[ExI] Fwd: Is Artificial Life Conscious?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Mon Apr 25 22:23:13 UTC 2022

Hi Jason,
On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 2:18 PM Jason Resch <jasonresch at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Brent,
> I appreciate your quick response and for getting to the heart of the
> issue. My replies are in-line below:

On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 1:43 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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?'"
>> I am curious what your intuition says on this? Do you think that there
> are intrinsic properties of matter (beyond its third-person observable
> behavior) which is somehow necessary for consciousness or quale such as red?

There seems to be a physical strawberry out there, which is red.  Our
intuition about the quality of that physical. thing is right,  just for the
wrong stuff.  It is your physical knowledge of the strawberry that has the
redness quality.

>  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.
> Yes this is the "symbol grounding problem". All communication, of anything
> (even so-called objective properties like mass, distance, time durations,
> etc.) require ostensive (pointing to) definitions. Since no two minds can
> ever share that common reference frame, and point out to the same quale,
> ostensive definitions of these quale, and hence meaningful communication
> concerning them, is impossible (since there can never be a verifiable
> common foundation).

It's only a "problem" for functionalists.  For Materialists it is just a
physical fact that something in the brain has that quality, waiting for us
to discover it.
Say we discover it is glutamate, and that no matter how hard a
functionalist tries, they can't reproduce a redness experience, without
glutamate, as Materialism predicts.
What does that say about your non falsifiable proof?

>> 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.
> I don't follow this point, could you elaborate?
>> All you prove is that qualia aren't possible.
> I do not follow how this conclusions was reached.

Yea, I possibly just skipped past a few complex years of discussion with
Stathis.  Basically, no matter what you say redness is (even if it results
from some function), you can "prove" with the neural substitution argument
<https://canonizer.com/topic/79-Neural-Substitn-Argument/1-Agreement> that
it can't be that, either.  Your zombie arguments seem the same, to me.  It
doesn't prove that redness must be "functional" it proves there can be no
redness of any kind.  Let me know your zombie argument doesn't have the
same problem.

Again, it's all about the assumptions you make.  Everyone assumes the
simulation will succeed.  Materialists simply predict it will fail, and
that whatever it is that has the redness quality, when you get to the fist
pixel of redness, nothing but glutamate will enable you to produce an
experience with a redness quality.  The substitution will fail.

   And since we know, absolutely, It is a physical fact that I can
> experience redness,
> What does "physical" add to the above sentence? To me it seems redundant
> and only adds to the confusion (as we still haven't settled what is meant
> by physics or matter).

Yea 'physical' is probably redundant.

>> this just proves your assumptions (about the nature of matter) are
>> incorrect.
> I don't see why you think the assumption of functionalism leads to a
> denial of qualia/consciousness.
Again, it is the neural substitution argument, which makes people think
things like redness are functional.  But the neural substitution problems
proves nothing, including some function, can have a redness quality.
And my understanding is the main reason people think they are forced to
accept functionalism (despite all the 'hard' problems that go along with
it) is because of neural substitution and zombie arguments.

>>   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.
> A shared physical realm is necessary to ostensively define properties like
> mass, distance, and time durations. Two beings, kept apart in two different
> universes but allowed to communicate bit strings back and forth could never
> reach any agreement on how long a "meter" is.
> This is the situation we are in with qualia. Two minds are in a sense,
> like two partially isolated simulated universes, with an inability to ever
> share the meaning of what they mean when they refer to their red
> experiences, short of an Avatar-like neural link to temporarily bridge
> their two independent and isolated mental realities.

I thought we already went over this.  Brain Hemispheres and conjoined twins
prove what you think cannot be done can be done.
If a brain hemisphere isn't an island, why would a brain be so
constrained.  it's kind of like saying we will never fly, while watching
birds fly.  It is only a matter of time before we can do all of the
following engineereing in an artificial way.

1. weak form of effing the ineffable.
2. Stronger form of effing the ineffable.
4. Strongest form of effing the ineffable.

For a more detailed description of these, see this quora answer

Take the 16th color of the knowledge of that shrimp, which no human has
ever experienced, which you mentioned.
How are you going to reproduce that in your brain, so you can both know
what it is like and then can use it to represent an additional wavelength
of sensed light?
You just need to take whatever it is, and computationally bind it into your
consciousness.  Nothing hard about that.
Claiming that could be duplicated simply by programming some function
called 16th colorness quality doesn't even pass the laugh test does it?

We may not know what matter is, but we know, absolutely, that something has
a redness quality.
We just don't yet know what.  That's the only problem.
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