On 9/1/2011 3:45 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
On Sep 1, 4:49 pm, meekerdb<meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
On 9/1/2011 1:23 PM, 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
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
To explain why a neural network would arise organically though, you
would have to cite some way for the larger network structure (which it
sounds like you are saying is an abstract, metaphysical construct made
of 'connections') to arise independently of the component cells and
determine their roles for them.
Why would have to do that? Evolution works by random variation.
Random variation of what? DNA. Random variations of patterns of ping
pong balls don't evolve.
There doesn't have to be
an abstract, metaphysical elephant to determine the evolution of elephants.
saying the neural network is abstract. It's concrete. It's what evolved.
Concrete in what way? What is a 'connection' made of? What is it
exactly that's evolving? You want neural networks to be concrete, but
they aren't - they are conceptual models that can be applied to
interpret behaviors of concrete phenomena. They could not be more
The abstraction of 'calculation' is
the active agent, while the cells are interchangeable passive
variables which would execute the calculation just as well whether it
were made of bowling balls or ice cream sandwiches.
I didn't say any of that. You're making stuff up.
I'm clarifying the implications of your position. You have to choose
whether you think that cells know in some way what they are doing or
whether a disembodied process of calculation is telling cells (and
everything else in the universe) what to do (without knowing itself
what that is). If there's another option, I'm open to that.
When the brain is active, it is processing information
But that's not all it's doing, It's also experiencing life as a human
being, which is not found in any 'information' being computed.
Sure. The question is whether the neural network model of the brain which is
instantiating the same behavior in an android is also experiencing life as a
or something similar.
The model can't instantiate anything, it's only the actual parts that
make up the android that can instantiate a behavior, and since those
parts cannot be the same as those of a non-android, the behavior
cannot be exactly the same, even if they may appear superficially to
seem the same to us.
and at the abstract level of
computation the neural network computer performs the same computation and is
equivalent at it's input/output.
I'm saying that computation can only emulate 50% of the input/output.
The other 50% arises from private sensorimotive perception and is not
computable, but rather it chooses how to interpret some of the input
and decides what to output.
That's the interior qualia; which is neither input nor output.
Qualia determines input and output because qualia is the experience
which is being input to and output from. There is nothing else there
to go in to or out from. Just as your understanding of this sentence,
it's English words and visible characters, is predicated upon your
ability to subjectively understand English and receive optical
stimulation through your eyes. Your response is predicated on your
ability to make sense of it, to feel that sense and compare it with
your own cognitive sense and formulate an appropriate output through
the aperture of your personal motives. No a-signifying template is
going to reproduce that process just by correlating inputs to outputs
and arriving at some deterministic algorithm to stand in for
Input/Output supervenes on this middle
layer of private interpretation, which, I think is what is enhanced
through qualitative morphological synergies
"Qualitative morphological synergies"?? Doubletalk.
Not intentionally. Morphological synergies, I'm talking about how
groups of molecules equal a cell, but not in the obvious mechanical
sense. Since the molecules have a private, qualitative experience,
then the cell also has a private qualitative experience which is
synergistic - more than the sum of it's molecules, and morphological -
related to the properties of the form of the cell and how it differs
from a group of molecules which are not acting synergistically as a
A molecule has a relatively
narrow middle layer, a cell has more degrees of freedom (more qualia
to feel and more 'time' to feel it in, more time and teleological
depth of field to project 'will') than a molecule, an organism has
more than a cell, a brain has more than an organism with no brain,
Fine. I'm not addressing that. Maybe it's true. But it's also true that the
brain can cause the android to behave as a human.
If by behave as a human you mean behave in a way that fools people
into assuming it's human, then sure. Even a voicemail can fool a
person that way for a couple of seconds. A mannequin can behave as a
human standing still would.
Whether it instantiates the same qualia (or any at all)
is a different question. Since we know that whatever functions can be computed
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
question of its qualia (if any) remains open.
I understand why it's compelling to assume that it is possible to make
an artificial brain that would emulate a natural brain, but it's based
on a critically flawed model of what the brain is. Consider the brain
to be the physical shadow of the self. Duplicating the shadow of a
palm tree, is not going to suddenly cause a palm tree to be conjured
into existence. Yes, the shadow is the same exact shape but it doesn't
behave the same way, even though it seems like it should since we've
meticulously modeled the way the shadow sways with elaborate
algorithms. You assure me that we have studied every possible change
to the shadow and it should therefore produce the exact same responses
as the real shadow.
You keep saying that you assume nothing contrary to physics and chemistry; but
examples and analogies are contrary. A shadow is a dependent phenomena. If
you want to
predict what a shadow will do you have to predict at the level of the objects
shadow and the light sources.
Right. The objects in this case are subjects though. That's the
metaphor. Your brain is a meat shadow of your experience of your
entire life. If you want to predict what a brain will do you have to
predict at the level of the subjects making the electrochemical
patterns. The patterns by themselves, and the brain itself is
completely meaningless without the subjective sense. It's just a
slippery blob that glows interestingly but meaninglessly under an MRI
In your analogy the brain is a mere shadow and though you
avoid the word you assume that there is a soul of which it is the shadow.
Not 'a soul', but a person. A living human being made of human
experiences through that nervous system.
The brain is a
physical object and if it's time evolution is determined by the laws of physics
Evolution can't really be said to be physical or chemical. It's
biological at the absolute minimum (really ecological). Carbon dioxide
doesn't evolve another species of molecule. Evolution occurs as a
consequence of changes within a single molecule, DNA. Without the
biology of the phenome, those changes in the genome would be
meaningless molecular variations.
without reference to a soul, then your analogy is wrong - it is not like a
shadow. If it is like a shadow then it's behavior must differ from that
physics and chemistry and in spite of your denials are you assuming a violation
physics by an immaterial mind or soul.
Physics and chemistry have no predictions about the brain's behavior.
Sure they do. Cool it off and it stops working. Stimulate a neuron and ion channels open
on it's axon and a electro-chemical pulse is transmitted. Add a cholinesterase inhibitor
and the synapse stops working - or the whole brain if you add very much.
There is no physical law which makes human brains an inevitable
consequence of organic chemistry.
No, but they are probable consequence of evolution.
We can only look at what has evolved
biologically and understand what it is in physical-chemical terms, but
those terms by no means explain what the brain is for.
Sure they do. A brain is a bunch of interacting neurons. You can trace it's evolutionary
development just like you can trace the development of legs or wings or hearts or
kidneys. Do you pretend we don't know what those organs are for?
What you are telling me is that either color television is magic or it
has to show up on a black and white TV. I reject that false dichotomy.
Physics and chemistry alone are not sufficient to understand the
relation between the self and the brain. Any presumption that they
could be represents a fanatical reductionism propped up by circular
Maybe, maybe not. It's not a presumption; it's a working hypothesis that physics and
chemistry are sufficient to explain the physical and chemical processes of the brain.
That no soul or spirit is needed to provide libertarian free will. Maybe that's not true
- but to simply assert it's not true, as you do, seems more like fanaticism to me.
The problem is that the shadow is not what is determining the motion.
It's the palm tree in it's environment of wind, rain, birds, etc. Same
thing with the brain, although it's bi-directional. We are influenced
by our brain and vice versa, so we are each other's shadow side. Our
feelings and experiences alone determine how our brain will behave in
part, and that's the part that cannot be emulated by computation
without being able to live our life from our subjective point of view.
The other functions that the brain is doing could maybe be deduced
from the status of the rest of the body and emulated with greater
success, but that too may be a naive reduction of the brain's
relationship with the body.
That's not to say you can't make a recording of the brain activity of
someone and have some success playing it back on another - just as a
computer playing an mp3 of a Mozart symphony doesn't need to know how
to emulate the activity of a philharmonic orchestra, but they are two
very different things. The computer is not it's own user. The brain
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
they are, or were, advantageous in survival and reproduction and hence selected
evolutionary process. This explains why we have lots of tacticle sensors on
where we can react to things, and not so many in our digestive tract where our
are limited. Feelings are physical, but they are not things (i.e. objects)
changes in things, e.g. hormones released into the blood stream.
That doesn't explain anything.
It explained why we have lots of feeling on the outside as compared to the inside. What
does your soul-theory have to say about it - skin cells have more sensiormotive
Again, our stomach digests things, our
immune system handles much more complex and important tasks related to
our survival and reproduction without our feeling anything.
You switch back and forth. On the one hand you assert that brain cells feel things
because it's inherent in biological cells. Now you assert cells of the immune system
don't feel anything. How do you know they don't? How do you know the brain cells do?
Or it's easily explained by as a result of evolving a self-image to do the feeling that's
relevant to action.
no mechanical advantage, nor is there *any* possibility that feeling
can arise from physical evolution. As you say, they are not objects,
so they cannot evolve. 'Changes' in hormones in a blood stream don't
just decide that they are a 'feeling'. There is no 'they'. A change
isn't a thing that feels. It's only the cells themselves, or the
tissues they make up that could possibly feel these changes. The
appeal to 'changes' and 'responses' as sense agents is metaphysical.
The need for agents to sense feelings is metaphysical - it is spiritualism.
And the idea of feelings without an agent to feel them is somehow less
metaphysical? That's funny. Or, I guess I should say - there is
funnyness...somewhere. Or nowhere? Anywhere?
You're making stuff up again. I didn't say materialism was not metaphysics - it is. But
so is your theory.
But you are presumably asking about feelings as emotions: thoughts of joy or
satisfaction or anxiety.
No, you had it right before. I'm asking about sensation and the
interpretation of sensation (which I call feeling). Interpretations of
what I call feelings are what I would call emotions, and the
interpretation of emotions are what I call thoughts.
These are the same physiological changes sensed at the level of
consciousness in humans and put into an inner narrative. Evidence for this is
that various drugs can produce these feelings independent of other changes in
There is a physiological side of emotion and an experiential side,
just like everything else. You can manipulate emotions
physiologically, and you can manipulate physiology emotionally. It's
bi-directional: bottom up AND top down.
Really? Can you will yourself to be sad, happy, satisfied? I don't think so.
Of course you can. If you imagine something terrible happening to
someone you care about, you will yourself to be sad. Some people do it
for a living, they are called actors. Sorry to be snide, I don't mean
it to you personally, I'm just responding to the lameness of substance
But that's not just willing. That's recalling or imagining some interaction with your
environment. Drugs can make you happy or sad without any reference to the environment.
What are the implications of this for the robot/android whose artificial neural
brain produces human like behavior? Well it's obvious that a silicon based
respond to LSD or oxycontin like a human one. And similarly the silicon brain
respond to an EMP that an real brain won't even notice.
Right, which is why we know from the start that a silicon brain can
never emulate ALL of the behaviors of a natural brain.
The question then is whether this
shows the artificial and human brains instantiate different qualia even when
behavior is the same or only when there are these different responses to the
It's not that the inability to respond in the same way as a natural
brain equals different qualia, but it certainly should be an indicator
that it very well could, especially if we think that qualia is related
to electrochemical processes. Mainly we have no reason to imagine that
a silicon brain has any other qualia beyond that inherent in it's
physical manufacture and operation.
We have an excellent reason to imagine that. Namely the same reason we imagine
as we did for millenia without knowing what was inside of them (or ourselves).
We imagine others do because they are walking around in the same
bodies we are.
But they are not all the same. Do you think dogs have qualia? Chimpanzees?
We can have sex with them and make babies. What does a
baby silicon brain look like? Not as cute probably.
Not as cute as what? Have you seen a babies brain? How do you know babies don't have
It doesn't learn to feel like a
person, just as your computer doesn't learn how to see you through the
monitor. It's not alive. It has as much qualia as a shoe.
Unsupported and unreasoned assertions. Dogma of spiritualism.
So you think that your computer is looking at you through the monitor
and will learn to recognize your face eventually? Somehow my pointing
out the absurdity of that is spiritualism??
My computer can see me through a camera and it recognizes my face as a security
The poor dog, in life the the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still the master's own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonour'd falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth,
While man, vain insect hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
-- Lord Byron, Inscription on the monument of his
Newfoundland dog, 1808
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