Re: Consciousness is information?

From: Kelly <>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 13:52:39 -0700 (PDT)

On Apr 24, 11:39 am, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
> > At any given instant that I'm awake, I'm
> > conscious of SOMETHING.
> To predict something, the difficulty is to relate that consciousness
> to its computational histories. Physics is given by a measure of
> probability on those comp histories.

The laws of physics would seem to be contingent, not necessary. In
that I can imagine a universe with an entirely different set of
physical laws.

Further, assuming that computer simulations of brains are possible and
give rise to consciousness, I can imagine that a simulation of such a
brain could be altered in a way that the simulated consciousness
begins to perceive a universe with these alternate physical laws. Or
even begins to perceive a universe with no consistent coherent
physical laws at all.

> > And I'm conscious of it by virtue of my
> > mental state at that instant. In the materialist view, my mental
> > state is just the state of the particles of my brain at that
> > instant.
> Which cannot be maintained with the comp hyp. Your consciousness is an
> abstract type related to all computations going through your current
> state.

I see what my "current state" does here with respect to
consciousness. But I don't see what the "computations going through
it" contribute.

> > I won't worry about it too much, as there is no doctor, only my
> > perceptions of a doctor. Every possible outcome of the "brain
> > replacement operation" that I can perceive, I will perceive.
> Not in the relative way. You have to explain why you see apples
> falling from a tree, and not any arbitrary information-theoretical data.

I explain it by asserting that there are many versions of me, some who
see apples, and some who see arbitrary information-theoretical data.
Everything that can be perceived is perceived.

> > Including outcomes that don't make any sense.
> You have to explain why they are *rare*. If not your theory does not
> explain why you put water on the gas and not in the fridge when you
> want a cup of coffee.

I don't say that they are rare, I say they don't make any sense. A
big difference.

I say that every possible event is perceived to happen, and so nothing
is more or less rare than anything else. There are only things that
are rare in your experience. They are not rare in an absolute sense.

Why do I say this? Because I think that platonism is the best
explanation for conscious experience, and the above view is (I think)
the logical conclusion of that platonic view of reality.

> > Thus the talk of
> > probabilities and measures. I'm willing to just say that all
> > universes are experienced.
> That is absolutely true. But we don't live in the absolute (except
> perhaps with salvia :).

I say that we do live in the absolute. Not all experiences of the
absolute will be strange. If all possible experiences exist in the
absolute, then by definition some will be quite ordinary and mundane.

But, right, salvia gives a taste of how strange experience can be.
And also schizophrenia, dementia, and various other mental conditions
and abnormalities cause by damage to the brain are further examples.

How does your computational theory consciousness explain the
perceptions of these people?

> That is true, but we want to explain "the stable appearance of atoms
> and galaxies", and what happens when we die.

Some observers will see stable atoms and galaxies. Because that's one
of the possible sets of experience. Other observers won't see these

> You are right. But consciousness is the only thing I have no doubt
> about. The *only* undoubtable thing. The fixed point of the cartesian
> systematic doubting attitude. A theory which eliminate my first
> person, or my consciousness, although irrefutable by me, is wrong, I
> hope, I hope it to be wrong for you too. (Why would I send a post on
> consciousness to a zombie?)

Right, I'm with you on this. Consciousness is the one thing that
can't be doubted. And that's where the trouble starts...

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Received on Sat Apr 25 2009 - 13:52:39 PDT

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