[ExI] Digital Consciousness

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun May 5 12:14:55 UTC 2013

On Sun, May 5, 2013 at 3:32 PM, Gordon <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote;
>>> Digital implants can certainly stimulate the experience of qualia in the
>>> NCC, but so too can electrical shocks or any other external stimulus. I
>>> do
>>> not believe such implants can themselves have or embody conscious
>>> experience
>>> of qualia.
>>But if the implants are in the supposed NCC and the subject behaves
>>just the same, what would that tell you?
> I believe that if we replaced all the neurons in the NCC with digital
> implants, the victim of our evil experiment would become comatose. I think
> something is happening in those parts of the brain that correlate to
> consciousness that is not equivalent to digital processing. It's a
> biological process, perhaps electro-chemical in nature, and although we
> might be able to describe it digitally, and build digital implants using
> that description as a blueprint, the implants themselves would fail as they
> are different sort of thing than the biological processes they describe.
> Just as a digital simulation of a house is not a house in which you can
> actually live, a digital simulation of the NCC is not the NCC. The map is
> not the territory when the map is intrinsically digital and the territory is
> not.

Could you clarify what exactly you think we can and can't do in
attempts at simulating neurons in the NCC? It seems you allow that we
could, in principle, make computerised neurons that are not involved
in consciousness directly, but may perform a relay role passing
information to the NCC. Is that right? So if we use this technology to
replace neurons in the NCC do you agree that these artificial neurons
would at least reproduce the I/O behaviour of the biological neurons?
If not, you are claiming that to calculate the timing of the action
potentials output by the NCC neuron involves a non-computable
function. This is contrary to scientific evidence, but in any case,
would you accept that the NCC would work properly provided only that
the appropriate calculations could be done by some means?

> However, in answer to your question: if the subject were to behave just the
> same, that would tell me that I was wrong, that humans are digital
> computers, and that I should reconsider my philosophy. :)

Good, but I suspect you don't realise that you are proposing there is
physics in the brain which obeys non-computable rules and you don't
realise that this is still compatible with functionalism, if not
computationalism, which is a subset of functionalism.

Stathis Papaioannou

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