[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Tue Dec 27 17:03:06 UTC 2016

On 27 December 2016 at 16:42, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

Stathis wrote:

<If the brain's engineering tolerance was such that the trillionth decimal

place in some parameter made a difference then the gravitational effect of

a mosquito in the next town would cause a drastic disruption. A machine so

lacking in robustness, whether made or evolved, could not work.>

It's not the physical structure of the brain that we are discussing but

the richness of mental states resulting from the brain's functioning. So

no a mosquito in the next town won't result in your brain melting down,

but it might influence your mood or your decision to buy mosquito netting.

Chaos theory describes the "butterfly effect", therefore a similar

mathematical treatment might allow small gravititational effects to

influence ones mental states in unpredictable ways.

The claim that the brain utilises infinite precision arithmetic, and that
this is essential for consciousness, is different. Thermal noise would
swamp the effect of any parameter after a few decimal places, so the
gravitational effect of a mosquito in the next town cannot, in fact,
directly influence the depolarisation of neurons. The butterfly effect is
different: the mosquito could set off a cascade of events that influence a
distant brain.

Stathis Papaioannou
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