On 12/22/2012 10:02 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net
On 12/22/2012 5:10 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 3:48 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net
On 12/22/2012 1:21 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
On Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net
On 12/22/2012 11:36 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
As to how computation might lead to consciousness, I think it helps
start with a well-defined definition of consciousness. Take
dictionary.com <http://dictionary.com>'s definition:
"awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings,
Well what is awareness? dictionary.com <http://dictionary.com>
defines it as:
dictionary.com <http://dictionary.com>'s simplest non-circular
of knowledge is simply "information".
As discussed earlier, you can have information in the Shannon
that is just measure over different possible messages. For it to be
information *about* something, to be knowledge, it has to be
the ability to act.
Right. But how do you define act? I think changing states within the
I don't. That leads to the paradox of the conscious rock.
I disagree. There is no *process *within the rock that gives any
it "has information of its own existence, sensations, thoughts, or
How did "of its own existence" get in there?
That was from the definition above.
Does a spider have to have knowledge of it's own existence to recognize a
No, those items in the list are separated by an "or".
A rock has internal states that change via chemical reactions, crystal
cosmic ray strikes, etc.
Yes but the state changes are not recognized by any stable process operating within the
rock. The atoms in the rock do stably store the information about what has happened to
the rock, but nothing in the rock is there to see that record.
How do you know? You seem to be saying there's no homunculus to watch a theater of the
mind; but the explanation of awareness and knowledge cannot be in terms of what is aware,
is there "to see that record".
The computations, if you can call them that,
That's the point; how do you call some processes knowledge and not others.
It requires determining the program and then figuring out what that program
But "knows" is what needs explaining. I'd say something has knowledge if it can act
It is not easy or straight forward. It may not even be possible in all cases to
identify the presence of a program.
My answer is that they inform actions - at least potentially.
are only the simplest linear operations of particle collisions, there are
structures and no long running coherent computations.
Do you not deny that a paralyzed person can be conscious (as is the case
locked-in syndrome: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome )?
I'm not sure. "Total locked-in syndrome" seems to still admit interaction
Okay, then I might have misunderstood you. I thought by your definition the interaction
had to go both ways.
Of course the person has memories and knowledge that were formed in the
were derivative of action. I think that if an infant suffered total lock
would never learn to think as normal humans do. What knowledge is built
animal is built in by the interactions of natural selection. So I still
knowledge is grounded in interaction with environments - that the idea of
disembodied, and hence isolated consciousness is ultimately incoherent.
A single computation can embody both aspects of the mind and the environment. Would you
consider this mind disembodied, even it ran on a computer closed off from any inputs
from the physical world where that computer ran?
One might simulate an environment and a mind that was aware of that environment, but you
could never know that this was the case if the computation was not grounded in your
environment, e.g. written by a human. It would be no different that the random vibrations
in a stone.
The states within only have meaning by virtue to external actions and
Who is the judge of externality? Why can't the independent modules in the
considered actors in a larger environment? This seems to lead to a
the way up" situation, where there have to ever greater levels of external
observers or actions. What if our whole universe were a computer
that make us into zombies because the giant computer has no external
The whole evolutionary advantage of having a 'within' is that the brain
project and anticipate (e.g. 'simulate') the external world as part of
Yes brains and consciousness evolved so we can better interact with the
that doesn't mean interaction with the external world is necessary for
consciousness. We evolved the ability to perceive pleasure for (eating,
mating, etc.), but we can achieve pleasure directly (using direct brain
or drugs) without needing to eat, sleep, mate, etc.
I don't think I've met a materialist who rejects the idea that a brain in
could be conscious.
Suppose you copied someone's brain, like Bruno's doctor, and put it in a
not neural input/output?
Most brains in the vat are fooled into thinking they are having normal experiences:
Surely, the human mind will shatter if not given any input. Most people break after 48
hours of sensory deprivation:
I don't think it would really be conscious very long. I expect it would
think no thoughts at all or it would become trapped in loop.
That is what happens when human minds are deprived of inputs, but even if people enter
loops or break psychologically, they don't become zombies just by virtue of being isolated.
Of course not, a zombie acts normally and so isn't in a loop. I don't think zombies are
possible. At most you might be able to create an artificial mind that had a somewhat
different kind of consciousness than humans (e.g. thinks entirely in images and geometry,
instead of words) yet still acts intelligently. In a sense we are partial zombies because
much of our 'thinking' (information processing) is unconscious.
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