## Monday, January 8, 2024

### Is your mind just a computation?

In this series in three parts:
Can a computer have its own mind? Is your mind just a computation? We will see what Computer Science has to say. Don't worry, it's beginner level! DIY experiment so that you can verify what I say. The proof appeals to logic and experiment, not to phenomenal experience ("what is like", the "hard problem of consciousness", qualia, the experience of feelings, emotions, pain or pleasure etc) Based on my paper "Does a computer think if no one is around to see it?"

In Episode 1, we will see that what we call computation is a convention, and it can be chosen in numerous ways.

In Episode 2, we will make an experiment to see that what we call computation is a convention, and it can be chosen in numerous ways. We will explore some implications.

In Episode 3, we will see that there is a way to know if your mind is just a computation.

Anonymous said...

Nice argument. I think you are talking about Searle’s syntactic/semantic gap, adding new probabilistic angle to it.
Namely, the mind cannot just consist of blind syntactic processes, for it would infinitesimally likely that it corresponds to coherent semantics.

I can make a connection with my background, that is mathematics, this actually makes a lot of sense:
In math, if one starts building up theories by syntactic/computational means (i.e. axioms and proof), there is very seldom guarantee that that theory is consistent. Only if we can fathom the structures that give rise to certain theory, that we believe the theory is consistent.
(In fact mathematicians today are not sure whether someday someone may derives contradiction from for example ZFC set theory axioms, because to argue about the structures of set theory one necessarily need to use set theory.)

Cristi Stoica said...

Thanks!

Yes, a consistent model is enough (and necessary) to show the consistency of the axioms. And indeed, a model is made of sets and relations, so set theory needs to be consistent. I'd take it a step further: even if an infinite-length proof can show an inconsistency, the theory can't be true. But just like I have to trust my senses and my mind, at least enough to be able to make any move or have any thought, I also trust set theory, at least enough to be able to make any proof :)