• Ludwig V
    1k
    But this is just a hypothesis based on "Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct."SpaceDweller
    You are quite right. Enthusiasts are fascinated by the speculative possibilities and so forget the provisos. It's really quite annoying.

    Is naturalism = physicalism? Or is there a further distinction?fishfry
    That's not exactly wrong. But let analytic philosophers loose on an -ism and in a few years you'll have dozens of them. In the first half of the last century, there wasn't a concept of computability, so that issue is undetermined.

    The term “naturalism” has no very precise meaning in contemporary philosophy. Its current usage derives from debates in America in the first half of the last century. The self-proclaimed “naturalists” from that period included John Dewey, Ernest Nagel, Sidney Hook and Roy Wood Sellars. These philosophers aimed to ally philosophy more closely with science. They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing “supernatural”, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the “human spirit”Stanford EP - Naturalism

    In philosophy, naturalism is the idea that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe.[1] In its primary sense,[2] it is also known as ontological naturalism, metaphysical naturalism, pure naturalism, philosophical naturalism and antisupernaturalism.Wikipedia - Naturalism

    I believe in that same lecture (or perhaps a different one) he did NOT advocate dualism. He advocated what I call "secret sauce," my phrase, not Searle's. That is, consciousness is physical, but not computational. That's the point I've been making to noAxioms.fishfry
    I'm clearly out of date. Apologies to Searle. However, I'm not much reassured. If Searle is positing consciousness as an unknown something-or-other in addition to what is currently recognized as physical, he is positing a consciousness of the gaps, which is at least close to dualism.
    The mistake is to start with "Consciousness is....". We know what consciousness is; we don't know how to explain the physical basis of consciousness - yet. But it is clear that there are many disparate phenomena involved and it is possible that consciousness will not map neatly onto the physical world. (Consider the many complicated physical phenomena that are involved in the emotions, for example).

    Mind-body problem is only relevant to dualism, and sim theory isn't dualism, so the there's no problem. I think the term is 'interactionism', how the dual aspects interact with each other.noAxioms
    I apologize. I should have referred more generally to "philosophical theories of the mind". Bostrom clearly has one, though he proceeds as if it was certainly correct. A serious error, in my book.

    How does my decision to point a gun at the baddie cause Lara Croft to raise her arm? There has to be a causal connection between my decision and her arm, and there is. But under sim theory, there isn't two separate things that need to interact, so the problem doesn't arise.noAxioms
    If there is a causal connection between my decision to point a gun and Lara Croft raising her arm, there are two things that interact. That's what causality means. Whether you are dualist, monist, physicalist, idealist, epiphenomenonalist or panpsychist.
  • Patterner
    665
    Not having free will does not mean you have no choice.noAxioms
    The pool balls can come to rest in a huge number of arrangements after being struck by the cue ball at the break. But I wouldn't say any arrangement is ever a choice. Aside from the greater numbers and complexity of the types of physical interactions, in what way are our choices different if we don't have free will?


    Thee simulator implements physics. Physics implements your consciousness, regardless of whether the physics is simulated or not. Under supernaturalism, this isn't true.noAxioms
    Does naturalism state that we currently know of all things natural?
  • RogueAI
    2.6k
    I can't believe you are defending such an indefensible proposition, that a computer program can be conscious, without having any inkling of how it's done.fishfry

    Do we have any inkling of how brains are conscious?
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    The pool balls can come to rest in a huge number of arrangements after being struck by the cue ball at the break. But I wouldn't say any arrangement is ever a choice.Patterner
    Pool balls don't seem to be an example of something enacting will, of something making choices.

    A self-driving car makes choices, unless you're the type to forbid such language being applicable to something other than a human doing it. Yet most would agree it has no free will. Again, I see no benefit of free will (an action whose causal chain isn't rooted in physical state somewhere) to be preferable to actions whose causal chain is rooted in physical state. Crossing the street is my typical example of this.

    in what way are our choices different if we don't have free will?
    I suspect that they're better choices if they're not free. Being 'free' seems to imply being controlled by an external entity, which I consider equivalent to being possessed. One never knows if what possesses you has your best interests in mind, especially if its survival isn't dependent on the survival of that which it possesses.

    Does naturalism state that we currently know of all things natural?
    Quite the opposite. It implies that it is far better to say "We don't know how X works yet" than to say "X? Oh, that's done by Gods, magic, woo, whatever. The latter attitude discourages research. The former methodology encourages it.
    Hence the dark ages when methodological supernaturalism was prevalent, and the explosion of knowledge when methodological naturalism took over some 7 centuries ago give or take.

    If your question is about a new kind of physics that implements mind, well, if it can be shown that such is how it really works, then it falls under naturalism, yes. But nobody is treating it as something that can be investigated. The whole point of woo is that it be based on faith in lieu of lack of evidence. So empirical research into any of it is discouraged.


    If there is a causal connection between my decision to point a gun and Lara Croft raising her arm, there are two things that interact. That's what causality means.Ludwig V
    Quite right, and there very much is such a connection in that example.

    Whether you are dualist, monist, physicalist, idealist, epiphenomenonalist or panpsychist.
    There's a difference. With physicalism, there's a wire connecting the physical system where the will is implemented, to the system where the motor control (and eventually the arm) is implemented. Under dualism, that causal chain is seemingly broken/unknown, and it's a problem that needs to be solved, something that isn't a problem for the monist.
    I don't know how Searle claims a solution to this problem, but I will lay odds it involves persuasion rather than empirical investigation.


    Do we have any inkling of how brains are conscious?RogueAI
    You're asking somebody who claims brains are not. Heck, even I am one of them since I wouldn't consider a brain on its own to be conscious. it is beings/complete systems, not just brains, that are conscious or not, per a physicalist view.
    No answer to this question will ever satisfy a dualist. Any progress towards such knowledge is waved off as correlation, not actual consciousness. I mean they have machines that know the choice you will make before you do yourself. "Oh, that's just correlation".
    Anyway, the existence of such a device does not mean that we know how biological beings are conscious.
  • Patterner
    665
    The pool balls can come to rest in a huge number of arrangements after being struck by the cue ball at the break. But I wouldn't say any arrangement is ever a choice.
    — Patterner
    Pool balls don't seem to be an example of something enacting will, of something making choices.
    noAxioms
    Right. But our will is the result of physical interactions. Regardless of their complexity, physical interactional are physical interactions.
    -Physical interactions determine the final arrangement of the pool balls after the break.
    -Physical interactions determine whether a bunch of particles will gather into a planet orbiting a star; become a loose gathering, such as the asteroid belt; or scatter to the various directions of space.
    -Physical interactions determine if and when solid H2O will become liquid, and vice versa.
    -Physical interactions cause the globe's weather patterns.
    -Physical interactions determine what a person has for dinner, or how a person deals with a cheating spouse.

    It is only when talking about what humans (some people include other animals) do that anyone calls the outcome choice. Why is that? The planet's weather is the result of more particles than are in our brains, and a huge number of different types of physical activity (gravity, tides, solar radiation, the many different ecosystems of all areas of the worlds, all states of matter, human activity, etc.) are involved. Yet, even there, we do not speak of choice or will. Why do we only when the physical activity within a human brain is involved?
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    But our will is the result of physical interactions. Regardless of their complexity, physical interactional are physical interactions.
    -Physical interactions determine the final arrangement of the pool balls after the break.
    -Physical interactions determine whether a bunch of particles will gather into a planet orbiting a star; become a loose gathering, such as the asteroid belt; or scatter to the various directions of space.
    -Physical interactions determine if and when solid H2O will become liquid, and vice versa.
    -Physical interactions cause the globe's weather patterns.
    -Physical interactions determine what a person has for dinner, or how a person deals with a cheating spouse.
    Patterner
    I notice you seem to use the verbs 'cause' and 'determine' somewhat interchangeably there. I agree with all, but I want to highlight some distinctions, the main one being, 'under physical monism' (not dualism), all the above is true, since some (not just the last one) is not true under dualism.
    All of them are examples of 'physical interactions cause this and that'. The word 'determines' implies determinism, that not only does state X cause state Y, but state X can only cause Y and not any different outcome Z. There are valid deterministic interpretations of physics and valid nondeterministic ones, so we don't know if physics is deterministic or not.
    The second important point is: the lack of determinism does not imply free will, it only implies randomness, and randomness is not what makes free will possible. It isn't information (enaction of choice) from outside physical interactions of matter. Randomness conveys no information, hence cannot enact the external choice necessary for free will.

    Hence yes, determinism or no, under physicalism, an external entity cannot hold a physical entity responsible for how the physics works in this universe. Internal entities can, so justice is served if I go to jail for setting my cat on fire, but not if I go to hell for it, as if it is even meaningful to put a physically meaningful arrangement of matter into a non-physically meaningful state.

    How is this relevant to the simulation hypothesis? Well, the runners of the simulation have no meaningful way to exert their ideas of a moral standard on the states of matter in their simulation. OK, the simulators could sprinkle a bunch of 'divine scripture' copies here and there as part of the initial state of the simulation, but the runners really have no way of doing anything about it if someone in the sim doesn't follow the rules spelled out in the scripture. Lightning strikes from above would render it into an interactive VR for the simulators, and no longer a pure sim. It would reduce the occupants of our world to NPCs, zombies in a world with only one or a few actual free willed VR players (the ones aiming the lightning strikes, or whatever method they choose to implement their interference).

    It is only when talking about what humans (some people include other animals) do that anyone calls the outcome choice.
    Speak for yourself. I picked the cars as an example since I consider it to be making choices, even if I don't think it is a very good example of AI. They're complicated, but still very much automatons, but they do make choices about which route, which lane to use, and so on. If that's not choice, then fundamentally, as a physicalist, what am I doing that is different?


    The planet's weather is the result of more particles than are in our brains
    My decision to not burn the cat is also the result of more particles than is in my brain. In fact, that choice is a function of pretty much everything else you listed. It is not a function of matter 50 billion light years away. That's how far I need to go.

    Yet, even there, we do not speak of choice or will. Why do we only when the physical activity within a human brain is involved?
    Because that's how language is used, and language usage, more than anything else, sets one's biases.
  • fishfry
    3k
    I believe in that same lecture (or perhaps a different one) he [Bostrom?] did NOT advocate dualism. ... That is, consciousness is physical, but not computational.
    — fishfry
    Wait, Bostrom said that mind is not computational, and yet pushes a view that our consciousness is the result of a computation? That seems to be a direct denial of his own paper. Got a link to where this is said?
    noAxioms

    You grabbed a statement I made to @Ludwig V about Searle, interpolated Bostrom, and snapped back me for a link to something you imagined I said?

    I was a little put off by this latest post. You sniped at literally every sentence I wrote.

    I was more interested in taking the discussion in the direction of my new understanding that Bostrom explicitly says that in the future they'll figure out how to implement consciousness on a computerer .

    In my mind that renders the conversation moot. If that assumption is false, the paper is wrong. If it's true, then I'm a program running in a computer, and it doesn't matter if God or future people did it. So the paper doesn't say anything interesting.

    That kind of wrapped it up for me. And it clarified a point I've been wondering about, which is what Bostrom says about computational consciousness. He assumes it. Hell of an assumption to casually slip in, rather that explicitly noting it.

    Anyway I don't think I could add value by sniping back at every sentence-by-sentence dispute, so I think my best bet is to leave this as it is.
  • fishfry
    3k
    Is naturalism = physicalism? Or is there a further distinction?
    — fishfry
    That's not exactly wrong. But let analytic philosophers loose on an -ism and in a few years you'll have dozens of them. In the first half of the last century, there wasn't a concept of computability, so that issue is undetermined.
    Ludwig V

    People keep using the word naturalism and I'm trying to understand what it means. Is it the same or different than physicalism?

    I'm clearly out of date. Apologies to Searle. However, I'm not much reassured. If Searle is positing consciousness as an unknown something-or-other in addition to what is currently recognized as physical, he is positing a consciousness of the gaps, which is at least close to dualism.Ludwig V

    He associates it with life. Something about living things. And surely we haven't got a computer science theory of when a program running on a digital computer becomes alive. Any more than we know when it becomes conscious. Or if, rather than when. What is the spark of life? Some call it the soul. The thing that's present when you're a live, absent when you're dead, and nobody knows what it is? Maybe consciousness is something that comes along with that.

    That is my understanding of my own recollection of what Searle said in a video I watched a couple of years ago. No claim that Searle holds or ever held this position as I explained it. But it sounds reasonable. It's a coherent belief. Something about life is conducive to consciousness.

    A computationalist would call that very human-centric, like geocentrism. Destined by analogy with history to look silly someday.

    The mistake is to start with "Consciousness is....". We know what consciousness is; we don't know how to explain the physical basis of consciousness - yet. But it is clear that there are many disparate phenomena involved and it is possible that consciousness will not map neatly onto the physical world. (Consider the many complicated physical phenomena that are involved in the emotions, for example).Ludwig V

    I'm sticking to physicalism without computationalism till I get some new input on the subject.

    Emotions are another good example, thanks for that. They're squirts of hormones in the limbic system or some such. Nobody understands how it works. It doesn't seem very computer-like to me.
  • fishfry
    3k
    Do we have any inkling of how brains are conscious?RogueAI

    I don't. Science doesn't. But the computationalists, they are very sure of themselves. Consciousness is something that can be implemented by a computer program. And the arguments are specious. We process information, computers process information, therefore we're like computers. Weighted nodes in a graph are just like neurons. You can't argue with these people. They control TED, hence the popular "educated, sophisticated" mind. It's better to go along with what all the other cool kids say. Consciousness is computational, we're in a simulation, aren't we clever.

    A lot of really smart people, too. Cognitive neuroscientists, rock star CEOs of AI companies. Who am I to argue?

    Thanks for asking :-)
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    Emotions are another good example, thanks for that. They're squirts of hormones in the limbic system or some such. Nobody understands how it works. It doesn't seem very computer-like to me.fishfry
    No, they are not just hormones. The causes of the hormones in the brain and the effects of the hormones in the body, together with their psychological counterparts are all part of the package. Think about it.
  • fishfry
    3k
    No, they are not just hormones. The causes of the hormones in the brain and the effects of the hormones in the body, together with their psychological counterparts are all part of the package. Think about it.Ludwig V

    I could think about it a lot, without ever figuring out what you were trying to tell me here!

    I thought I was agreeing with you, that emotions are an argument against computationalism. But perhaps I misunderstood.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    He (sc. Searle) associates it (sc. "secret sauce") with life. Something about living things.fishfry
    But that's an issue that goes back millennia. A century ago, there was "elan vital" or "Life Force". Before that, it was the "mind", the "soul". Aristotle's "psyche",
    Searle's mystery component can be seen in his Chinese Room. It is (from what you tell me and my memories) just a gesture towards something in the future.

    I could think about it a lot, without ever figuring out what you were trying to tell me here!
    I thought I was agreeing with you, that emotions are an argument against computationalism. But perhaps I misunderstood.
    fishfry
    I'm sorry. It was lazy of me to do that.
    One point about it was indeed that the physical basis of the emotions is clearly not just a matter of processing information. The focus on the brain, together with the computer analogy, misleads us. Even the knowledge that we already have should prevent us from thinking that there is necessarily any simple correlation between mental and physical phenomena. People equate fear and anger with the circulation of specific hormones. But that is, surely, clearly not the sort of thing that our computers can do. It is one phenomenon in among others that are associated with the emotions. The brain, presumably, is involved in triggering the release and the whole of the rest of the body is affected. Compare the call of "action stations" in a ship or perhaps the fire alarm in a building. Everything is affected. There's no way of picking out the specifics, except by the general description "ready for action" or "falling in love".
    Computers of the kind we are familiar with do not (so far as I can see) have any capacity to be afraid or fall in love, to value one outcome over another and one of the reasons for that, it seems to me, is that the way they "think" has no conceptual space for those things. (Though I'm sure that some people will respond to the challenge by developing simulations.)
    I'm going to stop there. There's not much I'm sure of beyond this point, except that philosophers don't seem to be able to grapple sensibly with what's going on here.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    You grabbed a statement I made to Ludwig V about Searle, interpolated Bostromfishfry
    Ah, Searle said that, which makes sense. Of course Searle isn't going to accept a naturalist premise, but his unwillingness to set aside his opinion about it prevents his rendering any proper critique.



    People keep using the word naturalism and I'm trying to understand what it means. Is it the same or different than physicalism?fishfry
    For purposes of this discussion, I've been using the two terms interchangeably.


    The causes of the hormones in the brain and the effects of the hormones in the body, together with their psychological counterparts are all part of the package.Ludwig V
    If this world is part of a simulation, it is definitely going to have to simulate chemical/hormonal influences on our experience. Far more than that even.

    Much of my skepticism of SH is that he proposes that the physics of a system changes depending on how much attention is being paid to it.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    Ah, Searle said that, which makes sense. Of course Searle isn't going to accept a naturalist premise, but his unwillingness to set aside his opinion about it prevents his rendering any proper critique.noAxioms
    I don't think a proper critique requires the critic to set aside their opinion. But it does require a willingness to engage with the opposition. I think he has an extreme form of a regrettable, but not uncommon, tendency to adopt a premiss (axiom, "truism") which presupposes his conclusion. But to be fair Derrida, in their famous debate, does not exactly go overboard to understand Austin, but I thought that he did at least try to do so.

    I need to correct myself. I found an entry on Google Books:-
    With special emphasis on vision Searle explains how the raw phenomenology of perception sets the content and the conditions of satisfaction of experience. ...... He next justifies the claim that perceptual experiences have presentational intentionality and shows how this justifies the direct realism of his account. — GoogleBooks on Searle's Theory of
    For my money, this doesn't amount to direct realism. Note the references to "raw phenomenology" and "presentational intentionality". But I can see why one might pigeon-hole him under that heading. But I'm quoting the summary, not Searle himself. Perhaps there's a distortion in that.

    For purposes of this discussion, I've been using the two terms interchangeably.noAxioms
    Yes. Only a naive person like myself would want to differentiate the two. But I had in mind the much-abused ordinary experience that was so popular in Oxford at a certain point; it seemed better to call it naturalism.

    If this world is part of a simulation, it is definitely going to have to simulate chemical/hormonal influences on our experience. Far more than that even.noAxioms
    Yes. The question is How much more? Emotions (as opposed to moods) have a cognitive content, and that wouldn't be a problem. But they also involve desire and value. That is extremely problematic. It seems to me that software commands can simulate emotion, but having an emotion (desire, value) is a very different kettle of fish.
  • Patterner
    665
    The second important point is: the lack of determinism does not imply free will, it only implies randomness, and randomness is not what makes free will possible.noAxioms
    What makes free will possible?


    Speak for yourself. I picked the cars as an example since I consider it to be making choices, even if I don't think it is a very good example of AI. They're complicated, but still very much automatons, but they do make choices about which route, which lane to use, and so on. If that's not choice, then fundamentally, as a physicalist, what am I doing that is different?noAxioms
    That's what I'm asking.


    "Does naturalism state that we currently know of all things natural?" -Patterner

    Quite the opposite. It implies that it is far better to say "We don't know how X works yet" than to say "X? Oh, that's done by Gods, magic, woo, whatever. The latter attitude discourages research. The former methodology encourages it.
    Hence the dark ages when methodological supernaturalism was prevalent, and the explosion of knowledge when methodological naturalism took over some 7 centuries ago give or take.

    If your question is about a new kind of physics that implements mind, well, if it can be shown that such is how it really works, then it falls under naturalism, yes. But nobody is treating it as something that can be investigated. The whole point of woo is that it be based on faith in lieu of lack of evidence. So empirical research into any of it is discouraged.
    noAxioms
    I suspect the reason believers who don't engage in empirical research don't engage in empirical research is their minds aren't strong in that area. "God did it" and "How does it work" are not incompatible thoughts. Francis Collins is such a strong believer that, when he finished mapping the human genome, he called it the Language of God. Also Mendel, Carver, Maxwell, Cantor, Kelvin, Heisenberg, and many others.

    Other minds don't much function in one sphere or the other. Some see the two as incompatible, and are opposed, even violently, to the one they don't function in.

    Some don't seem inclined to either.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    What makes free will possible?Patterner
    That depends heavily on how one defines free will. The way it is being used in this topic, free will is agency of a physical entity (something in the simulation) from a will that isn't part of the physics of the universe (the simulation). So in a VR, Lara Croft has free will since her will comes from outside the physics of the tomb. The NPCs she shoots do not have free will since their agency does come from said physics.

    That's what I'm asking.
    I don't see a fundamental difference, so 'other people' must answer your question since you say that "It is only when talking about what humans (some people include other animals) do that anyone calls the outcome choice", which implies that only living things have choice. But 'living' is just a language tag. There's no physical difference between a thing designated as living and one that isn't. They're both (per the naturalism view) just material doing what material does.

    I suspect the reason believers who don't engage in empirical research don't engage in empirical research is their minds aren't strong in that area. "God did it" and "How does it work" are not incompatible thoughts. Francis Collins is such a strong believer that, when he finished mapping the human genome, he called it the Language of God. Also Mendel, Carver, Maxwell, Cantor, Kelvin, Heisenberg, and many others.
    DNA doesn't explain how supernatural will has the agency to move one's arm. Searle apparently did a talk on how one can willfully move one's arm, but I don't know how he claims to have solved the problem. I'm pretty confident that there's a step in there that require hand-waving or begging or some such, but I've not seem a link to what he says.

    - - - -

    On the subject of computability: Where does randomness come into play? I've posted above that classical physics is computational, but there are valid classical situations where effects occur uncaused, such as described by Norton: "acausality in classical physics".
    The cleanest example was a particle on a cone that can at any random time slide off it, or remain at the top indefinitely. Computable physics is supposedly deterministic, but here's a case where the simulator is forced to pick a random value.



    The question is How much more?Ludwig V
    Well, all of it, but I see the question being, at what point can we back off on the level of detail simulated? Simulation is necessarily an approximation, and the further away you get (say the wall to your left), the more you can approximate the physics of it, if the intent is mostly to make the simulation undetectable to the humans. The bugs on the wall will notice, but the sim is not giving them buggy experience. The bugs are but phenomena to the humans, not things that have phenomenal experience themselves. All the above is per Bostrom, describing how the simulation could be optimized. But if the simulation does this (inconsistent physics between say the wall and one's gut biome), then it opens the door for empirical ways to detect this, but it gets hard because the sim is an AI that gleans intent, and it would change the physics of the bug if one focuses sufficient interest in one.

    Emotions (as opposed to moods) have a cognitive content, and that wouldn't be a problem. But they also involve desire and value.
    I find all of that list to be part of cognitive content, but with chemical influences as well. Fear is a very chemical emotion, but fear is necessarily initiated as a cognitive function: One must conclude a danger of some sort first before the chemicals come into play.

    That is extremely problematic. It seems to me that software commands can simulate emotion, but having an emotion (desire, value) is a very different kettle of fish.
    Software is not driving any emotions in the sim described. It is just simulating molecular interactions or some such, essentially an uncomplicated task. It is the molecules that are arranged into a person who has real emotions that emerge from the molecular activity, never simulated emotions.
    Fundamentally, the software could be a trivial program that does only that. Give it particles and forces and such, and off you go. It would need an insane amount of power and memory, but a relatively trivial code base.
    But Bostrom adds a lot more to the software requirement because it needs to know which molecules comprise a set of particles that is designated as a human, and it needs to glean intent from that human so that it can change the physics of some systems when necessary. Now the software is a million times more complicated, but the extra code is worth it for the optimization it buys.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    I find all of that list to be part of cognitive content, but with chemical influences as well.noAxioms
    Code which is influenced by chemistry. Good luck with that.

    Give it particles and forces and such, and off you go. It would need an insane amount of power and memory, but a relatively trivial code base.noAxioms
    That's just a version of Laplace's demon. Hand-waving.

    But Bostrom adds a lot more to the software requirement because it needs to know which molecules comprise a set of particles that is designated as a human, and it needs to glean intent from that human so that it can change the physics of some systems when necessary. Now the software is a million times more complicated, but the extra code is worth it for the optimization it buys.noAxioms
    That's just a lot of hand-waving.

    I'm sorry to be so abrupt. But I've tried to follow the detailed arguments to no avail.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    Code which is influenced by chemistry.Ludwig V
    No. Simulated cognition influenced by simulated chemistry. The code is not simulated, unless of course you're multiple layers deep.

    That's just a version of Laplace's demon. Hand-waving.
    Another word for determinism, and determinism is not hand waving. It's simply a valid philosophical view.

    That's just a lot of hand-waving.
    Yes, that part is hand waving. It assumes that the hard problem isn't hard, or rather, that there isn't a hard problem. The hard problem, as stated, is also hand waving, and will by definition never be solved, regardless of the progress of science and the success of a simulation such as Bostrom describes. The runners of the simulation have zero evidence that the simulated people are conscious as defined by the dualists, as opposed to p-zombies.
  • fishfry
    3k
    But that's an issue that goes back millennia. A century ago, there was "elan vital" or "Life Force". Before that, it was the "mind", the "soul". Aristotle's "psyche",
    Searle's mystery component can be seen in his Chinese Room. It is (from what you tell me and my memories) just a gesture towards something in the future.
    Ludwig V

    It's an intermediate position between physicalism and computationalism. Whether it's true or just superstition, we'll have to find out.

    I'm sorry. It was lazy of me to do that.
    One point about it was indeed that the physical basis of the emotions is clearly not just a matter of processing information. The focus on the brain, together with the computer analogy, misleads us. Even the knowledge that we already have should prevent us from thinking that there is necessarily any simple correlation between mental and physical phenomena. People equate fear and anger with the circulation of specific hormones. But that is, surely, clearly not the sort of thing that our computers can do. It is one phenomenon in among others that are associated with the emotions. The brain, presumably, is involved in triggering the release and the whole of the rest of the body is affected. Compare the call of "action stations" in a ship or perhaps the fire alarm in a building. Everything is affected. There's no way of picking out the specifics, except by the general description "ready for action" or "falling in love".
    Computers of the kind we are familiar with do not (so far as I can see) have any capacity to be afraid or fall in love, to value one outcome over another and one of the reasons for that, it seems to me, is that the way they "think" has no conceptual space for those things. (Though I'm sure that some people will respond to the challenge by developing simulations.)
    I'm going to stop there. There's not much I'm sure of beyond this point, except that philosophers don't seem to be able to grapple sensibly with what's going on here.
    Ludwig V

    I think you agreed with me and expressed my thoughts. If so, thanks!
  • fishfry
    3k
    Ah, Searle said that, which makes sense. Of course Searle isn't going to accept a naturalist premise, but his unwillingness to set aside his opinion about it prevents his rendering any proper critique.noAxioms

    I totally don't get what you said.

    Searle is making an entirely naturalist premise. He denied dualism. He says consciousness is physical, just not computational. How do you get from that, to "Searle isn't going to accept a naturalist premise?" He's insisting on a naturalist premise, isn't he?

    Again I must emphasize that I am not claiming Searle made this point; only that I interpreted what he was saying as his making this point in a video I watched a couple of years ago. For all I know I made up the whole thing.

    But whether or not it's Searle's point, it's my point. Consciousness is physical, but not computational. Penrose has argued the same point.

    The opposite of computational is not superstition or dualism. It's that there is something else going on that is not computational, but still physical.




    People keep using the word naturalism and I'm trying to understand what it means. Is it the same or different than physicalism?
    — fishfry
    For purposes of this discussion, I've been using the two terms interchangeably.
    noAxioms

    Ok thanks. So the view that I ascribe to Searle is naturalism. Don't know why you interpreted my explanation as the opposite.

    Computationalism is not physicalism.

    Penrose's view is described in his book, The Emperor's New Mind.

    Wiki says:

    Penrose argues that human consciousness is non-algorithmic, and thus is not capable of being modeled by a conventional Turing machine, which includes a digital computer. Penrose hypothesizes that quantum mechanics plays an essential role in the understanding of human consciousness. The collapse of the quantum wavefunction is seen as playing an important role in brain function.

    This may be a crackpot idea, but at least it's Sir Roger's crackpot idea. And as someone said, Sir Roger's bad ideas are better than most people's good ones.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    One must conclude a danger of some sort first before the chemicals come into play.noAxioms
    But there is a conceptual link between danger and fear that makes it hard to understand what recognizing a danger could be if one didn't fear it.

    Another word for determinism, and determinism is not hand waving. It's simply a valid philosophical view.noAxioms
    I hope I'm free to disagree with you?

    Yes, that part is hand waving. It assumes that the hard problem isn't hard, or rather, that there isn't a hard problem. The hard problem, as stated, is also hand waving, and will by definition never be solved, regardless of the progress of science and the success of a simulation such as Bostrom describes.noAxioms
    So we agree on something.

    Simulated cognition influenced by simulated chemistry.noAxioms
    And that adds up to genuine emotion?
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    But there is a conceptual link between danger and fear that makes it hard to understand what recognizing a danger could be if one didn't fear it.Ludwig V
    Not sure what you're saying here. If you don't fear something, then it seems you don't recognize it as a danger. I suppose one could employ wordplay to come up with a scenario illustrating one but not the other, but it seem that the fear reflex is triggered exactly by recognition of something that can be characterized by danger.

    I hope I'm free to disagree with you?
    As do most people. If determinism is true, then you still disagree, but the disagreement isn't free. I also want to point out that my personal opinion isn't one that supports determinism, but that doesn't mean the view is 'hand waving' or that it's wrong.
    "I believe X, therefore any other view is wrong" is essentially closed mindedness, an encouraged attitude for religion, but a terrible one for pursuit of truth. And no, I most certainly don't claim my view to be truth.


    And that adds up to genuine emotion?
    If Bostrom's hypothesis is true, and your definition of 'genuine' doesn't include simulated cognition influenced by simulated chemistry, then your emotion is indeed not genuine. That's the best I can answer without a clear definition of 'genuine' in this context.


    Searle is making an entirely naturalist premise. He denied dualism.fishfry
    I really need a quote on that for context. He asserts that mind works differently than everything else physical. Sounds like dualism to me. If it can be show that it really works that way, then physics needs to be rewritten to include this magic as part of naturalism.

    He says consciousness is physical, just not computational.
    And how has this been demonstrated? He has no more evidence of that than the science community has that it IS computational, but even a rock rolling down a hill hasn't been shown to be computational.
    Point is, it's no big claim to say something isn't computational. The big claim is one that says that the effect in question cannot function in a computational way.
    I can computationally simulate an approximation of the rock rolling down the hill, a simulation that will yield almost any property I want of a rolling rock.

    Bostrom's hypothesis suffers from this. A simulation seems necessarily classical, and yet science has demonstrated (Bell's theorem for starters) that our physics isn't classical. So Bostrom has to modify his hypothesis to change physics when attention is paid to it, to make it appear non-classical when in fact it actually is. That make the job of the simulation so very much more difficult.


    it's my point. Consciousness is physical, but not computational.
    Again, how do you know this? Fervent belief, or something with actual evidence? Are you asserting (without evidence) that something computational cannot be conscious? Or is it the weaker claim that consciousness simply exists in a classical environment that emerges from non-classical underlying physics? I would fully agree with the latter statement, but I know of zero evidence for the former.

    Wiki says:

    Penrose argues that human consciousness is non-algorithmic
    ...
    Penrose hypothesizes that quantum mechanics plays an essential role in the understanding of human consciousness. The collapse of the quantum wavefunction is seen as playing an important role in brain function.
    The same could be said of a transistor in a computer, the operation of which is utterly dependent on quantum effects. It doesn't mean that one cannot create a classical simulation of a transistor, something that is done all the time.

    Penrose may hypothesize these things, but hypothesizing and demonstrating are two different things. In particular, he suggests that consciousness is dependent on wave function collapse, but wave function collapse has never been demonstrated. If it had, then all the interpretations that deny wave function collapse (about half of the ones listed on Wiki) would have been falsified.

    He's expressing opinion, as are you. I try to keep my opinions out of the discussion, and try very hard not to escalate them to assertions.
  • fishfry
    3k
    I really need a quote on that for context.noAxioms

    I have stipulated that I am not quoting Searle; but rather quoting my memory of what I understood of something he said in a video I watched several years ago. I could have misremembered, misunderstood at the time, or both. Clearly there is no hope of my finding the quote unless I go searching for Searle videos.

    Can we just start from what I also said, that I am willing to make this maxim my own. Consciousness is physical but not computational. Now I have said that, and I believe it (obviously without proof), and the quote is right there. So we can discuss that, I hope.

    He asserts that mind works differently than everything else physical.noAxioms

    Forget Searle. I'll own the position myself. And what you said is clearly wrong. LOTS of things are physical but not computational. The universe, for example. I have no proof of that either, nor do you have proof that the universe is computational.

    If you have proof that everything physical is computational, feel free to post it, link it, or publish it. Or just admit it's your opinion. That's all anyone can have regarding these matters, till someone makes a heck of a scientific breakthrough.

    Sounds like dualism to me. If it can be show that it really works that way, then physics needs to be rewritten to include this magic as part of naturalism.noAxioms

    Now that, I do not understand. We have a deep understanding of the limits of computation. Why do you think that anything non-computational must be spiritual or non-physical? You have no proof of that.

    And how has this been demonstrated?noAxioms

    There is no demonstration of the proposition or its negation.

    He has no more evidence of that than the science community has that it IS computational, but even a rock rolling down a hill hasn't been shown to be computational.noAxioms

    Wait, now you're agreeing with me. If a rock rolling down a hill hasn't been shown to be computational, then you admit that you claim that "everything physical is computational" has no proof.

    So we each have an opinion, and nobody has a proof. I hope we can agree on that.

    Point is, it's no big claim to say something isn't computational.noAxioms

    You have gone a long way towards agreeing with me. If a rock rolling downhill might not be computational, then surely consciousness might not be either.

    The big claim is one that says that the effect in question cannot function in a computational way.noAxioms

    You seem to be making a distinction between "computaional" and "functioning in a computational way." I do not understand that distinction. Unless by "functioning in a computational way" you mean something that can be approximated or simulated by an abstract model. But that is not functioning that way -- it's only being approximated that way.

    I assume you agree.

    I can computationally simulate an approximation of the rock rolling down the hill, a simulation that will yield almost any property I want of a rolling rock.noAxioms

    I agreed with you right up till you said, "any property I want." Clearly we can't do that, because we haven't got a theory of quantum gravity, meaning that we have not yet got a complete theory of gravity. So there are SOME properties, tiny little wobbles, that we can NOT simulate or approximate, because we haven't got enough physics. Dark matter is a good example. Our greatest and most precise computer simulations of gravity can't get the predictions right, because we haven't yet got a good theory.

    Bostrom's hypothesis suffers from this. A simulation seems necessarily classical, and yet science has demonstrated (Bell's theorem for starters) that our physics isn't classical. So Bostrom has to modify his hypothesis to change physics when attention is paid to it, to make it appear non-classical when in fact it actually is. That make the job of the simulation so very much more difficult.noAxioms

    Having read enough of the first page of the paper to throw it down in annoyance again, I think you are wrong about what he says.

    He explicitly assumes that the "simulation" implements consciousness. How this happens he has no idea, but he assures us that this is "widely believed." By the TED talkers he hangs out with, I'm sure. By me, not so much.

    So he is (in my reading) NOT talking about simulation as approximation; or simulation as a perfect implementation of an abstract model that captures most but not all of a system's behaviors. He is talking about my consciousness, this noisy voice in my head and the feeling of the keys under my fingertips, the pleasant sensation of the soft breeze coming in the open window, being literally implemented, instantiated, created by the "simulation." I find that most unlikely, for the simple reason that I don't think computer programs have inner lives. Of course I'm just saying I don't believe it because I don't believe it, so I haven't convinced anyone.

    So he is using the word simulation to mean instantiation or creation; and NOT approximation or execution of an abstract model. I believe that. I will go back to the paper and read a little more and see if I can either find more ammo or perhaps a refutation of my belief. But as it stands, I reiterate that what Bostrom means by simulation, he should call instantiation or creation, so as not to confuse it with a simulation of gravity, which is an instantiation of an abstract model and not the real thing.

    Remember: Simulations of gravity do not attract nearby bowling balls. I hope you will consider this.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    If Bostrom's hypothesis is true, and your definition of 'genuine' doesn't include simulated cognition influenced by simulated chemistry, then your emotion is indeed not genuine. That's the best I can answer without a clear definition of 'genuine' in this context.noAxioms
    Genuine=Not simulated. If I'm experiencing fear, the fear is real.

    I suppose one could employ wordplay to come up with a scenario illustrating one but not the other, but it seem that the fear reflex is triggered exactly by recognition of something that can be characterized by danger.noAxioms
    But my point is that the recognition and the reflex response are both the fear. Both causally and phenomenologically.

    As do most people. If determinism is true, then you still disagree, but the disagreement isn't free. I also want to point out that my personal opinion isn't one that supports determinism, but that doesn't mean the view is 'hand waving' or that it's wrong.noAxioms
    Well, I don't really think that determinism is just hand-waving. It is much more serious than that.
    It would need an insane amount of power and memory, but a relatively trivial code base.noAxioms
    Isn't that hand-waving? It looks very much like it to me. So does Laplace's description of his demon. In addition, his thought-experiment describes predictability as opposed to determinism.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    Genuine=Not simulated. If I'm experiencing fear, the fear is real.Ludwig V
    OK, by those two strangely unaligned definitions, if Bostrom's hypothesis is true, then your experience of fear is real, but not genuine.

    [determinism] would need an insane amount of power and memory, but a relatively trivial code base.
    I don't see that. For one, there is no power requirement for a simulation at all, except the impatience of the runners of the simulation. As for memory, why would a deterministic simulation need any more memory than a non-deterministic one? They would seem to have similar requirements as far as I can see. Do you know what determinism is? I suspect otherwise.

    How would one implement a non-deterministic simulation? It would have to employ a real random number generator somewhere, something that does say a quantum amplification,. No current CPU has such an instruction, but one could be implemented.

    Finally, determinism isn't an interpretation of simulations. It is part of interpretations of physics. Relativity theory for instance is deterministic, but also incomplete.

    So does Laplace's description of his demon. In addition, his thought-experiment describes predictability as opposed to determinism.
    That experiment has been shown to be wrong.
    Per wiki:
    [Per Laplace], According to determinism, if someone (the demon) knows the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, their past and future values for any given time are entailed; they can be calculated from the laws of classical mechanics. — wiki
    This is completely false. 1, I have shown an example just above (Norton) where classical mechanics does not do this. 2, Our universe is not classical

    None of the interpretations of physics, not even the fully deterministic ones, are consistent with the claim made above by Laplace.


    I have stipulated that I am not quoting Searle;
    ...
    Can we just start from what I also said, that I am willing to make this maxim my own.
    fishfry
    I'll do better. I retract much of what I said of Searle. I read the transcript of his Ted talk, and yes, he seems to attempt to stay physical. I perhaps have mixed up some assertions from Chalmers, It is Chalmers that needs to explain how the arm goes up, not Searle, who seems to have a consistent story about this.

    The Ted talk seemed to play the language game. If two things are doing the exact same thing, it is 'X' if a human does it, and it is not X if a machine does it. That's what I got from it.
    I got nothing from him that suggests that human consciousness cannot be simulated, that it isn't computational. That bit seems to be your assertion.


    My apologies if I seem to respond to most of your comments. We both tend to do that, which makes the replies lengthy. I try to edit out repetitive replies.

    Consciousness is physical but not computational.
    Why do you want this to be the case? It doesn't seem to be just a random assertion.

    LOTS of things are physical but not computational.
    I've said as much, but it doesn't prevent the running of simulations of parts of the universe. Why can all the other parts be simulated, but a human cannot? It's not like the simulated human has a different reality to compare, and say "Hey, this consciousness feels different than a genuine consciousness does!". Maybe it 'feels' totally different from one person to the next, and not just from one universe to the next.

    I have no proof of that either
    None of it is about proof. But a shred of evidence always helps. I have no proof that the universe isn't computational, but the evidence suggests that. If we're 'in a sim', the sim has to go out of its way to fake that evidence. Bostrom addresses this problem.

    If you have proof that everything physical is computational
    You seem to think I assert this, or even that it's my opinion. It isn't. Evidence suggests otherwise. There's no proof either way.

    There is no demonstration of the proposition or its negation.
    OK, so we're back to zero evidence for your opinion, which doesn't make the opinion wrong, but it also isn't evidence against the SH. It only renders SH something you won't believe because it conflicts with your opinion.

    That's where we differ. I don't reject something because of conflicts with my opinions. I don't consider my opinion to count as evidence one way or another.

    Wait, now you're agreeing with me. If a rock rolling down a hill hasn't been shown to be computational, then you admit that you claim that "everything physical is computational" has no proof.
    Science is not about proof. I've always agreed with you on this point. Evidence suggests physics is noncomputatinal, and a rolling rock (a genuine one, not a simple approximation of one) is physics.

    So we each have an opinion, and nobody has a proof. I hope we can agree on that.
    Yea, but my opinion doesn't count, except that my opinion rejects Bostrom's probability argued to the first two options.

    You have gone a long way towards agreeing with me. If a rock rolling downhill might not be computational, then surely consciousness might not be either.
    And my point is that like the rolling rock, it being noncomputational doesn't prevent it from being simulated to enough precision that it works. There's no evidence that consciousness is dependent on non-computability. If it was, then indeed, it could not be simulated at all. The lack of evidence of this dependency means that the SH isn't falsified by this [lack of] evidence. Falsification requires evidence.

    You seem to be making a distinction between "computaional" and "functioning in a computational way." I do not understand that distinction. Unless by "functioning in a computational way" you mean something that can be approximated or simulated by an abstract model. But that is not functioning that way -- it's only being approximated that way.
    Yes, you got it. Functioning in a computational way means being approximated to sufficient precision. I can approximate a car crash to sufficient detail that when I finally make a genuine car, I will know how safe it is, how it handles specific collision scenarios.

    Note that I am using here and earlier the word 'genuine' as defined by Ludwig at the top of this post, since his definition of 'real' would not be fitting.

    I agreed with you right up till you said, "any property I want." Clearly we can't do that, because we haven't got a theory of quantum gravity, meaning that we have not yet got a complete theory of gravity.
    OK, I grant that. I just want to know if the rock will bust in two when it hits that other rock, or if it will essentially bounce off with only small fragments ejecting. I don't expect the simulation to predict exactly which atoms within it will decay during the time simulated. No amount of precision will predict that.

    So there are SOME properties, tiny little wobbles, that we can NOT simulate or approximate, because we haven't got enough physics.
    Those we can predict with enough precision, with enough detail of initial state. Those are classical properties. They do have simulations of dark matter, and they explain the unusual rotation curves of some galaxies. The simulations show how those galaxies seem to have little dark matter in them compared to most. The simulations don't get the predictions correct partly due to the inability to guess correctly at initial conditions. Bostrom doesn't seem to address this problem in his paper. It is apparently 'hand waved' away. How does one set up initial conditions of this 'ancestor simulation'? Apparently an exercise for the people of the future to solve,

    He explicitly assumes that the "simulation" implements consciousness.
    Yes, he does. This point obviously grates against your opinion enough to prevent further reading.

    So he is (in my reading) NOT talking about simulation as approximation; or simulation as a perfect implementation of an abstract model that captures most but not all of a system's behaviors. He is talking about my consciousness, this noisy voice in my head and the feeling of the keys under my fingertips, the pleasant sensation of the soft breeze coming in the open window, being literally implemented, instantiated, created by the "simulation."
    Yes, that's what he's talking about. I thought that was clear, even from the abstract.

    I find that most unlikely, for the simple reason that I don't think computer programs have inner lives.
    He does not suggest that we're computer programs. Being a program is very different than being simulated by one. You don't buy the hypothesis because it conflicts with your beliefs. Nothing wrong with that.

    So he is using the word simulation to mean instantiation or creation; and NOT approximation or execution of an abstract model.
    I hate to say it, but how does instantiation differ from execution of a model? I thought I had got it right, but now you're treating these terms as distinct.

    Remember: Simulations of gravity do not attract nearby bowling balls. I hope you will consider this.
    No, but simulated bowling balls are attracted to each other (not much). Either that or the gravity simulation isn't as accurate to sufficient precision. Most gravity simulations don't go to that precision.
  • Ludwig V
    1k
    If two things are doing the exact same thing, it is 'X' if a human does it, and it is not X if a machine does it. That's what I got from it.noAxioms
    I think that is what Searle is saying. Except that he doesn't consider raising an arm to be "the exact same thing" if it is done by you or me and if it is done by a machine. The issue is what the difference is. From what I've seen is that he thinks that there is some causal difference between the two. I think the difference is only partly empirical, but the difference between two different language-games. One, the game that the concept of a person defines; the other the game that the concept of a machine defines.

    OK, by those two strangely unaligned definitions, if Bostrom's hypothesis is true, then your experience of fear is real, but not genuine.noAxioms
    Yes, there is a problem there.

    but it seem that the fear reflex is triggered exactly by recognition of something that can be characterized by dangernoAxioms
    Could we just say "recognition of something as dangerous" or "recognition of a danger"? Anyway, if I've understood what a simulation is supposed to be, it involves feeding me information that is false. False information can easily trigger real or genuine fear. So the fear is not actually appropriate in that situation, but it would be misleading to call it simulated because that suggests that I am not really afraid. I'm not sure what the right word would be.

    You said:-
    It would need an insane amount of power and memory, but a relatively trivial code base.noAxioms
    I said:-
    That's just a version of Laplace's demon. Hand-waving.Ludwig V
    You replied:-
    I don't see that. For one, there is no power requirement for a simulation at all, except the impatience of the runners of the simulation. As for memory, why would a deterministic simulation need any more memory than a non-deterministic one? They would seem to have similar requirements as far as I can see.noAxioms
    I don't understand what you are saying. It may well be true. But I don't care about the difference between a deterministic simulation and a non-deterministic one. I do care about the difference between reality and a simulation of it.

    As do most people. If determinism is true, then you still disagree, but the disagreement isn't free. I also want to point out that my personal opinion isn't one that supports determinism, but that doesn't mean the view is 'hand waving' or that it's wrong.noAxioms
    Well, I don't really think that determinism is just hand-waving. It is much more serious than that.

    This is completely false. 1, I have shown an example just above (Norton) where classical mechanics does not do this. 2, Our universe is not classicalnoAxioms
    None of the interpretations of physics, not even the fully deterministic ones, are consistent with the claim made above by Laplace.noAxioms
    Well, at least we are agreed that Laplace's demon is out of date.

    Do you know what determinism is? I suspect otherwise.noAxioms
    I used to know, but then I did a bit of reading and now I don't. But everybody else does seem to know, or think they know. If determinism is not about physics, - and the SEP does say that it is not - then what is it about? Or is it perhaps as out of date and the demon?
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    triggered exactly by recognition of something that can be characterized by danger
    — noAxioms
    Could we just say "recognition of something as dangerous" or "recognition of a danger"?
    Ludwig V
    I tried to be more precise than that. Something not actually dangerous at all (say most spiders), can trigger a fear reflex. Some actually dangerous things don't trigger it if it isn't thus characterized. But yes, essentially, your wording is fine.

    Anyway, if I've understood what a simulation is supposed to be, it involves feeding me information that is false.
    No, that sounds like a VR. I say that, but since Bostrom posits the changing of physics when you pay attention to the thing, his vision of a simulation does feed the simulated humans lies, in particular, that the universe is non-computational, when in fact it is a computation.

    False information can easily trigger real or genuine fear.
    It can't be genuine since the person experiencing the fear is not genuine. The fear of being bit by the dog is very real and not false information, but the dog is apparently an NPC per Bostrom, just a mindless object controlled by AI, at least until you look closer, which most people don't.

    So the fear is not actually appropriate in that situation, but it would be misleading to call it simulated because that suggests that I am not really afraid.
    You are really afraid. If the dog bits you, it will hurt. You might bleed. You might get a permanent scar.
    Happened to me. Friendliest Pitt Bull I ever saw, and we played with it a while. There was danger but no fear. It had previously been romping through the poison ivy which covered me with the stuff, and I didn't know it until way too late. Lost vision in one eye, fixed by cataract surgery, my 'permanent scar'.

    I do care about the difference between reality and a simulation of it.
    By your definition of 'real', the simulation IS reality to the people in it. It simply isn't real to the people running the simulation, but Bostrom doesn't posit that we're the ones running it. We're not 'posthuman', as he puts it.

    Well, I don't really think that determinism is just hand-waving. It is much more serious than that.
    That's just a version of Laplace's demon. Hand-waving.
    Laplace's demon is a story illustrating/presuming determinism, which you declared to be hand waving, and now declaring it to not be just hand waving.

    Perhaps I misunderstand how you interpret the Laplace's demon story. Anyway, I agree that determinism is not hand waving. It doesn't appear to be falsifiable.

    Well, at least we are agreed that Laplace's demon is out of date.
    Very much so, yes. It just doesn't mean that determinism has died with the demon.

    I used to know [ what determinism is]
    Determinism says that subsequent states of a closed system is fixed, given an exact initial state. It means that a system will evolve the same way, every time, from the same initial state. It implies all effects have a cause.
    This is the case for a computer program running a simulation, unless the program has some kind of randomness instruction it can access.

    Determinism does not imply that one can subjectively predict subsequent states, since knowledge of the initial state is impossible, per Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Laplace's demon is an objective observer (whatever that means), not a subjective one.

    A simple example of uncaused phenomena is the decay of some unstable particle. It's half-life is known, which yields a time after which it is 50% likely to have already decayed, but it is completely unpredictable when the actual decay will occur.
    An interpretation like Bohmian mechanics asserts that there are hidden variables that cause this, and if they could be consistently replicated, the exact time of the decay would be fully determined. If they could be consistently set, then 20 particles all with the same hidden variable states would all decay at once.
    MWI is also fully deterministic, but says only that the wave function evolves according to Schrodinger's equation. All solutions to this equations are valid, which means that the particle in question decays at all possible time intervals, each in a 'different world'.
    Under Bohm, Laplace's demon could predict future states if it had access to these hidden variables.
    Under MWI, Laplace's demon could not predict a future state of anything since all possibilities are equally real.
    Many other valid interpretations have true randomness going on (God 'rolling dice' as Einstein put it), meaning the demon cannot predict at all.
  • fishfry
    3k
    I'll do better. I retract much of what I said of SearlenoAxioms

    You know, Searle got into some trouble a while back, he was harassing the female grad students. A lot of other Berkeley philosophers knew about it and looked the other way because Searle is a Great Man and brings great prestige to the department. Caused quite a stir a while back. He had his emeritus status revoked. So goes academic politics.

    I read the transcript of his Ted talk, and yes, he seems to attempt to stay physical.noAxioms

    Good, maybe I didn't misremember that.

    I perhaps have mixed up some assertions from Chalmers, It is Chalmers that needs to explain how the arm goes up, not Searle, who seems to have a consistent story about this.noAxioms

    As I recall it, Searle said it's a great mystery why his arm goes up after he wills it to. So that's the opposite. How does Searle say it goes up in the TED transcript?

    The Ted talk seemed to play the language game. If two things are doing the exact same thing, it is 'X' if a human does it, and it is not X if a machine does it. That's what I got from it.noAxioms

    Yes I can see that. When Xi Jinping speaks Chinese, he understands Chinese. When the Chinese room speaks Chinese, it doesn't. I can see why people throw rocks at Searle's argumen. When you state it that way, it's hard to defend.


    I got nothing from him that suggests that human consciousness cannot be simulated, that it isn't computational. That bit seems to be your assertion.noAxioms

    Searle doesn't appear to know much about computation, and certainly didn't when he first made the Chinese room argument. To be fair, nobody did back then. But his room operates by a big set of deterministic rules, so I assume he would mean computability if he had known about it back then.

    My apologies if I seem to respond to most of your comments. We both tend to do that, which makes the replies lengthy. I try to edit out repetitive replies.noAxioms

    Yes thanks. We both want this shorter and both collude to make it longer.

    Consciousness is physical but not computational.
    Why do you want this to be the case? It doesn't seem to be just a random assertion.
    noAxioms

    Because I can't believe that a computer program of any complexity, running at any speed, could ever be conscious. Euclid's algorithm computes the least common divisor of two integers. I can't imagine that running it fast enough would suddenly make it care.

    I reject many of the common arguments. "Brains are made of neurons and graphs with weighted nodes are just like brains with neurons." Rejected. The nervous system is much more complex than that, and we don't know how it works. "We process information, computers process information, same difference." Rejected. Equivocating information processing. "Programs exhibit emergent behavior (I accept that) and consciousness is an emergent behavior." Rejected, because consciousness is not a behavior.

    I see so much specious logic among the cognitive cognoscenti. (I just made up that phrase!) The bigger the intellectual cele
    brity, the more vapid the logic outside their field of professional competence. George Smoot again. Great cosmologist. Lousy philosopher.


    LOTS of things are physical but not computational.
    I've said as much, but it doesn't prevent the running of simulations of parts of the universe.
    noAxioms

    Simulation as approximation. I can simulate gravity, I can simulate a brain. Not same as creating consciousness.

    Why can all the other parts be simulated, but a human cannot?noAxioms

    Programs play chess and drive cars, and I'm duly impressed. Not same as being conscious.

    I didn't say that certain aspects of human behavior can't be simulated. The chess programs are far better than the best human players these days. I know that. Desn't alter my point. Only makes it harder to defend :-)

    It's not like the simulated human has a different reality to compare, and say "Hey, this consciousness feels different than a genuine consciousness does!". Maybe it 'feels' totally different from one person to the next, and not just from one universe to the next.noAxioms

    What is a simulated consciousness? As in an approximated or artificial consciousness. If we could make a conscious machine, I'd be amazed, but many believe they are working on it.

    None of it is about proof. But a shred of evidence always helps.noAxioms

    I have arguments, not evidence. What would constitute evidence of what might be possible in the future? The ultimate argument against my position is that some configurations of atoms are self-aware, and someday we may figure out what those configurations are. I have no counterargument. I'm afraid it might be true. In the end maybe I'm just a geocentrist threatened by the revelations of Copernicus and Galileo.

    I have no proof that the universe isn't computational, but the evidence suggests that. If we're 'in a sim', the sim has to go out of its way to fake that evidence. Bostrom addresses this problem.noAxioms

    For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.{i] -- Colossians 1:15-17. Sim theory is theology. Christian theology at that.


    You seem to think I assert this, or even that it's my opinion. It isn't. Evidence suggests otherwise. There's no proof either way.noAxioms

    My misunderstanding. This referred to the claim that everything physical is computational. If you agree with me that you don't assert this, then we're in complete agreement. In fact I think we might be in a lot of agreement in general.

    OK, so we're back to zero evidence for your opinion, which doesn't make the opinion wrong, but it also isn't evidence against the SH. It only renders SH something you won't believe because it conflicts with your opinion.noAxioms

    I don't think I've denied that. You are correct. I have an opinion. No evidence.

    That's where we differ. I don't reject something because of conflicts with my opinions. I don't consider my opinion to count as evidence one way or another.noAxioms

    I have my beliefs, but I could be wrong.

    Perhaps there is something about life. We don't know what life is. Why do some arrangements of atoms become alive? And when we die, we're the same atoms. Soul, life energy. Consciousness is connected to those things. Programs don't have souls, don't have life energy, aren't alive.

    Science is not about proof. I've always agreed with you on this point. Evidence suggests physics is noncomputatinal, and a rolling rock (a genuine one, not a simple approximation of one) is physics.noAxioms

    You are completely agreeing with me I think.

    Yea, but my opinion doesn't count, except that my opinion rejects Bostrom's probability argued to the first two options.noAxioms

    I think we're pretty much in agreement on everything by now. Except Bostrom's meaning of simulation.

    And my point is that like the rolling rock, it being noncomputational doesn't prevent it from being simulated to enough precision that it works.noAxioms

    Of course. Agreed. But "works" is relative. Like dark matter. Our theory of gravity works, but we know it's not quite right.

    There's no evidence that consciousness is dependent on non-computability. If it was, then indeed, it could not be simulated at all. The lack of evidence of this dependency means that the SH isn't falsified by this [lack of] evidence. Falsification requires evidence.noAxioms

    I already agree.


    Yes, you got it. Functioning in a computational way means being approximated to sufficient precision. I can approximate a car crash to sufficient detail that when I finally make a genuine car, I will know how safe it is, how it handles specific collision scenarios.
    noAxioms

    Well just about anything can be approximated to sufficient precision. I agree with that.

    Except for consciousness. And perhaps life. The deep mysteries.

    Note that I am using here and earlier the word 'genuine' as defined by Ludwig at the top of this post, since his definition of 'real' would not be fitting.noAxioms

    Not sure I recall the def.

    OK, I grant that. I just want to know if the rock will bust in two when it hits that other rock, or if it will essentially bounce off with only small fragments ejecting. I don't expect the simulation to predict exactly which atoms within it will decay during the time simulated. No amount of precision will predict that.noAxioms

    Right. But the universe does it anyway. How does the universe know exactly how things will work, and not just approximately? Well, I don't know. I suspect it might not be computational. We should at least consider the possibility.

    Those we can predict with enough precision, with enough detail of initial state.noAxioms

    Oh no, that's chaos theory. Even if we had all the details of the initial state, we can't necessarily predict the future. Tiny rounding errors add up to great differences in output. Nearby points in the initial state space lead to vastly different outcomes. We know this. Even totally deterministic systems can't be arbitrarily predicted.

    Those are classical properties. They do have simulations of dark matter, and they explain the unusual rotation curves of some galaxies.noAxioms

    Is that right? Forgive my astronomy error. It doesn't invalidate the point I was trying to make.

    The simulations show how those galaxies seem to have little dark matter in them compared to most. The simulations don't get the predictions correct partly due to the inability to guess correctly at initial conditions. Bostrom doesn't seem to address this problem in his paper. It is apparently 'hand waved' away. How does one set up initial conditions of this 'ancestor simulation'? Apparently an exercise for the people of the future to solve,noAxioms

    Ok. I better go watch some more Sabine, she's very good on dark matter and MOND.

    Another good point about the ancestor simulations. How do they handle chaos? Slight differences in initial conditions plus rounding errors in the hardware (assumed digital, so essentially like our own computers, just more powerful).

    He explicitly assumes that the "simulation" implements consciousness.
    Yes, he does. This point obviously grates against your opinion enough to prevent further reading.
    noAxioms

    Well you've motivated me to slog through some more. But this does actually answer a question I've had for a long time. I wasn't sure if Bostrom just meant our experiences are simulated (like an immersive video game) versus our minds actually being created in the computer. He means the latter, explicitly.


    Yes, that's what he's talking about. I thought that was clear, even from the abstract.noAxioms

    Not to me before I finally read it closely enough.

    He does not suggest that we're computer programs.noAxioms

    That's exactly what he does suggest! He says that in the future, computations will instantiate consciousness.

    Being a program is very different than being simulated by one.noAxioms

    Oh my ... not sure I know what that means.

    You don't buy the hypothesis because it conflicts with your beliefs. Nothing wrong with that.noAxioms

    Right. I don't think a Turing machine will ever be conscious. Turing himself made that point. He said (in his 1950 paper on machine intelligence) that we can never know if a machine is conscious. We can only look at behavior, hence his Turing test. We can only observe behavior.

    I hate to say it, but how does instantiation differ from execution of a model? I thought I had got it right, but now you're treating these terms as distinct.noAxioms

    Very distinct. The universe, or God, instantiates all the stuff around us. It is the stuff around us. It's the exact ultimate laws of the universe. The execution of a model is just that. It lets us predict, to sufficient accuracy, how the galaxies will move. It doesn't move the galaxies and it's not exact.

    God or whatever creates gravity. We can make computer simulations of gravity by executing programs that implement abstract (ie approximate or incomplete) models of gravity.

    To me the distinction is clear. Instantiation is the territory. Execution of a model is the map. The map is not the territory.

    No, but simulated bowling balls are attracted to each other (not much).noAxioms

    They are not. The simulation can spit out a number that tells you how fast the bowling balls would move towards each other if they were real. But there aren't any bowling balls being moved. Only a computer model.

    Either that or the gravity simulation isn't as accurate to sufficient precision. Most gravity simulations don't go to that precision.noAxioms

    Nothing to do with precision. Gravity simulations do not attract nearby bowling balls. They do not instantiate gravity.

    Does that help with the distinction? We can simulate gravity but we can't instantiate it. It's already been instantiated by causes that we can't fathom. I hear that mass is the binding energy inside the quarks, and that mass distorts spacetime; but that doesn't actually tell us how it all came to be.

    Oh dear this got long again.
  • Arkady
    768
    As someone with only a passing familiarity with simulation-type arguments, and who's too lazy to read Bostrom's actual writing on it, can someone succinctly explain to me how the argument is not self-undermining? If we are living in a simulated world, how are we to reliably draw any conclusions which are based on empirical premises?

    Such arguments seem to turn on our current level of computing power, and how, given some hypothetical growth rate of such powers, at some point in the future we'll be able to run ancestor simulations. But if this is indeed a simulation, then anything we purport to know about our present levels of technology (and thus any extrapolation therefrom) is illusory, because we don't actually possess that technology: such technology is simulated.

    No doubt these types of questions have been answered, as Bostrom's probably a pretty smart fellow, it's just something that niggles at me when I hear discussion about simulations.
  • RogueAI
    2.6k
    But if this is indeed a simulation, then anything we purport to know about our present levels of technology (and thus any extrapolation therefrom) is illusory, because we don't actually possess that technology: such technology is simulated.Arkady

    Yes, there's an implicit assumption in Bostrom's argument that the simulation we're in is similar to "the real world".
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