[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Tue Dec 27 17:03:53 UTC 2016

On Mon, Dec 26, 2016 at 11:28 PM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

> John Clark wrote:
> ​<Ah Analog computers, this topic has come up before on the list, I wrote
> this in 1995: [. . .] Before we begin construction there are a few helpful
> hints I'd like to pass along. Always keep your workplace neat and clean.
> Make sure your ​analog ​computer is cold, as it will not operate at any
> finite temperature above absolute zero. Use only analog substances and
> processes, never use digital things like matter, energy, spin, ​or
> electrical charge when you build your analog computer.>
> This is a straw man argument. Nobody claimed the brain is an analog
> computer. Rafal simply asked that if mathematical infinities are real, as
> experimental evidence supports both with regard to the reality of the wave
> function and the lack of granularity in space-time, then might not these
> infinities allow the brain to generate a continuum of mental states
> instead of finite number of discrete mental states?

If infinities are relevant to mental states, they must be irrelevant to any
external behavior that can be tested in any way. This is because the
holographic principal places discrete and finite bounds on the amount of
information that can be stored in a an area of space of finite volume. Even
if there is infinite information in your head, no physical process
(including you) can access it.

> I don't see why not. The brain certainly exhibits wave-like phenomena;
> they are called brain waves. The physics of waves is well understood, and
> they propagate on a continuum both mathematically and physically. And yes,
> while the quantum properties you enumerate are discrete, the observed
> states of those properties are dictated by a quantum wave function which
> is itself continuous.
>> John Clark wrote:
> <There are an infinite number,​ in fact​ an uncountabley​ infinite number,
> of maps that can be drawn on a flat square,  but only 4 colors are needed
> to keep all the countries on the map separate. This was proven by a
> computer ​way back ​in 1977, ​but​ to this day nobody can prove it without
> a computer.>
> No actually it was proven by some mathematicians that used a computer to
> prove their theorem. The computer didn't even understand the problem it
> was trying to solve. Inductive reasoning seems really hard for computers
> but seems second nature to us. If you want to be convincing, present
> empirical evidence and not specious arguments based on an unsupported
> axiom that the brain is some kind of wet naturally evolved digital
> computer running a boolean alogorithm.
> During the Victorian era, when clocks and and analog pocket-watches were
> the most complex technology that people knew of, it became fashionable for
> them to believe that nature was some sort of giant clockwork mechanism.
> These days the most complex machines we can think of are digital computers
> and it seems natural to try to think of the universe as some sort of giant
> computer. We are likely just as wrong as the Victorians were.
This is analogy is somewhat backwards, in my opinion.

It's not that the brain works like a computer, it's that computers can
perfectly mimic any finite process. They are "universal machines" in the
same sense of a universal remote, or in that a speaker system can function
as a "universal instrument".

Therefore, if the brain is a machine, and is finite, then an appropriately
programmed computer can perfectly emulate any of its behaviors.
Philosophers generally fall into one os three camps, on the question of
consciousness and the computational theory of mind:

*Non-computable physicists - *Believe human thought involves physical
processes that are non-computable, and therefore conclude that it’s
impossible to replicate the behavior of a human brain using a computer.

*Weak AI proponents - * Believe the behavior of the human brain can be
replicated by computer, but assume such a reproduction, no matter how good,
would not possess a mind or consciousness.

*Computationalists - *Believe the behavior of the human brain can be
replicated by a computer, and assume that when the reproduction is
sufficiently faithful, it possesses a mind and conscious.

Which camp do you consider yourself in?

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