> Why?  Biological tissue is made out of protons, neutrons, and electrons
> just like computer chips.  Why should anything other than their
> input/output function matter?

A cadaver is made out of the same thing too. You could pump food into
it and fit it with an artificial gut, even give it a synthesized voice
to make pre-recorded announcements and string it up like a marionette.
That doesn't mean it's a person. Life does not occur on the atomic
level, it occurs on the molecular level. There may be a way of making
inorganic molecules reproduce themselves, but there's no reason to
believe that their sensation or cognition would be any more similar
than petroleum is to plutonium. The i/o function is only half of the
story.

> Just assertions.  The question is whether something other than you can
> have them?

Why couldn't it? As you say, I am made of the same protons, neutrons,
and electrons as everything else. You can't have it both ways. Either
consciousness is a natural potential of all material phenomena or it's
a unique special case. In the former you have to explain why more
things aren't conscious, and the latter you have to explain why
consciousness could exist. My alternative is to see that everything
has a private side, which behaves in a sensorimotor way rather than
electromagnetic, so that our experience is a massive sensorimotor
aggregate of nested organic patterns.

> A computer flying an airliner is not very smart, but it would know what
> a runway is, what a storm is, the shape of the Earth.  A computer that
> runs a hospital would know whether there were patients, doctors, or nurses.

Nah, a computer like that wouldn't know anything about runways,
storms, shapes, or Earth or whether there were patients, doctors, or
nurses. Computers are just mazes of semiconductors which know when
they are free to complete some circuits and not others. A computer
autopilot knows less what a plane is than a cat does. Computers are
automated microelectronic sculptures through which we compute human
sense. They have no actual sense of their own beyond microelectronic
sense.

> You beg the question by specifying "human meaning".  Do you suppose that
> there is something unique about humans, or can there be dog meaning and
> fish meaning and computer meaning?

There is certainly something unique about humans in the minds of
humans. Of course there is dog meaning, fish meaning, liver cell
meaning, neuron meaning, DNA meaning, carbon meaning. There isn't
computer meaning though because it's only a computer to a person that
can use a computer. To a cat, it's just a warm box. A cat, however,
makes sense to mice as one thing (monster?), to humans as another
(pet? pest? lunch?), to fleas (home?). Etc. A computer is just a glove
for certain functions of our cognitive/cortical faculties.

Craig

On Jul 8, 10:44 pm, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 7/8/2011 6:40 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
>
> > Conscious is an informal term, so it depends how you want to use it. I
> > think of consciousness as the top level meta-awareness of a hierarchy
> > of levels which might be called awareness, perception, sensation, and
> > detection, where another person's idea of consciousness would equate
> > all of those terms. In my usage, the awareness that one is aware,
> > which would include something like dreaming or hallucinating. A more
> > medical use of the word might distinguish consciousness as the ability
> > to respond to external stimuli or produce electrical activity in
> > particular areas of the brain, etc.
>
> I agree that there are different kinds and degrees of consciousness.  
> Also it seems that a lot of our thinking takes place with consciousness,
> c.f. Poincare' effect.
>
> > Replacing parts of the brain depends what the artificial circuits are
> > made of. For them to be experienced as something like human
> > consciousness then I think they would have to be made of biological
> > tissue.
>
> Why?  Biological tissue is made out of protons, neutrons, and electrons
> just like computer chips.  Why should anything other than their
> input/output function matter?
>
> > Awareness isn't calculation, 'information', or
> > 'interpretations'. Those are high-level cognitive abstractions.
> > Awareness is visceral, concrete, low level sense experience - a
> > primary presentation rather than a representation.
>
> Just assertions.  The question is whether something other than you can
> have them?
>
> > I'm only using computer screens as an example, but if you extend the
> > example to include other human devices like an airliner or hospital,
> > those things still have to be filled with human beings to give them
> > human meaning. A computer autopiloting an empty plane in a post-
> > apolcalypse world devoid of life would only have electronic and
> > physical meaning - circuits pushing toward equilibrium, meaningless
> > bodies of mass hurtling through the atmosphere. It doesn't know what a
> > plane is. A hospital without any people is an archeological ruin, no
> > matter how many computers are still connected to it.
>
> A computer flying an airliner is not very smart, but it would know what
> a runway is, what a storm is, the shape of the Earth.  A computer that
> runs a hospital would know whether there were patients, doctors, or nurses.
>
> > Meaning is not only conferred by interaction with the world, meaning
> > is the world. If you are a human, then your world is a world of human
> > meaning, which includes condensed reflections of all other meanings to
> > which our technologically extended neurology permits us access.
>
> You beg the question by specifying "human meaning".  Do you suppose that
> there is something unique about humans, or can there be dog meaning and
> fish meaning and computer meaning?
>
> Brent
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Jul 8, 2:44 pm, meekerdb<meeke...@verizon.net>  wrote:
>
> >> On 7/8/2011 5:46 AM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
>
> >>>> That's what I thought he said.  But I see no reason to suppose a UD is
>
> >>>>>   running, much less running without physics.  We don't know of any
> >>>>>   computation that occurs immaterially.
>
> >>> All computation occurs materially and immaterially. An abacus doesn't
> >>> count itself. You ultimately have to have a conscious interpreter to
> >>> signify any particular text as quantitatively meaningful. Unplug all
> >>> monitors from all computers and what do you have left? Expensive
> >>> paperweights.
>
> >> But the question is what makes a conscious interpreter conscious.  
> >> Would replacing part of your brain by artificial circuits that are
> >> computationally equivalent preserve your consciousness?  Your example of
> >> computers without monitors makes a good point, but one I think different
> >> from your intention.  Computation must have some meaning, at least
> >> implicitly.  Meaning is conferred by interaction with the world.  
> >> Computers with monitors interact rather narrowly via humans.  But
> >> consider a computer that runs the utilitIies in a hospital or flies an
> >> airliner.  They don't need humans to look at a screen to give meaning to
> >> their computation.
>
> >> Brent

-- 
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to everything-list@googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to 
everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com.
For more options, visit this group at 
http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en.

Reply via email to