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

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sun Dec 18 15:36:50 UTC 2016

On Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 9:48 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>

>I believe there is an emerging consensus around the idea that there is a
consistent neural correlate to a redness quality and a consistently
observably different neural correlate for a greenness quality. This theory
could be proven, if we find these, and with that can reliably predict (i.e.
demonstrably never fails or is never falsified) at observing such differing
correlates in other's brains

​Yes, I could determine that whatever color qualia you associate with
strawberries you also associate with stoplights, if of course I make the
unproven assumption that you experience any qualia at all.  But for all I
know your red could be the same as my green, or your red could be like
nothing I've ever experienced or ever could experience. Or it could be
about the same as mine. I don't know and will never know.

> The only problem is, currently, when we observe something in the brain,
> our senses give us abstracted information, like the word "red" to describe
> what we are detecting, and this information does not have any quality to it

​You seem to feel that there is something physical in the brain like a "red
circuit" that does nothing but generate the subjective qualia red, but
random mutation and Natural Selection could never have produced the red
circuit if it did nothing but produce the quilia red, but I know with
absolute certainty that at least one human being DOES experience the red
qualia. Therefore I must conclude that the red circuit must produce
something else that Evolution can see, like behavior, and qualia is just a
byproduct of that in the same way that a spandrel is the byproduct of an

>  - and is only meant to represent such, given the correct interpretation.

​That red neural correlate does not exist in isolation but is embedded in
and generates qualia as it relates to the entire brain. ​My red circuit is
interpreted by the rest of my brain that is not part of the red circuit,
and the non-red circuit part of my brain is different from the non-red
circuit part of your brain, if it were not we'd be the same person. So even
if the red circuit is identical for both of us our interpretation of it,
that is to say the subjective experience we get out of it, could be

> At best, we interpret the words like red as if it was representing the
> quality of the surface of the strawberry, or the initial source of the
> perception process

​Yes, we both agree that red is the color of both strawberries and stop
lights but we don't know if my subjective red is your subjective green or
not. There is nothing mystical in this it's just a result of the fact that
if X is not Y then X is not Y.

Thomas Nagel might someday know what it would be like if Thomas Nagel were
a bat, but Thomas Nagel will never know what it's like for a bat to be a
bat because then Thomas Nagel wouldn't be Thomas Nagel anymore, he'd be a
bat. A bat can know what it's like to be a bat but nothing else can.

> ​ ​
> and you seem to be claiming that a mindful redness quality has no
> demonstrably reliable relationship to physical reality and isn't
> approachable via science.  You seem to say that with: *"there is no way
> they could know if my subjective experience of those colors was inverted
> from their own."*


​ I'm not saying they are inverted, I'm just saying there will never be
proof they are or are not inverted. I'm also saying that fact doesn't prove
there is something ​mystical going on

​> ​
> So, at best you seem to be leaning towards Cartesian dualism,

Perhaps you could say what ​I believe in dualism, but not ​
Cartesian dualism​​
​. I have no patience ​with "The Soul" but I do believe in information and
I do believe that mind and brain are not the same thing because nouns verbs
and adjectives are not the same thing. Mind is what the brain does and I am
not a noun, I am the way atoms behave when they are organized in a
johnkclarkian way.
And although I will never be able to prove it I
believe that consciousness is what data feels like when it is processed
intelligently, I take
 as a axiom so after that there just isn't much
​more ​
to say about consciousness.
​ There is however plenty more to say and discover about how intelligence
works. ​

> Even though you say that "the mind is what the brain does" this seems to
> contradict your assertion that "there is no way they could know...",

​No, that's one of the things that I CAN know. If my mind changes then my
brain changes, and if my brain changes then my mind changes.​

​What I don't know for sure is if the same is true for you; I know that if
your brain changes your behavior changes and if your behavior changes your
brain changes, but if your mind changes too I don't know for certain, I
don't even know for sure that you or anybody else in the universe has a
mind, although I very very strongly suspect that they do.​

> ​>
> implying there might be (as in never say never fails) a complete lack of
> relationship between physical detectable reality and what is in any "mind"?

​Not necessarily a lack of a relationship but the lack of a proven
relationship. Godel tells us that proof and truth are not the same things.
Depending on the axioms chosen there can be true things that can't be
proven or, what is much worse, false things that can be proven. And no
axiomatic system powerful enough to do arithmetic can prove its own
consistency. So all you can do is be very careful in picking axioms, make
them as simple innocuous and self evidently true as you can and then hope
for the best. But if you don't need "X is certainly true" and "X is
probably true" is good enough then you don't need to worry about Godel.

 John K Clark
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