[ExI] Fwd: Is Artificial Life Conscious?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Mon Apr 25 18:43:10 UTC 2022

Hi Jason,
Yes, Stathis and I have gone over these same arguments, in a gazillion
different ways, for years, still unable to convince the other.  I agree
with most everything you say, but it is all entirely missing the point.

I think you get to the core of the issue with your:
"First, I would like you to deeply consider for a moment the question 'What
is matter?'"

The issue is with one of these assumptions:
"1. Given the Church-Turing Thesis, any finitely describable process can be
perfectly replicated by an appropriately programmed Turing Machine"

The isus is that any description of redness (our claim that something is
redness) tells you nothing of the nature of redness, without a dictionary
pointing to an example of redness.
This is true for the same reason you can't communicate to a blind person
what redness is like, no matter how many words you use.

Stathis always makes this same claim:

"It is true that functionalism cannot be falsified. But not being
falsifiable is a property of every true theory."

no matter how many times I point out that if that is true, no matter what
you say redness is, it can't be that, either, because you can use the same
zombie or neural substitution argument and claim it can't be that either.
All you prove is that qualia aren't possible.  And since we know,
absolutely, It is a physical fact that I can experience redness, this just
proves your assumptions (about the nature of matter) are incorrect.  To say
nothing about all the other so-called 'hard problems' that emerge with that
set of assumptions.

We can abstractly describe and predict how matter "whatever it is" will
behave.  But when it comes to intrinsic colorness qualities or qualia, like
redness and greenness, you've got to point to some physical example of
something that has that redness quality.  And without that, there is no
possible way to define the word "redness", let alone experience redness.

On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 12:04 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> (Resending message which I had to  trim below 160 KB)
> On Sun, Apr 24, 2022 at 5:37 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi Jason,
>> Yes, we've got to at include the ExI list, for Stathis' (and other's?)
>> sake.  He is in the more popular Functionalist
>> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/8-Functional-Prprty-Dualism> camp,
>> which you, like so many, appear to agree with.
> First, I would like you to deeply consider for a moment the question "What
> is matter?"
> Note that physical theories are silent on this question. All physics tells
> us about matter is its relations, functions, operations, equations, etc.
> that predict our future experiences of this matter, but no physical theory
> ever tells us "what matter is".
> This leads to another thought: perhaps there is nothing more to matter
> than the relations it embodies. Could matter exist as pure relations
> without any fundamental relata? If there are two different theories for the
> relata, but both follow the same relations, is either theory then "non
> falsifiable" since no test, even in principle, could distinguish between
> the two theories when all the relations are the same?
> If relations are all that exist, or if they are all that can be said to
> exist, then functions representing those relations embody and susume all of
> physical reality, including all possible physical realities. The most
> fundamental physical theories suggest the fundamental role of information
> in physics, with the boldest hypothesizing that ultimately there may be no
> more to matter than patterns of information.
> "As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated ‘basic
> building blocks’, but rather appears as a complicated web of relations
> between the various parts of the whole."
> -- Fritjof Capra in “The Tao of Physics” (1975)
> "Now I am in the grip of a new vision, that Everything is Information. The
> more I have pondered the mystery of the quantum and our strange ability to
> comprehend this world in which we live, the more I see possible fundamental
> roles for logic and information as the bedrock of physical theory."
> -- John Archibald Wheeler in “Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam” (1998)
> "The burgeoning field of computer science has shifted our view of the
> physical world from that of a collection of interacting material particles
> to one of a seething network of information."
> -- Paul Davies in “The flexi-laws of physics” (2007)
> "Maybe the relationships are all that exist. Maybe the world is made of
> math. At first that sounded nuts, but when I thought about it I had to
> wonder, what exactly is the other option? That the world is made of
> “things”? What the hell is a “thing”? It was one of those concepts that
> fold under the slightest interrogation. Look closely at any object and you
> find it’s an amalgamation of particles. But look closely at the particles
> and you find that they are irreducible representations of the Poincaré
> symmetry group―whatever that meant. The point is, particles, at bottom,
> look a lot like math."
> -- Amanda Gefter in “Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn” (2014)
> Should these ideas prove true, then information theory, computer science,
> and mathematics are promoted to the fundamental theories of reality, with
> physical theories being only locally or contingently true relations, they
> would be those structures/relations capable of supporting the emergence of
> conscious observers as seen from the inside.
> The implication of "everything is information" is that manipulations and
> processing of information (i.e. computation) would then be the most
> fundamental basic building block, not only of physical reality but also of
> minds and consciousness.
> In my view, Functionalism is less a theory of mind, than it is a theory of
> fundamental reality.
>> The Molecular Material
>> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/36-Molecular-Materialism> camp
>> just considers "philosophical zombies" to be absurd.
> We are in agreement on the absurdity of philosophical zombies.
> But if you accept that philosophical zombies are impossible, there is a
> simple proof of functionalism:
> 1. Given the Church-Turing Thesis, any finitely describable process can be
> perfectly replicated by an appropriately programmed Turing Machine
> 2. The human brain is a finitely describable process (given DNA which
> describes both the human body and brain is ~700 MB, and moreover, the
> Bekenstein bound of quantum mechanics implies a finite information content
> for any physical object of finite energy and volume)
> 3. Given (1) and (2) there exists a Turing Machine that perfectly emulates
> the behavior of any human mind
> 4. Turing Machines can be built using any material as a physical substrate
> (vacuum tubes, transistors, electro mechanical relays, gears and levers,
> billiard balls,  water pipes, etc.) the material is unimportant
> 5. Given the impossibility of philosophical zombies, a Turing machine
> perfectly emulating a human mind must also be conscious, as otherwise a
> philosophical zombie could be constructed
> 6. Given (4) and (5) the material substrate of a mind is irrelevant, the
> same consciousness must result so long as the abstract
> function/algorithm/information processing of the emulated mind is preserved.
>>   Especially since they are normally defined in a way that different
>> qualia may or may not 'superven' on top of identical physical reality.
>> this is just absurd and is not scientifically falsifiable.  I prefer
>> falsifiable theoretical science to unfalsifiable philosophy.  Also, as
>> we point out in our video: functionalists are no better than dualists, as
>> they separate qualia from physical reality.
> What is "physical reality"? -- What does it include, what does it not
> include? What is the reality of mathematical objects, of mathematical
> relations, of mathematical truths?
> I think that question is potentially a prerequisite to answering questions
> of the nature of consciousness.
> There is strong empirical validation of functionalism, in that if you
> assume the independent reality of the integers and their true relations,
> you can recover many properties of our observed physical reality from that
> "first principle". That is, you can derive physical law purely from
> assuming some very minimal elements of arithmetic. I write more about this
> here:
> https://alwaysasking.com/why-does-anything-exist/#Confirming_Evidence
>>   Despite how many times I've asked Stathis for a way to falsify his
>> theory, he has yet to describe how functionalism may be falsified.
> It is true that functionalism cannot be falsified. But not being
> falsifiable is a property of every true theory.
>> So to me, it is no better than dualism.  All he seems to do is qualia,
>> like redness and greenness, aren't possible, because they, themselves are
>> substrate on which consciousness is composed.
>> And of course I've considered "tetrachromats" which have 4 primary
>> colors, and shimp that must have a lot more than that.  As I always say, I
>> pity the bi (2 primary colors or color blind people) or even worse the
>> achromatic (black and white only) people, and can't wait till I (a mere
>> trichromat) discover what not only it is like for a tetrachromat, but what
>> it is like for all those 16 primary color shrimp.  A brain like that is
>> what I want to be uploaded to, and how many more physical colors could be
>> discovered after that????  Even if we discover hundreds, with many
>> thousands of shades of each, that is still a long way from infinite.
> I agree. I think that is the ultimate destiny of humanity (or any
> intelligent species), to become explorers of consciousness itself. All
> technological development in progress is aimed at giving us better control
> over our own sensory and conscious experiences, as I describe here:
> https://alwaysasking.com/what-is-the-meaning-of-life/#The_Direction_of_Technology
>> And you still seem to be missing something when you say: "in any
>> conscious state one finds oneself [in], one can only ever know... that one
>> state." and the way you talk about computational binding like: "less-than
>> or greater-than comparison operations, equality tests".  These kinds of
>> comparisons are always done between specific things or facts of the
>> matter.  That's what computation abou tobjects is.  Your one composite
>> qualitative experience of the strawberry includes both redness and greenness.
>> [image: 3_robots_tiny.png]
>> While it is true, all of these 3 different systems can function the
>> same.  In that they can all distinguish between and tell you the strawberry
>> is red, or not.  But that is missing the point of the factual qualitative
>> differences of each of these, and the physical qualities they are using to
>> represent these differences, or the fact that their knowledge is
>> intentionally abstracted away from any physical qualities that may be
>> representing them in a way that requires a dictionary.  You can't get
>> substrate independence, without a dictionary for each different
>> representation that may or maynot be representing the ones or zeros.
>> Representing knowledge like the fist two does not require a dictionary,
>> which is far more efficient than the 3rd, which does required an additional
>> dictionary.  The same way software runs faster directly on physical
>> hardware, vs running on virtual machines (requires a functional mapping
>> dictionary to different functioning hardware).
> I think your interpretation of functionalism may be of a restricted from,
> in that you may only being looking at only the output of the function,
> e.g., "Does this function output 'I see red?'"
> But that is not how I view functionalism. I think the implementation is
> important, and to get the qualia of a human seeing a red strawberry
> requires a function that is isomorphic to the same functions employed by
> the human retina, visual cortex, and arguably other brain regions. If a
> robot's visual functions are implemented in a manner that replicates the
> same functions and information processing as goes on in the human brain,
> the robot can't help but feel the same. Otherwise would be to invite
> zombies, or perhaps even worse: dancing/fading qualia scenarios.
>> Which brings me to the 3rd strongest form of effing the ineffable, which
>> was portrayed in the movie avatar <https://youtu.be/Uf9SWvs4beE?t=12>
>> with Neural ponytails.  These could function like the Corpus collosum which
>> can computationally bind knowledge represented in the left hemisphere with
>> knowledge represented in the right.  With a neural ponytail like that, you
>> would experience all of the experience, not just half.  If the first two
>> systems in the above image (one's redness is like your greenness) they
>> would directly experience this difference, just the same as if your left
>> field of vision was looking through red/green inverted glasses.  It is
>> called "4. the strongest form" of effing the ineffable, because what you
>> directly apprehend is infallible or cannot be doubted the same way  "I
>> think, therefore I am" cannot be doubted.
> I do think future technologies such as being able to directly
> integrate/stimulate/measure/alter/and link neurons within our brains will
> enable a renaissance in our understanding of consciousness, as it will
> become a science each person can perform experiments with and get immediate
> results in terms of altered experiences. And while brain linking could
> potentially give a shared quale of "red" between two minds, once split
> again can the two formerly linked minds trust their memories of what red
> was like when they were linked? William James pointed out that we can't
> even know we were conscious 5 minutes ago. How then can we know the red we
> saw 5 minutes ago when linked is the same red we remember now? It might be
> possible, but there I think there are compelling arguments that cast doubt
> as well. In any event, I look forward to the future where minds can be
> linked as in Avatar.
> Jason
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