[ExI] [Exl] Digital Consciousness

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sat May 4 16:39:55 UTC 2013

On Fri, May 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM, Gordon <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Sure, I agree with that. We'll need to arrange a pile of atoms into a
> configuration that is exactly or at least approximately identical to the way
> nature has configured them.

### Let me ask you this:

Blind persons with cortical vision implants claim to see things,
despite their eyes being certifiably non-functional. Large portions of
their visual systems are bypassed as well, yet, a camera and a complex
digital signal processing computer that generates highly specific
patterns of digital electric impulses on the surface of the visual
cortex are sufficient to reproduce visual qualia. These persons also
pass various tests of vision, showing the ability to understand
images, just as intact humans, although the resolution of their vision
is still poor.

The interesting thing is that the digital processor is both necessary
and sufficient for replacement of large chunks of biological
analog/digital wetware. You cannot feed some sort of signal dump
straight from the camera to the visual cortex - the image quality
suffers enormously (necessity). But with the right and very non-random
choice of processing options, guided by the knowledge of the
computational biology of subcortical vision centers, you can achieve
greatly improved vision, approaching in some respects natural vision

This directly demonstrates that even with our, as you claim, poor
knowledge of neuroscience, we can dispense with parts of the
biological process that produces qualia and achieve equivalent results
using digital computers.

Let me repeat this: There is empirically demonstrated equivalency
between neural and digital methods of producing qualia in large parts
of the visual system.

Now, knowing these facts, how do you update on your contention that to
produce qualia we have to arrange piles of atoms nearly identical to
the way nature has configured them in brains?

Would you perhaps claim that the seat of qualia is the cortex, not the
primitive subcortical nuclei substituted by digital signal processing?
But, what if in a few years some researchers produce implants capable
of correcting cortical blindness, caused by damage to the occipital
cortex? Will the claimed province of true qualia shrink further,
towards the parietal cortices?

Beware, faith in the god of the gaps makes for increasingly cramped
living quarters.



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