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

Ben bbenzai at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 26 13:03:42 UTC 2017

Brent wrote:

 > Sorry I can't say it better than that right now.  John or Ben, does 
that make any sense, whatsoever?

Yes, it makes sense, but it's wrong.

As Stathis has pointed out, you are only doing half the job, so of 
course it won't work,

I want to try to simplify this further, by imagining a made-up system 
that detects squares and circles. The system has a pair of detectors, 
one of which responds to the input of a square with an output of 'S', 
and the other responds to the input of a circle with the output of 'C'.

Attached to these detectors, is a signalling unit which has two types of 
receptor, a 'C' receptor and an 'S' receptor. Upon detection of a 'C' 
signal, it will transmit a code (ccc) to a distant modue. If it detects 
an 'S', it transmits a different code (sss). The distant module will 
emit a sound that depends on the signal it receives. It will emit the 
sound "I see a circle!" when it receives the code ccc, and "I see a 
square!" when it receives sss.

So the behaviour of this system as a whole is that when a circle is 
presented to it, it will utter the phrase "I see a circle!", and when it 
sees a square, "I see a square!". The detectors and associated 
signalling unit can be regarded as a 'shape discriminator' module that 
outputs ccc when a circle is detected, and sss when a square is detected.

OK so far?

Now, what will happen when we tinker* with the internals of the 
discriminator so that the circle detector outputs an 'S' when it sees a 
circle, and the square dectector outputs a 'C' when it sees a square?

Things go horribly wrong, don't they? The system now insists that 
circles are squares, and vice-versa.

And what happens when we complete the job by tinkering with the 
signalling unit of the discriminator so that its 'S' receptor (which 
produces the signal sss) now responds to 'C' instead, and its 'C' 
receptor now responds to 'S'?

We can say that we have substituted the shape discriminator which uses 
the internal signals C for 'circle' and S for 'square' for one that uses 
S for 'circle' and C for 'square' instead. But we have preserved its 
external behaviour by making sure it still emits sss when a square is 
seen, and ccc when a circle is seen. Its I/O behaviour is exactly the same.

Does it make any sense  to say, when a square is seen and the phrase "I 
see a square!" is uttered, the system actually has the 'experience' of 
seeing a circle, because internally, a C is being used instead of an S?
Its behaviour after the substitution is unchanged, so it still correctly 
reports seeing circles and squares.

*The signal 'C' does not, in itself, mean anything. It only means 
'circle' in the context of the original discriminator. In the second 
version, its meaning is changed to 'square'.*

Now do you see my objection to the 'glutamate = redness' idea? Yes, 
you've said "it's just a simplification, I don't really mean actual 
glutamate", but it doesn't matter, you still make the assumption that 
there is a signal, no matter how simple or complex, that, /in itself/, 
means a fixed thing, like 'red'. That's not how brains work.

In the theoretical brain that houses my simplified example, that 'C' 
signal could also be used to represent a hundred other things besides 
the sight of a circle (or square). It could be used to convey that a 
sound is painfully loud, that the heart is beating fast and the taste 
component that oranges have in common with lemons, all at the same time.

Ben Zaiboc

*PS. Another thing worth mentioning is that this kind of 'tinkering' I'm 
talking about happens all the time, as part of the process of evolution.

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