Re: Consciousness is information?

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:19:13 +0200

On 29 Apr 2009, at 23:30, Jesse Mazer wrote:

> From:
> To:
> Subject: Re: Consciousness is information?
> Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2009 22:19:56 +0200
> >Maudlin's point is that the causal structure has no physical role
> But I'm not convinced that the basic Olympia machine he describes
> doesn't already have a complex causal structure--the causal
> structure would be in the way different troughs influence each other
> via the pipe system he describes, not in the motion of the armature.

But Maudlin succeed in showing that in its particular running
history, *that* causal structure is physically inert. Or it has
mysterious influence not related to the computation.

> >But read the movie graph which shows the same thing without going
> through the question of the counterfactuals.
> Where can I find the movie graph argument?

Search MGA 1, MGA 2, (and forget MGA 03 I don't like it) in the recent
threads on this list. Or read the french versions in my two theses. Or
wait I put my last paper on my web page.
Let us see:

> >If you believe that consciousness supervene on the physical
> implementation, or even just one universal machine computation, then
> you will associate consciousness to a description of that computation.
> But why must I do that? Why can't I associate consciousness to a
> causal structure in the real world that's isomorphic to the causal
> structure of the computation, not just a passive description of the
> computation?

Because in a particular running what makes the structure causal can be
physically inert. This means that if you attach consciousness to it,
you are attaching consciousness to something abstract. No problem,
both consciousness and computations seems to me abstract or immaterial
at the start. But then, unless you introduce a physical selection
principle (unrelated to the abstract computation), you have to attach
consciousness on all abstract realization of the computation. The
machine cannot know which computation (or which mathematical universal
machine) implements its states, forcing to consider the whole abstract
space of all computations, which fortunately makes sense (through
Church thesis).

Put in another way: a digital machine cannot distinguish between real,
virtual or arithmetical. Unless magical power not present in the
computations is introduced to select a reality.

> Is there a fatal flaw in my suggestion about defining "causal
> structure" in terms of propositions about events and the way certain
> propositions logically imply others

No fatal flaw. On the contrary, it is the good idea. I do this too.
But then you cannot rely on particular "concrete things" to select one
computations among all possible one. You already move to the abstract,
or mathematical or logical. I just insist to push that idea to its
ultimate consequence. The seemingly realness or concreteness will have
to emerge from an infinity of absract, but well defined, computations.
No Token, many Types. Token are types view from inside. Comp gives an
indexical (self-referential) way to explain concrete token from
abstract types.

> (if you take into account the basic laws of whatever 'universe'
> you're describing with these propositions, whether it's the laws of
> physics in the real universe or the laws governing a cellular
> automaton)?

If you survive "qua computatio", you cannot make a consciousness
singular in the absolute. A concrete machine (relatively concrete with
respect to you) can be endowed with consciousness, but from its first
person view, its future (and past, and reality) is determined by all
sublevel computations that the machine cannot distinguish.

If you attach an evolving mind to a cellular automaton states'
sequence, you have to attach that same mind to all relative
implementations of that sequence generated in the universal
dovetailing, or in elementary arithmetic, and this change the
prediction that the automaton can make about what it can find when it
looks at himself or at his neighborhood below its substitution level.
There are many consequence of this. For example you can deduce that
whatever the physical universe is, it is not a classical cellular
automaton, nor the result of any classical evolving system. At best,
it could be a quantum cellular automaton, but even this should be
deduced from a relative measure on *all* computations.

I hope this can help, I am aware (and Maudlin is too as he told me a
long time ago) that this point is a bit subtle and rarely well

Note that Maudlin concludes that there is a problem with comp, and I
conclude there is a problem with the physical supervenience. We both
agree that comp and physical supervenience are incompatible. I keep
comp as my favorite working hypothesis, and so I attach consciousness,
not to any implementation of a computation, but to all at once, and
only through logical links at some level.
When the computations differentiate up to the point the machine can
tell the difference, consciousness bifurcate or differentiate. It
remains to justify why the quantum computations seem to win the
competition among all computations, but classical computer science
gives clues that this could indeed be the case when we take the self-
referential limitations explicitly into account (cf AUDA). This would
prevent comp from solispisme: there would be a coherent notion of
first person plural. There are also evidences from pure number theory.

Feel free to criticize MGA, I appreciate (rational) critics by non
person eliminativist researcher.


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Received on Thu Apr 30 2009 - 11:19:13 PDT

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