On 25 Oct 2012, at 02:41, Jason Resch wrote:

On Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 9:56 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
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

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."

Max's post was 23 hours ago. It is Rex Allen's post from two years ago that you and Brent are quoting and responding to.

Note that I too agree with that bit about the interpreter of information being needed for information to have any objective meaning.

A computer is such an interpreter. It decodes a number i into a function phi_i.

That's why it can understand very easily simple statements, like "send the mail".

Then it can look inward and get the same difficulties as us when trying to decode itself. But the theory shows already that he will find a vast territory to explore there, with communicable and non communicable features.



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