Re: The Game of Life

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 15:20:39 +1100 (EST)

Comp, or the idea that concious entities must necessarily be Turing
Machines is a particular working hypothesis that some of us ascribe to
but others don't. Bruno in particular has developed consequences of
this hypothesis. I personally "sit on the fence" - ie that concious
entities are necessarily capable of universal computation, but may be
capable of more than a Turing Machine (my particular gripe is that I
find it hard to see how a TM could have free will). Therefore some of
Bruno's conclusions will be acceptible for me, but others may not. I
haven't yet figured out which is which!

For that reason, I would personally doubt that the GoL could support
concious life. However, I could imagine minor variations to the GoL
that would get around my "objection", so this question is at least
philosophically interesting.

                                                Russell Standish

> On 20 xxx -1, Marchal wrote:
> > Why do you want making these poor little creatures to be
> > wrong ? And wrong about their own feelings.
> >
> > How could someone believe to be conscious without being conscious ?
> So far, I absolutely side with BM: To believe anything presupposes
> being conscious. Descartes was right about that much.
> > "Running" a machine is a modality which makes sense only relatively
> > to you. That relative running makes it possible for the machine to
> > manifest its consciousness relatively to you. It makes possible
> > to entangled and share computationnal histories. But consciousness per se
> > is not linked to the dynamical physical activity itself.
> I guess it's time to reveal the terrible secret: Your list is infected by
> a biological naturalist.
> My Searlean objection to the above brand of functionalism
> is, How can computation as such be sufficient to generate consciousness,
> when it obviously isn't an intrinsic process of any physical system?
> To clarify: There is a distinction between intrinsic and
> observer-relative features of reality. The former include all properties
> that are logically independent of the intentional attributions of
> observers, such as the molecular structure of the object I am sitting on.
> The latter are properties that exist only relative to such attributions,
> such as being a chair. The problem here is that computation, to quote
> Searle, is "not a machine process that like neuron firing or internal
> combustion; rather, computation is an abstract mathematic process that
> exists only relative to conscious observers and interpreters" (*The
> Mystery of Consciousness*, 17).
> Note that this is not equivalent to the Chinese Room argument, which says
> that syntacs is not sufficient for semantics; it denies instead that
> physics is sufficient for syntax. Computation and all other syntax is
> observer-relative, and in one sense exists only from a 1. person point of
> view. Please release me from the spell of this simple consideration.
> Seasons' greetings,
> --
> Gisle Tangenes

Dr. Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit,
University of NSW Phone 9385 6967
Sydney 2052 Fax 9385 6965
Room 2075, Red Centre
Received on Mon Dec 20 1999 - 20:18:11 PST

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