[ExI] Digital Consciousness

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Mon May 6 09:52:36 UTC 2013

Gordon <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:

>Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>?As I keep saying (and you keep ignoring), something doesn't have to be digital for a digital computer to compute it.
>I'm not ignoring you, Ben. I just think that the answer is yes, it is trivially true that there is some description of the brain such that we could do a digital simulation of it. Church's thesis applies to brains; their operations are in principle computable. We can also create digital simulations of rain storms. This too is trivial. Nobody actually gets wet from those digital rain drops.

So what?  This observation, while true, is also trivial, and irrelevant to the issue.  If we're talking about a system being aware of itself, why does it matter which 'level' that awareness is on?  It will still be aware.  If you think about it, we are simulations, carried out by our brains.  We interact with simulations (or 'models') of things outside our brains, like what we fondly call the 'real world', as well as simulations of non-real things, and simulations of simulations.  Think of the Theory of Mind: I think that you think that I think, etc.  All simulations.   All carried out on a different level to the outside world.  
A thought (e.g. I'm thinking right now about raindrops) is not the same thing as the real thing being thought about (guess what?  My thought is not wet!  Do you think it must be missing something?).

And don't say "Ah, yes, but they're not digital simulations, because our brains are not digital computers!", because that brings us right back to my point: The fact that, contrary to your claim, a digital process can reproduce, to an arbitrary level of fidelity, a non-digital one.  This is what you appear to be ignoring, because no matter how many times people say it, and how many examples you're given, you continue as though your claim was valid.  It's not.

Just to be crystal clear:
The fact that the brain is not a digital computer does /not/ mean that a digital computer can't model a brain, down to any level of detail you like.

Do you disagree?

If so, please let us know why, because /so many/ real-world applications depend on the factual truth of digital processes being able to model non-digital ones, in as much detail as needed.  If this principle is wrong (despite all appearances), we really need to know!

There is the possibility, of course, that your argument is not what it appears.  
Maybe it's not that you don't think a brain can be fully realised on a digital computer, but you think that such a brain would be missing some mysterious quality that imparts consciousness.  Something that lies outside of the physical world of matter, energy, time, space and information.  I suppose if you believed that consciousness is a special, separate 'something' like this, rather than the operation of a certain set of complex information processes, there would be no use using logical arguments.  You would be a Vitalist.

Ben Zaiboc

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list