Re: Objective Meaning Must Exhibit Isomorphism

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Wed Mar 12 2008 - 18:52:50 MDT

On 13/03/2008, Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> Sorry---did you get the wrong impression from my word "equivalent"?
> I meant for the tremendously powerful cosmic ray to completely
> change the computation, and so the Tuesday run would *not* in
> any way be like the Tuesday computation that was supposed to
> have run. (By "equivalent", I had meant equivalent to your fake
> diskette substituted for the real Sj from Monday.) Please, is
> this clear now? Or is there is some miscommunication here?
> See the next few sentences just to be sure.
> > But if instead the cosmic ray set off a Monday computation
> > that otherwise wouldn't have happened,
> Well, yes! That's just how I read you!
> > that would be the same as a deliberate Monday computation
> > from the point of view of the internal observers.
> Eh? The cosmic ray strikes at 12:00 midnight = 12am Tuesday
> . :-) Just to make
> sure that we are talking about something after the last state on
> Monday and before the first state on Tuesday.

I think we may be talking about slightly different things. To restate
the problem, we have two separate computers which are going to run
Monday and Tuesday, respectively, of a person's life. If the final
state of Monday is transferred to the second machine, by any reliable
means, so that Tuesday can be computed, then my understanding is that
you would agree that there is no break in the stream of consciousness
of the person being simulated (assuming he is staying up late). On the
other hand, if the run on the second computer starts with initial
state not causally connected to the first computer, even if by chance
it turns out that this starting state is in fact the one that would
have occurred had the causal connection been present, then your claim
is that there will be a discontinuity in consciousness between Monday
and Tuesday.

My problem with this latter position is that, apart from being an
unnecessary complication, there is no way to specify what counts as a
causal link and no obvious mechanism whereby the absence or presence
of this link could affect the consciousness of the computation. For
example, what happens if the transfer of information occurs by a
friend passing you a number of files of which only one is the correct
one. If you guess right does that count as information transfer? What
if your friend tells you which is the right file but you're not
completely sure you believe him? What if you implement a series of
computations using all the files, knowing that one of them has to be
the right one?

Stathis Papaioannou

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