Re: Many Pasts? Not according to QM...

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 16:39:57 +0200

Le 14-juin-05, à 03:15, Russell Standish a écrit :

> On Mon, Jun 13, 2005 at 11:45:52AM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
>> To Russell: I don't understand what you mean by a "conscious
>> description". Even the expression "conscious" machine can be
>> misleading
>> at some point in the reasoning.
> A description could be conscious in the same way that with
> computationalism, a program might be conscious.

OK but it can be misleading (especially in advanced stuff!). neither a
program, nor a machine nor a body nor a brain can think. A person can
think, and manifest eself (I follow Patrick for the pronouns) through a
program, or a machine or a brain, ....
In some reasoning it is like cutting the hair, but once we tackle more
subtle questions it is important to make the distinction, imo.

> With computationalism,
> a certain program is considered conscious when run on an appropriate
> UTM.

Actually: not necessarily. dangerous way to present the things.

> However, as you showed in chapter 4 of your thesis it is not
> necessary to actually run the program on a physical
> machine.


> Church-Turing thesis and arithmetical platonism (my all
> description strings condition fulfills a similar role to arithmetical
> platonism) are enough.

I am not so sure. You are not always clear if the strings describe the
equivalent of a program (be it an universal program or not), or
describes a computations (be it finite or infinite). Consciousness
eventually is related to bunch of (sheaves of) infinite computations.
they can be coded by infinite strings, but they are not programs.

> Furthermore, if the conscious program _is_ a
> UTM in its own right, it can run on itself (actually this is pretty
> much what my reading of what the Church-Turing thesis is).

I am not sure I understand this.

> This obviates
> having to fix the UTM. Perhaps this is the route into the anthropic
> principle.

? Church's thesis just say things does not depend on which UTM you
choose initially (and then my chapter four says you don't need to run
it, but this is because the "runned" UTM already exists in arithmetical
truth (a very weak subpart of it actually).

> This is a model of a conscious description, under the assumption of
> computationalism. Perhaps this model can be extended to
> not-computationalism, where a description is conscious if it is able
> to interpret itself as conscious.

This makes sense indeed. (Modulo what I have just said).

> I do not have problem with observers
> being capable of universal computation as a necessary precondition
> here, should it be necessary.

Like me. OK.

> Finally, there is the possibility that a concrete observer (the
> noumenon) exists somewhere, and that "conscious descriptions" are
> merely the anthropic "shadow" of the observer being observed by itself.

Again this is to fuzzy for me. I can agree and I can disagree.

>> It is really some person, which can be
>> (with comp) associate relatively to a machine/machine-history, who can
>> be conscious.
>> Imo, only a person can be conscious.
> Isn't this the definition of "person"? Or do you define personhood by
> something else.

It is generally agreed that a sleeping 3-person is not conscious
(unless in the dream phase). It is still a person.
It is ambiguous to ask if a 3-person can be conscious. This is because
in natural language we use the same expression for a person description
and the first person we infer and relate to the 3-person. It is akin
with what I said above about the expression "a program can think". But
such talk makes harder for many people just to grasp the "mind-body"
problem, for example. Note that it is an open question, with comp, if
something can be conscious without being a person. Some description of
both mystic and people suffering big brain injuries can look like that.
But I was excluding in my comment "pathological" case like that. I was
just saying that we say with "a machine can think " it is an abuse of
language for "the person associate to that machine is thinking".

Received on Tue Jun 14 2005 - 10:49:44 PDT

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