[ExI] Do digital computers feel was Re: Is the wave function real?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Jan 2 01:44:33 UTC 2017

On 2 January 2017 at 11:36, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>

> On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 11:03 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> On 31 Dec. 2016, at 2:41 pm, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 6:25 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> On 30 December 2016 at 17:41, Rafal Smigrodzki <
>>> rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> On Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 11:33 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <
>>>> stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> Here's another way to look at it. Suppose your brain contained
>>>>> identical parallel circuits A and B, tied together at input and output,
>>>>> which could be switched on and off independently of each other. It would be
>>>>> difficult to do with biological tissue due to chaotic internal processes
>>>>> but more straightforward if you consider a digital implant. Obviously, if
>>>>> you switch A and B off together you will lose all the functionality of the
>>>>> circuitry. But if you switch off either A or B, you will notice no change.
>>>> ### Let's say the A/B circuits run all the way from a simulation of
>>>> your spinal cord sensory areas, such as the substantia gelatinosa, all the
>>>> way to the frontal lobe cortical areas involved in attaching an affective
>>>> valence to sensory stimuli (cingulate cortex, DLPF and others). We simulate
>>>> the neural processes of you being slowly burned alive, separately in
>>>> circuit A and in circuit B, and route the identical output to the rest of
>>>> the brain. Obviously, the other parts of the brain, involved in e.g.
>>>> producing screams and generating a memory of pain, will not scream twice as
>>>> loud, or remember twice the pain. Yet, a process sufficient to produce the
>>>> experience of pain ran twice. Are you sure you know how much pain was
>>>> actually experienced by the system as a whole (A+B+ the rest of you)?
>>>> Please note that the observable results of the experiment (loud screaming)
>>>> would be the same no matter whether A/B are digital or analog.
>>>> As I mentioned in the initial post, I do not know. My intuitions are
>>>> overtaxed by the problem.
>>> If I tried either a 20% reduction in the painful stimulus I would be in
>>> slightly less pain and scream slightly less, while if circuit A were
>>> switched off I would feel I was in just as much pain and scream just the
>>> same. So if I had a choice, I would choose the 20% reduction. If you told
>>> me that I was deluded about my pain, and I was actually better off
>>> switching circuit A, I would probably use some bad words telling you what
>>> you could do with your advice.
>> ### Obviously, other people's pain doesn't hurt much. I know that. The
>> discussion is not just about the pain you remember but about the sum total
>> of pain being experienced in the system under consideration.
>> Rafal
>> But in your example *I* am the system under consideration. And as far as
>> I'm concerned, the duplicated neural circuits make no difference to the
>> pain I experience. Who rather than I, the experiencer, would be in a better
>> position to judge this?
> ### Who is this "I" you are talking about? Remember, circuits A and B are
> a huge chunk of neural wetware, they contain all you need to feel pain (as
> far as we can tell from fMRI scans and other sources). If you remove both,
> what is left is a mind that can talk, see, hear and do math, among other
> things, but cannot feel or remember pain. The human mind is largely modular
> and from the existence of congenital analgesia we know you can have a more
> or less normal human who cannot feel physical pain.

If my mind is due to activity in my brain, it is due to activity in the
system as a whole. If components of the system are separated, as when the
corpus callosum is divided, this may result in two separate systems and two
separate minds.

> So again, a human mind with duplicated and independently running pain
> circuitry - he clearly will not say he feels double the pain, because the
> rest of him does not know that there are two pain circuits running, and the
> output of the circuits is not summed. But the question for us who know he
> has two pain circuits - does he as a whole feel twice the pain and just not
> know it?

I could claim that if you don't pray to God five times a day you will
suffer terrible pain, but you won't know it. Would it worry you that I
might be right? What possible difference to anyone would it make if I were

> Does it hurt if you don't remember?

It's not a question of experiencing and then forgetting the pain, you are
saying that it is possible to have the pain yet not notice it at all, which
seems absurd.

Stathis Papaioannou
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