[ExI] are qualia communicable?

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Sat Apr 15 22:06:56 UTC 2023

I think the usefulness of what we are doing here is exactly to learn how to
communicate without using our own private language. I know we are all
guilty of this up to a point. But there are instances where this happens
more than other times and it is really frustrating. I'm glad Ben gave you
precise instructions on how you can improve communication. I felt exactly
the same the first time I read your discussion of this business of redness.
I could not understand at all your made-up terms like "quality blind". It
doesn't matter how many times you explain it to me, if you just write the
same dozen-line explanation with this obscure vocabulary is basically
impossible to follow. You should really try to re-write it without using
them and see how it looks like. Maybe ask GPT-4 to rewrite it for you. I
will try myself and see what I got but I think it is important for you to
do that exercise if you want people to even try to follow you.

On Sat, Apr 15, 2023 at 2:18 PM Giovanni Santostasi <gsantostasi at gmail.com>

> Hi Ben,
> What you are saying is exactly what I would say if I was good with words
> as you are.
> What strikes me is that is what everybody else that is scientifically
> trained is saying the same things, even if in slightly different words.
> The explanations are coherent and based on what we know about how reality
> works. But notwithstanding all this, the other side is repeating more or
> less the same mantras about the redness of red, the grounding problem, and
> stuff like that without really adding layers of understanding to the
> discussion. Not sure if this impasse can be resolved at all.
> Maybe in the future when we know more about brains and minds of all types
> these misconceptions will disappear as they did with the concept of "life
> spirit" that people were using to justify why life is magical and a divine
> creation beyond the understanding of science.
> I'm not sure what is going on with Brent because I think he has
> supposedly a more scientific motivation but what he says doesn't sound
> scientific at all. But I know Gordon, for his own admission, thinks there
> is something beyond science behind consciousness and that science is not
> adequate to understand it. This is more of a religious position than a
> scientific one so not sure there is much point in discussing further.
> Giovanni
> On Sat, Apr 15, 2023 at 8:52 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On 15/04/2023 13:00, Brent Allsop wrote:
>> > You can't teach a toddler their colours, with a book that has no
>> > colours in it. You point to the red one and say: THAT is red.
>> Yes.
>> ... (skip some meaningless verbiage)...
>> > Once we have the required dictionary (after exhaustive trial and
>> > error, and you discover that is P1, and only P1 that has a redness
>> > quality), you take P1, computationally bind it into someone's
>> > subjective experience, and say: THAT is redness.
>> No.
>> What you are calling a 'dictionary' doesn't exist, and it's extremely
>> unlikely that a single defined function (or neural network) is the only
>> one that gives rise to the sensation of 'red', even in one individual,
>> and certainly not across different individuals. Have you noticed that
>> feeling feverish affects your perception? Or being happy as opposed to
>> sad? Or... (any number of mental states). 'Red' can mean many different
>> things to a person (even ignoring the fact that there isn't just one
>> 'red' but at least hundreds), and the state of mind you're in can affect
>> what 'red' feels like.
>> Apart from that, what you seem to be proposing would only work if
>> everyone's brain was the same, in detail. The kind of detail that would
>> mean everyone was essentially the same person. Rendering the whole
>> exercise pointless.
>> I don't know what you mean by 'computationally bind it into someone's
>> subjective experience', but it's possible that it's a terrible way of
>> saying "reproduce the same function (or network) in someone else's
>> brain". Which, I'm pretty sure, A) is not possible, and B) if it were
>> possible, there's no guarantee it would work to produce the same
>> subjective sensations in the recipient. It would be like taking the
>> engine management software from a BMW racing car and (somehow) making it
>> work in a Fiat saloon, and saying THAT's what it's like to be a BMW
>> racing car!. Of course it wouldn't be. It would most likely turn the
>> Fiat into a useless piece of junk, at least until the offending software
>> was removed and replaced with the original (and maybe not even then, if
>> it's damaged the engine).
>> If you mean something else, please explain (without, please, please,
>> resorting to your usual indecipherable vocabulary. In case you're
>> uncertain what I mean, don't use the terms 'computationally bind',
>> 'quality', 'dictionary', 'redness' (just 'red' wlil do), and
>> 'objective'. To be honest, if you want people to understand what you're
>> saying, use plain english (or american, even), and try to drop this
>> terminology which is only meaningful to you).
>> Ben
>> PS Strawberries are passé. Didn't you know that Limes are the 'in' fruit
>> these days?
>> _______________________________________________
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>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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