Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Brent meeker writes:
>>>>>>I could make a robot that, having suitable thermocouples, would quickly
>>>>>>hand from a fire; but not be conscious of it. Even if I provide the
>>>>>>"feelings", i.e. judgements about good/bad/pain/pleasure I'm not sure it
>>>>>>conscious. But if I provide it with "attention" and memory, so that it
>>>>>>painful event as important and necessary to remember because of it's
>>>>>>affect; then I think it would be conscious.
>>>>>It's interesting that people actually withdraw their hand from the fire
>>>>>*before* they experience
>>>>>the pain. The withdrawl is a reflex, presumably evolved in organisms with
>>>>>the most primitive
>>>>>central nervour systems, while the pain seems to be there as an
>>>>>afterthought to teach us a
>>>>>lesson so we won't do it again. Thus, from consideration of evolutionary
>>>>>does indeed seem to be a side-effect of memory and learning.
>>>>Even more curious, volitional action also occurs before one is aware of it.
>>>>familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Libet and Grey Walter?
>>>These experiments showed that in apparently voluntarily initiated motion,
>>>motor cortex activity
>>>actually preceded the subject's awareness of his intention by a substantial
>>>fraction of a second.
>>>In other words, we act first, then "decide" to act. These studies did not
>>>action (presumably that would be far more technically difficult) but it is
>>>easy to imagine the analogous
>>>situation whereby the action is unconsciously "planned" before we become
>>>aware of our decision. In
>>>other words, free will is just a feeling which occurs after the fact. This
>>>is consistent with the logical
>>>impossibility of something that is neither random nor determined, which is
>>>what I feel my free will to be.
>>>>>I also think that this is an argument against zombies. If it were possible
>>>>>for an organism to
>>>>>behave just like a conscious being, but actually be unconscious, then why
>>>>An interesting point - but hard to give any answer before pinning down what
>>>>by consciousness. For example Bruno, Julian Jaynes, and Daniel Dennett
>>>>explanations; but they explain somewhat different consciousnesses, or at
>>>Consciousness is the hardest thing to explain but the easiest thing to
>>>understand, if it's your own
>>>consciousness at issue. I think we can go a long way discussing it assuming
>>>that we do know what
>>>we are talking about even though we can't explain it. The question I ask is,
>>>why did people evolve
>>>with this consciousness thing, whatever it is? The answer must be, I think,
>>>that it is a necessary
>>>side-effect of the sort of neural complexity that underpins our behaviour.
>>>If it were not, and it
>>>were possible that beings could behave exactly like humans and not be
>>>conscious, then it would
>>>have been wasteful of nature to have provided us with consciousness.
>>This is not necessarily so. First, evolution is constrained by what goes
>>Its engineering solutions often seem rube-goldberg, e.g. backward retina in
> Sure, but vision itself would not have evolved unnecessarily.
>> Second, there is selection against some evolved feature only to the extent
>> it has a
>>(net) cost. For example, Jaynes explanation of consciousness conforms to
>>criteria. I think that any species that evolves intelligence comparable to
>>be conscious for reasons somewhat like Jaynes theory. They will be social
>>combined with intelligence will make language a good evolutionary move. Once
>>have language, remembering what has happened, in order to communicate and
>>symbolic terms will be a easy and natural evolvement. Whether that leads to
>>your own narrative in your head, as Jaynes supposes, is questionable; but it
>>consistent with evolution. It takes advantage of existing structure and
>>realize a useful new function.
> Agreed. So consciousness is either there for a reason or it's a necessary
> side-effect of the sort
> of brains we have and the way we have evolved. It's still theoretically
> possible that if the latter
> is the case, we might have been unconscious if we had evolved completely
> different kinds of
> brains, but similar behaviour - although I think it unlikely.
>>>This does not necessarily
>>>mean that computers can be conscious: maybe if we had evolved with
>>>electronic circuits in our
>>>heads rather than neurons consciousness would not have been a necessary
>>But my point is that this may come down to what we would mean by a computer
>>conscious. Bruno has an answer in terms of what the computer can prove.
>>probably John McCarthy) would say a computer is conscious if it creates a
>>of its experience which it can access as memory.
> Maybe this is a copout, but I just don't think it is even logically possible
> to explain what consciousness
> *is* unless you have it.
Not being *logically* possible means entailing a contradiction - I doubt that.
anyway you do have it and you think I do because of the way we interact. So if
interacted the same way with a computer and you further found out that the
was a neural network that had learned through interaction with people over a
of years, you'd probably infer that the computer was conscious - at least you
wouldn't be sure it wasn't.
>It's like the problem of explaining vision to a blind man: he might be the
> greatest scientific expert on it but still have zero idea of what it is like
> to see - and that's even though
> he shares most of the rest of his cognitive structure with other humans, and
> can understand analogies
> using other sensations. Knowing what sort of program a conscious computer
> would have to run to be
> conscious, what the purpose of consciousness is, and so on, does not help me
> to understand what the
> computer would be experiencing, except by analogy with what I myself
But that's true of everything. Suppose we knew a lot more about brains and we
created an intelligent computer using brain-like functional architecture and it
like a conscious human being, then I'd say we understood its consciousness
than we understand quantum field theory or global economics.
> Stathis Papaioannou
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