On Thursday, April 18, 2013 9:03:24 AM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 10:24 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> It comes down to whether the computer has desires and feelings. We 
> >> can't be sure whether it does or not. 
> > 
> > 
> > Why would we even entertain the possibility that it does though? If 
> > computers had feelings wouldn't at least some of them complain about 
> > something or express some mood once in a while? 
> Does a water molecule? Does a protein? 

A computer made of protein or water wouldn't have feelings either. Rich 
subjective content, in my view, arises through experience over billions of 
years, which cannot be skipped or condensed. It has nothing to do with the 
materials as materials, but it has to do with the materials as they reflect 
a history going back indefinitely.

> >> We can't be sure whether a 
> >> bacterium has desires and feelings either. We are made of the same 
> >> stuff as the bacterium and we have desires and feelings, so something 
> >> that doesn't have desires and feelings can have desires and feelings 
> >> when it is arranged in a particular way. Whether it is deterministic 
> >> or random is, as you have said, orthogonal to this. 
> > 
> > 
> > I would give the benefit of the doubt that there is some degree of 
> > subjective content associated with bacteria on some level. The fact that 
> > they are arranged in different way is an obvious difference between 
> bacteria 
> > and brains, but that is not the only difference. A human body has a 
> > different history than a bacterium as well. Different things happen when 
> a 
> > human zygote divides than when a bacterium divides. You assume the cause 
> is 
> > the configuration and the effect is the difference in behaviors and 
> > capacities. I consider the possibility that configuration reflects a 
> > different experience and that the cause and effect are bi-directional. 
> The 
> > effect of experience may not be passed on in from one individual's body 
> to 
> > another in a Lamarckian way, but that does not mean that there is not a 
> > conversation going on between two parallel aesthetics, one bottom-up 
> > unintentional and spatially local and one top-down intentional and 
> > temporally local (from a large now to a smaller now...i.e., when it is 
> time 
> > for a particular shift, it begins to manifest in synchronous ways in 
> > multiple locations, like Newton and Leibniz). 
> Humans and bacteria are similar in some ways and different in others. 
> The differences could be as great as the differences between a modern 
> supercomputer and an AI of the future. 

 Sure, or like the differences between a brick wall and the Taj Mahal. 
Complexity does not equal life or consciousness. Corpses are complex.

> >> Our brains could be deterministic and we would still have the same 
> >> ideas about games, freedom of choice, moral responsibility and 
> >> everything else. You're unusual in finding it inconceivable. 
> > 
> > 
> > Why would we have any idea about 'choice' or 'freedom', or 
> 'responsibility'? 
> Are you implying a general principle that if we can conceive of it it 
> must be so?? 

I am implying that nothing can exist in a foreground if it cannot be 
contrasted against a background. If there is only determinism in the 
universe, there is no background, so it cannot possibly be conceptualized 
in any way. Determinism as opposed to what? How is determinism 'deciding' 
whether or not it determines itself to exist?

> > Why would those things be conceivable without any way to step back from 
> > determinism voluntarily? Do you think a typewriter thinks about choice 
> or 
> > freedom? Does a machine gun think about responsibility? 
> Those machines don't, but neither does a water molecule or a protein. 

If you are a person, you have the luxury of looking at cells and molecules, 
but molecules and cells can't look back at a person. The person does not 
exist on that level, even though the effects of what a person does can 
impact them. Your view doesn't account for the aesthetic differences so 
that from the start you define a person as generic states of 
quantum/molecules - but those are meaningless to us except to provide basic 
resources of locality. Your view assumes a metaphysical property leaps out 
of a machine's function which feels, and can be exported to anything 
irrespective of its nature, but the reality we experience is that the 
difference between life and death, edible and inedible, natural and 
synthetic are among the most significant differences which we care about as 
human beings.

> >> > All games are created equal, but games which have real world 
> >> > consequences 
> >> > are not games. This of course maps to the simulation argument - where 
> >> > all 
> >> > simulations are interchangeable with each other, but none of them are 
> >> > interchangeable with the fundamental non-simulation. Digital fire can 
> >> > burn 
> >> > down a simulated house in the game or a meta-simulatied house within 
> a 
> >> > game 
> >> > within a simulated house, but it can never burn down a real house 
> >> > outside of 
> >> > all of the games. Games are easy, reality is harder. 
> >> 
> >> Unless simulated beings can have experiences. 
> > 
> > 
> > Like Bugs Bunny. Maybe he really enjoys the taste of carrots? 
> Again, you use facile counterarguments, like a race of electronic 
> beings claiming humans can't be conscious because water molecules and 
> proteins obviously aren't. 

There is a huge difference. Water and protein molecules are not obviously 
unconscious - they respond to their environment in countless ways. Bugs 
Bunny is a representation. Whatever medium he is drawn, printed, or painted 
on, there is no possibility of it reacting as Bugs Bunny. No representation 
has any presence of its own - they rely on the physical nature of the 
medium and the experiential nature of the beholder of the medium 
completely. Water and protein are not shadows or figures, they are natural 
presences which are their own medium and I think, their own beholder as 

> >> You are begging the 
> >> question by assuming that they cannot. You are saying that you know, a 
> >> priori, that we are not living in a simulation now, but you have to 
> >> explain how you know this. 
> > 
> > 
> > I don't know it, but I understand why consciousness cannot be simulated 
> by 
> > something which is not inherently conscious (because of the Presentation 
> > problem...hard problems, explanatory gap, binding problem, symbol 
> grounding 
> > problem, mind-body symmetry problem) 
> These problems, such as they are, do not preclude consciousness from 
> being simulated.

Why not? If consciousness cannot be tied in any way to forms and functions 
then how can you think that it might not mean that consciousness cannot be 
generated from forms and functions?

> If we could explain why one type of thing could not 
> possibly be conscious that would be a major step towards solving the 
> Hard Problem. 

Representations cannot possibly be conscious. These letters you are reading 
*cannot possibly ever become conscious*. If you have a psychotic episode, 
then you may have an experience where letters reflect your own 
overly-animated psyche back to you in a way which convinces you they are 
conscious, but that is an over-stepping of the bounds of subjectivity, i.e. 
a form of the Pathetic fallacy. From an absolute perspective, no 
representation can have any experiential content. No map is a territory.

> > and I understand why assembled bodies 
> > in space do not necessarily equal continuous experiences through time, 
> and 
> > why, in general, maps are not territories. The only counter-argument I 
> see 
> > is wishes, promises, and threats based on presumptions about 
> consciousness 
> > defined from a 3p behaviorist perspective. 
> The map is not the same as the territory but this does does not 
> preclude the map from having properties of the territory. 

Yes it does. A territory allows for unlimited inspection and interaction, 
where a map is only a facade that holds up to limited and proscribed 
interaction. A map is intentionally produced to serve a given class of 
participants in a particular range of sense modalities. A territory is not 
limited in that way and is potentially discoverable by any participant. 
Deeper than that however, all presentations (territories) are intrinsically 
genuine - they are part of a history of the universe in which they directly 
participate. Representations are not. Bugs Bunny has no family tree, no 
country of origin, etc. It's a human symbol which has no life outside of 
human experiences.


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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