On 7/28/2011 12:27 PM, Jason Resch wrote:

On Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 10:41 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com <mailto:whatsons...@gmail.com>> wrote:

    On Jul 28, 4:29 am, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be
    <mailto:marc...@ulb.ac.be>> wrote:

    > We have made the big discovery of the universal digital machine, and
    > we do have good reason to find highly plausible that a brain is a
    > biological universal machine.

    I agree, but the brain is also more a lot more than that because it
    hosts human experience. A machine cannot have an experience, it is the
    container, it is that which is experienced, but it has no capacity to
    experience anything as an abstract design. A silicon chip can
    experience that machine, but it experiences it as a single large
    molecule. Maybe we make a giant cell out of a mutant jellyfish and
    superimpose the machine on that - then you get a different range of
    possible experiences and sensitivities.

Materials don't have experiences, minds have experiences. I think you have taken reductionism to an extreme, and are trying to explain perceptions and thoughts in terms of the periodic table. If the material is important to perceptions, you must show how the material creates macroscopic effects which manifest as different behavior for the mind. You would have to show that the words "I see yellow" bubble up from effects of carbon to affect the evolution of the neural network (since the utterance comes from neural signals). This seems magical to me, and against what is known about neurology. Neurons are known to be affected by other neurons, they are not not known to be affected by neurons own feelings which stem from the feelings of the atoms which compose them.

I think your hypothesis can be disproved by an argument from information theory:
How many states can a carbon atom be in?
How many experiences can a human mind have?
The latter is much larger than the former. Therefore the feelings of carbon atoms cannot be the explanation of human experience. If the range of possibilities for some phenomenon is large, then that phenomenon must be explained in terms of something having at least that many states. You cannot say something with 1,000,000 possible states is explained by something with only 5 possible states. Lets only consider the human visual experience. Let's assume a person can see roughly a million colors and a million pixels. This is equivalent to 1,000,000^1,000,000 possible visual experiences. For this range of experiences to be possible, there must be some physical system having at least this many possible states. It won't come from something small, unless you consider the combination of a large number of individual components as one large state (but this is anti-reudctionist). This leads to the idea that a mind or a perception is a large structure of inter-related pieces, not individual atoms or molecules.

    > To assume the contrary leads to the need to introduce non Turing
    > emulable element in the brain, and we have no clue at all if that
    > exist, nor any clue why this would put any light on the mind-body
    > problem.

    I do have a clue that it exists. I am it. I live it. Yellow is not
    Turing emulable and I can imagine yellow anytime I want.

Just because you don't know how the experience of yellow is emulated doesn't mean it is not emulable.


Hi Jason,

I don't think that I have yet seen a better example of a straw man than what you wrote here! Obviously the number of states of a carbon atom is a much smaller number than the number of experiences that a human mind can have. Why don't you compare apples to apples! Something like the number of states of a human brain to the number of human experiences. What ever the case, this argument of yours here is non sequitur of Craig's point, but I think that Craig is not expressing his ideas well in that post. IT is one thing for a computation to emulate another if and only if we can compare inputs to inputs and outputs to outputs, but in the case of human consciousness we do not have a I/O system like we have for computers so that we can establish the bisimilarity of the pair of computations as a physical fact. My point is that since we cannot know what computation we are (even if consciousness is computation) it follows that we cannot make claims that imply that an emulation occurs. We can only, to quote Bruno, "bet" that it is or is not.



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