[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Tomaz Kristan protokol2020 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 27 17:23:58 UTC 2016

> Which camp do you consider yourself in?

A Computationalist.

On Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 6:03 PM, Jason Resch <jasonresch at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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?
> Jason
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