Counterfactuals, Computation, and Consciousness
- 197 Downloads
Using a specially designed cellular automaton capable of emulating completely the function of a human brain, we explore ways in which counterfactual sensitivity, that is, the ability of a computational system to respond to any valid inputs, relates to discrete-state machine consciousness. In this computational framework, the distinction between a computation and the recording of a computation can be blurred arbitrarily, yet the physical implementation of the computation itself is unchanged. From this, we conclude that a purely computational account of consciousness is unsatisfactory.
KeywordsConsciousness Computationalism Counterfactuals Whole-brain emulation Cellular automata
Though I cannot say I am persuaded by his conclusions, (e.g., that all reality results from the operation of a universal computer whose mere Platonic existence implies a sort of modal realism), Marchal  discusses a thought experiment with projection onto a two-dimensional computer which was an important inspiration for some of the ideas in this paper.
- 4.Putnam HW. Representation and reality. Cambridge (MA): Bradford Books; 1991. 154 p.Google Scholar
- 5.Chalmers DJ. Response to articles on my work: Mark Bishop, counterfactuals cannot count [Internet]. Canberra: David Chalmers; [cited 2011 Jul 14]. Available from: http://consc.net/responses.html#bishop.
- 6.Sandberg A, Bostrom N. Whole brain emulation: a roadmap [Internet]. Oxford (UK): Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University; 2008. Technical Report No.:2008-3. Available from http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/3853/brain-emulation-roadmap-report.pdf.
- 8.Berlekamp ER, Conway JH, Guy RK. Winning ways for your mathematical plays, vol. 2. New York: Academic Press; 1982. p. 472.Google Scholar
- 10.Hardcastle VG. Conscious computations. Electron J Anal Philos [Internet]. 1993 Aug [cited 2008 Jul 23];1(4). Available from: http://ejap.louisiana.edu/EJAP/1993.august/hardcastle.html.
- 11.Chrisley R. Counterfactual computational vehicles of consciousness. Paper presented at: Tucson VII. 7th Biannual Toward a Science of Consciousness; 2006 Apr 4–8; Tucson, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
- 12.Marchal B. Mechanism and personal identity. In: De Glas M, Gabbay DM, editors. Proceedings of WOCFAI 91; 1991 Jul 1–5; Paris. [place unknown]: Angkor; c1991. p. 335–45.Google Scholar