Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: Quentin Anciaux <>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2006 18:32:42 +0200

Le Tuesday 29 Août 2006 17:30, 1Z a écrit :
> Quentin Anciaux wrote:
> > Le Tuesday 29 Août 2006 16:46, 1Z a écrit :
> > > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > > > I'm not necessarily talking about every possible computation being
> > > > implemented by every physical system, just (at least) the subset of
> > > > finite computations implemented by a physical computer or brain. I
> > > > think this is another way of saying that a recording, or a single
> > > > trace of a computation branching in the multiverse, can be conscious.
> > > > To prevent a recording being consious yoiu can insist on
> > > > counterfactual behaviour, but that seems an ad hoc requirement
> > > > introduced simply to prevent the "trivial" case of a recording or any
> > > > physical system implementing a computation.
> > >
> > > The requirement that computations require counterfactuals isn't
> > > ad hoc, it comes from the observation that computer programmes
> > > include if-then statements.
> >
> > Would you say that a conscious program (if it is possible of course,
> > imagine for the argument) that contains a lot of dead code (code that is
> > not executed whatever input) should be more "conscious" than the same
> > program without the dead part ?
> Computationalism does not hold that every programme (or rather process)
> is conscious. Whatever the further criteria are, they may or may
> not have to do with the amount of counterfactuallity.

I did not speak about all programs being conscious, just about a program that
would be conscious... If consciousness is computation, then consciousness is
a program/algorithm.

> > If a conscious program exists, and we record all input that this program
> > as received and like Stathis propose we restart it and feed it with the
> > same exact input will it still be conscious ?
> The counterfactuals are still there.
> it would behave differently with different input.

Yes but now, imagine the second step... I've recorded all the input that has
been fed to the conscious program (even if it is linked with a true random
generator, as I have access to the program, I can record all values/states of
the input that it receive). Then I modify the program to remove all if then
statement that are always false on this particular input, then I write I take
the input and feed it programmaticaly to the modified program (without if
then statement that are always false on this input) and I run it.

In the run with the first program with the recorded input and all if then
statement that evaluate to false staying in place, if I understand you
correctly, it is still conscious because it still have the counterfactual.
But you would say that the modified program (without if then evaluating to
false) + the recorded input will not be conscious despite the fact that it
act the very same way has the first ?

Did I miss something ?

> > If your answer to this is is a conscious program exists, it should be non
> > deterministic...
> That is another question.

I still would like your opinion on the question if you don't mind ;)

> > Then that would only mean we cannot record exactly the
> > input... because a program which use a true random generator is not
> > deterministic not because of the program which is always deterministic,
> > but from the inability to predict/record the input exactly. And so my
> > question would be, is the consciousness located in the random generator
> > instead of the program ? why bother with the program then ?
> >

Correction: because a program which use a true random generator is not
deterministic not because of the program which is always deterministic,
but because if the inability to predict the input exactly. We can always
record the input. So we can always do the program I've mentionned upper.


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Received on Tue Aug 29 2006 - 12:35:08 PDT

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