[ExI] Zombie Detector (was Re:Do digital computers feel?)

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Fri Dec 30 19:30:10 UTC 2016

Reminds me a bit of "An Unfortunate Dualist":


As to your puzzle, if Fred is unable to detect any effects from conscious
people (including their reflections), then he should not  be able to see
his own reflection, but then he also shouldn't be able to hear his own
thoughts either. Which might be your definition of a zombie, making him
visible, etc. "Russell's reflection". However, Fred's own voice might still
be heard if Fred's consciousness is an epiphenomenon, but I think
practically speaking I think epiphenomenalism can be ruled out, together
with the notion of p-zombies.

See Daniel Dennett's "The Unimagined Preposterousness of Zombies":

Dennett argues that "when philosophers claim that zombies are conceivable,
they invariably underestimate the task of conception (or imagination), and
end up imagining something that violates their own definition".[3]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie#cite_note-Dennett1995-4> He
coined the term "zimboes" – p-zombies that have second-order beliefs
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-order_logic> – to argue that the idea
of a p-zombie is incoherent;[12]
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie#cite_note-12> "Zimboes
thinkZ they are conscious, thinkZ they have qualia, thinkZ they suffer
pains – they are just 'wrong' (according to this lamentable tradition), in
ways that neither they nor we could ever discover!".[4]

I'm not sure, however, whether your thought experiment sheds any new light
on the concepts of consciousness or zombies. It seems like it may be only a
reformulation of the "Barber Paradox", where the self reflexivity is a
"power to detect only non-consciousness things", aimed at one's own


On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 11:13 AM, Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:

> Jason Resch wrote:
> <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 [. . .]Weak AI proponents [. . .]
> Computationalists.
> Which camp do you consider yourself in?>
> -------------------------------------------
> As a general rule, I prefer not to go camping with philosophers as I
> prefer the rigor of science and mathematics. But if I must camp in that
> neck of the woods, I would set up my own camp. I would call it the
> Godelian camp after Kurt Godel. Since I am a scientist and not a
> philosopher, I will explain my views with a thought experiment instead of
> an argument.
> Imagine if you will a solipsist. Let's call him Fred. Fred is solopsist
> because he has every reason to believe he lives alone in a world of
> P-zombies.
> For the uninitiated, P-zombies are philosophical zombies. Horrid beings
> that talk, move, and act like normal folks but lack any real consciousness
> or self-awareness. They just go through the motions of being conscious but
> are not really so.
> So ever since Fred could remember, wherever he looked, all he could see
> were those pesky P-zombies. They were everywhere. He could talk to them,
> he could interact with them, and he even married one. And because they all
> act perfectly conscious, they would fool most anyone but certainly not
> Fred.
> This was because Fred had, whether you would regard it as a gift or curse,
> an unusual ability. He could always see and otherwise sense P-zombies but
> never normal folk. Normal folk were always invisible to him and he never
> could sense a single one. So he, being a perfect P-zombie detector, came
> to believe that he was the only normal person on a planet populated by
> P-zombies.
> Then one day by chance he happened to glance in a mirror . . .
> Does he see himself?
> I want to hear what the list has to say about this before I give my answer
> and my interpretation of what this means for strong AI and the
> computational theory of mind.
> Stuart LaForge
> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20161230/8d2f71fc/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list