Re: Can mind be a computation if physics is fundamental?

From: thermo thermo <>
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2009 08:02:34 -0300

On Mon, Aug 3, 2009 at 7:43 AM, Bruno Marchal<> wrote:
> John,
> Is not the difference between human and non human a human illusion?
> With Church Turing thesis we can suspect the existence of universal
> illusions.

Maybe illusions can be detected due to timing discrepancies between
the original version of something and the virtual one. I am doing an
analogy with the detection computer rootkits, which are programs that
try to control another program through concealment and virtualization.

I am assuming only local timing modification done by the universal
system programmer. If the system can be globally stopped, local
illusions inserted and the system continues, this detection methods
can't be applied...


Alien vs. Quine
Graizer, V.; Naccache, D.
Security & Privacy, IEEE
Volume 5, Issue 2, March-April 2007 Page(s):26 - 31
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSP.2007.28
Summary:Is it possible to prove that a computer is malware-free
without pulling out its hard disk? This article introduces a novel
hardware inspection technique based on the injection of carefully
crafted code and the analysis of its output and execution time. In
theory, the easiest way to exterminate malware is to reformat the disk
and then reinstall the operating system (OS) from a trusted
distribution GD. This procedure assumes we can force computers to boot
from trusted media, but most modern PCs have a flash BIOS, which means
that the code component in charge of booting is recorded on a
rewritable memory chip. Specific programs called flashers - or even
malware such as the CIH (Chernobyl) virus - have the ability to update
this chip. This article addresses this concern, namely, ascertaining
that malware doesn't re-flash the BIOS to derail disk-reformatting
attempts or simulate their successful completion

> Bruno
> On 01 Aug 2009, at 21:52, John Mikes wrote:
> David,
> I thought you are facing the Scottish mountains for a relaxation and instead
> here is a long - enjoyable- tirade about ideas which I try to put below into
> a shorthand form by my vocabulary. But first a plea to Mrs. N:
> 'please, do keep David away from te computer for the time of the Scottish
> tourism, as he suggested it, to get him a good  mountaineering relaxation
> what we all would luv if we just can afford it....'
> and now back to David:
> "causal accounts" are model-based originating choices in a view reduced into
> the figment of a 'physical world' i.e. in a conventional science lingo, so
> ingeniously formed over the millennia. It is our perceived reality, with
> math, based on the most pervasive (dominating?) principle, called physics,
> all - in the ongoing "HUMAN" ways of our thinking.
> Everything exists what we 'think of' in our MIND (nonexistent? no way, we
> think of that, too). There is nosuch thing as a  '3rd pers.explanation, it
> is a 1st pers. idea, interpreted by all the   "3rd persons" into their own
> (1st pers) "mindset"(?).
> Ontology is today's explanation of today's epistemic inventory.
> A nice, reductionist philosophy. Not applicable for tomorrow's discoveries.
> A 'physical realist' is a conventional scientist within the given figments.
> This list tries to overstep such 'human' limitations - falling repeatedly
> back into the faithful application of it.
> As Brent asked: "Is the physics account of life incomplete or wrong?  Do you
> consider "life" to have been eliminated?"
> "eliminated" WHAT? I spent some braingrease to find out what many (some?) of
> us agree upon as 'life' - no success. YET it does exist even in Brent's mind
> (who is a very advanced thinking list-member). (Robert Rosen identified life
> as his 'M&R'  (Metabolism and Repair) based on his (mathematical) biology
> ways. I may extend the domain into 'ideation' and 'not-so-bio' domains, even
> into the stupidly named "in-animates").
> Our millennia-evolved human (reductionistic - conventional) views are based
> on timely evolving observational skills what we call "physical" - worldview,
> science, explanatory base etc. So no wonder if everything is touching it. It
> is not 'more real' than anything we could sweat out for explaining the
> unexplainable.
> It all undergoes (ontological etc.) changes as epistemy grows.
> I don't want to touch here the chicken-egg topic of "numbers", yet this,
> too, is a HUMAN dilemma between Bruno and friends vs. David Bohm. And we are
> figments within the totality, not the original creators. We don't 'see' too
> far.
> Somebody asked me: "How do we learn something that is aboslutely 'N E W' ? I
> had no answer. I tried: by playing with unrelated relationships - which is
> only manipulting the existent.
> Even Star Trek relied on modified knowables as novelty, the absolute new is
> not available to us - unless already having been hinted in some corner of
> the totality as a 'findable' relation. The quality from quantity Leninian
> principle may give a clue to it, if a large enough background can be checked
> (cf. Bruno's words to get to anything by using enough many numbers for it).
> Still such cop-outs include my usual retort: applying the "somehow"
> Finally: COMP and reality? not this embryonic binary algorithm based
> (physical) contraption, not even an advanced fantasy kind of similar
> deficiencies can approach what we cannot: the unfathomable 'reality' of them
> all. It is not a 'higher inventory', it (if there is such an 'it' - I did
> not say: exists) is beyond anything we can imagine humanly. We can speculate
> about reality's 'human' type aspects of partial hints we can humanly
> approach and make a pars pro toto dream of it - we are wrong for sure.
> Have a healthy mountain-climb in Scottland
> John M
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 5:39 PM, David Nyman <> wrote:
>> I note that the recent posts by Peter Jones - aka the mysterious 1Z,
>> and the originator of the curiously useful 'real in the sense I am
>> real' or RITSIAR - occurred shortly after my taking his name in vain.
>> Hmm.......
>> Anyway, this signalled the resumption of a long-running debate about
>> the validity of causal accounts of the first person based on a
>> functional or computational rationale.  I'm going to make an attempt
>> to annihilate this intuition in this thread, and hope to encourage
>> feedback specifically on this issue.  You will recall that this is at
>> the heart of Bruno's requirement to base COMP - i.e. the explicitly
>> computational account of mind - on the the number realm, with physics
>> derived as an emergent from this.  Step 08 of the UDA addresses these
>> issues in a very particular way.
>> However, I've always felt that there's a more intuitively obvious and
>> just as devastating blow that can be dealt to functional or
>> computational notions based on physical entities and relations
>> conceived as ontologically foundational and singular (i.e. no dualism
>> please).  So as not to be misunderstood (too quickly!) let me make it
>> clear at the outset that I'm addressing this to first person conscious
>> experience, not to third person descriptions of 'mentality' - so
>> eliminativists can stop reading at this point as there is nothing
>> further that requires explanation in their view (as odd as I trust
>> this sounds to you non-eliminativists out there).
>> The argument runs as follows.  To take what physics describes with
>> maximal seriousness - as standing for ontological reality - is just to
>> take its entities and causal relationships seriously to the same
>> extent.  God knows, physicists have gone to enough trouble to define
>> these entities and relationships with the most precisely articulated
>> set of nomological-causal principles we possess.  Consequently, taking
>> these with maximal seriousness entails abjuring other causal
>> principles as independently efficacious: i.e. showing how - or at
>> least being committed to the belief that - all higher order causal
>> principles somehow supervene on these fundamentals.  Any other
>> position would be either obscurantist or incoherent for a physical
>> realist.
>> Now I should say at this point that I'm not criticising this position,
>> I'm merely articulating it.  It follows from the foregoing that
>> although we may speak in chemical, biological, physiological or
>> historical narratives, we believe that in principle at least these are
>> reducible to their physical bases.  We also know that although we may
>> speak of cabbages and kings, weather, oceans, processes, computations
>> and untold myriads of equally 'emergent' phenomena, we still must
>> retain our commitment to their reducibility to their physical bases.
>> So of course, we can - and do - legitimately speak, in this way, of
>> physical computers as 'performing computations', but following the
>> foregoing principle we can see that actually this is just a convenient
>> shorthand for what is occurring in the physical substrates upon which
>> the notion of computation must - and of course does - rely for its
>> realisation in the world.
>> To be more explicit: The notion of a 'program' or 'computation' - when
>> we place it under analysis -  is a convenient shorthand for an ordered
>> set of first person concepts which finds its way into the physical
>> account in the form of various matter-energy dispositions.  The
>> macroscopic media for these are variously paper and ink, actions of
>> computer keyboards, patterns of voltages in computer circuitry,
>> illumination of pixels on screens, etc.  All of these, of course, can
>> - and must - reduce to fundamental relations amongst physical
>> 'ultimates'.  At some point after entering the physical causal nexus,
>> this chain of dispositions may re-enter the first person account
>> (don't ask me how - it's inessential to the argument) at which point
>> they may again be construed *by someone* in computational terms in a
>> first person context.  But at no point is the 'computation' - qua
>> concept - in any way material (pun intended) to the physical account;
>> a fortiori, in no way can it - or need it - be ascribed causal
>> significance in terms of the physical account.  After all, what could
>> this possibly mean?  Are these spooky 'computational' relationships
>> 'reaching across' the energy-transfers of the computer circuitry and
>> changing their outcomes? Of course not.  How could they?  And why
>> would they need to?  Everything's going along just fine by itself by
>> purely physical means.
>> I hope the foregoing makes it clear that computer programs and their
>> computations - at the point of physical instantiation - literally
>> don't exist in the world.  They're semantic formulations - ways of
>> speaking - that have applicability only in the first-person context,
>> and we can see that this is true any time we like by performing the
>> kind of 'eliminativist' demonstration performed above: i.e. we can
>> eliminate the concept without affecting the action on the ground one
>> whit.  Of course, this is the insight that makes the strictly physical
>> account of mind - as presently understood - problematic if one wishes
>> to take the first person seriously, because it shows the notion of
>> 'emergence' to be redundant at the level of causation. It's just
>> another way of speaking, however much insight it carries - for us.
>> However, it isn't my wish to make that point again here.  Rather my
>> intention has been to show that whatever options are left in strict
>> physicalism to address the first person issues seriously - without
>> eliminating them - emergence is emphatically not one of them.
>> I hope this makes the argument clear, and also illustrates the point
>> of Bruno's reversal of numbers and physics to save the computational
>> account of mind (and body, as it happens).  To be absolutely explicit:
>> if functional-computational relations are to be taken to be
>> fundamentally causally efficacious, they must be held to be real and
>> foundational in exactly the sense (RITSIAR) ascribed to those in the
>> physical account.  But for that to be the case, all other causal
>> relations must supervene on them - again just as in the physical
>> account.  But now, of course, this must include physics itself.
>> Now, you don't of course have to accept COMP.  But if you want to be a
>> physical realist, it means you can only hang on to the computational
>> explanation of mind by eliminating the mind itself from reality.
>> Personally, not being committed to such an explanation, this doesn't
>> in itself constitute my problem with current physical accounts.  The
>> alternative is rather that physics as an account of mind must be
>> incomplete, or else it is wrong.   But that's another story.
>> David
> >

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Received on Mon Aug 03 2009 - 08:02:34 PDT

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