Re: Consciousness is information?

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sun, 10 May 2009 21:04:08 +0200

On 08 May 2009, at 19:15, Torgny Tholerus wrote:

> Bruno Marchal skrev:
>> On 07 May 2009, at 18:29, Torgny Tholerus wrote:
>>> Bruno Marchal skrev:
>>>> you are human, all right?
>>> I look exactly as a human. When you look at me, you will not be
>>> able to know if I am a human or a zombie, because I behave exacly
>>> like a
>>> human.
>> So you believe that human are not zombie, and you agree that you are
>> not human.
>> Where do you come from? Vega? Centaur?
> I come from Stockholm, Sweden. I was constructed by my parents. In
> reality I think that all humans are zombies, but because I am a polite
> person, I do not tell the other zombies that they are zombies. I do
> not
> want to hurt the other zombies by telling them the truth.

Truth? you mean your theory. As far as I know, you may be a zombie,
although I believe that you are conscious and only believe you are a
Or you could suffer from a sort of radical blindsight, making you
belief you lack consciousness. You should perhaps consult.
And I appreciate very much your attempt to be polite, and your
willingness to not hurt other ... zombie.

but you should not worry, because if we are zombie, we will only fake
being hurt, you know.

A french poet said, after he died (!) : "friends, pretend only to
cry because poet pretends only to dye". (Faites semblant de pleurer
mes amis puisque les poÍtes font semblant de mourrir").

>>> Yes it is right. There is no infinity of natural numbers. But the
>>> natural numbers are UNLIMITED, you can construct as many natural
>>> numbers as you want. But how many numbers you construct, the
>>> number of
>>> numbers will always be finite. You can never construct an
>>> infinite number of
>>> natural numbers.
>> This is no more ultrafinitism. Just the usal finitism or
>> intuitionism.
>> It seems I recall you have had a stronger view on this point.
>> Ontologically I am neutral on this question. With comp I don't need
>> any actual infinity in the third person ontology. Infinities are not
>> avoidable from inside, at least when the inside view begins some
>> self-
>> reflexion studies.
> I was an ultrafinitist before, but I have changed my mind.

Excellent. The ability of changing its mind is a wonderful gift.

> Now I accept
> that you can say that the natural numbers are unlimited. I only deny
> actual infinities.

I can deny them ontologically, and with comp, their existence is
absolutely undecidable. yet they are also unavoidable on the
epistemological planes, once we search truth.

> The set of all natural numbers are always finite,

Of course, but you mean "constructed natural number". You stay at the
1-pov. I have no problem for translating.

> but you can always increase the set of all natural number by adding
> more
> natural numbers to it.

Life will be harder.

>>> An ordinary computer can never be arithmetically unsound.
>> ? (this seems to me plainly false, unless you mean "perfect" for
>> "ordinary". But computers can be as unsound as you and me.
>> There is no vaccine against soundness: all computers can be unsound
>> soo or later. there is no perfect computer. Most gods are no immune,
>> you have to postulate the big unnameable One and be very near to It,
>> to have some guaranty ... if any ...
> OK, I misunderstood what you meant by "unsound", I thougth you meant
> something like "unlogical". But now I see that you mean something
> like
> "irrational". And I sure am irrational.

By unsound I meant that you believe in some false arithmetical
proposition. But trivially so, and by using intuitionist arithmetic,
and modal logics, you could make your point.

>>> I do not want to be tortured, I behave as if I try to avoid that as
>>> strongly as I can. Because I behave in this way, I answer "no" to
>>> your question, because that answer will decrease the probability
>>> of you
>>> torturing me.
>> Do you realize that to defend your point you are always in the
>> obligation, when talking about any first person notion, like
>> consciousness, fear, desire, to add "I behave like ....". But if you
>> can do that successfully you will make me doubt that you are a
>> zombie.
>> Or ... do you think a zombie could eventually find a correct theory
>> of
>> consciousness, so that he can correctly fake consciousness, and
>> delude
>> the humans?
> An intelligent zombie can correctly fake consciousness, and I am an
> intelligent zombie.

How could a zombie know that he correctly fake consciousness?

>>>> 3) Do you have any "sort-of" feeling, insight, dreams, impression,
>>>> sensations, subjective or mental life, ... ?
>>> I behave as if I have "sort-of" feelings, I behave as if I have
>>> insights, I behave as if I have dreams, I behave as if I have
>>> impressions, I behave as if I have sensations, I behave as if I
>>> have a
>>> subjective or mental life, ...
>> As I said. But if you know that, I mean if you can behave like if you
>> were knowing that, it would mean that such words do have some meaning
>> for you.
>> How can you know that you are not conscious? Why do you behave like
>> if
>> you are conscious, and then "confess" to us that you are not. Why
>> don't you behave like if you were not conscious. Should not a zombie
>> defend the idea that he is conscious, if he behaves like if he was
>> conscious.
> If you ask me if I am conscious, I will reply "yes".

Good. I mean that is what we can expect from a zombie.

> But I am so
> intelligent that I can look at myself from the outside, and then I
> understand why I behave like I do.

No, you can't. Unless you are so near "god" that you just stop to
behave at all. No machines can do that. No hypermachines can do. None
angels, no nameable things. Something similar to that can be done, but
it transforms you so much that you become another machine. You can't
be that clever, or you have to really "go outside up to the point of
not coming back". You are a bit flirting with authoritative arguments.

> I can see that all my behaviour is
> explained by chemical reactions in my brain,

You have good eyes!

> and there is no more than
> that.

I cannot define what are the natural numbers, but I believe in the
arithmetical laws, without them, those chemical reactions could not
execute or run "myself" (assuming comp). I can believe that I am
illusional on all matters, but then "I am". There is a fixed point
more solid than your hallucination about brains and molecules, and
nothing more. There is much more: pain, desire, beliefs, histories,
will, beauty, terrors, truth, lies, persons, taxes, consciousness and
coma, lives and abandon, hope and despair. With comp, we can bet some
"chemistry" can *represent* those things, in a relative way. But to
identify pain with neural firing, is like to confuse yourself with
your identity cart number. Comp really show that you are independent
of any choice of representation, and that "objective local"
representations is a (infinite) construction of "your" mind,
distributed in many comp histories.

> So when I talk about myself on the meta level, then I can say
> that I have no consciousness. But most people are not intelligent
> enough to realize that.

All what you say, is that there is no consciousness in the third
person description. But we know that. Now, by staying at the third
person level, with variate and reasonable third person definition of
first person subjectivity (consciousness, qualia, personal memories,
diaries) we can already explain that there is one incommunicable first
person thing on which we (machines) cannot be illusional about.

I have no proof, but I am not a zombie. You may be one, but I have
some doubt about that, too. But with comp, for any "conscious"
machine, you can build an equivalent local zombie capable of faking
the machine, and this for any arbitrary finite piece of time. In the
limit, it is expoenetially hard to do so. So, my feeling is that the
probability that you are a zombie is as great as the probability that
you are a white rabbit.

Consciousness is the undoubtable and incommunicable verity which makes
the introspective honest machine able to doubt everything else and
change its mind accordingly through new informations.


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Received on Sun May 10 2009 - 21:04:08 PDT

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