Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri Mar 21 2008 - 06:38:39 MDT

Stathis writes

> Lee wrote:
>> > (a) The file I've received says that the final state of the Australian
>> > machine was S-6754. The successor state for that is S-2037, so if I
>> > input that into my machine, the computation won't know it has been
>> > spread across two continents.
>> How did you get a hold of S-2037? If you looked it up somewhere,
>> or heard from a little bird that you should try S-2037, then the answer
>> would be no. But if you worked out, i.e., your brain emulated the
>> machine itself, i.e. calculated state S-2037 from S-6754, then yes,
>> no [infinitesimal] interruption occurred.
> I looked it up. The physics of the machine is such that state A will
> reliably transition to state B. This can either be worked out from
> first principles or by experiment, and the results stored in a table.

But if the result of this calculation is merely stored in a table,
and subsequent "calculations" just access and exhibit this
result, then no genuine computation is performed the second
and later times. Only the first calculation was authentic, and
also authentic in the sense that I believe consciousness during
any particular run to depend on this authenticity of computation.
(To appeal---perhap a bit illogically but perhaps not---to an
analogy, only once did Clinton say "it depend on what you
mean by "is" ", and no matter how many times that's televised,
those are just lookups, and he gets no runtime out of any them.)

> The entire computation could be done by hand in this way by a human
> operator who blindly follows the rules and has no more idea where the
> rules came from (or the grander purpose behind his actions) than an
> individual gear or transistor does. We have need to agree that the causal
> link is preserved in (a), with *no* interruption in consciousness,
> before considering (b) and (c).

Yes, we do need to stop here (at least for now), and resolve this

And yes, just like the transistors, the human operator need have no
understanding of what he's doing, so long as he's following definite
prescribed rules that happen to be isomorphic to the physics that
determines one state from earlier states in the transistors.


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