RE: Bruno's argument

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 20:08:07 +1000

Brent meeker writes:

> >>[If] a computatation only "dreams" then how could you know whether it was
> >>intelligence, or just noise?
> >
> >
> > We wouldn't know, but the computation itself would know if it were conscious,
> > creating its own observer. If we say that noise contains hidden information
> > that may be true in a trivial sense, but it's meaningless: information hidden in
> > noise is not accessible to anyone and is no different to no information at all.
> > But if the information hidden in noise is a conscious computation, then it *is*
> > accessible to someone: itself, by definition. If you don't like this conclusion
> > then you have to either reject computationalism (as John Searle does using
> > this argument) or impose ad hoc limitations on it, which amounts to the same
> > thing.
> I'm considering rejecting the idea that a computation can be
> distinguished from noise by some internal characteristic of the
> computation. I don't think you can make the idea of "information hidden
> in noise" well defined. By Shannon's measure noise is information.

Would you allow that one machine or computation may be emulated by another
following some sort of mapping rule, and that consciousness may be preserved
in this process? This would seem to be an assumption at the basis of functionalism
and computationalism. But what if the mapping rule were the equivalent of what
in cryptography is called a one-time pad, determined by some stochastic process
such as radioactive decay? The states of the emulated machine would then seem
to vary randomly, but if you had access to the mapping rule you would be able to
"read" it (and perhaps interact with it) just as if it followed some simpler code, like
shifting each letter of the alphabet by one. Are you prepared to argue that the
emulated machine is only conscious if an external observer has the relevant
mapping rule at hand and/or is actually "reading" it or interacting with it using
this information?

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Mon Jul 31 2006 - 06:10:23 PDT

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