[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Mon Jan 2 02:34:09 UTC 2017

On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 2:11 PM, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 1:50 AM, Rafal Smigrodzki <
> rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ​> ​
>> there could be qualitative differences between digital simulations of
>> brains and the inherently analog computations that occur in brains.
> ​Can you think of an example of a brain performing an analog computation,
> or for that matter ANYTHING performing an analog calculation? I can't
> because I can't think of anything that can be in an infinite number of
> physically discernible states, and physics is needed for anything to
> perform any calculation.  ​
> ​> ​
>> ​t​here are non-computable mathematical problems, why can't you have
>> non-computable physics
> ​It's a bad idea to invoke new physics to explain a mystery ​unless there
> is a very very *VERY* good reason, and in this case the new physics
> wouldn't even solve a mystery. Why on earth would non-computable stuff be
> more conscious than computable stuff? Most numbers on the Real number line
> are non-computable and as a result do not and can not even have a name,
> are they more self aware than a computable number like 1/3, the square root
> of 2, PI, or e? And physics can provide answers to problems, but
> non-computable "physics" can not by its very definition, so what's the
> point of it?

### I don't know. I really don't know. I weep quietly over my ignorance. I
am devastated and discomfited by the abyss of my incomprehension.

But riddle me that - if you run a good digital simulation of you being hit
with a baseball bat a hundred times, exactly identically, does it feel pain
a hundred times? Once? Never? Remember, the runs are mathematically

It very well may be that identity of indiscernibles does not matter here. A
mathematical object, a triangle, is not itself changed by rotation in some
system of coordinates, but its relationships with that system are changed,
so the rotated versions are no longer indiscernible within the system.
Maybe what counts for qualia are the relationships of digital objects to
their physical implementation, making each simulation run into a new object
within the system of coordinates that is our world. Maybe that is the
answer, and there is really no problem with zombies inhabiting digital

Dunno. I am working on an answer.

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