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

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2007 17:15:02 -0700

Colin Hales wrote:
> Dear Brent,
> If you had the most extravagent MRI machine in history, which trapped
> complete maps of all electrons, neuclei and any photons and then plotted
> them out - you would have a 100% complete, scientifically acquired
> publishable description and in that description would be absolutely no
> prediction of or explanation of why it is necessarily 'like it is' to 'be'
> the brain thus described, what that experience will be like.

I think that is mere prejudice on your part. It may be true, but I see no reason to assume it in advance.

>It would not
> enable you to make any cogent claim as to why it is or is not 'like
> something' to be a computer except insofar as it doesn't have neurons. Why
> am I saying this....Please read David Chalmers. This is not new.

I have. Please read Daniel Dennett's answer to Chalmers.

> Science does not and never has EXPLAINED anything. It merely describes.

So what is your idea of explanation? Is it not a description of cause or purpose?

> Read the literature. For the first time ever, to deal with qualia, science
> has to actually EXPLAIN something. It is at the boundary condition where
> you have to explain how you can observe anything at all.

If I can explain how a cat or a robot observes something, does that count?

> As to your EM theory beliefs... please read the literature. Jackson
> "Classical electrodynamics" is a brilliant place to start.

Yes, it was my textbook in graduate school. I don't think Jackson would endorse your theory that is nothing but EM fields.

>For nobody
> around here in electrical engineering agrees with you... and I have just
> been grilled on that very issue by a whole pile of very senior academics -
> who agree with me. Even my anatomy/neuroscience supervisor, who are
> generally pathologically afraid of physics....tells me there's nothing
> there but space and charge....

Have they not heard of quarks and electrons and gluons? It's really hard to make atoms without them.

> If you want to draw a line around a specific zone of ignorance and inhabit
> it...go ahead. If you want to believe that correlation is causation go
> ahead. "This is what we do" is what you say when you are a member of a
> club, not a seeker of truth. You have self referentially defined
> truth....and you are welcome to it. ...
> Meanwhile I'll just poke around in other areas. I hope you won't mind.
> Please consider your exasperation quota reached. Job done.

I hope you haven't given up on explaining observation.

Brent Meeker

> colin
> >

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Received on Sun Jun 17 2007 - 20:15:15 PDT

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