[ExI] Fwd: Paper on "Detecting Qualia" presentation at 2015 MTA conference

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 00:18:28 UTC 2015

On 2 February 2015 at 10:44, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at canonizer.com> wrote:
> Hi Stathis,
> On 2/1/2015 5:52 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> Aspects of consciousness, or if you prefer of qualia, can certainly be
>> investigated scientifically, and a large part of neuroscience and psychology
>> is devoted to doing just this. However, it is impossible to investigate
>> scientifically if someone actually has qualia and what those qualia are
>> like.
> When I say you believe this is not approachable via science, I am talking
> about the latter, which you clearly state is not approachable via science.
> In the latter you are making the falsifiable prediction that you cannot eff
> the ineffable.
>> If you claim to be able to detect qualia then what test do you propose to
>> use to decide whether CMOS sensors have "an intrinsic qualitative nature" or
>> not?
> The prediction is that if CMOS's behavior is the same as some quality (which
> we have likely never experienced before) that we will be able to present it
> to our augmented binding system in a way that will enable us to compare it's
> quality to all the other qualities we have.   Before we do this, we will be
> like Mary, and know everything about the behavior of CMOS.  But once we know
> what our zombine information description of CMOS qualitatively represents,
> we will also know, qualitatively, what CMOS is like.

Can you give an example of how you would go about this?

>> It's not problematic imagining that the qualia would vanish if the
>> substitution were made with parts lacking the redness quality. What is
>> problematic - and the entire point of the experiment - is that the qualia
>> would vanish **without either the subject or the experimenters noticing that
>> anything had changed**.
> That explains our miss communication, then.  What I was trying to say, and
> what this says you missed, is that the testable theoretical prediction is
> that you will not be able to get or experience redness without presenting
> glutamate (or replace glutamate with whatever your favorite theory predicts
> is responsible for elemental redness) to the binding system of your mind.

I understand this: we will assume that you need *real* glutamate to
have the redness experience. So if we use ersatz glutamate, that
functions just like real glutamate but isn't real glutamate, you
should get normal behaviour but absent or different qualia. We could
perhaps do this experiment by replacing normal glutamate with
glutamate made from different isotopes such as C-14 and O-17. This
ersatz glutamate will function chemically perfectly normally, but your
claim is that normal function is not enough to reproduce the qualia,
you need the actual substance. So what do you predict would happen if
the natural glutamate were replaced with ersatz glutamate?

> Only when you replace the entire binding system, with a binding system that
> is interpreting zombie information representing redness, as if it was real
> redness, will it behave the same.  So, it will be behaving the same, but the
> qualitative subjective nature of it's behavior will have completely faded,
> and be absent.  The system only behaves the way it does, because it contains
> interpreting hardware that is properly interpreting the zombie information
> as if it was the real thing. This is a form of the vanishing qualia case
> David Chalmers predicts is possible, right?

Chalmers says that this would lead to a partial zombie, someone who is
blind but says he can see normally and behaves as if he can see
normally. He stops short of saying this is absurd, but I think if you
allow for the possibility of partial zombies the whole philosophical
edifice crumbles.

Stathis Papaioannou

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