Re: Qualia and the Galactic Loony Bin

John Clark (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 11:33:33 -0400

Hash: SHA1

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> On Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Wrote:

     >We're looking for the definition of consciousness and qualia that will let us
     >construct conscious, qualia-bearing minds.  Do you really think this is insipid?

Not if they worked but they don't, and even if they did there is no way to ever know they work. Content yourself with constructing an intelligent mind, you'll get qualia for free. Probably.

>Would you say that since this Universe (or Reality or whatever) has no >input-output characteristics, it doesn't exist?

No. However it would most certainly be meaningless to ask if an event was simultaneous with an event external to the universe, particularly when no such external event can exist.

     >If I toss you through an event horizon, do you stop being conscious as soon as
     >you're cut off from the external world?

Probably not, but there is only one way to know for sure and unfortunately I would be unable to publish the results of my research.

>I do not understand this emphasis on input-output characteristics as an
>arbiter of consciousness.

I never said it's an arbiter of consciousness, I said if you use an axiom it's an arbiter of our knowledge of consciousness other that our own.

>Does that mean that you would exist even in the absence of a particular
>demonstration? [...] Do you think that every possible version of yourself
>already exists and is just as real as you are?

As I said in my last post I'm an agnostic on that issue.

>And if I keep generating lookup tables via quantum randomness for 3^^^^3
>years, I do believe that I will eventually generate ones which perfectly
>mock your I/O characteristics.

If the universe works close to the way we think it works no process can continue for 3^^^^3 years.

> if I told you that the number of actual Universes in the
>Reality is so large that it could only be expressed by Knuth notation,
>that *anything* no matter how improbable has happened at least once due
>to the sheer size of the Cosmic All... would that suddenly change the
>basic laws that operate on my finite PowerPC?

If that's true then Moravec is right and all possible minds exist, but I don't know that to be true.

>I don't think you can make your philosophy dependent on the absolute
>size of the Universe;

I rather think you can. The large scale structure of the Universe can have local effects and between the two that's all your philosophy should be dependent on.

>basic laws shouldn't be dependent on the existence, much less the
>nonexistence, of items not in causal contact.

My gut tells me that Moravec's ideas are just too bizarre to be true but at least they have a certain logical consistency, if pushed to the wall I'd rather embrace them than dive into the mumbo jumbo of the "causal contact" quagmire.

>Tautologies and axioms are non-useful definitions.

Euclid's axioms have their uses and I believe people have done things with tautologies like E = MC^2.

>Tell me how to program a conscious computer.

I've found a wonderful way to do that and I've written a beautifully clear explanation but unfortunately the margin of this post is too small to contain it.

John K Clark
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