Re: Implementation

From: <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 15:35:38 EDT

In a message dated 99-07-25 19:43:43 EDT, Hal Finney writes:

<< Maudlin's change (adding an inert block) makes
 consciousness go away (even assuming computationalism) is a fallacy. >>

I agree with Hal that Maudlin's move leads to a fallacy, but for different
reason. Maudlin's move reminds me of the famous Maxwell's demon thought
experiment in which the entropy of a system could be lowered by a demon. The
experimental system comprises two chambers A and B filled with gas and
separated by a thin membrane. In the middle of the membrane, there is a door
operated by the demon. When the demon sees a molecule from side A coming
toward the opening he opens the door. However he closes the door when he sees
a molecule coming from side B. The end results is that all the gas moves from
side A to side B. Entropy is lowered. the Second Law is violated. The
resolution of the paradox is simply that the demon must be considered part of
the system, and that his entropy has increased.

Similarly, the insertion of the piece of wood in the computer must be done by
someone. Let's call that someone Maudlin's demon. Deciding what the right
place and the right time is to make the wood irrelevent to the thinking
process, in order to satisfy the counterfactual role that the wood must play,
requires Maudlin's demon to think. Maudlin's demon then becomes part of the
computer's consciousness just like the subject in the chinese room experiment
becomes a cog in the chinese room ability to speak chinese.

In the end, I am a strong sceptic of both computationalism and physical
supervenience. I believe that consciousness exists only in the eyes of the
beholder, and is a relativistic property, based on the relativity of (mutual)
information as defined by Claude Shannon.

Received on Mon Jul 26 1999 - 12:49:45 PDT

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