[ExI] Ben Goertzel on Large Language Models

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sat Apr 29 11:53:39 UTC 2023

On Sat, Apr 29, 2023, 2:36 AM Gordon Swobe <gordon.swobe at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Apr 28, 2023 at 3:46 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Fri, Apr 28, 2023, 12:33 AM Gordon Swobe via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> Quite by accident, I happened upon this quote of Erwin Schrodinger this
>>> evening.
>>> "Consciousness cannot be explained in physical terms. Because
>>> consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be explained in any
>>> other terms."
>> That is actually what I also hold to be true about consciousness, though
>>> not necessarily for reasons related to quantum mechanics or eastern
>>> philosophy. (Schrodinger is said to have been influenced by
>>> eastern philosophy).
>> Me too. Its strange then that we disagree regarding AI.
> Yes, that is interesting. To be clear, I agree with Schrodinger that
> consciousness cannot be explained in physical terms, but this is not quite
> the same as saying it is immaterial or non-physical. I mean, and I think he
> meant, that it cannot be explained in the third-person objective language
> of physics.

There is a sense in which I could agree with this. I think physics is the
wrong language for describing states of consciousness, which is a higher
order phenomena. I would also say, as I have explained elsewhere, that in a
certain sense consciousness is also more fundamental than the apparent
physical reality.

I take "absolutely fundamental" to mean irreducible.

Right there are several possible interpretations of what he means by

I agree that conscious is irreducible in the sense that looking at ever
smaller pieces of the brain does not yield better understanding of the
mind. I would say that consciousness is constructive, not reductive. You
need to consider all the parts together, and how they build up to a whole,
rather than how each part operates in isolation.

Much of science has been successful precisely because it has followed the
path of reductionism, but I don't think states of consciousness can be
entirely understood by reductive means. Likewise the same is true for any
complex enough system that manifests emergent behavior, like a complex
computer program, or an ecosystem. When there are many unique parts
interacting in complex ways with each other, the system as a whole cannot
be understood by a simple analysis of each part. Any true understanding of
that system must include all the parts working together: the whole.

  I take "It cannot be explained in other terms" to mean that the
> experience itself is the only way to understand it.

I agree with what you say above.

This is also why I try to stay out of the endless discussions about what
> are qualia.
> I cannot explain in the language of physics, or in the language of
> computation or of functionalism generally, why I see the red quale when I
> look at an apple. I just do. It is fundamental and irreducible.

Note that functionalism doesn't aim to make qualia communicable. It is just
the hypothesis that if you could reproduce the functional organization of a
consciousness system, you would reproduce the same consciousness as that
first conscious system.

It's a fairly modest idea as far as theories go, because you would obtain
identical behavior between the two systems. So if the first is David
Chalmers his functional duplicate would say and do all the same things as
the original, including stating his love of certain qualia like deep
purples and greens, and writing books about the mysterious nature of
consciousness. Could such a thing be a zombie? This is where you and I part

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