[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 16 22:30:01 UTC 2010

--- On Sat, 1/16/10, Eric Messick <eric at m056832107.syzygy.com> wrote:

> Would you say that "description != thing" is the reason
> computer systems cannot replicate the capability of brains to
> understand?

In a general sense, yes. I think S/H systems can simulate understanding as in weak AI but that they cannot have conscious understanding as in strong AI. 

And conscious understanding affects behavior including the behavior of those neurons associated with understanding, making weak AI itself a formidable challenge.

> In other words, if we could make a simulation of water that
> actually included wetness, would we also be able to write a program
> that was conscious of that wetness?

If you bring to me a simulation of water that "actually includes wetness" then I will ask why you call it a simulation of water. Sure look like real water to me.

And no I don't think s/h systems can have first-person consciousness of that real quality of wetness, of what you might call the quale of wetness. 

> Have you studied the molecular pathways that mediate these
> changes?

I've already assumed the programmer knows everything possible about the biology of experience. 

> I think you have a very different meaning for the word
> "semantics"

In the broadest sense I mean the having of conscious experience of any kind, but we concern ourselves here mainly with the kinds of mental contents most closely associated with intelligence, e.g., the experience of understanding words and numbers.

> By apparent, I mean that an individual who is capable of
> consciousness will behave differently from one who is incapable. 
> That difference in behavior is something that evolution could select
> for.  Essentially, consciousness makes you more fit in some way.  That
> doesn't necessarily mean that we can deduce the existence of
> consciousness based on any specific trait.

I agree that evolution selected conscious experience, but perhaps only because nature found it more economical than the alternative. 



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