Re: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Mon Aug 20 2007 - 20:21:14 MDT

On 21/08/07, Matt Mahoney <> wrote:

> > It's logically possible that consciousness is due to a physical
> > process, but a different physical process might result in no
> > consciousness or different consciousness despite similar external
> > behaviour.
> Yes, but the definition of a p-zombie is that it has no experiences but is
> otherwise indistinguishable from human. Therefore there can be no test for
> consciousness in this sense. It means that if there is a physical process
> associated with consciousness (in this sense), it is impossible to know what
> it is.
> It means that if you upload, it is impossible to know whether your
> consciousness transferred to the copy. I am sure you have seen all the
> convoluted arguments that result in absurd conclusions.

I'd be certain that an exact biological copy of me has the same
consciousness. I'd be almost certain that a neuron by neuron computer
emulation of my brain would have the same consciousness as me (David
Chalmer's fading qualia argument). However, I couldn't be certain that
some machine designed to copy my behaviour well enough to pass for me
would have the same consciousness as me; it might be a p-zombie, or
more likely it might just have a completely different consciousness. I
would agree to be destructively uploaded in the first two cases, but
not the last.

Stathis Papaioannou

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