Scott Aaronson - The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine
Scott discusses whether quantum computers could have subjective experience, whether information is physical and what might be important for consciousness - he touches on classic philosophical conundrums and the observation that while people want to be thorough-going materialists, unlike traditional computers brain-states are not obviously copyable. Aaronson wrote about this his paper ‘The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine’ (found here https://arxiv.org/abs/1306.0159 ). Scott also critiques Tononi’s integrated information theory (IIT).
- In “Could a Quantum Computer Have Subjective Experience?” you
speculate that a process has to ‘fully participate in the arrow of time’
to be conscious, and this points to decoherence. If pressed, how might
you try to formalize this?
- In “Is ‘information is physical’ contentful?” you note that if a
system crosses the Schwarzschild bound it collapses into a black hole.
Do you think this could be used to put an upper bound on the ‘amount’ of
consciousness in any given physical system?
- One of your core objections to IIT is that it produces blatantly
counter-intuitive results. But to what degree should we expect intuition
to be a guide for phenomenological experience in evolutionarily novel
contexts? I.e., Eric Schwitzgebel notes “Common sense is incoherent in
matters of metaphysics. There’s no way to develop an ambitious,
broad-ranging, self- consistent metaphysical system without doing
serious violence to common sense somewhere. It’s just impossible. Since
common sense is an inconsistent system, you can’t respect it all. Every
metaphysician will have to violate it somewhere.”
Many thanks to Mike Johnson for providing these questions!