Re: computationalism and supervenience

From: 1Z <>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2006 06:08:20 -0700

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
> > > That's what I'm saying, but I certainly don't think everyone agrees with me on the list, and
> > > I'm not completely decided as to which of the three is more absurd: every physical system
> > > implements every conscious computation, no physical system implements any conscious
> > > computation (they are all implemented non-physically in Platonia), or the idea that a
> > > computation can be conscious in the first place.
> >
> >
> > You haven't made it clear why you don't accept that every physical
> > system
> > implements one computation, whether it is a
> > conscious computation or not. I don't see what
> > contradicts it.
> Every physical system does implement every computation, in a trivial sense, as every rock
> is a hammer and a doorstop and contains a bust of Albert Einstein inside it.

The rock-hammer and the bust of Einstein are mere possibilities. You
have an argument to the effect that every physical sytem is
implements every computation. Every physical systesm
could implelement any computation under suitable re-interpretation,
but that is a mere possibility unless someone does the re-interpreting,
in which case it is in fact the system+interpreter combination that is
the  re-intrepreting.
>  Those three aspects
> of rocks are not of any consequence unless there is someone around to appreciate them.
> Similarly, if the vibration of atoms in a rock under some complex mapping are calculating pi
> that is not of any consequence unless someone goes to the trouble of determining that mapping,
> and even then it wouldn't be of any use as a general purpose computer unless you built another
> general purpose computer to dynamically interpret the vibrations (which does not mean the rock
> isn't doing the calculation without this extra computer). However, if busts of Einstein were conscious
> regardless of the excess rock around them, or calculations of pi were conscious regardless of the
> absence of anyone being able to appreciate them, then the existence of the rock in an otherwise
> empty universe would necessitate the existence of at least those two conscious processes.
That's a big "if".
> Computationalism says that some computations are conscious.
They mean, of course, *actual* computations.
>  It is also a general principle of
> computer science that equivalent computations can be implemented on very different hardware
> and software platforms;
That doens't mean that one system is implementing multiple
computations simulataneously.
> by extension, the vibration of atoms in a rock can be seen as implementing
> any computation under the right interpretation.
ie the vibration+interpreter system could implement any computation.
> Normally, it is of no consequence that a rock
> implements all these computations.
It doesn't, in itself, It needs an interpreter.
> But if some of these computations are conscious (a consequence
> of computationalism)
Some of them *would* be consious *if* there were an interpreter
available. Otherwise they are mere possibilities. And if the
physical process is simple, and the interpreter cmplex, it
is reasonable to suppose the interpreter is doing most of the wrok
and therefore has most of the consciousness.
> and if some of the conscious computations are conscious in the absence of
> environmental input, then every rock is constantly implementing all these conscious computations.
No That's a "would be" not an "is".
> To get around this you would have to deny that computations can be conscious, or at least restrict
> the conscious computations to specific hardware platforms and programming languages.
No I don't. All I to do have to point out that if something is
it doesn't exist in the absence of an interpreter.
>  This destroys
> computationalism, although it can still allow a form of functionalism.
> The other way to go is to reject
> the supervenience thesis and keep computationalism, which would mean that every computation
> (includidng the conscious ones) is implemented necessarily in the absence of any physical process.
> Stathis Papaioannou
> _________________________________________________________________
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Received on Wed Sep 13 2006 - 09:09:21 PDT

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