On 08 Jan 2012, at 18:03, John Clark wrote:

On Sat, Jan 7, 2012 at 1:31 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't see any logic or induction in the assertion that the only possible epistemological sources for Homo sapiens must be logic or induction.

What other pathway to knowledge do you propose? Well OK there is direct experience. I think therefore I am, I think.

> Is it induction that provides our understanding of how to swallow?

Only logic can provide understanding, the best that induction can do is make predictions. And the fact is I don't understand how to swallow, and not being a physiologist, I don't understand how to digest my food either, but fortunately understanding how to do something is not always necessary to do it, so I can still digest food just fine.

> Is it logical that a feeling that seems associated with the inside of your abdomen should indicate that your survival depends upon putting some formerly living organism in your mouth?

Hunger sounds like basic survival programming to me, programming written by Evolution; organisms that did not have this programming did not live long enough to reproduce, and without exception every single one of your many millions of ancestors did live long enough to do this. You and I are both descendents of a long long line of very rare winners.

> All computation in nature, including the human brain is analog.

The genetic code in DNA could not be more digital, and it was good enough to build your brain and every other part of you out of simple amino acid molecules; if you look at the details of the assembly process biology uses to make complex things, like your brain, you find its amazingly computer-like. And a synapse in your brain either fires or it does not.

>> If I change the biochemistry of your brain your subjective experience will change, it you don't believe me just take a drug that is not normally in your brain, like LSD or heroin, and see if I'm right.

> That would be an anecdotal subjective account.

Obviously.

> There is nothing we can see from looking at the brain's behavior that suggests LSD or heroin causes anything except biochemical changes in the neurological organs.

There is nothing we can see from just looking at the brain's behavior that suggests it is conscious, you just can't detect it directly from human brains or anything else, that's why if we want to study consciousness we must do so indirectly through anecdotal subjective accounts and other forms of behavior.

> But if we had no access to a person's account of feeling fear or anger, the chemists detection of elevated levels of adrenaline in the brain (and body) would be meaningless.

Yes but we DO have access to the person's accounts and behavior so it is not meaningless.

> Is it wacko to say that a plastic flower has no link to a real flower?

If a "plastic" flower smelled, felt, tasted, grew and looked exactly like a real flower even with a powerful microscope then calling it "plastic" would indeed be wacko.

> Only the most glassy eyed computer fanatic would fail to see that an electronic puppet

That is a terrible analogy! A puppeteer knows what his puppet is going to do as well as he knows what he himself is going to do, but a computer designer or programmer most certainly does NOT know what his creation is going to do and it constantly surprises him, and that is in fact the entire point of making them in the first place. And I'm not glassy eyed.

> is not capable of turning into a living human mind.

The ultimate outcome will not be something as trivial as a living human mind.

> *Our* human awareness can tell when it encounters itself. Behavior has a lot to do with it,

Yes.

> but there are other factors. Like size. If a person was the size of an ant, we would have a hard time accepting it as an equal.

That's only because that's what you're accustomed to. If you lived in a world where the smaller someone was the smarter they seemed to be and all your college professors were a quarter of an inch tall then I'll bet you'd have very different views about the consciousness potential of an ant.

> It is entirely probable that we have a sense of a person that is direct but not reducible to easily identified intellectual understandings.

Then you would have to concede that if a computer passes the Turing test then the computer is a conscious being, or else your above speculation is incorrect.

> A dog is probably not going to be fooled by an android.

Then it has failed the dog Turing test and you need better android designers for version 2.0, so fire your old designers and get new ones. I just finished the Steve Jobs biography and I think that's what he'd do.

> An intelligent computer is designed to seem conscious though. That doesn't make a difference to you?

How on Earth could it make a difference to me?! I have no way of detecting consciousness other than my own, all I can do is detect things that seem to be conscious and if that's not good enough then so be it because that's all I got. That's all you got too.

> A person seems conscious in many ways that a computer does not seem to be.

Then the computer is not behaving properly and has failed the Turing Test and you need better computer designers so fire your old ones.

> "Until it is measured it does not just seem to have no polarization it really has none" This contradicts what you were trying to show.

How so? If I observe that a measurement that indicates a photon is polarized then it really is, if I observe behavior that indicates that something is behaving consciously then it really is conscious.

> Your example shows how even when confronted with obvious perspective-driven phenomena, the intolerance for 'seems' demands that measurement magically creates reality - an unambiguous, literal reality.

Yes but, at least with the standard Copenhagen interpretation, measurement DOES magically create reality; I don't like it, Einstein didn't like it, the scientific consensus doesn't like it, and even the brilliant scientists who created the idea didn't like it, but that is what the experiments are telling them, so if you don't like it either the proper place to direct your rage is the universe.

There is a alternative to Copenhagen, the Many World's Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, but it will be no friendlier to your ideas than Copenhagen is.

> It's hard for me to even entertain discussions about photons and QM because I see the whole
model as obsolete.

If you know of a theory that makes better predictions about what will happen when things become very small I and the entire world would love to hear all about it.

> Consciousness is not made of atoms but it is executed through them.

Just like computations.

> Consciousness is an actual physical process. Computation is not as clear cut.

Computation is not a mushy spiritual abstraction that only a philosopher could use or love, it's a precise process who's parameters modern science has found. For example we know that erasing a bit in a computation, or any irreversible change in information, results in an increase in entropy. We also know that the minimum energy needed for ANYTHING to change one bit of information is kT*ln2 where k is Boltzmann's constant and T is the temperature in degrees kelvin of the object doing the computation. Computation is as physical as death and taxes.


I agree with your general reply to Craig, but I disagree that computations are physical. That's the revisionist conception of computation, defended by Deustch, Landauer, etc. Computations have been discovered by mathematicians when trying to expalin some foundational difficulties in pure mathematics. We can implement computation in the physical worlds, but that means only that the physical reality is (at least) Turing universal. Theoretical computer science is a branch of pure mathematics, even completely embeddable in arithmetical truth. The Church-Turing-Post thesis concerns the mathematical notion. Of course, the fact that only erasing information needs energy is a very deep and interesting proposition concerning the physical reality.




> Wow. You do realize that there is a thing called the internet and on that thing that there are scientific papers available to the public. They look like this: http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/mfr454-6/mfr454-65.pdfand say things like

"The isolates were transferred from TSA slants into 5 ml of TSBH and allowed to incubate for 24 hours at 37°C; 0.2 ml of each culture was transferred to another 5 ml of TSBH and incubated for 18 hours at 37°C. The 18-hour culture was diluted with saline until the density was comparable to McFarland standard #2 (McFarland, 1907)."

What's wrong with that? From your quotation I have no idea what this experiment is all about but, obviously it's a microbiology experiment of some sort and the man was explaining, as he should, exactly how he did it, and that is very important if somebody wants to repeat it, and no experiment is really complete until somebody has repeated it. TSA slants are just agar (a sort of gelatin made from soybeans) plates used to grow bacteria. I don't know what "TSBH" is or "McFarland standard #2" but if I was a specialist in his area of interest I certainly would.

It's hard work trying to figure out how the universe works, you've got to get your hands dirty and vague airy fairy philosophical ramblings is not enough.

> The people who I have debated with are exactly like you.

Wish I knew where you found them, I've been on the net a long time but I rarely find anybody on the net who agrees with me about anything, but maybe that's for the best; I can't debate with somebody who agrees with me.

> I have never once had anyone point me to any kind of flaky site.

Where do you find these paragons??

> I know your argument better than you do.

I doubt that very much.

> Just take a look at this forum alone. I've been over this territory dozens of times.

Not with me you haven't.

>> Unreadable by the general public but they were not written for them but for fellow specialists.

> Obviously. Do you think that isn't the case for philosophy?

Yes but there is a difference, for scientists the opaque language they use is because they must use unfamiliar words and phrases when they refer to unfamiliar things; philosophers use opaque language because their ideas are opaque even to themselves. Nearly everything philosophers say can be put into one of four categories.

1) False
2) True but obvious, a truism disguised in pretentious language.
3) True and deep but discovered first and explained better by someone who didn't write "philosopher" in the box labeled "occupation" on his tax form.
4) So bad its not even wrong.

>> you've got to learn the language,

> It's true of all sufficiently deep examinations of subjects. That is my point. If you don't know philosophy or psychology, then it's mumbo jumbo to you.

The difference is that those fields make no progress which makes me think that their jargon was not invented for clarity or exactitude but just to impress and conceal their vacuous nature. Psychology (but not neurology) is no more advanced today than it was 50 years ago, and although there has been enormous, colossal, gigantic advances in philosophy in the last 300 years, with the exception of ethics none of those advances were made by philosophers. The word "scientist" is a relatively recent 19th century invention, before that they were called "natural philosophers" and I wish we still had that term.

Some philosophers like Bertrand Russel have contributed to ethics, but not as much as non-philosophers like Lincoln and Martin Luther King, and even Russel started off as a mathematician, and a very good one.

>>>how me a contemporary paper in a scientific journal that isn't like that.

>>I think the December 2 2011 issue of the excellent journal "Science" should be contemporary enough for you; look at pages 1245-1249 for the paper "Detection of Pristine Gas Two Billion Years After the Big Bang" by Fumagalli, O'Meara and Prochaska.

>Sorry, I don't have a subscription for that.

Wow. You do realize that there is a thing called a library and in that thing that there are scientific papers available to the public.

> Without free will, all human speech can only be noisy gibberish.

Maybe maybe not, it all depends on what the ASCII string "free will" is supposed to mean, and I have no idea what it means and it's becoming increasingly clear to me that you don't either.

> I'm saying that the minimum requirement for one thing to make sense is itself and it's opposite or absence. You can't just have one thing with nothing to compare it to.

OK I agree with that, you need contrast to have meaning.

> If an IED does violent things, is it violent?

Yes, and if a thunderstorm does violent things then it's a violent thunderstorm and if it's a violent thunderstorm then it's violent. Do we really have to continue with this exercise?

> Your dog has no need for Tensor Calculus, but it can figure out how to get fed and find a mate, which makes it more intelligent than any computer ever made thus far.

I agree, thus far; but ask me again in 5 or 6 years.

> Intention has possible effects, not deterministic ones.

And there is a convenient word for effects that are not deterministic, events that have no cause, the word is called "random".

> If it were deterministic or random there would be no reason for 'us' to 'create' anything.

That statement is self contradictory. If we create things, and we do, and we are deterministic then obviously we did it for a reason because that's what deterministic means.

> Of course there are reasons, but they are our reasons.

Yes, and one billiard ball moves left rather than right for its reasons and another billiard ball moves right rather than left for its reasons and both balls are deterministic; and a uranium atom decays now rather than then for no reason whatsoever and so is random.

> We decide which of the many agendas that we personally have the power to influence matters to us.

And we make that decision for a reason or we do not, it's deterministic or it is not, and I don't understand what's so controversial about that statement.

> It is the height of anthropomorphic exceptionalism to take seriously the possibility of muon-neutrinos, superposition, "dark energy", and superstings,

Nobody knows if superstrings exist but there is excellent experimental evidence for all those other things.

> but the concept of 'free will' and 'people' are soo exotic and wacko as to be worthy of compulsive scorn.

People exist and the ASCII string "free will" exists, and so does the ASCII string "klognee".

John K Clark


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