On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 12:31 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> conscience.

But you do have some test of consciousness in mind since you admit
that a machine might fool you into thinking it's conscious. Your
intuition is therefore not foolproof here. What means do you use to
decide if your intuition is correct?

> 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.

There are several points here. Firstly, people kill animals and
enslave other humans, so if they do believe they are conscious they
don't think their consciousness matters. Secondly, if machines have
the potential to be conscious that does not mean that all machines in
fact are conscious. Carbon-based life forms have the potential to be
conscious but most people don't think plants are conscious, for
example. Finally, there is no necessary connection between
consciousness and wanting to be treated a particular way. We might
look at worker bees with pity but that's just because we aren't bees.

>> 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?'

But how do you know it has experiences? If it's intuition how do you
know in particular cases if you are right?

Stathis Papaioannou

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