[ExI] Theoretical Breakthrough? Was Re: Do digital computers feel?

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 20:58:38 UTC 2017

On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 10:23 PM, Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>

​>> ​
> On another issue I'd be interested if anybody disagrees with what I said a
> few posts ago:
> "if internal changes to a part produce no changes in the way that part
> interacts with other parts then those internal changes make no change to
> the overall behavior of the system."

​> ​
> Hi John,
> Yes, there could be profound changes to the qualitative nature of the
> part/system.  For example, if you take a "part" that includes my 3 or more
> components that are required for qualitative discern-ability

​Hi Brent, correct me if I'm wrong but
​I think ​
you're saying that although information processing can produce something
that's starting to
​look ​
a lot like intelligence that can't be the fundamental way the human brain
works because information processing can't explain qualia or
consciousness. You're not proposing anything supernatural
​ ​
you're saying there is some perfectly rational scientific process going on
that we just haven't figured out yet, let's call it Process X.
​ ​
Being non-supernatural that means we can use our minds to examine what sort
of thing it might turn out to be.

Like information processing Process X can produce intelligence but in
addition Process X can generate consciousness and a feeling of self,
something mere information processing can't do.​
​ ​
What Process X does is certainly not simple, so it's very hard to
avoid concluding
that Process X itself is not simple. If it's complex it can't be made of
only one thing, it must be made of parts. If Process X is not to act in a
random, incoherent way some order must exist between the parts. A part must
have some knowledge of what the other parts are doing
and the only way to do that is with information.

You could object to this and say communication among the parts is of only
secondary importance and that the major work is done by the parts
themselves, but then the parts themselves must be very complex and be made
of sub parts. The simplest possible sub part is one that can change in only
one way, say, on to off. It's getting extremely difficult to tell the
difference between Process X and information processing.

The only way to avoid this conclusion is if there is some ethereal
substance that is all of one thing and has no parts thus is very simple,
yet acts in a complex, intelligent way; and produces feeling and
consciousness while it's at it. If you accept that, then I think the most
honest thing to do would be to throw in the towel, call it a soul, and join
the religious camp.
​ But​
I'm not ready to surrender to the forces of
​ ​

​I think​
​ ​
​information is as close as you can get to the traditional concept of the
soul and still remain within the scientific method. Consider the
​ ​
The soul is non material and so is
​ ​
information. It's difficult to pin down a unique physical location for the
soul, and the same is true for information. The soul is the essential, must
have, part of consciousness, exactly the same situation is true for
information. The soul is immortal and so, potentially, is information.

​But there are important differences too. A soul is unique but information
can be duplicated. The soul is and will always remain unfathomable, but
information is understandable, in fact information is the ONLY thing that
is understandable. Information unambiguously exists, I don't think anyone
would deny that, but if the soul exists it will never be proven

​> ​
> Additionally, If you have a part or binding mechanism that could be neuro
> substituted the way Stathis proposes, it would lose the ability to properly
> detect qualitative differences, when the representations of knowledge are
> inverted,

Quite true, and that proves my point. ​As I said before, if all your
representational knowledge of red and green were reversed no outside
observer could objectively tell that anything had happened because your
behavior would not change one iota, and subjectively you could not tell
that anything strange had happened either. If reversing qualia makes no
objective difference, and reversing qualia makes no subjective difference,
then reversing qualia makes no difference *period*. This tells me that
redness, like any qualia, can not exist in isolation; qualia is more
complex than that and there must be some thing to be red for red to be
meaningful, yes it may just be a memory but some thing has to be red.

John K Clark
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