Re: Free will/consciousness/ineffability

From: Marchal <>
Date: Tue Oct 9 07:26:38 2001

Hal Finney wrote:

>>>> Bruno:Your desktop computer cannot be conscious, nor can my brain.
>>>> If you succeed putting my mind (software) in your desktop
>>>> computer, your desktop computer will still not be conscious, but
>>>> it will make possible for me to talk with you (as my brain does
>>>> now). Only a person can be said conscious. And person, like
>>>> nation, or game are immaterial (with comp), and not absolutely
>>>> "singularisable" (only relatively).
>>> Brent:This confuses me, Bruno. You always postulate 'comp', i.e. that
>>> the brain can be emulated. I had always assumed that this entailed
>>> the emulation being conscious.
>Hal: I would say to this that consciousness is a property of a program, not
>of a computer. When a computer runs a program, the computer does not
>thereby become conscious.
>Hal: By analogy, other properties of programs include "being well written"
>or "having N^2 running time". When a computer runs such a program we
>wouldn't say that the computer is well written, or the computer has
>N^2 running time. In the same way we wouldn't say that the computer is
>conscious when it runs a conscious program.

Charles Goodwin makes the following comment:

>So a person isn't conscious either, presumably, since a person is not a
>program (at least, not unless everything is).

I agree with Hal Finney, or at least with the spirit of Hal Finney's
comment. Now, strictly speaking, Charles is right when saying that
a person is not a program (no more that a person is a computer or a
brain or a liver or a material body). Actually I still don't know
what is a person (and that's why I still cannot decide how many
person exist O (like James Higgo said), 1 (as I tend to believe) or
many, as it looks *apparently*.

Much more easy than defining what is a person is to distinguish
type of discourse (like 1 and 3 discourse), and then to reason
about possible such discourses.

The distinction between the brain and the *owner* of the brain is
well explained by Hofstadter and Dennet in Mind's I, when they
show the shortcomings of Searle's Chinese Room argument.

I would say that a person can be seen as a program (or as a
sequence of programs) once those terms are interpreted in a
sufficiently immaterial or abstract way.
I guess Finney was not meaning by program a particular electrical
instantiation of a program.

Received on Tue Oct 09 2001 - 07:26:38 PDT

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