X-Message-Number: 18445
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 21:45:00 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Consciousness Issues Again

>Message #18437
>Delta-t problems:
>Now, a hypothetical digital computer, running a simulation of a person,
>generates successive sets of numbers, representing the successive quantum
>states of the person. But it can only do this in increments, which means
>approximations (in addition to the fuzziness from the uncertainty principle).
>If the increments (delta-t) are small enough, the delta-t fuzziness will be
>smaller than the uncertainty fuzziness, but nevertheless the simulation will
>add fuzziness, hence will not be of highest fidelity, unless delta-t
>approaches zero, which would make the simulation take forever.

This is not the way I see it. The discrete events, changes in the quantum 
state, are what matter for consciousness and experience, I think. (I also 
think this is a point of view that cannot be proved or disproved.) What 
happens in between is not important, or to put it differently, different 
"in-betweens" should be equivalent if they produce isomorphic state 
changes. Simulations, of course, may still be very hard to do and thus very 
rarely done.
>Message #18438
>Now suppose the available life history is divided into segments, say decades
>of the subjective life of the person. These could be run separately, in any
>order. The simulated person would not know the order, and in every case he
>would feel normal, assuming a simulated person can feel. Yet his subjective
>future could be in his objective past, as I intimated in an earlier note. I
>don't claim this proves anything in particular, but it raises questions.

Yes, it does raise questions. An important consideration, I think, is what 
I call the frame of reference of a particular entity. Consciousness could, 
I think, be relative to a frame of reference. With this in mind, an entity 
could have normal consciousness relative to *some* frame of reference yet 
not from our own . Examples would include a person expressed in a detailed 
but static record giving a time development, or a process going in reverse. 
And who is to say that we are *not* situated strangely, relative to some 
other reality (frame of reference) that encloses our own?

Another thought to ponder is, is there any way in principle to know if a 
simulated conscious system has real feeling or is simply an unconscious 
process that only seems to have feeling? I'm thinking here of a process 
that runs in normal time (normal frame of reference), and imitates 
consciousness, interacting with humans. One example is robot pets, which 
are gradually becoming more sophisticated. As far as I can see, the answer 
is "no," so you may as well choose as you like. Thus, if a robot pet passes 
enough tests and is imitating well, it is conscious in my judgment. All of 
which has consequences, of course, for possible reanimation scenarios, 
which would not necessarily restore the original flesh and blood.

Feel free to beam me up, if it's faster and cheaper than the bus.

Mike Perry

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