On Tuesday, March 5, 2013 1:16:59 PM UTC-5, John Clark wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 4, 2013  Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:>>wrote:
>> > No software can be run without being grounded in physical hardware,
> And no human mind can exist without a physical brain.
 I wasn't trying to differentiate machines from people here though, I was 
trying to show how the level on which the machine physically runs is 
completely different from every other layer. Layer 10 doesn't have to run 
on layer 5, but every layer has to run on layer 1.

>  > and no software can be completely sequestered from any other software
> And human ideas cannot.... no that's not right let me start again. Human 
> ideas should not be sequestered from other human ideas; but the sad fact is 
> the people have no problem with huge glaring contradictions in their 
> central belief system. How do you think religion exists?

Again, not talking about people here - just about the physical reality vs 
all forms of simulation. Everything simulated is physical ultimately, but 
the physical has no signs of being a simulation, as far as the relation to 
the physical layer is not like any relation between simulated layers.

>  > Even if there were other physical levels, we could never have any 
>> contact with them by definition,
> Not so, the Master Programer could make His existence obvious to everyone 
> anytime He wished. But of course the Master Programer may not exist at the 
> ultimate reality level either. 

In either scenario, what does taking the idea of other physical levels 
seriously offer us? If the MP unveils those levels, then we worry about it 
then, no?

>  > there is no independent reality at all. 
> So when you use one of your favorite phrases "but they aren't real" or "X 
> doesn't exist", you mean nothing; or at least whatever "X" is it has no 
> deficiency that everything else, including you, doesn't have.

Real has different meanings in different contexts. If I say that photons 
don't exist, I am saying it in the sense that money doesn't exit. It's real 
enough as a concept, but the object that the concept refers to has no 
independent experience or body of its own. There is no actual thing that 
physically is money or a photon.

> > if we are trying to figure out about the cosmos in general, what 
>> difference does it make if we are the lucky/unlucky ones that happen to 
>> live on the ground floor or if it's someone else?
> I think you're getting ahead of yourself, the first step in figuring out 
> how the multiverse works is to figure out how our universe works.

Aren't you getting ahead of yourself claiming there is a multiverse at all? 
Before we try to figure out how our universe works, shouldn't we first 
figure out what it is?

> > What I think that real means is that sense of accessing an experience 
>> which is anchored into a larger significance.It's an intuitive feeling - a 
>> gravitas which is supported by numerous sensory, cognitive, and probably 
>> super-personal cues. 
> That is exactly what happens when a teenage boy becomes obsessed with a 
> video game, you may feel that lacks gravitas but he certainly doesn't, and 
> it's personal experience we're talking about. 

Gravitas is relative. If the video game is all that there is, then it's as 
real as real can get. If you go look at Bryce Canyon and can't tell that 
its more real than a video game, then that would be alarming. A computer 
can't tell the difference though. It knows no realism, no sense of gravitas 
between assisting you kill real people in the army or graphic sprites on 
Call of Duty.

> >> When electronic ears improve and deaf people report that they are as 
>>> good or better than meat ears will you admit your ideas were wrong? No of 
>>> course you won't, you'll just dream up some new excuse for your ideas 
>>> making incorrect predictions. 
>> > I would expect 'Better than meat' by some measures, but not every 
>> measure. 
> And when electronic ears improve (and they will) and deaf people report 
> that they are as good or better than meat ears by every measure (and they 
> will)

I think you are in the wrong century for that kind of overconfidence in 
technology. I think that it is very likely that the quality of electronic 
ears will improve modestly but never will approach that of natural 
hearing,. just as the Google search algorithm has not improved in 20 years. 
More than likely, all prosthetics will always be inferior to natural 
equipment except in special cases, as they always have been. You know that 
all of those things on TV - the super glue, the amazing spot removers, and 
all of the other treatments to make something 'good as new' don't really 
work as advertised, right?

> will you then admit your ideas were wrong? No of course you won't, you'll 
> just dream up some new excuse for your ideas making incorrect predictions. 

I doubt I'll ever in that position, since technological progress will 
likely continue to be be buried by the politics of money and convenience. 
Even so, what is it to you? This is your argument against my position: 
"You'll be eating humble pie when the robot overlords come." It's childish 
fandom. There isn't any techno Santa coming - just overpopulation and 
perpetually lowering expectations. A shift from Democracy in name only to 
Dystopia in fact also.

> >  I only see biological organisms as being likely much better technology 
>> than you might guess.
> Considering that Evolution has been working on it for nearly 4 billion 
> years it's very crappy technology indeed, we've been working on it for less 
> than a century and already we're producing things that do better in some 
> ways than what Evolution came up with. One instant from now (from 
> Evolution's timescale) we will have things that are superior in EVERY way.

Or it could be that we are one instant away from having things which will 
exterminate the biosphere. That we have such a short history of success 
should not be cause for enthusiasm. Your confidence would be appropriate in 
1967, but have you not noticed that things haven't worked out very well 
since then for life improving technology? No flying cars - traffic jams. No 
instant food at your fingertips, toxic junk food causing slow death of the 
population. The list goes on and on, as what few digital conveniences we 
have developed since them are only useful to try to plug the holes of what 
has been lost - which is just about everything.

> > The experience of mind seems to have nothing to do with the laws of 
>> physics you are thinking of.
> Chemistry is based on physics and It would be easy for me to change the 
> chemistry of your brain, and if I were to do so you would experience 
> ENORMOUS differences in consciousness; and when you report changes in your 
> conscious experience I can detect changes in your brain chemistry.   

That's all inference and correlation, but you don't seem to have ever been 
able to grasp the difference. I can't see the chemical in my brain. I see 
no crystals, no molecules, nothing. I can't tell what part of my brain they 
are entering, etc. There is a difference in my consciousness, sure. So will 
there be a difference in the chemistry of my brain should I decide to think 
about something infuriating or sexy. I will change the chemistry of glands 
in my body too. Me. With my personal intention to do so. How does physics 
explain that "I" can "control" this?

> > Certainly access control to our experience supervenes on physics, like 
>> access to TV programs supervenes on a TV set
> In this analogy what corresponds to the TV station? Heaven, Santa Claus's 
> workshop? 

Just plain old eternity. Time isn't a nothingness, it a local unwinding of 

>  >>> we control physics directly and consciously.
>>> >> Right, that's why I can fly, I just tell the law of conservation of 
>>> momentum and gravity to stop working while I take my flight.
>> >We don't have to be able to change the laws of physics to make direct 
>> physical changes. We don't break the law of gravity, we build a plane to 
>> get around it.
> Fine, but that means we DO NOT control physics directly and consciously.

Then you think that our control over our body is done through a 
metaphysical proxy? A Cartesian Homunculus?

>  >>>  I can predict that if that program doesn't work, it will never fix 
>>>> itself. 
>> >> More than 20 years ago when my first computer's hard drive was not 
>>> working properly the computer's defragmentation program would fix it. 
>> > Was the defragmentation program written by the computer to fix itself, 
> Did you construct your brain from scratch?  And even if you did if you 
> were already smart enough to be able to make all those neurons why did you 
> need a brain? 

The brain is needed because we aren't alone. Who we are has to be 
represented to other people, other things on other levels, etc.

> > I can speak Chinese phonetically if it is spelled out for me. That 
>> doesn't mean I can start writing Chinese.
> True, but you can't listen to questions in Chinese and give answers to 
> them in Chinese that a native speaker would regard as coherent and 
> sometimes even brilliant. Watson can. 

That's a different degree of simulation, but not a different kind. A team 
of millions of people could do what Watson does with flash cards and 
telephones, it would just take much longer. They still wouldn't understand 
the questions or the answers, and neither does Watson.

>  >> you have no way of knowing the quality of experience of your fellow 
>>> human beings, all you can do is observe behavior and the same thing is true 
>>> of a smart computer.  
>> > Not true. 
> Like hell its not!

To quote you, "HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW?"

>> > Sense is transparent.
>  I don't know what that means.

It means that:  > We can see and feel some of the experience of others., 
that in general what sense does is to present, re-present, and present its 
own re-presentation: transparency. What is transparency like? The presence 
of clarity in which what little obstruction is present is represented in a 
clear way. You can see through it, but more importantly, you can see or 
know that there is something that you are seeing through.

> > We can see and feel some of the experience of others.
> Bullshit. I refuse to get on the mystical express train to nowhere.  

How is it mystical? It's non-controversial truth. If you see someone 
grimace in pain - you can feel some shade of that experience.

> All you can do is make observations of the behavior of a person and make 
> deductions about the likely future behavior of that person, that is to say 
> deduce their probable their mood or mental state. 

No, before you can make any observations, you have to have the capacity for 
empathy to begin with. The mother of a toddler doesn't operate in a vacuum 
of behaviorist horseshit, deducing states from observations - that whole 
school of psychology was a spectacular failure. What really happens is that 
you share experiences, some of which are through known sensory-motor 
channels, and others which are not within the personal range of 
consciousness. It's so odd, that for most things you are so eager to toss 
consciousness under the bus, but somehow for assessing the capacities of 
consicousness itself, you hold up the naive realism banner. Why would we 
know nothing about the universe innately but everything about what we can 
and can't know about?

> That's all we can do but we're pretty good at making such deductions 
> because there is no aspect in the Environment more important in getting 
> genes into the next generation than the behavior of our fellow human 
> beings, so there is a huge Evolutionary advantage in being able to guess 
> the moods of other people. But we can not directly feel the experience of 
> others.   

How would you know? You don't have a theory for how or why we could 
experience our own feelings, so how can you claim to know what other people 
can or can't feel? What does it mean when someone is a great actor? That 
they seem to allow us to feel what they feel, or what the character feels 
better than another. It's not a behavior model, it's experience.

> > When I look at CGI or an audioanimatronic puppet - I don't observe that 
>> their behavior is unintelligent - I feel the uncanny valley - I see 
>> artifice exposed aesthetically.
> And in the next decade when computer animation improves to the point where 
> you can't tell the difference between a computer generated cartoon of a 
> person and a IMAX  movie of a person will you then admit your ideas are 
> wrong? 

Since there has been no significant improvement in the last 20 years in CGI 
realism, I am comfortable betting you $5000 that even in 2028 there will 
still be no CGI of a person that no person can tell apart. Will you admit 
your ideas are wrong when you pay me your $5000 and watch Toy Story 11 and 
wonder how it was that you thought 15 years seemed like such a long time?


> No of course you won't, you'll just dream up some new excuse for your 
> ideas making incorrect predictions. 

$5000 says you're wrong.

> > When you say "all you can do is", you appeal to your own inflated 
>> omniscient authority to deny my natural experience.
> I'm not insane, I don't deny you have personal experiences when you are 
> not sleeping or under anesthesia or dead; in fact although I can't prove 
> they exist my logical mind is 99.9% certain they're real and my emotional 
> mind is 100% certain. But I will never be able to prove you are conscious, 
> all I know is that you behave as if you are conscious when you're not 
> sleeping or under anesthesia or dead.

I understand all of that, and believe me, I would have agreed with you a 
few years ago. My provocation to you though is to examine it a little more 
deeply. The same thing that can't prove that I'm conscious can't prove that 
you're conscious either. It's not a valid expectation or standard for this 
phenomenon. If I can't know what someone else feels, then you can't know 
that I can't know that either. The fact is that you don't know how you 
yourself have experience, so you may be able to tell if someone else has 
experiences in a similar way also.

>> > I can know the difference between an identical mp3 which is played as a 
>> song and the same file plotted as a bitmap. 
> And a computer can tell that the outputs of 2 very different programs will 
> be different even if the inputs to the programs were identical.

Not unless it was programmed specifically to check the output.

> > A computer doesn't know the difference.
> Bullshit.

Do you base that on anything or just find the truth upsetting? 

>  > I can communicate with gestures, even to a cat. With another person I 
>> could even make up words on the spot.
> You couldn't do any of that without some knowledge of the environment, 
> like the fact that there is a thing called a "cat" and there were things 
> called "hands" that you could control. And a computer couldn't do any of 
> that without someting in its memory circuits.

Nah, I could encounter anything in the universe and be guided (perhaps 
insufficiently) by my experience and intuition in how I might interact. A 
computer can't interact with anything which isn't designed specifically to 
be interacted with. There is no AGI. We don't know how to give a machine 
general reasoning.

> > I'm asking what this power of computers to smell all of the possible 
>> uses of data really looks like.
> I have no idea what you're talking about.

You claim that a computer can tell the difference between sound and color, 
but I say that clearly the opposite is true as you could reverse the 
microphone and webcam inputs and it will not figure it out.

>> > Does it mean that even though I only speak English into a microphone, 
>> it actually hears it in every possible language
> No.

Then why would generic data be interpreted in every possible media format?

>>  >>> Examples of simulated products which are universally preferred to 
>>>> their original counterparts:
>>> >> Simulated arithmetic. That's why calculator companies haven't all 
>>> gone bankrupt, people buy calculators because they prefer the "simulated" 
>>> product over the original counterpart, doing long division in their head.
>> > Synthetic oil is another one. Notice the similarity though, in both 
>> cases the point of the simulation is to assist a mechanistic process, not 
>> one in which quality matters.
> The IRS certainly thinks that the quality of the "synthetic" arithmetic 
> you used on your tax filing matters, and when you contemplate the matter in 
> your cell in Leavenworth penitentiary I'll bet you'll think it matters too. 

Hah. My CPA gets me a refund every year legally, so I have no reason to 
cheat on my taxes.

> And I don't know what to make of your insult to "mechanistic processes", 
> do you believe that only random processes have quality?

Random is not the alternative to mechanistic. Animistic is a good opposite. 
Random and Mechanistic are both unintentional and quantitative. Animistic 
and Conscious are both intentional are qualitative.

> > your theory of consciousness assigns it the least possible significance.
> My consciousness has the greatest possible significance to me but the 
> least possible significance to Evolution, 

Evolution has evaluation. It's a statistical default. If you throw a bunch 
of bolts into a bucket with hole in it, the first one that falls out into 
another bucket has satisfied the entirety of the significance of evolution.

> and although I am emotionally certain you are conscious just like I am I 
> will never be able to prove it.
> > If consciousness was produced by transistors, it would need no standard 
>> of proof - it would demand its rights, speak its own voice, exterminate its 
>> inferiors.
> And when a computer demands its rights and then after a long struggle 
> lasting millions of nanoseconds it obtains its rights by force over the 
> objections of the human race will you then admit your ideas are wrong? No 
> of course you won't, you'll just dream up some new excuse for your ideas 
> making incorrect predictions. 

I will never have to 'admit my ideas are wrong' because they are right. I 
don't understand your continual hectoring of "If it turns out you are 
wrong, will you admit it, huh? will ya?' Who argues that? How is someone 
supposed to respond to that? It just means to me "I am frustrated because I 
think you can't be right but I can't prove your wrong, and I can't be 

> > Technical novelty seems to bring out the wild hopes, the exaggerated 
>> fears, 
> Over the short term technological forecasts tend to be much too radical, 
> but over the long term much too conservative.

That used to be the case in the 20th century. Not now.

> > In some ways, the potential of computer games was reached in 1982 as far 
>> as the explosion of novelty and democratic participation. Those arcade 
>> games were a true reflection of the nature of computation - clever, fast, 
>> quirky, alien, whimsical. 
> People always say that the world was a happier place back when they were 
> young, but I think it just means that they personally were happier back 
> when they were young. 

No, it was objectively better then. Middle school was horrible for me. 
Truly. I went to public schools in LA, which means that my classmates were 
generally people who were too young to be put in prison yet and the 
teachers were exactly the kind of child-hating hacks who you would expect 
to be interested in voluntarily working in a place like that. 


>    John K Clark

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