[ExI] Fwd: Fwd: Chalmers

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Dec 21 21:15:19 UTC 2019

On Sun, 22 Dec 2019 at 04:02, Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> 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

I understand what you are saying with the three robots example, but you are
missing the problem I am presenting.

1. If glutamate is swapped for glycine and glutamate receptors for glycine
receptors in half the neurons in your brain, all the neurons in your brain
will continue firing in the same sequence, and all the muscles in your body
will continue contracting in the same sequence.

2. If qualia were dependent on a particular substrate, such as red requires
glutamate and green requires glycine, the change in (1) would result in a
change in qualia. Something that was previously all red would now look
partly red and partly green, or perhaps a new colour combining red and

3. But if all the muscles in your body are contracting in the same
sequence, you will say that everything looks exactly the same as before.

4. How can your qualia radically change but you either do not notice the
change or cannot communicate that there has been a change?

> --
Stathis Papaioannou
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