[ExI] Digital Consciousness .

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 26 03:42:19 UTC 2013

On Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 12:35 PM, Gordon <gts_2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Most of us here have probably heard of John Searle's famous (or infamous,
> depending on your point of view) Chinese Room Argument (CRA) which attempts
> to show that computers can never know the meanings of the symbols they
> manipulate, i.e., that semantics cannot come from manipulation of symbols
> according to the rules of syntax in a computer program.
> Many of us may not however know that Searle's more interesting work on the
> subject occurred later in his life. He realized that his CRA had missed an
> important point: that there is no syntax in the brain in the first place -
> that syntax is not intrinsic to physics. Syntax is, rather, assigned by the
> observer.
> As Searle put it in a speech to the American Philosophical Association,
> "Computational states are not discovered within the physics [of the brain],
> they are assigned to the physics... This is a different argument from the
> Chinese Room Argument and I should have seen it ten years ago but I did not.
> The Chinese Room Argument showed that semantics is not intrinsic to syntax.
> I am now making the separate and different point that syntax is not
> intrinsic to physics."
> This idea is disastrous to the theory that the brain is like a digital
> computer. Even if we could find a way to get semantics from syntax, syntax
> is not intrinsic to the brain.
> If the brain is not intrinsically like a digital computer operating
> according to syntactical rules of a program then for what reason to do we
> think we can make a conscious brain on a digital computer? It seems to me
> that to make a conscious brain, we must do something much closer to what
> nature has done.

If the brain, being a system of interacting atoms, acquires semantics
then what forbids a digital computer, also a system of interacting
atoms, from also acquiring semantics?

Stathis Papaioannou

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list