On Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 3:36 AM, Pierz <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:
> If I might just butt in (said the barman)...

The more the merrier!

> 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.

Even under functionalist assumptions, I still find the Turing test to
be misguided because it require the machine to lie, while a human can
pass it by telling the truth. I propose an alternative: you converse
with the machine for a certain amount of time and then I offer you $10
to kill it.

> 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.

And mine.

> 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 then this approach is bound to fail if you extend the interaction
for long enough time, as Liz points out.

> 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.

Well said. This is a departure from science into religion, sadly very
common nowadays. Religion is the bad sense of the word, of course.

> The comp assumption that computations have
> qualia hidden inside them is not much of an answer either in my view.

I have the same problem.

> 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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