If I might just butt in (said the barman)...

It seems to me that Craig's insistence that "nothing is Turing emulable, 
only the measurements are" expresses a different ontological assumption 
from the one that computationalists take for granted. It's evident that if 
we make a flight simulator, we will never leave the ground, regardless of 
the verisimilitude of the simulation. So why would a simulated 
consciousness be expected to actually be conscious? Because of different 
ontological assumptions about matter and consciousness. Science has given 
up on the notion of consciousness as having "being" the same way that 
matter is assumed to. Because consciousness has no place in an objective 
description of the world (i.e., one which is defined purely in terms of the 
measurable), contemporary scientific thinking reduces consciousness to 
those apparent behavioural outputs of consciousness which *can* be 
measured. This is functionalism. Because we can't measure the presence or 
absence of awareness, functionalism gives up on the attempt and presents 
the functional outputs as the only things that are "really real". Hence we 
get the Turing test. If we can't tell the difference, the simulator is no 
longer a simulator: it *is* the thing simulated. This conclusion is shored 
up by the apparently water-tight argument that the brain is made of atoms 
and molecules which are Turing emulable (even if it would take the lifetime 
of the universe to simulate the behaviour of a protein in a complex 
cellular environment, but oh well, we can ignore quantum effects because 
it's too hot in there anyway and just fast forward to the neuronal level, 
right?). It's also supported by the objectifying mental habit of people 
conditioned through years of scientific training. It becomes so natural to 
step into the god-level third person perspective that the elision of 
private experience starts seems like a small matter, and a step that one 
has no choice but to make. 

Of course, the alternative does present problems of its own! Craig 
frequently seems to slip into a kind of naturalism that would have it that 
brains possess soft, non-mechanical sense because they are soft and 
non-mechanical seeming. They can't be machines because they don't have 
cables and transistors. "Wetware" can't possibly be hardware. A lot of his 
arguments seem to be along those lines — the refusal to accept abstractions 
which others accept, as telmo aptly puts it. He claims to "solve the hard 
problem of consciousness" but the solution involves manoeuvres like 
"putting the whole universe into the explanatory gap" between objective and 
subjective: hardly illuminating! I get irritated by neologisms like PIP 
(whatever that stands for now - was "multi-sense realism' not obscure 
enough?), which to me seem to be about trying to add substance to vague and 
poetic intuitions about reality by attaching big, intellectual-sounding 
labels to them. 

However the same grain of sand that seems to get in Craig's eye does get in 
mine too. It's conceivable that some future incarnation of "cleverbot" 
(cleverbot.com, in case you don't know it) could reach a point of passing a 
Turing test through a combination of a vast repertoire of recorded 
conversation and some clever linguistic parsing to do a better job of 
keeping track of a semantic thread to the conversation (where the program 
currently falls down). But in this case, what goes in inside the machine 
seems to make all the difference, though the functionalists are committed 
to rejecting that position. Cleverly simulated conversation just doesn't 
seem to be real conversation if what is going on behind the scenes is just 
a bunch of rules for pulling lines out of a database. It's Craig's clever 
garbage lids. We can make a doll that screams and recoils from damaging 
inputs and learns to avoid them, but the functional outputs of pain are not 
the experience of pain. Imagine a being neurologically incapable of pain. 
Like "Mary", the hypothetical woman who lives her life seeing the world 
through a black and white monitor and cannot imagine colour qualia until 
she is released, such an entity could not begin to comprehend the meaning 
of screams of pain - beyond possibly recognising a self-protective 
function. The elision of qualia from functional theories of mind has 
potentially very serious ethical consequences - for only a subject with 
access to those qualia truly understand them. Understanding the human 
condition as it really is involves inhabiting human qualia. Otherwise you 
end up with Dr Mengele — humans as objects.

I've read Dennett's arguments against the "qualophiles" and I find them 
singularly unconvincing - though to say why is another long post. Dennett 
says we only "seem" to have qualia, but what can "seem" possibly mean in 
the absence of qualia? An illusion of a quality is an oxymoron, for the 
quality *is* only the way it seems. The comp assumption that computations 
have qualia hidden inside them is not much of an answer either in my view. 
Why not grant the qualia equal ontological status to the computations 
themselves, if they are part and parcel? And if they cannot be known except 
from the inside, and if the computation's result can't be known in advance, 
why not say that the "logic" of the qualitiative experience is reflected in 
the mathematics as much as the other way round? 

Well enough. I don't have the answer. All I'm prepared to say is we are 
still confronted by mystery. "PIP" seems to me to be more impressionistic 
than theoretical. Comp still seems to struggle with qualia and zombies. I 
suspect we still await the unifying perspective.

On Thursday, September 26, 2013 8:17:04 PM UTC+10, 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? 
> 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? 
> What if someone actually designs the entire DNA string and grows a 
> human being out of it? Still normal? 
> 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? 
> What if now we do away with DNA altogether and use some other Turing 
> complete self-modifying system? 
> 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? 
> In your view, at what point does this break? And why? 
> Best, 
> Telmo. 

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