Re: Dreaming On

From: David Nyman <>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 00:47:22 +0100

2009/8/10 Bruno Marchal <>:

> But strictly speaking (I am also a stickler), the first person can
> never identify herself to *any* representation, she share this with
> the 0-person ONE, or the non differentiate (arithmetical) truth. The
> knower does not know who he is. Relatively to probable histories, he
> makes bets "all the time".

Yes, I agree with this. This is why I've always said that the One is
'personal' to some minimum but not-eliminable degree (0-personal in
your terminology). The first person inherits the "I" from the One:
this is essential to make sense of duplicability and teleportation.

>> Beyond this, that the unique qualitative nature of the OFP *is* as it
>> appears, is in principle outside the scope of explanation itself.
> No! This is the "miracle" of comp. Machine cannot not discover the
> incommunicable part of their experience, but they can, assume of bet
> on comp, and justify that why it has to be so. That is AUDA. The gap
> is justified from inside. It is a consequence from the fact that
> machine can prove their own incompleteness theorems, and even study
> the geometry of their ignorance.

Apparently we don't agree :-(

> The ultimate gap remains unavoidable,
> so you are right saying that the unique qualitative nature of the OFP
> is outside the scope of the explanation, but that fact, is an "easy"
> theorem on and by  the machine which introspect herself.
> To sum up:
> The unique qualitative nature of the OFP *is* beyond the scope of the
> explanation-comp theory. But that very fact *is* in the scope of the
> theory.

Apparently we DO agree :-)

>>>>  IOW - as Bruno says above - they are
>>>> theoretical constructions.
>>> Yes, but this does not mean those construction does not refer to
>>> something real independently of us, and this is what I assume for
>>> comp
>> I agree, as above that it is the whole point of our endeavours to say
>> that the construction *refers* to something real.  But I think perhaps
>> that the something thus referenced is not best characterised as being
>> real *independently* of us, but rather *constitutive* of us and our
>> (most general) environment.
> I agree with you, but this can be said among enlightened people who
> understand the whole stuff.
> Before the reasoning, you could be suspected to put the horse behind
> the car.

Or "put the horse before the cart", in our delightfully archaic
phrase. I am doing this, would you say?

> With comp, numbers, or finite things like combinators etc. have
> clearly a relation with us, but a priori it is simpler to state their
> laws without referring to us.

I agree that simpler is better as long as we are clear on what is being assumed.

> A number is even if and only its square is even. This is a law about
> numbers. Those are the type of truth which we have to state as not
> depending on us <here and now>, even if it depends on us, or are us,
> "there".


>>> Even if the whole existence get annihilated, 17 would still be
>>> prime.
>> I understand that it is justifiable to take this as your point of
>> departure and don't really wish to make an argumentative point out of
>> it.  Nonetheless, in passing, perhaps I have a more radical intuition
>> of annihilation than you.  One can waste a lot of breath speculating
>> on 'nothing' because, strictly I guess, there can be nothing at all it
>> can refer to.
> This I do not understand. There are many nothing everywhere, and other
> absence, and I am open that absolute nothingness could be conceivable,
> a bit like theories having no models. It seems you just point here on
> a difficult open question.


>>  I could demonstrate this, given infinite time, simply
>> by flatly rejecting *any* survivor of such annihilation that you or
>> anyone cared to propose, to the crack of doom.  On this basis, even
>> '17 is prime' is a goner.
> I still don't see why or how you could do that, except by convincing
> me that Peano Arithmetic is inconsistent.

I think we're at cross-purposes, but it really doesn't count much for
our discussion here.

>> Ah, but my argument attempts to distinguish a computation (immaterial
>> dynamic object) and an implementation of a computation (material
>> dynamic process) - again, per standard physical theory - as a
>> refutation of standard comp *in these strictly physical terms*.  My
>> point is, that per physicalism, a computation must be implemented in
>> some physical mechanism in order to have any real - i.e. physical -
>> effects (at least this was true the last time I did any programming).
>> Hence the existence of 'immaterial objects' in this case is simply
>> irrelevant to any effects that would be strictly justifiable as
>> ontologically real, per physicalism.
> Actually I do disagree with this, and Peter Jones made good point
> here. If you were true, UDA could be simplified a lot. Physicalism
> does not prevent dualism form/matter at all, like immaterial software
> and physical hardware. Physicalism can still explained the existence
> of the many immaterial being like nations, countries, persons (being
> fuzzy on the 1-3 distinction), games, music, etc.

OK, I hadn't realised that this point was quite so elusive, so now I
will have to insist a little more. There are two absolutely crucial
differences IMO between the examples you cite above (which Peter also
appeals to) and computation - per strict physicalism - conceived as
*constitutive* of the OFP (as contrasted with 3-description):

1) All of your examples are in principle hierarchically reducible (per
physicalism) to *specific* nameable physical entities and relations,
and any change in these specifications produces an identifiable change
in the collective entity (e.g. different notes = different music).
One can't simply say e.g. that 'nation' is invariant in the face of
different collections of persons, since any such change is
unquestionably material to the persons actually constitutive of the
nation - and this is the point (i.e. it's still different notes =
different music).

2) None of your examples (and indeed NO immaterial entity other than
computation) is postulated to evoke a novel ontological category such
as the OFP i.e. a 'nation' isn't something with an ontology distinct -
and in a different category - from that of the persons who constitute

Computationalism (i.e. when assumed to supervene on the activity of an
ontologically privileged physical substrate) violates both of the
above criteria: it is *invariant* (i.e. different notes = same music)
under inumerable different physical reductions (i.e. it is defined
functionally); and yet any such state of affairs (again excluding mere
3-descriptions) is asserted somehow to evoke an *identical* - and
moreover completely *novel* - ontological category.

Consequently IMO the foregoing criteria make the computational theory
of mind a mere dogma under the criterion of strict physicalism,
although the restrictiveness of this criterion usually passes
unrecognised precisely in consequence of this dogmatic blindness.
Indeed it is precisely the contradiction implicit in the conjunction
of strict physicalism with the computational theory of mind that step
8 seeks to expose and correct. The reversal of number and physics, by
contrast, privileges as efficacious the precise number relations upon
which computational invariance depends. In so doing it justifies comp
as an ontological category, and thereby eludes this criticism.

BTW, when you refer to "dualism form/matter" I assume you aren't
appealling to mind-matter dualism in any literal sense, although this
is IMO actually implied by any (non-3-description) computational
theory of mind that uniquely privileges physical entities and
relations as ontologically efficacious.

I'd like to dispose of this issue definitively, if possible. Either
I'm wrong in some point of the analysis (which I would be happy to
concede if clearly demonstrated), or something is being missed here.

> But comp, pushed on its logical conclusion prevent physicalism to
> explain the 1-person stable observations. We have to explain the
> appearances of all observables protagonists from the relation between
> numbers. There is a problem of vocabulary deciding if matter disappear
> or not. It is easier to say that physicalism is shown inconsistent or
> epistemologically empty. But this is not an entirely trivial
> proposition to demonstrate; it is full of traps, and without QM, nor
> Post or Turing, I would never have believed this, nor find the
> argument. UDA needs the universal machine concept.

> UDA1-7 can be based on the physical implementation of
> the devices presented in the protocol of the thought experiment. UDA-8
> eliminates that assumption.

When you say "physical implementation" here, do you mean in terms of
ontologically-primary physicalism? Does this assume in this case that
UDA1-7 could still be coherent per *some* theory of mind, but *not*
under the assumption that "I am a machine", as step 08 seeks to

>> When you say that "activity is just a function from N to set of
>> states", you again seem to refer to 'immaterial activity'.  It seems
>> to me that what you are saying amounts to this:
>> If it is the case that, per comp, it is the 'immaterial' activity of
>> the running program, regardless of specific implementation,
> Careful: the mind needs specific implementations, but below its
> substitution level, all implementations acts simultaneously, from its
> perspective (in case it decides to take a look below its level, he
> should see this).
> Once the reversal is done the word "physical" is reduced to something
> very specific, which includes a (perhaps to high) first person
> indeterminacy.

Yes, I know, but at this point (i.e. before the reversal) I was
referring to the fact that because a computation is deemed invariant
in the face of different valid implementations its implicit 'ontology'
is immaterial as contrasted with an assumption of a basically material

>> that
>> implements the function and hence the mind, then this is
>> indistinguishable by the machine from it simply *being* the function
>> and hence the mind.
> The mind (the 1-mind, not the numbers) is distributed in the set of
> all computations, you cannot really attach it in any single
> computation, unless you have reasons to think it is correlated to your
> own histories. Remember that at UDA-8 we abandon the physical
> supervenience for a comp supervenience, which is hard to describe
> without the minimum amount of math I was talking about.
> I may insist that the 1-person, nor its consciousness, is never
> attached to any thing which can be represented. Only its third person
> vehicles are, and the person can make relative and local bets on those
> vehices and their relative stabilities.
> This is recover and made consistent by the nuance between the prover
> Bp and the knower Bp & p (and the feeler, Bp & p & Dt); which by
> construction are the same, yet they cannot know that.

Yes, forget 'mind', it's inessential to the argument here. How about:

If it is the case that, per comp, it is the 'immaterial' activity of
the running program, invariantly under different implementations, that
implements the function, then this is indistinguishable by the machine
from it simply *being* the (equally immaterial) function. Standard
comp is then seen to refute - or at least make irrelevant - its own
basis in materiality.

Is this acceptable?

>> Have I succeeded in answering my own question?
> I let you judge.

The jury's still out.

>> Vous avez raison cher maitre, j'en suis sur.
> You mean "Vous avez raison cher maītre, j'en suis sūr."
> Stickler in French is "pointilleux", which means literaly asking for
> the correct accents!

Thanks - unfortunately I don't know how to be pointilleux on my keyboard :-(
> I cannot wait for your questions on step 8 :)

I cannot wait for your answers :-)


> >

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Received on Tue Aug 11 2009 - 00:47:22 PDT

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