Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Sun Mar 16 2008 - 03:52:53 MDT

On 16/03/2008, Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> What I *am* talking about is the causality *between* the states.
> That is, to revert to your Monday/Tuesday experiment, which
> implements Sa->Sb->Sc->...->Sj on Monday and some other
> computer (if you will) implements Sm->Sn->...->Sz on Tuesday.
> (Or last month, it doesn't really matter.)
> Sj is not the same state as Sm, and I got to talking about
> them as if they were the same state. Sorry.

If the second computer entered by chance into the state Sj, and then
the rest of the states Sj->Sm->Sn etc. followed, would that avoid the
interruption in consciousness? It doesn't seem fair to say that it
would, since there is no more causal connection between the two
computers in one case than in the other. It would open the way to
saying that while a set of disconnected single states cannot implement
a computation, a set of disconnected pairs of states can.

> I mean to say that the entire run (on some yet entirely different
> computer) that goes Sa->Sb->Sc->...->Sm->Sn->...->Sz,
> (where it is important to stipulate that Sm follows Sj causally
> even though a few letters of the alphabet have been left out),

yes, I made the letters non-consecutive to indicate that the first
state of the Tuesday computer could not be easily deduced or looked
up, although I see it was probably a needless complication

> will or will not be exactly the same thing depending on how
> the Sm state really arose. If it arose by chance---i.e. no
> causal connection, no information flow from Sj---then there
> is an iota of consciousness missing from any Monday/Tuesday
> run that suffered this tiny causal interruption.

I still haven't understood your position on information flow over a
noisy or unreliable channel. If two pieces of information are
transferred, and it is known that one is correct and the other not, is
there an interruption in consciousness if the correct information is

> >> Touche. All right, then suppose I have a choice between (a) somehow
> >> magically removing from the universe---and causing to entirely cease to
> >> exist---a 400 kilogram of Stathis, or blowing your present biological
> >> incarnation to smithereens.
> >
> > Well, this will no doubt make it seem even more absurd to you but
> > removing the rock from the universe won't make any difference either.
> > This is because if an amount of matter can map onto any computation,
> > then a smaller amount of matter can map onto the same computation in
> > multiple parallel processes.
> Then why would it matter if your biological instance were removed?

Because that would mean my simulation stops (or its measure decreases
- I don't believe my simulation can stop absolutely unless it could
somehow be shown logically impossible to derive computations that have
my present mental state in their subjective past), whereas removing
the rock does not affect me.

> > In the ultimate extrapolation of this idea a simulation of the entire
> > universe maps onto the null state. This would mean that there is no
> > separate physical reality, but what we think of as physical reality
> > is a simulation on the big Universal Machine in Platonia. Thus,
> > physical reality is put on the same ontological basis as the natural
> > numbers.
> Yes, I know. Like Tegmark's Level Four. Like Greg Egan's "Theory
> of Dust" which, by the way, I had to infer from an interview he gave
> that he does by no means entirely endorse that view (or any particular
> view he so cleverly and superbly explicates in his novels).

Do you have a reference to that interview?

> >> Well, I'm sure you don't weigh 400kg, so let's say that you weigh
> >> 100kg. In comparison to the biological 100kg Stathis, how much
> >> "computation of Stathis", if I may ask, does a 100kg marble
> >> statue of you emulate? Or, in other words, right now your 100kg
> >> because it's ordinary matter at about 295 degrees Kelvin, already
> >> emulates you to some degree. What degree?
> >
> > There isn't a separate physical me. The physical me is a simulation,
> I do prefer "emulation" in this context since a very good actor
> or a superhuman AI puppet master could just be pulling your
> strings, and there isn't any real feeling and thinking Stathis at all,
> but only some inhuman God-like creature having a bit of fun.
> Or a skillful enough actor, I suppose, who somehow does an
> incredibly good Stathis impersonation, while the real Stathis
> was executed in December.

"Emulation" implies that there is some gold standard - physical
reality - against which the simulation is to be measured. But if the
whole shebang is a simulation anyway, I'm not sure what the status of
an emulation is.

> > and blowing up the physical me means the computations in Platonia
> > underpinning me come to an end; whereas blowing up a statue of me
> > does not affect the computations relating to my consciousness.
> I don't quite understand this point. Aren't you being emulated by rocks,
> or maybe large rocks also? Aren't you being emulated by some of the
> patches of dust between the galaxies? Since you're being emulated in
> so many many places (assume for a moment our Level One universe
> is infinite like Tegmark says), surely the demise of a little bit of matter
> in Australia (whether it's removed altogether from the universe, or
> raised to 451 degrees Fahrenheit) can't make a difference, can it?

No, I'm not being emulated by rocks, rocks and I are both being
emulated in Platonia. That I appear to conscious due to brain activity
is due to the fact that the computations which gives rise to a
universe in which stars and planets form and life evolves have much
higher measure than the computations where I just pop into existence
out of nowhere as a disembodied consciousness.

Stathis Papaioannou

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