RE: consciousness based on information or computation?

From: Higgo James <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 11:18:06 -0000

Hear Hear Gilles! This consciousness 'measure' sounds silly. If
consciousness is an objective property of matter, show me a bottle of it.
Consciousness is merely a name we give to a pattern of phenomena. As
Dennett explains, consciousness is like fame: different mental objects catch
the limelight as different parts of the physical brain shout louder. There
is no cartesian theatre where the play of consciousness occurs.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gilles HENRI []
> Sent: 14 January 1999 11:09
> To:
> Subject: Re: consciousness based on information or computation?
> >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.
> Gilles
Received on Thu Jan 14 1999 - 03:29:43 PST

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