[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Fri Dec 30 07:14:41 UTC 2016

On Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 12:03 PM, Jason Resch <jasonresch at gmail.com> wrote:

> If infinities are relevant to mental states, they must be irrelevant to
> any external behavior that can be tested in any way. This is because the
> holographic principal places discrete and finite bounds on the amount of
> information that can be stored in a an area of space of finite volume. Even
> if there is infinite information in your head, no physical process
> (including you) can access it.

### Indeed, this is a valuable insight. But you could still have
qualitative but inaccessible (to other observers) differences between the
mental states realized on finite machines vs. ones implemented in
(putatively) infinite physics.


> This is analogy is somewhat backwards, in my opinion.
> It's not that the brain works like a computer, it's that computers can
> perfectly mimic any finite process. They are "universal machines" in the
> same sense of a universal remote, or in that a speaker system can function
> as a "universal instrument".
> Therefore, if the brain is a machine, and is finite, then an appropriately
> programmed computer can perfectly emulate any of its behaviors.
> Philosophers generally fall into one os three camps, on the question of
> consciousness and the computational theory of mind:
> *Non-computable physicists - *Believe human thought involves physical
> processes that are non-computable, and therefore conclude that it’s
> impossible to replicate the behavior of a human brain using a computer.
> *Weak AI proponents - * Believe the behavior of the human brain can be
> replicated by computer, but assume such a reproduction, no matter how good,
> would not possess a mind or consciousness.
> *Computationalists - *Believe the behavior of the human brain can be
> replicated by a computer, and assume that when the reproduction is
> sufficiently faithful, it possesses a mind and conscious.
> Which camp do you consider yourself in?

### I have always considered myself a computationalist but recently
thinking about the identity of indiscernibles as applied to finite
mathematical objects simulating mental processes I became confused. I think
I am still a computationalist but a mildly uneasy one. At least, if
digitally simulated human minds are P-zombies, it won't hurt to be one, so
I still intend to get uploaded ASAP.

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