[ExI] Zombie glutamate

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sun Feb 15 07:23:10 UTC 2015

On Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 12:42 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
> Yes, in theory there could be a system that interprets redness but does
> not experience redness. But if the system did experience redness and a part
> of it was changed for a functional isomorph then it would still claim to
> experience redness and actually experience redness. The example I gave
> before was a physically different but chemically identical form of
> glutamate. It's an experiment that we could actually do today. What do you
> expect would happen? How would you interpret the results?

### The problem with suggesting that qualia are determined by the exact
physical structure of the entity experiencing them, rather than functional
isomorphism, is that you can't justifiably stop at some point on the scale
of "exact". You suggested a thought experiment with substituting glutamate
but one can go on: What if qualia perceived using yesterday's brain (under
slightly different gravitational, electromagnetic and chemical influences)
are substantially different from today's? Of course, since our memories of
yesterday's qualia are retrieved using today's brain, we wouldn't know. All
of us, both conscious and philosophically zombiefied, would make the same
mouth noises. What if the movement of Jupiter, well-known as the bringer of
jollity, makes our qualia surreptitiously dance a merry gig?

This said, I don't think that functional isomorphism can be defined
strictly behaviorally - you need to also observe the internal processing of
information in the system, and not just its interactions with the
environment to define function.

It remains a question whether, if you use a different processing algorithm
to compute the same properties of experienced object, you may have
qualitatively different experiences.

Reflectances (i.e. color) in a visual input can be calculated by a cortex
or a robotic visual system, and could trigger the same behavior - correctly
naming colors in pictures. Would the corresponding qualia be different? My
guess is yes, they would, much like the smell and the look of a skunk can
trigger the same verbal output but do differ enormously on the subjective

Once we are able to connect a robotic color discriminator directly to your
brain, while keeping the old visual cortex around, we will be able to
confirm that the qualia differ, although in what particular way would
remain most likely ineffable.

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