.

OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.


for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious (remember,
this is an assumption) then in that special case an external observer is 
not
needed.

Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
computation would have some inherent structural property --
I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).

I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a conscious
computation has some inherent structural property.
 
 
 I should have said, that the *hardware* has some special structural property 
 goes 
 against computationalism. It is difficult to pin down the structure of a 
 computation 
 without reference to a programming language or hardware. The idea is that the 
 same computation can look completely different on different computers, the 
 corollary 
 of which is that any computer (or physical process) may be implementing any 
 computation, we just might not know about it. It is legitimate to say that 
 only 
 particular computers (eg. brains, or PC's) using particular languages arev 
 actually 
 implementing conscious computations, but that is not standard 
 computationalism.
 
 Statthis Papaioannou

I thought standard computationalism was just the modest position that if the 
hardware 
of your brain were replaced piecemeal by units with the same input-output at 
some 
microscopic level usually assumed to be neurons, you'd still be you and you'd 
still 
be conscious.

I don't recall anything about all computations implementing consciousness?

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 Peter Jones writes:
  
 
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Peter Jones writes:


Stathis Papaioannou wrote:


Now, suppose some more complex variant of 3+2=3 implemented on your 
abacus has consciousness associated with it, which is just one of the 
tenets of computationalism. Some time later, you are walking in the 
Amazon rain forest and notice that
under a certain mapping


of birds to beads and trees to wires, the forest is implementing the 
same computation as your abacus was. So if your abacus was conscious, 
and computationalism is true, the tree-bird sytem should also be 
conscious.

No necessarily, because the mapping is required too. Why should
it still be conscious if no-one is around to make the mapping.

Are you claiming that a conscious machine stops being conscious if its 
designers die
and all the information about how it works is lost?

You are, if anyone is. I don't agree that computation *must* be
interpreted,
although they *can* be re-interpreted.

What I claim is this:

A computation does not *need* to be interpreted, it just is. However, a 
computation
does need to be interpreted, or interact with its environment in some way, 
if it is to be
interesting or meaningful.

A computation other than the one you are running needs to be
interpreted by you
to be meaningful to you. The computation you are running is useful
to you because it keeps you alive.


By analogy, a string of characters is a string of characters
whether or not anyone interprets it, but it is not interesting or meaningful 
unless it is
interpreted. But if a computation, or for that matter a string of 
characters, is conscious,
then it is interesting and meaningful in at least one sense in the absence 
of an external
observer: it is interesting and meaningful to itself. If it were not, then 
it wouldn't be
conscious. The conscious things in the world have an internal life, a first 
person
phenomenal experience, a certain ineffable something, whatever you want to 
call it,
while the unconscious things do not. That is the difference between them.

Which they manage to be aware of without the existence of an external
oberver,
so one of your premises must be wrong.
 
 
 No, that's exactly what I was saying all along. An observer is needed for 
 meaningfulness, 
 but consciousness provides its own observer. A conscious entity may interact 
 with its 
 environment, and in fact that would have to be the reason consciousness 
 evolved (nature 
 is not self-indulgent), but the interaction is not logically necessary for 
 consciousness.

But it may be nomologically necessary.  Not logically necessary is the 
weakest 
standard of non-necessity that is still coherent; the only things less 
necessary are 
incoherent.

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:
 
 
That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me 
on the list, and
I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
physical system
implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
conscious
computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the 
idea that a
computation can be conscious in the first place.


You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
system
implements one computation, whether it is a
conscious computation or not. I don't see what
contradicts it.
 
 
 Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, 
 as every rock 
 is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it. 
 Those three aspects 
 of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to 
 appreciate them. 
 Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping are 
 calculating pi 
 that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of 
 determining that mapping, 
 and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless 
 you built another 
 general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does 
 not mean the rock 
 isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer). 

I think there are some constraints on what the rock must be doing in order that 
it 
can be said to be calculating pi instead of the interpreting computer.  For 
example 
if the rock states were just 1,0,1,0,1,0... then there are several arguments 
based on 
for example information theory that would rule out that being a computation of 
pi.

However, if busts of Einstein were conscious 
 regardless of the excess rock around them, or calculations of pi were 
 conscious regardless of the 
 absence of anyone being able to appreciate them, then the existence of the 
 rock in an otherwise 
 empty universe would necessitate the existence of at least those two 
 conscious processes. 
 
 Computationalism says that some computations are conscious. It is also a 
 general principle of 
 computer science that equivalent computations can be implemented on very 
 different hardware 
 and software platforms; by extension, the vibration of atoms in a rock can be 
 seen as implementing 
 any computation under the right interpretation. Normally, it is of no 
 consequence that a rock 
 implements all these computations. But if some of these computations are 
 conscious (a consequence 
 of computationalism) 

It's not a consequence of my more modest idea of computationalism.

and if some of the conscious computations are conscious in the absence of 
 environmental input, then every rock is constantly implementing all these 
 conscious computations. 
 To get around this you would have to deny that computations can be conscious, 
 or at least restrict 
 the conscious computations to specific hardware platforms and programming 
 languages. 

Why not some more complex and subtle critereon based on the computation?  Why 
just 
hardware or language - both of which seem easy to rule out as definitive of 
consciousness or even computation?

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Colin Hales

Brent Meeker:
 
 Colin Hales wrote:
 
  Stathis Papaioannou
  snip
 
 Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically
 possible to explain what consciousness
 *is* unless you have it. It's like the problem of explaining vision to a
 blind man: he might be the world's
 greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is
 like to see - and that's even though
 he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans,
 and can understand analogies
 using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious
 computer
 would have to run to be
 conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not
 help
 me to understand what the
 computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself
 experience.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 
 
 
  Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
  sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
  encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
  zombie.
 
  Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
  Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.
 
  Note that this zombie...
  a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
  b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
  c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.
 
  I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the
 science
  of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside
 the
  zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
  would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
  ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie
 scientist.
 
  No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
  model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
  novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty
 .ie.
  same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.
 
  Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory
 feeds,
  not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
  defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this
 instance).
 
  The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with
 at
  least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
  cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
  scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science
 (or
  survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).
 

 Almost all organisms have become extinct.  Handling *arbitrary* levels of
 novelty is probably too much to ask of any species; and it's certainly
 more than is necessary to survive for millenia.

I am talking purely about scientific behaviour, not general behaviour. A
creature with limited learning capacity and phenomenal scenes could quite
happily live in an ecological niche until the niche changed. I am not asking
any creature other than a scientist to be able to appreciate arbitrary
levels of novelty.

 
 
  In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
  finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction)
 in
  the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an
 endless
  ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a
 limit
  would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction
 that
  can be detected.
 
 So that's how we got string theory!
 
 The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
  exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
  fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
  programs are).
 

 How do you know we are so robust.  Planck said, A new idea prevails, not
 by the
 conversion of adherents, but by the retirement and demise of opponents.
 In other
 words only the young have the flexibility to adopt new ideas.  Ironically
 Planck
 never really believed quantum mechanics was more than a calculational
 trick.

The robustness is probably in that science is actually, at the level of
critical argument (like this, now), a super-organism.

In retrospect I think QM will be regarded as a side effect of the desperate
attempt to mathematically abtract appearances rather then deal with the
structure that is behaving quantum-mechanically. After the event they'll all
be going...what were we thinking! it won't be wrong... just not useful
in the sense that any of its considerations are not about underlying
structure.


 
  ---
  Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
  control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired
 up
  tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
  kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that
 the
  

RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou


Peter Jones writes:

 If consciousness supervenes on inherent non-interprtation-dependent
 features,
 it can supervene on features which are binary, either present or
 absent.
 
 For instance, whether a programme examines or modifies its own code is
 surely
 such a feature.
 
 
 Even if computationalism were false and only those machines
  specially blessed by God were conscious there would have to be a continuum, 
  across
  different species and within the lifespan of an individual from birth to 
  death. The possibility
  that consciousness comes on like a light at some point in your life, or at 
  some point in the
  evolution of a species, seems unlikely to me.
 
 Surely it comes on like a light whenver you wake up.

Being alive/dead or conscious/unconscious would seem to be a binary property, 
but it's 
hard to believe (though not impossible) that there would be one circuit, neuron 
or line of 
code that makes the difference between conscious and unconscious.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Brent Meeker

Colin Hales wrote:
...

 As far as the internal life of the CPU is

concerned...

whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of

the

programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
programs!

 
That's like say whatever it is like to be you, it is at best some waves of
chemical
potential.  You don't *know* that the control system is not conscious -
unless you
know what structure or function makes a system conscious.

 
 
 There is nothing there except wires and electrically noisy hot rocks,
 plastic and other materials = stuff. 

Just like me.  Nothing but proteins and osmotic potentials and ACT and ADP = 
stuff.

Whatever its consciousness is... it
 is the consciousness of the stuff. The function

Which function?

 is an epiphenomenon at the
 scale of a human user 

Who's the user of my brain?

Brent Meeker

that has nothing to do with the experiential qualities
 of being the computer.

What are the experiential qualities of being a computer? and how can we know 
them?

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:
 
 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Brent meeker writes:
 
   I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
   conscious
   computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
   computationalism
   have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
   conscious
   computation as evidence that there is something special and 
   non-computational
   about the brain. Maybe they're right.
   
   Stathis Papaioannou
   
   Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
   computation
   (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with 
   some special
   structure are conscious.
   
   
It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that 
only computations
implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. 
You need the
hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a 
God-given programming
language against which candidate computations can be measured.
  
   I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)
  
   Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical 
   sample argues
   for embodiment.
  
   Brent Meeker
 
  I don't have a clear idea in my mind of disembodied computation except in 
  rather simple cases,
  like numbers and arithmetic. The number 5 exists as a Platonic ideal, and 
  it can also be implemented
  so we can interact with it, as when there is a collection of 5 oranges, or 
  3 oranges and 2 apples,
  or 3 pairs of oranges and 2 triplets of apples, and so on, in infinite 
  variety. The difficulty is that if we
  say that 3+2=5 as exemplified by 3 oranges and 2 apples is conscious, 
  then should we also say
  that the pairs+triplets of fruit are also conscious?
 
 No, they are only subroutines.

But a computation is just a lot of subroutines; or equivalently, a computation 
is just a subroutine in a larger 
computation or subroutine.
 
   If so, where do we draw the line?
 
 At specific structures

By structures do you mean hardware or software? I don't think it's possible 
to pin down software structures 
without reference to a particular machine and operating system. There is no 
natural or God-given language.
 
  That is what I mean
  when I say that any computation can map onto any physical system. The 
  physical structure and activity
  of computer A implementing program a may be completely different to that of 
  computer B implementing
  program b, but program b may be an emulation of program a, which should 
  make the two machines
  functionally equivalent and, under computationalism, equivalently conscious.
 
 So ? If the functional equivalence doesn't depend on a
 baroque-reinterpretation,
 where is the problem ?

Who interprets the meaning of baroque?
 
  Maybe this is wrong, eg.
  there is something special about the insulation in the wires of machine A, 
  so that only A can be conscious.
  But that is no longer computationalism.
 
 No. But what would force that conclusion on us ? Why can't
 consciousness
 attach to features more gneral than hardware, but less general than one
 of your re-interpretations ?

Because there is no natural or God-given computer architecture or language. You 
could say that consciousness 
does follow a natural architecture: that of the brain. But that could mean you 
would have a zombie if you tried 
to copy brain function with a digital computer, or with a digital computer not 
running Mr. Gates' operating system.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-12 Thread Colin Hales

Brent Meeker:
 
 Colin Hales wrote:
 ...
 
  As far as the internal life of the CPU is
 concerned...
 whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of
 the
 programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
 programs!
 
 That's like say whatever it is like to be you, it is at best some waves
 of
 chemical
 potential.  You don't *know* that the control system is not conscious -
 unless you
 know what structure or function makes a system conscious.
 
 
 
  There is nothing there except wires and electrically noisy hot rocks,
  plastic and other materials = stuff.
 
 Just like me.  Nothing but proteins and osmotic potentials and ACT and ADP
 = stuff.

Wellnot quite... The stuff you talk about is behaving stuffly. All
except the neurons and astrocytes. They are behaving as 2 thingsthere is
virtual matter being generated. But this is just my (albeit well-founded,
IMO) prejudice, so if you don't want to believe it then it's all behaving
stuffly and only stuffly.

 
 Whatever its consciousness is... it
  is the consciousness of the stuff. The function
 
 Which function?

WORD, EXCEL, IE etc If run WORD (in contrast to EXCEL) I think the
noise in the chip might be different... although the ratio of WORD noise to
WINDOWS noise (it is a time slice/event driven operating system, after all)
is hard to know.

 
  is an epiphenomenon at the
  scale of a human user
 
 Who's the user of my brain?

An implicit/inherent user in the situation of you as a collection of
electromagnetic phenomena extruded from the space you inhabit.

 
 Brent Meeker
 
 that has nothing to do with the experiential qualities
  of being the computer.
 
 What are the experiential qualities of being a computer?

At he moment all I can say is a likelihood... that it is not like anything,
ever, because there is no virtual matter being generated. There may be some
associated with the capacitances in the electronics, but until I analyse it
properly I won't know.

 and how can we
 know them?

By sorting out virtual matter.
(see my post on this of a couple of weeks back)
See above.
 
 Brent Meeker
 

You do love these odd questions, don't you? :-)

Colin



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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
  Like Bruno, I am not claiming that this is definitely the case, just that 
  it is the case if
  computationalism is true. Several philosophers (eg. Searle) have used the 
  self-evident
  absurdity of the idea as an argument demonstrating that computationalism is 
  false -
  that there is something non-computational about brains and consciousness. I 
  have not
  yet heard an argument that rejects this idea and saves computationalism.
 
 [ rolls up sleaves ]
 
 The idea is easilly refuted if it can be shown that computation doesn't
 require
 interpretation at all. It can also be refuted more circuitously by
 showing that
 computation is not entirely a matter of intepretation. In everythingism
 , eveything
 is equal. If some computations (the ones that don't depend on
 interpretation) are
 more equal than others, the way is still open for the Somethinginst
 to object
 that interpretation-independent computations are really real, and the
 others are
 mere possibilities.
 
 The claim has been made that computation is not much use without an
 interpretation.
 Well, if you define a computer as somethin that is used by a human,
 that is true.
 It is also very problematic to the computationalist claim that the
 human mind is a computer.
 Is the human mind of use to a human ? Well, yes, it helps us stay alive
 in various ways.
 But that is more to do with reacting to a real-time environment, than
 performing abstract symbolic manipulations or elaborate
 re-interpretations. (Computationalists need to be careful about how
 they define computer. Under
 some perfectly reasonable definitions -- for instance, defining a
 computer as
 a human invention -- computationalism is trivially false).

I don't mean anything controversial (I think) when I refer to interpretation of 
computation. Take a mercury thermometer: it would still do its thing if all 
sentient life in the universe died out, or even if there were no sentient life 
to 
build it in the first place and by amazing luck mercury and glass had come 
together 
in just the right configuration. But if there were someone around to observe it 
and 
understand it, or if it were attached to a thermostat and heater, the 
thermometer 
would have extra meaning - the same thermometer, doing the same thermometer 
stuff. Now, if thermometers were conscious, then part of their thermometer 
stuff might include knowing what the temperature was - all by themselves, 
without 
benefit of external observer. Furthermore, if thermometers were conscious, they 
might be dreaming of temperatures, or contemplating the meaning of 
consciousness, 
again in the absence of external observers, and this time in the absence of 
interaction 
with the real world. 

This, then, is the difference between a computation and a conscious 
computation. If 
a computation is unconscious, it can only have meaning/use/interpretation in 
the eyes 
of a beholder or in its interaction with the environment. If a computation is 
conscious, 
it may have meaning/use/interpretation in interacting with its environment, 
including 
other conscious beings, and for obvious reasons all the conscious computations 
we 
encounter will fall into that category; but a conscious computation can also 
have meaning 
all by itself, to itself. You might argue, as Brent Meeker has, that a 
conscious being would 
quickly lose consciousness if environmental interaction were cut off, but I 
think that is just 
a contingent fact about brains, and in any case, as Bruno Marchal has pointed 
out, you 
only need a nanosecond of consciousness to prove the point.

 It is of course true that the output of a programme intended to do one
 thing
 (system S, say) could be re-interpeted as something else. But what
 does it *mean* ?
 If computationalism is true whoever or whatever is doing the
 interpreting is another
 computational process. SO the ultimate result is formed by system S in
 connjunction
 with another systen. System S is merely acting as a subroutine. The
 Everythingist's
 intended conclusion is  that every physical system implements every
 computation.

That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me on 
the list, and 
I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every 
physical system 
implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any 
conscious 
computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the idea 
that a 
computation can be conscious in the first place. 

 But the evidence -- the re-interpretation scenario -- only supports the
 idea
 that any computational system could become part of a larger system that
 is
 doing something else. System S cannot be said to be simultaneously
 perforiming
 every possible computation *itself*. The multiple-computaton -- i.e
 multiple-interpretation
 -- scenario is dependent on a n intepreter. Having made computation
 dependent
 on interpretation, 

RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

 I think we need to say what it means for a computation to be 
 self-interpreting.  Many 
 control programs are written with self-monitoring functions and logging 
 functions. 
 Why would we not attribute consciousness to them?

Well, why not? Some people don't even think higher mammals are conscious, and 
perhaps 
some there are true solipsists who could convince themselves that other people 
are not really 
conscious as rationalisation for antisocial behaviour. On the other hand, maybe 
flies experience 
pain and fear when confronted with insecticide that is orders of magnitude 
greater than that 
of any mere human experience of torture, and maybe when I press the letter y 
on my 
keyboard I am subjecting my computer to the torments of hell. I don't buy the 
argument that 
only complex brains or computations can experience pain either: when I was a 
child I wasn't 
as smart as I am now, but I recall that it hurt a lot more and I was much more 
likely to cry when 
I cut myself. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE : computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Bruno Marchal

Brent Meeker wrote (through many posts):


 I won't insist, because you might be right, but I don't think that is  
 proven.  It may
 be that interaction with the environment is essential to continued  
 consciousness.



Assuming comp, I think that this is a red herring. To make this clear I  
use a notion of generalized brain in some longer version of the UDA.  
See perhaps:

http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list/browse_frm/thread/ 
4c995dee307def3b/9f94f4d49cb2b9e6? 
q=universal+dovetailerrnum=1#9f94f4d49cb2b9e6

The generalized brain is by definition the portion of whatever you need  
to turing-emulate to experience nothing or to survive in the relative  
way addressed through comp. It can contain any part of the environment.  
Note that in that case, assuming comp, such a part has to be assumed  
turing-emulable, or comp is just false.

Of course, if the generalized brain is the entire multiverse, the  
thought experiment with the doctor is harder to figure out, certainly.  
But already at the seventh step of the 8-steps-version of the UDA, you  
can understand that in front of the infinitely (even just potentially  
from all actual views) running UD, comp makes all your continuations  
UD-accessed. It would just mean, in that case, that there is a unique  
winning program with respect of building you. I doubt that, but that is  
not the point.

By the same token, it is also not difficult to get the evolution of  
brain into the notion of generalized brain, so that evolution is  
also a red herring when used as a critics of comp, despite the  
possibility of non computationnal aspect of evolution like geographical  
randomization à-la Washington/Moscow.



 I would bet on computationalism too.  But I still think the conclusion  
 that every
 physical process, even the null one, necessarily implements all  
 possible
 consciousness is absurd.


OK, but the point is just that comp implies that physical processes  
does not implement per se consciousness. They implements  
consciousness only as far as making that consciousness able to manifest  
itself relatively to its most probable computational history (among a  
continuum).






 Reductio ad absurdum of what? Comp or  (weak) Materialism?

 Bruno

 Dunno.  A reductio doesn't tell you which premise is wrong.



Nice. So you seem to agree with the UDA+movie-graph argument, we have:

not comp v not physical-supervenience.

This is equivalent to both:

comp - not physical supervenience, and
physical supervenience - not comp

Now I agree that at this stage(after UDA) it would be natural to  
abandon comp but then computer science and the translation of the UDA  
in the language of a universal turing machine (sufficiently rich, or  
lobian) such an abandonment could be premature (to say the least).  
Incompleteness should make us skeptical in front of any intuitive and  
too rapid conclusion.





 That's generally useful; but when we understand little about  
 something, such as
 consciousness, we should be careful about assuming what's  
 theoretically possible;
 particularly when it seems to lead to absurdities.


Mmh If we assume theoretical possibilities and then are led to  
absurdities, then we have learned something: evidences against the  
theoretical assumptions. If the absurdities can be transform into  
clear contradiction, perhaps by making the theoretical assumptions  
clearer, then we have prove something: the falsity of the assumptions.
I think you know that, and you were just quick, isn't' it?






 Stathis: In discussing Tim Maudlin's paper, Bruno has concluded
 that either computationalism is false or the supervenience theory is  
 false.

 As I understand it Bruno would say that physics supervenes on number  
 theory and
 consciousness supervenes on physics.  So physics is eliminable.


Note that Maudlin's arrives at the same conclusion than me: NOT comp OR  
NOT physical-supervenience. Mauldin's concludes then, assuming  
sup-phys, that comp is problematic (although he realized that not-comp  
is yet still more problematic). I conclude, just because I keep comp at  
this stage, that sup-phys is false, and this makes primary matter  
eliminable. Physics as a field is not eliminate of course, but is  
eliminated as a fundamental field. It is not so astonishing given that  
physics does not often seriously address the mind/body puzzle, and when  
it does (cf Bunge) it still uses the aristotle means to put the problem  
under the rug.




 That interpretation can be reduced to computation is implicit in  
 computationalism.
 The question is what, if anything, is unique about those computations  
 that execute
 interpretation.


Interpretation are done by interpreter, that is *universal* (turing)  
machine.
Perhaps we should agree on a definition, at least for the 3-notions: a  
3-interpretation can be encoded through a (in general infinite) trace  
of a computation.
With the [Fi, ...] and Fu being an universal function, and 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Peter Jones writes:
 
 
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:


Like Bruno, I am not claiming that this is definitely the case, just that it 
is the case if
computationalism is true. Several philosophers (eg. Searle) have used the 
self-evident
absurdity of the idea as an argument demonstrating that computationalism is 
false -
that there is something non-computational about brains and consciousness. I 
have not
yet heard an argument that rejects this idea and saves computationalism.

[ rolls up sleaves ]

The idea is easilly refuted if it can be shown that computation doesn't
require
interpretation at all. It can also be refuted more circuitously by
showing that
computation is not entirely a matter of intepretation. In everythingism
, eveything
is equal. If some computations (the ones that don't depend on
interpretation) are
more equal than others, the way is still open for the Somethinginst
to object
that interpretation-independent computations are really real, and the
others are
mere possibilities.

The claim has been made that computation is not much use without an
interpretation.
Well, if you define a computer as somethin that is used by a human,
that is true.
It is also very problematic to the computationalist claim that the
human mind is a computer.
Is the human mind of use to a human ? Well, yes, it helps us stay alive
in various ways.
But that is more to do with reacting to a real-time environment, than
performing abstract symbolic manipulations or elaborate
re-interpretations. (Computationalists need to be careful about how
they define computer. Under
some perfectly reasonable definitions -- for instance, defining a
computer as
a human invention -- computationalism is trivially false).
 
 
 I don't mean anything controversial (I think) when I refer to interpretation 
 of 
 computation. Take a mercury thermometer: it would still do its thing if all 
 sentient life in the universe died out, or even if there were no sentient 
 life to 
 build it in the first place and by amazing luck mercury and glass had come 
 together 
 in just the right configuration. But if there were someone around to observe 
 it and 
 understand it, or if it were attached to a thermostat and heater, the 
 thermometer 
 would have extra meaning - the same thermometer, doing the same thermometer 
 stuff. Now, if thermometers were conscious, then part of their thermometer 
 stuff might include knowing what the temperature was - all by themselves, 
 without 
 benefit of external observer. 

We should ask ourselves how do we know the thermometer isn't conscious of the 
temperature?  It seems that the answer has been that it's state or activity 
*could* 
be intepreted in many ways other than indicating the temperature; therefore it 
must 
be said to unconscious of the temperature or we must allow that it implements 
all 
conscious thought (or at least all for which there is a possible interpretative 
mapping).  But I see it's state and activity as relative to our shared 
environment; 
and this greatly constrains what it can be said to compute, e.g. the 
temperature, 
the expansion coefficient of Hg...   With this constraint, then I think there 
is no 
problem in saying the thermometer is conscious at the extremely low level of 
being 
aware of the temperature or the expansion coefficient of Hg or whatever else is 
within the constraint.

Furthermore, if thermometers were conscious, they 
 might be dreaming of temperatures, or contemplating the meaning of 
 consciousness, 
 again in the absence of external observers, and this time in the absence of 
 interaction 
 with the real world. 
 
 This, then, is the difference between a computation and a conscious 
 computation. If 
 a computation is unconscious, it can only have meaning/use/interpretation in 
 the eyes 
 of a beholder or in its interaction with the environment. 

But this is a useless definition of the difference.  To apply we have to know 
whether 
some putative conscious computation has meaning to itself; which we can only 
know by 
knowing whether it is conscious or not.  It makes consciousness ineffable and 
so 
makes the question of whether computationalism is true an insoluble mystery.

Even worse it makes it impossible for us to know whether we're talking about 
the same 
thing when we use the word consciousness.

If a computation is conscious, 
 it may have meaning/use/interpretation in interacting with its environment, 
 including 
 other conscious beings, and for obvious reasons all the conscious 
 computations we 
 encounter will fall into that category; but a conscious computation can also 
 have meaning 
 all by itself, to itself. 

I think this is implicitly circular.  Consciousness supplies meaning through 
intepretation.  But meaning is defined only as what consciousness supplies.

It is to break this circularity that I invoke the role of the enviroment.  
Certainly 
for language, it is our shared environment that makes it possible to 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
I think we need to say what it means for a computation to be 
self-interpreting.  Many 
control programs are written with self-monitoring functions and logging 
functions. 
Why would we not attribute consciousness to them?
 
 
 Well, why not? Some people don't even think higher mammals are conscious, and 
 perhaps 
 some there are true solipsists who could convince themselves that other 
 people are not really 
 conscious as rationalisation for antisocial behaviour. 

Autistic people don't emphathize with others feelings - perhaps because they 
don't 
have them.  But their behavoir, and I would expect the behavoir of a real 
solipist, 
would be simply asocial.

On the other hand, maybe flies experience 
 pain and fear when confronted with insecticide that is orders of magnitude 
 greater than that 
 of any mere human experience of torture, and maybe when I press the letter 
 y on my 
 keyboard I am subjecting my computer to the torments of hell. 

And maybe every physical process implements all possible computations - but I 
see no 
reason to believe so.

I don't buy the argument that 
 only complex brains or computations can experience pain either: when I was a 
 child I wasn't 
 as smart as I am now, but I recall that it hurt a lot more and I was much 
 more likely to cry when 
 I cut myself. 
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

You write as though we know nothing about the physical basis of pain and fear.  
There 
is a lot of empirical evidence about what prevents pain in humans, you can even 
get a 
  degree in aesthesiology.  Fear can be induced by psychotropic drugs and 
relieved by 
whisky.

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

 Why not?  Can't we map bat conscious-computation to human 
 conscious-computation; 
 since you suppose we can map any computation to any other.  But, you're 
 thinking, 
 since there a practical infinity of maps (even a countable infinity if you 
 allow 
 one-many) there is no way to know which is the correct map.  There is if 
 you and the 
 bat share an environment.
  
  
  You're right that the correct mapping is the one in which you and the bat 
  share the 
  environment. That is what interaction with the environment does: forces us 
  to choose 
  one mapping out of all the possible ones, whether that involves talking to 
  another person 
  or using a computer. However, that doesn't mean I know everything about 
  bats if I know 
  everything about bat-computations. If it did, that would mean there was no 
  difference 
  between zombie bats and conscious bats, no difference between first person 
  knowledge 
  and third person or vicarious knowledge.
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
 
 I don't find either of those conclusions absurd.  Computationalism is 
 generally 
 thought to entail both of them.  Bruno's theory that identifies knowledge 
 with 
 provability is the only form of computationalism that seems to allow the 
 distinction 
 in a fundamental way.

The Turing test would seem to imply that if it behaves like a bat, it has the 
mental states of a 
bat, and maybe this is a good practical test, but I think we can keep 
computationalism/strong AI 
and allow that it might have different mental states and still behave the same. 
A person given 
an opiod drug still experiences pain, although less intensely, and would be 
easily able to fool the 
Turing tester into believing that he is experiecing the same pain as in the 
undrugged state. By 
extension, it is logically possible, though unlikely, that the subject may have 
no conscious experiences 
at all. The usual argument against this is that by the same reasoning we cannot 
be sure that our 
fellow humans are conscious. This is strictly true, but we have two reasons for 
assuming other 
people are conscious: they behave like we do and their brains are similar to 
ours. I don't think 
it would be unreasonable to wonder whether a digital computer that behaves like 
we do really 
has the same mental states as a human, while still believing that it is 
theoretically possible that a 
close enough analogue of a human brain would have the same mental states.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

  I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
  conscious 
  computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
  computationalism 
  have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
  conscious 
  computation as evidence that there is something special and 
  non-computational 
  about the brain. Maybe they're right.
  
  Stathis Papaioannou
 
 Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
 computation 
 (which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with some 
 special 
 structure are conscious.

It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that only 
computations 
implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. You need 
the 
hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a God-given 
programming 
language against which candidate computations can be measured.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Colin Hales



 -Original Message-
Stathis Papaioannou
 
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
  Why not?  Can't we map bat conscious-computation to human conscious-
 computation;
  since you suppose we can map any computation to any other.  But,
 you're thinking,
  since there a practical infinity of maps (even a countable infinity if
 you allow
  one-many) there is no way to know which is the correct map.  There is
 if you and the
  bat share an environment.
  
  
   You're right that the correct mapping is the one in which you and the
 bat share the
   environment. That is what interaction with the environment does:
 forces us to choose
   one mapping out of all the possible ones, whether that involves
 talking to another person
   or using a computer. However, that doesn't mean I know everything
 about bats if I know
   everything about bat-computations. If it did, that would mean there
 was no difference
   between zombie bats and conscious bats, no difference between first
 person knowledge
   and third person or vicarious knowledge.
  
   Stathis Papaioannou
 
  I don't find either of those conclusions absurd.  Computationalism is
 generally
  thought to entail both of them.  Bruno's theory that identifies
 knowledge with
  provability is the only form of computationalism that seems to allow the
 distinction
  in a fundamental way.
 
 The Turing test would seem to imply that if it behaves like a bat, it has
 the mental states of a
 bat, and maybe this is a good practical test, but I think we can keep
 computationalism/strong AI
 and allow that it might have different mental states and still behave the
 same. A person given
 an opiod drug still experiences pain, although less intensely, and would
 be easily able to fool the
 Turing tester into believing that he is experiecing the same pain as in
 the undrugged state. By
 extension, it is logically possible, though unlikely, that the subject may
 have no conscious experiences
 at all. The usual argument against this is that by the same reasoning we
 cannot be sure that our
 fellow humans are conscious. This is strictly true, but we have two
 reasons for assuming other
 people are conscious: they behave like we do and their brains are similar
 to ours. I don't think
 it would be unreasonable to wonder whether a digital computer that behaves
 like we do really
 has the same mental states as a human, while still believing that it is
 theoretically possible that a
 close enough analogue of a human brain would have the same mental states.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

I am so glad to here this come onto the list, Stathis. Your argument is
logically equivalentI took this argument (from the recent thread) over
to the JCS-ONLINE forum and threw it in there to see what would happen. As a
result I wrote a short paper ostensibly to dispose of the solipsism argument
once and for all by demonstrating empirical proof of the existence of
consciousness, (if not any particular details within it). In it is some of
the stuff from the thread...and acknowledgement to the list.

I expect it will be rejected as usual... regardless...it's encouraging to at
least see a little glimmer of hope that some of the old arguments that get
trotted out are getting a little frayed around the edges..

If anyone wants to see it they are welcome... just email me. Or perhaps I
could put it in the google forum somewhere... it can do that, can't it?

BTW: The 'what it is like' of a Turing machine = what it is like to be a
tape and tape reader, regardless of what is on the tape. 'tape_reader_ness',
I assume... :-)

Regards,


Colin Hales



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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
Why not?  Can't we map bat conscious-computation to human 
conscious-computation; 
since you suppose we can map any computation to any other.  But, you're 
thinking, 
since there a practical infinity of maps (even a countable infinity if you 
allow 
one-many) there is no way to know which is the correct map.  There is if 
you and the 
bat share an environment.


You're right that the correct mapping is the one in which you and the bat 
share the 
environment. That is what interaction with the environment does: forces us 
to choose 
one mapping out of all the possible ones, whether that involves talking to 
another person 
or using a computer. However, that doesn't mean I know everything about bats 
if I know 
everything about bat-computations. If it did, that would mean there was no 
difference 
between zombie bats and conscious bats, no difference between first person 
knowledge 
and third person or vicarious knowledge.

Stathis Papaioannou

I don't find either of those conclusions absurd.  Computationalism is 
generally 
thought to entail both of them.  Bruno's theory that identifies knowledge 
with 
provability is the only form of computationalism that seems to allow the 
distinction 
in a fundamental way.
 
 
 The Turing test would seem to imply that if it behaves like a bat, it has the 
 mental states of a 
 bat, and maybe this is a good practical test, but I think we can keep 
 computationalism/strong AI 
 and allow that it might have different mental states and still behave the 
 same. A person given 
 an opiod drug still experiences pain, although less intensely, and would be 
 easily able to fool the 
 Turing tester into believing that he is experiecing the same pain as in the 
 undrugged state. By 
 extension, it is logically possible, though unlikely, that the subject may 
 have no conscious experiences 
 at all. The usual argument against this is that by the same reasoning we 
 cannot be sure that our 
 fellow humans are conscious. This is strictly true, but we have two reasons 
 for assuming other 
 people are conscious: they behave like we do and their brains are similar to 
 ours. I don't think 
 it would be unreasonable to wonder whether a digital computer that behaves 
 like we do really 
 has the same mental states as a human, while still believing that it is 
 theoretically possible that a 
 close enough analogue of a human brain would have the same mental states.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

I agree with that.  It would be hard to say whether a robot whose computation 
was via 
a digital computer implementing something like a production system was 
conscious or 
not even if its behavoir were very close to human.  On the other hand it would 
also 
be hard to say that another robot, whose computation was by digital simulation 
of a 
neural network modeled on a mammalian brain and whose behavoir was very close 
to 
human, was *not* conscious.

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a 
conscious 
computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
computationalism 
have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
conscious 
computation as evidence that there is something special and 
non-computational 
about the brain. Maybe they're right.

Stathis Papaioannou

Why not reject the idea that any computation implements every possible 
computation 
(which seems absurd to me)?  Then allow that only computations with some 
special 
structure are conscious.
 
 
 It's possible, but once you start in that direction you can say that only 
 computations 
 implemented on this machine rather than that machine can be conscious. You 
 need the 
 hardware in order to specify structure, unless you can think of a God-given 
 programming 
 language against which candidate computations can be measured.

I regard that as a feature - not a bug. :-)

Disembodied computation doesn't quite seem absurd - but our empirical sample 
argues 
for embodiment.

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Stathis Papaioannou



Brent meeker writes:

 I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
 withdraw it's 
 hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the 
 robot with 
 feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it 
 would be 
 conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
 noted the 
 painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's 
 strong negative 
 affect; then I think it would be conscious.
 
 
 It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
 *before* they experience 
 the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with 
 the most primitive 
 central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an 
 afterthought to teach us a 
 lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary 
 utility consciousness 
 does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning. 
 
 Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it. 
 Are you 
 familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?
  
  
  These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, 
  motor cortex activity 
  actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
  fraction of a second. 
  In other words, we act first, then decide to act. These studies did not 
  examine pre-planned 
  action (presumably that would be far more technically difficult) but it is 
  easy to imagine the analogous 
  situation whereby the action is unconsciously planned before we become 
  aware of our decision. In 
  other words, free will is just a feeling which occurs after the fact. This 
  is consistent with the logical 
  impossibility of something that is neither random nor determined, which is 
  what I feel my free will to be.
  
  
 I also think that this is an argument against zombies. If it were possible 
 for an organism to 
 behave just like a conscious being, but actually be unconscious, then why 
 would consciousness 
 have evolved? 
 
 An interesting point - but hard to give any answer before pinning down what 
 we mean 
 by consciousness.  For example Bruno, Julian Jaynes, and Daniel Dennett 
 have 
 explanations; but they explain somewhat different consciousnesses, or at 
 least 
 different aspects.
  
  
  Consciousness is the hardest thing to explain but the easiest thing to 
  understand, if it's your own 
  consciousness at issue. I think we can go a long way discussing it assuming 
  that we do know what 
  we are talking about even though we can't explain it. The question I ask 
  is, why did people evolve 
  with this consciousness thing, whatever it is? The answer must be, I think, 
  that it is a necessary 
  side-effect of the sort of neural complexity that underpins our behaviour. 
  If it were not, and it 
  were possible that beings could behave exactly like humans and not be 
  conscious, then it would 
  have been wasteful of nature to have provided us with consciousness. 
 
 This is not necessarily so.  First, evolution is constrained by what goes 
 before. 
 Its engineering solutions often seem rube-goldberg, e.g. backward retina in 
 mammals. 

Sure, but vision itself would not have evolved unnecessarily.

   Second, there is selection against some evolved feature only to the extent 
 it has a 
 (net) cost.  For example, Jaynes explanation of consciousness conforms to 
 these two 
 criteria.  I think that any species that evolves intelligence comparable to 
 ours will 
 be conscious for reasons somewhat like Jaynes theory.  They will be social 
 and this 
 combined with intelligence will make language a good evolutionary move.  Once 
 they 
 have language, remembering what has happened, in order to communicate and 
 plan, in 
 symbolic terms will be a easy and natural evolvement.  Whether that leads to 
 hearing 
 your own narrative in your head, as Jaynes supposes, is questionable; but it 
 would be 
 consistent with evolution. It takes advantage of existing structure and 
 functions to 
 realize a useful new function.

Agreed. So consciousness is either there for a reason or it's a necessary 
side-effect of the sort 
of brains we have and the way we have evolved. It's still theoretically 
possible that if the latter 
is the case, we might have been unconscious if we had evolved completely 
different kinds of 
brains, but similar behaviour - although I think it unlikely.
 
 This does not necessarily 
  mean that computers can be conscious: maybe if we had evolved with 
  electronic circuits in our 
  heads rather than neurons consciousness would not have been a necessary 
  side-effect. 
 
 But my point is that this may come down to what we would mean by a computer 
 being 
 conscious.  Bruno has an answer in terms of what the computer can prove.  
 Jaynes (and 
 probably John McCarthy) would say a computer is conscious if it creates a 
 narrative 
 of its experience 

RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Colin Hales


Stathis Papaioannou
snip
 Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically
 possible to explain what consciousness
 *is* unless you have it. It's like the problem of explaining vision to a
 blind man: he might be the world's
 greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is
 like to see - and that's even though
 he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans,
 and can understand analogies
 using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious computer
 would have to run to be
 conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not help
 me to understand what the
 computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself
 experience.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 

Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
zombie.

Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.

Note that this zombie...
a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.

I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.

No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.

Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).

The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).

In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
can be detected. The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
programs are).
---
Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
programs!

I am a zombie expert! No that didn't come out right...erm
perhaps... I think I might be a world expert in zombies yes, that's
better.
:-)
Colin Hales


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
 
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
withdraw it's 
hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the 
robot with 
feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it 
would be 
conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
noted the 
painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's 
strong negative 
affect; then I think it would be conscious.


It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
*before* they experience 
the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with 
the most primitive 
central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an 
afterthought to teach us a 
lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary 
utility consciousness 
does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning. 

Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it. 
Are you 
familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?


These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, 
motor cortex activity 
actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
fraction of a second. 
In other words, we act first, then decide to act. These studies did not 
examine pre-planned 
action (presumably that would be far more technically difficult) but it is 
easy to imagine the analogous 
situation whereby the action is unconsciously planned before we become 
aware of our decision. In 
other words, free will is just a feeling which occurs after the fact. This 
is consistent with the logical 
impossibility of something that is neither random nor determined, which is 
what I feel my free will to be.



I also think that this is an argument against zombies. If it were possible 
for an organism to 
behave just like a conscious being, but actually be unconscious, then why 
would consciousness 
have evolved? 

An interesting point - but hard to give any answer before pinning down what 
we mean 
by consciousness.  For example Bruno, Julian Jaynes, and Daniel Dennett 
have 
explanations; but they explain somewhat different consciousnesses, or at 
least 
different aspects.


Consciousness is the hardest thing to explain but the easiest thing to 
understand, if it's your own 
consciousness at issue. I think we can go a long way discussing it assuming 
that we do know what 
we are talking about even though we can't explain it. The question I ask is, 
why did people evolve 
with this consciousness thing, whatever it is? The answer must be, I think, 
that it is a necessary 
side-effect of the sort of neural complexity that underpins our behaviour. 
If it were not, and it 
were possible that beings could behave exactly like humans and not be 
conscious, then it would 
have been wasteful of nature to have provided us with consciousness. 

This is not necessarily so.  First, evolution is constrained by what goes 
before. 
Its engineering solutions often seem rube-goldberg, e.g. backward retina in 
mammals. 
 
 
 Sure, but vision itself would not have evolved unnecessarily.
 
 
  Second, there is selection against some evolved feature only to the extent 
 it has a 
(net) cost.  For example, Jaynes explanation of consciousness conforms to 
these two 
criteria.  I think that any species that evolves intelligence comparable to 
ours will 
be conscious for reasons somewhat like Jaynes theory.  They will be social 
and this 
combined with intelligence will make language a good evolutionary move.  Once 
they 
have language, remembering what has happened, in order to communicate and 
plan, in 
symbolic terms will be a easy and natural evolvement.  Whether that leads to 
hearing 
your own narrative in your head, as Jaynes supposes, is questionable; but it 
would be 
consistent with evolution. It takes advantage of existing structure and 
functions to 
realize a useful new function.
 
 
 Agreed. So consciousness is either there for a reason or it's a necessary 
 side-effect of the sort 
 of brains we have and the way we have evolved. It's still theoretically 
 possible that if the latter 
 is the case, we might have been unconscious if we had evolved completely 
 different kinds of 
 brains, but similar behaviour - although I think it unlikely.
  
 
This does not necessarily 
mean that computers can be conscious: maybe if we had evolved with 
electronic circuits in our 
heads rather than neurons consciousness would not have been a necessary 
side-effect. 

But my point is that this may come down to what we would mean by a computer 
being 
conscious.  Bruno has an answer in terms of what the computer can prove.  
Jaynes (and 
probably John McCarthy) would say a computer is conscious if it creates a 
narrative 
of its experience which it can access as memory.
 
 
 Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-11 Thread Brent Meeker

Colin Hales wrote:
 
 Stathis Papaioannou
 snip
 
Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically
possible to explain what consciousness
*is* unless you have it. It's like the problem of explaining vision to a
blind man: he might be the world's
greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is
like to see - and that's even though
he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans,
and can understand analogies
using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious computer
would have to run to be
conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not help
me to understand what the
computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself
experience.

Stathis Papaioannou

 
 
 Please consider the plight of the zombie scientist with a huge set of
 sensory feeds and similar set of effectors. All carry similar signal
 encoding and all, in themselves, bestow no experiential qualities on the
 zombie.
 
 Add a capacity to detect regularity in the sensory feeds.
 Add a scientific goal-seeking behaviour.
 
 Note that this zombie...
 a) has the internal life of a dreamless sleep
 b) has no concept or percept of body or periphery
 c) has no concept that it is embedded in a universe.
 
 I put it to you that science (the extraction of regularity) is the science
 of zombie sensory fields, not the science of the natural world outside the
 zombie scientist. No amount of creativity (except maybe random choices)
 would ever lead to any abstraction of the outside world that gave it the
 ability to handle novelty in the natural world outside the zombie scientist.
 
 No matter how sophisticated the sensory feeds and any guesswork as to a
 model (abstraction) of the universe, the zombie would eventually find
 novelty invisible because the sensory feeds fail to depict the novelty .ie.
 same sensory feeds for different behaviour of the natural world.
 
 Technology built by a zombie scientist would replicate zombie sensory feeds,
 not deliver an independently operating novel chunk of hardware with a
 defined function(if the idea of function even has meaning in this instance).
 
 The purpose of consciousness is, IMO, to endow the cognitive agent with at
 least a repeatable (not accurate!) simile of the universe outside the
 cognitive agent so that novelty can be handled. Only then can the zombie
 scientist detect arbitrary levels of novelty and do open ended science (or
 survive in the wild world of novel environmental circumstance).

Almost all organisms have become extinct.  Handling *arbitrary* levels of 
novelty is 
probably too much to ask of any species; and it's certainly more than is 
necessary to 
survive for millenia.

 
 In the absence of the functionality of phenomenal consciousness and with
 finite sensory feeds you cannot construct any world-model (abstraction) in
 the form of an innate (a-priori) belief system that will deliver an endless
 ability to discriminate novelty. In a very Godellian way eventually a limit
 would be reach where the abstracted model could not make any prediction that
 can be detected. 

So that's how we got string theory!

The zombie is, in a very real way, faced with 'truths' that
 exist but can't be accessed/perceived. As such its behaviour will be
 fundamentally fragile in the face of novelty (just like all computer
 programs are).

How do you know we are so robust.  Planck said, A new idea prevails, not by 
the 
conversion of adherents, but by the retirement and demise of opponents.  In 
other 
words only the young have the flexibility to adopt new ideas.  Ironically 
Planck 
never really believed quantum mechanics was more than a calculational trick.

 ---
 Just to make the zombie a little more real... consider the industrial
 control system computer. I have designed, installed hundreds and wired up
 tens (hundreds?) of thousands of sensors and an unthinkable number of
 kilometers of cables. (NEVER again!) In all cases I put it to you that the
 phenomenal content of sensory connections may, at best, be characterised as
 whatever it is like to have electrons crash through wires, for that is what
 is actually going on. As far as the internal life of the CPU is concerned...
 whatever it is like to be an electrically noisy hot rock, regardless of the
 programalthough the character of the noise may alter with different
 programs!

That's like say whatever it is like to be you, it is at best some waves of 
chemical 
potential.  You don't *know* that the control system is not conscious - unless 
you 
know what structure or function makes a system conscious.

Brent Meeker

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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-10 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

 I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
 withdraw it's 
 hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the robot 
 with 
 feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it 
 would be 
 conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
 noted the 
 painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's strong 
 negative 
 affect; then I think it would be conscious.
  
  
  It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
  *before* they experience 
  the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with 
  the most primitive 
  central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an 
  afterthought to teach us a 
  lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary 
  utility consciousness 
  does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning. 
 
 Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it. 
 Are you 
 familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?

These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, motor 
cortex activity 
actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
fraction of a second. 
In other words, we act first, then decide to act. These studies did not 
examine pre-planned 
action (presumably that would be far more technically difficult) but it is easy 
to imagine the analogous 
situation whereby the action is unconsciously planned before we become aware 
of our decision. In 
other words, free will is just a feeling which occurs after the fact. This is 
consistent with the logical 
impossibility of something that is neither random nor determined, which is what 
I feel my free will to be.

  I also think that this is an argument against zombies. If it were possible 
  for an organism to 
  behave just like a conscious being, but actually be unconscious, then why 
  would consciousness 
  have evolved? 
 
 An interesting point - but hard to give any answer before pinning down what 
 we mean 
 by consciousness.  For example Bruno, Julian Jaynes, and Daniel Dennett have 
 explanations; but they explain somewhat different consciousnesses, or at 
 least 
 different aspects.

Consciousness is the hardest thing to explain but the easiest thing to 
understand, if it's your own 
consciousness at issue. I think we can go a long way discussing it assuming 
that we do know what 
we are talking about even though we can't explain it. The question I ask is, 
why did people evolve 
with this consciousness thing, whatever it is? The answer must be, I think, 
that it is a necessary 
side-effect of the sort of neural complexity that underpins our behaviour. If 
it were not, and it 
were possible that beings could behave exactly like humans and not be 
conscious, then it would 
have been wasteful of nature to have provided us with consciousness. This does 
not necessarily 
mean that computers can be conscious: maybe if we had evolved with electronic 
circuits in our 
heads rather than neurons consciousness would not have been a necessary 
side-effect. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-10 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

  I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you have
  made the point several times that a computation depends on an observer
 
 
 No, I haven't! I have tried ot follow through the consequences of
 assuming it must.
 It seems to me that some sort of absurdity or contradiction ensues.

OK. This has been a long and complicated thread.
 
  for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious (remember,
  this is an assumption) then in that special case an external observer is not
  needed.
 
 Why not ? (Well, I would be quite happy that a conscious
 computation would have some inherent structural property --
 I want to foind out why *you* would think it doesn't).

I think it goes against standard computationalism if you say that a conscious 
computation has some inherent structural property. Opponents of 
computationalism 
have used the absurdity of the conclusion that anything implements any 
conscious 
computation as evidence that there is something special and non-computational 
about the brain. Maybe they're right.

Stathis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-10 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 
Now, suppose some more complex variant of 3+2=3 implemented on your 
abacus has consciousness associated with it, which is just one of the 
tenets of computationalism. Some time later, you are walking in the 
Amazon rain forest and notice that
under a certain mapping
  
  
of birds to beads and trees to wires, the forest is implementing the 
same computation as your abacus was. So if your abacus was conscious, 
and computationalism is true, the tree-bird sytem should also be 
conscious.
  
   No necessarily, because the mapping is required too. Why should
   it still be conscious if no-one is around to make the mapping.
 
  Are you claiming that a conscious machine stops being conscious if its 
  designers die
  and all the information about how it works is lost?
 
 You are, if anyone is. I don't agree that computation *must* be
 interpreted,
 although they *can* be re-interpreted.

What I claim is this:

A computation does not *need* to be interpreted, it just is. However, a 
computation 
does need to be interpreted, or interact with its environment in some way, if 
it is to be 
interesting or meaningful. By analogy, a string of characters is a string of 
characters 
whether or not anyone interprets it, but it is not interesting or meaningful 
unless it is 
interpreted. But if a computation, or for that matter a string of characters, 
is conscious, 
then it is interesting and meaningful in at least one sense in the absence of 
an external 
observer: it is interesting and meaningful to itself. If it were not, then it 
wouldn't be 
conscious. The conscious things in the world have an internal life, a first 
person 
phenomenal experience, a certain ineffable something, whatever you want to call 
it, 
while the unconscious things do not. That is the difference between them.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-10 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Peter Jones writes:



With physical supervenience, it is possible for the same person to
supervene on multiple physical objects. What is disallowed is multiple
persons to supervene on the same physical object.

That is what is usually understood, but there is no logical reason why
the relationship between the physical and the mental cannot be
one-many, in much the same way as a written message can have
several meanings depending on its interpretation.

There is a reason: multiple meanings depend on external observers
and interpretations. But who observes the multiverse ?


I'm not sure how the multiverse comes into the discussion, but you have 
made the point several times that a computation depends on an observer 
for its meaning. I agree, but *if* computations can be conscious (remember, 
this is an assumption) then in that special case an external observer is not 
needed. In fact, that is as good a definition of consciousness as any: it is 
that aspect of an entity that cannot be captured by an external observer, 
but only experienced by the entity itself. Once we learn every observable 
fact about stars we know all about stars, but if we learn every observable 
fact about bats, we still don't know what it is like to be a bat. 

Why not?  Can't we map bat conscious-computation to human 
conscious-computation; 
since you suppose we can map any computation to any other.  But, you're 
thinking, 
since there a practical infinity of maps (even a countable infinity if you 
allow 
one-many) there is no way to know which is the correct map.  There is if you 
and the 
bat share an environment.
 
 
 You're right that the correct mapping is the one in which you and the bat 
 share the 
 environment. That is what interaction with the environment does: forces us to 
 choose 
 one mapping out of all the possible ones, whether that involves talking to 
 another person 
 or using a computer. However, that doesn't mean I know everything about bats 
 if I know 
 everything about bat-computations. If it did, that would mean there was no 
 difference 
 between zombie bats and conscious bats, no difference between first person 
 knowledge 
 and third person or vicarious knowledge.
 
 Stathis Papaioannou

I don't find either of those conclusions absurd.  Computationalism is generally 
thought to entail both of them.  Bruno's theory that identifies knowledge with 
provability is the only form of computationalism that seems to allow the 
distinction 
in a fundamental way.

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-10 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly 
withdraw it's 
hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it.  Even if I provide the robot 
with 
feelings, i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it 
would be 
conscious.  But if I provide it with attention and memory, so that it 
noted the 
painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's strong 
negative 
affect; then I think it would be conscious.


It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire 
*before* they experience 
the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with 
the most primitive 
central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an afterthought 
to teach us a 
lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary 
utility consciousness 
does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning. 

Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it. 
Are you 
familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?
 
 
 These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion, 
 motor cortex activity 
 actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial 
 fraction of a second. 
 In other words, we act first, then decide to act. These studies did not 
 examine pre-planned 
 action (presumably that would be far more technically difficult) but it is 
 easy to imagine the analogous 
 situation whereby the action is unconsciously planned before we become 
 aware of our decision. In 
 other words, free will is just a feeling which occurs after the fact. This is 
 consistent with the logical 
 impossibility of something that is neither random nor determined, which is 
 what I feel my free will to be.
 
 
I also think that this is an argument against zombies. If it were possible 
for an organism to 
behave just like a conscious being, but actually be unconscious, then why 
would consciousness 
have evolved? 

An interesting point - but hard to give any answer before pinning down what 
we mean 
by consciousness.  For example Bruno, Julian Jaynes, and Daniel Dennett have 
explanations; but they explain somewhat different consciousnesses, or at 
least 
different aspects.
 
 
 Consciousness is the hardest thing to explain but the easiest thing to 
 understand, if it's your own 
 consciousness at issue. I think we can go a long way discussing it assuming 
 that we do know what 
 we are talking about even though we can't explain it. The question I ask is, 
 why did people evolve 
 with this consciousness thing, whatever it is? The answer must be, I think, 
 that it is a necessary 
 side-effect of the sort of neural complexity that underpins our behaviour. If 
 it were not, and it 
 were possible that beings could behave exactly like humans and not be 
 conscious, then it would 
 have been wasteful of nature to have provided us with consciousness. 

This is not necessarily so.  First, evolution is constrained by what goes 
before. 
Its engineering solutions often seem rube-goldberg, e.g. backward retina in 
mammals. 
  Second, there is selection against some evolved feature only to the extent it 
has a 
(net) cost.  For example, Jaynes explanation of consciousness conforms to these 
two 
criteria.  I think that any species that evolves intelligence comparable to 
ours will 
be conscious for reasons somewhat like Jaynes theory.  They will be social and 
this 
combined with intelligence will make language a good evolutionary move.  Once 
they 
have language, remembering what has happened, in order to communicate and plan, 
in 
symbolic terms will be a easy and natural evolvement.  Whether that leads to 
hearing 
your own narrative in your head, as Jaynes supposes, is questionable; but it 
would be 
consistent with evolution. It takes advantage of existing structure and 
functions to 
realize a useful new function.

This does not necessarily 
 mean that computers can be conscious: maybe if we had evolved with electronic 
 circuits in our 
 heads rather than neurons consciousness would not have been a necessary 
 side-effect. 

But my point is that this may come down to what we would mean by a computer 
being 
conscious.  Bruno has an answer in terms of what the computer can prove.  
Jaynes (and 
probably John McCarthy) would say a computer is conscious if it creates a 
narrative 
of its experience which it can access as memory.

Brent Meeker


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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Brent Meeker writes:

  A non-conscious computation cannot be *useful* without the 
  manual/interpretation,
  and in this sense could be called just a potential computation, but a 
  conscious
  computation is still *conscious* even if no-one else is able to figure this 
  out or
  interact with it. If a working brain in a vat were sealed in a box and sent 
  into
  space, it could still be dreaming away even after the whole human race and 
  all
  their information on brain function are destroyed in a supernova explosion. 
  As far
  as any alien is concerned who comes across it, the brain might be completely
  inscrutable, but that would not make the slightest difference to its 
  conscious
  experience.
 
 Suppose the aliens re-implanted the brain in a human body so they could 
 interact with
 it.  They ask it what is was dreaming all those years?  I think the answer 
 might
 be, Years?  What years?  It was just a few seconds ago I was in the hospital 
 for an
 appendectomy.  What happened?  And who are you guys?

Maybe so; even more likely, the brain would just die. But these are contingent 
facts about 
human brains, while thought experiments rely on theoretical possibility.
 
  then it can be seen as implementing more than one computation
  simultaneously during the given interval.
  
  AFAICS that is only true in terms of dictionaries.
  
  Right: without the dictionary, it's not very interesting or relevant to 
  *us*.
  If we were to actually map a random physical process onto an arbitrary
  computation of interest, that would be at least as much work as building 
  and
  programming a conventional computer to carry out the computation. However,
  doing the mapping does not make a difference to the *system* (assuming we
  aren't going to use it to interact with it). If we say that under a 
  certain
  interpretation - here it is, printed out on paper - the system is 
  implementing
  a conscious computation, it would still be implementing that computation 
  if we
  had never determined and printed out the interpretation.
 
 And if you added the random values of the physical process as an appendix in 
 the
 manual, would the manual itself then be a computation (the record problem)?  
 If so
 how would you tell if it were a conscious computation?

The actual physical process becomes almost irrelevant. In the limiting case, 
all of the 
computation is contained in the manual, the physical existence of which makes 
no 
difference to whether or not the computation is implemented, since it makes no 
difference 
to the actual physical activity of the system and the theory under 
consideration is that 
consciousness supervenes on this physical activity. If we get rid of the 
qualifier almost 
the result is close to Bruno's theory, according to which the physical activity 
is irrelevant 
and the computation is run by virtue of its status as a Platonic object. As I 
understand 
it, Bruno arrives at this idea because it seems less absurd than the idea that 
consciousness 
supervenes on any and every physical process, while Maudlin finds both ideas 
absurd and 
thinks there is something wrong with computationalism.
 
  The problem remains that the system's own self awareness, or lack thereof, 
  is
  not observer-relative. something has to give.
  
  
  Self-awareness is observer-relative with the observer being oneself. Where 
  is the
  difficulty?
 
 Self-awareness is awareness of some specific aspect of a construct called 
 myself.
 It is not strictly reflexive awareness of the being aware of being aware...  
 So in
 the abstract computation it is just this part of a computation having some 
 relation
 we identify as awareness relative to some other part of the computation.  I 
 think
 it is a matter of constructing a narrative for memory in which I is just 
 another
 player.

I don't think self-awareness captures the essence of consciousness. We 
commonly think 
that consciousness is associated with intelligence, which is perhaps why it is 
often stated 
that a recording cannot be conscious, since a recording will not adapt to its 
environment in 
the manner we normally expect of intelligent agents. However, consider the 
experience of 
pain when you put your hand over a flame. There is certainly intelligent 
behaviour associated 
with this experience - learning to avoid it - but there is nothing 
intelligent about the raw 
experience of pain itself. It simply seems that when certain neurons in the 
brain fire, you 
experience a pain, as reliably and as stupidly as flicking a switch turns on a 
light. When an 
infant or an animal screams in agony it is not engaging in self-reflection, and 
for that matter 
neither is a philosopher: acute pain usually displaces every other concurrent 
conscious 
experience. A being  played a recording of a painful experience over and over 
into the relevant 
neural pathways may not be able to meaningfully interact with its environment, 
but it will 
be hellishly 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
A non-conscious computation cannot be *useful* without the 
manual/interpretation,
and in this sense could be called just a potential computation, but a 
conscious
computation is still *conscious* even if no-one else is able to figure this 
out or
interact with it. If a working brain in a vat were sealed in a box and sent 
into
space, it could still be dreaming away even after the whole human race and 
all
their information on brain function are destroyed in a supernova explosion. 
As far
as any alien is concerned who comes across it, the brain might be completely
inscrutable, but that would not make the slightest difference to its 
conscious
experience.

Suppose the aliens re-implanted the brain in a human body so they could 
interact with
it.  They ask it what is was dreaming all those years?  I think the answer 
might
be, Years?  What years?  It was just a few seconds ago I was in the hospital 
for an
appendectomy.  What happened?  And who are you guys?
 
 
 Maybe so; even more likely, the brain would just die. But these are 
 contingent facts about 
 human brains, while thought experiments rely on theoretical possibility.
  
 
then it can be seen as implementing more than one computation
simultaneously during the given interval.

AFAICS that is only true in terms of dictionaries.

Right: without the dictionary, it's not very interesting or relevant to 
*us*.
If we were to actually map a random physical process onto an arbitrary
computation of interest, that would be at least as much work as building 
and
programming a conventional computer to carry out the computation. However,
doing the mapping does not make a difference to the *system* (assuming we
aren't going to use it to interact with it). If we say that under a certain
interpretation - here it is, printed out on paper - the system is 
implementing
a conscious computation, it would still be implementing that computation 
if we
had never determined and printed out the interpretation.

And if you added the random values of the physical process as an appendix in 
the
manual, would the manual itself then be a computation (the record problem)?  
If so
how would you tell if it were a conscious computation?
 
 
 The actual physical process becomes almost irrelevant. In the limiting case, 
 all of the 
 computation is contained in the manual, the physical existence of which makes 
 no 
 difference to whether or not the computation is implemented, since it makes 
 no difference 
 to the actual physical activity of the system and the theory under 
 consideration is that 
 consciousness supervenes on this physical activity. If we get rid of the 
 qualifier almost 
 the result is close to Bruno's theory, according to which the physical 
 activity is irrelevant 
 and the computation is run by virtue of its status as a Platonic object. As 
 I understand 
 it, Bruno arrives at this idea because it seems less absurd than the idea 
 that consciousness 
 supervenes on any and every physical process, while Maudlin finds both ideas 
 absurd and 
 thinks there is something wrong with computationalism.
  
 
The problem remains that the system's own self awareness, or lack thereof, 
is
not observer-relative. something has to give.


Self-awareness is observer-relative with the observer being oneself. Where 
is the
difficulty?

Self-awareness is awareness of some specific aspect of a construct called 
myself.
It is not strictly reflexive awareness of the being aware of being aware...  
So in
the abstract computation it is just this part of a computation having some 
relation
we identify as awareness relative to some other part of the computation.  I 
think
it is a matter of constructing a narrative for memory in which I is just 
another
player.
 
 
 I don't think self-awareness captures the essence of consciousness. 

Neither do I; I was just responding to you noting that self-awareness is 
observer-relative.  The observer is really just a construct forced on us by 
grammar which demands that an action be done by someone or something.  We could 
more 
accurately say there is observation.

We commonly think 
 that consciousness is associated with intelligence, which is perhaps why it 
 is often stated 
 that a recording cannot be conscious, since a recording will not adapt to its 
 environment in 
 the manner we normally expect of intelligent agents. However, consider the 
 experience of 
 pain when you put your hand over a flame. There is certainly intelligent 
 behaviour associated 
 with this experience - learning to avoid it - but there is nothing 
 intelligent about the raw 
 experience of pain itself. It simply seems that when certain neurons in the 
 brain fire, you 
 experience a pain, as reliably and as stupidly as flicking a switch turns on 
 a light. When an 
 infant or an animal screams in agony it is not engaging in self-reflection, 
 and for that matter 
 neither is a philosopher: acute pain usually 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread 1Z


Quentin Anciaux wrote:
 Le jeudi 7 septembre 2006 14:14, 1Z a écrit :
  Bruno Marchal wrote:
   Le 06-sept.-06, à 21:59, 1Z a écrit :
Of course it is not natural, or we would not
have two separate words for possible and actual.
  
   Well, Platonist theories are counter-intuitive. Aristotle is the one
   responsible to make us believe reality is what we measure. Plato says
   what we observe is the shadow of what is.
 
  yet metaphysics is a *bad* thing...
 
 Why the hell metaphysics is a bad thing ?

Ask Bruno.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread 1Z


Brent Meeker wrote:

 That's not very interesting for non-conscious computations, because
  they are only useful or meaningful if they can be observed or interact with 
  their
  environment. However, a conscious computation is interesting all on its 
  own. It
  might have a fuller life if it can interact with other minds, but its 
  meaning is
  not contingent on other minds the way a non-conscious computation's is.

 Empirically, all of the meaning seems to be referred to things outside the
 computation.  So if the conscious computation thinks of the word chair it 
 doesn't
 provide any meaning unless there is a chair - outside the computation.

What about when a human thinks about a chair ? What about
when a human thinks about a unicorn? What about a computer thinking
about a unicorn?


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 07-sept.-06, à 01:56, Russell Standish a écrit :

 This simplest way of addressing this is to use your dovetailer instead
 of quantum multiverses, which tends to confuse people, and get
 associated with quantum mysticism. The dovetailer is obviously
 computable, but not the internal trace of one of its branches. (A
 point you have frequently made).


First person branch are not computable, yes.




 In fact lets go one further and write a program that prints out all
 combinations of 10^{30} bits in Library of Babel style. This is more
 than enough information to encode all possible histories of neuronal
 activity of a human brain, so most of us would bet this level of
 substitution would satisfy yes doctor.

 So does this mean that the entire library of babel is conscious, or
 the dovetailer program (which is about 5 lines of Fortran)


I can believe a UD with 5 lines of Prolog. Five lines of Fortran? Send 
us the code.



 is
 conscious?


No of course. Only people or person can be conscious. Person can be 
attached to program, and person's live can be attached to computations. 
But attachment is not identity.




 To me it is an emphatic no!


OK.



 Does it mean that one of the
 10^{30} length bitstrings is conscious? Again I also say no. The only
 possible conscious thing is the subcollection of bitstrings that
 corresponds to the actions of a program emulating a person under all
 possible inputs. It will have complexity substantially less than
 10^{30}, but substantially greater than the 5 line dovetailer.


 But I think we are headed in the direction of whether computable
 Multiverses really satisfy what we mean by computationalism. If
 someone copies the entirety of reality, do I still survive in a 
 folk
 psychology sense. I am still confused on this point.

 How could you not survive that?

 Bruno


 If I have inoperable brain cancer in reality A, and someone duplicates
 reality A to reality B, then unfortunately I still have inoperable 
 brain
 cancer in reality B.

 Maybe I'm being too literal...


You loss me.  If you are still complaining about an inoperable disease 
in reality B, it means you did survive.




 I can also never experience your famous Washinton-Moscow teleportation
 excercise - in reality B I am still stuck in Brussels.


But in the WM protocol (step 3 of the 8 steps version of UDA, cf SANE 
paper) you are supposed to be annihilated in Brussels. Are you telling 
you are just dying in Brussels, in that situation. Well, that would 
mean you assume some non comp hyp. It would be nice if you could sum up 
your most basic assumptions.

Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 07-sept.-06, à 03:19, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

 Why do you disagree that one of the bitstrings is conscious? It seems 
 to
 me that the subcollection of bitstrings that corresponds to the 
 actions of
 a program emulating a person under all possible inputs is a 
 collection of
 multiple individually conscious entities, each of which would be just 
 as
 conscious if all the others were wiped out.

To be clear I agree on this.
But we have to keep in mind that the wiping out of the others will 
change the probabilities of what you can be conscious about. This lead 
to the measure problem and the rise of physics from comp.

Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 07-sept.-06, à 06:21, Brent Meeker a écrit :


 This seems to me very close to saying that every conscious 
 computation is
 implemented necessarily in Platonia, as the physical reality seems 
 hardly
 relevant.

 It seems to me to be very close to a reductio ad absurdum.


Reductio ad absurdum of what? Comp or  (weak) Materialism?

Bruno



http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 07-sept.-06, à 14:14, 1Z a écrit :



 Bruno Marchal wrote:
 Le 06-sept.-06, à 21:59, 1Z a écrit :

 Of course it is not natural, or we would not
 have two separate words for possible and actual.

 Well, Platonist theories are counter-intuitive. Aristotle is the one
 responsible to make us believe reality is what we measure. Plato says
 what we observe is the shadow of what is.

 yet metaphysics is a *bad* thing...


Who says that?
I dislike the word metaphysics *because* that word is almost 
synonymous of bad thing, but the whole field is like any other 
fields. It is never bad in itself. Some people are bad, like some 
gardener can be bad, or like plumber can be bad.
A field can also become bad when it is appropriated by dishonest 
people, like genetics in the USSR, or theology in Occident.
But that is contingent on history.

Concerning metaphysics and theology, I think there is just no clearcut 
frontier with physics, and math. The position of Earth relatively to 
the Sun has been a subject of theology during a long period of time.
Some of my old work on EPR and Bell has been discarded a long time ago 
because many scientist just believed it was metaphysics despite that 
my very point was that EPR showed that some metaphysical questions 
*was* really physical questions. Despite Bell tremendous clarification 
they were unable of changing their mind, and all this because they 
decided to take for granted Bohr's metaphysics, ...
Same for theology: those who says that theology cannot be scientific 
are more or less the same as those who take for granted Aristotle 
metaphysics.

That is why I never judge any field, only particular work by 
particular people. I appreciate when people put their carts on the 
table before the play. Clear assumption leads to clear refutation or 
genuine reconstruction.

Bruno


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 07-sept.-06, à 16:42, 1Z a écrit :

 Rationalists, and hence everythingists, are no better off because they
 still have to appeal to some contingent brute fact, that *onl*
 mathemematical
 (or computational) entities exist, even if *all* such entities do.
 (Platonia
 is broad but flat). Since no-one can explain why matter is impossible
 (as opposed to merely unnecesary) the non-existence of matter is
 a contingent fact.


I guess here you mean primary matter for matter.

Would you say that a thermodynamician has to appeal to the contingent 
brute fact that car are not pulled by invisible horses?

Does molecular biologist have to appeal to the contingent brute fact 
that the vital principle is a crackpot principle?

Should all scientist appeal to the contingent brute fact that God is 
most probably neither white, nor black, nor male, nor female, nor 
sitting on a cloud, nor sitting near a cloud ...

Let me be clear on this: comp reduce matter to number relation, it does 
not make matter impossible, it explain it from something else, like 
physics explain temperature from molecules cinetical energy.
And then you come and talk like if physicists would have shown 
temperature impossible?

Do I miss something?

Comp makes primary matter dispensable only like thermodynamics makes 
phlogiston dispensable.
And I think that's good given that nobody ever succeed in making those 
notion clear.
I still don't know what do you mean by primary matter.

Bruno





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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent Meeker writes:
 
 
A non-conscious computation cannot be *useful* without the 
manual/interpretation,
and in this sense could be called just a potential computation, but a 
conscious
computation is still *conscious* even if no-one else is able to figure this 
out or
interact with it. If a working brain in a vat were sealed in a box and sent 
into
space, it could still be dreaming away even after the whole human race and 
all
their information on brain function are destroyed in a supernova explosion. 
As far
as any alien is concerned who comes across it, the brain might be completely
inscrutable, but that would not make the slightest difference to its 
conscious
experience.

Suppose the aliens re-implanted the brain in a human body so they could 
interact with
it.  They ask it what is was dreaming all those years?  I think the answer 
might
be, Years?  What years?  It was just a few seconds ago I was in the hospital 
for an
appendectomy.  What happened?  And who are you guys?
 
 
 Maybe so; even more likely, the brain would just die. But these are 
 contingent facts about 
 human brains, while thought experiments rely on theoretical possibility.

That's generally useful; but when we understand little about something, such as 
consciousness, we should be careful about assuming what's theoretically 
possible; 
particularly when it seems to lead to absurdities.  How do we know it's a 
contingent, 
and not essential, fact about brains...and conscious thought?

  
 
then it can be seen as implementing more than one computation
simultaneously during the given interval.

AFAICS that is only true in terms of dictionaries.

Right: without the dictionary, it's not very interesting or relevant to 
*us*.
If we were to actually map a random physical process onto an arbitrary
computation of interest, that would be at least as much work as building 
and
programming a conventional computer to carry out the computation. However,
doing the mapping does not make a difference to the *system* (assuming we
aren't going to use it to interact with it). If we say that under a certain
interpretation - here it is, printed out on paper - the system is 
implementing
a conscious computation, it would still be implementing that computation 
if we
had never determined and printed out the interpretation.

And if you added the random values of the physical process as an appendix in 
the
manual, would the manual itself then be a computation (the record problem)?  
If so
how would you tell if it were a conscious computation?
 
 
 The actual physical process becomes almost irrelevant. In the limiting case, 
 all of the 
 computation is contained in the manual, the physical existence of which makes 
 no 
 difference to whether or not the computation is implemented, since it makes 
 no difference 
 to the actual physical activity of the system and the theory under 
 consideration is that 
 consciousness supervenes on this physical activity. If we get rid of the 
 qualifier almost 
 the result is close to Bruno's theory, according to which the physical 
 activity is irrelevant 
 and the computation is run by virtue of its status as a Platonic object. As 
 I understand 
 it, Bruno arrives at this idea because it seems less absurd than the idea 
 that consciousness 
 supervenes on any and every physical process, while Maudlin finds both ideas 
 absurd and 
 thinks there is something wrong with computationalism.

As I understand your argument, the manual doesn't have to be a one-to-one 
translator 
of states, and so it can translate from the null event to any string 
whatsoever. 
So the physical event is irrelevant.

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Brent Meeker

1Z wrote:
 
 Brent Meeker wrote:
 
 
That's not very interesting for non-conscious computations, because
they are only useful or meaningful if they can be observed or interact with 
their
environment. However, a conscious computation is interesting all on its own. 
It
might have a fuller life if it can interact with other minds, but its 
meaning is
not contingent on other minds the way a non-conscious computation's is.

Empirically, all of the meaning seems to be referred to things outside the
computation.  So if the conscious computation thinks of the word chair it 
doesn't
provide any meaning unless there is a chair - outside the computation.
 
 
 What about when a human thinks about a chair ? What about
 when a human thinks about a unicorn? 

He thinks about a white horse with a horn, both of which exist.  What is the 
meaning 
of Zeus...it refers through descriptions that have meaningful elements.

What about a computer thinking
 about a unicorn?

That's what we're puzzling over.  Is it meaningless if the computer isn't 
conscious...but refers to a horse with a horn if the computer is conscious?

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread Brent Meeker

Bruno Marchal wrote:
 
 Le 07-sept.-06, à 06:21, Brent Meeker a écrit :
 
 
This seems to me very close to saying that every conscious 
computation is
implemented necessarily in Platonia, as the physical reality seems 
hardly
relevant.

It seems to me to be very close to a reductio ad absurdum.
 
 
 
 Reductio ad absurdum of what? Comp or  (weak) Materialism?
 
 Bruno

Dunno.  A reductio doesn't tell you which premise is wrong.

Brent Meeker

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread 1Z


Bruno Marchal wrote:
 Le 07-sept.-06, à 16:42, 1Z a écrit :

  Rationalists, and hence everythingists, are no better off because they
  still have to appeal to some contingent brute fact, that *onl*
  mathemematical
  (or computational) entities exist, even if *all* such entities do.
  (Platonia
  is broad but flat). Since no-one can explain why matter is impossible
  (as opposed to merely unnecesary) the non-existence of matter is
  a contingent fact.


 I guess here you mean primary matter for matter.

 Would you say that a thermodynamician has to appeal to the contingent
 brute fact that car are not pulled by invisible horses?

Not directly. He would appeal to a background understanding
of physics which is rooted in contingent, observed facts,
not deduction from first principles.

 Does molecular biologist have to appeal to the contingent brute fact
 that the vital principle is a crackpot principle?

It is not crackpot in the sense of being logically contradictory,
so it is not a necessary truth, so it is contingent -- indeed
the rejection of vitalism leans on Occam's less-than-certain
razor.

 Should all scientist appeal to the contingent brute fact that God is
 most probably neither white, nor black, nor male, nor female, nor
 sitting on a cloud, nor sitting near a cloud ...

What fact would that be? How is it related to empiricism?
Just because some things that are true are not necesarily
true, does not mean anything anyone says qualifies as a contingent
truth.

 Let me be clear on this: comp reduce matter to number relation, it does
 not make matter impossible, it explain it from something else, like
 physics explain temperature from molecules cinetical energy.

Then you cannot say computationalism is false if matter exists.

 And then you come and talk like if physicists would have shown
 temperature impossible?

 Do I miss something?

 Comp makes primary matter dispensable only like thermodynamics makes
 phlogiston dispensable.
 And I think that's good given that nobody ever succeed in making those
 notion clear.
 I still don't know what do you mean by primary matter.

To understand that you would
have to undetrstand what I mean by existence. But, to understand that,
you would have to understand what *you* mean by existence.

 Bruno
 
 
 
 
 
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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-08 Thread 1Z


Brent Meeker wrote:
 1Z wrote:
 
  Brent Meeker wrote:
 
 
 That's not very interesting for non-conscious computations, because
 they are only useful or meaningful if they can be observed or interact 
 with their
 environment. However, a conscious computation is interesting all on its 
 own. It
 might have a fuller life if it can interact with other minds, but its 
 meaning is
 not contingent on other minds the way a non-conscious computation's is.
 
 Empirically, all of the meaning seems to be referred to things outside the
 computation.  So if the conscious computation thinks of the word chair it 
 doesn't
 provide any meaning unless there is a chair - outside the computation.
 
 
  What about when a human thinks about a chair ? What about
  when a human thinks about a unicorn?

 He thinks about a white horse with a horn, both of which exist.

But the unicorn per se doesn't. Unicorn doesn't have a referent, but
the parts of which it is a composite have referents. That's a step
away form referntiallty. And we
can take other stepts, talking about quarks and branes.
Evetually our referential theory of meaning will
only be referntial in the sense that an an empty glass is a
glass that is not at all full.

 What is the meaning
 of Zeus...it refers through descriptions that have meaningful elements.

 What about a computer thinking
  about a unicorn?

 That's what we're puzzling over.  Is it meaningless if the computer isn't
 conscious...but refers to a horse with a horn if the computer is conscious?

It doesn't refer to a horned horse because there aren't any.

perhaps if we understood how such non-referential meaning works,
it would give us a clue to how consciousness works.


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-07 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 05-sept.-06, à 20:49, 1Z a écrit :

 That is the answer Stathis wants, but it doesn't work. Whether a
 computation
 is self-interpreting or not is itself a matter of interpretation, given
 his premises.
 He seems to need some sort of interpretation-independently
 self-interpreting system
 to start the ball rolling (= a Prime Mover).


It is here that theoretical computer science provides a solution.
It is hard to explain without digging more in the mathematical property 
of the Fi and Wi, etc.
I am searching some ways to do that. It *is* counterituitive.
Note that this is explained in the second part of the SANE papers, and 
in all details (albeit concisely) in the Elsevier paper.

Bruno


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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-07 Thread Brent Meeker

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
 Brent meeker writes:
 
 
Let's not try to define consciousness at all, but agree that we know what it 
is
from personal experience. Computationalism is the theory that consciousness 
arises
as a result of computer activity: that our brains are just complex 
computers, and
in the manner of computers, could be emulated by another computer, so that
computer would experience consciousness in the same way we do. (This theory 
may be
completely wrong, and perhaps consciousness is due to a substance secreted 
by a
special group of neurons or some other such non-computational process, but 
let's
leave that possibility aside for now). What we mean by one computer emulating
another is that there is an isomorphism between the activity of two physical
computers, so that there is a mapping function definable from the states of
computer A to the states of computer B. If this mapping function is fully
specified we can use it practically, for example to run Windows on an x86
processor emulated on a Power PC processor running Mac OS. If you look at the
Power PC processor and the x86 processor running side by side it would be
extremely difficult to see them doing the same computation, but according 
to the
mapping function inherent in the emulation program, they are, and they still 
would
be a thousand years from now even if the human race is extinct.

In a similar fashion, there is an isomorphism between a computer and any 
other
physical system, even if the mapping function is unknown and extremely
complicated. 

I don't see how there can be an isomorphism between any two systems.  Without 
some
structural constraint that seems to throw away the iso part and simply 
leave a
morphism.
 
 
 The definition of the structural constraint is part of the isomorphism. Some 
 isomorphisms are 
 more economical than others, but there are no God-given isomorphisms or 
 structural constraints. 
 The limiting case is simply a lookup table mapping any arbitrary system to 
 another arbitrary 
 system. That this is inelegant does not make it invalid.
 
 
That's not very interesting for non-conscious computations, because
they are only useful or meaningful if they can be observed or interact with 
their
environment. However, a conscious computation is interesting all on its own. 
It
might have a fuller life if it can interact with other minds, but its 
meaning is
not contingent on other minds the way a non-conscious computation's is. 

Empirically, all of the meaning seems to be referred to things outside the
computation.  So if the conscious computation thinks of the word chair it 
doesn't
provide any meaning unless there is a chair - outside the computation.  So it 
is not
clear to me that meaning can be supplied from the inside in this way.  I 
think this
is where Bruno talks about the required level of substitution and allows 
that the
level may be the brain at a neural level PLUS all the outside world.  So that 
within
this simulation the simulated brain is conscious *relative* to the rest of the
simulated world.
 
 
 I don't think it is right to say that the brain is *conscious* relative to 
 the environment. It is 
 intelligent relative to the environment, whether that means able to 
 communicate with another 
 conscious being or otherwise interacting with the environment in a meaningful 
 way. Although 
 we deduce that a being is conscious from its behaviour, and you can only have 
 behaviour 
 relative to an environment, only the being itself directly experiences its 
 consciousness. This is 
 the 3rd person/ 1st person distinction. 
 
 
I know 
this because I am conscious, however difficult it may be to actually define 
that
term.

But do you know you would be conscious if you could not interact with the 
world?
That seems doubtful to me.  Of course you can close your eyes, stop your 
ears, etc
and still experience consciousness - for a while - but perhaps not 
indefinitely and
maybe not even very long.
 
 
 Maybe there is something about my brain that would render me unconscious if 
 all outside 
 input stopped, but that seems to me a contingent fact about brains, like the 
 fact that I 
 would be rendered unconscious if my oxygen supply were cut off. A 
 hallucination is defined 
 as a perception without a stimulus 

Not really; it may just be a perception that doesn't match the stimulus, e.g. a 
perception of Christ brought about by hearing certain piece of music.

and there are millions of people in the world who have 
 hallucinations all the time. Sometimes people are so overwhelmed by 
 hallucinatory experiences 
 that you could saw their leg off and they don't notice, which is in part how 
 dissociative 
 anaesthetics like ketamine work. If you like, you can say that consciousness 
 is maintained by 
 one part of the brain interacting with another part of the brain: one part is 
 program, the other 
 part data, or one part is computer, the other part environment. The point is, 
 whatever you 
 

Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-06 Thread Hal Finney

Russel Standish writes:
 Or my point that in a Multiverse, counterfactuals are instantiated
 anyway. Physical supervenience and computationalism are not
 incompatible in a multiverse, where physical means the observed
 properties of things like electrons and so on.

I'd think that in the context of a multiverse, physical supervenience
would say that whether consciousness is instantiated would depend only
on physical conditions here, at this point in the multiverse, and would
not depend on conditions elsewhere.  It would be a sort of locality
condition for the multiverse.  In that case it seems you still have
a problem because even if counterfactuals are tested elsewhere in the
multiverse, whether they are handled correctly will not be visible
locally.

So you'd still have a contradiction, with supervenience saying
that consciousness depends only on local physical conditions, while
computationalism would say that consciousness depends on the results of
counterfactual tests done in other branches or worlds of the multiverse.

Hal Finney

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-06 Thread Russell Standish

On Wed, Sep 06, 2006 at 12:25:10AM -0700, Hal Finney wrote:
 I'd think that in the context of a multiverse, physical supervenience
 would say that whether consciousness is instantiated would depend only
 on physical conditions here, at this point in the multiverse, and would
 not depend on conditions elsewhere.  It would be a sort of locality
 condition for the multiverse. 

Why do you say this? Surely physical supervenience is simply
supervenience on some physical object. Physical objects are spread
across the multiverse, and are capable of reacting to all
counterfactuals presented to it.

Inside views are local - but the whole shebang must be spread across
the Multiverse.

Cheers

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Re: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-06 Thread Bruno Marchal


Le 05-sept.-06, à 00:00, 1Z a écrit :

 However, comp may not be the same as computationalism.


In that case there should be an error in the Universal Dovetailer 
Argument.

Bruno



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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-06 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
  Peter Jones writes:
 
  [Stathis Papaioannou]
 If every computation is implemented everywhere anyway, this is 
 equivalent to the situation where every
 computation exists as a platonic object, or every computation exists 
 implemented on some computer or
 brain in a material multiverse. This gives rise to the issues of 
 quantum immortality and the white rabbit
 problem, as discussed at great length in the past on this list.

 One way to discredit all this foolishness is to abandon 
 computationalism...
 
  [Brent Meeker]
I don't see how assuming consciousness is non-computational solves any 
of these
conundrums about every object implementing every possible computation.
 
   It would mean that every object implementing every possible computation
   doesn't
   imply that every object is conscious. Of course, one can also deny
   that conclusion be regading computation as structural rather than
   semantic.
 
  You don't have to go as far as saying that *computation* is structural 
  rather than semantic. You only need to say
  that *consciousness* is structural, and hence non-computational. That's 
  what some cognitive scientists have done,
  eg. Penrose, Searle, Maudlin. Personally, I don't see why there is such a 
  disdain for the idea that every computation
  is implemented, including every conscious computation. The idea is still 
  consistent with all the empirical facts, since
  we can only interact with a special subset of computations, implemented on 
  conventional computers and brains.
 
 
 Occam's razor, It is an unncessary complication.

No, it's simpler. You would otherwise have to come up with an explanation as to 
why only particular conscious computations are implemented, and it is that 
which would make the theory more complicated than it needs to be. 

Statthis Papaioannou
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RE: computationalism and supervenience

2006-09-06 Thread Stathis Papaioannou

Peter Jones writes:

 But if implementing a particular computation depends on an observer, 
 or
 a dicitonary,
 or somesuch, it is not the case that everything implements every
 computation unless
 it can be shown that evey dictionary somehow exists as well.
   
The computation provides its own observer if it is conscious, by 
definition.
  
   But providing its own observer, if computationalism is true,
   must be a computational property, ie. a property possesed
   only by particular programmes. However, if any system
   can be interpreted as running every programme, everysystems
   has the self-observation property, if interpretedt he right way.
  
   IOW, one you introduce interpretation-dependence, you can't get away
   from it.
 
  That's right: if there is at least one physical system, then every 
  computation is implemented, although we can only
  interact with them at our level if they are implemented on a conventional 
  brain or computer, which means we have
  the means to interpret them at hand. The non-conscious computations are 
  there in the trivial sense that a block of
  marble contains every possible statue of a given size.
 
 All the computations are merely potential, in the absence of
 interpreters and dictionaries,
 whether conscious or not.
 
  The conscious computations, on the other hand, are there and
  self-aware
 
 Not really. They are just possibilities.
 
   even though we cannot interact with them, just as all the statues in a 
  block of marble would be conscious
  if statues were conscious and being embedded in marble did not render them 
  unconscious.
 
 But that gets to the heart of the paradox. You are suggesting that
 conscious
 computations are still conscious even thought hey don't exst and
 are mere possiiblities! That is surely a /reductio/ of one of your
 premisses

A non-conscious computation cannot be *useful* without the 
manual/interpretation, and in this sense could be called just a potential 
computation, but a conscious computation is still *conscious* even if no-one 
else is able to figure this out or interact with it. If a working brain in a 
vat were sealed in a box and sent into space, it could still be dreaming away 
even after the whole human race and all their information on brain function are 
destroyed in a supernova explosion. As far as any alien is concerned who comes 
across it, the brain might be completely inscrutable, but that would not make 
the slightest difference to its conscious experience.
 
then it can be seen as implementing more than one computation 
simultaneously during the
given interval.
  
   AFAICS that is only true in terms of dictionaries.
 
  Right: without the dictionary, it's not very interesting or relevant to 
  *us*. If we were to actually map a random physical
  process onto an arbitrary computation of interest, that would be at least 
  as much work as building and programming a
  conventional computer to carry out the computation. However, doing the 
  mapping does not make a difference to the
  *system* (assuming we aren't going to use it to interact with it). If we 
  say that under a certain interpretation - here it
  is, printed out on paper - the system is implementing a conscious 
  computation, it would still be implementing that
  computation if we had never determined and printed out the interpretation.
 
 The problem remains that the system's own self awareness,
 or lack thereof, is not observer-relative. something has to give.

Self-awareness is observer-relative with the observer being oneself. Where is 
the difficulty?

Stathis Papaioannou
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