[ExI] How not to make a thought experiment

John Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Thu Feb 4 16:51:20 UTC 2010

On Feb 3, 2010 Gordon Swobe wrote:

> Many things aside from symbols can consistently and systematically change the state of the symbol reader. 

Like what? And if it consistently and systematically changes the state of the symbol reader exactly what additional quality do these "many things" have that disqualifies them as being symbols?
> This wikipedia definition seems better:
> "A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association

Rather like a hole in a particular place on a punch card, and its association to a particular column in a punch card reader.

> I take that as a confirmation of your earlier assertion that brains made of beer cans and toilet paper can have consciousness provided those beer cans squirt the correct neurotransmitters between themselves at the correct times.


> This suggests to me that your ideology has a firmer grip on your thinking that does your sense of the absurd, and that no reductio ad absurdum argument will find traction with you.

Before you use a reductio ad absurdum argument you must be certain it's logically contradictory, just being odd is not good enough.  

> I find it ironic that you try to use reductio ad absurdum arguments with me given that you have apparently inoculated yourself against them.

It seems odd to us for beer cans and toilet paper to be conscious but in a beer can world it would seem equally odd for 3 pounds of grey goo to be conscious. Neither is logically contradictory.

> I have no interest in magic.

I'm sure you tell yourself that and I'm sure you believe it, but I don't believe it. Grey goo has magic but beer cans computers and toilet paper don't, despite all the talk of semantics and syntax that is the heart of your argument.

> I contend only that software/hardware systems as we conceive of them today cannot have subjective mental contents

And how did you learn of this very interesting fact? You certainly didn't prove it mathematically or find it in the fossil record, you must have learned of it magically. A magic stronger than Darwin.

  John K Clark

> -gts
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20100204/993f4987/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list