On Thursday, May 2, 2013 3:08:17 PM UTC-4, Jason wrote:
> The arguments are not so much arguments, but a collection of dubious
> His first argument is that the brain is not computable, which requires
> assuming the brain does not operate according to known physics, as all
> known physics is computable.
All known physics is computable because it is based on the public
interaction of material bodies. Consciousness is not isomorphic to those
kinds of interactions. Our thoughts and emotions are known physics as much
as the measurements of objects, but we are not used to thinking of them
that way. Whether or not the brain is computable I think doesn't matter
because brain activity is only a representation of one aspect of
experience, which is not going to be very useful taken out of the context
of the total history of experience. The brain is a flatland footprint of
experience. We might compute the contours of the sole of the shoe, but that
doesn't tell us about the person wearing them.
> The second and third objections are that we need to understand
> consciousness and solve the hard problem before we can replicate a brain.
> I don't see how this follows. Ted Berger offers a convincing argument
> against the necessity of needing a theory of mind to do his work (which is
> creating neural prosthesis): "I don't need a grand theory of the mind to
> fix what is essentially a signal-processing problem. A repairman doesn't
> need to understand music to fix your broken CD player."
We don't need to understand the hard problem if we can replicate a brain,
but understanding the hard problem tells us why replicating a brain doesn't
mean that there is any subjective experience associated with its function.
> The fourth argument is that special materials are needed for
> consciousness. Where is the evidence?
Well, there is the complete lack of any inorganic consciousness in the
universe as far as we know. That isn't evidence, but it might be a clue.
Materials matter to our body quite a bit.
> The fifth argument is that a non-physical soul is required. If a
> gelatinous blob of cells can have a soul, why can't any other machine?
Because the blob of cells was once a single cell which divided itself
because it had the power to do so. Perhaps a synthetic biology would work
similarly, but the approach right now to machines is to assemble them out
of dumb parts. There may be an important difference between an organism and
> The sixth, that it would be unethical is surprising. Is it unethical to
> give people artificial hearts, or limbs? Why will it be unethical to give
> them prosthetic brain regions or entire brains?
If you had to develop artificial hearts by legions of making mutant
children who had to live their lives in misery, then there would be an
ethical issue. That would be the case if computation alone could indeed
become conscious. Any program loop left running might be conjuring
inconceivable agony for some machine-person in the Platonic aethers.
> The seventh, again requires belief in some kind of non-physical soul that
> can't be duplicated and is necessary for identity.
Your position requires denial of any significant difference between
conscious intent and unconscious reflex.
> The eight, well who wouldn't take the risk of hacking over the certainty
> of biological death?
Yeah, that the risk of hacking is a red herring. We are already being
hacked by commercial interests.
> Despite the large number of "arguments", I find none of them convincing.
I wouldn't either from that article alone, but they are ok as a short list
to begin to investigate the deeper issues.
> On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM, Craig Weinberg
> > wrote:
>> Nice. It could be heavier on support on the points, but not bad for a
>> superficial pop-sci treatment.
>> My comments:
>> It’s a mistake to think of this debate in terms of having insufficient
>> understanding or technology to simulate consciousness. The point is that we
>> already have sufficient understanding of the problem to suspect that in
>> fact, the entire assumption that private experience can be assembled by
>> public bodies is false. I see this not as a point of religious sentiment,
>> but of physical ontology. To presume that we could ever make a program, for
>> instance, which projects an image that we can see without any physical
>> projection technology would be an error. No amount of logic can turn a
>> simulation of water into actual water that we can drink. To quote
>> Korzybski, “The map is not the territory”, or Magritte “Ceci n’est pas une
>> It seems that we have become so enamored with computation that we have
>> lost this sense of discernment between figures which we use to represent
>> and the genuine presentations which are experienced first hand. Figures and
>> symbols are only valid within a particular mode of interpretation. What is
>> stored in a computer has no aesthetic content. If you tell the computer the
>> data is a picture, it will barf out onto the screen whatever noise
>> corresponds to that picture. If you tell the computer to use the sound card
>> instead, then it will dump the noise as acoustic vibration. The computer
>> doesn’t care, either way, data is just data. It is a-signifying and generic
>> - the exact opposite of conscious experience which derives its significance
>> from proprietary experience through time rather than mechanical function or
>> forms. Consciousness is neither form nor function, it is the participatory
>> aesthetic appreciation of form and function, and I am willing to bet that
>> it is actually the fundamental principle of the cosmos, upon which all
>> forms and functions, all matter and energy depend.
>> As far as embodiment goes, the issue should be refocused so that human
>> consciousness in particular is understood as a special case within the
>> universal phenomenon of sensory-motor participation, which goes all the way
>> down to the bottom. It’s not that mind needs a body, its that private
>> awareness correlates to specific public presentations. These public
>> presentations, while possible to imitate and substitute to the extent that
>> the insensitivity of the perceiver permits, there is no way, from an
>> absolute perspective to completely replace any experience with anything
>> other than that particular experience. Unlike figures and symbols,
>> experiences are rooted in the firmament of eternity. They make a certain
>> kind of sense from every angle which is transparent - experiences allow us
>> to triangulate meaning through them, and to elide or bridge gaps with leaps
>> of understanding. (“A-ha!”).
>> Experiences can misrepresent each other on different levels, conflicting
>> expectations can produce ‘illusions’ but these all ultimately have the
>> potential to be revealed through the fullness of time. Simulated reality
>> offers no such universal grounding, and promises true prisons which are
>> isolated from any possibility of escape. That could happen in theory as a
>> consequence of Strong AI, but it won’t in reality, because Strong AI will,
>> I think, evaporate in a cloud of hype eventually, and I think that this
>> very conversation is a clue that it is happening already. This is not a bad
>> thing, not a cause for mourning and disappointment, but an exciting time
>> when we can set aside our toy model of physics which disqualifies its model
>> maker for long enough to form a new, fully integrated model of the universe
>> which sees perception not as a metaphysical ‘emergent property’ but as the
>> private view of physics itself. Physics is perception and participation,
>> i.e. consciousness.
>> On Wednesday, May 1, 2013 9:41:36 PM UTC-4, Stephen Paul King wrote:
>>> I apologize in advance for the gross errors that this post
>>> and all of my posts will contain. ;-)
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