Re: Qualia and the Galactic Loony Bin

Wei Dai (
Sat, 19 Jun 1999 14:03:55 -0700

On Fri, Jun 18, 1999 at 06:33:49PM -0700, wrote:
> I believe Eliezer's logic is that if it is impossible to define whether
> a computation is instantiated, then there is no "fact of the matter" as
> to whether any given computation is instantiated in any given system.
> But he takes as given, based on his personal experience, that it is
> a definite fact that his qualia exist. It follows that qualia cannot
> result merely from computation.

Thanks for the explanation, Hal. I think I understand Eliezer's reasoning now, but I have a couple of objections to it. First I think it is possible to have a computational theory of consciousness (or qualia) that doesn't depend on a definition of "instantiation of a computation". See for example

Second, even if we really do need either a definition of instantiation or non-computable physics to explain qualia, I do not see sufficient reason to believe that the latter is more likely to exist than the former. The only justification I have seen is Eliezer's (and other's) failed attempts to find such a definition. But people have presumably been trying to find examples of non-computable physics also, and they have also failed so far.

I hope Eliezer will explain to us which approaches he tried when he attempted to find a definition of instantiation, why they failed, and why he doesn't believe other approaches will eventually work. What about the one given at