[extropy-chat] Fragmentation of computations

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Tue Mar 27 17:24:50 UTC 2007

On 3/27/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> 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 atoms can't be hot, but ensembles of atoms can.  And atoms can't
be alive, but certain structures made of atoms can.  And what is it
that live structures have that non-alive structures do not?  Look
closely and you find--elan vital?  Qualia or subjective experience?
No, you find that the structures function in a way that we describe as
alive, or describe as conscious.  And if they have the particular
functional capability, they can even tell you themselves that they
have subjective experience. But there's no evidence that anything
fundamentally mysterious is going on. Other than that people tend to
be baffled by recursion, especially if they're part of the process,
especially if they've evolved a strong preference for a first-person
point of view.

Objects can be said to have subjective experience to the extent that
they demonstrate a model of self which they can introspect.  This
definition applies just as well to rocks and GLUTs as it does to dogs
as it does to humans.

- Jef

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