On Monday, February 11, 2013 11:24:34 AM UTC-5, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 10 Feb 2013, at 23:16, Craig Weinberg wrote:
> What makes computers useful is that they have no capacity to object to 
> drudgery. That is the capacity which is inseparable from unconsciousness.
> That is what slaves are useful at. And that does not make slaves 
> unconscious. It makes them only oppressed. 

Are you saying that slaves have no capacity to object to drudgery? I didn't 
mean just that we could put computers in shackles and beat them to force 
their compliance, I mean that they ontologically lack the capacity to 
object, even emotionally, to anything at all.

If there were no threat of slave uprisings, no chains or rage or simmering 
hostility then of course we would still have slaves all over the world. 

> And humans have to do an hard work to maintain them in that "mood". It is 
> called programming. With AI, we let much more the machine explore 
> possibilities, and look inward.

It is hard to take you position seriously Bruno. I do, and I respect you 
and your position, but I don't know that there is anything that I can do if 
you cannot discern between enslavement by violence and coercion and 
changing a line of code in a program. You talk about 1p but I don't think 
that you only allow a toy model of it.

> When we talk about computer, it is better to look at the basic 
> (mathematical) notion, than to their current and contingent incarnations. 

That's just a permutation of 'Do as I say, not as I do'. Why would you want 
to take the empirical evidence off the table? If we are going to talk about 
computers as they should be in theory, then we should talk about people 
that way also. Lets just assume that there will always be able to tell the 
difference between a computer and a person because humans will continue to 
develop ways of testing them.

> If a robotic silicon Craig-like machine could look at the early bacteria 
> on this planet, he would say, "---those organic creatures are quite dumb 
> and unconsconscious---I feel it".

You are on the wrong track entirely. You are projecting onto me the image 
of a Luddite, when in fact what you suggest is old hat to me. This is what 
I grew up on. Craig in high school agrees with you. It wasn't right though. 
It turns out that consciousness is far deeper and richer than is imagined 
by comp. Consciousness is not just an intellectual maze of logics and 
guesses, it is the ground of being itself. I have no problem with silicon 
being more alive than carbon - it is not about that at all, it is about 
facing the reality of the cosmic narrative and not sweeping the odd parts 
under the carpet. 

The fact is, that there are no alternate biologies that we are aware of nor 
that we have created. The fact is that AI has not successfully instilled 
any degree of feeling into a program. These should not be dismissed by 
everyone just because some are enthusiastic supporters of their being 
irrelevant. There is something quite significant about the difference 
between life and death to us, and our bodies echo that by being violently 
opposed to an inorganic diet. We can only live on other living things. That 
doesn't make much sense in a comp universe - it could be justified I'm 
sure, but we really don't have to bend over backward to make comp seem 
true. It can simply be almost true, but actually false.


> Bruno
> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/

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