[ExI] Computers, qualia, 'symbol grounding' (@Gordon)

Gordon Swobe gordon.swobe at gmail.com
Mon Apr 3 00:04:20 UTC 2023

On Sun, Apr 2, 2023 at 12:55 PM Will Steinberg via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Mr. Groks The Sensorium, you keep claiming that ChatGPT hasn't 'solved'
> the 'symbol grounding problem.'

It is not merely my claim. ChatGPT-4 itself claims it cannot solve the
problem as it has no conscious experience -- no access to the referents in
the real world -- that give words meaning.


> but I have yet to see any evidence for this, only evidence that ChatGPT is
> unlikely to experience the same qualia that we experience.  But I have seen
> no proof that the AI has NO qualia with which to ground symbols with, and
> if you did have that proof, you would become a very famous philosopher.
> How do you know that qualia aren't fungible?
> Was Hellen Keller a p-zombie just because she didn't have grounded symbols
> for sight and sound?
> How do you know that it's not possible to build a model of the world using
> only whatever qualia computers experience as the base?
> You seem to believe that if you reverse engineer language, you are left
> with a bunch of empty spaces for qualia, and that self-consciousness is
> dependent on these atomic experiences.
> What's to say that any qualia can't take the spots of the ones we used to
> develop language?  We can communicate with people who are deaf and blind
> from birth.  Even someone who had none of the external senses that we have,
> but a single bit of input/output of some kind, could communicate with us.
> Imagine for a second there are aliens which only perceive the world
> through magnetic fields.  We have no possible way to reckon the qualia for
> these fields, but we CAN produce the fields, and measure them.  And with
> this we could both send and receive magnetic fields.  You might say that
> without known constants to both refer to, we could never talk with these
> beings, but is it true?  Can you say without the shadow of a doubt that
> qualia cannot be inferred from the entirety of language?  After all, at the
> end of the day, past the sensory organs everything is condensed into
> electrochemical signals, same as language.  So wouldn't you perhaps think,
> with utter knowledge of one side of that equation, that it could even be
> simple to reconstruct the other?
> If I was able to perfectly recreate a human eye and brain, and knew the
> neurophysocal content of a 'standard' red quale, would I not be able to
> make that brain experience the red quale?  Do you think it is possible that
> access to the relations between all language, ever, could enable one to
> reconstruct the workings of the sensorium, and then infer qualia from
> there?  What if the entity in question not only had this ability, but also
> experienced its own types of qualia? (You do not know whether this is the
> case.)  Would that make it even easier to reverse engineer?
> I simply think--or rather, I would say I KNOW--that you can't possibly
> know whether a system, of which you do not know whether experiences any
> qualia or not, using an inference tool on language of which you have no
> personal access to verify whether can reconstruct qualia, and which
> actually, not even the people who make it understand fully what is going
> on, is conscious of itself.
> Btw, is that even what you are arguing?  You seem to be jumping back and
> forth between the argument that ChatGPT has no qualia (which again, you
> can't know) and the argument that it has no awareness of itself (which
> again, again, you can't know).  These are very different arguments; the
> first is the most important unsolved problem in philosophy.
> This is really getting into the weeds of the subject and I don't think you
> should speak so surely on the matter. These problems are the hardest
> problems in all of philosophy, neuroscience, theory of mind. There are
> NUMEROUS thought experiments that at the very least bring the sureness of
> your opinion below 100%.
> You're free to argue for your opinion but can you stop acting like
> everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot?  You're arguing for something
> that is currently unknowable, so you should be more humble.  And if you
> have special information on what makes qualia, PLEASE make it known here,
> because--again--it is the most important philosophy problem in existence,
> and I'm sure everyone here and every philosopher and neuroscientist and
> human ever would like to know the answer.
> Until then, chill with the hubris.  It's uncouth.
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