Thank you both for replying!

On 7/22/2010 8:47 PM, Brent Meeker wrote:
Sure. Consider a Mars Rover. It has a camera with many pixels. The voltage of the photodetector of each pixel is digitized and sent to a computer. The computer processes the data and recognizes there is a rock in its path. The computer actuates some controller and steers the Rover around the rock. So information has been integrated and used. Note that if the information had not been used (i.e. resulted in action in the environment) it would be difficult to say whether it had been integrated or merely transformed and stored.


Isn't this the same as the digital camera sensor chip? Aren't the functions you're describing built on this foundation of independent, minimal repertoires, all working independently of each other? I can see how, from our external point of view, it seems like one entity, but when we look at the hardware, isn't it functionally the same as the sensor chip in the quote from Tononi? That is, even the CPU that is fed the information from the camera works in a similar way. Tononi, in /"Qualia: The Geometry of Integrated Information"/, says:

   "Integrated information is measured by comparing the actual
   repertoire generated by the system as a whole with the combined
   actual repertoires generated independently by the parts."

So, what I mean is, the parts account for all the information in the system, there is no additional information generated as integrated information (Which Tononi refers to as "phi" ?.)

On 7/23/2010 12:15 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
A Turing machine can essentially do anything with information that can be done with information. They are universal machines in the same sense that a pair of headphones is a universal instrument, though practical implementations have limits (a Turing machine has limited available memory, a pair of headphones will have a limited frequency and amplitude range), theoretically, each has an infinite repertoire.

I hope no one will be offended if I borrow a quote I found on Wikipedia:

   "At any moment there is one symbol in the machine; it is called the
   scanned symbol. The machine can alter the scanned symbol and its
   behavior is in part determined by that symbol, but the symbols on
   the tape elsewhere do not affect the behavior of the machine."
   (Turing 1948, p. 61)

I'm sure none of you needed the reminder, it's only so that I may point directly to what I mean. Now, doesn't this - the nature of a Turing machine - fundamentally exclude the ability to integrate information? The computers we have today do not integrate information to any significant extent, as Tononi explained with his digital camera example. Is this a fundamental limit of the Turing machine, or just our current technology?

There is no conceivable instrument whose sound could not be reproduced by an ideal pair of headphones, just as there is no conceivable physical machine whose behavior could not be reproduced by an ideal Turing machine. This implies that given enough memory, and the right programming a Turing machine can perfectly reproduce the behavior of a person's Brain.

If an ideal Turing machine cannot integrate information, then the brain is a physical machine whose behavior can't be reproduced by an ideal Turing machine. No matter how much memory the Turing machine has, it's mechanism prevents it from integrating that information, and without integration, there is no subjective experience.

Does this make the Turing machine conscious? If not it implies that someone you know could have their brain replaced by Turing machine, and that person would in every way act as the original person, yet it wouldn't be conscious. It would still claim to be conscious, still claim to feel pain, still be capable of writing a philosophy paper about the mysteriousness of consciousness. If a non-conscious entity could in every way act as a conscious entity does, then what is the point of consciousness? There would be no reason for it to evolve if it served no purpose. Also, what sense would it make for non-conscious entities to contemplate and write e-mails about something they presumably don't have access to? (As Turing machines running brain software necessarily would).

I wonder if this is what the vast majority of AI work done so far is working towards: philosophical zombies. We can very likely, and in the not-too-distant future, build artifacts that are so life-like they can trick some of us into believing they are conscious, but until hardware has been constructed that can function in the same manner as the neurons in the corticothalamic area of the brain, or surpass them, we won't have significantly conscious artifacts. No amount of computational modeling will make up for the physical inability to integrate information.

     - Allen

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