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Tags star trek , teleportation

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Old 14th December 2012, 07:05 AM   #521
dlorde
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
We distinguish between things that are the same all the time. If I have two identical coins, then I have two identical, but separate coins. They don't become one and the same.

Even if we substitute them e.g. I lose my coin, and you say "Here, have my identical coin", I wouldn't consider it to actually be the original coin. Because there is no magic link between the coins.
Yes, I see all that, but if you can't tell the difference between them (and there is no physical difference between them other than location), what difference does their individual histories make? Are they not indistinguishable and therefore interchangeable? For example, if I'd stolen your coin and the coin I actually gave back to you was your original coin, the 'difference' is just a matter of what you believe about the coin.

I realise that in art, for example, people have been fooled by fakes, but fake art is physically different, and can, in principle, be distinguished from the original.
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Old 14th December 2012, 07:08 AM   #522
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Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
It's sure as hell meaningful to you if you've been duplicated and one of you has to die.
Well yes, of course; I talked about that earlier.
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Old 14th December 2012, 07:39 AM   #523
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Yes, I see all that, but if you can't tell the difference between them (and there is no physical difference between them other than location), what difference does their individual histories make? Are they not indistinguishable and therefore interchangeable? For example, if I'd stolen your coin and the coin I actually gave back to you was your original coin, the 'difference' is just a matter of what you believe about the coin.
It makes a great deal of difference for the coins, which is the perspective under discussion here.
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Old 14th December 2012, 07:51 AM   #524
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
It makes a great deal of difference for the coins, which is the perspective under discussion here.
Seems to me coins don't have a perspective, and if there's no physical difference between them, I don't see how there could be a difference even if they did have one (unless we're talking about some weird dualist coin 'spirit'!)... but I don't want to derail the thread, so OK.
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Old 14th December 2012, 09:09 AM   #525
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Yes, I see all that, but if you can't tell the difference between them (and there is no physical difference between them other than location), what difference does their individual histories make? Are they not indistinguishable and therefore interchangeable? For example, if I'd stolen your coin and the coin I actually gave back to you was your original coin, the 'difference' is just a matter of what you believe about the coin.
The point is, it isn't how we normally define identity.
Your reasoning seemed to me to be "If two entities are physically the same, then they are one entity". But we don't do that for any kind of entity, except for consciousness in hypotheticals like this one.

(with the caveat that if two entities are the same including extrinsic properties like location, then yeah I'm happy to say they are one and the same)

------------------

The coins are just to illustrate that single point. If you go further into the coins hypothetical, we'll inevitably start thinking about "what if the coins were conscious" and at that point obviously thinking about coins isn't helping us.

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Old 14th December 2012, 11:04 AM   #526
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Originally Posted by Edx View Post
Im sorry Asm but Ive already answered your issues dozens of times in different ways even on this very page. I recommend reading it if you want to know more.
I did read your posts, maybe I just wasn't satisfied with your answers.

To be clear, I agree that the "what if the original isn't killed but tortured for an hour"-scenario is obvious, and scary. However, I'm not so sure this tells us that there is something wrong with using a transporter. Rather I suspect it's telling us that there is something mistaken about our notion of self.

Code:
^    a) orig  copy      b) orig  copy       c) orig1  orig2   
|       orig  copy         orig  copy          orig1  orig2   
|    ___orig__copy___   ___orig__copy____   ___orig1__orig2___
|       orig                  orig                 orig       
|       orig                  orig                 orig       
|       orig                  orig                 orig
Would be interesting to know which scenario you and other people on this thread think best illustrates the situation. For me, who believe that my "self" is the current state of my brain, its d) (no, I didn't screw up the formatting):

Code:
^    d)   orig    orig
|       orig     orig
|    ____orig__orig____
|           orig 
|            orig 
|          orig
Which implies that it doesn't matter whether you get rid of orig or orig. Hence a transporter should work.

And lastly, on the value of life, since you brought it up; I want to be happy and I want other people to be happy because I know what happiness feels like. I don't want to suffer and I don't want other people to suffer because I know what suffering feels like. Going around killing people would definitely cause a lot of suffering. Using a (fool proof) transporter? No one suffers.

Last edited by Asm; 14th December 2012 at 12:11 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 14th December 2012, 11:39 AM   #527
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
The point is, it isn't how we normally define identity.
I think this thread has shown that how we normally define a lot of things, like life, death, self, and perhaps, identity, need refining, or redefining, or reconsidering, in the face of abnormal contexts like perfect replication.

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Your reasoning seemed to me to be "If two entities are physically the same, then they are one entity". But we don't do that for any kind of entity, except for consciousness in hypotheticals like this one.
I wasn't trying to suggest two objects could be one entity that way, just questioning the meaning & value of differing histories in physically identical objects - i.e. if object A with history X is switched with identical object B with history Y, does it make any difference? If so, how? and why?

Applying this to humans and consciousness seems like a different question, but is it just the subjective sense of self that makes it seem that way?

I'm not espousing any particular personal viewpoint, just trying to argue the most interesting side of the issue and exploring how my rational and emotional sides respond to the arguments...

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The coins are just to illustrate that single point. If you go further into the coins hypothetical, we'll inevitably start thinking about "what if the coins were conscious" and at that point obviously thinking about coins isn't helping us.
The 'what if' question is the next obvious step, and I think it may be able to help, by forcing a closer look at exactly how & why a conscious process apparently makes such a significant difference in this context.
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Old 14th December 2012, 01:13 PM   #528
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
I wasn't trying to suggest two objects could be one entity that way, just questioning the meaning & value of differing histories in physically identical objects - i.e. if object A with history X is switched with identical object B with history Y, does it make any difference? If so, how? and why?

Applying this to humans and consciousness seems like a different question, but is it just the subjective sense of self that makes it seem that way?
Yes, it is. The brain is a processor, that developed through evolution. Natural selection results in it being programmed to create and protect a sense of there being someone that is experiencing.

As Susan Blackmore amongst others has pointed out, many of our finest scientific minds, even one with a Nobel prize, find it virtually impossible to write papers on consciousness without slipping into dualism.

Not because they're stupid. Intelligence is relatively meaningless here. But because what becomes apparent, when studying at a neuronal level, is so contrary to what the brain believes about itself, it just can't accept it. The brain of the scientist is programmed to create this illusory, persisting self just the same as the brain of everyone else... and it doesn't like the look of it!

Strong AI is patently obviously correct. It's a no brainer. But it will be decades before there's a scientific consensus behind it. Not because there's not an overwhelming level of evidence, but because human brains are programmed to resist it.

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Old 14th December 2012, 03:33 PM   #529
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
As Susan Blackmore amongst others has pointed out, many of our finest scientific minds, even one with a Nobel prize, find it virtually impossible to write papers on consciousness without slipping into dualism.
Much as many science writers tend to slip into the language of purpose and intent when describing evolutionary traits. Very annoying.

Quote:
Not because they're stupid. Intelligence is relatively meaningless here. But because what becomes apparent, when studying at a neuronal level, is so contrary to what the brain believes about itself, it just can't accept it. The brain of the scientist is programmed to create this illusory, persisting self just the same as the brain of everyone else... and it doesn't like the look of it!
Yes; and it's a difficult subject to discuss when it's such a fundamental part of our social and cultural mores, language, and the way we communicate in general.
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Old 14th December 2012, 05:25 PM   #530
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Applying this to humans and consciousness seems like a different question, but is it just the subjective sense of self that makes it seem that way?
I don't think so; I think there is the philosophical issue of identity which we could discuss even about non-conscious entities. The only difference that consciousness makes here is that it makes the problem have practical significance (someday).

Originally Posted by Nick227
Natural selection results in it being programmed to create and protect a sense of there being someone that is experiencing.
Well, I still maintain the illusion of consciousness is meaningless. There's zero meaning or explanatory power in saying "We don't have qualia, we just feel as though we do" or "There is no you, you just think there is!"

But why do you suppose evolution must play this supposed trick? Why can't we just be p-zombies?

And in terms of cognitive bias, just as there is a dualism bias (and I agree with you on that), there is a bias towards calling things illusions or whatever, instead of just coming to terms with a known unknown.

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Strong AI is patently obviously correct. It's a no brainer.
It's one thing to believe strong AI is correct. It's another to call it a no brainer bearing in mind how split the philosophical, neuroscientific and computer science communities are over that point. I would seriously wonder if I was parsing the problem correctly.

And bearing in mind how little predictive power we have when it comes to consciousness itself. We have no model of consciousness yet.

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Old 15th December 2012, 01:52 AM   #531
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Much as many science writers tend to slip into the language of purpose and intent when describing evolutionary traits. Very annoying.
Yes, I'm often guilty of that one!


Quote:
Yes; and it's a difficult subject to discuss when it's such a fundamental part of our social and cultural mores, language, and the way we communicate in general.
What I notice about the difficulties is that they come from two distinct areas...
(a) the conclusions from research are extremely counter-intuitive and so very hard to believe, and
(b) in order to discuss it you have to do so through the artificial construct itself!

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Old 15th December 2012, 02:02 AM   #532
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Well, I still maintain the illusion of consciousness is meaningless.
What!? How did it suddenly become the illusion of consciousness?! Illusion of there being an experiencer of consciousness - that's what's being discussed.

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There's zero meaning or explanatory power in saying "We don't have qualia, we just feel as though we do"
It's not about experience, as in phenomenology. It's about experiencer. No one is denying the presence of sensory information. It's simply that it's not happening to anyone. This is what Dave Chalmers could never get.

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But why do you suppose evolution must play this supposed trick? Why can't we just be p-zombies?
See dlorde's comment above.

Quote:
It's one thing to believe strong AI is correct. It's another to call it a no brainer bearing in mind how split the philosophical, neuroscientific and computer science communities are over that point. I would seriously wonder if I was parsing the problem correctly.
IMO, Strong AI is obviously correct. Any processing and evaluating mechanism, that didn't have a colossal inner investment in protecting its sense of self (ie not a human brain), would easily recognise this, because it's just patently obvious from all the research.

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And bearing in mind how little predictive power we have when it comes to consciousness itself. We have no model of consciousness yet.
In what way?

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Old 15th December 2012, 04:02 AM   #533
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Originally Posted by Edx View Post
However in the former example where your copy kills you, from the moment the copy pops into existence you now have different memories. The question then becomes at what point do you decide it is NOT okay for your copy to kill you, or for you to kill your copy. In other words, how much time would have to elapse where you both existed at the same time before your memories diverge to such a degree that you recognise yourself as two different people, just as it would be with an identical twin?
There is no sharp boundary. It would depend on what is at stake, on how good the reason is for me to be killed.

Originally Posted by Edx View Post
The point here is that you have to arbitrarily make that distinction.
Yes, of course! But *I* have to make that distinction, *nature* does not do that for me. It won't pull the plug stopping my subjective experience of self at some arbitrary threshold. Because this subjective persistent self was an illusion from the get-go.
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Old 15th December 2012, 09:04 AM   #534
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
What!? How did it suddenly become the illusion of consciousness?! Illusion of there being an experiencer of consciousness - that's what's being discussed.
...
It's not about experience, as in phenomenology. It's about experiencer. No one is denying the presence of sensory information.
Well, you insist that we use the word "processing" instead of things like sensation or qualia. This implied to me the typical semantic handwave that is very common when discussing consciousness.
My position is simply that whatever someone wants to call sensations like colour, pain etc, it's a significant unsolved problem in philosophy and neuroscience. So even if it's an "illusion", or even merely the conviction "I have seen blue", exactly how the brain does that is a hugely significant and difficult problem.

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It's simply that it's not happening to anyone. This is what Dave Chalmers could never get.
I don't get it either.
There are aspects of self-hood, like continuity that definitely are not all they appear. As I've conceded; it may well be the case that continuity from moment to moment *is* an illusion.

But there are aspects of consciousness that have a first-person ontology, no question about it.
And in fact, you don't even need consciousness for many aspects of the self.

For example, if I get some malware on my computer, did that event happen to anything? Yes, it happened to my computer. Now it's true we could describe that same event in terms of individual bits but a reductionist account is not necessarily "better" than a higher-level description and it doesn't "refute" in any sense that alternative description.

So I'm not sure what you mean by a blanket "there is no experiencer".

Quote:
See dlorde's comment above.
Not to be obtuse but I really don't see the relevance.

Quote:
IMO, Strong AI is obviously correct. Any processing and evaluating mechanism, that didn't have a colossal inner investment in protecting its sense of self (ie not a human brain), would easily recognise this, because it's just patently obvious from all the research.
I find it utterly ridiculous at this stage to draw such a conclusion. Your conclusion is not patently obvious; the research is at far too early a stage, and as point of fact there is nowhere near a consensus in the AI, philosophy or neuroscience fields.

So in terms of who is being blinkered here, I would point at those who are certain they not only have the right conclusion but that it's a "no brainer".

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Old 15th December 2012, 09:42 AM   #535
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Well, you insist that we use the word "processing" instead of things like sensation or qualia. This implied to me the typical semantic handwave that is very common when discussing consciousness.
My position is simply that whatever someone wants to call sensations like colour, pain etc, it's a significant unsolved problem in philosophy and neuroscience. So even if it's an "illusion", or even merely the conviction "I have seen blue", exactly how the brain does that is a hugely significant and difficult problem.
The problem gets a great deal easier when you accept that sensations, colour, pain, or whatever are not happening a priori to anyone. The narrative of "I am experiencing..." comes along post hoc.

But because the ramifications of this perspective are so counter-intuitive for a human brain, with its evolutionary history, only relatively few philosophers or scientists can actually grasp this.

The high intelligence of the researchers is often counter-productive here. Frequently intelligence translates to "having a large number of thoughts." This is not helpful if you're trying to understand for yourself how the "mental self", the "experiencer" is actually being constructed by the brain. The more the brain focusses on thinking, the harder it is to accept that thinking is not actually happening to anyone!

This is the real "hard problem" of consciousness research - the fact that the brains of the researchers have been conditioned through aeons of natural selection to defend against the obvious conclusions of their researches!

When this is grasped then the mystery of how the brain creates the colour blue or the feeling of pain lessens. This is because it now has to be accepted that the mind is what the brain does. For some people this is considered a cop-out, a viewpoint I sympathize with. But then the reality IME is that most of these people have yet to grasp the issues with self even, so for me this is where they need to go. Then we can look at how. And then we can get into the really BIG mysteries!

But you have to get to first base first. You have to understand the transporter and be either happy to travel or accept the irrationality of refusal. If you haven't even got to that point yet, well, I don't know what you can do but keep looking.

Quote:
But there are aspects of consciousness that have a first-person ontology, no question about it.
And in fact, you don't even need consciousness for many aspects of the self.

For example, if I get some malware on my computer, did that event happen to anything? Yes, it happened to my computer. Now it's true we could describe that same event in terms of individual bits but a reductionist account is not necessarily "better" than a higher-level description and it doesn't "refute" in any sense that alternative description.
You're describing what's happening to the computer objectively and from the outside. The so-called qualia issue is a subjective one. Chalmers couldn't believe that this mass of neurons and glia could produce the colour blue that he was seeing.

Quote:
So I'm not sure what you mean by a blanket "there is no experiencer".
Precisely that. There is no experiencer. The brain constructs what's usually termed a "mental self," to give it the more proper name. It does this by focussing attention on thought. This action creates two effects... (1) thought narratives tend to gravitate around a central character, an "I", a Nick227, who is frequently referred to in the thoughts, and (2) the very action of focussing attention on thoughts creates the sensation that there is someone that is having the thoughts, someone who is the subject. This is how the brain creates for itself the sensation and then the behaviour of mental selfhood. Natural selection has had the effect of reinforcing this mental behaviour to the point where pretty much everyone is doing it a lot of the time.

Quote:
I find it utterly ridiculous at this stage to draw such a conclusion. Your conclusion is not patently obvious; the research is at far too early a stage, and as point of fact there is nowhere near a consensus in the AI, philosophy or neuroscience fields.
See above.

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Old 15th December 2012, 06:31 PM   #536
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
This is the real "hard problem" of consciousness research - the fact that the brains of the researchers have been conditioned through aeons of natural selection to defend against the obvious conclusions of their researches!
Yes, and only you and the people who hold the same position as you, can see through this illusion! Hundreds of neuroscientists and philosophers might work in their fields for decades each and come to a different conclusion, but that just shows how strong the delusion is...

I'm done here.
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Old 16th December 2012, 12:56 PM   #537
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Yes, and only you and the people who hold the same position as you, can see through this illusion! Hundreds of neuroscientists and philosophers might work in their fields for decades each and come to a different conclusion, but that just shows how strong the delusion is...

I'm done here.
Well, if you look at Chalmers whole qualia thing... It's like he couldn't accept that a bunch of neurons and glia could create the brilliance of the blue sky "he" was experiencing.

I find this perspective pretty egocentric. It's like... The ventral stream has developed over hundreds of millions of years of natural selection. Of course bright colours are highly favoured. It's not rocket science.

But if you believe there's someone in the brain experiencing, or some place of observation in there somewhere, some pontifical neuron, whatever, then for sure its harder to accept that the brain can create that blue.

Now, if you pull back, and take the idea of an experiencer out of there (which anyway only began to show up likely less than one million years ago) then the brain is just a processing machine. It's developed over aeons of natural selection.

From the tiniest chink of light, barely perceptible, is it really so hard to believe that after 100 odd million years of evolution we have bright blue? I don't find it hard at all.

But then of course you have to let go of the experiencer.

:.........

Things are changing slowly. I was on transporter threads 3 or 4 years ago on the jref. It was much tougher then! There's been a sea change in perception IMO. Give it a year or two, Mijin, and you'll travel. And qualia will disappear like fluffy clouds disolving in a clear blue sky.

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Old 16th December 2012, 03:00 PM   #538
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Well I guess I'm not quite finished here after all.

1. You can't concede that we have the sensation of colour and at the same time say that qualia are nonsense. Qualia is just a name for sensations like colour.

2. The vividness or brightness of colours is basically irrelevant here. The mystery is how brains make colours, period, whether they be a bright blue, dull blue or an inky blackness (yes, I know in an art sense black is not considered a colour, but it is nonetheless a sensation generated, somehow, by the brain).
So to say "Of course bright colours are highly favoured. It's not rocket science." I don't even know what straw man you're arguing against.

3. I see now why you keep talking to pull everything back to "there is no experiencer"; you believe that it solves (or at least helps explain) various apparent mental phenomena. I'm dubious of that, and particularly in terms of qualia, I don't see how it helps at all.
e.g. I don't see why you couldn't have an animal that is not self-aware but feels pain. Is your position that this is impossible? Why?
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Old 16th December 2012, 04:10 PM   #539
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There's always the idea that colour qualia are what it's like to have certain coding vectors across the color-opponent neurons in your primary visual pathways - as explained here.

However, I suspect that even a description that permits one to predict and generate novel colour perceptions such as chimeric, hyperbolic, and self-luminous colours, will not be sufficient to satisfy a question that ultimately boils down to 'why anything?' It may help a little though.
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Old 17th December 2012, 01:15 AM   #540
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
1. You can't concede that we have the sensation of colour and at the same time say that qualia are nonsense. Qualia is just a name for sensations like colour.
Mijin,

No one is having the experience of colour. No one is having the experience of colour. The colour is there. That's it. Colour is what the brain is doing. What the brain is also doing, in an adjoining network, is creating the narrative "I am experiencing colour."

The combined activity of these two networks creates the emergent belief for the brain that it is an "I" and that it is "experiencing colour." But it is not. This is just an evolutionarily-favoured learned behaviour.

There is colour. There is a narrative. From this activity so-called "experience" emerges.

Quote:
2. The vividness or brightness of colours is basically irrelevant here. The mystery is how brains make colours, period, whether they be a bright blue, dull blue or an inky blackness (yes, I know in an art sense black is not considered a colour, but it is nonetheless a sensation generated, somehow, by the brain).
So to say "Of course bright colours are highly favoured. It's not rocket science." I don't even know what straw man you're arguing against.
When you take the idea of an observer out of the equation, it gets a lot easier.

It is not that there exists some self and for this self the brain is creating these colours, and then this self is saying "but how can this brain possibly create these colours?" That is reality upside down.

It is that colour is what the brain does.

Can you also follow this? I'm genuinely interested. Because I can follow your line of thought easily. And I can also see the other side, the materialist viewpoint. Can you?


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3. I see now why you keep talking to pull everything back to "there is no experiencer"; you believe that it solves (or at least helps explain) various apparent mental phenomena. I'm dubious of that, and particularly in terms of qualia, I don't see how it helps at all.
It doesn't help to explain them. It removes them from the equation. Which is why, understandably, many researchers feel short-changed by Strong AI. They want an explanation. They want someone to get up and draw them a diagram. I sympathise. But AFAIA Strong AI fits pretty much all the data. What to do?

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e.g. I don't see why you couldn't have an animal that is not self-aware but feels pain. Is your position that this is impossible? Why?
You are still examining things at one layer of emergence too much, Mijin. You have to go down one level. Break down the individual processes that give rise to so-called "experiencing."

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Old 17th December 2012, 03:29 AM   #541
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
- My feeling is that we would need to be careful about what we called consciousness here. Are you using the term to denote what "you / I / illusory self" are consciously aware of? IIRC this used to be termed "access consciousness."
I wasn't aware “access consciousness” had fallen out of favor (or even what it was, exactly). Nevertheless, on the analogy with running, where not every muscle twitch constitutes running, I think a useful distinction can be made between neuron firings which constitute consciousness and those that don't.

Anyway, as far as what's relevant for this thread, I'm only concerned with "consciousness" as physical activity (a subset of the physical activity we call "mind", which is a subset of the physical activity we call "body"). As a physical activity then, it is bound by physical law and properties, including location (good luck deriving physics without location -- x = location, Δx = change in location, Δx/Δt = velocity, etc. -- as a relevant physical property). Therefore location, differences in the location property, can't be ignored when describing consciousness (according to physicalism, that is; it can be ignored if we assert consciousness is not physical [implying some sort of dualism]).

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I am personally using the term to denote any coherent processing activity going on in the brain. Not just that which this illusory self appears to be aware of!
That's another way of looking at it, sure. For better or worse, there are many different ways to talk about "consciousness". But as long as you're explicit about it, no worries. In the end, it's descriptive accuracy that matters, not labels.

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I know Bernard Baars has been busy with why, if two near-identical strands of processing are taking place right next to each other in the brain, one is "conscious" and the other not.
Have to check him out – Bernard BaarsWP – thanks.
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Old 17th December 2012, 04:44 AM   #542
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
No one is having the experience of colour. No one is having the experience of colour. The colour is there. That's it. Colour is what the brain is doing. What the brain is also doing, in an adjoining network, is creating the narrative "I am experiencing colour."
You can bold it all you like but it's completely irrelevant to what I was just talking about.
I said that qualia is simply a label for experiences like colour. And I pointed out that you have conceded that such experiences exist. So you cannot then say that qualia are nonsense.

If you want to say the best explanation for qualia is that they are merely the conviction "I have seen blue" then I would disagree with you but at least that position is internally consistent.

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It is not that there exists some self and for this self the brain is creating these colours, and then this self is saying "but how can this brain possibly create these colours?" That is reality upside down.

It is that colour is what the brain does.

Can you also follow this? I'm genuinely interested.
No. I don't appreciate the distinction you're making.

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And I can also see the other side, the materialist viewpoint. Can you?
What is not materialist about my position?
I've also never beaten my wife.

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Which is why, understandably, many researchers feel short-changed by Strong AI. They want an explanation. They want someone to get up and draw them a diagram. I sympathise. But AFAIA Strong AI fits pretty much all the data. What to do?
Wanting an explanation is very reasonable. "Put up or shut up" is what science is really about.

And yeah, the distinction here is very important: "It seems to fit the facts" in itself is meaningless. Lots of hypotheses can say that. The proof is in creating a model and using that model to make novel predictions.

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You are still examining things at one layer of emergence too much, Mijin. You have to go down one level. Break down the individual processes that give rise to so-called "experiencing."
So what are your answers to the questions?

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Old 17th December 2012, 09:19 AM   #543
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
You can bold it all you like but it's completely irrelevant to what I was just talking about.
I said that qualia is simply a label for experiences like colour. And I pointed out that you have conceded that such experiences exist. So you cannot then say that qualia are nonsense.
I'm fine if you say qualia is simply another word for experience. I avoid the term because of the associations that come from the hard problem debate.

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If you want to say the best explanation for qualia is that they are merely the conviction "I have seen blue" then I would disagree with you but at least that position is internally consistent.
I wouldn't agree with this statement. I am coming from a deeper materialist perspective, one that doesn't start from assuming the experiencer. One that examines how the illusion of an experiencer is being created by the brain.


Originally Posted by Nick
It is not that there exists some self and for this self the brain is creating these colours, and then this self is saying "but how can this brain possibly create these colours?" That is reality upside down.

It is that colour is what the brain does.

Can you also follow this? I'm genuinely interested.
Quote:
No. I don't appreciate the distinction you're making.
OK, fair enough. Are you OK then with the following...

The brain is creating blue. It is not seen by anyone. There is no little man within the brain, no point of observation within the brain. The brain is just creating blue.

If you are OK with this then you are just one small step away from the Aha! moment.

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What is not materialist about my position?
You won't travel in the Transporter (or accept the irrationality of refusing). Therefore, no matter what stories your mind is telling you about your philosophical orientation, it's absolutely clear that you are not a materialist.

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Wanting an explanation is very reasonable. "Put up or shut up" is what science is really about.
Yes, it's very reasonable. But if you get to the Aha! moment then you will also realise why it's no longer quite so important.

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Old 17th December 2012, 09:28 AM   #544
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
Anyway, as far as what's relevant for this thread, I'm only concerned with "consciousness" as physical activity (a subset of the physical activity we call "mind", which is a subset of the physical activity we call "body"). As a physical activity then, it is bound by physical law and properties, including location (good luck deriving physics without location -- x = location, Δx = change in location, Δx/Δt = velocity, etc. -- as a relevant physical property). Therefore location, differences in the location property, can't be ignored when describing consciousness (according to physicalism, that is; it can be ignored if we assert consciousness is not physical [implying some sort of dualism]).
OK, well we're talking about different stuff now anyway. I don't dispute your point about physicalism.

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Old 17th December 2012, 09:39 AM   #545
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
I don't see why you couldn't have an animal that is not self-aware but feels pain. Is your position that this is impossible? Why?
You can have an animal which is not self-aware and which feels pain, AFAIA.

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Old 17th December 2012, 04:17 PM   #546
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
OK, fair enough. Are you OK then with the following...

The brain is creating blue. It is not seen by anyone. There is no little man within the brain, no point of observation within the brain. The brain is just creating blue.
I'm OK with this hypothesis. I see no reason to believe it is true at this time.

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You won't travel in the Transporter (or accept the irrationality of refusing). Therefore, no matter what stories your mind is telling you about your philosophical orientation, it's absolutely clear that you are not a materialist.
Firstly, I'm really tiring of your supercilious tone that I am being fooled by stories my mind is telling me but you are immune or have transcended it or whatever.
You can believe it if you want but please just bring facts and reasoned argument to the debate.

Secondly the transport position is not necessarily the materialist position; indeed many argue the exact opposite to you and that a materialist must conclude no transport is possible.
So what's your basis for coming to the conclusion you have?

Finally, I'm not actually a materialist. I've put my reasons why in a spoiler box as it's off-topic.


Why I don't consider myself a materialist:

1. It's meaningless. Our definition of matter/material has shifted considerably over the last century and all indications are we're not done yet. Essentially material just means "whatever our models describe".
Now, I can certainly subscribe to that, but I don't see what it's adding beyond simple Rationalism.

2. It's unnecessary. I don't believe in leprechauns because I'm not aware of any evidence for them. However, it's redundant to call myself a non-leprechaun-ist because I don't believe in anything without proof.

3. It may actually be moot. Consider virtual particles. Are they "matter"?
Bearing in mind the question of whether they physically exist or are just a mathematical abstraction is open for debate, but many consider it to be a moot point. By extension, if that question is moot, so's the question of whether everything is matter.
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Old 18th December 2012, 12:48 AM   #547
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Firstly, I'm really tiring of your supercilious tone that I am being fooled by stories my mind is telling me but you are immune or have transcended it or whatever.
Well, I apologize if I've upset you. It wasn't my intention. Just debating really.

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Secondly the transport position is not necessarily the materialist position; indeed many argue the exact opposite to you and that a materialist must conclude no transport is possible.
The Teletransporter has been used as a form of "acid test" in philosophy groups and forums for decades. If you profess materialism but won't travel then you are not actually a materialist (Blobru's point aside). If you look up Derek Parfit, the experiment's creator, or Susan Blackmore who used it in her classes, I think you'll see the truth of this.

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Old 18th December 2012, 03:51 AM   #548
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I was having a look at Derek Parfit because I was interested in this "acid test". I thought it was a bit droll that he's presently an Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. All Souls!

Then I looked up Susan Blackmore and found it here.

"Imagine you want to go to the beautiful city of Capetown for a holiday. You are offered a simple, free, almost instantaneous, and 100 per cent safe, way of getting there and back. All you have to do is step inside the box, press the button, and .....

The box is, of course, Parfit’s teletransporter. In making the journey every cell of your body and brain will be scanned and destroyed, and then replicated exactly as they were before, but in Capetown. Would you press the button?"


No, I wouldn't press the button. And I do consider myself a materialist. I think of myself as a machine made of matter which is in turn made of energy. So in the end I consider myself to be a complicated pattern as it were. But it's this particular pattern, this self, right here, and I don't want it destroyed thanks. Like edx said, I might press some other button to create a copy without being destroyed myself, and I have no awareness of that other copy. I don't find myself looking out of his eyes. This consciousness I enjoy is an illusion, it doesn't really exist, but it's the only thing that's real to me, to itself.

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Old 18th December 2012, 04:19 AM   #549
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Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
Like edx said, I might press some other button to create a copy without being destroyed myself, and I have no awareness of that other copy. I don't find myself looking out of his eyes.
According to materialism, there's no you looking out from your existing eyes. That's the illusion. Your belief system is actually dualist.

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Old 18th December 2012, 04:40 AM   #550
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
The Teletransporter has been used as a form of "acid test" in philosophy groups and forums for decades. If you profess materialism but won't travel then you are not actually a materialist (Blobru's point aside).
So you assert. But as I said, many people disagree with you. e.g. Fellow materialist and indeed reductionist Mark Johnston (currently a philosophy professor at Princeton) is of the opinion that "Even if the lower-level facts [that make up identity] do not in themselves matter, the higher-level fact may matter. If it does, the lower-level facts will have derived significance. They will matter, not in themselves, but because they constitute the higher level fact".

So you cannot just say "If you're a materialist, you will be happy to step into the transporter". Nor can you assert that Strong AI is true. There needs to be some argument why this is the case.

(or rather; you can assert whatever you like, but it won't convince anyone)

And at this point it occurs to me your position is not really the transport position. You threw me by saying it would be irrational not to step into the transporter.
Because, in reality, your position is that it makes no difference what I do: the destination entity is not me and the source entity is not me because there is no me. I shouldn't really care about the transporter or indeed care about anything.

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If you look up Derek Parfit, the experiment's creator, or Susan Blackmore who used it in her classes, I think you'll see the truth of this.
Is there any particular argument of theirs that you can summarize here? I'm familiar certainly with Blackmore and I consider most of her stuff the standard handwaving away problems by saying they're either an illusion or they don't matter.
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Old 18th December 2012, 04:54 AM   #551
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Nick: I just looked up Dualism. It says dualism is the assumption that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical. Later on it says Dualism is closely associated with the philosophy of René Descartes (1641), which holds that the mind is a nonphysical substance. It's talking about souls. Whoa! I'm not a duallist. I consider myself to be a mere machine. But I'm this machine, not some other identical copy of it.

Mijin: I have a degree in computer science. I think that I you could build a computer that was as complex as the human brain, and if you could teach/educate it adequately, it would not only act as if it was conscious, but it would actually be conscious.

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Old 18th December 2012, 05:23 AM   #552
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Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
I have a degree in computer science.
Ditto. I also have a postgrad in neuroscience.

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I think that I you could build a computer that was as complex as the human brain, and if you could teach/educate it adequately, it would not only act as if it was conscious, but it would actually be conscious.
I don't claim to know either way.
The simulation of a storm won't get you wet, and the simulation of a brain is not necessary conscious unless you assume the brain is essentially a computer program and strong AI is true.
And note the distinction between machine and computer; the brain is certainly a kind of machine, I don't think it's necessarily a computer.

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Old 18th December 2012, 05:44 AM   #553
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Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
... This consciousness I enjoy is an illusion, it doesn't really exist, but it's the only thing that's real to me, to itself.
Yes, this is the problem - it is subjectively real to the extent that it feels real, and in a very real sense (!) that's as real as anything gets. We can rationalise the cognitive dissonance created by external illusions of a conjuror or magician with only minor discomfort, but internal self-referential illusions are far more difficult to manage - phantom limb syndrome, alien hand syndrome, etc., are problems on the boundaries of self, but the core subjective sense of self is a tougher nut to crack.
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Old 18th December 2012, 05:50 AM   #554
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Fellow materialist and indeed reductionist Mark Johnston (currently a philosophy professor at Princeton) is of the opinion that "Even if the lower-level facts [that make up identity] do not in themselves matter, the higher-level fact may matter. If it does, the lower-level facts will have derived significance. They will matter, not in themselves, but because they constitute the higher level fact"
And I would 100% agree with him. I'm not ascribing any value judgments to the reality of self laid bare by the Transporter.

Others might say "oh, its all pointless then", or try and change how they are to accommodate the reality that the "experiencer" is illusory under materialism.

But this is their trip, not me.

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So you cannot just say "If you're a materialist, you will be happy to step into the transporter".
Why not? If you're a materialist then what is it exactly that you believe will not be recreated in the copy?

Farsight, for example, is being direct and honest. He feels like there is someone looking out of his eyes. So do I. So does pretty much everyone on the planet afaia.

I find it a wonderful opportunity to see what's going on inside ones belief system.

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Old 18th December 2012, 05:52 AM   #555
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
... your position is that it makes no difference what I do: the destination entity is not me and the source entity is not me because there is no me.
I see it more as the destination entity is as much you as the source entity was. A subtle distinction, perhaps, but I think it's an important one.

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I shouldn't really care about the transporter or indeed care about anything.
That's not how I read it - and Nick227 explicitly explained that this was not the case.
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Old 18th December 2012, 06:13 AM   #556
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Originally Posted by Nick227 View Post
And I would 100% agree with him. I'm not ascribing any value judgments to the reality of self laid bare by the Transporter.
It's more than just a value judgement. Maybe I didn't pick the best quote of his but anyway, Johnston is on record as disagreeing with parfit, and he's a respected philosopher who considers himself a materialist.

So you can't say a true scotsman materialist will use the transporter. That's a conclusion that needs to be established.

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Why not? If you're a materialist then what is it exactly that you believe will not be recreated in the copy?
Well, if you're a materialist does it follow that you must believe your coin in your hand is my coin in my hand, simply because they have the same qualitative properties?

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I find it a wonderful opportunity to see what's going on inside ones belief system.
I try hard not to have a belief system aside from the core logic principles of deduction, induction etc. I don't assert anything without good grounds to do so.
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Old 18th December 2012, 06:21 AM   #557
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
I see it more as the destination entity is as much you as the source entity was. A subtle distinction, perhaps, but I think it's an important one.
I would find that a misleading way of putting it to say the least. If your position is anything like Nick227's, the statement "The destination entity is me" is entirely false, just like "X is me" for any X.

It's equivalent to saying "This dessert is just as delicious, just as wonderful as the main course" when what you mean is that both were equally disgusting and now you're going to be violently ill.
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Old 18th December 2012, 06:43 AM   #558
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Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
It's equivalent to saying "This dessert is just as delicious, just as wonderful as the main course" when what you mean is that both were equally disgusting and now you're going to be violently ill.
I don't think so; but I do think it's interesting that the similes and metaphors you've used have powerfully negative emotional content - as if the emotional argument will carry more weight.
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Old 18th December 2012, 08:02 AM   #559
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
I don't think so; but I do think it's interesting that the similes and metaphors you've used have powerfully negative emotional content - as if the emotional argument will carry more weight.
Well it is. In both cases it's someone taking two entirely false statements and saying they are as just as true as one another. = misleading

As for me trying to associate negative emotions, I was talking about bad pudding for crying out loud. It was just a light-hearted simile. Next time I'll just use greek letters or whatever...
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Old 18th December 2012, 09:38 AM   #560
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Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
Nick: I just looked up Dualism. It says dualism is the assumption that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical. Later on it says Dualism is closely associated with the philosophy of René Descartes (1641), which holds that the mind is a nonphysical substance. It's talking about souls. Whoa! I'm not a duallist. I consider myself to be a mere machine. But I'm this machine, not some other identical copy of it.
Hi Farsight,

In your previous post you said "I might press some other button to create a copy without being destroyed myself, and I have no awareness of that other copy. I don't find myself looking out of his eyes."

You seem to me to be clearly indicating that you believe that there is some separate entity that is looking out from your eyes, one that cannot be recreated in the transfer. And that, sir, is dualism.

Am I wrong?

Nick
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