On Friday, March 22, 2013 4:08:10 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> There is surely a difference between living and non-living, but 
> >> nevertheless it is possible to get living from non-living. 
> > 
> > 
> > Not without the potential for life already present in the universe. If 
> there 
> > was a universe which contained only non-living substances, there would 
> be no 
> > logical possibility for anything like "life". There isn't even a way to 
> > assume that there could be sanity or coherence enough to define any of 
> the 
> > qualities of life. 
> The universe did start with only non-living substances, which then 
> became living. Therefore, the non-living had potential to become 
> living. But this is a trivial statement. 

It's not a trivial statement. It means that the non-living is only 
temporarily so, and that our physical model of matter is incomplete. We 
don't find the valence shell for the flavor of meat or the color of grass 
in a Carbon atom.

> >> It is also 
> >> possible to get intentional from non-intentional, which is what you 
> >> disputed. 
> > 
> > 
> > It is also possible that I would accidentally think that you have done 
> > something here other than repeat your assertions. It is meaningless to 
> say 
> > that you can get intention from non-intention, or life from non-life 
> unless 
> > you have some 'how', 'why', and 'where' to back it up. I can say that 
> you 
> > can get real estate from a cartoon too. 
> It is obviously possible that intentional comes from non-intentional, 
> since that is what actually happened. 

It could not have happened unless the potential for intention was 
inherently present from the start. The cosmic recipe book already has a 
page for it at t=1.

> If you claim that protons, 
> neutrons and electrons are intentional (or have the potential to 
> become intentional, which is trivially obvious) then what is your 
> objection to machines, which are composed of the same protons, 
> neutrons and electrons as people, also being intentional? 

Because intentionality can only come from within, it cannot be imposed from 
an exterior agenda. The recipe for increased human intentionality is a 
history of experience over billions of years. Because it is a relative 
measure, there always seems to be the same amount of intentionality in the 
universe, but each new iteration of it becomes more 'alive' and 
'conscious'...the divide between chance and choice widens, and along with 
it, I suggest personal investment, significance, realism, agony and 
ecstasy, powers of discernment, strategic focal length, expanded sensory 
aperture ranges, etc. 

The machine takes the top slice of the tip of the iceberg, and transplants 
it onto an iceberg shaped piece of styrofoam. It is a rootless imitation of 
human logic as it is conceived by human logic - devoid of realism, sense, 
significance, etc, it has only the superficial trappings of human-like 
presence. What it lacks however, can be made up for in other ways. The 
styrofoam iceberg can be made as large or small as we like. It can sit in 
the desert or outer space. It can do mind numbing calculations for a 
billion years without ever getting bored. It is an impersonal organization 
of primitive proto-sentience, but that is exactly what makes it a powerful 
tool to us instead of a predator/competitor. If it were actually alive and 
self-interested, there is little doubt in my mind that we would be 
exterminated by such a new player in our ecological niche. Introduce an 
all-powerful species into a biome and see what happens.

> >> At one level it is correct to 
> >> say your experience influences your behaviour, but all that an 
> >> observer will see is the physical process underlying the experience 
> >> influencing the behaviour. 
> > 
> > 
> > They aren't going to see anything if what is underlying the behavior is 
> > semantic. If I decide to drive to Georgia tomorrow, there is nothing in 
> my 
> > brain that is going to explain my behavior of suddenly driving to 
> Georgia 
> > tomorrow. That influence cannot be reverse engineered from neurology, 
> > unless, perhaps, the entire history of the universe is simulated as 
> well. 
> If there is nothing in your brain that will explain your driving to 
> Georgia then you won't drive to Georgia. I didn't think even you would 
> disagree with that. 

Yes I would disagree with that. If an alien neuroscientist looked at a 
human brain, there is no way to tell what 'Georgia' is. There are cells, 
molecules, folded tissues, coordinated activity on every level of 
description, but no Georgia, and no clue on Wednesday of where it planned 
Tuesday to go on Thursday.

> >> If this is not so and some behaviours are 
> >> directly caused by experience without going through the usual chain of 
> >> physical causation then the observer would see something magical 
> >> happening. 
> > 
> > 
> > This is the usual physical causation, but it is not a chain. It is one 
> > physical thing. My will to move my arm is the mobilization of every 
> process, 
> > every cell, every tissue and organ that we see moving and changing. It's 
> not 
> > magical, it's ordinary. What is magical is the idea of cells that need 
> some 
> > physical mechanism satisfied by making my body drive to Georgia. 
> I can't fathom how you think all the cells in your body will mobilise 
> when you decide to move your arm without this being either a chain of 
> causation or a seemingly magical event. 

I know, that's the problem. You can't fathom it. Just witness it. Behold, 
it is happening. You type your comments as 
sentences>words>letters/keystrokes, not as assemblies of twitches, grammar, 
and disconnected syllables. 

> You've tried to explain it but 
> all I get is "it just happens spontaneously, and it isn't magic". That 
> does not seem an adequate explanation. 

It happens spontaneously because you are physically real, except not a body 
in public space, but as a private time in life/consciousness. The relation 
is like an LCD display, twisted into perpendicular polarization 
dynamically. It doesn't matter which end of it you twist, the result is the 
same. If you feel excited from an experience or thought by your choice, you 
produce epinephrine, if someone shoots you up with epinepherine, you feel 
excited and whatever experience you are having becomes an exciting 

> >> Yes, although of course evolution cannot directly program a response 
> >> to a joke. Evolution programs the potential for a brain, which then 
> >> grows in fantastically complex ways in response to the environment. 
> > 
> > 
> > Except, in, you know, every other species on Earth, where it doesn't do 
> much 
> > fantastic complex evolving in response to the same environment. 
> What do you mean by this? The process is the same for every species, 
> although different species have brains with different capabilities 
> which will grow and respond differently. 

But only one species has a brain that seems to be doing anything orders of 
magnitude more interesting than species with no brain. 

> >> What we have as an empirical fact is that certain physical processes 
> >> A, B, C are associated with experiences a, b, c. 
> > 
> > 
> > Yes. 
> > 
> >> 
> >> There can be no 
> >> change in a without a change in A, although there can be a change in A 
> >> without a change in a. 
> > 
> > 
> > No. There can be no change in A without a change in a also. The 
> experiences 
> > may be not be personal experiences which we can be conscious of whenever 
> we 
> > want, but they are associated with some kind of experience on some level 
> > that can be related back to our life. 
> No, there can be a change in A without a change in a. 

For example?

> The brain must 
> have a certain tolerance to physical change or it wouldn't be able to 
> work properly. Thousands of neurons can die, for example, with 
> seemingly little or no change in cognition. 

You assume that no change in cognition means no change in anything's 
experience. I don't make that mistake. I don't assume that I am the only 
life going on in my body or brain.

> On the other hand, your 
> mind cannot change without your brain changing unless you believe in a 
> non-physical mind which can work independently of the brain. 

We don't know this at all, but I don't have a problem with it either way. 
The more research that comes out on how psychedelics quiet the brain, how 
glial cells cause intelligence in mice, on NDEs, the more I would not bet 
on mind supervening on brain - but again, I don't need to even go there. It 
is sufficient to see that all of our qualia is not present in the brain, so 
that whatever dependence there is does not necessarily extend beyond gross 
access to physiological services. The brain is a vehicle for a person (and 
subpersons, superpersons, whatever). 

> >> But the desires, plans and capacities all supervene on dumb physical 
> >> processes. 
> > 
> > 
> > Why do you assume so? What you think of as physical processes are linear 
> > moments added together in time. Plans and desires can spawn any number 
> of 
> > dumb physical processes to satisfy an agenda which dumb but intentional, 
> > teleological, and sourced beyond moments of time. Plans shape time. They 
> > control the brain, which controls the body, which controls the 
> environment. 
> Plans control the brain in the way a program controls a computer. 

No. Programs are inscribed into a computer from a programmer. This browser 
program is not going to make any plans of its own.

> program exists in the mind of the programmer and the computation 
> occurs in the mind of the computer (whatever that may or may not 
> mean), 

That's the key point though. If I'm right, then there is no mind of the 
computer. There is a digital recording of parts of a human mind's 
intentions. There's a big difference from the computer's point of view, but 
not as much from ours.

> but at the bottom level, the parts of the computer do not move 
> unless pushed in a causal chain. 

As opposed to a human brain and mind which is constantly moving, pushing 
itself and outward, creating new causes - propping them up, tending to them 
dutifully, promoting them over a lifetime intentionally.

> >> It is possible that a chess playing computer 
> >> has associated, quite alien subjectivity. We don't see this, but 
> >> aliens observing humans playing chess would not see it in us either. 
> > 
> > 
> > I agree in theory, but in fact that theory is based on assumptions which 
> are 
> > not necessarily true. It may not be the case that moments in time are 
> > interchangeable, and that material forms can be isolated from their 
> history. 
> > We look at a body or brain in a moment and we see mazes within mazes of 
> > pulsating bodies - but that is because we are looking at the 'side view' 
> - a 
> > public cross section. We aren't seeing the trillions of stories which 
> have 
> > been going on for billions of years behind each of those cells. That's 
> why 
> > building the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas isn't replicating Paris. The 
> universe 
> > you are assuming is a human universe of the impatient Western mind. What 
> I 
> > assume is that we can't assume anything unless we have no choice. What 
> we 
> > have seen is that machines are not behaving like organisms. What I 
> suggest 
> > is that there may be a very good reason for that, but we can't know what 
> it 
> > is until we stop assuming that the public body is the whole picture. It 
> is 
> > tricky with technology, because on the one hand, everything has 
> experience, 
> > but on the other hand not everything has the experience that we might 
> > expect. In technology, we may expect too much, and in nature, too 
> little. 
> How does this answer the question of whether a computer may have 
> subjectivity? 

It explains that there is a plausible way of modeling subjectivity so that 
individuality cannot be duplicated. Experience is based on private time, 
not bodies in space. Every moment of private time can only happen once, as 
each moment contains a holographic sense of all other moments in that life, 
and perhaps in all of time.

> >> Similarly, it's not obvious looking at someone laughing at a joke but 
> >> there must be some sort of physical chain of causation at play, 
> >> otherwise it's magic. 
> > 
> > 
> > Every time you or John says "otherwise it's magic", it just says to me 
> > "nothing can be real except what I expect to be real". It's tautological 
> to 
> > ask what the relation between experience and matter is if you are going 
> to 
> > say a priori that it can be nothing other than a 'chain of causation'. 
> It is magic if something happens without any physical cause. How else 
> would you define magic? 

I define magic as an intentionally constructed illusion. Everything else is 
just physics we don't understand yet.

> > There's no chain of causation, there is a personal experience with 
> multiple 
> > sub-personal experiences, reflected publicly as impersonal body 
> > interactions. The body interactions are partly simultaneous and 
> spontaneous, 
> > and they have cascading automatic consequences. You could induce 
> laughter 
> > from the body, by tickling for instance, and then you have the laughter 
> > experience as a quasi-involuntary reflex consequence. It goes both ways. 
> > Multivalent causation. Az, By, Cx. 
> Both tickling and talking physically affect the brain. 

But tickling causes laughter as a consequence of a-signifying tactile 
stimulation. Talking does not cause laughter. Using speech or writing to 
create or communicate a thought which is funny causes laughter - the 
experience of understanding the signifying content of the joke cause the 
laughter.  The physicality of the former is important and causal but an 
irrelevant  medium in the latter. The result is the same, and it is 
physiological and emotional, but there are two opposite directions to take 
to get there.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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