On Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:11:47 PM UTC-4, stathisp wrote:
> On 25 October 2013 12:31, Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >> You could say that human chess players just take in visual data, 
> >> process it in a series of biological relays, then send electrical 
> >> signals to muscles that move the pieces around. This is what an alien 
> >> scientist would observe. That's not thinking! That's not 
> >> understanding! 
> > 
> > 
> > Right, but since we understand that such an alien observation would be 
> in 
> > error, we must give our own experience the benefit of the doubt. 
> The alien might be completely confident in his judgement, having a 
> brain made of exotic matter. He would argue that however complex its 
> behaviour, a being made of ordinary matter that evolved naturally 
> could not possibly have an understanding of what it is doing. 

Of course, but to make the comparison equivalent, the alien would have to 
live on a planet of organic ice that hosts countless exotic inorganic 
species. He would have to make machines out of low level organic matter. 
Would he have a poetry that is made of math and a math that was made of art?

> > The 
> > computer does not deserve any such benefit of the doubt, since there is 
> no 
> > question that it has been assembled intentionally from controllable 
> parts. 
> > When we see a ventriloquist with a dummy, we do not entertain seriously 
> that 
> > we could be mistaken about which one is really the ventriloquist, or 
> whether 
> > they are equivalent to each other. 
> But if the dummy is autonomous and apparently just as smart as the 
> ventriloquist many of us would reconsider. 

It's easy enough to make the dummy appear autonomous.  If the dummy had a 
simple memory storage that recorded its movements, the ventriloquist could 
put servos in the dummy and memorize the playback so that he could recreate 
the show from across the room. Would that make the dummy suddenly smarter 
then the ventriloquist, especially since the ventriloquist is following the 
dummy's lead?


> > Looking at natural presences, like atoms or galaxies, the scope of their 
> > persistence is well beyond any human relation so they do deserve the 
> benefit 
> > of the doubt. We have no reason to believe that they were assembled by 
> > anything other than themselves. The fact that we are made of atoms and 
> atoms 
> > are made from stars is another point in their favor, whereas no living 
> > organism that we have encountered is made of inorganic atoms, or of pure 
> > mathematics, or can survive by consuming only inorganic atoms or 
> > mathematics. 
> There is no logical reason why something that is inorganic or did not 
> arise spontaneously or eats inoragnic matter cannot be conscious. It's 
> just something you have made up. 

It has nothing to do with logic, it has to do with history. The universe 
made it up, I didn't. The fact is that no organism can live without 
consuming organic matter. Until we find a species that needs no water, the 
idea that there can possibly be such a species remains a hypothesis, just 
as the idea that Shakespeare could have been just as great as a plumber 


> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou 

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