On Thu, Dec 29, 2011  Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Are you arguing that there is no difference between dreams and reality?

I am arguing that sometimes there is no way to tell the difference between
dreams and reality and I am arguing that a good idea discovered while awake
and the same idea discovered in a dream is still a good idea. And I am
arguing that we don't have ideas we are ideas.

> If you could not read English the electro chemical signals from the
> nerves would be no different, yet your brain would 'just react' in a
> different way.

That is true, and a optical character recognition program would react in a
different way too,

> I know what broken glass is, I know that its sound is an aspect of what
> it is to me. I know that its look is part of what it is to me.

Sure that's what broken glass is to you, but the question is what IS broken

> It is instantaneously familiar with zero theory required.

It's intuitively obvious because that's all you needed to know for survival
so there was no reason for Evolution to provide you with a deeper
understanding. That is also why Quantum Mechanics is such a difficult
subject to study, the species Homo Sapiens has to really struggle with it
because it turns out that many of the things that our intuition screams are
obviously true turn out to be dead wrong.

> I can clearly tell the difference between a human being and a voice mail
> system.

I can tell the difference too, so it failed the Turing Test, but the day
will come when you can't tell the difference.

> I am under no obligation to anthropomorphize cybernetic systems.

You'd better if those cybernetic systems behave intelligently, otherwise
you will be even more surprised by what they do than the rest of us.

> It makes sense that humans evolved from other animal species,

Yes it makes a lot of sense, but why did Evolution invent consciousness?
Evolution can see intelligence but it can no more see consciousness than we
can (other than our own) because it is a purely subjective phenomena, and
yet I know for a fact that Evolution came us with consciousness at least
once and probably many billions of times, so the conclusion is inescapable.
Either Darwin was wrong or consciousness is a byproduct of intelligence. I
don't think Darwin was wrong.

> >  You take something grand and glorious, like intelligence or
>> consciousness,
>> and break it up into smaller and simpler pieces, then you take those
>> pieces
>> and break them up again into even smaller and simpler pieces, then you
>> repeat the process again, and again, and again, and again. Eventually you
>> come to something that is not the slightest bit grand or glorious and you
>> say, "this can not have anything to do with intelligence or consciousness
>> because it is too small and simple and is no longer grand and glorious".

> No, I don't do that. I say the smallest particle has to have the
> potential for grand and glorious experience inherently or else it could not
> be the case.

OK we both agree that intelligence and consciousness is grand and glorious
and if we wish to understand such things it would be wise to simplify them
as much as possible as long as the potential is not diminished. I also
assume we both believe they operate under a perfectly rational principle
that we just haven't discovered yet, lets call it Process X. It seems
pretty clear, to me at least, that information processing can produce
something that's starting  to look a lot like intelligence, but we'll
assume that Process X can do this too, and in addition Process X can
generate consciousness and a feeling of self, something mere information
processing can not do.

What Process X does is certainly not simple, so it's very hard to avoid
concluding that Process X itself is not simple. If it's complex then it
can't be made of only one thing, it must be made of parts. If Process X is
not to act in a random, incoherent way then some order must exist between
the parts. A part must have some knowledge of what the other parts are
doing and the only way to do that is with information.

Now maybe communication among the parts is of only secondary importance and
the major work is done by the parts themselves, but if that is true then
the parts must be very complex and be made of even smaller and simpler sub
parts. The simplest possible sub part is one that can change in only one
way, say, on to off. It's getting extremely difficult to tell the
difference between Process X and information processing.

The only way to avoid this conclusion is if there is some ethereal
substance that is all of one thing and has no parts thus is very simple,
yet acts in a complex, intelligent way; and produces feeling and
consciousness while it's at it. If you accept that, then I think the most
honest thing to do would be to throw in the towel, call it a soul, and join
the religious camp. But I'm not ready to surrender to the forces of

> A trillion ping pong balls in a vacuum will never become alive,
> intelligent, or conscious.

A trillion is a little small but I'll bet you could make a intelligence
with a hundred trillion ping pong balls, certainly with a thousand
trillion, you'd just have to organize them in the right way, and you do
that with information. Yes it's weird that a bunch of ping pong balls could
potentially be conscious, but it's no weirder than 3 pounds of grey goo
inside a bone container can be conscious; I guess the universe is just

> 79 ping pong balls will never be an atom of gold, no matter how you spin
> them or crush them.

That is not true. There are no gold atoms in Ping pong balls, they contain
other sorts of atoms but they will turn into gold if you crush then enough,
that's what happens in the center of large stars, that's how atoms of gold
get made in the first place. That's how all the other elements heavier than
helium get made too.

> you are looking at the wrong pieces. If I want to
> understand the Taj Majal I would visit it, read the history of it,
> study Mughal culture, architecture

That's sounds like a good idea, but it would be foolish to claim that the
Taj Mahal has nothing to do with fundamentals like the Pauli Exclusion
Principle because without Pauli's principle matter would not be solid.

> Your view only would consider studying bricks

That is not true! I am perfectly willing to ignore Pauli and treat bricks
as black boxes so I can concentrate on finding the information on how the
bricks are organized and information on why that got that one specific
organization. However you are in effect saying that bricks don't exist, and
without bricks there is no Taj-Mahal.

> Intelligence implies understanding, which requires awareness.

But it is a fact of nature that neither understanding nor awareness can be
detected directly, we can only infer it from the observation of intelligent
action, which means that they are tools that are of no use in building a
intelligent machine or a intelligent animal.

>>  Yes a design, in other words it's just information.
> > Which isn't an actual thing either.

True, information isn't a thing, it isn't a noun, it doesn't have a mass or
a specific location, information is a adjective and so are you. All this
confusion can be blamed on the misuse of language, in particular I blame
third grade English teachers who erroneously told their students that words
like "I, Me, and You" are pronouns when they are not, they are adjectives;
and there is no reason an adjective can't be in two places at once,
assuming an adjective can even be said to have a place. I am the way atoms
behave when they are organized in a Johnkclarkian sort of way. Think of it
that way and all the paradoxes evaporate.

> Designs and information are not causally efficacious.

Any design can be turned into a sequence of ones and zeros, and your post
is a sequence of 26 ASCII characters and your DNA genetic code is a
sequence of just 4 characters.

> > And the thing that makes your 3 pound brain different from 3 pounds of
>> corned beef is the way
>> the atoms are arranged, in other words information.
> >It's the other way around. The arrangement of the atoms is utterly
> meaningless and indistinguishable from corned beef were it not for the
> significance of their providing a human life experience for a human
> such as me.

I've read that about twelve times and am having great difficulty making any
sense out of if, you seem to be saying that your brain would be meaningless
to you if you did not have it.

> If we found a brain growing in the attic and we had never
> seen one before, we would put gloves on and throw it in the trash.

Ah...,well...,OK,....but what is your point?

> >  If so then the Turing Test works for consciousness and not just
>> intelligence; so if you have a smart computer you know it is conscious;
> >Trivial intelligence is not consciousness.

Just as I said, intelligence is whatever a computer can't do, yet. If a
computer does it then it's trivial but if a human does the exact same thing
then its brilliant.

> Smart is worthless without consciousness.

With enough smarts your computer can solve all the puzzles and tell you all
the secrets of the universe, and I'd certainly say that is not worthless.
So is this super smart computer conscious, well why don't you ask him? I'll
bet he'd answer "yes" and I'd see no more reason to think he was lying
when he said that than when you tell me that you are conscious.

>> I don't understand the question, what would be who's point?
> > The point of anything being able to have an opinion.

But you still haven't told me who's point. If I place my hand on a red hot
stove I remove it as fast as I can because in my opinion burning flesh is
undesirable. Do I really need another opinion from somebody or something
else on the subject?

> If the universe was deterministic, then what would be the point of
> feeling one way or
> another about what was or wasn't happening?

I still don't understand what exactly "the point" is that you're so worried
about, but whatever it is would a universe where some events have no cause
and things can happen for no reason ease your fears over this "point"? If
so then rejoice because Quantum Mechanics tells us that true randomness
does exist.

> the whole issue is moot if it's deterministic. What is your motive
> to care about what you are going to do next if you can't do anything about
> it.

How does randomness get you out of this existential funk?

>>And if you don't like everything always happening because of cause and
>> effect that's fine, the alternative is that some things do not happen
>> because of cause and effect, and there is a word
>> for that "random".
> >Those are not the only two choices.

You're right, my error, there are in fact 3. X is true, or X is not true,
or X is gibberish. Free will is gibberish.

> The word for that is called "intention".

You intend to do X rather than Y for a REASON. When somebody does something
we don't understand the first thing we do is ask "why did you do that?", we
want to know the reason, the cause, of the action; and if they are unable
to give a coherent reply we say they are irrational.

> Free will.

Free will is a idea so bad it's not even wrong. The only way I know of to
attach meaning to the noise "free will" is if it meant the inability to
always predict what one will do even in a unchanging environment; others
may know what you are going to do next but you won't know until the instant
you actually do it. Unfortunately I have never heard anyone use the term
with that meaning in mind (except for me). So "free will" remains just an
annoying sound that human beings like to make with their mouth. Cows say
"moo" and ducks say "quack" and and people say "free will".

> Motive.

Look it up in the dictionary, it means a reason for doing something. Some
things have reasons for behaving as they do and some things, like roulette
wheels or quantum events, do not.

> It is neither random or deterministic.

I see, so its not cause and effect and its not not cause and effect, so
there is only one possibility remaining, it must be gibberish.

> Fortunately you don't really believe what you are saying

>From a early age I've learned that I don't need to lie to get a debate
going, I just have to say what I really think.

> you wouldn't try to debate with me because that could only have a
> deterministic or random result.

I will convince you that I am right or you will convince me that you are
right or both of our opinions will remain unchanged; I don't know what the
outcome will turn out to be and it doesn't matter because right now I'm
enjoying the debate.

> A rock can't predict anything, does that mean it must find that feeling
> pleasant?

I don't know if a rock can predict anything or not, a rock has never spoken
to me. I'm saying that if something behaves intelligently then it is
probably conscious, if something does not behave intelligently it may or
may not be conscious. I doubt it but maybe the rock is just shy, but for
whatever reason it sure does not seem to behave very intelligently.

> Intelligence theories seem dull to me. It's just puzzles.

Then you find science dull too, I like science but as I say there is no
disputing matters of taste.

> Consciousness theories are useless because consciousness is useless.

If its useless then consciousness MUST be a byproduct of intelligence or
Evolution would have never produced it, and you and I both know for a fact
that it did at least once.

> I doubt that acetylcholine obeys the laws of chemistry, it just knows
> the sweet taste of an acetylcholine receptor and the foul stench of an
> acetylcholine antagonist and we interpret the consequences of that as
> the laws of chemistry. Also maybe all acetylcholine in a given
> organism has a unified experience like we do. It might have a systemic
> political agenda and vie with other neurotransmitters for
> representation, rigging the elections from behind the scenes to
> influence our behaviors.

Oh dear, this is starting to sound a little like mumbo jumbo.

>  if it wasn't atoms (and it certainly was not) and it wasn't
>>  information then what was it?
>  > It's the semantic momentum of the self as a whole.

This is starting to sound a LOT like mumbo jumbo. What the hell is
"semantic momentum" and what instruments do I need to detect it? What are
the units of semantic momentum? Is it quantized like linear and angular
momentum? Is it conserved like the more familiar types of momentum or does
it always increase like Entropy? And if this is really a scientific theory
you need to show how it could be disproved.

> Did you really sit down one day and think "I have a theory that I am not
> the only person on Earth".

No and it's really more of a axiom than a theory because I could not
function if I thought I was the only conscious person on the planet, but I
don't think all other people are conscious all the time, I don't think they
are when they are sleeping of dead because when they are in those states
they don't behave intelligently.

> You seem focused on competition.

That's because putting 2 theories into head to head competition is the only
way to tell which one is better. If a machine based on your intelligence
theory can solve more and deeper puzzles than a machine based on my
intelligence theory then your theory is better. But there is no way on
Earth you can tell if your consciousness theory is better than mine, all
you can do is say you just like yours better and there is no disputing
matters of taste. And that is why intelligence theories will change the
world while consciousness theories will never develop into anything larger
than static navel gazing.

> I will never be jealous of an inanimate object.

Neither will I, but computers will not always be inanimate objects and even
today the line which was once so sharp is getting very fuzzy.

> I don't have any insecurities about computers.

As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker "you will have, YOU WILL HAVE!".

   John K Clark

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