Re: A model of consciousness

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Fri Mar 21 2008 - 08:53:57 MDT

--- Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> Matt writes
> > [Stathis writes]
> >
> >> Does S(n+1) have to be generated by P from S(n) or is the raw fact
> >> that S(n) and S(n+1) simply occur sufficient to generate subjective
> >> continuity? Lee would argue that the causal link is important, I would
> >> say that the moments of consciousness order themselves due to a rule
> >> such as you describe.
> >
> > In the model, continuity depends only on the algorithmic similarity of
> S(n)
> > and S(n+1). In practice, this would require some communication between
> the
> > two processes.
> >
> >> What if each S has to be implemented on real hardware in a finite
> >> single world cosmology? I don't see how you could fit in more states
> >> by making the difference between them smaller and smaller, since at
> >> some point there will be no subjective difference between one state
> >> and the next.
> >
> > The model assumes that the set of states is isomorphic to N. Any real
> > implementation with finite memory must have finite subjective experience.
> It sounds as though you are insisting on a real implementation, that is,
> an actual physical process consisting of causally linked states, say
> with the causation defined by the Rules of Conway's Life or by
> physics, or whatever. I'm not asking you to take sides in my debate
> with Stathis, just trying to understand.
> That is, if we try to argue that your model is an accurate description.

There are really two questions.
1. What is the source of conscious experience?
2. Is X conscious, for some X?

To answer the first question, I proposed a mathematical model that is not too
far removed from what is going on in the human brain, but vastly simpler. You
are free to accept it, propose another model, or reject the idea of
consciousness entirely.

The mathematical model does not require consciousness to end because N
contains an infinite number of infinite, non repeating sequences such that
adjacent values are algorithmically similar and arbitrary values can be
arbitrarily non-similar. Given two times t and u, u > t, in sequence S, the
total conscious experience is K(S(u)|S(t)). This number can be arbitrarily
large in N. But in any implementation in a finite universe this number is
bounded by the size of its memory. But we don't know that the universe is
finite. We only know that our model of it is.

> I also would note that some of the preceding posts in this thread might
> be read as saying that a GLUT is conscious. I don't think that one can
> be, as I've made clear in another thread, mainly because it easily reduces
> (in my opinion) to timeless patterns, e.g., like clouds of dust scattered
> over lightyears in space, or patterns that can be discerned in rocks.

A GLUT is not conscious because it does not define a sequence S of
algorithmically similar states. Nor is a state machine with a random GLUT.
The state table has to be simple, such as the fixed part of a Turing machine.
The sequence of tape values implements a possible consciousness.

-- Matt Mahoney,

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