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Cognitive Computer Chips
Posted: 20 September 2011 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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traveler - 20 September 2011 03:44 PM
Write4U - 20 September 2011 03:34 PM

I am not a programmer at all, so please forgive,

Why is it difficult for a computer to recognize shapes? Why can we not program symbols as we do in humans when we “learn” the shape of a circle?

In a “clean” environment, it is not difficult to recognize a shape. The post office uses handwriting recognition software to read addresses (on a clean envelope). But in the real world, circles are on a “noisy” background and often surrounded by artifacts that make it difficult to “see” the shape.

As is obvious in the success of facial recognition software, many of these problems are being overcome. Today, it’s not really that difficult to recognize shapes via software if you know what you’re looking for.

The noise in a 2D world. So any AI which could function in a 3D world “must” be able to process data of its relationship to any environment in 3D, no?

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Posted: 20 September 2011 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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Consciousness seems magical, but try this thought experiment: observe your own consciousness and see what are its inputs and what are its outputs. Could you theoretically write a program that has the same functionality?

Frankly, I couldn’t.  Take as an input e-m radiation with a certain wavelength.  The ‘output’ is awareness of the colour red.  Writing a program that distinguishes different wavelengths of light and outputs an appropriate label - say ‘red’ or ‘blue’ is trivial, but can I write a program that that program is aware of red and blue as I am aware of red and blue?  I can imagine the existence of such a program, just as I can imagine a spaceship that goes faster than light.  But that doesn’t mean that such a thing is possible. 

Earlier in this thread the point was made that when an aspect of mentality was reduced to an algorithm people started to whinge that it wasn’t really thinking.  That may or may not be true, but consciousness has not been reduced to an algorithm.  I agree that the materialist approach to the world has been very successful.  I am not a dualist at all.  It is my conviction that dualism is bunk that makes me concerned with this annoying gap in the materialistic word-view As you said, consciousness seems magical - and the more you think about it the more magical it seems! 

I have no desire to argue for dualism.  I only want to point out that there it is very easy to be complacent about it.  Towards the end of the 19th century everything seems fine with classical physics.  There was only really one known problem with it - the spectrum of black body radiation.  That one gap could not be closed within classical physics. A whole ‘new paradigm’ of quantum physics - including such previously unimagined aspects as indeterminacy and discontinuity - was ushered in.  Unless (or until) the ‘consciousness problem’ is solved there remains a concern that non-dualistic materialism is not wrong but incomplete.

If someone made an actual artificial consciousness it would be a big relief for we monistic materialists everywhere, but on the other hand it might be more fun if monism was wrong… just think how much new work that would result it!

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Posted: 20 September 2011 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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keithprosser2 - 20 September 2011 11:19 AM

I feel the lack of an ‘conciousness algorithm’ is the elephant in the room.

Yep. And I think there is no such algorithm. Which does not mean that there is no explanation for consciousness. I think consciousness arises ‘piggybacking’ on the lower level structures of the brain. To give an example: there is no fix recipe for creating phenomena like ‘the wave’ in a mass of people. But they can occur when a certain minimal mass of people has come together, with the right ‘mindset’. Or another example (I think this one originates from Hofstadter): a network router has a certain capacity above which the performance rapidly falls down. Say it can serve 50 connected PCs. Can we now just make an update on a number somewhere in the router and make it 100? No, the ‘50’ is an attribute of the router as a whole.

In a certain way I am saying that we will probably never understand consciousness. But don’t get me wrong. We possibly will be able to find all of the conditions needed for consciousness to arise. We might even be able to build a conscious computer. But the process in it will be so complicated that we will not be able to get a real overview over them. As a consequence we also might not be able to predict what such a conscious computer might do. It could have a will of its own…

keithprosser2 - 20 September 2011 11:19 AM

I am aware of the complexity of human brains - the vast number of neurones and the even vaster number of their interconnections and people have argued that consciousness is an emergent property deriving from that complexity, but that seems more like a statement of faith than a scientific theory!

Yeah, probably, just as I was speculating above. But we might be able to find out what minimal aspects of this complexity we need in order to create consciousness.

keithprosser2 - 20 September 2011 11:19 AM

But I think that as things stand dualism cannot be ruled out.  I find that vety unsatisfactory, but what is the alternative, other than materialist dogmatism?

Depends on what you mean with materialist dogmatism. We are far away from a materialistic explanation of consciousness. But there is no reason to believe consciousness is non-material. With the same reasoning one cannot rule out the existence of God. (The soul is for the body what God is to the universe). Methodologically you are right, practically I think we can forget dualism.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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We are far away from a materialistic explanation of consciousness. But there is no reason to believe consciousness is non-material. With the same reasoning one cannot rule out the existence of God.

I don’t quite agree.  There is no reason to believe in God because there is no phenomenon I know of that can’t be explained better without god.  But consciousness does exist and there is no materialistic explanation for it - we are not even close to one.  There might be a full non-dualistic explanation for consciousness one day, but that doesn’t alter the fact that there isn’t one today!  If there is no reason to believe consciousness is non-material, what is the reason for believing it is material?  Faith in the completeness of materialism is all very well - after all I share that faith - but sometimes it does seem that materialists are guilty of hoping this problem just goes away.  There was a time when artificial consciousness was thought to be relatively close.  When the film 2001 came out no-one thought that HAL 9000 was the most unbelievable part of the story - thinking computers were thought to be just around the corner.  Asimov’s positronic brains also show the optimism of an earlier time.  We now know that optimism was misplaced.  I don’t think anyone is spending much money on artificial consciousness (as opposed to AI, which is not the same thing) these days.  Does anyone want to bet that we will have cracked the brain/mind problem in 10 or 50 years?  I’d bet against it… but I don’t think I’ll be around to collect (certainly not in 50 years!), so please keep your quatloos in your pocket for now!

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Posted: 21 September 2011 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 03:40 AM

We are far away from a materialistic explanation of consciousness. But there is no reason to believe consciousness is non-material. With the same reasoning one cannot rule out the existence of God.

I don’t quite agree.  There is no reason to believe in God because there is no phenomenon I know of that can’t be explained better without god.  But consciousness does exist and there is no materialistic explanation for it - we are not even close to one.  There might be a full non-dualistic explanation for consciousness one day, but that doesn’t alter the fact that there isn’t one today!  If there is no reason to believe consciousness is non-material, what is the reason for believing it is material?  Faith in the completeness of materialism is all very well - after all I share that faith - but sometimes it does seem that materialists are guilty of hoping this problem just goes away.  There was a time when artificial consciousness was thought to be relatively close.  When the film 2001 came out no-one thought that HAL 9000 was the most unbelievable part of the story - thinking computers were thought to be just around the corner.  Asimov’s positronic brains also show the optimism of an earlier time.  We now know that optimism was misplaced.  I don’t think anyone is spending much money on artificial consciousness (as opposed to AI, which is not the same thing) these days.  Does anyone want to bet that we will have cracked the brain/mind problem in 10 or 50 years?  I’d bet against it… but I don’t think I’ll be around to collect (certainly not in 50 years!), so please keep your quatloos in your pocket for now!

IMO, AI leads to a AC. when AI becomes advanced enough to safely interact with its environment it must have a form of cosciousness. I am here, you are there. I (AI) am different from you (Human). Awareness of one’s identity. 
I agree it may take a long time, it took hominids some 400,000 years, if not longer. AI is a late-comer to the party, but has a great advantage. AI has a true physical god as its creator; Man…... cheese

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Posted: 21 September 2011 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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Write4U - 20 September 2011 04:13 PM
traveler - 20 September 2011 03:44 PM
Write4U - 20 September 2011 03:34 PM

I am not a programmer at all, so please forgive,

Why is it difficult for a computer to recognize shapes? Why can we not program symbols as we do in humans when we “learn” the shape of a circle?

In a “clean” environment, it is not difficult to recognize a shape. The post office uses handwriting recognition software to read addresses (on a clean envelope). But in the real world, circles are on a “noisy” background and often surrounded by artifacts that make it difficult to “see” the shape.

As is obvious in the success of facial recognition software, many of these problems are being overcome. Today, it’s not really that difficult to recognize shapes via software if you know what you’re looking for.

The noise in a 2D world. So any AI which could function in a 3D world “must” be able to process data of its relationship to any environment in 3D, no?

Yes, that is correct. But the mind has a lot of interesting behavior that makes the 3D world more interesting. The Necker cube and its variants are the classic examples. (A person “normally” sees a Necker cube from the top.) A good indicator that vision is highly complex is found in the fact that most scientists view the eye as a squished-out part of the brain (the retina is brain tissue) .LINK

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Posted: 21 September 2011 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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IMO, AI leads to a AC. when AI becomes advanced enough to safely interact with its environment it must have a form of consciousness

An alternative view would be that to become advanced AI will have to have a degree of consciousness, in the sense that unless we know how to give a syste msome consciousness it may never be advanced enough to, say, pass the Turing test. 

Yep. And I think there is no such algorithm. Which does not mean that there is no explanation for consciousness. I think consciousness arises ‘piggybacking’ on the lower level structures of the brain. To give an example: there is no fix recipe for creating phenomena like ‘the wave’ in a mass of people. But they can occur when a certain minimal mass of people has come together, with the right ‘mindset’. Or another example (I think this one originates from Hofstadter): a network router has a certain capacity above which the performance rapidly falls down. Say it can serve 50 connected PCs. Can we now just make an update on a number somewhere in the router and make it 100? No, the ‘50’ is an attribute of the router as a whole.

I don’t want to sound critical, but I think I can see your hands waving!  You’re talking ‘emergent property’ here, which is a notion I have a bit of an issue with.  When most poeple talk about consciousness being an emergent property of the brain what they mean is that they haven’t got a clue how it works.  Emergence doesn’t explain consciousness in the brain - it stands in place of having to provide an explanation!  Consider two genuinely emergent properties - the flocking of birds and the ‘server thrashing’ example given above.  We can emulate flocking in a computer.  We don’t have to put actual starlings into a CPU to get simulate flocking - we may not know exactly how the entangled causality involved produces the phenomenon in question, but we do fairly well what aspects of starlings we have to program in to get virtual flocking.  We don’t have to - for instance - program in that starlings lay eggs or have a liver.  We can identify the properties of starlings that are relevant to flocking and what are not.  Similarly we might be able to predict the exact point at which a server starts to thrash, but we do what parameters can be adjusted to make a difference.  There is no ‘thrash number’ in the config. file, but there are plenty of other parameters we know we can adjust that will affect it in more or less predictable ways.

With consciousness, we are not in such a happy position - we know nothing about conscious systems.  Presumably a system needs to be complex to achieve consciousness, but that is only a plausible guess.  There is no evidence for it, other than the fact that the only systems known to be conscious are complex.  But by that argument you could argue that consciousness is only possible in systems made of biological matter, or systems inside skulls made of bones because we don’t have any known conscious systems of other descriptions. 

As I said we can produce/emulate/simulate emergent properties like flocking and thrashing with deterministic computer programs.  We can’t produce consciousness.  I think pinning hopes on emergence is a bit of a cop-out.  Even if consciousness is emergent, we should be able to acheive it with a deterministic computer program, even if we do so indirectly.  As that program will - necessarily - be the implementation of an algorithm we can speak of an algorithm that produces consciousness. 

Until someone does produce artificial consciousness in a deterministic machine the question must remain open.  I think consciousness is the most important phenomenon in the universe - the one thing that makes the universe have any possible meaning or value.  But it remains as mysterious today as it did 2000 years ago.

[ Edited: 21 September 2011 06:58 AM by keithprosser2 ]
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Posted: 21 September 2011 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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The problem with situating the crux of the matter in “consciousness” is that this really doesn’t help lead us anywhere. All we ever have to deal with is behavior; we can’t see into a computer’s mind anymore than we can see into the mind of the person sitting next to us. If a computer behaves as something with consciousness, inevitably we will consider that it has consciousness. That’s the upshot of Data on Star Trek.

Let’s consider a thought experiment: here’s Data with his positronic brain (or whatever; it’s solid state and not biological). He’s behaving as a person would. How does it help advance the discussion to ask in addition whether Data has this ineffable thing “consciousness”? Since there’s no way we can tell if anyone has it but ourselves, it’s of no help at all.

So the question about true AI has nothing whatever to do with “consciousness” and everything to do with the question of whether we can make a computer that behaves like we do in crucial ways. (Roughly speaking, whether it can pass the Turing test over a significant span of time in various environments and contexts).

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Posted: 21 September 2011 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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keithprosser2,

I am wondering how an emulated conscious computer would behave. As if it is conscious? But it is not really conscious? Like a p-zombie?

As that program will - necessarily - be the implementation of an algorithm we can speak of an algorithm that produces consciousness.

Is there an algorithm that the performance of the router breaks down with about 50 PC’s? Don’t we understand why the router breaks down?

You are right that the question is still open. But there is no reason to believe there is some principle impossibility. And believing in this possibility opens a lot of other questions that cannot be answered: how does the soul interfere with a (for nearly all practical purposes) deterministic universe? Does it need energy? Where does it come from. If you know dualisms without soul, and without these problems then let me know…

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Posted: 21 September 2011 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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This is turning into another P. zombie thread! 

You are of course championing the objectivist position.  If Data behaves like a conscious entity, what more can anyone ask?  Bluntly, the truth.  Producing an android that acts like a conscious entity would be a technological tour-de-force par exellence (the limit of my French has been reached!).  But would it explain why I am aware of qualia like red and the smell of roses in the way that I do?  If Data achieved his consciousness (lets call it consciousness, why not?) by precise emulation of a human brain (but in positronic form) but we did not know how that consciousness arose, there would still be a huge gap in our knowledge about the universe.  The most interesting phenomenon in the universe would still be a mystery.  Put in in reverse -  can we produce a Data like android without first having a theory of consciousness?  We’d have to dick around by trial and error, hoping to stumble on some combination of complexity and connectivity until we got lucky.  We’d probably be better off trying to evolve consciousness, but if we achieve consciousness but don’t know how all we will have done engineering, not philosophy.

I know not what consciousness is, but I know I am conscious.  My consciousness is something in the universe, it is a phenomenon.  As such it is an explendum.  The objectivist route would achieve a tremendous goal but it’s an engineering goal, not a philosophical goal.

PS Sorry gdb - I missed your post and I was replying to the one above yours.  I will get round to responding to you soon I hope.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 08:03 AM

If Data behaves like a conscious entity, what more can anyone ask?  Bluntly, the truth.

Sure. But since there is no test for consciousness other than that I outlined above, your desire for “the truth” is otiose. We can never know other than behavior.

Either that, or it is that by knowing behavior we just do know about consciousness.

I rather subscribe to the idea that necessarily, anything which behaves consciously is conscious. I don’t think this is an unusual view: indeed, I think it’s the view we all hold if we are honest with ourselves.

keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 08:03 AM

Put in in reverse -  can we produce a Data like android without first having a theory of consciousness?

Obviously, yes. Nobody in computer science needs study “consciousness”. What they study is information processing, which is after all what brains do.

I think your concern is rather like that of the 19th century person who wanted to know how it was that H2O was wet and clear and flowing. Insofar as we know about that, we know about it by knowing the properties of water. (The same way we know that there are three primary colors because we have three kinds of cones, and why we begin to know why red colors seem more ‘forward’ than blue ones).

If our 19th c. example wanted to know further things about water, what its ‘wateriness’ was and how H2O revealed that, I think we would eventually throw up our hands. We know H2O is water. That’s metaphysically necessary in Kripke’s terms. There’s nothing else we need know. In the same way, it’s metaphysically necessary that anything which behaves consciously is conscious.

[ Edited: 21 September 2011 08:31 AM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 21 September 2011 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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I had to look up ‘otiose’!  Naturally, I disagree!  Can you clear up one thing for me: do you think that something that behaves as if it is conscious is therefore conscious or that something has to be conscious in order to behave as if it is conscious?  Suppose I was paralysed but aware of what was going on around me… would I be conscious or not?
I’m off to my local pub now, (http://www.capitalpub.com) but I’ll get back to this later!

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Posted: 21 September 2011 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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domokato - 20 September 2011 10:21 AM

Hypercomputation is not known to be possible and our brain has not been observed to exhibit it. If it did, we would be able to solve much harder problems than we currently can. Here are some models for hypercomputers that clearly outperform a brain (often dealing with infinite precision or an infinite number of calculations in a finite time), and are also not possible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercomputation#Hypercomputer_proposals

Exactly. Hence the halting problem remains relevant in reality. However, even if hypercomputation were possible, the problem of undecidability is still present

From the wiki on hypercomputation

He used this device to prove that even in those more powerful systems, undecidability is still present. Turing’s writing made it clear that oracle machines were only mathematical abstractions, and were not thought of as physically realizable.

Also, from this article on the Halting Problem

Oracles have their own halting problem:

What’s interesting, though, is that these hypercomputers, computers with the black box, have a Halting Problem of their own: Given a hypercomputer program (i.e., a sequence of 1′s and 0′s, which might include special instructions to invoke the Oracle), and an input, determine whether or not the hyperprogram will freeze when run on the input.

A hierarchy of computability ad infinitum:

You can keep going like this forever, and it gives rise to a hierarchy of computability, with different tasks falling into different levels of computability.

This is reminiscent of Cantor’s hierarchy of infinities. LOL 

You’re not saying it’s less than turing complete, are you?

What I am saying is, we don’t know exactly what the brain is. All we know is that it is has fractality like other biological organisms and natural objects in nature. OTOH, a computer is not fractal at all.

I’m glad you are doing some research, kkwan. Unfortunately, you have some misconceptions. The halting problem is deciding whether or not a program will halt. This can be undecidable for some programs. The halting problem has no relation to turing completeness. However, given a hypercomputer, the halting problem can be decided for all programs. The brain cannot solve the halting problem for all programs, so there is some evidence right there that it is not a hypercomputer (although it should be obvious enough that it is not given that it cannot compute an infinite amount of things in a finite amount of time).

A Turing complete machine requires an explicit HALT state. If there is a halting problem, there is no explicit HALT state. OTOH, a hypercomputer (if it is possible) will have its own halting problem as shown above. Computing an infinite amount of things in a finite period of time is called a supertask.

You wrote:

Fractals have nothing to do with the halting problem. In nature, fractals are not infinitely detailed anyway. They only are in math.

From this paper HERE

We show that even under the classical theory of computation over the rational numbers, in which the Turing machine is the model of computation, one can prove some questions about fractals to be undecidable.

You wrote:

Is the brain fractal? (Not that it matters for this argument)

From this article

HERE

Researchers from the University of Cambridge took a big step forward this year in understanding how our brains work. It seems that the brain has a fractal organization.

It does matter because computers are not fractal. Thus, the organization of the brain is fundamentally different to that of the computer and as such it cannot be compared to a computer at all.

According to the laws of physics, yes, it is possible. It’s all computation, and it’s not infinite, so it’s possible.

But, the brain is a living biological organism and cannot be purely described by the laws of physics. Also, it is not just “all computation” as you put it so simply.

Since it is not, the distinction between analogue and digital is not relevant for the question of turing equivalence between computers and brains.

The issue is, analog and digital computers work differently. Each have their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, the analog fractal brain has tremendous advantages over digital computers in situations where computations are astronomical, tedious, time consuming and there could also be a halting problem as well.

Why do you keep bringing this up? You know it is only a matter of time until a Go champion is beaten by a computer, just like Jeopardy before it, and Chess, and Checkers before that.

No, I don’t think it is only just a matter of time.  Why not now, or is it that the most powerful supercomputer available now is not capable to do that at all?

Would you like to bet on the computer beating a Go master?

Go is entirely different in nature and complexity to the other games mentioned by you.
From the wiki on Go

Decisions in one part of the board may be influenced by an apparently unrelated situation in a distant part of the board. Plays made early in the game can shape the nature of conflict a hundred moves later.

You wrote:

Since <this device that was made by aliens> is not designed/constructed by humans, it follows that <this device that was made by aliens> is not a machine and cannot be conceived/characterized as such.

It is that simple. “This device that was made by aliens” IS an alien machine. As such, it is just as inane, inappropriate and absurd as putting “an alien machine” into the sentence.

In the context of the sentence I wrote, it was specifically “the brain” and the meaning of the sentence should only be interpreted as such. Putting anything else in place of that is preposterous and a travesty of my intention in composing the sentence.

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Posted: 21 September 2011 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 09:00 AM

I had to look up ‘otiose’!  Naturally, I disagree!

OK, but why? Outline for me a possible experiment that would reveal whether or not your neighbor is really conscious; one that didn’t depend on behavior.

My point is that you can’t. And that’s for humans, which should be the slam-dunk case for consciousness.

keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 09:00 AM

Can you clear up one thing for me: do you think that something that behaves as if it is conscious is therefore conscious or that something has to be conscious in order to behave as if it is conscious?  Suppose I was paralysed but aware of what was going on around me… would I be conscious or not?

I’m not sure what the power of the “therefore” is. Do you mean causally? Conceptually? Epistemologically? Metaphysically?

Think of it if we were talking about water and H2O. E.g.: is it that something that is H2O therefore it’s water or that something has to be water in order to be H2O?

—There’s not much sense to these questions. We’ve discovered that water and H2O are the same thing, necessarily. Epistemologically, clearly we knew about water long before we knew about H2O, but that’s really not important to the general point. Metaphysically, I suppose something has to be H2O in order to be water, given reductionism.

Similarly, I suppose metaphysically it’s the potential to behave-as-if-conscious that makes something conscious, though clearly there is more to it since a person can be asleep or comatose. We certainly wouldn’t want to say it was the other way around, since that sounds as though we’re proposing a vicious sort of substance dualism.

Re. the case of the paralyzed person: I mean behavior in all its varied ramifications. Paralyzed people can move cursors by blinking or moving a few muscles; physicist Stephen Hawking wrote several books that way. And even some who appeared to be ‘locked in’ to persistent vegetative states have been able to show (e.g.) oscillating MRI traces when told to visualize people playing tennis. We assume that were brain scanners better, we would be able to distinguish more of this sort of behavior in conscious people, and less in unconscious.

(As with all macroscopic objects, there will be vagueness around the edges about what counts as “conscious” and “unconscious”. If you do reading in cognitive psychology on this area, you will see that there are many boundaries there that likely never will be resolved since our definition of ‘conscious’ is not really adequate. But in all cases we have to assume that human behavior is associated with consciousness to get the experiments off the ground in the first place).

keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 09:00 AM

I’m off to my local pub now, (http://www.capitalpub.com) but I’ll get back to this later!

No rush. Cheers!

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Posted: 21 September 2011 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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keithprosser2 - 21 September 2011 09:00 AM

I had to look up ‘otiose’!  Naturally, I disagree!  Can you clear up one thing for me: do you think that something that behaves as if it is conscious is therefore conscious or that something has to be conscious in order to behave as if it is conscious?  Suppose I was paralysed but aware of what was going on around me… would I be conscious or not?
I’m off to my local pub now, (http://www.capitalpub.com) but I’ll get back to this later!

Otiose means (Merriam-Webster): 

1.  Of no use.
2   Ineffective; futile.
3.  Serving no useful purpose

Resistance is otiose?  cheese 

From the wiki on consciousness

Despite the difficulty of definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”

On that basis, something that behaves as if it is conscious is a zombie computer.  LOL

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