Re: distributed AI was Re: computronium prime-oxide

Hal Finney (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 12:19:56 -0800

Timothy Bates, <>, writes:
> I asked Daniel Dennett if he was a Turing functionalist: he said yes and
> no ;-)
> I think he said yes, but that interaction is critical, he views
> intelligence as being embedded in the machines environment as well as in
> its own hardware. For this reason he doubted that a paper tape Turing
> machine could be conscious as the environmental context on which
> consciousness is scaffolded (in his, but not my) view, would be invisible
> to it: a kind of Nyquist limit for implementation speeds.

I don't understand this view.

Do you think Dennett would predict that a person would instantly become unconscious if he were put into a complete sensory deprivation booth? It seems pretty obvious to me that he would continue to be conscious. There was a fad for sensory deprivation in the 1970s and from what I understand you sometimes would begin to hallucinate after a while, but you certainly still remained conscious (and I suspect the hallucination had much to do with expectations).

In any case, surely the Turing machine could include a modest VR simulation in addition to the brain simulation, sufficient to provide virtual environmental interaction. Or would Dennett claim that consciousness only occurs when the TM interacts with the "real world"? That would seem absurd.