RE: computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2006 20:03:43 +1100

Brent Meeker writes:
> >> So I guess my proclaimations about models are all contingent on my own
> >> view of things...and I could be wrong. Only time will tell. I have good
> >> physical grounds to doubt that modelling can work and I have a way of
> >> testing it. So at least it can be resolved some day.
> >
> > I'm not sure of the details of your experiments, but wouldn't the most direct
> > way to prove what you are saying be to isolate just that physical process
> > which cannot be modelled? For example, if it is EM fields, set up an appropriately
> > brain-like configuration of EM fields, introduce some environmental input, then
> > show that the response of the fields deviates from what Maxwell's equations
> > would predict.
> I don't think Colin is claiming the fields deviate from Maxwell's equations - he says they are good descriptions, they just miss the qualia.
> Seems to me it would be a lot simpler to set up some EM fields of various spatial and frequency variation and see if they change your qualia.
> Brent Meeker
I'll let Colin answer, but it seems to me he must say that some aspect of brain
physics deviates from what the equations tell us (and deviates in an unpredictable
way, otherwise it would just mean that different equations are required) to be
consistent. If not, then it should be possible to model the behaviour of a brain:
predict what the brain is going to do in a particular situation, including novel situations
such as those involving scientific research. Now, it is possible that the model will
reproduce the behaviour but not the qualia, because the actual brain material is
required for that, but that would mean that the model will be a philosophical zombie,
and Colin has said that he does not believe that philosophical zombies can exist.
Hence, he has to show not only that the computer model will lack the 1st person
experience, but also lack the 3rd person observable behaviour of the real thing;
and the latter can only be the case if there is some aspect of brain physics which
does not comply with any possible mathematical model.
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sun Dec 17 2006 - 04:04:00 PST

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