[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Thu Dec 22 21:31:36 UTC 2016

Oh great.  Thanks, James, for this reply.  I realized after I sent my post,
that I left a few important things out, and you are clearly pointing these
omissions out.

The difference is that computer functional logic is all implemented above
and abstracted away from the quality of the physical hardware level.  All
representations have a translation or transduction system that physically
translates between all the different physical representations, so they can
all be thought of or function as 1s and 0s.  But we are different.  The
physical quality of our representations is all important, and included in
all of the comparison and intelligent processing systems.  With us, we can
be aware of and reflect on what they are like, but with a computer, all
that is abstracted away by all the hardware translators.  So, true Chalmers
admitted that the fading / dancing qualia is a possibility, and this is
exactly what this theory predicts will happen.  If the comparison system
can detect a phenomenal quality of positive voltages and zero voltages,
then there will be dancing qualia, as you make the substitution.  If there
is no qualia at all, it will be fading qualia.  Except that qualitatively,
you will be able to tell with the first comparator substitution.  The
prediction is that you will never be able to construct any of the
comparitors to say glutamate is the same as +5 volts.  So you will not be
able to “flip the switch” between the first comparator substitution, and
not see a difference between them.  True, you will be able to replace
everything, and eventually it will start functioning entirely
identically.  But,
as the wave of conversion progresses partially along, this theory is
predicting there will clearly be dancing / fading qualia, until everything
is replaced and the quality of the representations becomes entirely
irrelevant - abstracted away from the quality of the physical layer -
everyone admitting that there is clearly a big difference due to the
dancing / fading qualia as you progressed to the eventually completely
identical behavior.

Brent Allsop

On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 1:52 PM, James Carroll <jlcarroll at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 12:23 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> With that, you should be able to see the flaw in this neural substitution
>> logic.
> Why?
> I don't yew see how your discussion of translation leads to a flaw in the
> logic. You may have a point, but I am failing to grasp it given what you
> have written above.
> First, it appears that your comparator neuron fires when the inputs are
> the same... so that is implementing a -XOR, rather than an XOR (which fires
> if they are different), but that is trivial. I will just assume you meant
> not XOR.
> So, if I understand you correctly, we have two neuro-transmitters, g and
> a, with you so far. We then have a comparator neuron C... with you so
> far... and two input neurons A and B... with you so far... C fires if A and
> B both dump the same neurotransmitter, and don't fire if they dump
> different neurotransmitters. Is that correct?
> Now I replace one of those input neurons, A, (and potentially other
> neurons on the upstream side of A) with a mechanical copy A_m... then I put
> a translator on the output of neuron A_m at the input to comparator C. The
> translator dumps chemical g if the output of A_m is a 1, and chemical a if
> the output of A_m is a 0. This is necessary for A_m to properly talk to C
> in the same way that A did before. Ok... good so far. Now C fires if it
> gets chemical g from both inputs A_m (translated) and B, or chemical a from
> both inputs A_m(translated) and B. Now C's behavior is identical both
> before and after A was replaced with A_m.
> Now we can continue down the chain... I can now replace C with C_m.. now
> no translation between A_m and C_m is needed, but a new translation step is
> needed between B and C_m, as well as between C_m, and whatever it's output
> is hooked to... let's call that D. Now I must translate between C_m and D.
> So... as I expand the number of neurons that are replaced with mechanical
> versions (_m neurons), there is a translation step needed between each
> neuron that is mechanical, and each that isn't. You can think of this as an
> expanding wave of mechanical neurons, with a translation step at the edge
> of the wave. As this wave moves across the brain, the brain's behavior
> remains unchanged. But IF consciousness is tied to the substrate, the
> consciousness of the brain is changing, while it's behavior is not changed.
> This is the concept of fading and "dancing" qualia that Chalmers described
> in his paper.
> And if you believe in fading and dancing qualia, then you believe in a
> form of qualia that is essentially epiphenomenal! But my qualia are NOT
> epiphenominal. They impact my behavior... For example, I say "red is
> beautiful" because my qualia of red affects my decision to say that. If you
> substitute a few neurons in my brain, and I STILL say "red is beautiful"...
> then I still have the qualia of red, and it hasn't faded.
> I fail to see how your discussion of the comparator neuron changes this in
> any significant manner... it's just an example of exactly what we have been
> describing all along.
> James
> --
> Web: http://james.jlcarroll.net
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