[ExI] Do digital computers feel was Re: Is the wave function real?

Colin Hales col.hales at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 07:26:05 UTC 2016

See below .....

On Sun, Dec 11, 2016 at 5:26 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki <
rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 12:38 AM, Colin Hales <col.hales at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Whatever the universe is made of,  you and I and the rest of it are all
>> made of it.
>> Whatever the universe is made of, it is capable of creating an observer
>> (scientists) inside it.
> ### It occurred to me that "conscious" observers (i.e. experiencing
> qualia) could be qualitatively different from digital simulations of minds,
> even if their behavior was indistinguishable. Of course we do not know much
> about the subject, and have to use intuition rather than more explicit
> knowledge. Let's then examine our intuitions and try to identify boundary
> conditions under which they might be true.
> Let's consider a neural network, capable of reading the alphabet, being
> shown pictures of a letter. Furthermore, this network is built from a very
> high resolution scan of a human who reads. The fidelity of the simulation
> is arbitrarily high but it is a digital simulation - one not using quantum
> phenomena or other forms of analog computation.
> Let's run this network a hundred times from one starting point, feeding it
> the same input, for example the letter A. Obviously, it will produce the
> same output - "I see the letter A". Do we have a human mind there, reading
> the letter a hundred times?
> I don't know. The run in a digital computer consists of operations on
> bitstrings - input, processing, output, all of that can be described by a
> single finite bitstring. Each of the runs is equivalent to a re-examination
> of the same bitstring. If the identity of indiscernibles holds, then all
> the runs are in fact analyzing a single mathematical object. The same
> pertains to runs simulating a human hit with a baseball bat - all the runs
> are equivalent to a single bitstring. Is there a human screaming a hundred
> times in agony in your computer, or is he screaming once, or is it just
> unfeeling numbers, a digital ghost devoid of qualia?
> I find it difficult to think that a single mathematical object can
> experience qualia every time it is examined with the use of a digital
> computer.
> Let's continue our experiments. The human simulation will reliably read
> "A" even if you bit-flip a single simulated molecule in a simulated synapse
> - the way the human brain is built, you cannot affect a high level quale,
> such as perceiving a letter, by introducing a small amount of noise below
> some threshold. The simulated digital mind will be similarly resistant to
> digital noise introduced at that level. In fact, you could bit-flip every
> single synapse in the mind, which is equivalent to a brief epileptic
> seizure, and still get the same reading, slightly delayed. You could
> generate a large number of specific, non-identical instances of this
> digital noise and use them to run the network a hundred times. Each of the
> runs would be the equivalent to a different bitstring, a hundred different
> mathematical objects. Do we have a human reading "A" or being hit with a
> bat a hundred times here, or not?
> I don't know. If all you need to generate consciousness is to calculate a
> bitstring according to a digital program then yes, there are a hundred
> instances of a feeling human here. But there is something off here. In the
> experiment without digital noise, identity of indiscernibles makes it
> difficult for me to claim there were multiple separate instances of
> consciousness. How could a single bit flip, completely incapable of
> changing the reported experience ("I see the letter A"), manage to generate
> separate instances of consciousness in the experimental runs?
> My guess here is that digital noise alone cannot trigger separate
> instances of perceiving qualia in digital computational runs. Such
> experiments look at the properties of idealized, platonic forms, built of
> finite numbers of elements. I guess that finite mathematical objects are
> qualitatively different from our physical reality. On a metaphysical level,
> I would surmise that observable physics contains mathematical infinities.
> This is of course just an idle act of faith on my part, not any well-formed
> type of knowledge. I don't understand infinite-dimensional Hilbert spaces,
> so my hunch about our QM world being built of infinities is just
> pattern-matching, not inference.
> Let's continue our experiments. We download out simulation into a hundred
> physical copies of the human brain. Every neuron, every synapse and every
> atom is in the same corresponding spot in all copies. We show them the
> letter A by stimulating their optic nerves and all produce the output "I
> see the letter A". Using our advanced monitoring hardware we verify that
> the physical noise at the level of individual neurons is similar to the
> digital noise introduced by out bit flip in the previous experiment. Do we
> have a hundred humans here thinking separate conscious thoughts?
> Most of us would say yes. A hundred physically existing human brains,
> generating the known observable correlates of thinking - EEG patterns,
> synapse activations, producing verbal output - that's a hundred conscious
> thoughts experiencing qualia, or else no human is conscious.
> We have three sets of experiments on similar entities yielding different
> intuitions about the entities. What has changed between the sets?
> As I hinted at above, first two sets are reducible to finite bitstrings
> (i.e. can be completely recorded and predicted by manipulation or
> properties of finite bitstrings). Whether the third set can be described by
> finite bitstrings would depend on the ultimate physical nature of reality.
> If quantum-mechanical physical objects (a bit of a pleonasm, isn't it) are
> indeed defined by mathematical objects that are not equivalent to finite
> bitstrings, such as real numbers, uncomputable numbers, or others, then an
> analog computer such as a human brain or quantum computer would be
> qualitatively different from a digital computer, in an irreducible way.
> For any human brain you could produce a digital simulation that over at
> least some time span would behave identically to the physical
> instantiation, and even retain an identical high-level information
> processing structure. If there is an irreducible difference in the
> mathematical objects underpinning the analog/human and the digital
> simulation, it might be possible for metaphysical zombies to exist.
> My argument is not constructed to support dualism in the usual sense, it
> is not a critique of physicalism, and it goes off at a tangent to the
> zombie literature I am familiar with. Rather, I am trying to organize my
> thinking about modal realism. I am definitely a physicalist when it comes
> to the hard problem of consciousness but then I am also a modal realist
> when it comes to metaphysics. I do believe that physical existence is a
> member of the ultimate ensemble of mathematics but then our physical
> existence may use more complicated mathematics than can fit in our minds.
> Or our digital computers.
> I intuit that digital objects exist outside of time, isolated from our
> time-like reality, like some other platonic mathematical forms. We do not
> interact with them in the same way as we do with physical objects, we
> merely examine their existence. But we interact with the mathematical
> objects that make up our physical reality, flowing through infinities of
> time-like correlated states, and our consciousness is how higher
> mathematics feels from the inside. I am modestly inclined to believe it but
> I am not quite sure. Maybe merely embedding a model of a platonic
> mathematical object in our physical computers imbues such object with new
> properties? The mind boggles.
> On a more practical level, if there are digital p-zombies, it means it's
> morally OK to shoot NPCs in digital computer games, no matter how life-like
> are their pleadings. Or perhaps my intuition is wrong, and little programs
> running reinforcement learning could be tormented souls.
> Rafal
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
> =======================


Hi Rafal,

I start by expunging hidden memes in your observations.

*HIDDEN MEME 1: That ‘ISMS’ have any part in this science I am trying to

That assumption that any characterisation of anything in terms of “isms”
constitutes any kind of scientific claim. I don’t need to. It plays no part
in any discussion I have and it goes nowhere. It solves nothing. I
can’t/won’t say anything about any kind of ‘ism’. Nor do I think doing it
says anything useful about the particular problem of the subjective life of
any AI instantiation. Sorry. I can’t. I’m not philosophically equipped and
I never will be. It’s all irrelevant. Whatever you say about any ism, you
can merely change your mind about what the prefix+ism means and defeat it
as any kind of science proposition. It’s not science. I don’t care about
it. AFTER science makes real AGI (without needing any ‘ism’ informing any
design or testing, as usual) we’ll be able to retrofit some combination of
isms that fits the results and even then nobody will be any better off. A
whole bunch of philosophers will be able to do the ‘told you so’ dance. So
what? It changes nothing. Philosophy has no authority as science or in it
(as a determinant of scientific knowledge).

*HIDDEN MEME 2: That the word ‘metaphysics’ has any part to play in this

Basically the word metaphysics has been used for 2000 years to create a
false position about the scientific accessibility of an underlying reality
that gives rise to an observer. It was invented by stone-age thinkers that
had no modern physics, neuroscience or computers. The term is used to
defeat any attempt at scientific accounts of an underlying reality …. and
that’s basically all bullshit sophistry. You *can* do it. You can study an
underlying reality with a computer (humans can’t do it). But it creates a
whole new category of epistemic claims and the central evidence basis for
it is the prediction of and nature of an observer as a primary requirement.

*HIDDEN MEME 3: “ **For any human brain you could produce a digital
simulation that over at least some time span would behave identically to
the physical instantiation ….” *

This is the bogus belief meme from hell. YES you can produce such a
simulation. NO it is not any instance of artificial intelligence. Mistaking
the map for the territory right there. As per my original bell’s inequality
posting. This is the big one. Mistaking the increasing accuracy of a
simulation of X in the eyes of a presupposed observer with an instance of
the function of the original modelled thing. Wrong. Bad mistake. This meme
has had the entire area of AI beguiled since day 1 of AI. And there is
absolutely ZERO natural law that says that a computed model of a thing can
be expected to be literally an instance of the thing. For the brain or
anything else.


When I see these memes operating, and I am operating without them, I am
rendered unable to say anything! Saying anything at all is tacitly
acquiescing to the proposition that they have anything to say about the
area I am in when they don’t.

Bummer, huh? I don’t mean this to be dismissive! This is a real, huge
problem that has a whole science looking away from a solution to a big
problem. I for one am angry that this has gone on for so long. It is a
unique position in science and it only came about when computers came along
and there was a new kind of mistake to be made and we made it and then
industrialised it.

Returning to your text …. I have a heap of things to say about the details.
But let’s step back and look at the big picture of the science. The
‘experiments’ you detailed presuppose the memes. In particular MEME 3. Let
me show you how a map/territory confusion has trashed the normal science
process. Consider the claim:

“ MEME3 = A computed model of a natural thing is unconditionally identical
in every respect to the natural thing”.

That is, in effect, MEME3’s tacit claim about the world. In particular the
science of AI. In the case of AI and the brain MEME3 is what everyone has
invested in for 75 years. Now it’s spectacularly industrialised with vast
computing power while egregiously failing to deliver the equivalent of even
the simplest human capacities for autonomous learning by a 2 year old.

Let’s set that issue aside and scientifically deal with MEME3’s status as a
law of nature. To see if something is a ‘law of nature’ you have 2
empirical options.

(1)   Test for the logical consequences of its truth.

(2)   Test for the logical consequences of its falsehood.

*(I)* In (1) we assume MEME3 is true, we build AIcomp as computed models of
natural intelligence. We compare and contrast nature and AIcomp.

*(II) *In (2) we assume MEME3 is false, we build, instead, artificial
versions of the natural original, AIrep, which is not a computer but a
bunch of very specific physics impressed on space. We inorganically
replicate the physics in space (on new chips). It has an EEG and MEG
signature like us. It drives sensory/actuation like ours. We compare and
constrast nature and AIrep. (Note: neuromorphic chips DO NOT DO THIS!
Sorry, heading off an obvious misdirection)



Now at this point I don’t have to claim anything about the truth of MEME3.
What I can claim is that *the science is broken. *Evidence? Up until the
invention of the computer:

a)      No scientist in their right mind would ever claim MEME3 true.
Computation was done by hand. Automation of computation is only that!

b)      All scientists had ever done up to this point, to find laws of
nature, was test *(II)*!

After the invention of the computer, and ONLY in AI, *the only testing ever
done has been (I)*. For 75 years non-stop. MEME3 presupposed true. By

So you see I can’t even begin to have a discussion in the terms you require
because MEME3 has to stop being presupposed true in order that I can
contribute anything at all.

All I insist on is that the science be normalised. MEME3 could even be
true. My argument still stands. I don’t think MEME3 is true but that is
moot. All I have to say is I don’t know if MEME3 is true *and either does
anyone else and the testing framework is broken.*

I hope you can see my position in this. As you may be aware I am
squirrelled away doing AI without computers (and having a helluva time I
might add! Amazing). Because of this situation of me not presupposing MEME3
is true, but by simply adopting what was normal science for 3 centuries
before electronic computers bamboozled everyone (people that had never
actually done any real science, mainly), I find myself unable to usefully
engage your writings.

There is a bunch of stuff in your writings that I concur with without
explanation. Such as ‘*beat to death, with a baseball bat any AI done to
date (roboticised or not) and that AI won’t notice because all of it has
the subjective life of a coma (nothing) and is not actually AI at all. It
is merely automation mistaken for AI and actually has zero intelligence.
This is because there’s literally none of the intelligence-essential
physics of the brain retained in the AI*’. Exiting AI is as dumb as dogshit
not because of what it does, but because of its zero intellect in handling

If you test for MEME3 being false and do TEST (II) you can’t assume this to
be the case. Which is what I am facing or due to face in the not so distant

Thanks for the interest ….



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20161212/4527e27b/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list