On 3/7/2013 2:21 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 3/7/2013 12:04 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
If you have ever worked with Terminal Servers, RDP, Citrix Metaframe, or the like (and
that's what I have been doing professionally every day for the last 14 years), you will
understand the idea of a Thin Client architecture. Thin clients are as old as
computing, and some of you remember as I do, devices like acoustic couplers where you
can attach a telephone handset to a telephone cradle, so that the mouth ends of the
handset and the earpiece ends could squeal to each other. In this way, you could, with
nothing but a keyboard and a printer, use your telephone to allow you access to a
mainframe computer at some university.
The relevance here is that the client end is thin computationally. It passes nothing
but keystrokes and printer instructions back and forth as acoustic codes.
This is what an mp3 file does as well. It passes nothing but binary instructions that
can be used by an audio device to vibrate. Without a person's ear there to be vibrated,
this entire event is described by linear processes where one physical record is
converted into another physical record. Nothing is encoded or decoded, experienced or
appreciated. There is no sound.
Think about those old plastic headphones in elementary school that just had hollow
plastic tubes as connectors - a system like that generates sound from the start, and
the headphones are simply funnels for our ears. That's a different thing from an
electronic device which produces sound only in the earbuds.
All of these discussions about semiotics, free will, consciousness, AI...all come down
to understanding the Thin Client. The Thin Client is Searle's Chinese Room in actual
fact. You can log into a massive server from some mobile device and use it like a
glove, but that doesn't mean that the glove is intelligent. We know that we can
transmit only mouseclicks and keystrokes across the pipe and that it works without
having to have some sophisticated computing environment (i.e. qualia) get communicated.
The Thin Client exposes Comp as misguided because it shows that instructions can indeed
exist as purely instrumental forms and require none of the semantic experiences which
we enjoy. No matter how much you use the thin client, it never needs to get any
thicker. It's just a glove and a window.
Excellent post! You have nailed computational immaterialism where it really hurts.
Computations cannot see, per the Turing neo-Platonists, any hardward at all. This is
their view of computational universality. But here in the thing, it is the reason why
they have a 'body problem'. For a Platonistic Machine, there is no hardware or physical
world at all. So, why do I have the persistent illusion that I am in a body and
interacting with another computation via its body?
The physical delusion is the thin client, to use your words and discussion.
I'm fairly sure Bruno will point out that a delusion is a thought and so is immaterial.
You have an immaterial experience fo being in a body.
But the analogy of the thin client is thin indeed. In the example of the Mars rover it
corresponds to looking a computer bus and saying, "See there are just bits being
transmitted over this wire, therefore this Mars rover can't have qualia." It's
nothing-buttery spread thin. Meantime the Mars rover and Watson continue to exhibit
intelligence of the same kind you would associate with qualia if exhibted by a human
being, or even by a dog. You have no argument, just wetware racism.
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