[ExI] Quantum consciousness, quantum mysticism, and transhumanist engineering

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Mar 7 21:53:07 UTC 2017

On Wed., 8 Mar. 2017 at 8:41 am, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 1:23 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > On Wed., 8 Mar. 2017 at 7:17 am, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> I don't, unless and until any functional components can actually be
> built
> >> from them - at which point they stop being any sort of mysticism, so by
> >> definition that won't happen.
> >
> > Yes: if consciousness were due to something other than or in addition to
> the
> > observable behaviour of brain components then that would allow for a
> > decoupling of mind from body.
> That brings up another problem: one would need a strict definition of
> "consciousness", such that anything complying with that definition
> would be judged conscious.

We can actually do a lot without defining it except in vague operational
terms, which makes the argument more robust. I know what it means to say
that I'm conscious even if I can't explain it or convince others of it. If
some aspect of my consciousness, or another entity's consciousness if they
have it, were due to an intrinsic quality of a brain component which could
not be duplicated by duplicating the observable behaviour of that
component, then it would imply a decoupling of mind from body. If something
were tweaked in your brain you might become blind, or start seeing fire
breathing dragons, but out of your mouth would still come sounds at
medicating to the rest of the world that everything looks just the same.

Imagine a human chauvinist, who refused to agree that any machine
> could be conscious but was not willing to openly defend "only humans
> can be conscious" (perhaps in part to have to avoid defining "human",
> including whether humans who have suffered extreme lobotomy still
> qualify, whether someone who is sleeping counts as presently conscious
> or worth protecting due to expected near-term resumption of
> consciousness, what the line is between sleeping versus a persistent
> vegetative state, and so on).  For every definition offered, a
> transhumanist could then ask, "So if I built a machine that...then it
> would be conscious?  If not, why not?"
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Stathis Papaioannou
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