On Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 2:35 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> A computer needs I/O devices such as keyboards and screens if it is to
>> interact with its environment.
> No, it doesn't. We need keyboards and screens if We are to interact
> with a computer. The computer already does interact with it's own
> environment. It's input is electric current and it's output is
> magnetic changes to semiconductors and heat.

The brain needs sensory organs and muscles if it is to interact with
its environment in an intelligent way. That it consumes oxygen and
glucose and produces heat and CO2 is interaction but not the sort that
we are interested in here.

>> If it doesn't then that would allow for the possibility of partial
>> zombies, which means you could be one now and not know it, which means
>> being a partial zombie (if coherent) is not distinguishable from full
>> consciousness and not a problem.
> I am a partial zombie now, and so are you, and yes, you don't know it.
> Unless you are actively experiencing every possible experience that
> you can at the same time, you are only partially aware. A brain made
> of artificial neurons would likely be able to experience something,
> but not what a natural neuron brain would experience, because its not
> the same thing.  It's not a problem because when it is time to
> experience other kinds of awareness than we do at the moment, we can,
> but the silicon brain likely cannot.

You misunderstand what I mean by "partial zombie". You would be a
partial zombie if your visual cortex were replaced by a machine so
that you thought you could see, behaved as if you could see, but in
fact lacked visual qualia. If you think that is possible, then you
could be blind right now. Are you sure you aren't blind and simply
deluded in your belief that you have visual qualia?

>> > I'm not talking about computation, I'm talking about the implications
>> > of biological realities of the nervous system. It does you no good to
>> > compute the amount of plaque building up in your arteries if your
>> > computation has no way to remove it. You would have to have the
>> > machine itself pretend to die and then fool the glia into thinking
>> > they already cleaned it up. It's just dumber and dumber.
>> But if it is possible to compute when a neuron will fire
> In some cases it is, in some cases it is not possible. If the neuron
> is involved in initiating shivering, then you can compute that it will
> fire in relation to skin temperature. If it is involved instead with
> changing your opinion about the simplicity of neuroscientific
> simulation, then there is no way to predict that.

If you take any neuron you can predict when it will fire given the
inputs. What is the difference between a neuron involved in shivering
and a neuron involved in deciding between tea or coffee?

>> that would
>> allow the creation of an artificial neural network which would drive
>> other neurons and muscles in the same way as a biological neural
>> network would. It would be like any other artificial body part which a
>> person might have and not notice.
> If that were true, there would be no distinction between voluntary and
> involuntary movements or consciousness and unconsciousness. You are
> making sense a kind of nonsense, and consciousness a kind of
> unconsciousness - which of course is precisely inverted of what we
> must realize is true.

There is a distinction between voluntary and involuntary since you
feel responsible for one but not the other. However, there is no
biochemical difference in the function of the neurons, only perhaps a
difference in where they are located and how many are involved in the
different processes.

>> >> > If the former case is true, the replacement cell body may not be able
>> >> > to produce the organic sense required to modulate the functions of the
>> >> > cell in it's native improvisational mode so that it will neither fool
>> >> > surrounding tissues nor perform the critical experiential function in
>> >> > between inputs and outputs which would form the meat of perception and
>> >> > awareness. If the latter case is true, there is no way to tell whether
>> >> > the metaphysical requirements form instantiating high level awareness
>> >> > could be satisfied by the design of the replacement. The exact
>> >> > mechanism by which dumb I/Os are translated into nonphysical emergent
>> >> > properties would have to be fully understood in order to accomplish
>> >> > substitution by engineering.
>> >> Do you understand this:
>> >> (a) everything in the universe follows physical laws;
>> >> (b) these physical laws are computable
>> > I understand that you believe that, but I think the worldview that
>> > understanding arises from is obsolete.
>> > Because we have qualitative experiences which are not reducible to
>> > computation, and that is an undeniable fact with epistemological
>> > validity equal to or exceeding that of physics, either:
>> > (a) Not all physical laws are completely computable or
>> > (b) our qualitative experiences are not physical or
>> > (c) The terms 'computable' and 'physical' are meaningless because they
>> > include everything.
>> > I choose (a). Obviously our experiences of qualia like yellow and pain
>> > are not meaningfully computable, and would have no conceivable place
>> > in a cosmos that was purely computational.
>> I'm not asking if qualia are computable, only if the observable
>> behaviour of matter is computable.
> Huh? I observe qualia and qualia are the only possible way of
> observing anything.

You can't observe a neuron's or another person's qualia, only their behaviour.

> You said "(a) everything in the universe follows physical laws;"
> This means to me that you are excluding qualia from the universe or
> you are saying that physical laws include qualia. Which is it?

Physical laws determine how matter behaves and qualia occur when
matter behaves in a particular way. It isn't possible to "compute
qualia" in the sense that if I simulate a bat's brain I will know how
it behaves but not how it feels. However, the simulation will know how
it feels. This last claim isn't obvious but it follows from the brain
replacement thought experiment we have been discussing given the
conceptual incoherence of partial zombies.

>> That means it would be possible to
>> model on a computer what the behaviour of a collection of matter will
>> be over time, given initial conditions. For a billiard ball that would
>> be easy, for a weather system or human more difficult, but possible.
> It's just circular reasoning. You're defining matter's behavior as a
> priori purely computable. You're assuming that matter exists and
> nothing else does rather than seeing that matter and perception are a
> continuum which is deterministic on one end and voluntarily
> participatory on the other.

Do you imagine that an atom in a brain follows different, uncomputable
laws compared to an atom somewhere else?

>> >> So you are saying either that cells disobey the laws of physics or
>> >> that there are certain laws of physics that are non-computable, but
>> >> that only you know about them.
>> > I suspect that fully half of the laws of physics are unknown and non-
>> > computable. They may be understandable though, through metaphor and
>> > direct experience. These consequences of these  laws are known by
>> > everything that has awareness, which may be every physical phenomenon
>> > to some extent or another. I'm not saying that I 'know about them' or
>> > that 'Only I know about them' at all, I'm only pointing to their
>> > existence as the possible solution to the mind-body problem, quantum
>> > uncertainty, cosmology, and the crisis of post-modernity.
>> Strictly speaking, quantum randomness is uncomputable, but a random
>> process can be modelled by a pseudorandom process,
> Like a brick can be modeled by a painting of a brick. It's not really
> a painting of a brick, it's just a painting that looks like what we
> see of a brick with our eyes from a single static perspective.
> Objectively speaking, there is no such thing as a model. We model with
> things but the things themselves are not modeled. Like awareness,
> feeling, thought, and experience, fire, or flight, randomness cannot
> be modeled, it can only be replicated.

The model is required to reproduce the behaviour. To make an
artificial knee joint you need to know how a natural knee join
functions, what stresses it is likely to be subjected to and so on.
You can't just insert a picture of a knee joint and expect the patient
to walk; but a patient will be able to walk with a knee joint made of
completely non-physiological materials.

>> or else a true
>> source of randomness such as radioactive decay can be used.
> That's backwards too. Radioactive decay isn't a source of
> 'randomness', randomness is just our understanding of a category of
> processes which includes radioactive decay. Randomness doesn't exist
> as a concrete, independent entity in the cosmos.

Radioactive decay is truly random. There is no way to be sure when an
atom is going to decay even if you have all of the information and
unlimited computing power, although you can calculate the probability
that it will decay. On the other hand, with a classical system you can
be sure how it is going to behave if you have all the information,
even though chaotic effects make exact prediction a practical

>> Also, real
>> numbers are not in general computable, so if the world is continuous
>> rather than discrete it would not be computable; however, every
>> physical process will have a level of engineering tolerance, so
>> infinite precision arithmetic would not be required and for practical
>> purposes the world would still be computable. Any other ideas as to
>> what could be uncomputable?
> It's not a matter of precision, it's a matter of trying to make up out
> of a complex configuration of down. It's futile by definition.

Your definition. You haven't explained the unique non-computable force
that makes atoms in a brain behave differently to atoms everywhere
else in the universe.

Stathis Papaioannou

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