Eric Hardison (
Fri, 25 Jun 1999 13:19:09 -0400

> Of course my dog is conscious, and why wouldn't an
> equivalently complex computer be?

Because a dog is meatware.

Seriously, a computer in the traditional sense? As in a Von Neuman machine? It might be conscious, but its consciousness, if it even exists, is COMPLETELY different from ours.

Clearly, the waves of matter can be interpreted in two ways: as descriptions of wave/particle phenomenon OR as descriptions of isolated points/waves of consciousness.

The point is that unless you are willing to assume that inanimate objects have a coherent (intelligent) consciousness, then you have to come up with a theory that describes the way that those waves can INTERFERE to form intelligent patterns.

You are surrounded by a large number of conscious "things." Any time you have an active system of waves, then you have a conscious experience (as determined by the nature of those waves). Any time a wave gets TRANSDUCED into a new medium, it becomes a unique and separate conscious experience. But these entities are not "minds" as we would say. They are simplistic, basic forms like the solitary sound of an instrument. A mind is a full orchestra of sounds that has an inherent intelligence.

Now the brain is your basic input/output system. It has all of these signals (waves) coming in and out of it. It stands to reason, I presume, that if you were to add all of those waves, you would get an interference pattern -- continuously varying (in time). I hold that this "varying pattern" IS the conscious mind.

Note that I am assuming superluminal (FTL) signaling here. I cannot escape the facts that are presented to me in my own conscious -- the mere fact that consciousness exists requires superluminality. My brain has centers for the processing of many different inputs and for the generation of new output. And each center itself is composed of a large number of special purpose centers. Yet I experience the net sum of all these waves SIMULTANEOUSLY. This cannot be unless I (the interference pattern) exist in ALL points of the BOUNDED region SIMULTANEOUSLY.

So what I'm saying is that the INDIVIDUAL waves that create my mind are CAUSAL phenomena, but I (the interference of those waves at any moment of time) am a NON-CAUSAL phenomenon. But remember that I am a CAUSED, non-causal phenomenon. (There's no way to "jump out of the system" as Doug Hofstadter would say.)

But why is it limited to the brain? It's limited because of the transduction of the signal. When a light wave passes from the medium outside of the brain into the medium of the brain, its associated conscious experience becomes BOUNDED within that medium. This must be so because, through experience, we know that our mind is limited to the region of space associated with a brain -- well, the particular wave modulations of space-time associated with a brain (whatever ALL of those may be).

The brain itself is, generally, shaped like the hemisphere of the Earth -- the great circle of the horizon and the "dome" of the sky. And thus, the BOUNDED region of the waves that represent your mind is a proportion model of the world around you -- as far as the eye can see (which is problematic expression, putting the onus of action on the eye instead of the light waves entering the eye...)

I have a lot of fun with this idea, and I could go on. But I won't needlessly bore you with the non-scientific fantasies of college student...

Back to the computer consciousness problem: the interference patterns of a computer SYSTEM (bounded set of waves), would be totally unlike those of a our meatware brain. I am reasonably confident that YOUR experience of the "red" EM frequency is close to mine (not exactly the same). But if a computer were made to intelligently transduce the same "red" frequency into ITS system, I have NO IDEA what the nature of ITS experience would be.


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