On Thu, May 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> 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
> > > 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
> > > > 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
> > 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.
Would you say, at least, that the brain is responsible for behavior?
This conversation was originally on the topic of artificial intelligence,
so whatever it is in us that leads to physical changes which manifest as
third-person observable behavior, do you believe that to be entirely
influenced by physical and (in theory) detectable matter/energy/fields?
If not, what mechanism do you theorize mediates between mental and physical
events? Is it one way or two way? If two way (or if as you often say it
is just the other side of the coin) then why not say it is physical?
If such a mechanism exists, it must conform to some set of laws, some rhyme
or reason, as otherwise how could the mental world (or side) so reliably
control our physical actions, and how do the sensations picked up from
physical sensors (retinas, nerve endings) so reliably make their way into
our mind? If there is a separation between the mental and physical worlds,
there must be reliable rules that govern any interaction between the mind
and the physical world, and the interaction must be two way. How then, can
they rightly be called two separate worlds?
> > > > 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
> > 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.
Regardless of who is making the mistake, above you seem to agree with
my premise that there are real natural phenomenon.
> > Before there were any humans, or any
> > life, there must have been laws that the universe obeyed to reach the
> > 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
This is an interesting way of looking at things: that the capabilities of
natural phenomenon change as it develops more and more complex states of
being. However, I think the potentiality for those capabilities was there
from the beginning, and the determination of whether or not such
potentialities existed in the primordial universe could in theory, have
been made by a sufficiently great intelligence that had a proper
understanding of the natural phenomenon.
> The universe makes laws by doing. It isn't only a disembodied
> set of invisible laws which creates obedient bodies.
What did the universe have to do to set the speed of light?
> Laws are not
If not laws, then what?
> You have to have some kind of capacity to sense and make
> sense before any kind of regularity of pattern can be established.
You might need sense to notice the pattern, but patterns exist that we are
unaware of. If this were not the case, there would be no room for
> 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.
I'm not opposed to the idea that possibility or experience could in some
sense be more fundamental, but I don't see how this could change the fact
that we observe matter and energy to always follow certain rules, and find
evidence (when we look at stars and galaxies very far away) that these laws
have been in effect long before life on Earth arose.
> > Do you agree that such natural
> > laws exist (regardless of our human approximations of them)?
So you deny there are any natural laws? This might explain why some people
find it difficult to carry on conversations with you.
> 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,
Are our observations not reflections of something that is true?
> 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,
So then natural laws come from nature. Earlier you said natural laws don't
> > > > 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
> > system that is capable of describing the natural laws as they are. You
> > accept or reject this. If you reject this, simply say so and provide
> > justification if you have one.
> The formal system doesn't exist until some sentient being
> intentionally brings it into existence.
That's fine. The question is whether you believe that a sentient being, in
theory, is capable of developing such a formal system and in it, a
codification of the natural laws that govern the behavior of brains and
> 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.
If in every experiment we conduct, we find an accordance between physical
experiments and predictions made by our acquired understanding of the
natural laws then this would hold true to an emulation of a human brain.
If there were any difference between reality and the the physical
emulation, it would indicate to us that our model was incomplete.
You seem to believe that no matter what progress is made, we can never
understand all the natural laws that govern brains and bodies.
> 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.
Precision and accuracy are exactly what is needed to emulate the subatomic
particles that compose our "ambiguous and volatile" brains.
> > 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
> > 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
> > a wrong idea when he would have otherwise had the right one, but who
> > 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
> That would be true if complexity was what gives rise to awareness,
Remember, I am not talking about awareness above, only behavior. Do you
think any machine could approximate Einstein's behavior to such a degree
that his friends, family, and colleagues could not tell the difference?
> 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.
> You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
> "Everything List" group.
> To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
> To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
> For more options, visit this group at
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to email@example.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at