[ExI] a little essay on anger and respect

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Tue Apr 25 04:11:57 UTC 2023

I do admire your passion as spike pointed out. It is rare that somebody
that is not an expert in a field finds an abstract topic like this one
interesting enough to learn some of the fundamentals and come up with his
own understanding. Also being an expert in a field doesn't entitle somebody
to dismiss a valid argument. There are a lot of amateurs in different
fields that made incredible contributions without getting a Ph.D. degree.

The problem though is that sometimes talking to you it seems you have read
about this topic of qualia but you don't have a good grasp of even simple
concepts in neuroscience. Neuroscience is not like Physics where we have
detailed knowledge of most natural laws and precise equations that we can
calculate or model using computers. It is much vaguer and it has few
unifying principles. But one of them is that the brain is made of neurons
that communicate and process information via trains of electrical spike
activity (spike means it is not continuous but made of pulses that have a
specific time structure). The code is in this timing as far as we know.
Neurotransmitters are also important to understand how the brain works but
in a sense have a secondary role.

Some of the frustration that several of us in the list have toward your
position is that goes against what most of us that worked in the field or
have some technical knowledge of neuroscience know about the brain but also
what information is, how it is processed, what is essential in a signal and
so on. It is not that there is no space for new insights because these
happen regularly in our exploration of the world but the claims you make
seem unsubstantiated and do not seem to add much to the discussion.

Some of us maybe not participating anymore and ignoring the debate. The
reason I stuck around is based on what I perceive as the implication of
what you are claiming is something that more people will adhere to in the
future as a response to the AI revolution. It is the same reason why I
strongly react to Gordon's position.

It is basically the idea that biological brains are the only ones that can
sustain true awareness and intelligence. I'm not sure why you believe this
but your claims lead to this conclusion. In the case of Gordon, I know
because of previous conversations and posts in other media, that he has
some religious beliefs that make him arrive at this conclusion.

As AI advances more and more we will see more people reacting in irrational
ways toward the idea that machines can be conscious and may even demand
rights or we should be worried about treating them as fully sentient
beings. Hopefully, this doesn't lead to violent social conflicts and maybe
even wars. But for sure there will be a lot of political debate around
these topics in the near future.

I consider this an existential danger than the idea of AI going rogue (that
is very unlikely in my opinion).

This is why there is emotion sometimes attached to this discussion, there
is a lot at stake. Basically the future of our civilization.


On Mon, Apr 24, 2023 at 8:41 PM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> *…*> *On Behalf Of *Brent Allsop via extropy-chat
> *Subject:* Re: [ExI] a little essay on anger and respect
> Thanks William,
> >…I'm probably in the middle of most of this, and am really working on not
> getting angry.
> But also, I sense I have a LONG way to go, before I am good at not
> provoking anger in others.
> Still working on it, and appreciating everyone's patience and help with
> this.
> Brent, if I may offer some sincere encouraging words please: you are
> passionate about your projects, the canonizer and the quality for
> instance.  If you become intense, we do understand.  The social rules in
> the flesh world do differ from the online world.  At a dinner table with
> colleagues, bandwidth is limited, someone talking at any one time,
> protocols exist.  In our brief contact and time together at Extro 5 (if I
> recall correctly) you presented as a pleasant respectful gentleman in whom
> I find no fault.
> The online world of course the rules are different.  You force no one to
> read your posts, nor do we.  If one has time and interest, one reads.  You
> impose on no one by posting.  You notice I don’t write on those topics
> because I know nossink about it, never really understood it beyond the very
> basics for which you so patiently taught me and the others who read.  The
> reason I don’t contribute to the discussion is that I don’t know enough
> about those matters on which you post.  No need to apologize at all, for I
> have never seen you intentionally insult anyone.  Do continue please being
> your gentlemanly self, sir.
> Cool parting shot: Exi-Chat has grown far more civil over the past three
> decades, ja?  The flame wars that used to take place on this forum, oh the
> humanity!
> I wrote all that, no GPT-4, didn’t even ask for its opinion.
> spike
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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