Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Mar 16 2008 - 12:20:20 MDT

Stathis writes

> Lee 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?

So I assume (Monday's) Sa->...->Si , (Tuesday's) Sj->Sm->Sn....
is what you're talking about. In that case, there is still the same
(tiny, infinitesimal, insignificant) interruption in consciousness.

Whereas, if you mean Sa->...->Si->Sj , Sj->Sm->Sn....
then no, there would be no interruption in consciousness, the comma
meaning transfer of state from one machine to another (possibly
same) machine either long before Sa or maybe long after the
last state Sz was reached.

(To the general reader: we are discussing *my* hypothesis here, and
so he's asking and I'm answering. Below, we discuss his.

(The arrow notation -> means that one state causally follows from
another and implements information flow. For example, Sj->Sm
means that state m causally follows by the laws of physics or by the
laws of Conway's Life, or whatever, from state j. Any states not
so connected are hereby denoted by spaces or commas. Also,
according to Stathis's original notation, alphabetical precedence
and subsequence denotes what *would* have transpired under
perfectly ordinary circumstances on a computer or TM, Life Board,
and so on, where, for example generation 00015 might be Sf and
the next generation 00016 would be Sg.)

> It doesn't seem fair to say... [because] 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.

Oh? Maybe I misunderstood. Can we defer the extraordinarily
interesting, crucial, appalling, and mind-blowing case of

     Sa->Sb , Sc->Sd , Se->Sf , ...

until later? As you can well anticipate, this make my claims even
more unbelievable! But I want to make sure, as you do, that you
have understood my claim up till now.

>> 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
> used?

No interruption. Just like the sudden and miraculous appearance
of Sir Francis Bacon in an exact state that he really did occupy in
the 1600s. It really is him, and he didn't lose even an infinitesimal
bit of consciousness, because this is a case of ...->Sd->Se->Sf...
in the 17th century followed by the sudden Se->SF->SG->...
in the 20th century, where caps are used, partly, to indicate his
astonishment! Because Se really happened back then and Se
also happened in the 20th century, his consciousness was not
interrupted in the slightest.

Now it is I who will ask, and Stathis who will answer :-)

>> >> 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?

Sadly no, but it's still probably on his web site, which is where I'm pretty
certain I saw it.

>> >> 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.

I think in Computer Science, "emulation" has come to mean that, for
example, an Intel Machine can emulate an older Apple Machine, which
may be emulating a Commodore 64! I do hope I'm using the words
right---it's been a while. But no level of physical reality was actually
implied IMO.

>> > 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.

A most remarkable sentence. I'll have to start another thread on that
if no one comments, because it so tidily (if we're making no mistake)
sums up your position (and Tegmark's, Schmidhuber's, etc.).

> That I appear to [be] conscious due to brain activity is due to the fact
> that the computations which give 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.

I'll ponder that, thanks.


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