[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Sun Jan 19 13:31:08 UTC 2020

On 18/01/2020 22:24, BillW wrote:
> What makes anyone think that a machine can experience anything?  Do we 
> know that?  I don't think so.  If you claim that we do, just how are 
> you measuring that?  Sounds like scifi to me. If enough humans say 
> that they are experiencing a vision of a strawberry, I'd take their 
> word for it.  I would assume not all would lie.  I assume nothing 
> about a machine except that it is not a living thing and cannot be.  
>  bill w

The only thing that makes me think that a machine (a suitable machine, 
i.e. complex enough, and with the required organisation of its parts) 
can experience things, is that I can.

I am a machine. Ipso facto.

If you object that biological systems (yes, I am one) can't be machines, 
I'd say we need to better define the word 'machine'.

To my way of thinking, we are machines because we are systems that 
process energy and do work. We are soft machines made of water, 
proteins, fats, etc. Biological machines.

To someone else, it may be that the word indicates an artificial system, 
man-made, not natural ("not a living thing"). But that doesn't preclude 
an artificial system made of water, proteins, fats, etc.

So claiming that machines can never experience things (and can't be 
'living things'), is claiming that only /natural/ things can, and that 
identical, but artificially-produced things can't. And that is, well, 
you can see that's problematical, can't you?

I've always regarded myself as a biological machine. Biologists often 
talk about the machinery of the cell. Ribosomes are a good example of a 
molecular, biological machine, that we now understand pretty well, and I 
wouldn't be surprised if we will be able to create them from scratch 
before too long.

Oh, and the phrase "sounds like SciFi to me" always makes me smile, and 
think of space rockets, communication satellites, aeroplanes, TV, 
personal computers, mobile phones, etc. In fact, just about everything 
about modern life that we take so much for granted.

Science Fiction is just building stories from imagined possible future 
technologies. So to use it as a synonym for implausibility seems rather 

Ben Zaiboc

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