Re: 3 possible views of "consciousness"

From: <>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 18:36:44 EST

"Jesse Mazer" <>:

> There's some ambiguity in your use of the word "interpretation"
> here. In "Robot" you argue that a physical system can be seen as
> implementing any possible computation under the right mapping, so
> that an "interpretation" might be just another word for a particular
> choice of mappings. But "interpretation" can also be used in the
> more vague sense of attributing motives and thoughts to a physical
> system, giving you an explanation for its behavior in terms of
> folk-psychology.

I consider those both special cases of interpretations. Mappings can
be to computational entities (bits, numbers, strings, whatever)
psychological ones (feelings, memories, meanings ...) or anything
else (color, sound, chemical state, good, evil ...).
I admit the range of mappings seems to be beyond my ability to
specify. Not mathematically tractable.

> ... if a given system implements all possible computations than no
> folk-psychological explanation is ultimately better than any other.

I suggest you should pick the one that provides you the most effective
interaction, of the ones your able to muster. That will be better for
you, at least, if not better in an absolute cosmic sense.

> My view is that a theory of consciousness should involve a one-to-one
> mapping between subjective experiences and *some* set of mathematical
> structures, but I don't think the set of all "computations" is a good
> candidate. I think we need something more along the lines of "isomorphic
> causal structures," but there doesn't yet seem to be a good way to define
> this intuition...Chalmers' paper at
> <>
> discusses his views on the subject.

I see attempts (notably Chalmers') to classify mappings into valid and
invalid implementations as arbitrary lines in the sand, good for
starting arguments, but otherwise having no significance or benefit.

> It doesn't make much sense to imagine two universes which are
> identical in terms of both physical events and mental experiences
> (if they exist), but which differ in a single way: in one,
> Shakespeare is "really" better, and in the other Danielle Steele is.

Sure it does. Imagine universes created by inferences from axiom
systems. Two universes could have generating axioms identical except
for the one about writing quality just as you've stated it. A
Platonic universe can have "literary goodness" as a basic property
just as it can have number, energy, or intention.

I think, like the recent election, our disagreements are smaller
than our uncertainties.
Received on Tue Jan 30 2001 - 15:56:34 PST

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