[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Mon Mar 26 17:36:10 UTC 2007

On 3/26/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Well, all that "interesting work" is itself highly speculative.

Granted, but it's speculative physics, taken seriously by some of the best
minds in the field. Your objections would appear to suggest ruling out a
theory of _physics_ (as opposed to philosophy) by pure armchair thought -
which not only suggests that future experimental verification of said theory
might overturn those objections, but also suggests they should be discarded
right now on grounds of category error.

I don't have much
> belief yet in non-local models. When that kind of talk starts, what is to
> stop
> us from concluding that rocks are conscious?  Or that some arbitrary
> patterns
> of atoms in the solar system succeeding each other is not having
> experiences?

*shrug* Nothing if you want to go that route, but that's a completely
different kind of thing from Hash-Life Man.

How do you test whether an entity is conscious? The most obvious method is
to have a conversation with it.

To have a conversation with Rock Man, you would have to build a "decoding
device" that actually contains all the information in Rock Man's mind. It is
then obvious to any reasonable person that Rock Man's consciousness resides
in the "decoding device", not in the rock.

By contrast, you can have a perfectly normal conversation with Hash-Life Man
anytime you want, and he will truthfully report being fully conscious. Nor
would you have doubted this in any way until some engineer remarked "oh, the
computer actually uses database lookup of partial results instead of redoing
the arithmetic wherever possible". Suppose _you_ (a future upload of you)
were Hash-Life Man cheerfully having a conversation until the engineer came
into the room and remarked about the database lookup design, and the person
talking to you went "oh, ugh, you're half a zombie then!" how would you
react? Would you conclude "well I _feel_ perfectly conscious, but I guess I
must really be half unconscious no matter how I feel"?

Do you still not see anything wrong with the intuition that led you down
this track?
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