On Wed, Dec 28, 2011  Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

"So will hallucinations, dreams, and delusions surprise you. That
> doesn't make them real.
>

it seems to me you're throwing around the word "real" with reckless
abandon. Are you saying that hallucinations, dreams, and delusions don't
exist? I for one am certain that they do exist.

"I think that view anthropomorphizes machines"


Yes, certainly it anthropomorphizes machines, but you almost make that
sound like a bad thing. Anthropomorphizing is a perfectly valid tool of
thought, it helps us understand what our fellow creatures are likely to do
next; like any tool it can be misused but I don't see why using it to
understand a smart computers actions is misusing it.

"and mechanemorphizes consciousness."


And that is a huge advance, consciousness is the way information feels like
when it is being processed, and there is probably not much more that can be
said about the subject that is meaningful. On the other hand intelligence
is enormously complex and there is much to learn, that's why consciousness
research never goes anywhere but intelligence research is extremely
fruitful.

"Machines aren't surprised by anything because they aren't expecting
> anything."


I don't understand why so many people just assume that a machine might be
intelligent but it could never be conscious, when its likely the exact
opposite is true.  According to Evolution consciousness is easy to make but
intelligence is hard; it took far longer to evolve one than the other. The
parts of our brain responsible for the most intense emotions like pain fear
anger and even love are many hundreds of millions of years old, but the
parts responsible for higher intelligence of which we are so proud and
which make our species unique are only about one million years old, perhaps
less, perhaps much less. Consciousness is easy but intelligence is hard.


> "In a 100% deterministic universe there would be no purpose in our
> caring[...]"


That is self contradictory, caring is my purposing in doing things, I care
that things are arranged in ways that I consider less than ideal and that
is the reason I seek to do stuff and change things. And if the universe
disagrees and insists I have no purpose, well, the universe has its opinion
and I have mine.


> "whether or not we knew what we were going to do next. What difference
> would it make?"


It would give us a feeling of freedom and if that feeling is important to
you then it makes a difference.


> "We would always just be doing what we are determined to do."
>

Let's make the (incorrect) assumption that Newtonian physics rules the
entire universe: If there is no shortcut, if the only way to know, even
theoretically, what something is going to do next is to just watch it and
see, is that really deterministic? Such would be the case of a Turing
Machine that is programed to look for an even number that is not the sum of
two primes greater than 2 and then stop. There is no shortcut, if you want
to know what the machine will do you just have to watch it and see.


> "The literal reality of the machine begins and ends with
> it's physical enactment - whether it's neurological, electronic
> semiconductor, steam engine and gears, etc."


Yes, and exactly the same is true for human beings.

"What these things know and expect are presumably much different than our
> projection of our own
> knowledge and expectation on them."


Why are our projections fundamentally different from computers? We both
work the same way, the only difference is they use transistors and we use
neurons.

"I can't be exported to other matter though."


That has been experimentally proven to be untrue. You are quite literally
not the man you were one year ago, all your atoms have been changed. I can
only conceive of 3 things existing in the universe, matter, energy, and
information. Atoms are interchangeable, energy is generic, so it must be
information that makes you be you.

"Organization by itself isn't real."


As I said you're throwing around the word "real" with reckless abandon.

"Adjectives are information and information can be processed. I'd even go
>> so far as to say that although there are differences information is as
>> close as you can get to the traditional concept of the soul and still
>> remain within the scientific method."
>>
>
> "I used to see information that way, and it is true in a sense, but that
> third person sense in which it can be true is incompatible with
> subjectivity."


It's true not only in the third person sense but the first person also, I
see incompatible with subjectivity whatsoever.


>   "Information is like soul only in that they are both mistakenly
> conceived as a pseudosubstance."


As I said information is as close as you can get to the traditional concept
of the soul and still remain  within the scientific method. Consider the
similarities:

The soul is non material and so is information. It's difficult to pin down
a unique physical location for the soul, and the same is true for
information. The soul is the essential, must have, part of consciousness,
exactly the same situation is true for information. The soul is immortal
and so, potentially, is information.

But there are also important differences:

A soul is unique but information can be duplicated. The soul is and will
always remain unfathomable, but information is understandable, in fact
information is the ONLY thing that is understandable. Information
unambiguously exists, I don't think anyone would deny that, but if the soul
exists it will never be proven scientifically.


> "The great truth of both soul and information is that they are the
> perceptions and experiences of matter. Matter is ultimately not
> information seemingly materialized, information an abstracted way of
> modeling certain aspects of the energy"


Energy is fungible and so are atoms, the things matter is composed of
(atoms) are identical, they have no scratches on them, so if atoms have no
individuality themselves I don't see how they can confer this interesting
property to us.

 "Mickey Mouse does not live in a Disney universe. He cannot have
> adventures on his own.
>

That's because computers are not yet powerful enough, but there is no
reason to think that will always be the case. Mickey Mouse lives and so
does Moore's Law!

" When I use my hand calculator I expect it to perform real arithmetic, I
>> don't even know what simulated arithmetic is."
>>
>
"You expect it to perform in a certain way and your expectations are
> met. That is all that happens."


Yes, I expect the calculator to perform real arithmetic and it does, I get
the exact same result that I'd get if I asked a friend to perform the
calculation for me, assuming he was good at real arithmetic. Unreal
arithmetic is just bad arithmetic.

"The calculator doesn't know anything about arithmetic, it's just a fancy
> abacus that opens and closes microelectronic switches when your finger
> triggers a button contact."
>

A neuron doesn't know anything about arithmetic, it's just a fancy abacus
that fires or doesn't fire neurotransmitter molecules across a synapse
triggered by potassium and sodium ion concentrations.

"You are using a trivial concept of intelligence."


I'm saying that something is intelligent if it acts intelligently; that
statement is not very profound but it does at least have the virtue of
being true.

"Real intelligence is the cognitive tip of the iceberg of a billion years
> of sensorimotive evolution. It arises out of sensation, feeling,
> perception, emotion, awareness, and identity. Simulated 'intelligence' is
> the truncated tip of the iceberg with no semantic significance. It's a
> facade. To believe that such a facade must be genuine is wishful thinking,
> propped up by the tautological examination of its own methodology."


All that can be summed up more concisely, if a human does it then its a
wonderful example of intelligence but if a computer does the exact same
thing it has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. In 1960 solving
complicated equations required intelligence but not today, in 1980 beating
a Chess Grandmaster required intelligence but not today, in 1995 being a
great research Librarian required intelligence but not today, and in 2010
beating the two best Jeopardy champions on planet Earth required
intelligence but not today. Computers are still not very good at image
recognition so that requires intelligence but on the day they do become
good at it the laws of the universe will change and image recognition will
no longer require intelligence. Intelligence is whatever a computer isn't
good at. Yet.


> "Real intelligence is in the eye of the beholder"
>

Real intelligence can behave in ways you don't like and were not expecting,
real intelligence can outsmart you. You can say it was not really "real"
intelligence if it makes you feel better, but it won't change the fact that
you've been outsmarted.

  John K Clark

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