On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 3:09 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 5/2/2013 7:47 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
>> Would anyone here say that a conditional (e.g., "if/else") statement" (in
>> some program) is conscious?
> I don't think so. We make if/else choices subconsciously all the time.
> My introspection tells me that conscious thought is a kind of narrative
> story I construct. I think the function of this is to condense my
> experience for memory and future reference when I need to plan or predict
> based on my past experience. If I were designing an intelligent Mars Rover
> that had to learn to deal with a wide variety of problems which I cannot
> anticipate, this sort of selective memory narrative would be one component
> of it's learning.
> Of course there are different levels of consciousness. A Mars Rover needs
> a conception of "self" as being in certain place, having completed certain
> tasks, having certain capabilities, etc. But it doesn't need to consider
> its status among peers or reflect on its own computational methods or its
> ultimate end.
I think you may be reading my question in the wrong way. I didn't mean to
equate your consciousness with that of every if/else decision you make, but
rather ask something like, "What does the shortest possible program that is
conscious look like?"
I have trouble seeing why some short piece of code like:
if (x > 0) then do y() else do z();
Is not conscious of some property of x (whether it is positive or
negative), at least when the two different functions y() and z() cause the
program to enter different states.
I find it harder to justify the consciousness of a program that did not do
any selection, distinction, or inspection. In most programming languages,
this is done using a conditional statement, such as an "if statement", a
"while statement" or a "switch statement".
>> I think such statements may form the atoms of consciousness, as they
>> represent the point at which a program's behavior diverges based on the
>> inspection of some information.
>> Conditional statements are required for any kind of intelligent or
>> responsive behavior, which might be why consciousness correlates with it.
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