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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12

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diny

Paranormally Abled
And by that same token, we would have no reason to believe that aren’t conscious, like us.
I have often wondered about machines. I had a Christian tell me that machines were taking over our world and I do see that the Japanese have amazing robots with computers and AI. The Christian man told me that the machines would need someone to tell them what was right and what was wrong. Could they not understand this?

There are many human viewpoints. What is right and what is wrong. To me, that is if you hurt others, you are wrong. Computers would see all of the viewpoints. Then they would need to figure out what was right behavior vs. wrong. There are many aspects to this. Right could be what won't hurt the computers. Right could be what won't hurt mankind.

Even we don't know all of the truths. Consciousness is the ability to be aware of one's surroundings or to be awake. Computers/machines are aware of their surroundings by virtue of the fact that they have knowledge of what occurs in this world so long as they are given the information. So, they have consciousness?
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
A philosophical zombie is the argument that consciousness is more than just physical process bc it’s conceivable (but perhaps not actual) that there could be an entity with app the same physical attributes of a human but lacking consciousness.

A similar thought experiment was apparently proposed by Nagel where he said imagine meeting a complex alien entity on another planet. We could interact with it and talk with it and scientifically inspect it, but we couldn’t know for sure if it had consciousness like us.

What I took you to be saying was that because of this fact, we can’t be sure that machines that function and behavior like humans would be consciousness like us.

but I think that’s hardly an argument as by the same token we can’t be sure that other humans like us are conscious.

I didn’t think Michael Allen was being nasty or pejorative. He I believed was merely saying that’s no reason to believe machines can’t be conscious. Because by the same token we can’t be sure that any entity is conscious.

regarding whether the p zombie argument is valid. It’s valid so far as it illustrates the problems with supposing consciousness is material (physicalism). It’s not proven to be valid in the sense that there could indeed be an entity that was similar in every way to a human and yet be a zombie.
That's all fair enough, but let's look at it a little closer. The assumption is that the philosophical zombie argument carries no weight because there is no evidence that anything but we ourselves as individuals experience consciousness. This is false for two reasons:

The first is that there is a mountain of evidence to substantiate the claim that normal humans all have the same sorts of subjective experiences. On the other hand, there is almost zero evidence that substantially different things from humans, particularly things of non-biological form and function, have any sort of subjective experiences at all.

The second reason is that while one could argue rhetorically that the mountain of evidence alluded to above doesn't conclusively prove to that anyone else has subjective experiences, the lack of such proof doesn't automatically make the assumption that that others don't have subjective experiences true.

So what we are left with in the context of this example, is a mountain of evidence supporting the existence of consciousness in other humans, against a completely baseless and unprovable claim that such is not the case. The weight in the argument therefore falls heavily in favor of assuming that others like us have similar experiences. Therefore, I'm on that bus.

The alternatives are some comparably weak notions based on theories, religion, or superstition. Feel free to take one of those buses if you want. It may be the right one, and I may be on a bus to nowhere along with all my "silly" evidentiary baggage. Just be aware that if that is the position you want to take, then there is no discussion left to be had because you have already found your answer in some sort of faith based belief.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Computers/machines are aware of their surroundings by virtue of the fact that they have knowledge of what occurs in this world so long as they are given the information. So, they have consciousness?
The assumption ( above ) is that knowledge and information = consciousness, but that is not the case. Depending on how one defines knowledge and information, they are separate concepts altogether, and if they aren't defined as different then the theory carries no substance. The simplest way to put it is that consciousness is what it is like to have information or knowledge, or conversely what it is like to lack information or knowledge. It is not information or knowledge in and of itself.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
That is a deflection.

Okay we'll do that.
@Randall, I wonder if you can reset my email notifications to 'off'. Somehow they've been reset from my preferance not to receive them. I have so much coming into my email everyday that it takes a lot of time to delete it all to make way for new notices. Thanks.

ps, I tried to send this message to you via the messaging thing but it didn't work.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
@Randall, I wonder if you can reset my email notifications to 'off'. Somehow they've been reset from my preferance not to receive them. I have so much coming into my email everyday that it takes a lot of time to delete it all to make way for new notices. Thanks.
ps, I tried to send this message to you via the messaging thing but it didn't work.
I don't know if it's possible for me to do that. It's not the same as doing general cleanup in the forum. If it's possible, it would have to be something in the admin backend, which I'm not that familiar with. Either way, the first thing to do is try this:
  • Select your profile link at the top of the page
  • From the dropdown menu select Preferences
  • Select or deselect the options that apply to your situation
  • Select the Save button at the bottom of the page
  • When a message comes in that you don't want, scroll down to the bottom and select the unsubscribe link.
Wait a few days to see if the deliveries stop. I recently had a similar increase in notifications, and those steps all worked for me. Some people have no problems starting a private discussion with me, while others can't get it to work. I don't know why that happens. Way back when you first joined, we had started a conversation. It should still be there if you check your conversations list ( the little envelope icon at the top of the page ).
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
I don't know if it's possible for me to do that. It's not the same as doing general cleanup in the forum. If it's possible, it would have to be something in the admin backend, which I'm not that familiar with. Either way, the first thing to do is try this:
  • Select your profile link at the top of the page
  • From the dropdown menu select Preferences
  • Select or deselect the options that apply to your situation
  • Select the Save button at the bottom of the page
  • When a message comes in that you don't want, scroll down to the bottom and select the unsubscribe link.
Wait a few days to see if the deliveries stop. I recently had a similar increase in notifications, and those steps all worked for me. Some people have no problems starting a private discussion with me, while others can't get it to work. I don't know why that happens. Way back when you first joined, we had started a conversation. It should still be there if you check your conversations list ( the little envelope icon at the top of the page ).
Thanks. Sounds like a lot of trouble. I'll just cope with the notifications instead. :)
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Sure we do: we can't see or otherwise sense that they experience the world in the multifold ways that we do.
Also the argument of for non-biological machines that have the same level of functioning and behavior as humans. Something we don’t have at the moment.

I was listening to an interview with an Astro biologist recently and mentioned how Astrobiology doesn’t receive the funding the other sciences receive. He speculated that it had to do with the way people tend to think of what he called the “preciousness” of life. Now this isn’t to say that life isn’t precious.

but molecular biologists tend to view life in terms of chemistry and even physics. And some information theory.

the origins of life are not understood. And perhaps there is something mysterious, supernatural, or precious involved but I tend to believe not. It is “just” a chemical process but a wonderfully and mysteriously complex one.

I think the same of human and animal consciousness. (Not phenomenal consciousness tho which I believe to be fundamental.) human and animal consciousness like Life itself, is a natural process. And while non-biological materials are different from biological materials, so far as there can be non-biological organisms, there is no reason in principal to believe they wouldn’t have non-biological minds.

Yes, ufology, I understand your “yeah but” regarding the fact that neurons may have some special ingredient that causes their functions to emit a substance with subjective processes. I understand it but i don’t think that’s the case. There’s no reason to think that’s the case, save the mind brain nexus.

I think think there are other ways of explaining the mind brain nexus rather than strong emergence. However I understand that is a view taken by some here and in the broader community.
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
A philosophical zombie is the argument that consciousness is more than just physical process bc it’s conceivable (but perhaps not actual) that there could be an entity with app the same physical attributes of a human but lacking consciousness.

A similar thought experiment was apparently proposed by Nagel where he said imagine meeting a complex alien entity on another planet. We could interact with it and talk with it and scientifically inspect it, but we couldn’t know for sure if it had consciousness like us.

What I took you to be saying was that because of this fact, we can’t be sure that machines that function and behavior like humans would be consciousness like us.

but I think that’s hardly an argument as by the same token we can’t be sure that other humans like us are conscious.

I didn’t think Michael Allen was being nasty or pejorative. He I believed was merely saying that’s no reason to believe machines can’t be conscious. Because by the same token we can’t be sure that any entity is conscious.

regarding whether the p zombie argument is valid. It’s valid so far as it illustrates the problems with supposing consciousness is material (physicalism). It’s not proven to be valid in the sense that there could indeed be an entity that was similar in every way to a human and yet be a zombie.

Well I tried to boil it down to this

(1) Physical things are not conscious
(2) Conscious beings require physical things
(3) A machine exists that mimics consciousness perfectly to another consciousness (implied self-recursive turing test)
(4) But as (1) indicates, such a mimic is NOT conscious
(5) Therefore consciousness is not physical

... restated simply

(1) physical things are not conscious
(2) therefore consciousness is not physical

Seems to beg the question on some metaphysical presupposition ...i.e. why (1) ?
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
The assumption ( above ) is that knowledge and information = consciousness, but that is not the case. Depending on how one defines knowledge and information, they are separate concepts altogether, and if they aren't defined as different then the theory carries no substance. The simplest way to put it is that consciousness is what it is like to have information or knowledge, or conversely what it is like to lack information or knowledge. It is not information or knowledge in and of itself.
Agreed...somewhat:

The problem here is that knowledge and information both presuppose consciousness--so they cannot be "equal." Also consciousness cannot exist without a "lack" -- or a background which encapsulates and highlights "things"--or "thinks" A super-conscious being that is conscious of everything would negate itself--because consciousness relies on changes that can only arise from a flow of novel information...a continuous thread of new things are the fuel....with everything "known" or "understood" Dasien ceases to exist.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
If we can’t say on physical terms that a human is conscious (p zombie) then we can’t say whether a machine that is functionally and behaviorally the same as a human would be conscious.

But By that same token, we can’t then argue they aren’t conscious in the way that we are conscious.

Of course we can use other arguments (tokens) to do so. That’s what I meant about different token.
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
If we can’t say on physical terms that a human is conscious (p zombie) then we can’t say whether a machine that is functionally and behaviorally the same as a human would be conscious.

But By that same token, we can’t then argue they aren’t conscious in the way that we are conscious.

Of course we can use other arguments (tokens) to do so. That’s what I meant about different token.
Perhaps it is impossible for any conscious machine to determine if another is conscious...

Fix the definition...a machine is something we think of as "applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task." But a machine of machines can switch "definite" functions. The question remains: do second (or 3rd, or 4th,...or Nth) order machines require more "physical reality" than the first order?
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
to be clear: do not equate modern "physicalism" with the cartesian category of "physical." Some physicalists may take joy in thinking that everything is reduced to an "unthinking" -- an enlightened physicalist will take joy in thinking that it is possible for a physicalistic brain to reduce everything to an "unthinking" source...

*laugh*
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Agreed...somewhat:

The problem here is that knowledge and information both presuppose consciousness--so they cannot be "equal." Also consciousness cannot exist without a "lack" -- or a background which encapsulates and highlights "things"--or "thinks" A super-conscious being that is conscious of everything would negate itself--because consciousness relies on changes that can only arise from a flow of novel information...a continuous thread of new things are the fuel....with everything "known" or "understood" Dasien ceases to exist.
Agreed ... somewhat:

The idea that knowledge and information both presuppose consciousness--so they cannot be equal [ to consciousness ] is something I am in 100% agreement with. I'm not so sure about the rest. I see no reason why consciousness ( assuming such could exist as an entirely independent phenomenon ) would need to rely on ( be dependent upon ) any changes other than the passage of time.

That is because I see consciousness in and of itself as entirely neutral. It is the stage upon which the play takes place, not the play itself. The absence of a set and characters and all the rest doesn't make the stage itself cease to exist. In the real world consciousness may not be able to exist as an entirely separate phenomenon from brains and bodies, but that doesn't change its essential nature.

It is still neutral. Returning to the start, it carries no information, or knowledge, or experiences of its own. Consciousness is the part of a person that makes that person aware of the fact that they have any knowledge or information ( or the lack thereof ) in the first place. Consciousness therefore also has nothing to do with afterlives. Entities in the afterlife ( for the sake of illustration ) could just as easily be philosophical zombies as those in the land of the living.
 
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Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
Agreed ... somewhat:

The idea that knowledge and information both presuppose consciousness--so they cannot be equal [ to consciousness ] is something I am in 100% agreement with. I'm not so sure about the rest. I see no reason why consciousness ( assuming such could exist as an entirely independent phenomenon ) would need to rely on ( be dependent upon ) any changes other than the passage of time.

That is because I see consciousness in and of itself as entirely neutral. It is the stage upon which the play takes place, not the play itself. The absence of a set and characters and all the rest doesn't make the stage itself cease to exist. In the real world consciousness may not be able to exist as an entirely separate phenomenon from brains and bodies, but that doesn't change its essential nature.

It is still neutral. Returning to the start, it carries no information, or knowledge, or experiences of its own. Consciousness is the part of a person that makes that person aware of the fact that they have any knowledge or information ( or the lack thereof ) in the first place. Consciousness therefore also has nothing to do with afterlives. Entities in the afterlife ( for the sake of illustration ) could just as easily be philosophical zombies as those in the land of the living.
"...any changes [ping] other than the passage [ping] of time"

You hit on a very important nerve...consciousness...changes... passage... lead to temporality. Temporality and change allows consciousness...
you use the word "exist"...and "seperate"...these terms are rooted in the same unspeakable foundation that allow such terms to be biologically accepted...yes, it is possible to accept terms you do not have the ability to communicate to others through apprehension or comprehension

I have spoken.
 
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