On Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:20:59 AM UTC-5, stathisp wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 12:31 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> 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? 

Some level of intuition may be foolproof, but we don't always have access 
to it from lower, personal ranges of awareness. Generally it is experience 
through time which reveals which of our thoughts make the most sense. We 
never decide if our intuition is correct, we always have faith and doubts.

> > 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. 

Yes, or more likely they don't care whether their consciousness matters or 
not. That doesn't mean humans are ignorant of each other's awareness, only 
that they lack compassion and can justify their actions for personal 

> Secondly, if machines have 
> the potential to be conscious that does not mean that all machines in 
> fact are conscious.

What makes the difference between the two types of machines? Wishful 
threshold of complexity?

> Carbon-based life forms have the potential to be 
> conscious but most people don't think plants are conscious, for 
> example. 

The nature of consciousness and sense is as experiences which 'seem like' 
or 'likenesses'. While people enslave and kill each other, they less 
frequently do that to people who they like, or who are like them. The more 
distant an organism is, the more impersonal it seems. Plants tend to be 
different in so many significant ways from animals that they appear to us 
as very alien and impersonal, despite the studies done which show plant 
empathy and communication. This psychological distance factor is the key to 
understanding significance (saturation of likeness). Size matters. Speed 
matters. The further a phenomenon is from our personal range of perceptual 
relativity, the more it is known to us only through impersonal sensory 
channels (location, shape, mass, velocity, function, etc).


> 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. 

Sure, I agree. The only difference with a machine is that it is put 
together by people who don't know that fully half of the universe is 
private. Normally that isn't a problem, since the point of a machine is to 
serve our needs. If we really wanted to have a machine which is conscious, 
then by definition it could only serve its own needs since consciousness 
and privacy are the same thing, and privacy is proprietary, not generic. 

Just as we couldn't expect a person to survive with their body cut up into 
cubes, we shouldn't expect the functional 'cubes' which symbolize 
intelligence to add up to a single physical conscious event. Life and 
consciousness are based on experience, not structure. The structure reveals 
the relation between one kind of experience and all others on all other 
levels - but to do that, the revealing is done with a lowest common 
denominator set of tangible, positional tropes (classical mechanics).


> >> 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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