[ExI] Semiotics and Computability

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 10 13:41:15 UTC 2010

--- On Wed, 2/10/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm not arguing for amoeba consciousness

But you did make such an argument: when I asked you if a digital computer had conscious understanding of a symbol by virtue of associating that symbol with an image file, you compared the computer's conscious understanding to that of an amoeba, suggesting that both amoebas and computers have a wee bit of consciousness. 

Now you seem to agree that amoebas have no consciousness. So I'll ask you again: do you agree that digital computers cannot obtain conscious understanding of symbols by virtue of associating those symbols with image data? 

> The most important property of the nervous system is its
> ability to process information. 

So they say.

> However, you believe that consciousness is only
> contingently related to intelligence,

I believe consciousness evolved because it enhances intelligence. 

> and you have also implied that the NCC is something other than the 
> complex pattern of neural firings, since that can be reproduced by a 
> computer. 

Computers can reproduce just about any pattern. But a computerized pattern of a thing does not equal the thing patterned. 

I can for example reproduce the pattern of a tree leaf on my computer. That digital leaf will not have the properties of a real leaf. No matter what natural things we simulate on a computer, the simulations will always lack the real properties of the things simulated. 

Digital simulations of things can do no more than *simulate* those things. It mystifies me that people here believe simulations of organic brains should somehow qualify for an exception to this rule. 

Neuroscientists should someday have at their disposal perfect digital simulations of brains to use as tools for doing computer-simulated brain surgeries. But according to you and some others, those digitally simulated brains will have consciousness and so might qualify as real people. This would mean medical students will have access to computer simulations of hearts to do simulated heart surgeries, but they won't have access to the same kinds of computerized tools for doing simulated brain surgeries. Those darned computer simulated brains won't sign the consent forms.

People like me will want to do the simulated surgeries anyway. The Society for the Prevention of Simulated Cruelty to Simulated Brains will oppose me.



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