X-Message-Number: 11857
Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 12:56:03 EDT
Subject: Perry and the Turing Tome again

I had said that a Turing Tape (or ordinary computer) could, in principle (if 
provided enough information about the laws of nature and about an individual 
and his initial environment) predict or describe that person's future 
behavior, including his brain functions, with as much fidelity as desired. I 
pointed out, further, that the Tape could be used to write a book, the Turing 
Tome, the pages of which would correspond to the successive states of the 
Tape. Either Tape or Tome could be used to direct the outward behavior of a 
robot (as well as to control the successive states of some analog or 
isomorphic representation of the brain). Also, a simple, automatic 
page-turning device could be attached to the Tome, so the Tome is just as 
much time-sensitive and "active" as the Tape.

My conclusions were (1) that we see, yet again, that Zombies are possible 
(robots whose behavior viewed externally is indistinguishable from that of 
people, but which are not necessarily conscious); and (2) that if a Turing 
Tape or ordinary computer can be conscious, then a book can too.

Mike Perry replied, in part:

>It seems to me that the Tome would store a record of past behavior only.
>True, you could use it to duplicate that past behavior again, like running a
>movie. But it would not be capable of directing adaptive behavior, without
>allowing ongoing changes in the Tome itself, or in some other record 

I think maybe Mike was sleepy when he wrote this--I have the impression that 
he writes a good deal late at night. Or maybe I wasn't as clear as I should 
have been. The Tape and the Tome not only describe but can PREDICT behavior 
of the systems. For purposes of thought experiments, we might as well assume 
that the Tape is very fast, and can produce the future record of a century in 
a second; then the Book could also be written very quickly, and the pages 
turned (if desired) in real time, so that the robot directed by the Book 
behaves just like a person in real time; and the Book itself symbolically 
exists and "lives" in real time.

(Mike also mentioned "adaptive" behavior. Remember, the system whose behavior 
is being predicted consists of person (a particular brain) AND a sufficient 
part of the environment. This automatically allows for adaptive behavior.)

Also, if the Tape or the Tome governs the behavior of some analog of the 
innards of the brain, we still have essentially the same situation in 
questioning the "consciousness" of that analog. Either isomorphism is always 
enough (strong evidence against this); or isomorphism is never enough 
(unlikely); or isomorphism may be enough, subject to complete and rigorous 
case-by-case analysis, which has never been done as far as I know, and would 
almost certainly yield inconclusive results at present.

Recapitulating, it seems to me these considerations provide strong evidence 
that, if you rely on isomorphism, you must concede that a book could be 
conscious. I conclude that either isomorphism just isn't enough, or that we 
have not paid close enough attention to the fine details and specifics of 
what "isomorphism" requires in these situations. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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