Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Mar 30 2008 - 22:49:55 MDT

Stathis writes

>> Noticeable to whom? Here is what I think is going on: *naturally*,
>> the subject, the person who's supposed to be having experiences,
>> can report nothing different than what he would report anyway.
>> All the states that his brain would have reached (under what I call
>> "totally authentic computation") would still be reached. So in a
>> certain sense, he *doesn't* notice any difference.
>> But in another sense he does.
> "But in another sense he does". I can see how you might say this if
> there is a period of looked up computation (LUC) alternating with a
> period of totally authentic computation (TAC): the person behaves
> normally during the LUC, and during the period of TAC recalls the LUC
> experiences, but these are actually false memories, as there were no
> actual experiences during the LUC.


> However, the case I was considering was where the TAC and LUC
> are occurring simultaneously, in the two halves of the GOL board.

A very telling case. Thanks for bringing the focus of the discussion to it.

> This might result in, say, zombie vision but normal hearing, or zombie
> aesthetic appreciation but normal arithmetical ability.

Or could result even if any of these processes has undergone what
you would call 50% zombiefication. That is, for example, the email
you are reading is being written by someone who has several
reasons to doubt that he is being anything but normally computed.
Yet there are extremes, such as you bring up, in which I do indeed
claim that it is theoretically possible for me to believe (or part of
me to believe, at any rate) that I am having fully computed experience,
yet for the reality to be different.

> If you were 100% zombie no external observer would know
> but you would (in a sense) know, since you would not be
> having experiences.

I don't think that you should try in any way whatsoever to say
that this is a sort-of "knowing" or a sort-of "experience", any
more than it would be advisable to suggest that the chair
on the far side of the room is in anyway a knowing Lee
or a feeling Stathis.

> But is it possible that your brain is partly zombified right now,
> with the normal, conscious part systematically deluded into
> thinking that it can see when in fact it is completely blind?

I'm not sure what you mean by "normal, conscious part".
One possibility is that only my speech centers are being
authentically computed while the rest of my cortex is
being merely looked up. I would be having very, very
little in the way of experience, of course.

So what difference does it make? See the choice, again,
between A and B below.

As for a normally functioning cortex, already it's aware in
a certain sense of the visual area known as V1. If this were
being looked up, that would make extremely little difference,
since all it's doing anyway is transferring images from the
retina with rather little processing added.

> If you allow the possibility of partial zombification then you have to
> allow that not only can an external observer never know a person's
> subjective experiences, but the person himself can never be sure that
> he is having the experiences he believes he is having. This seems a
> high price to pay in order to maintain that a LUC cannot be conscious.

You are entirely correct. It is a high price. I wish I knew of any
other way out. But it does not seem to me to be so high as the
price paid by you and others, namely, that only a tiny bit of your
consciousness is associated with a certain body in a certain city
on planet Earth, and that the vast, vast, vast majority of your
experience takes place in other objects, or---in another matter
of speaking---doesn't take place at all, but only corresponds
to prior existing patterns existing only in Platonia.

>> Now, let me phrase my answer using an experiment so that there is
>> no mistaking my meaning. Question: would you prefer
>> (A) to be tortured for an hour in the old-fashioned way
>> (B) for records of such an hour merely to be retrieved from
>> a galaxy far, far away a long time ago in which you were
>> tortured just the same, and merely the states for that hour
>> interval brought to Earth and at the proper moment merely
>> looked up?
> I guess it depends on whether the looking up of the records repeats
> the experience which is what we are debating. If the recording were
> accurate down to the atomic level then yes, I think it would reproduce
> the same experience as the original.

To be precise, an entire state is swapped into the location where you
reside once every trillionth of a second. None of the states is causally
connected to any of the others: they could even have been retrieved
from extremely disparate and separated areas of intergalactic space,
by some random process that just happened to find patches of dust.
(Those, by an amazing coincidence, do happen to be the same states
that are now being computed, a trillion to the second, in the city where
you live, by the ordinary metabolic processes (computations).)

So can you recapitulate and answer (A) or (B) for sure? Thanks.
For of course, if your answer differs from mine, I have further

> The argument above proves that a functionally perfect simulation of a
> brain must be as conscious as the brain *unless* partial zombification
> is possible. The possibility of mind uploading is something else you
> might have to give up if a LUC [looked up computation] cannot be
> conscious.

Not at all. Uploading is entirely orthogonal to the argument we're having.
The only feasible way to upload someone is to entirely simulate with near
perfect fidelity the actual computations his or her brain is already achieving.
Whether I or some part of me could in theory be "looked up" now is
exactly the same issue as to whether some part of me could be "looked up"
after I'm uploaded.


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