[ExI] Fwd: Chalmers

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Sat Dec 21 17:41:31 UTC 2019

I think this is a better way to say it in Stathis' language:

When you change the receptors to work the same with glycine, as the former
system did with glutamate, you are changing the dictionary between the
physical and the functional.  You are describing two system that are
functionally equivalent but physically different.  That is just another way
to say “3 robots that are functionally equivalent but qualitatively

On Sat, Dec 21, 2019 at 10:00 AM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>

> Thanks for this version, Stathis.  I think I can better understand and
> work with this.
> I think the problem is you are only talking about functionality.  There
> must also be something in the system that instantiates the data coming from
> the senses.  There must be something, physical, that is the knowledge that
> will control whether we want to pick the strawberry or not.  In an abstract
> system there is a dictionary that maps a 1 to both the word “red” (what to
> say) and “ripe” (the strawberries to pick).  The what to pick functionality
> is driven or specified, based on these dictionaries.
> In the glutamate version of the system, there must be a dictionary that
> maps the glutamate to the 1.  And in order for the physically different
> hardware instantiation to work, this dictionary must be changed to map
> glycine to 1 – so the system that knows we want to pick the 1 strawberries
> (as John was saying) can work, in a substrate independent way.
> Again, we on the other hand, run directly on physical qualities.  In other
> words, we don’t have the additional abstraction dictionary from glutamate
> to 1.  We instead map glutamate directly to “red” and “that’s the one we
> pick”.  So, in order for the functionally different robot to be able to
> pick the right strawberry and say it is red, both these dictionaries need
> to change when the physics of knowledge change.  It is now glycine that we
> interpret as the strawberry to pick, where  as the former version definned
> glutamate to be knowledge of the ones to pick.
> You are describing two systems that are functionally the same but
> physically different.  That is just another way to say “3 robots that are
> functionally the same but qualitatively different.
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YnTMoU2LKER78bjVJsGkxMsSwvhpPBJZvp9e2oJX9GA/edit>
> ---------- Forwarded message ---------
> From: Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>
> Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2019 at 5:25 PM
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Fwd: Chalmers
> To: Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> Here is another, more physiological thought experiment. I notice that some
> neurons, when triggered, release glutamate into the synapse connecting them
> with other neurons. The downstream neurons have glutamate receptors, which
> detect the glutamate and then trigger an action potential. I have no idea
> what the purpose of any of this is, but I do have very advanced molecular
> manipulation techniques. I decide to alter all the glutamate secreting
> neurons so that they secrete glycine instead, and all the glutamate
> detecting neurons do that they have glycine receptors instead which trigger
> an action potential in the presence of glycine. Given this change, do you
> see that the brain will behave the same? Do you still think that the qualia
> might be different despite the brain behaving the same?
>> --
> Stathis Papaioannou
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