>Stathis: I was using the term "information" loosely, to include what >is
commonly termed qualia, subjective experience etc.
But I think this is where a subtle dualism creeps in, because you are
ascribing something special to qualia, beyond mere existence, or so it
>that if a physical system is fully specified, then that is all
>you need in order to duplicate or emulate the system. The new
>system will do everything the original one did, including have
>conscious experiences. It's worth stressing this point again:
>you don't need any special, non-physical information to
>emulate or duplicate a conscious system; you don't need God to
>provide it with a soul, you don't need to purchase a mind-body
>interface kit, you don't need to meditate and wave quartz
>crystals around, and you don't need to have 1st person
>knowledge of its subjective experiences. All you need is a few
>kilograms of raw materials, a molecular assembler mechanism,
>and the data which indicates where each bit goes. Once the job
>is finished, you automatically have a system which talks,
>eats, and is conscious. Psychology and biology have been
>reduced to physics and chemistry. Consciousness has been shown
>to be just be an emergent phenomenon in a particular type of
>biological computer. Agree so far? OK: having said all that,
>and assuming at this point that we know the position and
>function of every atom in this newly created system, I *still*
>would wonder what it feels like to actually *be* this system.
What it would be like to be a bat, as Nagel puts it.
>My curiosity could only be satisfied if I were in fact the
>duplicated system myself; perhaps this could be achieved if I
>"became one" with the new system by direct neural interface. I
>don't have to go to such lengths to learn about the new
>system's mass, volume, behaviour, or any other property, and
>in *this* consists the essential difference between 1st person
>and 3rd person experience. You can minimise it and say it
>doesn't really make much practical difference, but I don't
>think you can deny it.
I can deny that there is anything special about it, beyond the difference
between A): *a description of an apple*; and B): *an apple*. I don't think
anyone would deny that there is a difference between A and B (even with comp
there is still a difference); but this "essential difference" does not seem
to have anything in particular to do with qualia or experience.
>From Lee Corbin:
>>Jonathan contrasts descriptions and what the descriptions describe:
>> > > Stathis: Your post suggests to me a neat way to define
>what is special
>> > > about first person experience: it is the gap in information
>> > > between what can be known from a description of an object and
>> > > what can be known from being the object itself.
>> > But how can "being an object" provide any extra
>information? I don't see
>> > that information or knowledge has much to do with it. How
>can "being an
>> > apple" provide any extra information about the apple?
>>Let's remember some naive answers here. First, for a fixed physical
>>object, there exist infinitely many descriptions. It's a common
>>belief that beyond a certain amount of accuracy, differences don't
>>really matter. For example, one ought to be quite happy to teleport
>>even if there is one atomic error for every 10^20 atoms.
>>Second, a common interpretation of QM asserts that beyond a certain
>>accuracy, there is *no* additional information to be had whatsoever.
>>That is, that there exists some finite bit string that contains
>>*all* an object's information (cf. Bekenstein bound).
>>Still, the naive answer is that a description (or even a set of
>>descriptions) of a physical object is different from the physical
>>object itself: a physical object is a process, and a set of
>>descriptions is merely a set of bits frozen in time (and here
>>we are back again, you know where).
>>However, I hold with these "naive" answers, as do a lot of people.
>>And so therefore I proceed to answer the above question thusly:
>>"Being an apple" provides *no* information beyond that which would
>>be provided by a sufficiently rich description. Even if an
>>emulation of a person appreciating the sublime, or agonizing to
>>a truly horrific extent, or whatever----no information obtains
>>anywhere that is not in principle available to the experimenters,
>>i.e., available from the third-person.
>>You could make the experimenter *hurt*, and then say, "now you
>>know what it feels like", and given today's techniques, that
>>might very well be true. But this is only a limitation on what
>>is known and knowable today; it says nothing about what might be
>>knowable about a human subject of 20th century complexity to
>>entities living a thousand years from now.
>>(We ignore the possible effects on the experimenter's value
>>system, or possible effects on his incentives: we are just
>>talking about information as bit-strings, here.)
>> > Obviously there is a difference between *an apple* and *a
>> > description of an apple*, in the same way there is a difference
>> > between *a person* and *a description of a person*, but the
>> > difference is one of physical existence, not information.
>>Yeah, that's the way it seems to me too.