Nature of Computation and Consciousness (was Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Mar 08 2008 - 01:56:19 MST

Nick wrote

>> Surely you don't believe that one patch of dust relays information to
>> another patch of dust many, many light years away? But we may
>> simply be miscommunicating. Can you clarify, please?
> I don't see how it could feel different to be implemented without vs.
> with information flow. How things feel supervenes on the computations,
> and the computations are the same; the causal chain leading up to them
> is just different.

What causal chain? Among one dust patch here and another there?

Computation is a *process*. As wikipedia puts it

    Computation is a general term for any type of information
    processing that can be represented mathematically. This includes
    phenomena ranging from human thinking to calculations with a more
    narrow meaning. Computation is a process following a well-defined
    model that is understood and can be expressed in an algorithm,
    protocol, network topology, etc.

Anyway, I am a "time chauvinist", and believe that our best physics theories
and our best epistemology are grounded in the notion of *time*.

But others differ. Some don't see a central role for time, but
believe it to be derivative. So then they're stuck patches of
dust here and there in the cosmos being conscious (or at
least "doing computations") and all that. To me, it's as wrong
as having a child in Australia write "2+2 =" on a whiteboard
and coincidentally having a child in Hungary writing a "4" on
a different whiteboard. So what if an "answer" pops up
somewhere in the universe? If there is no causal connection,
no information flow, then it amount to nothing at all.

But I grant than many differ, and the question almost surely
has no resolution that will be accepted by all---unless there
is a huge physics breakthrough of some kind, I suppose.


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