Re: UDA revisited

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 08:54:55 +1100

This is also a response to one of Bruno's comments.

When talking about minds, the self/other boundary need not occur on
the biological boundary (skin). I would say that when dreaming, or
hallucinating, the random firing we perceive as coming from our input
centres (visual cortex for instance) is coming from outside our minds
(although still within our heads).

There is a strong selective pressure to align our psychogical
self/other boundary to our biological one - hence hallucinations are
typically not adaptive, and I guess dreaming is tolerated as a byproduct of
whatever sleep is useful for (committing things to long term memory perhaps)

The self-other distinction is fairly strong. When it goes wrong (ie is
not aligned with biology), things become really strange, with people
thinking they're possessed, or thinking that their arms belong to
someone else etc.


On Tue, Nov 21, 2006 at 09:41:19PM +1100, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Russell Standish writes:
> > The UD is a very simple program that executes all programs
> > "concurrently" (by which I mean that all programs will have a finite
> > number of steps executed within a finite number of steps of the UD
> > executed, not that there is an external time in which the programs
> > execute simultaneously).
> >
> > Assuming computationalism, some of these computations will correspond
> > to conscious machines and all possible input tapes. There is some
> > debate as to whether a machine with no input tape can truly be
> > conscious - I don't think there can be, as there is no self/other
> > distinction.
> >
> > Taking my POV that input tapes are essential, then the UD cannot be
> > conscious itself (as it has no input tape), nor can the Multiverse. I
> > don't think the universe is conscious either - only small bits of
> > it. Most of the universe is input tape.
> >
> > This is perhaps only a definitional nuance, but I don't think it is useful
> > to call an inputless machine conscious. What do others think?
> The distinction between self and other, program and data, although important
> is ultimately arbitrary. A conscious subsystem receiving input from its environment
> can be "rewritten" as a closed system in which the input is part of the program.
> There is no way from the inside to be certain that the sense data you seem to receive
> from the environment is not in fact generated by your own brain, as in an elaborate
> dream or hallucination. If you observe someone responding to auditory hallucinations
> it is exactly as if they are responding to an invisible person: they become animated,
> answer back, strain to hear something or ask for clarification, laugh, show surprise,
> and so on. They often become very annoyed if you raise the possibility that the person
> they are talking to may be a product of their own mind. How would you describe such a
> hallucinatory experience using the self/other or machine/input tape dichotomy?
> Stathis Papaioannou
> _________________________________________________________________
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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052         
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Received on Tue Nov 21 2006 - 16:55:18 PST

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