RE: computationalism and supervenience

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 21:32:18 +1000

Russell Standish writes:

> > Is there any reason to believe that we would lose consciousness, or notice
> > that anything strange had happened at all, if most or all of the parallel branches
> > in the multiverse suddenly vanished?
> >
> I think this question is ill-posed, but I'll try to answer another
> question that may have some bearing on what your trying to get at.

OK, the question is ill-posed if we jump ahead to deciding that the consciousness
of a computation consists in its status as a mathematical object in Platonia, because
it isn't really possible even in theory that some part of Platonia did not exist.
> The Game of Life is known to be Turing complete. However, I do not
> think any arrangement of dots in GoL could be conscious. Rather there
> is an arrangement that implements a universal dovetailer. The UD is
> quite possibly enough to emulate the full Multiverse (this is sort of where
> Bruno's partail results are pointing), which we know contain conscious
> processes.

That's putting it inversely compared to my (naive) understanding of how the UD works.
I would have said
(a) some programs are associated with consciousness
(b) the UD emulates all programs
(c) hence, the UD emulates all the conscious programs

In particular, I would have said that some sequence of frames in GoL is associated with
a particular consciousness that can interact with the universe providing the substrate of
its implementation, because we can observe the patterns, maybe even link them to real
world events. This does not necessarily mean that the consciousness is caused by or
supervenes on the pattern of dots, any more that the number 3 is caused by or supervenes
on a collection of 3 objects. If anything, it could be the other way around: the GoL pattern
supervenes on, or is isomorphic with, the consciousness which resides in Platonia.

> This is what I believe Maudlin's argument is telling us.
> So am I computationalist? On the most obvious level, no. However,
> considering the above perhaps I am Bruno's sort of computationalist
> with a very deep level of replacement (ie switching entire realities).
> Confused? That would make two of us.

Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Fri Aug 25 2006 - 07:34:09 PDT

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