[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Tue Mar 27 14:06:02 UTC 2007

On 3/27/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 3/27/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> > "...a stream of consciousness survives fragmentation of the process..."
> >
> > [What is this stream of consciousness that can be conceived
> > independently of the process?]
> Maybe it can't. A haircut is dependent on the barber and the scissors,
> insofar as no barber and scissors means no haircut. But we can still talk of
> "a haircut".

"Oh, I really like your haircut.  May I have it?"

> > "...consciousness supervenes on the instantaneous computational state..."
> >
> > [ditto...]
>  Supervenience means you can't have one without the other. It is a rather
> clumsy term.
> > "...you can take the snapshots and run the computation a second time
> > out of sequence, e.g. running the first minute last and the last
> > minute first. Would the inhabitants of the simulation notice that
> > something unusual had happened?"
> >
> > [From what point of view would one observe this?  This seems like
> > those science fiction stories where "time is warped", and the more
> > sensitive individuals say "did you feel that?"]
> Well, that's exactly what I'm getting at! From the inside, it would be
> impossible to notice anything.

It seems that you repeatedly approach and test that understanding, but
don't accept it.  Maybe you do buy it, but have other motivations for
continuing to kick the tires?

> > "Suppose for a moment that I am right about states having to be
> > causally connected in order for there to be information flow, and
> > in order for there to be an internal experiencer."
> >
> > [I understand describing a system having experience, but having "an
> > internal experiencer"?]
> Yes, it's redundant, like "conscious experience" is redundant. Usually Lee
> is very precise and economic with language, but this consciousness business
> seems to cause no end of confusion in the terminology alone.

"Like trying to bite one's own teeth," in the words of Alan Watts.
But the idea of teeth-biting, like Escher's drawing of the hands
drawing each other, like the Liar's Paradox stating "This statement is
a lie", lack the attraction of the oh so intimate subject matter of

> > I enjoy precise thought and there's a good amount of that going on
> > here, but some of it is precise in the way of Copernicus describing
> > the apparent motion of celestial bodies.  Elaborate epicycles
> > constructed to preserve the assumption of a privileged reference
> > point.
> Do you mean Ptolemy? Copernicus was the good guy.

Yeah, caught it just after I hit Send.

> > It's not about whether or not qualia exist, but about whether the
> > concept adds anything of value.
> What about experiences?

Valid in the context of some system processing some stimuli. Invalid
when used as if it could have meaning independent of any particular

Our language is fraught with such traps, but it seems to me that these
are recognized early  on by most thinkers.  Much more seductive is the
illusion of a discrete Self.

- Jef

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