On 9/1/2011 9:21 AM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
Whether or not afferent and efferent nerves are fundamentally
different kinds of cells or just playing different roles in the
nervous system isn't important. If they are the same that only makes a
stronger case for me, since there would then be no biochemical
determination of that role.
But there would be a structural determination their role; one depending on what other
cells they were connected with. On the neural network computer model of the brain it is
these connections and their strength that are analogous to the hardware and the software.
When the brain is active, it is processing information and at the abstract level of
computation the neural network computer performs the same computation and is functionally
equivalent at it's input/output. Whether it instantiates the same qualia (or any at all)
is a different question. Since we know that whatever functions can be computed by finite
things (including brains and computers) can be computed in this way, we infer that it is
possible to make an artificial brain that will produce the exact same responses as a real
brain and in a suitable robot/android will produce human like behavior. Of course the
question of its qualia (if any) remains open.
You're not answering my questions though.
I know we have different feelings about different things, I'm asking
you why anything has any feelings at all, and is a feeling a physical
thing or not?
There are different ways of answering a "why?" question. In this case, one answer is that
feeling is a physiological response to the environment. We have such responses because
they are, or were, advantageous in survival and reproduction and hence selected in the
evolutionary process. This explains why we have lots of tacticle sensors on our surface,
where we can react to things, and not so many in our digestive tract where our responses
are limited. Feelings are physical, but they are not things (i.e. objects) they are
changes in things, e.g. hormones released into the blood stream.
But you are presumably asking about feelings as emotions: thoughts of joy or sadness or
satisfaction or anxiety. These are the same physiological changes sensed at the level of
consciousness in humans and put into an inner narrative. Evidence for this is the fact
that various drugs can produce these feelings independent of other changes in the environment.
What are the implications of this for the robot/android whose artificial neural network
brain produces human like behavior? Well it's obvious that a silicon based brain won't
respond to LSD or oxycontin like a human one. And similarly the silicon brain will
respond to an EMP that an real brain won't even notice. The question then is whether this
shows the artificial and human brains instantiate different qualia even when their
behavior is the same or only when there are these different responses to the environment.
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