[ExI] Do digital computers feel?
brent.allsop at gmail.com
Fri Dec 23 02:39:41 UTC 2016
After thinking about this for a year or more, and hearing your's and
Stathis' comments (in his post he asked: "Yes, but do you agree that
despite the silicon-based comparator neurone you describe being
physically different, the rest of the brain will function exactly the
I think I have a better understanding of your logic in these complaints.
The way the substitution would feel as the substitution wave traversed
across the brain would be highly dependent on the type of binding
mechanism the brain employed to bind all of this knowledge together so
we can be aware of the physical quality of it it all at once. When we
look at a strawberry we are aware of a 3D model of the strawberry. We
can split the image up into 3D voxel elements, and we are aware of the
quality of each voxel element on the surface of the strawberry and the
leaves, again all at the same time. So lets say that there is one
neuron that represents each voxel element, firing on all it's downstream
synapses with glutamate when representing the surface of the
strawberry. It would take much more than a single neuron to bind all
this together, including the semantic information that it all represents
a red strawberry.... but let's just imagine that the binding system is
one single awareness neuron for simplicity purposes. This large neuron
needs to have an upstream synapse touching each of these actual
knowledge voxel neurons, each firing - some with glutamate and some with
glycene. Otherwise, it couldn't be aware of the entire thing all at
once. Steven Lehar postulates that this knowledge is neurons firing in
standing wave patterns, so maybe this large single neuron aware of the
physical quality of all our knowledge representation neurons is
coordinating the firing pattern of all of these neurons so they fire in
a standing wave or something.
Anyway, the point being is that if you could do the entire binding
process with one neuron, it would function the same as James is
demanding when you replace it. When you replace the one large binding
neuron, only then could you replace all the upstream neurons and
translators producing glutamate. But of course, everyone would know
this was only functionally the same - both interpreting the very
different physical representations as if they were red. But the binding
system probably isn't a single neuron, so there may be some type of
possible wave, during the substitution, for which the system would not
behave the same - saying that that glutamate is nothing like a positive
I tried to explain that it wouldn't be identical behavior, until the
On 12/22/2016 3:21 PM, James Carroll wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 2:31 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com
> <mailto:brent.allsop at gmail.com>> wrote:
> 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.
> You are begging the question.
> 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.
> You are begging the question.
> So, true Chalmers admitted that the fading / dancing qualia is a
> possibility, and this is exactly what this theory predicts will
> If you believe in fading and dancing qualia, then your qualia is
> epiphenomenal. YOUR qualia may be epiphenomenal, mine isn't.
> 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.
> But the behavior will be unchanged.... When YOUR qualia change, does
> your behavior remain unaltered?
> 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.
> Sure, to preserve the behavior the translation at the boundary between
> the mechanical element and the natural one is necessary. Again, so
> what? That doesn't mean that there is no qualia in a system that is
> mechanical, with the proper translation at the boundaries.
> Remember that you can push the boundary where the "translation" takes
> place completely outside the brain, and translate between the brain
> and the muscles of your mouth, eyes, skin (for touch) etc.
> 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.
> It will function identically during the in-between steps too... so
> long as there is a translation layer between each of the mechanical
> neuron and the natural ones.
> 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.
> But if the behavior is unchanged (as it must be), then the person will
> have their qualia fade, all the while they claim that their qualia is
> NOT fading... that's exactly what the contradiction of the thought
> experiment is. And that is why Chalmers and I think that his thought
> experiment means that qualia MUST be functional.
> Web: http://james.jlcarroll.net
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