[ExI] Symbol Grounding

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Sat Apr 29 09:19:09 UTC 2023

*A brick doesn't produce a housing estate, a xylem cell doesn't produce
atree, am I getting my point across yet?*No, you don't really.
It seems I have to explain things on both directions yours and mine. Can
you write full sentences that go through the details of what you are trying
to convey without using "poetic" language? Even your inverter examples,
your pictures of the strawberries are not precise, they don't go to the
core of mechanisms. I'm not sure how to explain this to you.

Let me try with the sentences above.
I need first of all "translate" or guess what you mean with produce. Do you
mean a bunch of bricks in the field do not spontaneously come together and
form a house (also why use housing estate when a house would be enough,
simplify to make things easier). For sure the bricks make up the house as
components, do we agree on that?
If you are saying the bricks do not come together to form a house I agree
but we know how to put together bricks to form a house and one could
explain the process step by step. That would be a scientific explanation of
how to "produce" a house. As I explained many times it is not just the
component but the process, the interactions, the mechanisms. This is why we
insist on function. The process of building the house is the explanation.
The materials are not important, I could use other materials besides
When we say the firing of the neurons are where consciousness is we mean of
course that this firing transfers information from neuron to neuron, the
neuron process, add, subtract, and interprets the information. These
processes together are the "production" of the house. Do we know the
details of this "production"? No, but we know that it is what matters. I
never saw a house come together but I know the real house was built by a
process and its components are not what matters. To me your position seems
the opposite of this, you emphasize the components, not the processes, it
is the functionalists that do.

In addition, consciousness is actually more similar to the tree process
than the house process. In fact, the house needs an external agent to come
together but the tree doesn't. It achieves the goal by cell multiplication
and following the blueprint of the DNA. The reason why I don't think
consciousness (and even more qualia) are not this big deal is that we
already know of a very self-referential, emergent process and we call it
LIFE and consciousness are probably very similar in terms of being more
than the sum of the parts, emergent, self-referential, apparently
mysterious, and mostly made of code and transfer of information. Yes, the
particular type of life we have on earth depends on specific materials and
even elements like carbon, water, and amino-acids but while it is important
to understand the role of these components to understand terrestrial life,
it is not what the essence of life is. It is what life does that is
important and it is all about information encoding, processing, and
transferring. The materials can be substituted by others and in fact, we
are already successful in making artificial life that doesn't require these
materials and we can also simulate life processes pretty closely and
completely digitally.

So in all your example, the function, the interaction between the parts,
the connection, the information is the essential ingredient. It is us that
is insisting on this but not it seems from your last email is you that says
it is what is important.
If not go ahead and explain.
I would like to see an explanation regarding these mundane examples because
I think we can understand better than talking about something as complex as
Please go ahead and tell me the answers from your point of view of the
riddles about the house, tree, and Eiffel Tower. I told you what is my


On Sat, Apr 29, 2023 at 1:37 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On 29/04/2023 07:49, Brent Allsop wrote:
> > All spike trails or trains, or whatever, begin and end with
> > neurotransmitters being dumped into a synapse, right?  Seems to me
> > that someone who predicts someone's [experience of red] is more likely
> > to be spike trains, than [...] a chemical in a synapse, like Giovani,
> > has no ability to understand or model [experiences].  How the heck
> > could a train of spikes produce a redness experience?
> How the heck could a pixel on a screen produce a picture of a field of
> flowers?
> How the heck could a digital number produce a word processor document?
> How the heck could a single note on an oboe produce a symphony?
> If i wanted to show that pixels can't give rise to pictures, numbers
> can't give rise to novels, or single notes can't give rise to
> symphonies, these are the kind of questions I'd ask, in order to direct
> the reader's attention to the wrong thing.
> This also applies to molecules of neurotransmitter in a synapse
> producing an experience.
> A brick doesn't produce a housing estate, a xylem cell doesn't produce a
> tree, am I getting my point across yet?
> You have a warehouse full of steel girders and you want to build the
> eiffel tower. What's the missing essential ingredient? (no, it's not
> rivets).
> Ben
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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