Existence of Copies (was RE: Functionalism and People as Programs)

From: Lee Corbin <lcorbin.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Sat, 4 Jun 2005 16:04:06 -0700

Stephen writes

> > Stephen writes
> >
> > > I really do not want to be a stick-in-the-mud here, but
> > > what do we base the idea that "copies" could exist upon?

Don't worry about not going along with someone's program ;-)
I think that you're just being polite by calling yourself
a stick-in-the-mud. Why, if I had to interpose such a disclaimer
every time that I was stubborn and mule-headed, 90% of my posts
would be consist of nothing but apologies!! :-)

To prevent most of us from feeling inadquate, you should suppress
some of your southern politeness in these discussions :-)

> > It is a conjecture called "functionalism" (or one of its close variants).
> > I guess the "strong AI" view is that the mind can be emulated on a
> > computer. And yes, just because many people believe this---not
> > surprisingly many computer scientists---does not [necessarily]
> > make it true. [though I myself (Lee and his copies) believe it]
> [SPK]
> I am aware of those ideas and they seem, at least to me, to be supported
> by an article of Faith and not any kind of empirical evidence. Maybe that is
> why I have such an allergy to the conjecture. ;-)

Well for Pete's sake! Of *course* there is some faith here---as
you wryly note, you yourself are hardly exempt from indulging in
a little (or a lot) of speculation. What you have written is not
even an argument. Whereas what Brent Meeker wrote

        "I think there is considerable evidence to
        support the view that human level intelligence
        could be achieved by a (non-quantum) computer
        and that human intelligence and consciousness
        are dependent on brain processes; e.g. see the
        many studies of brain damaged patients. Also,
        I think it is well established that consciousness
        corresponds to only a small part of the information
        processing in the brain.

definitely constitutes a strong argument, even if from your point
of view it does not constitute evidence. (Thanks, Brent!)

> >[LC]
> > An aspect of this belief is that a robot could act indistinguishably
> > from humans. At first glance, this seems plausible enough; certainly
> > many early 20th century SF writers thought it reasonable. Even Searle
> > concedes that such a robot could at least appear intelligent and
> > thoughtful to Chinese speakers.
> >
> > I suspect that Turing also believed it: after all, he proposed that
> > a program one day behave indistinguishably from humans. And why not,
> > exactly? After all, the robot undertakes actions, performs calculations,
> > has internal states, and should be able to execute a repertoire as fine
> > as that of any human. Unless there is some devastating reason to the
> > contrary.
> [SPK]
> What I seem to rest my skepticism upon is the fact that in all of these
> considerations there remains, tacitly or not, the assumption that these
> "internal states" have an entity "to whom" they have a particular valuation.

This is the central problem from those who are deeply concerned as
to *why* 1st person experiences exist. Too bad that to me, it's
just obvious that they must. I literally cannot conceive of how
it could be different! (Poor me, I suppose---in some ways some
of us just have too little imagination, I truly guess.)

> I see this expressed in the MWI, more precisely, in the "relative state" way
> of thinking within an overall QM multiverse.

Okay; On closer reading, I think that you are talking about
the way that many people cannot stand MWI because it seems
to require that they observe both outcomes of an experiment.

> Additionally, we are still embroiled in debate over the
> sufficiency of a Turing Test to give us reasonable certainty
> to claim that we can reduce 1st person aspects from 3rd
> person, Searle's Chinese Room being one example.
> >> What if "I", or any one else's 1st person aspect, can not be copied?
> >> If the operation of copying is impossible, what is the status of all
> >> of these thought experiments?
> >
> > I notice that many people seek refuge in the "no-copying" theorem of
> > QM. Well, for them, I have that automobile travel also precludes
> > survival. I can prove that to enter an automobile, drive it somewhere,
> > and then exit the automobile invariably changes the quantum state of
> > the person so reckless as to do it.
> [SPK]
> Come on, Lee, your trying to evade the argument. ;-)

Am not! If the shoe doesn't fit, then don't wear it. I thought
(mistakenly, it appears) that you were seeking refuge in the
no-clone QM theorem. Sorry for the misattribution. What you
are saying---PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG---is that copying
just might not be possible at all. But I don't understand!

Surely you admit that it is conceivable that a machine might
scan your brain and body and create a duplicate. (As I say,
it doesn't have to be **exact**.) But didn't you see it happen many
times on Star Trek? Or were you in the other room (as I often
was) visiting the refrigerator? Is this or is this not what you
mean by "suppose that copying is impossible"?

> > [LC]
> > If someone can teleport me back and forth from work to home, I'll
> > be happy to go along even if 1 atom in every thousand cells of mine
> > doesn't get copied. Moreover---I am not really picky about the exact
> > bound state of each atom, just so long as it is able to perform the
> > role approximately expected of it. (That is, go ahead and remove any
> > carbon atom you like, and replace it by another carbon atom in a
> > different state.)
> [SPK]
> If you care to look into teleportation, as it has been researched so
> far, it has been shown that the "original" - that system or state of a
> system - that is teleported is not copied like some Xerox of an original
> document.

My whole point is: WHO CARES? If it misses an *entire* atom in every
10^14th of them, it doesn't matter to me. It should not matter to
anyone. Or am I missing your point?

> http://www.research.ibm.com/quantuminfo/teleportation/
> Such can not be done because *all* of the information about the system
> or state must be simultaneously measured and that act itself destroys the
> original. If *all* of the information is not measured, then one is not
> copying or teleporting, one is just measuring. This is not overly
> complicated!

It is not overly complicated that it should not matter to any
rational person that not *all* the information is copied. And
I will not permit you to redefine *teleportation* and *copying*
beloved by millions of SF readers to require EXACT reproduction
of a quantum state. As you admitted, even the impingement of
the slightest whiff of air drastically changes your quantum
state. And we are *none* the worse for it. So who cares if
teleportation does not correctly handle every single atom?

> Again, you are begging the point! The impact of air molecules change
> one's quantum state! Perhaps we are stuck on this because we are assuming a
> "still frame by still frame" kind of representation of the situation. The
> quantum state of a system is continuously changing, that is why there is a
> variable "t" in the Schrödinger equation for a wavefunction! I am commenting
> about the absurdity of copying the quantum mechanical system itself, or some
> subset or trace of it, other that that implied by the rules of QM.

I don't give a **** about *exact* copying. Hence the *existence* of
copies has nothing whatsoever to do, in my view, with QM.



> > > falsified, by the same experiments that unassailably
> > > imply that Nature is, at its core, Quantum Mechanical
> > > and not Classical and thus one wonders: "Why do we
> > > persist in this state of denial?"
> >
> > Probably for the same reason that some people continue to be Libertarians.
> > It's a belief thing---the way you see the world.
> [SPK]
> Sure, and I hope that even Liberals can admit to errors in their beliefs
> when presented with evidence and reasonable arguments to the contrary of the
> assumptions within their beliefs. It is when people engage in active denial
> of matters of fact that persons like myself wonder about them. ;-)

You are unfairly trying to take advantage of my well-known and uncontrollable
animus against liberalism! But as one poster noted, it made it look like you
didn't know the difference between the wise and noble Libertarians and the
rascally liberals :-)
Received on Sat Jun 04 2005 - 19:06:41 PDT

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