On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:

> > 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.

This is like having to argue why more atoms aren't alive.  The difference
between a life form and a mixture of chunks of coal and water won't be found
in comparing the chemicals, the difference is in their organization.  That
is all that separates living matter from non-living matter.  Mechanism says
the same thing regarding intelligent entities vs. non-intelligent entities.
It comes down to their organization, not any material difference.  Addition
can be performed by collections of cells and by logic gates etched on

Most neurologists consider the retina part of the brain, since processing is
performed there.  Could we not build an artificial retina which sent the
right signals down the optic nerve and allow someone to see?  Such cyborgs
already exist: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20038162-10391704.html

> 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.

And brains are just gelatinous tissue with cells squirting juices back and
forth.  If you are going to use reductionism when talking about computers,
then to be fair you must apply the same reasoning when talking about minds
and brains.

> 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.

Do you need another person to look at and interpret the firings of neurons
in your brain in order for there to be meaning for your thoughts?  If not,
why must be a user of the computer to impart meaning to its states?


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