• Zelebg
    470


    What exactly about "contact point with reality" and "based on empirical observation" makes you confused?

    If you claim something is a wave then the explanation must address what is that waves, and how it relates to anything about empirical reality. Otherwise it’s meaningless assertion. Do you understand?
  • god must be atheist
    1.9k
    Number of switches and loops and feedbacks are only a prerequisite for consciousness to exist in a system. Another prerequisite is the dependence on the switches 1. to react to the environment, and 2. to have a capacity to have control over their own selves. I.e. if the switches can control the switches (in a communal fashion of switches) to produce effects, which effects would be progress for the entire set of switches, then consciousness would occur.

    We, as a creator of artificial intelligence, have so far failed to instill a general dominance of switches over their own states in machines, and we also have failed in creating something that the machine would consider a progress for itself.

    BTW, the two effects that I mentioned, are evidently using the switch mechanisms to create consciousness in animals, but are failing the switch mechanism of comparable complexity to create consciousness in plants. Plants have no power over their own switches, although their switch-systems are also DNA based, and equally as complex as those of animals.
  • bert1
    344
    Panpsychism is vague, ambiguous, untestable, without even possibility of ever giving any prediction, confirmation or explanation.Zelebg

    Panpsychism predicts that stuff happens. Things do, verily, happen. Panpsychism is confirmed. If panpsychism were not the case, nothing would ever happen. Things do happen. Therefore panpsychism.

    What do you find fruitful about it?

    It places consciousness at the only point in reality that doesn't involve insurmountable difficulties, namely, at a fundamental level. The antithesis of panpsychism is emergentism. But emergentism is so problematic that we should reject it. One reason is that consciousness is not a vague concept. There are no borderline cases of it. Emergentism requires borderline cases..
  • A Raybould
    15

    People passing notes back and forth aren't going to create an instantiation of consciousness.RogueAI

    Declaring that "X cannot give rise to Y" (or asking, rhetorically, "how can X give rise to Y") does not answer anything, or advance our understanding. It is like asserting that an iron boat could not float. Often, this rhetorical style is used as a way to avoid considering the issue.

    The premise that consciousness can be simulated rests on a number of lesser premises, none of which are obviously false (at least if you put aside 'arguments' of the above form):

    • Consciousness appears to arise in physical brains doing physical things.
    • Physical systems can be simulated by a digital computer.
    • Something processing information in a functionally-identical manner to a conscious brain would have a conscious mind.

    I like the way Scott Aaronson puts it: if you replaced each of my neurons, one at a time, with a functionally-identical silicon device, would there come a point where I stopped being conscious?

    These are all premises, but not unreasonable ones. You might disagree with the conclusion, but that alone would not be an argument against it.
  • RogueAI
    119
    Can you quote what I'm saying, so I can properly respond to this?
  • A Raybould
    15

    My intent was to make a general point about a certain style of argument, but as you want a quote, I have added one to my original post. One prominent example of this style is Searle's assertion that syntax cannot give rise to semantics.

    Now that we are on this particular issue, however, let me make a couple of points that did not come out in the earlier discussion of it. Firstly, if someone claims that something is necessarily so, they assume the burden of justifying their claim, rather than challenge the rest of us to prove them wrong. Secondly, do you consider it to be absurd that a rock-shuffling Turing-equivalent device could win the game show Jeopardy?
  • Zelebg
    470
    But emergentism is so problematic that we should reject it.

    Consciousness is not a simple emergent phenomena like liquidity, but a higher level emergence in a completely new ontological substrate that emerged within the nervous system, namely the virtual space of simulated reality, dreams and imagination, the realm of abstraction where potentially exist almost unlimited kinds of novel and irreducible entities, properties and interactions.
  • RogueAI
    119


    Declaring that "X cannot give rise to Y" (or asking, rhetorically, "how can X give rise to Y") does not answer anything, or advance our understanding. It is like asserting that an iron boat could not float. Often, this rhetorical style is used as a way to avoid considering the issue.

    Reductio ad absurdum is a valid move in philosophy. If materialism entails that consciousness can arise from people passing notes around with 1's and 0's written on them, I think we're very close to an "absurdity". I guess I can argue why it's absurd, if you like, but it seems prima facie very unlikely consciousness would arise that way. It's a short hop from consciousness arising from people passing notes with number on them to consciousness arising from shifting sand dunes, falling abacuses, and meteor swarms. Is panpsychism compatible with materialism? It's pretty popular these days. I don't think the two can co-exist, though.

    The premise that consciousness can be simulated rests on a number of lesser premises, none of which are obviously false (at least if you put aside 'arguments' of the above form):

    Consciousness appears to arise in physical brains doing physical things.
    Physical systems can be simulated by a digital computer.
    Something processing information in a functionally-identical manner to a conscious brain would have a conscious mind.

    That's the appeal. None of them are obviously false. You have to tease out the absurdity that follows from such a set of premises. This is a great cartoon which does just that: https://xkcd.com/505/

    I've had raging arguments with materialists who believe it's possible we're all being simulated by someone endlessly moving rocks around on an endless plain (see cartoon). To me, there's no difference between that and transubstantiation: in both cases, a miracle is assumed to happen- crackers become the flesh of Jesus; consciousness arises about from someone moving rocks around.

    I like the way Scott Aaronson puts it: if you replaced each of my neurons, one at a time, with a functionally-identical silicon device, would there come a point where I stopped being conscious?

    Yes, the transporter scares the hell out of me. Slowly replacing my neurons with functional equivalents while I'm awake wouldn't bother me much at all. The end result is the same. Perhaps our intuitions can't be trusted.

    These are all premises, but not unreasonable ones. You might disagree with the conclusion, but that alone would not be an argument against it.

    They're not unreasonable. What they entail, if you follow the chain of logic far enough, is an absurdity within the materialist framework of reality.
  • Zelebg
    470
    Reductio ad absurdum is a valid move in philosophy. If materialism entails that consciousness can arise from people passing notes around with 1's and 0's written on them, I think we're very close to an "absurdity".

    Virtual reality interactions do not reduce to actual physical interactions. In any case though, shuffling molecules and passing electrons from point A to point B is exactly what the brain is doing too, or is that supposed to be different somehow?

    You are looking at the wrong level of abstraction. A living cell also looks ridiculous if you look at the equation of motion for magnetic and electric fields. Virtual reality simulation, on the causally effective level of abstraction, the one that actually matters, is not about underlying mechanics, but about interaction between virtual entities according to their virtual properties.
  • A Raybould
    15

    Reductio ad absurdum is a valid move in philosophy.RogueAI
    Indeed it is, but its English name, 'proof by contradiction', is clearer than the Latin: it means to refute an argument by deducing a logical contradiction from its premises (or to prove one by refuting its antithesis.) It most definitely does not mean simply declaring something to be absurd (even if it really is!)

    I guess I can argue why it's absurd, if you like, but...RogueAI
    This is exactly what I mean when I say that it is often used to avoid considering the issue. I think you would find it a very useful exercise to put your intuitions aside and formulate an argument for it being absurd.

    ...it seems prima facie very unlikely consciousness would arise that way.RogueAI
    The materialist premise does not propose, imply or depend on it being at all likely.

    Is panpsychism compatible with materialism?RogueAI
    This is not panpsychism, which is the premise that consciousness is ubiquitous. The possibility that a sufficiently-large collection of anything could move in a way that creates consiousness is not the premise that any sufficiently-large collection of anything is necessarily conscious. While any of these 'absurd' forms of consciousness are theoretically possible in those versions of materialism that admit strong AI, they are way beyond astronomically-unlikely in any finite region of space, so are not, in any sense, even close to being ubiquitous.

    To me, there's no difference between that and transubstantiationRogueAI
    I am no expert in this matter, but doesn't transubstantiation violate some physical laws?

    If I am not mistaken, here Randall Munroe is accepting the premise! He is not making an argument against anything.

    I notice that you have not replied directly to my question in my other post: do you consider it to be absurd that a rock-shuffling Turing-equivalent device could win the game show Jeopardy? That was not intended to be a rhetorical question, and I am genuinely not sure how you would answer it, though I would think that to be consistent with everything else you have said on the matter, your answer would be that you find it absurd.
  • RogueAI
    119


    If I am not mistaken, here Randall Munroe is accepting the premise! He is not making an argument against anything.

    A theory that allows for the possibility that a universe of conscious beings could be simulated by moving physical rocks around is a theory that is ludicrous. I just don't know how you could even entertain that as a possibility. I think it's so obvious you can't simulate a universe of conscious beings by moving rocks around, any theory that says you can has catastrophically failed.

    I think we're going to disagree at the axiomatic level. I had a materialist claim once you could make a "brain" out of flushing toilets* that's functionally equivalent to a human brain. Assume you can. Would it be conscious? Why not? Materialism says it must be. But a bunch of flushing toilets is NEVER going to become conscious, no matter how many different ways you flush them. You're just not going to get a mind out of it. So if materialism entails that, materialism is wrong.

    I hear stuff like the "flushing toilet conscious brain" and I think "who could possibly believe in this stuff?" It's like a religion.

    *other materialists have suggested ropes and pulleys, the note passing we talked about, locks and dams, etc.
  • A Raybould
    15


    OK, I think we all get the point that your mind is set. Providing yet more examples of what you are sure are absurd is not going to make that point any more strongly -- or make it any more true.

    On the other hand, you seem very determined not to answer my question, which I will repeat: do you consider it to be absurd that a rock-shuffling Turing-equivalent device (or any other device in your 'absurd' category) could win the game show Jeopardy?

    I am sure you are aware of where this is going: if the answer is "no", then it would seem that your issue is not actually with the medium in which the computation is performed, but if it is "yes", then there is the problem that a digital computer has actually achieved this task, and, according to some completely straightforward and non-controversial theorems of finite mathematics, any other Turing-equivalent device with sufficient memory could perform the same task, so long as we are not concerned with how fast it does it.
  • Zelebg
    470
    A theory that allows for the possibility that a universe of conscious beings could be simulated by moving physical rocks around is a theory that is ludicrous. I just don't know how you could even entertain that as a possibility. I think it's so obvious you can't simulate a universe of conscious beings by moving rocks around, any theory that says you can has catastrophically failed.

    By looking at moving electrons and logic gates in the CPU you will not see what program computer is running, just like you can not see consciousness or colors by looking inside the brain.

    Virtual entities are invisible from the 3rd person point of view. To see what is really going on you have to put VR goggles on first, on top of those you're already wearing now, which is your head.
  • RogueAI
    119


    OK, I think we all get the point that your mind is set. Providing yet more examples of what you are sure are absurd is not going to make that point any more strongly -- or make it any more true.

    It's more like: how can you not see the absurdity. But I guess you can't.
    On the other hand, you seem very determined not to answer my question, which I will repeat: do you consider it to be absurd that a rock-shuffling Turing-equivalent device (or any other device in your 'absurd' category) could win the game show Jeopardy?

    I'm sorry, I don't remember this question. I bailed on this thread awhile back, and then remembered it recently.

    do you consider it to be absurd that a rock-shuffling Turing-equivalent device (or any other device in your 'absurd' category) could win the game show Jeopardy?

    No. I don't think a rock-shuffling device that can pass a Turing test is absurd. I don't think a rock-shuffling device that, if you somehow made it look human (a p-zombie), is absurd.

    I think a conscious rock-shuffling device is absurd, but then I think the claim that non-conscious physical matter (e.g., organic brains) can somehow interact and form conscious minds is also an absurdity, and should never have been entertained in the first place (well, maybe entertained, but then discarded when the problems started to show up). The reasons for this belief are:

    1. Materialism's absolute lack of progress coming up with a causal explanation for how moving electrons across synapses (along with other physical processes) produces the sensation of stubbing my big toe. There's no agreed upon theory of why we're conscious and how such consciousness arises. It's been recognized as a "hard problem" for decades. It will remain an insolvable problem because materialism is a dead end. There are materialists who deny consciousness exists, who say it's an illusion, who say we don't know what we're referring to with the word...And they're taken seriously by other materialists. That shows the fundamental weakness of materialism. It reminds me of the tortured explanations fundamentalists give, when they're backed into a corner by the incoherency of their belief system.

    2. The obvious difference between mental states and brain states. Materialists tie themselves in knots on this. Property dualists have to explain, if the mind isn't the brain, in what sense does the mind exist (and where) in a purely physical universe. While reductive physicalists assert that brains and minds are the same thing. A blind person really could understand what "seeing" is if they just knew enough about the brain states involved. Absurd. The whole problem is solved if you stop assuming brains are made of matter.

    3. There's no evidence mind-independent matter exists. The sense-data I'm receiving and processing right now is equally compatible with a dualistic model of reality or an idealistic one. Why should I posit the unprovable: that physical stuff exists? I already know consciousness and at least one mind exists. Why shouldn't I assume minds and consciousness are the foundation of reality? At least I can't be wrong about consciousness existing.

    4. The absurd functionally-equivalent-to-organic-brain contraptions materialists are forced to assume would be conscious. And also the idea that this could all be a simulation from moving rocks around. I seriously doubt materialists would entertain such notions unless they were absolutely wedded to the theory. It smacks of desperation.

    I am sure you are aware of where this is going: if the answer is "no", then it would seem that your issue is not actually with the medium in which the computation is performed, but if it is "yes", then there is the problem that a digital computer has actually achieved this task, and, according to some completely straightforward and non-controversial theorems of finite mathematics, any other Turing-equivalent device with sufficient memory could perform the same task, so long as we are not concerned with how fast it does it.

    I don't believe there are physical devices. I'm an idealist, for the reasons given.
  • Douglas Alan
    107


    I spent my entire undergrad education at MIT studying this very question, and I'm no closer to an answer today than when I started.

    |>ouglas
  • Zelebg
    470
    I think a conscious rock-shuffling device is absurd..

    That is not thinking, it is ignoring.

    1. The only explanation there is for the existence of things that do not actually exist, such as unicorns or qualia, is virtual existence.

    2. By looking at moving electrons and logic gates in the CPU you will not see what program computer is running, just like you can not see colors by looking inside the brain.

    3. Virtual entities and ther qualities are invisible from the 3rd person point of view. To see what is really going on you have to put VR goggles on first, on top of those you're already wearing now - your head.
  • RogueAI
    119


    What did you study?
  • Douglas Alan
    107
    What did you study?RogueAI

    Philosophy of Mind. (And Computer Science.)

    |>ouglas
  • A Raybould
    15


    I'm sorry, I don't remember this question.RogueAI
    Well, I raised it in every post today...

    It's more like: how can you not see the absurdity.RogueAI
    At first sight, it does seem absurd that these devices could compute, but when you work through the Turing-equivalence argument, you see that it is not, after all, absurd at all. So here you have a difference between an emotional and a rational response to the issue.

    No. I don't think a rock-shuffling device that can pass a Turing test is absurd.RogueAI
    There seems to be something of a misunderstanding here -- my question referred to Turing equivalence; I did not (and did not intend to) raise the Turing test. The fact, however, that you accept that a rock-shuffling device could pass a Turing test -- something that not even an electronic digital computer has done so far -- just goes to show that your issue is not, after all, with the medium in which the computation is performed, even if it feels to you that, somehow, it should be.

    I think a conscious rock-shuffling device is absurdRogueAI
    We can, with complete generality, substitute 'digital computer', or any other type of Turing-equivalent machine, for 'rock-shuffling device' in this statement. Therefore, this just underscores the point that you just cannot believe that any Turing-equivalent machine of any type could be conscious, and that your objection is not actually dependent on the type of device.

    Materialism's absolute lack of progress...RogueAI
    Yes, we already agreed that it is a premise, but no other approach has done any better.

    It reminds me of the tortured explanations fundamentalists giveRogueAI
    Have you read any Chalmers recently? And Chalmers is a model of clarity compared to, for example Hegel; It is just that his arguments are subtle and nuanced for an ordinary mortal such as myself. Arguments that qualia are factual knowledge are, IMHO, as tortuous as anything that fundamentalists come up with.

    The obvious difference between mental states and brain states.RogueAI
    That is not a problem for materialism: mental states are abstract emergent phenomena caused by physical processes.

    A blind person really could understand what "seeing" is if they just knew enough about the brain states involved.RogueAI
    Any materialist who thinks that is probably mistaken - knowledge of brain states does not necessarily give you the ability to instantiate them.

    . Why shouldn't I assume minds and consciousness are the foundation of reality?RogueAI
    You can believe whatever you like, but why, then, do you care what us illusions think?

    I don't believe there are physical devices. I'm an idealist, for the reasons given.RogueAI
    Why, then, would you have any opinion at all about what rocks can and cannot do?
  • RogueAI
    119


    The existence of conscious minds is the most surprising thing about this universe, I think. It needs an explanation and science is failing spectacularly at providing one.
  • RogueAI
    119

    Why, then, would you have any opinion at all about what rocks can and cannot do?

    I don't need to be a materialist to have an opinion about an absurdity contained within it. I have opinions on lots of irrational things contained within belief systems I don't support, as I'm sure you do too. I'm not a Republican, and I certainly have opinions about what they believe.

    I think the writing's on the wall for materialism. I think it's headed toward pan-psychism, with people like Koch and Tegmark leading the way. The universe is made of math? Really? That's awfully close to idealism. And Tegmark isn't some wacko.
  • A Raybould
    15

    The existence of conscious minds is the most surprising thing about this universe, I think.RogueAI
    According to what you wrote in reply to me an hour ago, you apparently think it likely that your conscious mind is the only thing in this universe...
  • RogueAI
    119
    According to what you wrote in reply to me an hour ago, you apparently think that your conscious mind is the only thing in this universe...

    It's impossible to know if other minds exist, of course. But I assume they do, because solipsism would be depressing. I certainly have no evidence against solipsism. No one does. It remains (and will always remain) a completely plausible theory.
  • A Raybould
    15
    Why, then, would you have any opinion at all about what rocks can and cannot do?

    I don't need to be a materialist to have an opinion about an absurdity contained within it.
    RogueAI

    But in your previous post, you wrote "I don't believe there are physical devices", so you have been expressing strong opinions about the capabilities of something that apparently does not exist in your universe. It is like having opinions about what republicans believe, without actually believing that there are republicans.
  • A Raybould
    15
    It's impossible to know if other minds exist, of course. But I assume they do...RogueAI

    So, in your earlier post, you were arguing your position from a belief that not even you hold...
  • Douglas Alan
    107
    The existence of conscious minds is the most surprising thing about this universe, I think. It needs an explanation and science is failing spectacularly at providing one.RogueAI

    That's why I spent years studying the issue.

    Don't expect any satisfying answers, however!

    Unless you turn out to be a functionalist physicalist/representationalist. Then you can live a happy life feeling confident that there's no truly "hard problem" and all the rest is just a lot of detail that may take us many decades to figure out.

    But if that's what you decide, you will, alas, be wrong. Though you'll be in good company.

    |>ouglas

    P.S. You could also read Chalmers, who is not a physicalist. But I'm not sure that will leave you satisfied.
  • Zelebg
    470
    The existence of conscious minds is the most surprising thing about this universe, I think. It needs an explanation and science is failing spectacularly at providing one.

    I already told you, are you broken? The explanation for the existence of things that do not actually exist, such as unicorns or qualia, is virtual existence.
  • RogueAI
    119



    But in your previous post, you wrote "I don't believe there are physical devices", so you have been expressing strong opinions about the capabilities of something that apparently does not exist in your universe. It is like having opinions about what republicans believe, without actually believing that there are republicans.

    Except that I believe you exist. I just don't think you're made of matter. That doesn't make you immune from being wrong, or stop from me having an opinion about your belief system: I think it's logically inconsistent.

    This kind of pedantry isn't really interesting. Do you have some good links supporting your position?
  • RogueAI
    119


    I like Chalmers. I think Mary's Room is an excellent thought experiment. It seems so obvious to me that Mary learns something new through the experience of seeing red, and that this new knowledge she has could ONLY have come from that experience. I can't even get into the mindset of people who think she doesn't learn anything new when sees red for the first time. Or that she could "figure out" what seeing read is if she just had complete knowledge of all the brain states involved.
  • Douglas Alan
    107
    I like Chalmers. I think Mary's Room is an excellent thought experiment.RogueAI

    Mary's Room (or as it is more commonly called, "The Knowledge Argument") was actually by Frank Jackson, not Chalmers. Though I'm sure Chalmers must have talked about it in his book.

    The Knowlege Argument certainly did provoke a lot of debate, and physicalists at the time presented mostly bad arguments against it. But there is still a huge challenge to it for dualists. The Knowledge Argument is not as strong against physicalism as it might appear at first: Imagine that we put a zombie version of Mary in the same circumstance. Zombie Mary would have the exact same reaction when she is let out of her black & white room as Mary would.

    |>ouglas
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