On 1 October 2013 23:31, Pierz <pier...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.

When I say "comp holds" I mean in the first instance that my physical
brain could be replaced with an appropriate computer and I would still
be me. But this assumption leads to the conclusion that the computer
is not actually needed, just the computation as platonic object. So if
it's true that my brain could be replaced with a physical computer
then my brain and the computer were not physical in a fundamental
sense in the first place! While this is circular-sounding I don't
think that it's actually contradictory. It is not a necessary premise
of Chalmer's argument (or indeed, for most scientific arguments) that
there be a fundamental physical reality.

As for reproducing the brain's behaviour, it comes down to whether
brain physics is computable. It probably *is* computable, since we
have not found evidence of non-computable physics of which I am aware.
If it is not, then computationalism is false. But even if
computationalism is false, Chalmer's argument still shows that
*functionalism* is true. Computationalism is a subset of
functionalism.

> 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.

Essentially, I think that if the alien computer reproduces human
behaviour then it will also reproduce human qualia. Start with a
prosthesis that replaces 1% of the brain. If it has different qualia
despite copying the original neurons' I/O behaviour then very quickly
the system will deteriorate: the brain's owner will notice that the
qualia are different and behave differently, which is impossible if
the original assumption about copying the original neurons' I/O
behaviour is true. The same is the case if the prosthesis replaces 99%
of the neurons - the 1% remaining neurons would notice that the qualia
were different and deviate from normal behaviour, and the same would
be the case if only one of the original neurons were present. If you
assume it is possible that the prosthesis reproduces the I/O behaviour
but not the qualia you get a contradiction, and a contradiction is
worse than a crazy quandary.


-- 
Stathis Papaioannou

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