[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Jan 2 02:41:31 UTC 2017

On 2 January 2017 at 13:34, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>

> 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
> indiscernible.
> 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 computers.
> Dunno. I am working on an answer.

I've said what I think happens if a digital simulation is repeated multiple
times, but either way I don't understand why you think it makes any
difference to the validity of computationalism.

Stathis Papaioannou
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