Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Wed Apr 02 2008 - 06:27:41 MDT

On 02/04/2008, Lee Corbin <> wrote:

[In relation to the possibility that the visual centres of your brain
could be zombified due to being looked up rather than computed in the
usual manner]
> > And, given that you have always enjoyed (or thought you
> > enjoyed!) your visual experiences, you might seriously
> > consider an expensive and slightly risky operation to
> > restore your sight.
> >
> I think that that is exactly true, though clearly some part
> of me is *enjoying* something closely related. But yes,
> it cannot be said that I am enjoying the visual experience
> since according to me it is being looked up.
> It might be very much like someone who has gotten
> used to blindsight, but for whom medical examination
> proves that certain normal pathways have been blocked.

People with blindsight behave as if they see things but lack visual
experiences. The opposite phenomenon is Anton's syndrome: some people
with lesions in their visual cortex believe they can see normally
while in fact they are blind. Combine the two conditions (although I
have never heard of an actual case) and you could have someone who is
blind, but behaves as if he can see normally and believes he can see
normally. This may seem a good candidate for zombie vision, but it
isn't so simple. Patients with Anton's syndrome are delusional, and
insist they can see even though they are continually walking into
things. This is an extra neuropsychiatric disability, not a direct
consequence of losing perception. If the rest of your brain is
functioning normally, losing visual pathways is not something that can
go unnoticed.

> Allow me to elaborate slightly. A rogue branch of the ANP
> (Australian National Police) is considering whether to
> A. seize citizen Stathis Papaioannou and torture him
> for an hour the old fashioned way
> B. by fantastical means collect patches of dust in our
> (Tegmark) infinite level one universe separated by
> millions or trillions of lightyears, and load them into memory
> sequentially in such a manner that
> the torture spoken of in (A) is apparently reproduced,
> the sole difference being that there is no actual
> causal connection between the states (which is so
> important in my view)
> C. just save the time and expense of the loading part
> of (B) and just leave them laying around in the
> solar system here and there
> D. don't bother even doing (C), but leave them be,
> and cause the normal Stathis metabolism to not
> operate for the hour, with only the memories
> (i.e. the last state that has been collected in (B)
> being implanted and normally running resuming
> from there.
> At any rate, are you indifferent to A, B, C, and D?

My mind is apparently closely connected to my brain, not to patches of
dust around the universe, and I worry a lot more about what happens to
my brain than about what happens to the dust. But if the whole
universe is actually a simulation in Platonia, all that means is that
the computations giving rise to my mind through the process laws of
physics -> Big Bang -> stars -> planets -> evolution of simple life
etc. have much higher measure than those giving rise to a disembodied

Given the above, case (A) is interpreted as the computations giving
rise to my mind taking an unpleasant turn for an hour. Case (B) is
equivalent, since the resulting brain would behave in exactly the same
way as in (A). But cases (C) and (D) are not constrained in any way to
be associated with my mind. They could represent any and every
computation, and the measure and kind of those computations in the
dust giving rise to my mind is the same as the measure and kind of
those computations in Platonia giving rise to my mind. The fact that
any computation can be mapped onto any physical process, even the null
state, is actually my justification for saying that every computation
is necessarily implemented in Platonia.

> > I claim that the argument whereby if part of your
> > brain is replaced by the simulation you could not
> > possibly notice anything had changed *proves*
> > that the simulation must be conscious in exactly the
> > same way as biological tissue.
> Yes, and under the extremely hypothetical GLUT
> hypothesis, I disagree.
> > If that's so then there is no *proof* that an upload will
> > be conscious in the same way as the original. You might
> > think that it sounds reasonable, but ultimately you have
> > to take it on faith.
> It would be a very strong sort of faith, though, again for
> the same reason.

My problem is that without the fading qualia / partial zombification
argument as I have outlined I have no really persuasive reason to
believe that I would remain conscious in the same way as I am now if
my brain is replaced with a simulation running on a different
substrate. I welcome any other arguments you have might have to offer.

> > You also have to admit that you might be at least partially
> > a zombie right now, since feeling that you're all conscious
> > does not count as evidence that this is in fact the case.
> >
> Well, I don't think that that's something that I (or anything
> that was pretending to be me) could or would ever concede.
> For in the case at hand, where I am an evolutionarily
> derived organism, we agree along with right thinking people everywhere :-)
> that I'm conscious. On the
> other hand, if I were just a GLUT with a tiny, simple
> loader program, then since it would simulate (but not
> emulate) me, then it too would erroneously announce
> that it was conscious.

Yes, but I know right now that I'm not a zombie, regardless of whether
anyone else believes me. What you're suggesting is that this special
personal knowledge might be unreliable: I may yet be a zombie, or a
partial zombie, despite feeling what I feel. But surely *at bottom*
consciousness must be this feeling that I have. If you come up with a
scientific theory that predicts what chemicals I will find salty, but
I taste one of these chemicals and find it sweet, then it is your
theory that is wrong and needs to be adjusted, not my taste

Stathis Papaioannou

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