A brief remark.
On 8/9/2011 11:26 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 12:50 AM, Craig Weinberg<whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
It does mean that a machine can't behave just like a living thing,
because everything that a machine is, and everything that a living
thing is, are behaviors and experiences. You can't assume that two
completely different things have the same behaviors and experiences
just because the behaviors that you think you observer seem like what
I'm asking about observable behaviours, not experiences. Why do you
always conflate the two while arguing that they should not be
Everything a human does is determined by genetics and environment.
Without the genetic or environmental programming, a human won';t ever
learn, grow or change himself.
That's an unfounded assumption. Conjoined twins have the same genetics
and environment yet they are different people with different
personalities. A dead body has the same genetics and environment as a
living person, yet it doesn't learn or grow.
Conjoined twins don't have the same environment since they are
spatially separated, made of different matter. A dead body also has a
different environment to a living body, since the chemical reactions
inside it are very different. Genetics in conjunction with environment
determines what sort of body and brain a being will have. what else
could there possibly be?
Are you now saying that your assumption that consciousness does not
necessarily follow from conscious-like behaviour is a priori absurd??
So if a machine can behave like a human then it must have the same
consciousness as a human, and to you this is now obvious a priori??
Ugh. There is no such thing as conscious like behavior. Again. That is
my point. If I am a cockroach, then cockroaches seem to behave like
they are conscious to me and human beings are forces of nature. I can
only think that this insight is not accessible to everyone because
only some people seem to be capable of getting it and just overlook it
over and over again. It is critically important to understand this
point or everything that follows will be a strawman distortion of my
Can you explain again what you think is a priori absurd?
So, does cockroach-like behavior mean that a machine is a cockroach?
Does a wooden duck decoy be the same thing as a duck?
Cockroach-like behaviour means the thing behaves like a cockroach. If
cockroaches are conscious (they may be) cockroachlike behaviour means
the thing behaves like a conscious creature, namely a cockroach. It
isn't actually a cockroach if it is a machine, but just as it can have
cockroachlike behaviour without being a cockroach, it may have
cockroachlike consciousness without being a cockroach.
The form of argument is similar to assuming that sqrt(2) is rational
and showing that this assumption leads to contradiction, therefore
sqrt(2) cannot be rational. The only way to respond to this argument
if you disagree is to show that there is some error in the logic,
otherwise you *have* to accept it, even if you don't like it and you
have conceptual difficulties with irrational numbers.
No, I don't have to accept it. Consciousness is not accessible with
mathematical logic alone. When you insist that it must beforehand, you
poison the result and are forced into absurdity. You cannot prove to
me that you exist. If you accept that that means you don't exist, then
you have accepted that your own ability to accept or reject any
proposition is itself invalid.
No, I can't prove to you that I exist, or that I am conscious, or that
I will pay you back if you lend me money. But I can prove to you that
sqrt(2) is irrational and I can prove to you that if something has
behaviour similar to a conscious thing then it will also have the
consciousness of the conscious thing.
You can't prove that you have consciousness but you are going to prove
that something else has your consciousness because it acts like you
No, I can prove that something that behaves as I do has a similar
consciousness to mine. That doesn't mean that I am conscious or that I
can prove that I am conscious.
You need to be able to follow
the proof in order to point out the error if you don't agree. There
may be an error but simply saying you don't agree is not an argument.
The error is that consciousness cannot be proved. It doesn't exist: it
insists. Completely different (opposite) epistemology.
I'm not trying to prove consciousness, only that such consciousness as
an entity may or may not have will be preserved if the function of its
brain is preserved.
As for neurons having a finite set of behaviours, of course they do.
It is a theorem in physics that a certain volume of space has an upper
limit of information it can
There is no limit to the combinations of behaviors they can have over
time though. There is a finite alphabet, but there is no limit to the
possibilities of what can be written. Even the alphabet can be changed
and expanded within the written text. New, unforeseeable behaviors are
No, there is an absolute limit to the behaviours that can be displayed
over time by a brain of finite size.
Over how much time? Infinite time = infinite behaviors.
No, if the matter is finite the number of configurations is finite, so
after a finite period of time all the possible configurations will be
exhausted and you will start to repeat.
How does the finity of matter require a finite number of
configurations or a discrete configuration space? Ever hear of
differential equations? Every bit of matter can have a quantity of
momentum, spin direction and relative position that varies as a smooth
function over (at least) teh Real numbers. Where is your leap from
smooth functions to finite state systems to Poincare recursions?
Where is the assumption of discreteness coming from?
There is only a finite number of
particles in the brain
No. The brain is constantly adding, removing, and changing particles.
All of our cells are.
But the brain is finite in size and the number of types of particle is
finite. If you have a finite sentence length (the size of the brain)
and a finite number of letters (the particles making up the brain)
there is only a finite number of sentences that can be produced. In
order to have infinite brain states you would have to allow the brain
to expand infinitely in size.
Why the preoccupation with finiteness? Is it that hard to consider
for a moment that you are tying to shoe horn a foot into a Cinderella
slipper that simply is too small? The point is that the brain can
somehow mimic processes that are infinite... How that happens I can only
If mental states supervene on physical states then there can't be more
possible mental states than brain states.
Mental states make sense of phenomena outside of the brain, through
the brain, just as language communicates through words, inventing new
ones as it goes..
Whatever that means, there can't be more mental states than brain
states, and there is only a finite number of possible brain states if
the brain remains finite in size.
Your claim would be true if and only if there only existed a finite
universe that is composed of an irreducible and finite number of parts.
The problem is that you cannot know what universe that is. Consider how
choising a particular finite partition on a data set is a form of 'axiom
Ever hear of the Banach-Tarsky paradox? .If you assume a three (or
four) dimensional finite universe that is partitioned in a finitesimal
way and the axiom of choice,".. then you can tell how to disassemble a
solid ball into five pieces and reassemble those pieces into two balls
just as solid and the same size as the original. I want to emphasize
that this is a mathematical prescription. You can't do it in reality
because you have to use the axiom of choice to do the fitting. It says
"there is a way" to fit the pieces together, but doesn't say what the
way is." - selfAdjoint
(http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-438.html) Does this
paradox not give you pause? If you assume a axiom of choice you will
violate the laws of conservation.
"The *Banach--Tarski paradox* is a theorem
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theorem> in set theoretic
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometry> which states that a solid ball
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_%28mathematics%29> in 3-dimensional
space can be split into a finite number of non-overlapping pieces, which
can then be put back together in a different way to yield /two/
identical copies of the original ball. The reassembly process involves
only moving the pieces around and rotating them, without changing their
shape. However, the pieces themselves are complicated: they are not
usual solids but infinite scatterings of points. A stronger form of the
theorem implies that given any two "reasonable" solid objects (such as a
small ball and a huge ball) --- solid in the sense of the continuum
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_hypothesis> --- either one can
be reassembled into the other. This is often stated colloquially as "a
pea can be chopped up and reassembled into the Sun".
The reason the Banach--Tarski theorem is called a paradox
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox> is that it contradicts basic
geometric intuition. "Doubling the ball" by dividing it into parts and
moving them around by rotations <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotation>
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation_%28geometry%29>, without any
stretching, bending, or adding new points, seems to be impossible, since
all these operations preserve the volume
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volume>, but the volume is doubled in the end.
Unlike most theorems in geometry, this result depends in a critical way
on the axiom of choice <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_of_choice> in
set theory. This axiom allows for the construction of nonmeasurable sets
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonmeasurable_set>, collections of points
that do not have a volume in the ordinary sense and require an
uncountably <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncountable> infinite number
of arbitrary choices to specify. Robert Solovay
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Solovay> showed that the axiom of
choice, or a weaker variant of it, is necessary for the construction of
nonmeasurable sets by constructing a model of ZF set theory
(without choice) in which every geometric subset has a well-defined
Lebesgue measure <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebesgue_measure>. On the
other hand, Solovay's construction relies on the assumption that an
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inaccessible_cardinal> exists (which
itself cannot be proven from ZF set theory); Saharon Shelah
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saharon_Shelah> later showed that this
assumption is necessary." -
Therefore your reasoning here fails. Only if you assume a
one-to-one map between mental states and physical states can your
premise hold and what was it that you where trying to prove? You cannot
assume that which you with to prove.
If the number of possible
brain states is finite then the number of possible mental states is an
equal or smaller finite number (probably much smaller).
Neither brain states nor mental states are finite or bound to each
other explicitly. Some are bound explicitly, some are not. Think of a
venn diagram with the self as the intersection of neurology and
So can you have a change in mental state without a change in brain
state? Brain activity would then seem to be superfluous - you do your
thinking with a disembodied soul.
Why could not dynamics of the brain count too? Ions flow in the
neuron's fluids, they have momenta, relative position and .. WOW ..
spin! For one frozen in time snap shot of the brain an infinite number
of mental states could intersect!
So you would say of your friend: "I have known him for twenty years,
have had many conversations with him and always considered him very
smart, but now that I know he is a robot I realise that all along he
was as dumb as a rock".
Of course. It's not unusual for people to deceive themselves in long
term relationships. If you had the friend, would you not be fazed at
all to discover that he is a robot? What if you found out that that he
reports your every conversation to GoogleBook, and that is programmed
to replace you and dispose of your body in the river, would you still
would have faith in his intelligence and your friendship enough to try
to win him over and talk him out of it?
I'd be surprised if my friend was a robot but if he was intelligent
before I knew he would still be intelligent after I knew. If he tried
to kill me then I would be upset, by I would also be upset if my flesh
and blood friend tried to kill me.
So you would find it no different whether it is a lifelong friend who
has been betraying you for 20 years versus a robot who was programmed
to extract business intelligence from you from the start? You would
hold the robot personally responsible and not GoogleBook?
I don't know why you chose Google Books as an example but if it could
somehow be intelligent enough to drive a humanlike robot then Google
Books would be responsible for its actions.
Google books is a great resource!
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