Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Mon Mar 17 2008 - 23:20:58 MDT

Stathis writes

> Lee (returning to solemn and humble learning mode) writes:
>> 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 case I was thinking of is where the pairs overlap: Sa->Sb, Sb->Sc,
> Sc->Sd,... . It seems that you would allow this set of states
> continuous consciousness.


>> > 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.
> The operator of the first machine notes its final state, and transfers
> this state plus another unrelated state to the operator of the second
> machine - not telling him which is which. The second operator inputs
> one of the states into his machine and it just happens to be the
> correct one, so no interruption in consciousness, right?

Right. So long as it's transferring the same state, e.g., "Sn" was
on the first machine (when it broke) and "Sn" is on the diskette
or CD that is used to transport the state to a new machine where
it can pick up the calculation uninterrupted.

> (Whereas if he had input the wrong state a completely different
> computation would have resulted, so obviously total disruption
> of the stream of consciousness would have resulted).

Yes, provided, indeed, that the latter computation is not similar
at all to the originally scheduled one. For example, suppose
that my entire quantum state at a certain instant is Se, and
because a cosmic ray struck the diskette during transport,
a few bits were damaged, resulting in state Se'. But e' is so
extraordinarily similar to Se, that it's still the same person
and still the same computation so far as I am concerned.
Naturally, as always, the infinitesimal difference will eventually
diverge the computation who knows how far.

> Now, suppose the first operator transfers the final state of his
> machine *as well as* every other possible state, again not telling
> which is which, and the second operator just happens to choose the
> right state to input. Is there interruption of consciousness?

No interruption. The last state on the Australian machine is
identical to the first state on the Vienna machine.

> There is information transfer of sorts in that the correct state
> has been taken off the first machine and is known to the first
> operator, but it is completely hidden in the noise. The first
> operator may as well tell the second operator to try all the
> different states in turn.

That'll really take the second operator and the Vienna computer
a lot of time and expense, but in principle, that's all, and that's
nothing worth noting in this discussion, to me.

> Do you think there will be continuity of consciousness if the
> first operator tells the second operator to try each possible
> state in turn, but *not* if the second operator tries each
> state in turn on his own initiative, without any communication
> from the first machine?

Each *possible* state? That is, so that all of Se, Se', Se'', Se''',
Se'''', ..., Sj, Sj', Sj'', etc., etc. are tried? I think that this is
indeed what you mean. The continuity of consciousness
will work for most of, I'll arbitrarily say, the Se, Se',...
sequence, where those sequences are about as different as
you are after being struck during some fraction of a micro-
second by a cosmic ray.

Thanks much for your exceptionally clear probing of my


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