On Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 2:13 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Evolution follows from the fact that DNA replication is not 100%
>> accurate and if the resulting organism is successful the mutation will
>> be propagated. This can lead to surprising results but not magical
>> results.
>
> Therein lies the rub. What is the difference between surprising and
> magical? What is merely surprising behavior for living organisms is
> magical for inorganic matter. If the contents of human imagination
> were public instead of private they would be magic - but still not
> omnipotent. It still could not invent a new color or a square circle.
> This is why it matters what is doing the computing. If you try to make
> a new operating system by making imperfect copies of Windows, you are
> not going to even get a better version of Windows, let alone one that
> flies or lays eggs.

For a long time, it was thought that the origin of species was
magical, special creation by God. But evolutionary theory showed that
species could originate in a manner consistent with physical law, so
it became surprising rather than magical.

Human technology uses techniques many, many times faster and more
efficient than mutation and natural selection; it is "intelligent
design" rather than natural selection. Nature did not have that
option.

>>The potential for evolution is programmed into the organism
>> to begin with, and if you had a good enough simulation you could run
>> it and see the variations possible under different environments.
>
> To make a good enough simulation may take as much time and resources
> as the genuine process. You could see possible genome variations, but
> so what. To translate into phenome variations you would have to
> simulate the proteins, cells, tissues, body, and environmental effects
> on the body (potentially the Earth). Even so, that might only give you
> an idea of which of existing phenome expressions to expect but it is
> not clear that you could guess what novel variations would produce at
> all. How would you guess what a tongue was going to do if nobody had
> ever heard of flavor before?

A simulation of evolution would be computationally difficult but
possible in theory. The program would not know what was going to
happen until it happened, just as nature doesn't know what's going to
happen until it happens. You seem to have difficulty with this idea,
holding computer simulations to a higher standard than the thing they
are simulating.

>> What would happen if the neurons and neurotransmitters did their thing
>> without the awareness that you postulate? Would the observable
>> behaviour be the same? How could it not be, if the chemical reactions
>> remain the same?
>
> If the neurons and neurotransmitters did their thing without any
> subjective awareness correlated with it, you get a conversion
> disorder, like hysterical blindness. If neurons and neurotransmitters
> had no subjective correlations at all in the universe then there would
> be no human observation of anything, but the human body would
> theoretically be able to respond to it's environment unconsciously
> (like the digestive system or immune system is presumed to do under
> substance monism). In our real universe, human beings, their bodies,
> immune systems, digestive systems, etc all have interactive perception
> and participation (sensori-motive phenomena).

You would not get a conversion disorder since people with conversion
disorders say and do unusual things, whereas if the neurons are making
the muscles contract normally (as they must if they do their thing)
then the person will be observed to behave normally.

>> What if the robot said that you had no understanding of red, it was
>> just chemical reactions in your brain?
>
> That is pretty much what substance monism does say. I would say the
> robot should be reprogrammed to say something different.

And the robot would say the same of you. Conceivably there are
intelligent beings in the universe based on completely different
physical processes to us who, if they encountered us, would claim that
we were not conscious. What would you say to convince them otherwise?

>> So you're now admitting the computer could have private experiences
>> you don't know about? Why couldn't these experiences be as rich and
>> complex as your own?
>
> I have always maintained that the semiconductor materials likely have
> some kind of private experience, but that their qualia pool is likely
> to be extremely shallow - say on the order of 10^ -17 magnitude in
> comparison to our own. They could be as rich and complex as our own
> theoretically but practically it seems to make sense that our
> intuition of relative levels of significance in different phenomena
> constitute some broad, but reasonably informed expectations. Not all
> of us have been smart enough to realize the humanity of all other homo
> sapiens through history, but most of us have reckoned, and I think
> correctly, that there is a difference between a human being and a
> coconut.

Brain consciousness seems to vary roughly with size and complexity of
the brain, so wouldn't computer consciousness vary with size and
complexity of the computer?

>> The whole idea of the program is that we're not smart enough to figure
>> out what to expect; otherwise why run the program? A program
>> simulating a bacterium will be as surprising as the actual bacterium
>> is.
>
> It's not that we're not smart enough, it's just that we're not patient
> enough. The program could be drawn by hand and calculated on paper,
> but it would be really boring and take way too long for our smart
> nervous system to tolerate. We need a mindless machine to do the
> idiotic repetitive work for us - not because we can't do it, but
> because it's beneath us; a waste of our infinitely more precious time.

That's right. And if we could follow the chemical reactions in a brain
by hand we would know what the brain was going to do next.

>> Our brain is a finite machine, and our consciousness apparently
>> supervenes on our brain states.
>
> Our consciousness cannot be said to supervene on our brain states
> because some of our brain states depend upon our conscious intentions.

Only to the extent that our conscious intentions have neural
correlates. The observable behaviour of the brain can be entirely
described without reference to consciousness. If not then we would
observe neural behaviour contrary to physical law (because we can't
observe the consciousness which is having the physical effect), and we
don't observe this.

> Our brain is a finite machine but only at any particular moment. Over
> time it has infinite permutations of patterns sequences.

Only if it grows infinitely large. If it does not grow then over time
it will start repeating.

>>Since there are a finite number of
>> possible brain states
>
> Not true. Brains are always evolving new possible brain states. Each
> individual from every species has different numbers and varieties of
> possible brain states.

There are only so many different atoms used in brains and these atoms
can only be configured in so many ways unless the brain grows without
bound.

>> there are a finite number of possible conscious
>> states.
>
> Not given an unbounded duration of time.

An unbounded duration of time will allow you to realise all the
possible mental states, then they will start repeating unless the
brain can grow indefinitely. By analogy, if you have a book with a
limited number of pages and attempt to fill it with every possible
combination of English characters, after a certain (very long) period
you will have written every possible book, and then you will start
repeating. Only if the book is unlimited in size can you have an
unlimited number of distinct books.

>>Do you claim that multiple conscious states could be
>> associated with the one brain state? That would mean we are thinking
>> without our brain.
>
> I think if anything it's the other way around. There are probably
> multiple brain states associates with one conscious states. This is
> all but confirmed by neuroplastic regeneration. If one conscious state
> were literally tied to one brain state, the failure of the region of
> the brain involved in that brain state would not be compensated for by
> the rest of the brain, but of course, it often does.

Multiple mental states can be associated with the one physical state,
but the reverse cannot occur unless there is an immaterial soul.

>> Different substances can perform the same function.
>
> Only for functions not linked to specific substances. In living
> organisms most every function is narrowly fulfilled by a single
> substance. Water cannot be replaced. Oxygen. ATP. Nothing else can
> perform these same functions.

With any machine there may be parts that are difficult to replace.
That does not change the quite modest principle that IF you could
replace it with a functionally equivalent part THEN it would (third
person observable) function the same, and the deduction from this
principle that any associated first person experiences would also be
the same, otherwise we could have partial zombies.

>> You claim that the
>> consciousness is associated somehow with the substance more than the
>> function.
>
> I wouldn't say 'more'. Consciousness is associated with the relation
> between substance and function.
>
>>This is not obvious a priori - one claim is not obviously
>> better than the other, and you need to present evidence to help decide
>> which is correct.
>
> The fact that human consciousness is powerfully altered by small
> amounts of some substances should be a clue that substance can drive
> function.

Of course, but it's the change in *function* as a result of the
substance that changes consciousness. If you have a different
substance that leaves function unchanged, consciousness is unchanged.
For example, Parkinson's disease can be treated with L-DOPA which is
metabolised to dopamine and it can also be treated with dopamine
agonists such as bromocriptine, which is chemically quite different to
dopamine. The example makes the point quite nicely: the actual
substance is irrelevant, only the effect it has is important.

>> > Those are challenges of a reductio as absurdum nature. I'm hoping that
>> > you'll see that they are silly. When you say that a group of milk
>> > bottles can see red, you are intending for me to take you seriously,
>> > but I don't think that you really take that position seriously
>> > yourself, you're just making an empty, legalistic argument about it.
>>
>> Why is it not absurd to say that a handful of chemical elements can see red?
>
> I don't think that they can. I'd say that groups of cone cells and
> neurons can see red. Our eyeballs basically recapitulate pre-cambrian
> evolution of solar photosynthesizing micororganisms in an aqueous
> saline environment. What we see is something like chlorophyll green,
> hemoglobin red, and hemacyanin blue (http://www.applet-magic.com/
> lifemolecules.htm). Color that we see is cellular molecular awareness
> shelled out to primate visual consciousness.

So it's not the chemical elements that see red, it's a more complex
construct from elements that themselves are unable to see red.
Moreover, this construct has a particular third party observable
response to red light. So why is it absurd to say that a more complex
construct made from something else, be it electrical circuits or
whatever, can see red?

>> Handling counterfactuals means the entity would behave differently if
>> circumstances were different, which is what programs and humans but
>> not recordings do.
>
> A cartoon doesn't have to be a recording. You could have animators
> drawing them in real time and responding to different circumstances
> dynamically. It doesn't make the cartoon itself conscious, just as
> handling counterfactuals don't make programs themselves conscious.

The cartoon would not be conscious but the animators driving the
cartoon would be conscious. If a computer could do the job as well as
human animators then it too would be conscious.

>> >> Someone creating agents in a computer so he could torture them should also
>> >> be culpable, and stopped.
>>
>> > Really? So no violent video games?
>>
>> If the violent video games caused the characters to feel distress then yes.
>
> By the preceding claim of counterfactual relevance, are you not saying
> that they might feel distress already?

No, they are too simple. If the characters can interact with us in the
same way as a biological human then there is reason to think they have
a similar consciousness to us. For example, I haven't seen you but I
have interacted with you via email over the past few weeks, and from
this I deduce that you are a sentient being. If I discover that you
are a computer program then I would have to consider that you are
still a sentient being. But no computer program today could do this,
so I assume you are human.

>> How do you know you're not deluded about having what you call free
>> will (which you think is incompatible with determinism)?
>
> I've answered this several times. Free will is a feeling. It doesn't
> matter whether or not your feelings of free will are validated by any
> objective criteria, because the existence of the possibility of the
> delusion is sufficient to invalidate determinism. Such a fantasy has
> no conceivable reason to exist or possible mechanism to arise out of
> (how does a machine pretend to believe it's not a machine?)

The existence of the possibility of a delusion is sufficient to
invalidate determinism? So if it's possible that you are deluded
determinism is false? And if you aren't deluded does that mean
determinism is true? Does a fantasy need a reason to exist? If a
machine did pretend to believe it was not a machine would that mean it
wasn't a machine?

If you've explained it before I'm still confused as to what your
explanation is. It seems to me and to most other people that it *is*
possible to believe in free will in a deterministic universe - there
is no contradiction in the idea and there is no inconsistency with
empirical observation. You have to clearly explain why you disagree.

>> So if an advanced alien made a human using the appropriate organic
>> material (and not those unfeeling electronic circuits) the human would
>> lack free will, even though he would behave as if he had free will and
>> believe he had free will.
>
> You don't need an alien to lose your free will. Addiction,
> brainwashing, intimidation, and torture can do that. Taking a person's
> freedom away is one thing, giving freedom to a stone is something
> else. The human can recover their free will though. If an alien did
> make a human though, it would not lack free will because free will
> would be the fifth dimension of awareness. It cannot be programmed in
> the same way as a 4D chip, it needs to be motivated voluntarily rather
> than scripted.

So even though a human was made from scratch by an alien he could have
free will: the argument that he only does what he was designed to do
by the alien does not apply. Why does it apply to if the alien
designed an advanced computer?

>> Subatomic particles become water when they are subjected to the
>> appropriate conditions. They have no foreknowledge of water and they
>> don't care if they are water or something else. All they do is
>> interact in a particular way given certain circumstances, blindly
>> following a program if you like.
>
> There is no reason to think that such a program exists. Water is an
> invention/discovery of atoms. It was first initiated at a particular
> time by specific atoms in this universe (as opposed to all possible
> universes). Water is not an arithmetic inevitable, it is the living
> echo of an event. The universe makes it up as it goes along, just as
> we do (as part of the universe).

The atoms follow a program in that they rigidly follow particular
rules - more rigidly than any human-programmed computer, in fact,
which could have bugs or hardware faults. The existence of water was
implicit in the laws of physics even before the universe had cooled
down enough for chemical reactions to occur. That is, it is inevitable
that hydrogen and oxygen will combust to form water under certain
physical conditions. It is not logically necessary, but it is
necessary given the particular physical laws, and as far as we know in
this universe the laws have been fixed for all time.

>> It is from many, many such
>> interactions following simple rules that the complex universe arises.
>
> I think it's more likely the other way around. Simple rules can be
> derived by complex entities to make sense of the universe. The
> universe arises from no rules at all. It arises as the possibility of
> sense experience from the impossibility of non-sense non-experience.
> Like infancy or awakening from sleep, coherent order emerges from
> incoherent multivalent singularity. Complexity can give rise to
> simplicity and the other way around.

The laws of physics are indeed just our observations but they can be
used to make predictions. If the predictions do not match reality then
the laws are shown to be wrong, and new laws may be discovered in
their place. By this process science gets closer and closer to a
description of reality. The universe does not arise from "no rules at
all" since in that case nothing would happen. The tendency to form
stars, for example, is indicative of a physical law.

>> >> > Where does novelty come from in a
>> >> > universe of fixed laws?
>>
>> >> Different permutations, arrangements and organizations.
>>
>> > If H2O is water before H2O exists, then it's not novel.
>>
>> Something that didn't exist before is novel. Something that didn't
>> exist before and we could not anticipate is novel and surprising.
>
> At some point, H2O had to have either been novel and surprising or
> predetermined and redundant. The possibility of it's existence can't
> be both novel and eternally predetermined.

It could be both predetermined and novel and surprising when it
finally occurs. This is consistent with how these terms are used by
most people.

>> Complexity may not impress you, but the multiple permutation your
>> brain can be in accounts for the multiple thoughts you can have.
>
> Accounting is not explaining. Which actually sums up my entire
> position on this endless thread. Consciousness explains and counts.
> Computers only count. Come up with an algorithm for explanation, and
> put it into an electronic explainer, and we will have true AGI.

I can't be sure but from what you have said before it doesn't seem you
would accept a true AGI if it tapped you on the shoulder and started
talking to you. It could come across as more intelligent than any
human but that would not be "true" intelligence if it was not organic.

-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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