[ExI] Some new angle about AI

Aware aware at awareresearch.com
Wed Jan 6 16:11:42 UTC 2010

On Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 6:28 AM, Gordon Swobe <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Jef,
>> Argh,"turtles all the way down", indeed. Then must nature also compute
>> the infinite expansion of the digits of pi for every soap bubble as well?
> Your question assumes that nature actually performs soap bubble computations somewhere as if on some Divine Universal Turing Machine. I don't think we have any good reason to believe so.

I don't make that assumption.  I was offering it as a reductio ad
absurdum applicable (I think) to your insistence that "consciousness"
is an intrinsic property of some brains, but that it is absent at any
particular level of description.

I have to admit I've lost track of all the phases of your argument
since you and Stathis have gone around and around so many times, and
the whole thing tends to evaporate in my mind since the problem, as
formulated, can't be modeled (It can't be coherently stated.)

As I've said already (three times in this thread) it seems that
everyone here (and Searle) would agree with the functionalist
position: that perfect copies must be identical, and thus
functionalism needs no defense.

Stathis continues to argue on the basis of functional identity, since
he doesn't seem to see how there could be anything more to the
question. [I know Stathis had a copy of Hofstadter's _I AM A STRANGE
LOOP_, but I suspect he didn't finish it.]

John Clark continues to argue on the more abstract basis that
evolutionary processes don't produce intelligence without
consciousness, which, in my opinion is flawed, since one can point to
examples of evolved "intelligence"--organisms acting with appropriate
prediction and control--yet lacking that extra evolutionary layer
providing awareness and thus modeling of "self", but when pinned down
John appears to go to either limit:  Mr. Jupiter Brain wouldn't be
very smart if he didn't model himself, or the other (panpsychist) view
that even an amoeba has consciousness, but just an eensy teensy bit.

And you continue to argue along the lines of Searle that since we KNOW
(from indisputable 1st-person evidence) that conscious experience
(including qualia, meaning, intentionality) EXIST, and since we are
hard-core functionalists and materialists and can see upon close
inspection (however close we might care to look) that there is no
place within the formally described system in which such
qualia/meaning/intentionality are produced, then there MUST be some
extra ingredient, essential to consciousness, of which we are yet

And I've already offered that, despite the seductively strong
intuition, reinforced by our nature, language and culture, that these
phenomena of qualia/meaning/intensionality are real, undeniable,
intrinsic properties of at least certain organisms including most
human beings, that there is actually no need for any mysterious extra
ingredient.  The "mysterious" phenomena are adequately and
parsimoniously explained in terms of the (recursive) relationship of
the observer to the observed.  Of course "we" refer to "ourselves" in
this way.

So in a sense, the panpsychists got it pretty close, except inside-out
and with the assumption of an ontological "consciousness" that isn't
necessary.  Actually NOTHING has this assumed essential conscious, but
EVERYTHING expresses self-awareness, and will necessarily report
1st-person experience, to the extent that its functional nature
implements a reflective model of itself.

What more is there to say?

- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list