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

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 26 13:47:11 UTC 2010

--- On Mon, 1/25/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

> You are saying that in addition to the symbol grounding
> problem there the problem of attaching "meaning" to the symbols.

As that article explains, symbol grounding requires both the ability to pick out referents and consciousness. 

We, but not computers, have the ability to hold the meanings of symbols in our minds as intentional objects, and to processs those meanings consciously as you do at this very moment. 

> You can't explain what this meaning is 

I just did.

> but you feel that humans have it and computers
> don't. No empirical test can ever convince you that
> computers have it, because by definition there is no empirical test for
> it. Apparently no analytic argument can convince you either.

If I met an entity on the street that passed the TT, I would not know if that entity had semantics. However if I also knew that entity ran only formal programs then I would know from analytic arguments that it did not.

>> Do you believe your desktop or laptop computer has
> conscious understanding of the words you type?
> No...

Good. Just doing a reality check there. :)

You agree that your software/hardware system does not have conscious understanding of symbols (semantics) but you also argue that digital computers can have it. Let me ask you: what would it take for your desktop computer to acquire this capacity that you insist it could have but does not have? More ram? A faster processor? Multiple processors? A bigger hard drive? A better web-cam? A better cooling system? Better programs? What will it take?

> Furthermore, if the computer was based on reverse engineering a human
> brain then I would say it has to have the same consciousness as a human.

I don't disagree with that, but I would not call that reverse engineered machine a software/hardware system. We may someday create conscious machines, but those machines won't look like digital computers.



More information about the extropy-chat mailing list