On Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> 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?
> No, you misunderstand what qualia is. If you think you can see, you
> have visual qualia, period. You are seeing something. Whether that
> something corresponds to what you should see out of your eyes is
> irrelevant. If you think you cannot see, you are blind. If you think
> you can see, you are not a partial zombie. A zombie acts like they can
> see when they navigate the terrain, but they have no experience of
> vision. They are guided as if by remote control. They are automatons.

Good, so you agree that the idea of a partial zombie is absurd! So do
you now have an alternative explanation for what would happen if a
fuctionally identical part were substituted into your visual cortex,
where visual qualia occur? You would behave normally and tell everyone
that your vision had not changed, since the information reaching the
rest of your brain, including your language centre, would be the same.
That's what "functionally identical" means.

>> 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?
> The difference is that you don't have the inputs and you can never
> have them. They are interior to the person rather than relative to the
> skin on the person's body.

The inputs are light, sound, temperature, touch, taste and smell.
Sense organs convert environmental stimuli into electrical signals,
since like computers brains can't directly access the world.

>> 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.
> Exactly. But instead of realizing that this means that the functional
> description of the neuron is not sufficient to explain the reality of
> voluntary vs involuntary experience, you want to play with partial
> zombies and asking whether I might be blind and not know it.

The functional description of the neuron also includes its position in
relation to other neurons. An electronic circuit is made up of a small
number of components, but they perform different roles depending on
circuit topology.

There is a difference between voluntary and involuntary experience and
the difference is that you feel responsible for one but not the other.

>> > 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.
> I'm talking about my own qualia. I observe it.

It may be better to say the act of observation *is* the qualia.

>> > 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
> Unless that matter is inside my brain, in which case my subjective
> will can and does supersedes physical law (and vice versa).

Nonsense. The physical laws determine what your brain does.

>> 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.
> Not if it's made of wire and and glass it won't. A stuffed animal
> doesn't feel like an animal. A telephone doesn't feel like a friend's
> voice. Simulations don't feel - they are designed intentionally to
> make us feel as if they feel, and that is all.

The stuffed animal and the telephone are not good simulations.

>> Do you imagine that an atom in a brain follows different, uncomputable
>> laws compared to an atom somewhere else?
> It depends on what you mean by different. Does a planet orbiting a
> star follow a different path when that star is in the center of a
> galaxy verses when it's on a spiral arm? Yes and no. The atom follows
> the same laws relative to the neurotransmitter molecule it's a part
> of, but the neurotransmitter's synthesis has been instantiated by a
> sensorimotive experience on the organism level. The existence of that
> atom's relationship to the other atoms would not be computable based
> upon the mechanics of the chemistry alone.  Being part of that
> molecule is only one of millions of possibilities. It takes a
> different, uncomputable preference to explain the situation as a
> whole.

A physical law is a rule or set of rules which determines what a
system will do under given circumstances. The gravitational attraction
between two bodies is different if they are further apart, but that
doesn't mean that they do not follow a consistent physical law! On the
contrary, the classical law of gravitation says that the force between
them varies inversely as the square of the distance. Similarly, a
molecule in a beaker of water may behave differently compared to the
same molecule in a cell, but both molecules follow exactly the same
chemical laws, which take into account temperature, pH, osmolality,
concentration etc.

>> 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.
> The patient will be able to walk, but the natural knee no longer
> exists. The joint has no feeling. Only one aspect of it's behavior has
> been reproduced. If you were a cartilage cell in that joint, you would
> now be dead, which is what you would be if you replaced your brain
> with non-physiological materials.

To an external observer the knee functions normally and to the owner
it functions normally, since he may truthfully tell you that he feels
exactly the same as he did before he got arthritis. Of course the
artificial joint is different: it's made of metal, it shows up very
opaque on X-ray, there is a scar over it. But these differences do not
affect function.

>> > 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,
> Then it's random to us. You would say the same if you looked at the
> behavior of a crowd at a baseball game if you didn't understand the
> game. You can assess probabilities of cheering, but couldn't predict
> the precise times and intensities of cheers.

No, the radioactive decay is truly random, while the behaviour of the
crowd is just difficult to predict, unless as Brent pointed out
radioactive decay or other quantum events are amplified to make it
truly random also.

> Atoms behave like atoms. Molecules in a live brain behave differently
> than those in a dead brain. What is this force? Cumulative
> entanglement. Significance. Negentropy. Sense.

Molecules in a live brain behave differently because the environment
is different, but molecules everywhere in the universe still follow
exactly the same physical laws.

Stathis Papaioannou

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