On 17 Mar 2010, at 18:50, Brent Meeker wrote:

On 3/17/2010 5:47 AM, HZ wrote:

I'm quite confused about the state of zombieness. If the requirement
for zombiehood is that it doesn't understand anything at all but it
behaves as if it does what makes us not zombies? How do we not we are
not? But more importantly, are there known cases of zombies? Perhaps a
silly question because it might be just a thought experiment but if
so, I wonder on what evidence one is so freely speaking about,
specially when connected to cognition for which we now (should) know
more. The questions seem related because either we don't know whether
we are zombies or one can solve the problem of zombie identification.
I guess I'm new in the zombieness business.


For me the question of zombieness seems meaningful if I put it in the form of creating an artifiicially intelligent being, as opposed to replacing the components of a brain by functionally identical elements. Julian Jaynes has a theory of the evolutionary development of consciousness as an internalization of hearing speech. He supposes that early humans did not "hear" an inner narrative as we do but only heard external sounds and the speech of others and due to some biogenetic changes this became internalized so that we "heard" the instructions of parents in our heads even when they weren't present. Then we came to "hear" ourselves in our head too, i.e. became conscious.

I don't know if this is true - it sounded like nonsense when I first heard of it - but after reading Jaynes I was impressed by the arguments he could muster for it. But if it's true it would mean that I could create an artificially intelligent being who, for example, did not process verbal thoughts thru the same module used for hearing and then this being would not have the same qualia corresponding to "hearing" yourself in your head. It might very well have some different qualia. But since we don't know what "qualia" are in a third person sense, it's impossible to make sense of "having qualia, but different from those we know".

As I understand Bruno's theory, he identifies qualia with certain kinds of computation; a third person characterization.

I define the qualia of the machine by the true and consistent (Sigma_1) propositions, and incommunicable as such (unprovable). It depends on computation (by the sigma_1), but it is an assertive state of the talking machine. It is not a computational state, nor a computation. It is more an arithmetico-geometrico-logical state.

Qualia lives in Z1* minus Z1, or X1* minus X1. They are (arithmetically) true ON the machine, but not communicable as such, nor specifiable, by them. And the machine is able to explain why there is a necessary remaining gap in this definition. This is of course the case for any 3-person definition of a 1-notion.



But I'm not sure what kind or whether I could say that my artificially intelligent being had them.

But you can evaluate its degrees of self-referential correctness with respect to *your universe*. There will be fuzzy region of behavior, but then it is the same problem than with lower animals, etc.




Brent


But leaving the zombie definition and identification apart, I think
current science would/should see no difference between consciousness
and cognition, the former is an emergent property of the latter, and
just as there are levels of cognition there are levels of
consciousness. Between the human being and other animals there is a
wide gradation of levels, it is not that any other animal lacks of
'qualia'. Perhaps there is an upper level defined by computational
limits and as such once reached that limit one just remains there, but
consciousness seems to depend on the complexity of the brain (size,
convolutions or whatever provides the full power) but not disconnected to cognition. In this view only damaging the cognitive capacities of a
person would damage its 'qualia', while its 'qualia' could not get
damaged but by damaging the brain which will likewise damage the
cognitive capabilities. In other words, there seems to be no
cognition/consciousness duality as long as there is no brain/mind one. The use of the term 'qualia' here looks like a remake of the mind/ body
problem.


On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 11:34 AM, Stathis Papaioannou
<stath...@gmail.com> wrote:

On 17 March 2010 05:29, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:


I think this is a dubious argument based on our lack of understanding of qualia. Presumably one has many thoughts that do not result in any overt action. So if I lost a few neurons (which I do continuously) it might mean that there are some thoughts I don't have or some associations I don't make, so eventually I may "fade" to the level of consciousness of my dog. Is my
dog a "partial zombie"?

It's certainly possible that qualia can fade without the subject
noticing, either because the change is slow and gradual or because the
change fortuitously causes a cognitive deficit as well. But this not
what the fading qualia argument is about. The argument requires
consideration of a brain change which would cause an unequivocal
change in consciousness, such as a removal of the subject's occipital
lobes. If this happened, the subject would go completely blind: he
would be unable to describe anything placed in front of his eyes, and he would report that he could not see anything at all. That's what it means to go blind. But now consider the case where the occipital lobes are replaced with a black box that reproduces the I/O behaviour of the
occipital lobes, but which is postulated to lack visual qualia. The
rest of the subject's brain is intact and is forced to behave exactly
as it would if the change had not been made, since it is receiving
normal inputs from the black box. So the subject will correctly
describe anything placed in front of him, and he will report that
everything looks perfectly normal. More than that, he will have an
appropriate emotional response to what he sees, be able to paint it or
write poetry about it, make a working model of it from an image he
retains in his mind: whatever he would normally do if he saw
something. And yet, he would be a partial zombie: he would behave
exactly as if he had normal visual qualia while completely lacking
visual qualia. Now it is part of the definition of a full zombie that
it doesn't understand that it is blind, since a requirement for
zombiehood is that it doesn't understand anything at all, it just
behaves as if it does. But if the idea of qualia is meaningful at all,
you would think that a sudden drastic change like going blind should
produce some realisation in a cognitively intact subject; otherwise
how do we know that we aren't blind now, and what reason would we have
to prefer normal vision to zombie vision? The conclusion is that it
isn't possible to make a device that replicates brain function but
lacks qualia: either it is not possible to make such a device at all
because the brain is not computable, or if such a device could be made (even a magical one) then it would necessarily reproduce the qualia as
well.


I think the question of whether there could be a philosophical zombie is ill posed because we don't know what is responsible for qualia. I speculate that they are tags of importance or value that get attached to perceptions so that they are stored in short term memory. Then, because evolution cannot redesign things, the same tags are used for internal thoughts that seem important enough to put in memory. If this is the case then it might be possible to design a robot which used a different method of evaluating experience for storage and it would not have qualia like humans - but would it have some other kind of qualia? Since we don't know what qualia are in a
third person sense there seems to be no way to answer that.


--
Stathis Papaioannou

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