[ExI] The digital nature of brains (was: digital simulations)

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Mon Feb 1 19:15:11 UTC 2010

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> P: It is possible to make artificial neurons which behave like normal
> neurons in every way, but lack consciousness.
> That's it! Now, when I ask if P is true you have to answer "Yes" or
> "No". Is P true?


But not for any reason relevant to the discussion. The proposition
doesn't illustrate your point. Ordinary neurons behave normally
without producing consciousness all the time! This state can be
produced with trivial effort: either fall asleep, faint, or get
somebody to knock you upside the head. Presto. An entire unconscious
brain, neurons and all.

Request that you clarify the constraints of the experiment.

Now, for the other thing that bothered me...

Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com>:
> P = true if we define behavior as you've chosen to define it: the exchange of certain neurotransmitters into the synapses at certain times and other similar exchanges between neurons.

Stathis has not chosen to define behavior this way.

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> Yes, that would be one aspect of the behaviour that needs to be reproduced.

See, he's talking about behavior in full: walking, talking, thinking,
everything. I don't know why he didn't come right out and say that
when obviously it's a point of contention. I had to deduce it from
this cryptic reply.

It seems as if Gordon believes behavior has nothing to do with
consciousness, and Stathis believes consciousness is produced as a
direct result of behavior. Further, that the quantity of consciousness
is proportional to the intelligence of that behavior.

I'd be interested to hear from each of you a description of what would
constitute the simplest possible conscious system, and whether or not
such a system would necessarily also have intelligence or

I haven't been able to figure out exactly what any of these three
words mean to either of you. I am pretty sure, however, that you each
have radically different definitions.

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