On Oct 15, 10:48 pm, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 4:39 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> Functionalism assumes that the qualia will be reproduced if the
> >> observable function of the brain is reproduced. The thought experiment
> >> assumes that this is *not* the case. You have therefore missed one of
> >> the most basic points.
> > You are ignoring my point. Function is in the eye of the observer. Do
> > you understand that this is true or do you insist that there is an
> > absolute reality that is beyond any particular observation?
> When we talk about functional replacement it is specific to the
> purpose we are considering. The artificial neurons need to reproduce
> the electrical activity of the biological neurons they are replacing
> in order to stimulate the neighbouring neurons in the same way. The
> structure and substance of the artificial neurons is unimportant as
> long as this is achieved. It may be that if the structure and
> substance is not reproduced the qualia will not be reproduced either,
> even though the electrical activity is reproduced. We assume that this
> is so and see where it leads.

I agree that is one way of looking at it, but I think that in fact the
qualia will not be reproduced because our lack of understanding of
what electrical activity actually is. The model you are operating from
sees electricity as a pseudosubstance which is independent from
matter, so that reproducing a pattern of 'firingness' in anything
which results in the same pattern of firing in neighboring neurons
would succeed in substitution.

Think about how this would work if you had a group of a thousand
hamsters all living together. If you create an artificial hamster as a
stuffed animal with mechanical parts so that it can move, a heater so
it will be the correct temperature, spray it with the proper
pheromones so that it will smell right to the other hamsters, you
might be able to introduce this into the community in place of one of
the existing hamsters. This may satisfy a superficial behavior
reproduction - a baby hamster will choose the a-hamster instead of a
wire monkey, etc. If you upgrade the a-hamster to be a really top
notch zoological replica with audio-animatronic features and soft
pliable skin, let's say that you can really fool the entire hamster
community. This is where your artificial neuron is at. You are saying
that all that is required is that the other hamsters can't tell the

All I'm saying is that if you replace all of the hamsters with a-
hamsters, then you don't have any real hamsters left to be fooled and
the thing which arises out of the whole is lost the more the ratio of
real to mechanical drops. Yes, you are correct that the patterns of
what neurons are doing is very important, and that any substance or
condition which causes that to change is functionally equivalent to
neurons in general, but I think that you are incorrect to assume that
the actual thing that changes (neuron, hamster) can be replaced by
such substances or conditions. You would indeed lose the qualia at the
cellular level and at the top level, and since the qualia is
influential to the long term behavior of the organism, it's choices
and habits, we cannot expect to be able to reproduce even the
electrical activity of the brain as a whole.

> >> The third person observable behaviour of a Chinese character is the
> >> way it reflects the light.
> > Not true. It could be carved in wood or cast in bronze so that it can
> > be read by touching it. There is no difference in the way something
> > reflects the light unless there is something that can tell the
> > difference.
> But if we are just considering the appearance of a Chinese character
> the only relevant thing is the way it reflects the light.

To a blind person, the way it feels is the appearance. Light is not

> Who is
> interpreting it does not matter: it need only perform the function of
> a written Chinese character in the same way as the original Chinese
> character.

Tell me how a the function of a written Chinese character can be
performed if all human beings on Earth die off? If who is interpreting
it does not matter then a starfish should be able to read Chinese as
long as the light is reflected in the same way. Since that is absurd,
my conclusion is that who is interpreting it does matter. Not to be
condescending, but this is basic semiotics. It's not really

> >> It is not how the character is interpreted.
> >> The third person observable behaviour of a neuron is the timing and
> >> voltage of the action potential, the type and amount of
> >> neurotransmitter released at the synapse, and so on.
> > Those characteristics are only observable using specific insruments to
> > extend the body into the microcosm. When we use different instruments,
> > we get different observations. Our subjective experience is just a set
> > of observations using different instruments.
> The relevant function is what the other neurons see.

An artificial neuron can't see anything.

> >> It is not what
> >> qualia are associated with these activities. Are you now clear on what
> >> third person person observable behaviour (which usually is just called
> >> "behaviour") means?
> > I am clear that you don't understand what I am talking about.
> Replicating the function of an object is not that difficult to
> understand.

I agree. We aren't talking about an object though, we are talking
about a subject.

> If you have a problem with your car and the mechanic
> suggests a replacement with a part that looks different from the
> original you ask him if the car will run the same with the new part as
> it did before. That's all I mean.

I understand. My point though is that when we are the car, replacing
parts of ourselves has limits beyond which we are replacing ourselves
with something else. That's all I mean.

> >> > I understand that you think I'm not getting the point that you have to
> >> > agree to the thought experiment conditions that include comp, but I do
> >> > understand that. You don't understand that I see the problem with this
> >> > thought experiment to bother with it. Yes, if functionalism could be
> >> > true, then function would be all that is required to do anything, and
> >> > if function is all that is required to do anything then anything that
> >> > has the same function would have to do everything exactly the same.
> >> > It's circular. You could say the same thing with anything. If instead
> >> > of comp, we decide to do a thought experiment where we decide that
> >> > anything that that casts the same shadow must be the same thing, then
> >> > if we make something with the exact same shadow then it must be the
> >> > same thing that we have made. It's a fallacy. I can make a volleyball
> >> > and call it a soccer ball when it isn't.
> >> No, as I have repeatedly said the initial assumption is that comp is
> >> wrong, functionalism is wrong.
> > It's intended to show that assuming that is a problem though.
> Yes, the assumption is made that functionalism is wrong and problems
> arise that need an explanation. You haven't provided one; my
> explanation is that functionalism is right.

I have provided an explanation. The thought experiment is wrong
because synestheisia, blindsight and agnosia prove that qualia can in
fact be disjoined from function, and because HADD (or prognosia)
interferes with our objectivity in judging the consciousness of an
intentional simulation of ourselves. Functionalism is half wrong.

> >> >> I've repeated this argument several times and you have responded thus:
> >> >> - It would be really difficult to make a functionally equivalent brain
> >> >> (yes, I agree, but this is a philosophical argument, not an
> >> >> engineering project)
> >> > Not just difficult, but but potentially impossible, depending on your
> >> > definition of equivalent.
> >> The artificial brain part is functionally equivalent if the rest of
> >> the brain carries on in the usual (third person observable) manner.
> > It depends entirely on who or what the third person is. You haven't
> > figured out yet thateach observer is capable of observing differently
> > so that there is no such thing as a quality that is just observable in
> > general.
> The particular third person observable behaviour of interest is that
> the neurons which interface with the artificial replacement are
> stimulated in the same way as before. The physical cause of the
> neurons firing is therefore replicated. Non-physical influences are
> not, but you won't say explicitly that you believe in such influences.

The difference between the regions of the brain responsible for
involuntary and voluntary breathing are different. If the voluntary
areas were damaged, we would still breathe normally. If we exercise,
we will breathe harder and faster. If we sleep we will keep breathing.
The only difference is that we would no longer be able to feel
anything where our diaphragm used to be. The only way we could tell
that we were breathing is to see of our chest was rising and falling
or see if our nose fogs up a window or some other objective measure.
Breathing would become no different from digestion or immune response.

My hypothesis is very conservative and cautious. While it doesn't
prevent exotic interpretations regarding the depth of subjectivity and
perception and it's range into the transpersonal or afterlife, it also
does not require a belief in  *anything* which contradicts our
physical observations. All my ideas contradict is any obsolete
interpretations of those observations with deny subjective bi-
directionality. In the breathing example, there is still subjective bi-
directionality going on with the involuntary breath regulation - it's
just physiological. Those regions of the brain like know very well the
status of oxygen content in the heart and lungs, they anticipate the
needs based upon epinephrine levels, etc. They are alive and serving
the body to the full extent that evolutionary biology requires.

The regions of the brain which let us control our breathing
voluntarily are no different neurologically, it's just that the
subjectivity of those regions is part of the group of overall
subjectivity in the regions of the brain which are consciously 'us'.
The involuntary regions act in unison, and the voluntary regions do
the same. The only difference is where they are located makes one
group part of  a conscious 'I' and the other group is an unconscious
level of the self which we rely on for physiological homeostasis.

> >> >> - A brain can't be functionally equivalent without the qualia (yes,
> >> >> this is assumed at the beginning because we are only discussing the
> >> >> third person observable behaviour)
> >> >> - Qualia are not computable (yes, we assume you are right about this
> >> >> at the beginning - otherwise it would be begging the question)
> >> >> - Partial zombies as redefined by you can exist (maybe, but you don't
> >> >> win debates by redefining terms)
> >> >> - A simulation of a thing is not the thing (yes, but the assumption is
> >> >> that the simulation just controls the firing of the neurons with which
> >> >> it interfaces, not that it is the same as the neurons or has qualia)
> >> > The simulation is supposed to replace the neurons. That's what it's
> >> > simulating.
> >> The simulation interfaces with the other neurons so that their pattern
> >> of firing is the same as it would have been before. The simulation by
> >> assumption does not reproduce the qualia. It also need not reproduce
> >> other aspects of the neurons, such as their mass or colour, unless
> >> this is relevant to their interactions with the other neurons.
> > I'm talking about digital simultion to replace the whole brain, not
> > prosthetic additions.
> As an engineering problem as well as for the purpose of the thought
> experiment, we replace a part at a time and, as with the mechanic and
> the car, see whether it works the same. If the subject says they have
> gone blind or feel weird or something then the replacement part is not
> working properly. If they say they feel normal and they seem to you to
> behave normally then the replacement part is working properly.

I agree that would be a decent way of finding out. I'm saying that
they will not feel normal though, and they will most likely not behave
normally over time.


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