> I agree that both scenarios produce identical consciousness. I claim that
> one is a program of consciousness being run by the brain, while the other
> a program of consciousness being run by a committee of humans.
I agree that in all of the neuron-in-a-bucket scenarios, which don't involve any processing on the neuron's part, the neurons are entirely irrelevant - the network is being created/executed by other agents (people in these cases). But the consciousness should still exist somewhere.
Thanks for Hal's succinct summation of the causality-is-illusion idea. I think that was what I was getting at (although I am a bit vague on this - my continuous sense of identity seems to be being undermined by these lines of reasoning, and it is affecting my memory).
Something has been nagging at me. Most opinions seem to suggest here that, if consciousness exists at all, it doesn't have a real purpose, in that you could create a simulated intelligence which was exactly as functional, but with consciousness. This doesn't sit right with me, and I'm not yet clear on why.
I'm sure that consciousness is entirely bound up in the way we operate, but why is it necessary? I read Chalmers (Facing up to the problem of consciousness - http://ling.ucsc.edu/~chalmers/consc-papers.html) on this, with his theory of information having a functional and a phenomenal aspect. I like it, but I still can't see what the point is of the phenomenal aspect, and I think that there is a point to consciousness. I also agree with the Zombike objection to Chalmers' reasoning.
Damien, you seem to have a good grip on what the various players have to say about this - got some words of wisdom?
Solving this problem will be as important a step as Darwin's discovery of the principle of evolution, in my opinion, and we might find that the answer has just as many unexpected implications.
By the way, does Darwin count as a proto-extropian? Or did he levy taxes or some other such heresy? Maybe he told someone to do something once...