Re: The GLUT and functionalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Mar 12 2008 - 08:41:01 MDT

Stathis writes

> Lee Corbin wrote:
> > You might as well have a succession of frozen states, each actually
> > having no intrinsic connection with the rest (for an intuitive description
> > of "The Problem of the Succession of Frozen States", see
> >
> >
> > Of course this reduces to the problem of "The Theory of Dust", and
> > we are right back to wondering how a pattern found in one cubic
> > lightyear of dust, that appears to be Sa, could really be connected
> > in any meaningful way with another pattern found in another cubic
> > lightyear 10,000,000 parsecs away. Again, I just don't think that
> > all those patches of dust constitute consciousness (no information
> > flow, no time involved). A perfectly consistent position for a
> > time chauvinist like me.
> Yes, it comes back to the same thing. I know I'm in a minority,

But you have very good company, e.g., Hal Finney and many others.

> but I don't see a problem with assuming that consciousness can
> happen with a succession of frozen states. The two reasons you
> give in your article for rejecting a conscious SFS are (a) that it's
> obviously absurd,

Well, er, yes. Not much of a reason on the face of it :-)
But isn't it true that if you follow Putnam in his "Representation
and Reality" (extremely un-recommended by yours truly),
then you must suppose that any given rock performs the
calculations making up Stathis just as well as your organic
body does? In other words, if I have a choice of using
the Tsar Bomba (50 megatons) on the rock or on your
own person, if you come to visit me, then why do you care
whether I totally destroy the rock or totally destroy
Stathis's everyday human person?

> and (b) that it doesn't result in information flow between
> the states. But I don't think it's obviously absurd, and I
> see the lack of information flow (or inability to handle
> counterfactuals) as just making it impossible for us as
> external observers to use the system for computation.

Could you explain a bit more to me about this? Between
perhaps not using "counter-factual" correctly, or whether
it makes a fig of difference about "external observers"
(it doesn't), I'm not sure I'm following you. Perhaps an
example distinct from the Monday/Tuesday one would
help me.


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