On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 8:46 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It depends entirely on the degree to which the neurons are modified or
> artificial. If you replace some parts of a care with ones made out of
> chewing gum or ice, they may work for a while under particular
> conditions, temperatures, etc. Think of how simple an artificial heart
> is by comparison to even a single neuron, let alone a brain. It's a
> pump with a regular beat. Yet, the longest anyone has survived with
> one is seven years.
> All I'm saying is that for something to function identically to a
> neuron, it must in all likelihood be a living organism, and to be a
> living organism, it's likely that it needs to be composed of complex
> organic molecules. Not due to the specific magic of organic
> configurations but due to the extraordinary level of fidelity required
> to reproduce the tangible feelings produced by living organisms, and
> the critical role those feelings likely play in the aggregation of
> what we consider to be consciousness. Consciousness is made of
> feelings themselves, and their behaviors, their internal consistency
> and not just the neurological behaviors which are associated with
> them. It is a first person experience, completely undetectable in
> third person.
> Or, to use your car analogy, would the replaceable parts of a car
> include a driver? Are all drivers capable of driving the car in the
> same way? A blind person can physically drive the car, push the
> pedals, turn the wheel. Can a blind or unconscious nucleus drive a
> neuron?

No doubt it would be technically difficult to make an artificial
replacement for a neuron in a different substrate, but there is no
theoretical reason why it could not be done, since there is no
evidence for any magical processes inside neurons. The argument is
that IF an artificial neuron could be made which would replicate the
behaviour of a biological neuron well enough to slot into position in
a brain unnoticed THEN the consciousness of that brain would be
unaffected. If not, a bizarre situation would arise where
consciousness could change or disappear (eg., going blind) without the
subject noticing. Can you address this particular point?

Stathis Papaioannou

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