Re: Can Pure Lookup Tables Be Conscious?

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 18:54:11 MDT

Anders writes

>> It is now easy and instructive to visualize such "playback" on
>> a Life Board. Rather than the next generation being actively
>> computed, we may simply have an automatic arm reach into a
>> sequenced table of gels, each with bright spots in fluorescent
>> paint, and place the next gel in sequence on the Life Board.
>> This gives every bit the appearance of a civilization developing,
>> or of an entity having an experience, but in reality has no
>> content. Indeed, the lights are on, but no one is home.

> Isn't this just the same thing as Hal's point that the address
> update in the table lookup would constitute the evolution of a
> conscious mind? In this case the automatic arm would have to
> be guided by something, and this something needs to retain a
> representation of the complex state.

No. I see three cases:

1. "Microcausality": Subsequent generations on the life
     board are calculated causally and locally: each glider,
     for example, moves exactly because that glider was in
     the previous generation at an exact location. It has
     nothing to do with, nor is dependent in any way, upon
     what is happening elsewhere on the life board. This
     corresponds to a human's neuron pulse "moving" down an
     axon exactly because it had a certain potential an
     instant earlier at, or nearly at, the very same place.

2. "Macrocausality": A tremendous (unique) hash is calculated
     which associates the precise configuration of the life
     board with a new address in a vast pure lookup table, from
     which the next generation is fetched.

3. "Sequenced fetching": A static, frozen set of configurations
     (generations) are stored somewhere in some order, and the
     arm merely grabs the next one in sequence. This is pure
     playback in the most basic (and lifeless) sense.

It was case 2 that Hal originally brought up. But above,
I was speaking of case 3. If we conclude that case 2 is
more like case 3 than case 1, then I probably win the
argument. If case 2 is more like case 1, then for sure
I lose. If all three cases are equivalent, I lose.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:59 MDT