RE: Belief Statements

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 14:43:06 +1100

On 28 Jan 2005 Brent Meeker wrote:

>I'm not sure I understand the computational hyposthesis - and I certainly
>*believe* it.

So you don't believe that even in principle a digital computer can be
conscious? I think the challenge to this is going to come not from
theoretical considerations, but from practical developments in AI in the
coming decades. There will come a point where to insist that a computer is
not conscious will be no more plausible than insisting you alone are

> >(1) This sequence of binary digits has a special organisation, which can
> >understood as conforming to certain rules and relationships in a
> >programming language;
> >
> >(2) Implementing the binary sequence on a digital computer results in a
> >simulated world with inhabitants who are self-aware.
> >
> >You can stipulate that (1) must be true for (2) to be true, but it does
> >thereby follow that any conscious being in the physical world must be
> >to understand the details of (1) in order for (2) to be true.
> >For example,
> >suppose the computer language were devised by a long extinct
> >and no-one alive now is able to understand it: should that make any
> >difference to the simulation "from inside"?
>A good question. Another is, given any bitstring and a certain world, is
>a language in which that bitstring simulates that world?

Yes. This is the basic idea I am getting at. I don't see any way around it.

>Similarly, if the entire
> >computation occurs by chance in the course of another computation - a
> >spreadsheet, a cryptography cracking program on the planet Zork,
> >throughout a computer network in tiny pieces as in the Egan story - how
> >the conscious beings "inside" possibly know this?
>This would seem to be contrary to (1) supra - the tiny pieces not longer
>"a special organisation".

No: they always have a special organisation, given the appropriate language,
as per your point above.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Thu Jan 27 2005 - 22:47:05 PST

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