On 22 Jan 2012, at 14:10, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

On 16.01.2012 10:24 Bruno Marchal said the following:


> Note also that Turing invented his test to avoid the philosophical
> hard issue of consciousness. In a nutshell Turing defines
> "consciousness" by "having an intelligent behavior". The Turing test
> is equivalent with a type of "no zombie" principle.

On 16.01.2012 11:20 Bruno Marchal said the following:
> On 15 Jan 2012, at 09:13, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>> What about the Turing test for a person in that state to check if
>> he still has consciousness?
> As I said in another post, the very idea of the Turing test consists
> in avoiding completely the notion of consciousness. I do disagree
> with Turing on this. We can build a theory of consciousness,
> including, like with comp, a theory having refutable consequences.
> Turing was still influenced by Vienna-like positivism.
> Bruno

Bruno, below there are quotes from Jaron Lanier on Turing Test from his book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, 2010 (http://www.jaronlanier.com/ )


From a chapter The Apple Falls Again.

"The second thing to know about Turing is that he was gay at a time when it was illegal to be gay. British authorities, thinking they were doing the most compassionate thing, coerced him into a quack medical treatment that was supposed to correct his homosexuality. It consisted, bizarrely, of massive infusions of female hormones."

I have still some problem finding reliable information of what they exactly did to Turing. But it was obviously not a kind treatment.

"In order to understand how someone could have come up with that plan, you have to remember that before computers came along, the steam engine was a preferred metaphor for understanding human nature. All that sexual pressure was building up and causing the machine to malfunction, so the opposite essence, the female kind, ought to balance it out and reduce the pressure. This story should serve as a cautionary tale. The common use of computers, as we understand them today, as sources for models and metaphors of ourselves is probably about as reliable as the use of the steam engine was back then."

I think that we are steam engine. It is not a metaphor. We are also Universal Turing Machine. Being a steam engine is just a matter of implementation, and of working in a thermodynamically driven environment. Being universal is a deeper feature of our existence. We might be more than that, but we still cannot even define what that would mean, precisely. We don't find any evidence for the needed special sort of infinities making our mind non Turing emulable locally.

"Turing developed breasts and other female characteristics and became terribly depressed. He committed suicide by lacing an apple with cyanide in his lab and eating it. Shortly before his death, he presented the world with a spiritual idea, which must be evaluated separately from his technical achievements. This is the famous Turing test. It is extremely rare for a genuinely new spiritual idea to appear, and it is yet another example of Turing"s genius that he came up with one."

I love Turing. But Jaron seems to exaggerate a bit. My reading of it is that it is just a non zombie assumption, and that's nice FAPP. But it is still a naturalist escape of the mind-body problem on the conceptual level. I am not astonished, I have met all my life a frank animosity by variate scientists even just on the word "mind". It takes time for humans to get a scientific attitude on that. Turing's paper is a progress in that direction, but the Turing test is far from being a last answer in the debate, even if it is the last answer in practice. Emil Post did see the shadow of the reversal physics/theology, and the failure of naturalism, but in a footnote to his "mystical" anticipation paper/notes (that you can find in Davis' The Undecidable) he told us that he changed his mind on this after discussing with Turing, which defended naturalism.

"Turing presented his new offering in the form of a thought experiment, based on a popular Victorian parlor game. A man and a woman hide, and a judge is asked to determine which is which by relying only on the texts of notes passed back and forth."

"Turing replaced the woman with a computer. Can the judge tell which is the man? If not, is the computer conscious? Intelligent? Does it deserve equal rights?"

"It"s impossible for us to know what role the torture Turing was enduring at the time played in his formulation of the test. But it is undeniable that one of the key figures in the defeat of fascism was destroyed, by our side, after the war, because he was gay. No wonder his imagination pondered the rights of strange creatures."


"When Turing died, software was still in such an early state that no one knew what a mess it would inevitably become as it grew. Turing imagined a pristine, crystalline form of existence in the digital realm, and I can imagine it might have been a comfort to imagine a form of life apart from the torments of the body and the politics of sexuality. It's notable that it is the woman who is replaced by the computer, and that Turing's suicide echoes Eve's fall".

Perhaps, but Turing specifically did not see the "matrix-like" consequence of mechanism. His test just suggests that we can only judge the existence of thought from behavior. I do agree with this, in practice, but it is incomplete in theory, and it hides the idea that we can make testable theories of consciousness, once we stop taking Aristotelianism for granted. Eventually mechanism is testable, because the apparent naturalism can be derived from it, and so we can make comparison.

When Jaron Lanier suggests that we are not gadget, he shows that he has a reductionist conception of machine. Turing, Post, and others have been the pioneer in the research which shows that such a reductionist view of machine cannot be rationally defended.



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