On Wednesday, February 20, 2013 4:49:05 AM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> How do you know the mice are conscious of infra-red light? If it were a 
> >> machine you would say it wasn't conscious, it just reacted to the light 
> in a 
> >> way that superficially resembles consciousness. 
> > 
> > 
> > That's because we are obliged to give organisms like us the benefit of 
> the 
> > doubt. The opposite is true of machines, where we have seen that their 
> > behavior has no basis in any innate sensitivity or agenda of the 
> machine. 
> But how do you know other people and animals are conscious? Is it just 
> a guess? Could you be wrong about them? Could you be wrong about 
> computers? 

Sure, but so could you be wrong about my being wrong.

> It seems to me that you have in mind some test for consciousness. 

Just the opposite. I have in mind that no test is necessary for 
consciousness. Just being conscious ourselves may allow us to infer some 
things about consciousness. Tests can just as easily be used to exaggerate 
our bias. There were tests for witches, tests for eugenics. It's very 
compelling to have some justification to quiet those noisy doubts of 

In saying that machines aren't conscious, I have no qualms, no axe to 
grind. I love technology, I have no agenda against machines, I simply 
observe that there is no possibility that they have awareness on the 
machine level, and I think that I understand why that is. If anyone really 
did have any intuition at all of machine intelligence that was independent 
of wishful thinking, I think that you would see computer scientists 
quitting AI sometimes because of the ethics of operating on the machines 
themselves. Why don't we see that? Why isn't there an abolitionist movement 
for machines? These are not proof, they are clues. You have to reason for 
yourself about consciousness. There will never be a meaningful test.


> You 
> apply this test to animals and to machines and you conclude that the 
> former are conscious and the latter not. I hope the test is not 
> something like "is made of organic material, grows and maintains 
> homeostasis", because the objection to that is, there is no reason to 
> assume that these factors are either necessary or sufficient for 
> consciousness. 

The test is 'does it have experiences and participate in the world?'


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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