[ExI] Causal Properties of redness (Was Re: Do digital computers feel)

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Wed Dec 21 23:32:13 UTC 2016

On Wed, Dec 21, 2016  Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:

​> ​
> I think I'm starting to understand more about your theory, and how to test
> for it
> ​ [...] ​
> So if your theory is proven true
> ​...​

​There is no way my ideas about consciousness (or that of anybody else)​

​can ever be proven true or false, so it is not a scientific theory.
Instead, "*intelligent behavior implies subjectivity and consciousness is
what date feels like when it is processed and produces intelligent behavior*"
are axioms. If I refuse to take them as my starting point then there are
only 2 alternatives:

1) I am the only conscious being in the universe.

2) Everything in the universe is as conscious as I am, including rocks.

Neither alternative is very appealing so I think I'll stick with my
axioms.  Actually everybody not just me uses behavior to determine if
something is conscious or not, that's why they believe rocks are not
conscious but other people are, except when they behave as if they are
asleep or dead. Yes it's not perfect, maybe they're just pretending to be
sleeping or dead and maybe rocks are just shy and don't feel like talking,
but it's the only tool we have so if you want to be consistent you must use
it on computers too.

> ​> ​
> So if your theory is proven true,

​That will never happen.​

> ​> ​
> you will be able to take a sufficiently complex set of bits and organize
> them in the right way, put them in the right (red) context and wala, a
> redness quality will be experienced by you.  And potentially all you need
> to do to change this same set of bits into your greenness qualia,

​But if you switched my qualia of red and green how would my behavior
change, how would you notice any difference in me? I'd still say
strawberries and stoplights have the same color and spinach and go-lights
have the same color. And how would I notice a difference? ​

​My memories of what a strawberries and what a stoplight looks like would
also change. So if switching the red and green qualia would make no
difference objectively and it would make no difference subjectively then
what difference would switching the two color qualia make?

​> ​
> But what do you mean by "byproduct of"?

​I mean you can't make an arch without a spandrel and you can't produce ​
​intelligent behavior ​without consciousness. Evolution can't detect
consciousness in others any better than we can, but like us it can detect
intelligent behavior. I know for a fact that Evolution did produce
consciousness at least once so I must conclude that consciousness is a
byproduct of intelligence. You must make the same conclusion, provided of
course that like me you do know for a fact that there is at least one
conscious being in the universe. If you don't know that for a fact then all
bets are off.

> ​> ​
> Certainly that at least implies a causal relationship from the physics to
> the qualia - but are you saying the reverse isn't true? - that the quality
> of your experience that is the byproduct of physics has no detectable
> causal effect on physical reality?

​There are many correct answers to the question, "why did you scratch your
nose?". Some answers would involve physiology, some would involve physics,
some would involve mosquitoes, and some would involve qualia. "Because I
felt my nose itch and I thought it would feel good if I scratched it" would
be a perfectly acceptable answer.     ​

> ​> ​
> are you implying that your redness quality has no physical causal
> properties?

​No, the redness qualia causes me to put my foot on the brake pedal of my
car whenever I see a traffic signal take on that quality.  ​

​> ​
> I'm predicting that my redness quality must have detectable physical
> causal properties

​Me too. As I said there is more than one way to correctly answer a
question. "I'm picking strawberries because the neurons in my brain are
sending signals to the muscles in my fingers to do so" would be a correct
answer, " I'm picking them because I think red strawberries​

​taste good" would also be a correct answer.   ​

To a physicist pressure is a perfectly real concept, and the idea
that pressure makes a balloon expand is true. And the concept that a
million billion trillion gas molecules are pushing on the inside of a
balloon making it expand is also true. Two different ways of saying the
same thing and both are true. The one that is the most useful depends on
the thing you're trying to do, if you're studying Brownian Motion you use
one, if you're studying hurricanes you use the other.

> > Aren't you saying that "a suitably written program stored in a digital
> computer" does have something for which to interpret the abstracted word
> "red" as - which is the neural correlate of your redness?


> ​> ​
> With all current computers that I know of nobody has done anything to
> represent red with the correct set of organized bits in the right context

​Well.....since the 1960's computers (with suitable robotic eyes and hands)
have been able to look at a pile of red and green balls and pick out the
ones you would interpret as red and put them in one bin and pick out the
ones you would interpret as green and put them in another bin.  I agree
with your interpretation that the 2 qualia are different and we both agree
with the robot's interpretation of what is red and what is green. I don't
understand what more is needed because that's the same way I determine if
you can detect a difference between red and green. I don't know of any
other way to go about it and it seems to me we should play by the same
rules regardless of if we are judging people, computers, or rocks.

​> ​
> P.S.  John, thank you so much for sticking with all this for so long!!

​I enjoy this sort of thing.​

 ​John K Clark​
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