Re: consciousness based on information or computation?

From: Gilles HENRI <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 12:09:20 +0100

>Is consciousness based on information or computation? Let me give an
>example to explain what I mean. Suppose there is a computer running an AI
>program. Assuming computationalism, this computation should contribute to
>the measure on conscious experiences. Now suppose there are two computers
>independently running two identical AI programs with the same inputs. This
>should make twice as much contribution to the consciousness measure.
>But now suppose there is one computer running an AI program, and a second
>computer that makes a copy of the first computer's state after every
>operation. My question is how much contribution to the consciousness
>measure does this setup make, compared to the single computer setup? If
>consciousness is based on computation, then it makes the same
>contribution, since there is just one instance of the AI computation being
>run. But if consciousness is based on information, then it makes twice as
>much contribution, since there are two copies of the AI's state at any
>given time.
>So which is it?

I personnaly deny the concept of "measure of conscious experiment". I deny
the fact that consciousness is an *objective* property of matter, just
because you can not define a physical property, measurable by an external
apparatus, whose measure could determine the degree of consciousness (or if
you can, let me know).

Much of the discussion about consciouness is plagued by this fact, because
we include it in formalisms that have not been deviced to handle it. The
only consciousness we know is our own one, by means that are different from
those we use to interact with the outer world. We think that the other
human beings are conscious because of the similarity of their behavior with
ours, but it does not define what is consciousness. If one succeeds in
building a computer with a human-like behaviour (which is quite possible in
my sense), deciding if it is actually conscious or not is purely a matter
of convenience, not an intrinsic property. In other words, I think the
proposition "Another than me is conscious" is really unprovable.

Received on Thu Jan 14 1999 - 03:11:21 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:06 PST