Re: Bruno's argument

From: Colin Geoffrey Hales <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 08:11:29 +1000 (EST)

> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> Well, I think I have a better understanding now of the ideas leading me
to start this thread - thanks to Bruno, Quentin and the other
>> contributors. Moreover, I am leaning towards fundamentally changing my
views on the implementation problem: if computationalism is true, then
it doesn't seem to make much sense to say that computations are
implemented as a result of physical processes, even if a separate
physical reality did exist. It may yet be the case that consciousness
>> only the result of special physical processes, perhaps brains and
digital computers but not rocks or the mere existence of computations
>> mathematical objects, but then this would entail giving up
>> computationalism. Putting constraints on which computations contribute
to the measure of consciousness, as I understood Jesse Mazer's
>> suggestion to be, may also be true, but it is debatable whether this
preserves computationalism either.
>> Stathis Papaioannou
> There is a very impoertant difference between "computations do
> not require a physical basis" and "computations do not
> require any *particular* physical basis" (ie computations can be physical
> implemented by a wide variety of systems)

The distractions of language in this are so subtle. The word 'physical' is
so laden with preconceived notions. I wish I could think of a better word
but I can't. Perhaps a better way of couching it would help:

*whatever the universe is we are part of it, made of it, not separably 'in
*the rest of the universe that is not 'us' behave in a way with respect to
us that we label 'physical'
*the entire thing could be called a computational domain but based on
computing done with 'objects' that are nothing like the idea of number we
are used to. A particular 'number' in our universe could be
colin.brain.cell.molecule.atom.proton.quark.a.s.d.f........etc. There need
be no 'next' or 'previous' number in the sense we are used to - that comes
from our thinking. The number is actually an organisational hierarchy

Pick up a pencil, hold it. Say to yourself "The universe has computed a

These numbers interact with each other according to whatever is
computationally adjacent (this has nothing to do with space or what we
would call physically can be what it looks like when you
are in it).. for example 'adding' three of these (above) numbers involves
creating the right context of adjacency and voila... a 'proton' (plus some
remainder rubbish which can go away and do something else...) Basically
the gigantic cellular automata.

The computations done with these 'numbers' is what we are. For the sake of
a name call the numbers 'entropy numbers'.

What we can do is arrange this 'intrinsic computation with entropy
numbers' to behave 'as-if' idealised numbers existed and obey rules
according to the idealised domain of those numbers, if it actually existed
(presumably in the legendary platonia). Nowhere in any of this 'as-if'
computation does any of the structural 'entropy numbers' have any clue as
to what it is doing. The manipuluated 'symbols' are just patterns in the
adjacency of the numbers.

Imagine this huge cellular automata - a computation performed by simple
adjacency of entities in an organisational hierarchy - the numbers in it
that represent the organisation of me and you is what we call matter. As
computation it is actually derived from an axiomatic initial conditions
and a set of logical rules, forming a massively parallel calculus.

if 'number a' (a cell in the CA) is matter it is a proof in this calculus
if 'number b' (a cell in the CA) is matter it is a proof in this calculus

then what is the status within the CA the 'difference' between two cells
in the CA? The difference has been computed just as exquisitely
accurately, but no computational proof exists in the sense that a and b
were proven. It is 'as if' the computation was performed...but it was not
actually performed. Therefore if a is matter, b is matter, then (a_to_b)
is 'as-if' matter - virtual matter.

You can see this in any of the CAs Stephen Wolfram's book. Each cell is
actually computed. The _difference_ between any two cells is not computed
explicity but is as perfectly proven. These are godellian unproven truths
in their squintillions.

Now ask yourself the one question Stephen Wolfram didn'k himself:

Q. "Under what conditions can it be like something to 'be' an object in a

A. When the object in the CA behaves 'as-if' it is interacting with some
other part of the CA.

Under these circumstances the unproven truths - the virtual matter
riddling the CA can be used to paint a computational picture of any other
part of the CA. The trick is that the numbers in the CA have to do it...
no act as-if'.

But the machine that does the 'as-if' symbolic computation throws away all
the virtual matter in the process of manipulating symbols only meaningful
to a third person...

does this smake any sense? It seems really obvious to me!

Colin Hales

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Thu Jul 27 2006 - 18:13:39 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:11 PST