[extropy-chat] cryonicist living life in reverse

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Wed Mar 14 09:20:16 UTC 2007

On 3/14/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

Stathis writes
> > On 3/14/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> > > For otherwise, we might just find random patches of dust already
> existing
> > > between the galaxies, and by looking at them the right way, discern
> > > sequences of states congruent to a thinking, feeling being. About as
> > > silly as Hillary Putnam's proof that rocks perform computations.
> >
> > The motion of the dust particles is certainly causally related, and dust
> cloud
> > is also increasing in entropy with time.
> Certainly.  But that's hardly sufficient for computation.  But I
> interrupt...
> > Functionalism says that a computation can be multiply implemented, and
> > the experiences of any ensuing mind is substrate-independent. In
> principle,
> > even with your constraints, there seems to be no reason why a dust cloud
> > can't think.
> The ability to think is an extremely carefully crafted artifact that
> doesn't
> just come about by accident; it took evolution a long time to come up
> with thinking beings.  Perhaps I'm not understanding your argument.

According to computationalism (which entails functionalism) the brain is
Turing emulable, and any physical implementation of the appropriate Turing
machine will reproduce the brain's thinking. The tricky part is defining
what counts as an implementation of a Turing machine. It's not such a
problem if the putative computer is not conscious. You can argue that the
random thermal motion of atoms in a rock map onto an abstract machine
carrying out some calculation, but in order for this to be a useful/
recognisable computation the observer needs to work out the mapping function
which will involve the observer actually doing the computation himself,
using some non-rock computer. Hence, saying that the rock carries out the
computation is at best trivially true, at worst meaningless: computations
are computations relative to some environment or observer. But what if the
putative computer is a conscious entity, dreaming away without any external
inputs? In that case, it seems unfair to say that it is only conscious if an
external observer can peer inside and figure out what it is thinking. A
conscious entity interacts with itself, knows its own mind, has no need for
external interaction or knowledge of the mapping function in order to be
conscious. It bootstraps itself into awareness, even if without inputs and
without anyone being able to figure it out, it will never be able to
interact with the substrate of its implementation.

> Putnam and Searle have used the rock example as a reductio ad absurdum
> > against functionalism.
> Oh, so *that* was what was going on.  Thanks for the explanation.

Thus, either every physical system implements multiple conscious
computations, OR some implementations are specially blessed by God to be
conscious, OR computationalism is wrong.

Stathis Papaioannou
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20070314/e784bc42/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list