Maybe. It would be a lot more profound if we definitely *could* reproduce the
brain's behaviour. The devil is in the detail as they say. But a challenge to
Chalmer's position has occurred to me. It seems to me that Bruno has
convincingly argued that *if* comp holds, then consciousness supervenes on the
computation, not on the physical matter. But functionalism suggests that what
counts is the output, not the manner in which it as arrived at. That is to say,
the brain or whatever neural subunit or computer is doing the processing is a
black box. You input something and then read the output, but the intervening
steps don't matter. Consider what this might mean in terms of a brain. Let's
say a vastly advanced alien species comes to earth. It looks at our puny little
brains and decides to make one to fool us. This constructed person/brain
receives normal conversational input and outputs conversation that it knows
will perfectly mimic a human being. But in fact the computer doing this
processing is vastly superior to the human brain. It's like a modern PC
emulating a TRS-80, except much more so. When it computes/thinks up a response,
it draws on a vast amount of knowledge, intelligence and creativity and
accesses qualia undreamed of by a human. Yet its response will completely fool
any normal human and will pass Turing tests till the cows come home. What this
thought experiment shows is that, while half-qualia may be absurd, it most
certainly is possible to reproduce the outputs of a brain without replicating
its qualia. It might have completely different qualia, just as a very good
actor's emotions can't be distinguished from the real thing, even though his or
her internal experience is quite different. And if qualia can be quite
different even though the functional outputs are the same, this does seem to
leave functionalism in something of a quandary. All we can say is that there
must be some kind of qualia occurring, rather a different result from what
Chalmers is claiming. When we extend this type of scenario to artificial
neurons or partial brain prostheses as in Chamer's paper, we quickly run up
against perplexing problems. Imagine the advanced alien provides these
prostheses. It takes the same inputs and generates the same correct outputs,
but it processes those inputs within a much vaster, more complex system. Does
the brain utilizing this advanced prosthesis experience a kind of expanded
consciousness because of this, without that difference being detectable? Or do
the qualia remain somehow confined to the prosthesis (whatever that means)?
These crazy quandaries suggest to me that basically, we don't know shit.
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