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

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Feb 2 05:36:54 UTC 2015

On 2 February 2015 at 15:18, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at canonizer.com> wrote:
> Hi Stathis,
> On 2/1/2015 5:18 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> 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?
> One of many theoretical falsifiable possibilities, would be replace
> glutamate in the synapse with CMOS.  If you did this, and experienced the
> new quality of CMOS, you would then for the first time, experience the new
> qualia, and finally know, qualitatively, what CMOS was like.  Then, like
> zombie Mary, who before walking out of the room, knew everything about how
> CMOS behaved, would finally know how to qualitatively interpret that zombie
> information representing everything about the CMOS quality.  And we/she
> would finally no longer be CMOS zombies.

It could be that CMOS sensors have qualia but you can't access them by
interfacing with the brain, since the two systems are radically
different. Conversely, if you stick a CMOS in your brain and
experience different qualia that could just be due to the disruption
of normal brain activity, and not evidence that the CMOS in a digital
camera has qualia.

>>>> 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?
> I don't understand why you are bringing this up.  The prediction is that you
> will be able to, through trial and error, find all possible necessary and
> sufficient detectable properties that enable you to reliably predict when
> someone is experiencing real redness, and when someone is not.  If you ever
> discover any detectable property that produces redness, that you didn't know
> had a redness quality, before, your previous theory will have been falsified
> and you must then simply alter your sets of necessary and sufficient
> detectable properties, to include the new property.  The same is true with
> all other physics.  Glutamate is well defined, you can make high quality
> detectors of glutamate, that will only give a positive result, with real
> glutamate, and nothing else.  The falsifiable prediction is that detecting
> real redness will be the same as detecting real glutamate.  If ersatz
> glutamate has a redness quality, then  you include that in the set of
> possible detectable properties.  If altering glutamate, making it ersatz
> glutamate, alters the redness quality, then, either way, you still know
> exactly what has and what does not have a redness quality.

But the claim of functionalism is that if the ersatz glutamate is
chemically identical with the real glutamate, the qualia will be
reproduced; and in general, if any component of the brain is replaced
with a functionally identical component, the qualia will be
reproduced. The qualia do not reside in any particular component of
the brain or any type of matter, they are generated by a particular
type of behaviour. Just as if you replace a joint with an artificial
joint made of a totally foreign substance and have normal joint
movement, so you can replace a part of the brain with an artificial
part made of a totally foreign substance and have normal qualia. I was
led to believe by your various writings that you do not agree with
this - that you think it might work for joints and movement, but not
for brains and qualia, where you would need the actual substrate, not
just a functional equivalent.

>>> 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.
> No, the prediction is that as long as you have not replaced the binding
> neuron, nothing you present to it, will ever say and know something has a
> redness quality, without real redness.  In other words, without real
> glutamate, you will not be able to throw the switch, between the simluated
> glutamate, and the real thing, and reproduce the behavior saying the
> simulated glutamate is the same as the real thing.   So you will never get
> to the next level of replacing the binding neuron, because duplicating the
> "that is real redness" behavior will not be possible.  You will be able to
> skip that step, and replace the binding neuron which, by definition, has
> hardware translation that is interpreting the zombie information, as if it
> was real redness.  But, obviously, you can only think of this as behaving as
> if it had real redness, because, by definition, the zombie information does
> not have it.  Without the translation hardware, properly interpreting the
> zombie information, which does not have redness, as if it did, it will not
> reproduce the behavior.

You seem to forget that, whatever neurons or neuronal components might
experience, they can only communicate with downstream neurons by the
timing of their synaptic firing. If the timing of synaptic firing is
unchanged, the downstream motor neurons' firings will be unchanged and
the behaviour of the organism will be unchanged. And if the functional
replacement for glutamate (or whatever other component) does not alter
the sequence and firing of the neuron - which must be the case if it
is "functionally equivalent" - then the behaviour of the organism will
be unchanged. So the "that is real redness behaviour" will happen
provided only that the replacement part is functionally equivalent. It
is the function of the part, not the matter it is made out of, that
determines this. If you agree that, given identical function, then the
qualia must also be identical, then you are a functionalist.

Stathis Papaioannou

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