[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Jan 19 01:37:57 UTC 2020

On Sun, 19 Jan 2020 at 11:57, William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

>  whatever consciousness is, it would be reproduced if the function (the
> observable behaviour) of anything that has it is reproduced.   stathis
> I keep reading this and keep thinking that I understand it, and then I
> think I don't.  Are you saying that if we can get something to act like a
> human brain it will therefore have all the functions thereof?

Neurons have observable behaviour: for example, when stimulated by other
neurons they may “fire”, propagating an action potential along their axon,
and in turn stimulate neurons to which they connect. Billions of neurons in
your visual cortex interact in this way and as a result you can identify
objects in front of your eyes. These neurons, via a relay of multiple
intermediate neurons, connect to the motor neurons controlling speech and
you say “I see a strawberry”. If the neurons in your visual cortex were
destroyed their output would not get through to your vocal cords and you
would not say “I see a strawberry”, because you would be blind. But if the
neurons were replaced by an artificial device that produced the same output
given the same input, your vocal cords would receive the same input as
before and you would say “I see a strawberry”.

The above is a purely behavioural account. As external observers, we can’t
be sure if you have visual experiences or not. However, we can be sure that
if you had them before the neural replacement, you have them afterwards as
well. The alternative is that you become blind but don’t notice, and still
say “I see a strawberry”. This is absurd: what meaning could the word
“blind” have if you cannot notice that you are blind and behave as if you
have normal vision?

The conclusion is that an artificial device that correctly replicated
neural behaviour will also replicate any associated consciousness.
Stathis Papaioannou
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