On Thursday, September 26, 2013 11:49:29 AM UTC-4, telmo_menezes wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> > 
> > 
> > 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. 
> This sounds a bit like vitalism. What's so special about natural 
> evolution that can't be captured otherwise? 

It's not about life or nature being special, it's about recognizing that 
nature is an expression of experience, and that experience can't be 
substituted. A player piano can be made to play the notes of a song, but no 
matter how many notes it plays, it will never know the significance of what 
notes or music is.

> > 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. 
> But the books are not machines. Shakespeare possibly was. If he was, 
> why can't he be emulated by another machine? 

I was using the example of a book to show how different a symbol is from 
that which we imagine the symbol represents. If we want a more machine-like 
example, we can use a copy machine. The copier can reproduce the works of 
any author mechanically, but does it appreciate or participate in the 
content of what it is copying?

> > 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? 
> This part I can somewhat agree with. I do tend to believe that 1p 
> experience is possibly not limited to living organisms. I think about 
> it like you describe: "flashes of feeling" and "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. 
> Why do you believe we have evolved like that? What's the evolutionary 
> pressure for that? Whatever evolution did, why can't we recreate it? 
> Or do you. by evolution, mean something else/more than conventional 
> neo-Darwinism? 

By evolution I mean that the history of individual experiences plays a role 
in accessing possibilities. Experience takes place in a spacetime context 
that may only occur one time. 

If we want to be billionaires, we might ask 'why can't we recreate John D. 
Rockefeller?", as if there were some particular recipe which can be 
extracted and applied to anyone. It's not like that though. There were real 
events with a nation full of real people who did not yet have electric 
lights or cars for which Rockefeller was able to make money by supplying 
kerosene. Nobody needs much kerosene now, so that wouldn't work. 

In a similar way, the stories of living organisms may not be able to be 
told except for through the particular vocabulary that it has reserved for 
itself. We have not successfully built any living organisms from scratch 
yet, which is something worth noting, given that we have been trying for 
decades. We have also not found any sign of alternate biologies that exist 
without water or hydrocarbons. The finality of death is another feature 
that suggests a difference between organisms and machines. The whole idea 
that any particular experience or object can exist in isolation from the 
totality is just an assumption.  

> > 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 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. 
> So it appears you're open to the possibility that this is fine, and 
> that a human being like you and me was produced. 

Sure, humans can be cloned, incubated in a test tube, etc. It's interesting 
to not though that every person, even a clone, is an individual. Unlike 
machines, you can't replace one with another, even if they look very 
similar to each other. 

> >> 
> >> 
> >> 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. 
> So you don't believe this is possible: 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_uterus ? 

It seems possible, but I don't think anyone will know for sure until we try 

> If not, why? 

Different organisms have different requirements. Even if we can get all of 
the chemical requirements right, we don't know what sensitivities might be 
involved. As we see, baby monkeys will choose the wireframe mother with the 
fur attached to it rather than the bare wire. Can we be sure that being 
enveloped by another organism is not in intrinsic requirement for mammals 
to be healthy?

> >> 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. 
> Wait a moment. What I suggest here is that we simulate DNA and then 
> morphogenesis as precisely as we can. Then, through some sci-fi-ish 
> device we actually 3D print the resulting organism with the normal 
> molecules that a human being is made of. The cartoon generated the 
> real thing. No? 

Not necessarily. It may not work like that. If you 3D printed additional 
brain cells from a person who is already alive, then sure, they would be 
able to integrate the transplant. If you tried to 3D print an adult body, 
my guess is that it would not live very long or gain consciousness. That's 
because I think that it is the experience that is actually the absolutely 
real physical entity, and the body is only a thin cross-section (although 
it's a really wide cross-section in that it touches on the common level of 
every other experience).

> >> 
> >> 
> >> 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. 
> Alright, so what is the property that DNA has that other mediums can't 
> capture?

For one thing, it allows Ribosomes to make protein. DNA is an actual thing 
that exists independently as a molecular body with a history that goes back 
to the beginning of time, and may possibly extend indefinitely. A model of 
DNA can be nothing but a picture or a program. It's not real. It has no 
history beyond it's initial rendering.

> Do you accept that DNA describes a Turing emulable program? 

No. DNA is not a description, it is an actual presence. Turing emulations 
are descriptions which can be used to program something which is actually 
present. If you copied the transcription pattern of DNA onto ping pong 
balls instead of organic molecules, there wouldn't be any proteins or cells 
being generated.

> Or do you believe there is something inherently non-computational in 
> DNA?

I think that everything that is actually present (experiences or bodies) if 
fundamentally non-computable. It is only the measurement which is 
computable. There is no computation that can produce a single particle or 
experience by itself.

If you agree that DNA is Turing emulable, I don't see how you 
> cannot be prepared to accept the equivalent phenomena happening on 
> some other medium. 

Nothing real is Turing emulable. If it were, we wouldn't need 3D printers, 
we would simply find the code to will objects into being. Emulation itself 
is really a figurative term. It's useful for folk engineering, but each 
moment or event is, from an absolute perspective, unrepeatable. Emulation 
is always an approximation to a certain substitution level, and with 
awareness, there can be no substitution level because I think that 
awareness is authenticity itself.

> >> 
> >> 
> >> 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. 
> Ok, the bump was before this one so let's leave it aside for now. 
> > We'll know when we have created 
> > artificial biology when it tries to escape and exterminate us. 
> I actually am inclined to agree here, but possibly for different reasons. 


> >> 
> >> In your view, at what point does this break? And why? 
> > 
> > 
> > It's broken from the start. 
> No, you're contradicting yourself. Read what you wrote. I believe you 
> were ok with DNA manipulation and possibly ok with DNA synthesis. Our 
> divergence appears to really start with virtual DNA. 

I mean it's broken from the start in the sense of considering real 
phenomena to substituted for disembodied information. DNA manipulation and 
synthesis is only making some changes to actual DNA. There's nothing 
non-biological or non-physical going on. When it comes to using other 
materials you would have to see how the physical and biological environment 
accepted it. Even ordinary transplants of human to human organs often 
suffer rejection. When it comes to immaterial, 'virtual DNA', I don't think 
that there is any intersection with reality until we use physical and 
biological systems to realize it.

> > 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. 
> Ok, ok. One step at a time :) Please explain to me what's wrong with 
> virtual DNA first. 

As soon as you want to touch a ribosome, you need something that is not 
virtual anymore. At that point, it depends on how different the product you 
are using is from natural DNA and how well the particular cell it is being 
inserted into tolerates it.


> Thanks Craig! 
> Telmo. 
> > Thanks, 
> > Craig 
> > 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Best, 
> >> Telmo. 
> > 
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