On Feb 12, 12:55 pm, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> > Apparently what's next is imagining that machines are people and people
> > are machines.
> I certainly hope so. In the last 3 or 4 centuries we have gradually (too
> gradually for my taste) gotten away from the idea that things happened
> because of the soul or gods or God or vague amorphous free floating glows
> that nobody can see, instead we have started to embrace the notion that
> everything happens because of natural law, including life.

What's the difference? We've only changed the name from God's Will to
evolution/mechanism/probability and see the universe as the absence of
soul or gods instead. It's the same unreality only turned on it's

> The discovery in
> the 1950's about how DNA can not only duplicates itself but contains the
> program that tells cellular machinery how to assemble enormously complex
> proteins confirms the idea that a living cell is a purely mechanical
> factory.

Which would have solved the problem, except that we don't experience
ourselves as enormously complex proteins. We don't experience the
world as irrelevant spectators to a purely mechanical process. The
complete failure of mechanism to generate any possible explanation for
consciousness or experience, let alone a possible mechanism by which
biochemical gears can seem like anything other than what they are
cannot be brushed aside. If the discovery of DNA explained the
existence of the feeling and awareness of life, then we would not be
having this conversation, but it didn't explain anything, it only
opened the door to more complex mechanisms, which may actually be
taking us further away from understanding the wholeness and simplicity
of "I".

> And invoking God or stooping so low as to resort to vital life
> forces to explain its operation is no more necessary than saying you can't
> understand how a steel mill works unless there is a steel mill god or a
> mysterious steel mill force that nobody can see.

Invoking vitalism or religion to characterize my views is a similar
low stooping resort. I have specifically argued against
pseudosubstance conceptualizations to model life or awareness. It is
not a phlogiston, an elan vital, aether, etc. It is exactly what it
seems to be. Experience, feeling...private, signifying sensorimotive
events. My view has no woo or religion at all. It is a description of
the cosmos precisely as we experience it, nothing more and nothing

> > > We'll be imprisoning software soon I suppose.
> It's already happened, web browsing software is banned in North Korea

What does that have to do with imprisonment? Does North Korea intend
to rehabilitate the software? Does it employ behavior modification
techniques to discourage recidivism? Censorship is not incarceration
of software, and the fact that your argument is that desperate to make
a connection like that tells me that there is nothing there to defend.

> and
> until a few weeks ago it looked like certain types of file sharing programs
> were about to be banned in the USA. But long term the far more important
> scenario is AI  software imprisoning us.

It has already happened. It's called corporatism.

> > What a computer does is arithmetic to us, but [...]
> To hell with the "but", just answer the simple question "is computer math
> simulated arithmetic or real arithmetic to us?". For once give me a
> straight yes or no answer.

It's real arithmetic to us, but not to the computer. Just as a traffic
signal is a real signal to us, but not to the signal itself.

> And don't try to weasel out with its real to X
> but not to Y because then it would be subjective and "real" means
> objective.

Do you think that a traffic signal understands traffic? And don't try
to weasel out by saying "it's the whole system" or some other

> If your answer is "yes" then there is no reason the computer couldn't also
> do geometry that is real to us, or real algebra, or real logic, or real
> physics, or real poetry or do anything that seems intelligent to us.

It seems real to us, of course. That was never my argument. Our entire
subjective experience is a 'seems like', so that a realistic imitation
accomplishes the goal of allowing us to suspend disbelief of the
imitation. We see through the medium. This is photography, movies,
books, music, drugs, etc. A trash can that says THANK YOU seems polite
to us in one sense, but we can also understand that literally,
objectively, it's only a plastic lid, and the other things are only
emulsions, pixels, ink in paper, grooves or pits in a plastic disc,
psychoactive molecules, etc.

> If your answer is "no" then there is no unique answer to the question "how
> much is 2+2?", the value of 2+2 varies from person to person and its true
> value can be anything you want it to be.

No, it doesn't vary from person to person as long as the logic of the
system matches. 2+2 is meaningless if you are talking about drops of
liquid. I can divide one drop into an arbitrary number. There are many
aspects of the cosmos that are not served well by arithmetic
reductionism. Emotion, feeling, symbolism, etc.

> I'll tell you one thing, I'd
> refuse to walk over a bridge designed by a engineer that had that
> philosophy because in the end nature always wins out over delusion.

Absolutely. I agree. But bridge building does not explain everything
in the universe. The fact that engineering cannot account for
consciousness is indisputable as far as I can tell, and that does not
make it a delusion.

> > The original email is my subjective experience of composing it, therefore
> > it cannot be sent. What can be sent is neither a simulation nor an
> > imitation but rather a completely separate semiotic text which can be used
> > by human beings to communicate
> And that very semiotic stuff is how we tell the difference between stupid
> human beings and brilliant human beings; and if the semiotic stuff is
> really good we also judge that the thing that produced it was conscious.

That's why a good AI program reflects on the brilliance of it's human
programmers, rather than the dumb device which articulates their


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