[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Mar 27 14:43:49 UTC 2007

Stathis and Russell had the following exchange:

On 3/27/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Similarly, if computations can be self-aware, then self-aware computations must be lurking all around us in noise, perhaps in 
> elaborate virtual worlds, but never able to interact in any way with the substrate of their implementation. The only way to avoid 
> this strange idea is to say that computations can't be self-aware.

I'm surprised---aren't you basically a functionalist who supposes
that (shortly in the future) we must expect certain robots whose
minds consist only in the execution of computer programs   to be
fully conscious?

Russell writes:

> Well as I said I think there are two approaches to this idea, the
> Platonist one which embraces it in terms of the Tegmark
> multiverse,

This is the timeless one.  This also comes, say, equating the time
axis to the spatial ones. This view says causality and information
flow (which subtly brings back the notion of time), aren't required.
Yes, this is truly a divide.   The only attack on it that I can mount
is an appeal to common sense. Rocks aren't conscious, and that
goes doubly true for static rocks!  :-)

> and the Popperian one which bypasses it as irrelevant where
> there isn't any way to interact with the purported entities.

I disagree with this instrumentalist or operational approach, as
do many. But it looks like even Popper could not totally escape
the pernicious influences of the early 20th century positivists
(if you are right in describing his views this way).  Just as Stathis
was saying a short time ago, surely whether something is conscious
cannot ultimately depend on our ability to gain knowledge about
whether it is or not.


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