[ExI] Zombie glutamate

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Feb 15 09:24:44 UTC 2015

On Sunday, February 15, 2015, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>

> On Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 12:42 AM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','stathisp at gmail.com');>> wrote:
>> 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.

The idea is not to copy behaviour as such but to model the components. An
engineer can take a component from a machine, put it through a series of
tests, and make a replacement component from perhaps completely different
parts that, if done properly, should work just like the original when
installed - even if the exact way the machine works is unknown.

> 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
> level.
> 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.
> Rafał

Stathis Papaioannou
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