On Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 5:51 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> If the right atoms are placed in the right configuration then life or
>> consciousness occurs.
> You don't know that, you just assume it. It's like saying that if the right
> cars are placed in the right configuration around the right buildings, then
> New York City occurs. It may not work that way at all. You act as if we have
> made living organisms from scratch already.
>> Your theory does not really add anything: what would it look like if the
>> atoms or the configuration or the universe lack the essential ingredient you
>> claim but had every other physical property unchanged?
> If by essential ingredient you mean the capacity for awareness, then atoms
> could not 'look like' anything at all. They couldn't seem like anything,
> they couldn't be defined by any property that can be observed in any way.
> Unless I'm missing something...what do you think that things look like if
> nothing can possibly ever see them?

I find it difficult to understand how you could be thinking about
these things. If I put atoms in the configuration of a duck but as you
claim I don't get a duck, I must have missed something out. For if I
didn't miss anything anything out it would be a duck, right? So
perhaps the atoms in the duck I made lack the capacity of awareness.
How is that possible, given that all atoms ultimately came from the
same source? What if I made my duck from atoms sourced from steak,
which I know had the capacity for life at one point? How could I tell
the difference between life-affirming atoms and other atoms? Why is
there no difference in activity between natural and synthetic peptides
such as insulin when used medically if the synthetic one lacks

You make detailed pronouncements about "sense"  and "intention" but
you fail to propose obvious experimental tests for your ideas. A
scientist tries to test his hypothesis by thinking of ways to falsify

>> The person would function identically by any test but you would claim he
>> is not only not conscious but also not living? How would you decide this and
>> how do you know that the people around you haven't been replaced with these
>> unfortunate creatures?
> Lets say you get a call from a lawyer that your rich uncle has died and
> there is a video will. When you go to the reading of the will, there is a TV
> monitor and your relatives and behind you is a large mirror. As you watch
> the video of your uncle reading his will, you begin to wonder if he is
> actually still alive and watching everyone from behind the mirror. Maybe he
> looks at you and says your name, and looks at others as he reads off their
> ten names.
> He could have had a computer generate different video variations of where he
> looks which are played according to how the attorney fills out a seating
> chart on the computer. He could still be dead.
> Either way though, it doesn't matter whether you think he is dead or not.
> The reality is that he actually is dead or alive and it makes no difference
> whether his video convinces you one way or another.

Why do you keep raising this example of videos? You interact with the
image in the video, for example by asking it to raise its hand in the

> The whole zombie argument is bogus because you don't know what our actual
> sensitivities tell us subconsciously about other creatures. We can be
> fooled, but that doesn't mean that our only way of feeling that we are in
> the presence of another animal-level consciousness is by some kind of
> logical testing process. You underestimate consciousness. Logic is a much
> weaker epistemology than aesthetics, feeling, and intuition - even though
> all three of them can be misleading.

Can you tell for sure if someone other than yourself is a zombie? It
seems you do believe zombies are possible, since you think that
passing the Turing test is no guarantee that the entity is conscious.
A zombie is an entity that passes the Turing test but is not
conscious. So I ask you again, how can you be sure that people other
than you are not zombies?

>> so the atoms in this artificial cell, being the same type in the same
>> configuration, would follow the same laws of physics and behave in a similar
>> manner.
> It probably will just be a dead cell.

Which means you must have left something out in making the cell the
way you did, which brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to
verify this.

>> Unless there is some essential non-physical ingredient which is missing
>> how could it be otherwise?
> It's not a non-physical ingredient, it is experience through time.
> Experience is physical.

Which brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to verify this.

>> Rome itself would not have played the same role if a dust mote had got
>> into Julius Caesar's eye, so obviously a copy of Rome would not play out the
>> same role. You can't hold the copy to higher standards than the original.
> Then if a nanoscopic dust mote gets into your artificial cell then it won't
> work either.

But you're not saying the cell won't work because an error has been
made, you're saying it won't work because it's artificial. Which
brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to verify this.

>> But if I buy a particular model of car I don't want it to drive to the
>> same place as the prototype, I want it to have the same power, fuel
>> efficiency, steering etc. as the prototype. That is also what would be
>> required of a copy of a person: not that he live out exactly the same life,
>> but that he respond to similar situations in the same way as the original.
>> As with the car, you don't need an exhaustive list of all the situations the
>> person will encounter in order to program this in.
> You don't know that you don't need an exhaustive list, or if that would even
> help, because consciousness is by definition the essence of propriety. There
> is no generic person. Each person has to have a specific lifetime in order
> for them to be a person.

In the same way there is no generic car, since every car has a
different history from when it leaves the factory.

>> It's not a discrepancy. Even people who are genetically identical, or
>> machines which are physically identical from the factory, end up different
>> due to different personal histories. What is of no significance whatsoever
>> is the history of the matter that went into the construction of the person
>> or machine.
> It would if the person was constructing themselves bases on the history
> experiences in the universe.

What does that mean? The point I made was that the history of the
matter making up a person makes no difference whatsoever. The only
thing that makes a difference is the TYPE and CONFIGURATION of the
atoms. It doesn't matter where the artoms came from. If you disagree
with this a whole lot of experiments come to mind to verify your
hypothesis, so perhaps you could suggest some.

>> No it hasn't, because you can be sure I've moved my arm but you can't see
>> the associated consciousness no matter how much you examine me.
> No further examination is needed. The evidence of your consciousness could
> not be any more plain. Your prejudice is that you assume that phenomena can
> only arise from the activity of the microcosm. I don't see any scientific
> reasoning behind that. A phenomena can just as easily originate and preserve
> itself at the macrocosmic level, using low level phenomena
> opportunistically.

No, my consciousness is not obvious. An alien scientist could give a
complete account of why my arm moved in mechanistic terms without
having a clue as to whether I am conscious or not. If I jump up and
down and insist I am conscious he will be able to explain that also in
mechanistic terms. Just as you say the computer passing the Turing
test is no indication it is conscious, so the alien scientist can say
of you passing the Turing test he puts you through.

> The evidence is that when we put a bunch of amino acids into a beaker,
> nothing that we have done has caused biology to emerge. Now that could be
> nothing more than statistics, but why is biology so statistically unlikely
> if it is, as you seem to think, not really a big deal to substitute with
> inorganic matter?

If we put some spare parts into a bucket we don't get a computer. The
parts have to be arranged appropriately. It doesn't matter *how* the
spare parts are arranged appropriately as long as the arranging

>> But an ion gate can never, ever open unless in response to an appropriate
>> physical stimulus, such as a particular neurotransmitter or voltage. A
>> voltage difference can never, ever appear across a cell membrane unless
>> there is a difference between the anion and the cation concentration. There
>> can never, ever be a difference between the anion and cation concentration
>> unless the different entities move there through simple diffusion or through
>> selective ion channels.
> Let's say a bear jumps out at you. We know that epinepherine and other
> neurotransmitters are affected. Some are produced, some are inhibited, some
> cause chain reactions, etc. These are the facts. Your view denies these
> facts. The bear is not pissing cortisol into your brain so that it diffuses
> simply through selective ion channel. The bear is not shrinking itself and
> crawling into your bloodstream collecting up anions and cations like
> marbles. The bear is not electrocuting your cell membranes or prying open
> ion gates. So you can tell me - how does the adrenaline come to be suddenly
> produced and how is that production instantiated by the bear's appearance,
> and for extra credit, why would there be an experience associated with any
> of that?

The bear causes visual, auditory, perhaps olfactory stimuli which then
result in a series of neural events. How else could it possibly

>> And so on for everything in the brain: a physical explanation for how
>> everything gets to where it gets. Do you agree with this?
> No, it makes living organisms incapable of anything except passive
> homeostasis.

So please explain limiting yourself for clarity to a single protein in
the brain: how does it change its shape without being pushed by the
mechanistic stimuli painstakingly worked out by biochemists?

>> You claim that consciousness or free will can cause "spontaneous" voltage
>> changes and depolarisation of cell membranes. This claim is NOT consistent
>> with physics, and the evidence you cite such as fMRI studies does NOT mean
>> what you think it means. Contact the authors of the papers if you don't
>> believe me.
> Which papers do you claim rule out spontaneous changes in the body
> correlated to voluntary action?

No papers rule it out - it is in fact possible, as I have taken pains
to explain. It's just that there is no evidence for it. The papers you
cite do not show what you think they show.

>> Then you should state that every brain process happens due to a physical
>> cause, and list some of the physical causes to make it clear that this is
>> what you mean.
> If I decide to think of a tiger, thousands of brain processes are
> spontaneously set into motion. I don't think that an actual neuroscientist
> will back your view that this doesn't happen. It's an ordinary observation.
> If you get hooked up to an fMRI, and the doctor says, 'think of a tiger' you
> will get one set of spontaneous changes in brain activity if you think of a
> tiger, and different one if you think 'go to Hell, doc.' Whatever those
> brain activities represent, on whatever level, is completely irrelevant to
> the fact that their spontaneous change is due entirely to the ultimate
> semantic cause of what you decide to think about.

What exactly do you mean by "spontaneously"? Do you mean that a sodium
ion will suddenly appear out of nowhere? That seems to be what you are
saying. The "actual neuroscientists" know that the sodium ion can only
get there following mechanistic rules (diffusion, active transport,
selective diffusion through ion channels) but you know something else.

> Here's a chart I put together last night on the difference between the
> conventional perception model and mine: http://s33light.org/post/46304056007

It doesn't explain how doors or ion channels open "spontaneously" in
response to will.

>> Intentional is consistent with determined or random. It is not consistent
>> with neither determined nor random, since that is logically impossible.
> What is that unsupported assertion based on? How *exactly* is intention
> consistent with anything other than intention?

Which part is unsupported? If intention exists and everything that
exists is either determined or random, then intention also must be
either determined or random.

>> > Why would making the decision entail any awareness of it if it was
>> > determined already?
>> Because even though it was determined already the decision wasn't made
>> until it was made.
> What does that mean? Decisions happen because decisions happen? Why and how
> could an illusion of intentional decisions happen in an unintentional
> universe?

The universe is not unintentional if there are beings in it with
intention. It is not an illusion of intentionality if there actually
is intentionality. Unfortunately you choose to say that intention is
inconsistent with determinism or randomness, which would make
intention impossible, but the way other people define it it isn't

>> If I'm definitely going to go to China I still have to actually get there
>> in order to see China.
> If you are definitely going to go to China then by definition it doesn't
> matter if you actually get there or not. Either way, there's nothing you can
> do about it and no reason to consider it a decision.

It does matter because I haven't yet had the experience. If I have
absolutely, definitely made up my mind, bought the airline tickets,
and have absolutely no doubt that I will go to China I can still look
forward to going there, and I don't know what it will be like there.
That something is determined and that I know it is determined does not
mean that it doesn't matter.

Stathis Papaioannou

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