OK, great, we're on the same page.

Now my next question is, why can't a synthetic organism (like one made
of silicon that you have allowed may be alive, given the proper
organization) have subjective experience?  Again with the usual
reminders that carbon-based and silicon-based life forms would both be
subject to identical electromagnetic/nuclear/gravitational forces.

Terren

On Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jan 29, 10:34 pm, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> So if in your theory life is explainable in terms of a "step from
>> organic molecule to biological cell", then why is that one could not
>> make a similar step from a synthetic (silicon, say) substrate to a
>> synthetic cell?  What is the difference?
>
> There may not be a difference at all. If you can make a silicon cell
> that lives and dies and grows by itself, then you might indeed have
> synthetic life. The problem is that it would be uncontrollable to the
> same extent that it is alive. If we could make computers out of living
> tissues or organisms now, we would do it, but they aren't reliable.
> They have their own agenda. I don't see why silicon life would be any
> different.
>
>> Both the organic molecule
>> and the silicon (or whatever) substrate are subject to the same
>> electromagnetic (and nuclear etc) forces, so what specifically makes
>> life possible with one and not the other?
>
> Gathering from what we see in the universe, either
>
> 1. Carbon happened to get lucky first but anything can become alive
> under the right conditions. Everything will come to life eventually or
> some things will randomly.
>
> or
>
> 2. Carbon is uniquely chemically friendly because of it's atomic
> properties. Maybe no other atom can substitute. Synthetic life may
> never be conscious and DNA is a unique recipe.
>
> 3. Life may be a top down phenomena with a cell as it's irreducible
> unit, like a language, which uses a particular range of low level
> molecular configurations as we use circles, lines, dots, and loops to
> form our written language. Life can't make it's complex genetic
> spaghetti out of just any substance, it has to be able cook itself al
> dente, just as we can't build our computers out of pasta. We could
> make synthetic life from another recipe, but it has to be similar to
> DNA.
>
> 4. Life may be in the eye of the bolder. If we were the size of
> Jupiter and lived for billions of years, our scope of perception might
> be such that the atmospheres of planets were like waltzing cells or
> faces that sum up the content of the entire planet's activities as our
> perception sums up our brain's activities. We could be neurons in the
> Earth's brain, who knows? In which case, life vs non life is a matter
> of perspective - anything can come to life under the influence of the
> right stuff.
>
> 5. Life may be relative to a point, but have invariant properties as
> well. Maybe even at a rate of a thousand years a minute, the solar
> system is still too dull to be thought of as life. Maybe it's a
> different kind of sensemaking than life. Synthetic life could be life-
> like, but never really alive.
>
> 6. Comp - Life is a degree of complexity and self-reflexivity in
> logic. Intelligence and compassion are just an android away...
>
> Craig
>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 10:11 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> 
>> wrote:
>>
>> > On Jan 29, 10:20 am, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >> OK, I think I understand you a little better. You are a vitalist who
>> >> makes life its own ontological primitive.
>>
>> > No. Life is only a step from organic molecule to biological cell.
>> > Neither are primitive. There is only one primitive and that is ense,
>> > aka sensorimotive electomagenism. Biology is important to us because
>> > we are biological. Animals, people, and members of our social groups
>> > are imporant to us for the same reason. Life is as special and not
>> > special to the universe as it seems. Now sacred and protected.. now
>> > forsaken and cursed.
>>
>> >> There is a difference
>> >> between living things and non-living things, and the gap between them
>> >> cannot be bridged. Life is magical, in the sense that it cannot be
>> >> explained.
>>
>> > No. Sounds like you are interested in pidgeonholing me. Viruses and
>> > crystals bridge life and abiotic structures. Life is important to
>> > living things. That you must admit. If you think that is a mistake
>> > that should be corrected, I understand, but I disagree. The
>> > significance of survival is not an illusion.
>>
>> >> I cannot subscribe to such a "theory" because it draws a line where no
>> >> more questions can be asked (like religion). Anyway, I think it's more
>> >> interesting, challenging, and rewarding to consider possible theories
>> >> and explanations of how living things can and do self-assemble from
>> >> non-living parts.
>>
>> > What makes atoms form molecules is the same thing that makes molecules
>> > form cells, etc. It's sense. Not just logic or arithmetic or physics,
>> > but experiences of worlds.
>>
>> > Craig
>>
>> >> On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 2:11 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> 
>> >> wrote:
>> >> > On Jan 28, 5:20 pm, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >> >> I don't understand why you don't allow machine consciousness if in your
>> >> >> theory all forces give rise to sense.
>>
>> >> > It's the other way around, sense experience gives rise to all
>> >> > appearance of force.
>>
>> >> >> What is special about the kinds of
>> >> >> "forces" inherent in a biological organism?  It smells like vitalism.
>>
>> >> > Biological organisms are alive. They eat other living organisms to
>> >> > survive. Most matter is not alive and we cannot eat it. This isn't
>> >> > some flaky theory, it's just pointing out the obvious. We distinguish
>> >> > biology from chemistry for a reason. It's only special to biological
>> >> > organisms. They have an opinion about whether they keep living or not.
>>
>> >> >> What is especially confusing about your position is that you allow that
>> >> >> structure puts limitations on subjective experience (I.e. lack of rods 
>> >> >> and
>> >> >> cones will prevent one from seeing color). Based on that you are 
>> >> >> already
>> >> >> close to comp. It is very hard for non-comp theories to account for the
>> >> >> changes in subjectivity that occur in tandem with brain damage,
>> >> >> psychoactive drugs, and so on.
>>
>> >> > The structure and the experience are opposite parts of the same thing.
>> >> > If you change one, it can have an influence sometimes on the other.
>> >> > Not always though. They overlap and diverge. I can consciously
>> >> > breathe, or I can observe that I am breathing. I can control my body
>> >> > in important ways, my body can control me in important ways.
>>
>> >> >> Somewhere in your theory must be an account of the differences between
>> >> >> biological cell and a functional silicon-based equivalent, since the 
>> >> >> same
>> >> >> low level forces are involved in both. Why does the substance matter 
>> >> >> when
>> >> >> any physical substrate is subject to basic electromagnetic and nuclear
>> >> >> forces?  If that silicon version has the proper structure 
>> >> >> (organization)
>> >> >> then why in your theory wouldn't it have subjective experience?
>>
>> >> > It matters for the same reason that we can't survive on the Moon
>> >> > without a space suit. Why are all cells made of carbohydrates and
>> >> > amino acids and not silicates and sulfuric acid? Why is 79 protons
>> >> > gold but 79 golf balls just a bucket full of balls? Because the
>> >> > universe that we see as matter and machines is only the exterior. The
>> >> > interior is a universe of private narratives that accumulate over
>> >> > time. The carbon based story turned out to be more interesting for us.
>> >> > Is it because we're made of carbon or are we lucky that carbon
>> >> > happened to be interesting. My hunch is a little of both.
>>
>> >> > Craig
>>
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