Book recommendation Re: [FoRK] Re: anybody remember...

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at> on Tue Jul 10 11:03:35 PDT 2007

On 7/10/07, Jeff Bone <jbone at> wrote:
> You also say things like:
> > my position [is] that
> >  consciousness, or "soul" as it's conventionally called, is:
> >  A) not explained
> >  B) not understood
> >  C) we have a hard time even coming to understand how
> >    we could even approach it
> >  D) it's arguably not even possible
> >  E) sure seems pretty mysterious right now
> This isn't COMP, and it certainly doesn't map (as you seem to think
> it does) to the positions of Turing, Kurzweil, or even Chalmers!

  I think we need to pull out quotes, and start talking about what "mysterious"
  means, and such.

  I call the "experience axiom" pretty mysterious, (like the force of
  gravity,) and itself unexplained.

  Shall we start mining quotations?  I'll start with Kurzweil.

  I just did a little googling.
  Let's listen to Kurzweil talk:

"Consciousness is a difficult subject, and I'm always surprised by how
many people talk about consciousness routinely as if it could be
easily and readily tested scientifically. But we can't postulate a
consciousness detector that does not have some assumptions about
consciousness built into it."

  Hot damn!  Sounds like it's right out of my mouth, here!
  Y'all remember that?

"Science is about objective third party observations and logical
deductions from them. Consciousness is about first-person, subjective
experience, and there's a fundamental gap there. We live in a world of
assumptions about consciousness. We share the assumption that other
human beings are conscious, for example. But that breaks down when we
go outside of humans, when we consider, for example, animals. Some say
only humans are conscious and animals are instinctive and machinelike.
Others see humanlike behavior in an animal and consider the animal
conscious, but even these observers don't generally attribute
consciousness to animals that aren't humanlike."

  Wow-- where have we been hearing this, in this forum?

To respond first to Chris, I think you've articulated another way of
saying that there is a barrier between the objective world of science
and the subjective issue of consciousness. Some people go on to say
that because the issue of consciousness is not scientific, it is,
therefore, not real, or an "illusion." That's not my view. One can say
that it is the most important question. It underlies, for example,
morality, and to the extent that our legal system is based on
morality, then our legal system. We treat crimes that cause suffering
of a conscious entity differently than damaging "propertly". In fact,
you can damag property if you own it. We only punish damaging property
because some other conscious person cares about it.

  Can we pull out book titles?

  Can I bring up the title, "Spiritual Machines?"
  He didn't just say "conscious machines," he made a full and complete step
  straight into evolutionary spirituality..!

  Alan Turing.
  Computing Machinery and Intelligence.

I do not wish to give the impression that I think there is no mystery
about consciousness. There is, for instance, something of a paradox
connected with any attempt to localise it. But I do not think these
mysteries necessarily need to be solved before we can answer the
question with which we are concerned in this paper.

  To be fair, I am not in COMPLETE agreement with Alan Turing;
  He wrote the following in the same paper:

I assume that the reader is familiar with the idea of extrasensory
perception, and the meaning of the four items of it, viz., telepathy,
clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. These disturbing
phenomena seem to deny all our usual scientific ideas. How we should
like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at
least for telepathy, is overwhelming. It is very difficult to
rearrange one's ideas so as to fit these new facts in. Once one has
accepted them it does not seem a very big step to believe in ghosts
and bogies. The idea that our bodies move simply according to the
known laws of physics, together with some others not yet discovered
but somewhat similar, would be one of the first to go.

This argument is to my mind quite a strong one. One can say in reply
that many scientific theories seem to remain workable in practice, in
spite of clashing with ESP; that in fact one can get along very nicely
if one forgets about it. This is rather cold comfort, and one fears
that thinking is just the kind of phenomenon where ESP may be
especially relevant.

  Look, I'm on a budget of time right now, consider this just a starter set.

  I can happily, gleefully find you more.

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