On May 31, 2:33 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 3:04 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> > On May 29, 1:45 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > So which of the following four link(s) in the logical chain do you take
> > > issue with?
> > > A. human brain (and body) comprises matter and energy
> > So does a cadaver's brain and body. The fact that a cadaver is not
> > intelligent should show us that the difference between life and death
> > can't be meaningfully reduced to matter and energy.
> That some organizations of matter/energy are intelligent and others are not
> is irrelevant, what matters is whether or not you agree that the brain is
> made of matter and energy.  Do you agree the brain is made of matter and
> energy, and that the brain is responsible for your consciousness (or at
> least one of the many possible manifestations of it)?

I think that Matter-Energy and Sense-Motive are dual aspects of the
same thing. If you are talking about the brain only, then you are
talking about matter and energy, but no person exists if you limit the
discussion to that. The matter and energy side of what we are is just
organs. There is no person there. The brain is not responsible for
consciousness anymore than your computer is responsible for the
internet. It is the necessary vehicle through which human level
awareness is accessed.

> > > B. that matter and energy follow natural laws,
> > No, laws follow from our observation of natural matter and energy.
> You are mistaking our approximations and inferences concerning the natural
> laws for the natural laws themselves.

No, you are mistaking the interaction of concretely real natural
phenomena with abstract principles which we have derived from
measurement and intellectual extension.

> Before there were any humans, or any
> life, there must have been laws that the universe obeyed to reach the point
> where Earth formed and life could develop.

Before there was matter, there were no laws that the universe obeyed
pertaining to matter, just as there were no laws of biology before
biology. The universe makes laws by doing. It isn't only a disembodied
set of invisible laws which creates obedient bodies. Laws are not
primordial. You have to have some kind of capacity to sense and make
sense before any kind of regularity of pattern can be established.
Something has to be able to happen in the first place before you can
separate out what can happen under which conditions. The reality of
something being able to happen - experience - possibility - prefigures
all other principles.

> Do you agree that such natural
> laws exist (regardless of our human approximations of them)?

No. It has nothing to do with human approximations though. If an
audience cheers it is not because there is a law of cheering they are
following, it is because they personally are participating in a
context of sense and motive which they and their world mutually push
and pull. The understanding of when cheering happens and under what
conditions it can be produced is an a posterior abstraction. We can
call it a law, and indeed, it is highly regular and useful to think of
it that way, but ultimately the law itself is nothing. It is a set of
meta-observations about reality, not an ethereal authoritative core
around which concrete reality constellates and obeys. Laws come from
within. Human laws from within humans, atomic laws from within atoms,

> > > C. that these laws are describable in mathematical terms
> > You have jumped from physics to abstraction. It's like saying 'I have
> > a rabbit > rabbits act like rabbits > Bugs Bunny is modeled after the
> > behavior of rabbits > Bugs Bunny is a rabbit'.
> I haven't jumped there yet.  All "C" says is that there exists some formal
> system that is capable of describing the natural laws as they are.  You may
> accept or reject this.  If you reject this, simply say so and provide some
> justification if you have one.

The formal system doesn't exist until some sentient being
intentionally brings it into existence. Bugs Bunny requires a
cartoonist to draw him. Bugs is a formal system that is capable of
describing rabbit behaviors as they are but he doesn't exist
'there' ('he' insists 'here' instead).

> Note that I have not made any statement to the effect that "an abstract
> rabbit is the same as a physical rabbit", only that natural laws that the
> matter and energy in (a rabbit or any other physical thing) follow can be
> described.

You aren't factoring in the limitation of perception. Think of a young
child trying to imitate an accent from another language. To the child,
they perceive that they are doing a pretty good job of emulating
exactly how that way of speaking sounds. To an adult though,
especially one who is a native speaker of the language being imitated,
there is an obvious difference. This is where we are in our
contemporary belief that we have accounted for physical forces. I
think that we are looking at a pre-Columbian map of the world and
trying to ignore the shadowy fringes of consciousness with names like
'entanglement', 'dark energy', 'vacuum flux' etc. We are in the dark
ages of understanding consciousness as we have not yet discovered
sense. We use sense to try to make sense of a universe that we have
closed one eye to. Physics is a toy model of reality.

> > > D. that mathematics can be simulated to any degree of precision by
> > > algorithms
> > Precision only determines the probability that a particular detector
> > fails to detect the fraud of simulation over time. It says nothing
> > about the genuine equivalence of the simulation and the reality.
> It sounds like you accept that mathematics can be simulated to any degree
> of precision by algorithms, but your objection is that without absolutely
> perfect precision, the simulation will eventually diverge from the object
> being simulated in some noticeable way.

It depends what the algorithms are running on. If you use a physical
material that is ideal for precision and accuracy, then you are using
the worst possible material for biological sensation, which would need
to be optimized for volatility and ambiguity.

>  I think this is a valid
> objection.  However, I don't see this objection serving as the basis for
> Colin's argument against artificial general intelligence.  Let's say we
> have a near perfect simulation of the physics of Einstein's brain running
> in a computer.  It is near-perfect, rather than perfect, because due to
> rounding errors, it is predicted that there will  be one neuron misfire
> every 50 years of operation.  (Where a misfire is a neuron that fires when
> the actual brain would not have, or doesn't fire when the actual brain
> would not have).  Maybe this misfire causes the simulated brain to develop
> a wrong idea when he would have otherwise had the right one, but who would
> argue that this simulated Einstein brain is not intelligent?  Perhaps it
> has an IQ of 159 instead of the 160 of the genuine brain, but it would
> still be consider an example of AGI.  If you don't like the 1 error every
> 50 years, then you can double the amount of memory used in the floating
> point numbers (going from 64 bits to 128 bits per number), and then you
> make the system have a precision that is 2^64 times finer, so there would
> not be a deviation in the simulation during the whole life of the universe.

That would be true if complexity was what gives rise to awareness, but
I don't think that's the case. There is no sculpture of Einstein's
body that is Einstein. The brain is just part of the body. No amount
of emulation is going to put Einstein in that brain - he was never
there to begin with. The brain was just his KVM and screen. The real
Einstein was an event that happened in the 20th century and can never
be reproduced at all.

> So while I accept your argument that a digital machine cannot perfectly
> simulate a continuous one perfectly, I do not see how that could serve as a
> practical barrier in the creation of AGI.

And I accept your reasoning that it would be as you describe, were the
universe an interplay of information rather than concrete sense
experiences. It's a close second possibility - I think that you and
Bruno are almost right, but the detail of which of the two (pattern or
pattern recognition) is ultimately more primitive makes all the
difference. I think that pattern recognition can exist without any
external pattern more than patterns can exist without the potential
for awareness of them. If our perception were more independent of the
brain...if we could not profoundly change it with just a bit of
chemistry or suggestion...if physics ultimately seemed to point to a
static simplicity at the base of the microcosm... but it doesn't. The
more we look at anything, the more it points back to ourselves and our
method of looking.


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