Re: How would a computer know if it were conscious?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 20:01:32 +1000

On 06/06/07, <> wrote:

> Evolution could be described as a perpetuation of the basic
> > program, "survive", and this has maintained its coherence as the top
> level
> > axiom of all biological systems over billions of years. Evolution thus
> seems
> > to easily, and without reflection, make sure that the goals of the new
> and
> > more complex system are consistent with the primary goal. It is perhaps
> only
> > humans who have been able to clearly see the primary goal for what it
> is,
> > but even this knowledge does not make it any easier to overthrow it, or
> even
> > to desire to overthrow it.
> Evolution does not have a 'top level goal'. Unlike a reflective
> intelligence, there is no centralized area in the bio-sphere enforcing
> a unified goal structure on the system as the whole. Change is local
> - the parts of the system (the bio-sphere) can only react to other
> parts of the system in their local area. Furthermore, the system as a
> whole is *not* growing more complex, only the maximum complexity
> represented in some local area is. People constantly point to
> 'Evolution' as a good example of a non-conscious intelligence but it's
> important to emphasize that it's an 'intelligence' which is severely
> limited.

I was not arguing that evolution is intelligent (although I suppose it
depends on how you define intelligence), but rather that non-intelligent
agents can have goals. We are the descendants of single-celled organisms,
and although we are more intelligent than they were, we have kept the same
top level goals: survive, feed, reproduce. Our brain and body are so
thoroughly the slaves of the first replicators that even if we realise this
we are unwilling, despite all our intelligence, to do anything about it.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Wed Jun 06 2007 - 06:01:38 PDT

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