Colin,

I think I am missing the main point: is the room + Marvin meant to be a zombie 
or not? 

Stathis

----------------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 17:20:19 +1100
> From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Subject: The Totally Blind Zombie Homunculus Room
> To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
> 
> 
> This discussion is a hybrid of a number of very famous thought
> experiments. Unlike those thought experiments, however, this experiment is
> aimed purely and only at scientists. The intent is to demonstrate clearly
> and definitively the nature of subjective experience (phenomenal
> consciousness) and its primal role in a scientist's ability to function as
> a scientist.
> 
> Imagine a room. Its walls and celing and floor are matt black. There are
> no doors or windows. All over the walls are digital displays which
> announce numbers in warm, friendly colours. Up against all four walls and
> up to international standard control desk height (roughly 750mm) is a
> sloping console. Covering the console around all four walls  are
> pushbuttons. The number of displays is equal to the number of sensory
> nerves entering a typical human brain from the peripheral nervous systems
> including all sensory input. The number of pushbuttons is equal to the
> entire set of effector nerves emanating from a typical brain. This total
> number of displays and pushbuttons is in the millions.
> 
> There is a comfortable chair upon which is seated the room's sole
> occupant, Marvin the human. Marvin is normal except for never having been
> outside the room and having never otherwise acquired any knowledge of
> anything other than that of the room and its contents. He knows absolutely
> nothing of any sort of external world or any other people. He has no clue
> about the external world except for what he can surmise from the displays
> and buttons.
> 
> Marvin, like all healthy humans, has an experiential life which is the
> collection of private phenomenal scenes delivered by his brain material.
> These are operating normally except that Marvin has been deprived of all
> the phenomenal content (experiences) that he ever could have received had
> he been allowed outside the room. He has had a lifetime of experiences,
> but all of them have been confined to depicting the room.
> 
> Marvin is a scientist. He studies the science of not-room. His life
> consists of experiments which involve the pressing of buttons and the
> recording of patterns in the displays. Over time an enormous volume of
> data begins to show patterns for which Marvin constructs models. The
> models are generalisations of the behaviour of the displays after buttons
> are pushed in a certain way. He tests and refines the models and has
> developed a form of symbolic representation of the behaviour of the
> displays. Certain features on the display occur regularly enough that
> names have been given to notional not-room phenomena. One is called the
> tronelec. The mathematics of not-room includes a lot of rules about the
> behaviour of tronelecs. In time Marvin realises that his exploration of
> not-room can be done according to routine rules and he sets about a
> systematic, exhaustive assay of the entire range of possible
> button/display relationships.
> 
> Everything is going nicely but then one day a well known pattern does not
> occur the way it used to. After a while the old pattern resumes. The whole
> mathematics of not-room is undermined. It takes a long time for Marvin to
> construct a new model that accounts for the novel behaviour. A new entity
> called gytravi is needed. Then things settle down and routine systematic
> exploration resumes.
> 
> In time a massive collection of not-room entities and behavioural rules is
> constructed and begins to repeat itself. So much so that Marvin, after
> checking and rechecking, finds that the model seems to have stabilised.
> 
> At this point we stop to survey the situation.
> 
> The first thing to note is that the room is an empirically verified
> physiologically accurate representation of the sensory circumstances of a
> human brain. Nervous activity effect/affect is replicated by
> buttons/displays and all signals are standardised. There are no
> experiential qualities (perceptual sensation qualities) associated with
> this nervous activity. This is a physiologically verified, well
> established empirical fact. Indeed the room is a little too kind - If you
> discarded all the buttons and displays, then that is a more
> physiologically accurate circumstance .
> 
> The main point is that this collection of totally sensationless signals is
> exactly what is available to a human brain and through which all sense
> measurement arrives.  Consider the room without a Marvin in it. Based on
> what evidence is there any reason to even conceptualise the existence of
> an external world? Nothing in that room gives any indication of it. There
> is no a-priori knowledge of not-room. No possible way to interpret any of
> the signals. All there is is correlated behaviour - the behaviour of
> displays correlated with other displays and buttons, none of which have
> any other discernable impact. The room is quintessentially a zombie in the
> sense it has no experiential life at all despite being wired as
> extravagently as a complete human.
> 
> Marvin thinks of himself as a scientist. Exactly what is he a scientist
> of? His science is, he thinks, the science of 'not-room'. But is it? All
> he has is a very sophisticated model of display/button correlations. His
> science is not about 'not-room' at all! His science is the science of room
> display/buttons. He has absolutely no justification to any claim about
> anything going on anywhere else, although that is how Marvin thinks of it.
> His science is very very predictive of button/display behaviour. As to the
> reality of the model he has developed? He has no way of contextualising
> any of the abstractions he has created with the actual state of affairs in
> 'not-room'.
> 
> Absolutely anything could be out there driving the displays and Marvin
> will never know. Indeed worse than that, there may be an infinite number
> of different ways that not-room could present the same display values and
> Marvin would never know. The display data is fundamentally, intrinsically
> ambiguous. Even if the displays and buttons were nicely grouped and
> labeled all that would happen is that there would be expectations of
> related behaviours in a group, which Marvin does not have to name himself.
> It could even be named 'sight', 'sound' and so on and Marvin may
> understand what that might mean, but it delivers no claim to any
> definitive or unambiguous knowledge of not-room.
> 
> And that, fundamentally, is the real nub of the matter.
> 
> What is outside the room? It doesn't really matter. It could be an
> elaborate multistory building with a ratsnest of electrical
> interconnections done with a computer. It could be a control room in the
> head of a giant robot. It could be literally wired up to a human body with
> no brain. It could be a spaceship. None of that matters except in the
> details. Marvin can never know because he has no experience available to
> even imagine it.
> 
> To finish off the room scenario we now take Marvin out of the room. In his
> place we leave a machine that is based on his systematic scientific
> behaviour. It runs with clockwork and pneumatics from punched cards. None
> of the displays are needed, none of the buttons are needed - they are all
> directly connected to the new machine. The massively complex model marvin
> has constructed, which has nothing whatever to do with 'not-room' except
> in the most indirect of abstracted ways, goes on being verified and
> occasionally amended using more rules for amending the model, also devised
> by Marvin. The model can never say anything about any changes in
> 'not-room'. All it can sense is novel (unexpected according to the model)
> behaviour in the sensing displays, which is an entirely different thing.
> 
> The main message to take from this is that this bizarre concoction is the
> necessary circumstance that would exist in a human if it weren't for what
> phenomenal consciousness provides a human scientist.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> > 

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