Re: UDA revisited

From: Colin Geoffrey Hales <>
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2006 15:33:41 +1100 (EST)

In-Reply-To: <>

Hi Brent,
Please see the post/replies to Quentin/LZ.
I am trying to understand the context in which I can be wrong and how
other people view the proposition. There can be a mixture of mistakes and
poor communication and I want to understand all the ways in which these
things play a role in the discourse.


>> So, I have my zombie scientist and my human scientist and I
>> ask them to do science on exquisite novelty. What happens?
>> The novelty is invisible to the zombie, who has the internal
>> life of a dreamless sleep.
> Scientists don't literally "see" novel theories - they invent
> them by combining other ideas. "Invisible" is just a metaphor.

I am not talking about the creative process. I am talking about the
perception of a natural world phenomena that has never before been
encountered. There can be no a-priori scientific knowledge in such
situations. It is as far from a metaphor as you can get. I mean literal
invisibility. See the red photon discussion in the LZ posting. If all you
have is a-priori abstract (non-phenomenal) rules of interpretation of
sensory signals to go by, then one day you are going to misinterpret
because the signals came in the same from a completely different source
and you;d never know it. That is the invisibility I claim at the center of
the zombie's difficulty.

>> The reason it is invisible is because there is no phenomenal
>> consciousness. The zombie has only sensory data to use to
>> do science. There are an infinite number
>> of ways that same sensory data could arrive from an infinity
>> of external natural world situations. The sensory data is
>> ambiguous - it's all the same - action potential pulse trains
>> traveling from sensors to brain. The zombie cannot possibly
>> distinguish the novelty from the sensory data
> Why can it not distinguish them as well as the limited human scientist?

Because the human scientist is distinguishing them within the phenomenal
construct made from the sensory data, not directly from the sensory data -
which all the zombie has. The zombie has no phenomenal construct of the
external world. It has an abstraction entirely based on the prior history
of non-phenonmenal sensory input.

>> and has no awareness of the external world or even its own boundary.
> Even simple robots like the Mars Rovers have awareness of the
> world, where they are, their internal states, and

No they don't. They have an internal state sufficiently complex to
navigate according to the rules of the program (a-priori knowledge) given
to them by humans, who are the only beings that are actually aware where
the rover is. Look at what happens when the machine gets hung up on
novelty... like the rock nobody could allow for.... who digs it out of it?
no the rover... humans do....The rover has no internal life at all. Going
'over there' is what the human sees. 'actuate this motor until until this
number equals that number' is what the rover does.

> No. You've simply assumed that you know what "awareness" is and you
have the defined a zombie as not having it. You might as
> well have just defined "zombie" as "just like a person, but can't do
science" or "can't whistle". Whatever definition you give
> still leaves the question of whether a being whose internal
> processes (and a fortiori the external processes) are
> functionally identical with a human's is conscious.

This is the nub of it. It's where I struggle to see the logic others see.
I don't think I have done what you describe. I'll walk myself through it.

What I have done is try to figure out a valid test for phenomenal

When you take away phenomenal consciousness what can't you do? It seems
science is a unique/special candidate for a variety of reasons. Its
success is critically dependent on the existence of a phenomenal
representation of the external world.

The creature that is devoid of such constructs is what we typically call a
zombie. May be a mistake to call it that. No matter.

OK, so the real sticking point is the 'phenomenal construct'. The zombie
could have a 'construct' with as much detail in it as the human phenomenal
construct, but that is phenomenally inert (a numerical abstraction). Upon
what basis could the zombie acquire such a construct? It can't get it from
sensory feeds without knowing already what sensory feeds relate to what
part of the natural world. That a-priori knowledge is not available. It's
what the zombie is trying to find out. This is the logical loop from my

So who's in the logical loop here? I am assuming zero a-priori scientific
knowledge in the human and the zombie. How does each get to a state of
non-zero scientific knowledge of the external natural world? For this is
what has actually happened in an evolutionary sense. We have phenomenal
consciousness for a reason.

If you zero out all a-priori knowledge in two entities, one with and one
without phenomenal consciousness the only one that can make any progress
is the one with phenomenal consciosueness - the One that has experiences
of the external world generated in their head.

In a sense the a-priori knowledge that the human has is 'hard-wired' in a
capability to construct phenomenal scenes from sensory data. That a-priori
'knowledge' is not scientific knowledge of the type found by using that
faculty. The phenomenal scenes make some assumptions and they can
mis-inform. But they do connect the scientist with the world outside the
scientist in a direct way that means that when something acts in
contradiction to previous behaviour that novelty is phenomenally visible.

I have made no assumptions of a-priori scientific knowledge found using
phenomenal consciousness. I can show technically how the lack of
phenomenal consciousness prevents the zombie'd scientist from ever
accurately gettinmg at laws of the external natural world.

On the other hand if you assume a computation (a numerical abstraction)
capable of doing it then you are assuming phenomenal consciousness,
because all of the a-priori knowledge inherent in such a device has to be
bestowed upon the creature by humans. That model has been created with
scientific exploration made possible with phenomenal consciousness. That
such a creature then automatically has access to the external world is
just an assumption.

Sensory feeds have no phenomenal content! Sensory feeds poking an
abstraction have nothing to say about the world external to the zombie.

So who's really making the assumption here? Frankly my head is spinning..
more thinking needed on that.

>> Now, we have the situation where in order that science be done by a
>> we must have phenomenal consciousness.
> That's mere assertion. But even if it's true it would only imply that a
computational being that was functionally equivalent to a human at some
low-level would both be able to do science and be conscious.
> Brent Meeker

For this last bit... see the paramecium posting to Stathis... maybe
that'll help.

I can't see I have assumed anything. Indeed I see everyone else as
assuming something about the nature of sensory feeds and the availability
of a-priori knowledge in a situation where there is none.


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Received on Fri Nov 24 2006 - 23:34:27 PST

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