[ExI] fermi question alive and well

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Mar 31 21:15:06 UTC 2019

On Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 3:13 PM William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>

>> As we learned more about Pluto we realized it didn't fit the examples
>> that the other 8 planets set.

Yes, but you could have used Pluto as the original example and asked if the
> other ones fit it.

In that case we'd call Pluto a planet and need to invent some other ASCII
sequence for the other 8, but examples would still dictate meaning just as
they always do.

> >> the definition of consciousness is being aware, and the definition of
>> aware is being sentient, and the definition of sentient is being conscious.
>> And round and round it goes.
>  >  Now you are criticizing the dictionary and I agree with you.
> Synonyms get us nowhere.

it's not the fault of the dictionary, without real world examples cranking
out synonyms is the best it can do.

> > But if you define consciousness as certain EEG patterns, then we have
> concrete examples you can see on a screen.

Whatever consciousness is it's certainly not the squiggly graph produced by
a EEG machine. I repeat the question I asked before, if its not the
observed correlation those patterns have with intelligent behavior what
makes you think a EEG has anything to do with consciousness?

> >> That's what you and I and everybody does, we tie consciousness in
>> others to something we can observe, intelligent behavior.  That's why we
>> don't think our fellow humans are conscious all the time, not when they're
>> sleeping or under anesthesia or dead.  That's also why I find life after
>> death to be questionable, dead people don't behave very intelligently.
>> > But sometimes the best thing to do is nothing,

True, that why intelligent behavior is not a perfect test for
consciousness, but its all we've got so it will just have to do.

> > Why are you equating consciousness with intelligent behavior?

Because I can't find anything else that works at all much less works better.

>> A good lexicographer doesn't set the rules he discovers them from
>> examples of language use.

*> But not if you are a prescriptionist. They think words are set in
> meaning and should not change.*

Are there really people who hold that view?? language always changes,
except for dead languages like Latin. I can read English but Geoffrey
Chaucer wrote in Middle English and I can only recognize about one word in
three, and even then the meaning of the word has changed so much and the
grammar is so different that I have one hell of a time figuring out what
the man is trying to say. And I've heard Old English spoken and it's
completely indecipherable, to my ears it sounds like German not English and
I don't know German.

John K Clark

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