[ExI] Digital Consciousness

Gordon gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Mon May 6 07:41:50 UTC 2013

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

>The inputs and outputs I'm talking about are action potentials which

>trigger neurotransmitter release at synapses. The neurons in the NCC
>receive inputs from other neurons that connect with them and send
>output to other neurons via their axon. 

Just third-person descriptions in the language of physics.

> In the process, qualia may somehow be produced, but qualia are neither inputs nor outputs so are
> excluded from this part of the analysis. 

Yes, qualia "may somehow be produced." Actually, I think are produced. lol. How does that happen?

Consider for a moment that the world might not be fully understandable in the third-person language of physics. Perhaps there is something that we might call first-person ontology. As science-minded people, we want to describe everything in the world in the objective language of physics. But perhaps the world is both subjective and objective.

Toothaches are not the same thing as the physics that describe them. They really hurt! 

> If the artificial NCC neuron reproduces the outputs given certain inputs, then all 

> the downstream neurons to which it connects behave normally. This is irrespective of
> any qualia it may or may not have, since as you admitted qualia are
> not outputs. 

No, I wrote that qualia might be inputs or outputs, or something else entirely.

I notice that you did not respond to my criticism of functionalism and multiple realizability, which I consider very important. You quoted it below but did not answer.

>> Here is my more general issue with functionalism and multiple realizability
>>.as they relate to strong AI on digital computers:
>> I have a ceiling fan in my home. The blades are made of wood. I've seen
>> other ceiling fans with metal blades, and still others with stained-glass
>> blades. They all function as fans, and so along with functionalists I'm
>> happy to call them all fans. I've also seen hammers made of iron and others
>> made of steel. Again, both hammers. Fans are realizable in wood, metal and
>> glass; hammers are realizable in iron and steel. Only the functions are
>> important. The substrates make no difference. All well and good.
>> But things get muddled when we begin to talk about the supposed multiple
>> realizability of brains in both organic materials and software/hardware
>> platforms. A digital computer is not in the same class of things as fans and
>> hammers. With fans and hammers, we are looking purely at the direct physical
>> effects of one substrate on another. Fans are defined as those physical
>> things that directly circulate physical air, hammers are defined as those
>> physical things that directly drive physical nails. A computer program, by
>> contrast, is defined by functionalists as anything that admits of abstract
>> 1's and 0's (or ons and offs, however you want to think of it) and the brain
>> (like everything else in the world) does admit to such an interpretation.
>> This is why they say brains are multiply realized on computers. But those
>> syntactical abstractions are not actually *intrinsic* to the physics of the
>> organic brain. Functionalists and computationalists merely assign them to
>> the physics.
>> Gordon

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