On Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:21:23 AM UTC-4, Brent wrote:
>  On 10/23/2012 6:33 PM, Max Gron wrote: 
> On Sunday, November 28, 2010 5:19:08 AM UTC+10:30, Rex Allen wrote: 
>> On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 7:40 PM, Jason Resch <jason...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > On Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 3:38 PM, Rex Allen <rexall...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> But I also deny that mechanism can account for consciousness (except
>> >> by fiat declaration that it does).
>> >>
>> >
>> > Rex,
>> > I am interested in your reasoning against mechanism.  Assume there is 
>> were
>> > an] mechanical brain composed of mechanical neurons, that contained the 
>> same
>> > information as a human brain, and processed it in the same way. 
>> I started out as a functionalist/computationalist/mechanist but
>> abandoned it - mainly because I don't think that "representation" will
>> do all that you're asking it to do.
>> For example, with mechanical or biological brains - while it seems
>> entirely reasonable to me that the contents of my conscious experience
>> can be represented by quarks and electrons arranged in particular
>> ways, and that by changing the structure of this arrangement over time
>> in the right way one could also represent how the contents of my
>> experience changes over time.
>> However, there is nothing in my conception of quarks or electrons (in
>> particle or wave form) nor in my conception of arrangements and
>> representation that would lead me to predict beforehand that such
>> arrangements would give rise to anything like experiences of pain or
>> anger or what it's like to see red.
> I think that's a failure of imagination.  From what I know about quarks 
> and electrons I can infer that they will form atoms and in certain 
> circumstances on the surface of the Earth they will form molecules and some 
> of these can be molecules that replicate and evolution will produce complex 
> reproducing organisms these will evolve ways of interacting

It's not a failure of imagination, it's recognition of magical thinking.

> with the environment which we will call 'seeing red' and 'feeling pain' 
> and some of them will be social and evolve language and symbolism and will 
> experience emotions like anger.

Not even remotely possible. How does a way of interacting with the 
environment come to have an experience of any kind, let alone something 
totally unprecedented and explainable like 'red' or 'pain'. It is like 
saying that if you begin counting to infinity at some point the number is 
bound to turn purple. This is a failure of skeptical imagination. I can see 
exactly the assumption you are making, and understand exactly why you are 
making it, but can you see that it does not automatically follow that a 
machine which functions without experience should develop experiential 
dimensions as magical emergent properties?

>  The same goes for more abstract substrates, like bits of information.
>> What matters is not the bits, nor even the arrangements of bits per
>> se, but rather what is represented by the bits.
>> "Information" is just a catch-all term for "what is being
>> represented".  But, as you say, the same information can be
>> represented in *many* different ways, and by many different
>> bit-patterns.
>> And, of course, any set of bits can be interpreted as representing any
>> information.  You just need the right "one-time pad" to XOR with the
>> bits, and viola!  The magic is all in the interpretation.  None of it
>> is in the bits.  And interpretation requires an interpreter.
>> SO...given that the bits are merely representations, it seems silly to
>> me to say that just because you have the bits, you *also* have the
>> thing they represent.
>> Just because you have the bits that represent my conscious experience,
>> doesn't mean that you have my conscious experience.  Just because you
>> manipulate the bits in a way as to represent "me seeing a pink
>> elephant" doesn't mean that you've actually caused me, or any version
>> of me, to experience seeing a pink elephant.
>> All you've really done is had the experience of tweaking some bits and
>> then had the experience of thinking to yourself:  "hee hee hee, I just
>> caused Rex to see a pink elephant..."
>> Even if you have used some physical system (like a computer) that can
>> be interpreted as executing an algorithm that manipulates bits that
>> can be interpreted as representing me reacting to seeing a pink
>> elephant ("Boy does he look surprised!"), this interpretation all
>> happens within your conscious experience and has nothing to do with my
>> conscious experience.
>> Thinking that the "bit representation" captures my conscious
>> experience is like thinking that a photograph captures my soul.
> That's right.  The meaning, the what is represented, is given by 
> interaction (including speech) with the environment (including others).  So 
> only a computer with the ability to interact can seem intelligent and 
> therefore conscious and only one that interacts intelligently with people 
> (a robot) can have human-like intelligence that we can infer from behavior.

It's not. The data of an mp3 file is interacted with in the same way by a 
computer whether it is formatted as something we can see or hear, but the 
computer has no experience of either one. Blindsight also shows that qualia 
is not an inevitable result of interaction. 

I agree with what Max said (two years ago!):

"Information requires interpretation.  The magic isn't in the bits.
The magic is in the interpreter."

After having been in the opposite camp for many years, I can say that what 
he is saying is glaringly obvious to me now. There is no atoms, no 
molecules, no events of any kind without some frame of perception which 
makes sense of all of the different levels of potential forms and functions 
which we have been able to detect. The failure of imagination, in my 
estimation, is to sidestep the issue of perceptual relativity - to presume 
a naive realism of simple little dots and paths like we might see in a 
cloud chamber. Without a frame of reference, each of these swirls might be 
as large as a galaxy, or not visual at all. Atoms could be more like noises 
or jokes.


> Brent

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