X-Message-Number: 11877
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 00:53:47 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: :Consciousness issues, publish your book.

Henceforth, until further change of policy, I will use a colon (:) prefix in
the subject header of "philosophical" postings that some others may want to

Brook Norton, #11870 writes (to me):

>Regarding your discussions with Ettinger... I think what hasn't gotten
>across is that the Turing tomb not only simulates the being in question,
>but also its surroundings, either sufficiently distant surroundings or the
>entire universe as required.  This includes the beings with which it is to
>interact.  So when another being talks to the Tomb, the Tomb is expecting
>this and replies appropriately, giving a perfect display of interactivity.

I think you mean "Turing tome" (an interesting slip, but let's not let it
distract us). The Book could simulate many conscious beings who may be
interacting, but does that allow *you* to interact? If not, then it's a kind
of super-movie (movies too have interacting characters). In my posting,
however, I raised the possibility that, if you try hard enough, you might
even, in cookbook fashion, create a system that has consciousness in it,
even though it does *not* interact with an outside world. It depends on what
goes on in the system. (Yes it could be an entire simulated/emulated
universe.) On the other hand, if the Book *does* allow *you* to interact,
and the interactions are convincing, it's easily seen to be more than just a

Bob Ettinger's posting,  #11871: The Quest for the Holy Quale, is
interesting and provocative as usual, and brings out some differences with
my own outlook. One is that I think processes at a deep level, suitable to
define consciousness, are discrete and involve sudden jumps of state rather
than a continuous transformation as Bob seems to imply. Based on this,
consciousness is indeed an emergent property, "resident" in the whole but
not, in any deep sense, in the small components of a supporting process.
Another is that I give more weight to isomorphism than he does. Isomorphic
processes, within broad but not arbitrary limits, define equivalent states
of consciousness and conscious experience, as I see it. I think too that
there is more to say on the "static record" (nothing in our reality is truly
static); my argument against its being conscious has some holes I can see. I
think the idea of "relative consciousness" may have more relevance than I
thought--more about this only if anyone is interested. Some of our
differences in views may not be of much practical significance, inasmuch as
a very large number of state transitions is involved for even the most minor
processing at the quantum level. On the other hand, though, computers could
soon be much better imitators of conscious humans than they have been up to
now, so who knows?

On another subject: I recently learned, many thanks to, again, Bob Ettinger,
of the AOL Writers Club, which can inexpensively publish your book (under
$500). They set it up on their presses from your electronic copy. With a few
notorious exceptions they will accept any book you care to publish, as long
as you pay the fee. They also distribute through both Barnes & Noble and
Amazon, in addition to in-house. Press run and shipments (generally) are
according to orders received, you set the retail price. Finally, they are
non-exclusive; find another publisher later and it's okay with them. I think
there may be other services like this on the web too; I'm not just trying to
endorse this one, but there they are.

Mike Perry

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