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

From: Colin Hales <>
Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2007 10:03:16 +1000 (EST)

>> like the functionality of a scientist without involving ALL the
functionality (especially qualia) of a scientist must be based
>> on assumptions - assumptions I do not make.

> I gave a counter example, that of biological evolution. Either you
should demonstrate why you think biological evolution is uncreative, or
why it is conscious.

You have proven my point again. It is not a counterexample at all. These
two "either-or" options are rife with assumption and innappropriately
contra-posed. The biggest? = Define the context/semantics of 'creative'.

#1 The biosphere is a massive localised collection of molecular ratchet
motors pumped infinitesimal increment by infinitesimal increment against
the 2nd law of thermodynamics upon the arrival of each photon from the
sun. If the novelty (new levels nested organisational complexity)
expressed in that collection/process can be called an act of what? I could call it an act of 'gronkativity' and
it would not alter the facts of the matter. I don't even have to mention
the word consciousness.

The organisational complexity thus contrived may or may not include
physics that makes some of it (like humans) conscious. I could imagine a
biosphere just as complex (quaternary, 100ernary/etc structure) but devoid
of all the physics involved in (human) consciousness and the behavioural
complexity contingent on that fact. That alternate biosphere's complexity
would simply have no witnesses built into it and would have certain state
trajectories ruled out in favour of others. This alternate biosphere would
have lots of causality and no observation (in the sense that the causality
is involved in construction of a phenomenal field of the human/qualia kind
is completely absent). This blind biosphere is all 'observation' O(.)
functions of the Nils Baas kind that is completely disconnected from
consciousness or the human faculty for observation made of it.

Making any statement about the consciousess of a biosphere is meaningless
until you know what the physics is in humans...only then are we entitled
to assess the consciousness or otherwise of the biosphere as a
whole or what, if any' aspects of the word creative (which , BTW was
invented by consciousness!) can be ascribed to it.....the same argument
applies to a computer, for that matter.

Until then I suggest we don't bother.

#2 Creativity in humans = the act of being WRONG about something = the
essence of imagining (using the faculty of consciousness - the qualia of
internal imagery of all kinds) hitherto unseen states of affairs in the
natural world around us that do not currently exist (such as the structure
of a new scientific law or a sculture of a hitherto unseen shape).....
this has nothing to do with the #1 collection of ratchet motors....except
insofar as the process doing it is implemented inside it, with it (inside
the brain of a human made of the ratchet motors).

That's how you unpack this discussion.

colin hales

BTW thanks.....I now have the BAAS paper on .PDF
Baas, N. A. (1994) Emergence, Hierarchies, and Hyperstructures. In C. G.
Langton (ed.). Artificial life III : proceedings of the Workshop on
Artificial Life, held June 1992 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Addison-Wesley,
Reading, Mass.

I'll send it over...

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Received on Thu Jun 07 2007 - 20:03:55 PDT

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