> On Oct 11, 5:11 am, Brent Meeker <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>> > But it isn't possible to determine by inspection that they are
conscious.Are you claiming it's impossible in principle, or just that
>> we don't know how?
> It may be impossible in principle (i.e. 1-person experience is
> ex-hypothesi incommunicable) and we certainly don't know how to.
> David

The fact that conscious experience is intrinsically privately
presented/delivered can be regarded as key evidence in any proposition as
to its physics. Any real solution must, by definition, explain why that is

Indeed if you imagine a world where consciousness is mundane they would
expect it to be so. If this possibility exists what it means is that the
attitude to scientific evidence has to change to suit the real world of
scientific evidence... especially if consciousness in the form of
observation by a scientist is to be demanded as the source of evidence on
pain of being declared unscientific (which is what we currently do -
unless you can eyeball it you're not being scientific).

The subtlety with 'objective scientific evidence' is that ultimately it is
delivered into the private experiences of indiividual scientists. Only
agreement as to what is evidenced makes it 'objective'. So the privacy of
the experience individuals is and always will be an intrinsic and
unavoidable part of the whole process.

If this is the case then there's a way around it - because in saying the
last sentence I have been implicitly assuming that a human is doing the
observing and therefore accepting tacitly all the limitations of that
circumstance. Relax that constraint and what do you get? Either another
biological life form is supplying evidence or a non-biological life-form
is giving evidence of consciousness somehow.

A non-biological life-form offers the only really flexible and fully
controllable and ethical option. How can this do the job, you ask? Isn't
this a circular arument? You have to know you;ve built a conscious life
form in oder that you get evidence to prove its consciousness?

Not really... what it does is open up new options. In another world where
ethics are different you'd experiment by grafting scientist's heads
together so they could verify each other's experiences in some way. Plenty
of scientists! Why not?! ... erm...welll...not really gonna fly is it?

So the viable alternative is 'grafting' putative artifiacts together in
'cancellation bridges' of one form or another and configure them in such a
way as to report unambiguously the presence or absense of the results of
the physics of experience doing its stuff. Merge 4 artificial scientists
and get them to compare/contrast... and report....

In other words we _humans_ relinquish the act of role of observation but
continue to be scientists. Then we can do it. We have to let go of a
seriously long term darling in order that we (humans and artifacts)
collectively have 'proof'. It's just that humans don't get to experience
all the evidence.

This, I believe is the cultural angst we have to endure in order that a
science of consciousness happen. Bitter medicine. We can eather sit around
and bitch about not solving it or we can take the medicine, solve the
problem, but not get all the thrills of the observation involved.

When I become a Dr that is the bitter pill I'll be prescribing for science.


colin hales

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