[ExI] Do digital computers feel?

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 21:22:22 UTC 2017

On Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 12:24 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>

> > ​
> according to a qualitative blind definition of "*observable behaviour*"
> the behaviour would be the same.  That is why I always talk about two
> people behaving identically (finding and picking strawberries), yet they
> have inverted red/green qualia.

​Science is empirical,  it's about observing behavior of people and matter,
if the behavior of 2 things is identical ​then it would be impossible by
definition to distinguish between them scientifically, in fact the very
phrase "inverted qualia" would have no scientific meaning because the
inversion produces no observable difference; you continue to pick
strawberries exactly as you did before the inversion.

Even subjectively it would make no difference, if I could somehow reach
into your brain and switch your red and green qualia not only would your
external objective behavior be identical but your memory of what eatable
strawberry fruit and inedible strawberry leaves look like would change too,
 so you would have no way of knowing I'd done anything at all. If switching
qualia makes no difference objectively and it makes no difference
subjectively then just what difference would it make? What does "inverting
qualia" even mean? Nothing as far as I can tell. Apparently the important
thing about qualia is not their absolute value but the consistency of the
relationship one qualia has with another over time. The important
difference between you and me isn't that our qualia are different, the
important thing is the way the qualia are organized is different.

> ​> ​
> To me, if it is impossible to come up with any theoretically testable way
> to to do this kind of detectable effing of the ineffable within a
> functionalist theory,

​Theories don't detect facts, facts disprove theories.​ A theory may say my
red qualia is the same as your red qualia, but what evidence is there that
the theory is correct? There is none and there can never be because the
truth or falsehood of the theory would make no observable difference or
subjective difference.

> ​> ​
> then the only conclusion a reasonable person can come to is that it is
> some kind of "miracle."

​There are only 2 possibilities, any chain of "what caused that?"
questions, including "what caused that qualia?", either comes to an end
with a brute fact or it doesn't and the chain continues on for infinity.
 ​Which one is a miracle?

> ​> ​
> There are many testable theoretical ways one might achieve this kind of
> detectably diverse qualitative composite awareness with materialist
> theories.

​Coming up with qualia theories is remarkably easy because there are no
facts they must fit, but coming up with qualia theories that are useful is
another thing entirely.   ​

​ John K Clark ​
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