[ExI] Symbol Grounding

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Mon Apr 24 18:36:29 UTC 2023

On Mon, Apr 24, 2023, 1:00 PM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> That's half right, but still no evidence of you understanding the most
> important part.
> There are lots of different properties that can represent 'red'
> information.

I don't think anyone is missing this point. We all know that it makes no
difference whether we put a file on a CD-ROM or Thumb drive. Turing
realized this back in 1950. I see no reason to remind us of this fact we
all accept.

The light can represent it.  Particular signals in the brain can
> represent it, and both redness and greenness qualities can be engineered to
> represent knowledge of what we are seeing.
> Our current terminology labels all of those different properties as 'red'.
> And the current way EVERYONE observes the brain
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/603-Current-Observation-Issues/1-Agreement>,
> reports their results using one abstract word 'red' (falsely grounded by
> the light, if it is grounded at all)
If their systems observe redness in one brain, representing the quality of
> the strawberry, and grenness in another brain, representing knowledge of
> the strawberry, their systems correct for any and all such differences, and
> presents red light on the screen.  In other words, they fail to know that
> one person is representing his knowledge of the strawberry with a grenness,
> not a redness quality.

This is a very old and well known problem. Many children come to ask the
question independently, they wonder and if other people see the same colors
they do. John Locke wrote at length about color sensation including this
exact problem in 1690, but he used the example of flowers instead of fruit:

"If by the different structure of our organs it were so ordered, that THE
same time; v.g. if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his
eyes were the same that a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice
versa. For, since this could never be known, because one man’s mind could
not pass into another man’s body, to perceive what appearances were
produced by those organs; neither the ideas hereby, nor the names, would be
at all confounded, or any falsehood be in either.
For all things that had the texture of a violet, producing constantly the
idea that he called blue, and those which had the texture of a marigold,
producing constantly the idea which he as constantly called yellow,
whatever those appearances were in his mind; he would be able as regularly
to distinguish things for his use by those appearances, and understand and
signify those distinctions marked by the name blue and yellow, as if the
appearances or ideas in his mind received from those two flowers were
exactly the same with the ideas in other men’s minds.
I am nevertheless very apt to think that the sensible ideas produced by any
object in different men’s minds, are most commonly very near and
undiscernibly alike. For which opinion, I think, there might be many
reasons offered: but that being besides my present business, I shall not
trouble my reader with them; but only mind him, that the contrary
supposition, if it could be proved, is of little use, either for the
improvement of our knowledge, or conveniency of life, and so we need not
trouble ourselves to examine it."
-- John Locke in "An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding" (1690)

Some three hundred years later, scientists still consider the question
unresolved, and some even say it may not be resolvable in principle:

"There is also the problem of qualia. Some
argue that certain aspects of consciousness (such as whether the red I see
is the same as the red you see), being essentially private, cannot in
principle be addressed by any objective, scientific study. We feel that
this difficult issue is, for the moment, best left on one side."
-- Francis Crick in "Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousness"

This is why I was hoping to get your thought regarding the dancing qualia,
as it is directly pertinent to your quest to figure out what red and
redness are:

"To summarize: We have established that if absent qualia are possible, then
fading qualia are possible; if inverted qualia are possible, then dancing
qualia are possible; and if absent qualia are possible, then dancing qualia
are possible. But it is impossible that fading qualia are possible, and it
is extremely implausible that dancing qualia are possible. It is therefore
extremely implausible that absent qualia and inverted qualia are possible.
It follows that we have good reason to believe that the principle of
organizational invariance is true, and that functional organization fully
determines conscious experience."
-- David Chalmers in "The Conscious Mind" (1996)

It's the first good thought experiment that aims to prove inverted qualia
for organizationally invariants minds are impossible. But I am not sure if
you read this far, as you may have dropped out at the point he raised the
possibility of a functionally equivalent neural substitution (which you

Functionalists don't reach their position by intuition, nor are they ever
born with the idea. Rather, each gets there by rejecting their intuition,
the same way people do when they accept heliocentrism and that the whole
earth really does move, despite what their senses seem to tell them. It
takes reasoning and logic and deep thought to see why our inborn intuitions
must be false.


> On Mon, Apr 24, 2023 at 10:49 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Giovanni Wrote:
>>  >Brent, Where the glutamate or anything else "physical" that makes the
>> "redness quality" is mentioned here? These are people that really
>> understand how the visual system works and nobody talks of redness
>> quality.
>> But, don't you realise, Giovanni? That's because they are 'quality
>> blind'. In other words, they don't take any notice of a thing that
>> doesn't exist.
>> Ben
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