Re: Emulation vs. Simulation

From: James Rogers (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 23:59:27 MST

On 3/26/01 8:18 PM, "Lee Corbin" <> wrote:
> Eugene Leitl also added,
>> ...computations are computations. Regardless how they're
>> implemented. FPUs frequently use lookup tables for trigonometric
>> functions. Does this mean FPUs don't do math?
> Yet I still believe that if we slowly shifted away from looking
> up relatively small areas on a Life Board, and had one of these
> incredible 10^10^10^10 size lookup tables, so that an intelligent
> creature's next response needn't be calculated but only looked
> up, then the creature would not be conscious during subsequent
> runs, (i.e., after the initial lookup table had been created).

This does not follow. A program is either conscious or it is not. Any
equivalent representation/re-factoring of the program will therefore have
the same consciousness characteristics of the original (there is more than
one way to write any program). A lookup table is a perfectly equivalent
programmatic form, if not particularly space efficient. Therefore, encoding
any conscious program as a lookup table will still be conscious, trading
space for speed. How can you dispute this given your premise?

> Sure, you'd apparently get the right behavior as output.
> But the real Eugene would no longer be with us. Right now,
> ask him a question, and the wheels really turn. A great
> deal of logic and calculation occurs, where, significantly
> a lot of information flows from state to subsequent state.
> But in this lookup table, there is no actual calculation.
> At each point in time, you merely form the enormous 10^30
> bit long address; say 10^10 bits for the input this milli-
> second, and 10^20 bits for his current state, and voila!
> You fetch from the computronium his next state. But no
> information flows. It's not a real calculation, I think.

What is a "calculation"? I find the distinction between "calculation" and
"lookup" to be meaningless. At the primitive hardware instruction level
every program uses the same small variety of atomic operations. Do some
small sequences of atomic operations magically produce consciousness while
others do not? A lookup is as algorithmic as any other bit of program.
Setting a memory word to zero and XOR-ing the same memory word a thousand
times doesn't produce different results, just different efficiencies. I
don't think you would submit that the small number of hardware instructions
that differ between a "lookup" and a "calculation" are responsible for
consciousness. If you looked at the machine code for these algorithms, they
are far more similar in nature than the cosmetic differences you see in a
high-level language.

Heck, that would make the problem easy.

-James Rogers

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