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

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Wed Dec 14 19:05:58 UTC 2016

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

If you think about what are the physical mechanics in our brain that 
compose an "experience of qualia", it helps to break it down to a 
slightly more fundamental level than this.  Take, for example, the 
qualitative nature of elemental redness.  To "experience" this, there 
must be something in the brain that has this quality, which is the 
redness knowledge we experience.  This quality is bound by our brain 
with other bits of knowledge, some of it qualitative, some of it not, 
like the additional knowledge of you, having the experience of this 
redness.  The brain produces and binds what it is that has all these 
diverse qualities together to make up or paint our conscious experience 
or knowledge of the world.  So the qualitative nature or to be more 
specific, the elemental redness quality is the only important thing to 
consider in this so called "hard" problem. Everything else is, as 
Chalmers would say, part of the easy problem.  What is it, in our brain, 
that has this redness quality that can be the qualitative part of our 
experience of it?

Note, that an abstracted word like "red", though it can represent it, 
does not have a redness quality.   One possibility is that the 
neurotransmitter like glutamate, chemically reacting in a synapse, is 
what does have this physical redness quality we can experience. A 
quality like redness, we can experience, must have detectable physical 
behavior.  It could be that glutamate, chemically reacting in the 
synapse, is what is this redness quality behavior.

Currently, even though we know everything about the causes and effects 
of the chemistry going on in that chemical reaction in the synapse, all 
this knowledge of its behavior is represented by abstracted information 
that, like the word red, does not have the same quality.   So this 
causal information could be representing what it is, that is the 
physical causal properties of redness, but we just don't know how to 
qualitatively interpret this abstracted knowledge of this physical 
redness behavior.  So, until you know how to qualitatively interpret the 
abstracted knowledge of everything about the chemistry or physics of 
redness, you can't know how to qualitatively interpret this abstracted 
knowledge representing the causal information.  We are currently blind 
to any phenomenal qualities of the chemistry or whatever, in our brain, 
simply because we don't know how to qualitatively interpreted the 
abstracted knowledge we receive from our detectors.

This is similar to the way Frank Jackson's Mary, the brilliant 
scientist, can know everything about red, but just not know how to 
qualitatively interpret all her abstracted knowledge that is only 
abstractly representing everything about the behavior of redness. The 
only way for her to know what the abstracted word red qualitatively 
represents, is for her to walk out of the black and white room, and for 
the first time, experience physical redness, for herself.  Then she can 
say both that she knows everything about the physical behavior of 
redness, and she knows how to qualitatively interpret that abstracted 
knowledge about it, which itself, does not have the redness quality.

On 12/14/2016 8:15 AM, John Clark wrote:
> And in addition to the question asked in the title of this thread I'd 
> like to ask another, "Do human beings other than me feel?".

Yes, as long as you know what it is in your head that has each of the 
phenomenal qualities that make up all your "feelings", you can "eff the 
ineffable" and discover, at least on an elemental level, how others 
feelings compare to your own.  For more info on why we are normally 
blind to qualia in other's minds, and how to "eff the ineffable" in the 
various week, stronger and strongest forms, see this 15 minute YouTube 
talk on "Detecting Qualia":


Brent Allsop

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