Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Mar 11 2008 - 04:18:06 MDT

Stathis writes

> Lee wrote
>> Again, I submit that there must be a *causal* connection between
>> Sj and its successor Sm, and that it be a *calculation*, i.e., that
>> Sm be *computed* from Sj. And that if Sj arises solely by chance
>> (or a child twiddly knobs) then it is not a bonafide computation.
> It's very difficult to even define what counts as a causal link.
> Suppose you're in charge of the Tuesday computer and your friend gives
> you two files, one of which is Sj from the end of the Monday computer
> run while the other is not. If you input one of the files at random
> and it turns out to be Sj, does that count as a causal link?

Oh, then we have a slightly new situation: Sm is no longer the
first Tuesday state, but the second. Sj was (maybe) carried
by sneaker net to the Tuesday computer. That's just like being
ideally teleported! :-)

[I'm recalling that State-j was the last state of Monday, and
State-m was the first state of Tuesday, when ordinarily on
a normal computer Sj would give rise to Sm by the laws
of physics or their in-computer equivalent.]

So in *no case* in your new scenario above is there a causal
link, i.e., what I mean, a "computed link" characterized by
computed information flow. The only computations in that
new scenario (with Sj being both the last state of Monday
and the first state of Tuesday) are the computations inside
the computer that go from Sa->Sb->...->Sj and Sj->Sk->...

Again, if Sm would arise strictly by chance on the Tuesday
computer, then this one state would---to me---fail to have
been computed. And so thereby inflict an infinitesimal break
in consciousness.

>> To take a more extreme case, suppose again that the last seven
>> minutes of Monday had suffered just this same lack of what I
>> call bonafide computation, and that all the states of those seven
>> minutes had arisen strictly by chance. Then we begin the inevitable
>> downward spiral (e.g. see "The Story of a Brain" in Hofstadter
>> and Dennett's "The Mind's I"). I say that it leads to ABSURDITY,
>> and the weak point in the chain MUST be this point at which,
>> as I say, "no actual computing is done".
>> > If you drop that idea you may as well say that only brand name
>> > neurons are capable of consciousness.
>> No, I don't need to go that far! :-) My target is merely rocks
>> being conscious, or patches of dust between here and the Hyades
>> supercluster being 0.99999999999 of Stathis's experience in life.
> Well, you *could* say that there is something fundamentally
> non-computable about the brain.

Why do we want or need to go there? What is the appeal to you
and Schmidhuber and the rest of the gang to all that dust comprising
0.99999999999 of your experience? That would seem to me to
induce fatalism.

> That would solve all the problems,
> wouldn't it? Patching up functionalism so that it doesn't lead to
> apparently absurd conclusions (even though these conclusions may still
> be compatible with observed reality) sounds to me a bit like patching
> up quantum theory with "wave function collapse" in order to avoid the
> apparent absurdity of the MWI.

Well, just between you and me, I stopped being a true absolute
functionalist a long time ago. There is the terrible problem of the
GLUT which <choke> <damn me> is a <gasp> zombie. It could
sit down to tea with you and pass every test. So I seize upon
"information flow", and time chauvinism as a sailor thrown overboard
seizes upon some floating wreckage. Besides, I could never accept
the "Theory of Dust" (Permutation City) or the idea that rocks can
be conscious anyway. But I'm up for talking about the GLUT zombie
in a different thread if you are :-)


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