On Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:17:04 AM UTC-4, telmo_menezes wrote:
> Hi Craig (and all), 
> Now that I have a better understanding of your ideas, I would like to 
> confront you with a thought experiment. Some of the stuff you say 
> looks completely esoteric to me, so I imagine there are three 
> possibilities: either you are significantly more intelligent than me 
> or you're a bit crazy, or both. I'm not joking, I don't know. 
> But I would like to focus on sensory participation as the fundamental 
> stuff of reality and your claim that strong AI is impossible because 
> the machines we build are just Frankensteins, in a sense. If I 
> understand correctly, you still believe these machines have sensory 
> participation just because they exist, but not in the sense that they 
> could emulate our human experiences. They have the sensory 
> participation level of the stuff they're made of and nothing else. 
> Right? 

Not exactly. My view is that there is only sensory participation on the 
level of what has naturally evolved. Since the machine did not organize 
itself, there is no 'machine' any more than a book of Shakespeare's quotes 
is a machine that is gradually turning into Shakespeare. What we see as 
machines are assemblies of parts which we use to automate functions 
according to our own human sense and motives - like a puppet. 

There is sensation going on two levels: 1) the very local level, and 2) at 
the absolute level. On the 1) local level, all machines depend on local 
physical events. Whether they are driven by springs and gears, boiling 
water in pipes, or subatomic collisions, Turing emulation rides on the back 
of specific conditions which lock and unlock small parts of the machine. 
Those smallest of those parts would be associated with some sensory-motive 
interaction - the coherence of molecular surfaces, thermodynamics, 
electrodynamics, etc, have a very local, instantaneous, and presumably 
primitive sensory involvement. That could be very alien to us, as it is 
both very short term and very long term - maybe there is only a flash of 
feeling at the moment of change, who knows?

On the 2) absolute level, there is the logical sensibility which all 1) 
local events share - the least common denominator of body interactions. 
This is the universal machine that Bruno champions. It's not sense which is 
necessarily experienced directly, rather all local sense touches on this 
universal measuring system *when it measures* something else.

The problem with machines is that there is no sense in between the 
momentary, memoryless, sensation of lock/unlock and the timeless, placeless 
sensibility of read/write or +/*. In a human experience, the 1) has evolved 
over billions of years to occupy the continuum in between 1) and 2), with 
implicit memories of feelings and experiences anchored in unique local 
contexts. Machines have no geography or ethnicity, no aesthetic presence.


> So let's talk about seeds. 
> We now know how a human being grows from a seed that we pretty much 
> understand. We might not be able to model all the complexity involved 
> in networks of gene expression, protein folding and so on, but we 
> understand the building blocks. We understand them to a point where we 
> can actually engineer the outcome to a degree. It is now 2013 and we 
> are, in a sense, living in the future. 
> So we can now take a fertilised egg and tweak it somehow. When done 
> successfully, a human being will grow out of it. Doing this with human 
> eggs is considered unethical, but I believe it is technically 
> possible. So a human being grows out of this egg. Is he/she normal? 

I don't know that there is normal. All that we can do is see whether people 
who have had various procedures done to their cell-bodies seem healthy to 
themselves and others.

> What if someone actually designs the entire DNA string and grows a 
> human being out of it? Still normal? 

Same thing. Probably, but it depends on how the mother's body responds to 
it as it develops.

> What if we simulate the growth of the organism from a string of 
> virtual DNA and then just assemble the outcome at some stage? Still 
> normal? 

Virtual DNA is a cartoon, with a recording of our expectations attached to 
it. Is a digital picture of a person 'normal'? If we photoshop it a little 
bit, is it still normal? The problem is the expectation that virtual 
anything is the same as real simply because it reminds us of something 
real. Of course it reminds us of what is real, we have designed it 
specifically to fool us in every way that we care about.

> What if now we do away with DNA altogether and use some other Turing 
> complete self-modifying system? 

Then we have a cool cartoon that reminds us of biology. That's if we have 
it rendered to a graphic display. If not then we have a warm box full of 
tiny switches that we can imagine are doing something other than switching 
on and off.

> What if we never build the outcome but just let it live inside a 
> simulation? We can even visit this simulation with appropriate 
> hardware: http://www.oculusvr.com/. What now? 
We're entertaining ourselves is all. We'll know when we have created 
artificial biology when it tries to escape and exterminate us.

> In your view, at what point does this break? And why? 

It's broken from the start. The trash can that says THANK YOU on the lid 
whenever you put the tray in doesn't get smarter if you had a second lid 
that said NO THANK YOU if a sensor detected too large of an object. There 
is nothing there which is present on the human level to share our awareness 
of the situation. Adding billions of tiny lids doesn't improve the capacity 
of them to feel or experience. We are mistaking the effect of what we are 
(the brain) for the cause of what we are (nested experiences, some of which 
seem like the brain). By taking the public end of the thing (forms and 
functions) and assuming that Santa Claus will provide the private end of 
the thing (aesthetic appreciation and participation...sense and motive), we 
are approaching it the wrong way around. It is like trying to build 
Shakespeare out of rules for grammar and spelling. You might be able to 
give yourself a feeling of Shakespeare, but there is no 16th century 
playwright there.


> Best, 
> Telmo. 

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