[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Feb 4 04:22:03 UTC 2017

On 4 February 2017 at 09:18, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:

Stathis, I’m still having troubles trying to communicate with you.  You
keep getting distracted on irrelevant things, and missing what is important.
Let me try the following to see if that helps.

Let’s go back to our simple system that has 3 components.  Or better, three
sets of important functionality.  There are two representations of
knowledge, and a binding system that can bind the two representations
together – to create a composite qualitative conscious experience.  The two
representations of knowledge can be done with something that functions with
a redness (like glutamate) or greenness (like glycine) qualities.  The
binding system puts them together so you can be aware of both of them at
the same time as a diverse composite qualitative experience.

Now, when you do the neural substitution on this system, just like you can
do with big or little endian representations, you can fallaciously (for
obvious reasons) argue that the redness or greenness functionality cannot
exist at the hardware (or even functional level - as long as you include
the function of redness and grenness qualities)  level – but must only
exist at the abstracted computational level.

I don't see why it's obviously fallacious or obvious. You won't engage with
what is the relatively simple question of *observable behaviour*. Humans
have moving parts: molecules, ion currents, ultimately bones which are
pulled by tendons connected to muscles which are controlled by nerves.
Consider just these mechanical processes. Do you agree that they can be
replicated using alternative materials and devices, for example tiny
electric motors in place of actin-myosin in the process of exocytosis
whereby neurotransmitters are released into the synapse, titanium rods in
place of bones, artificial isotopes of potassium and sodium? Or do you
think there is some theoretical reason (not just a practical, engineering
reason) why this can't be done with particular components of a bilogical
system - and if so, what is it that makes those components special? Please
answer this considering *only observable behaviour*. Imagine you are a
simple-minded engineer who has no idea about consciousness and your job is
*only* to examine the part of the body you are assigned and design a
replacement part using various electrical and mechanical nanocomponents.

You also said: “The ‘hard problem’ is the question of why there should be
any qualia at all. If you show that redness is associated with glutamate,
you have not answered this question.” Which is again, getting miss directed
away from what is really important here.  Of course we don’t know why there
is gravity, we just know what has gravity and how it performs, allowing us
to fly in space.  The same is true with qualia.  We don’t need to know why
whatever “has” a redness experience function – gives us the qualitative
experiences it does, we just need to know what has this functionality, so
we can detect it and use it to eff the ineffable and greatly expand our
qualitative conscious experience abilities.

That's one explanation - that the "hard problem" is really a non-problem.

Stathis Papaioannou
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