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Old 26th February 2012, 07:34 AM   #1801
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
How so?
Because it necessarily follows from what Rocketdodger said that simulations can be conscious.
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Old 26th February 2012, 09:28 AM   #1802
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
What do you mean "name" one? Why would such a thing have a name?

Are you telling me that the physical activity of the simulator machine cannot be correspond to any other hypothetical system at all? All the components must correspond and can only correspond to a watershed?

I know you believe some weird things, but surely you don't believe that.
If we look at the possible state transitions of a physical system. Those states are not fixed - in the sense that a switch can only be on or off. They are subdivisions of the physical condition of the system, and can be allocated in any arbitrary way. If that is so, we could take any physical system, and consider its possible state transitions, and apply the state partitioning on any other physical system, choosing the possible states so that one mirrors the other. Given the hugely rich changes of state in most reasonably large physical systems, almost every system can be considered to be simulating every other system, at some level of granularity.

This is not an especially interesting or useful observation, unless one has the idea that each of these simulations is a world in itself, regardless of observers.
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Old 26th February 2012, 09:46 AM   #1803
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Silly piggy. You haven't figured out what they are talking about yet!

You're so close... but you're not quite there. You just need to connect a few more dots.
Maybe, just maybe, that's because the assertions are as vague as they are certain.
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Old 26th February 2012, 10:56 AM   #1804
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If we look at the possible state transitions of a physical system. ...
What are you talking about?

"Possible" can mean just about anything here... could you explain what you're getting at?
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:14 AM   #1805
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
But the simulated entities are real--either they aren't being simulated, or there are real patterns made of real particles that make them up.
Oh, please....

The entities in the simulating machine are real, no doubt. I mean, the actual patterns of behavior of the machine itself.

But those things are not, for instance, tornadoes.

You can actually examine what it is you have caused to happen and you will see that you have not caused any tornado. That's very plain and simple.

What you've done is to make the computer change in certain ways that mimic certain changes in a tornado.

So yes, you've created entities that exist, patterns of behavior in a machine.

But you know darn good and well, or should by now, that when I say the tornado doesn't exist, I mean that the entities which do exist are not tornadoes.

Now, if you're going to disagree with me, you're going to have to explain why these real entities are tornadoes but cause no damage to the simulator.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:15 AM   #1806
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Because it necessarily follows from what Rocketdodger said that simulations can be conscious.
Wow. I'm being inconsistent because of something RocketDodger claimed was true....

OK.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:23 AM   #1807
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Let's step back and look at this whole thing, consciousness, brains, computers, simulation, QM... (how) does it all fit together?

Computation

We'll start with computation just because it's convenient to start there.

A computation is a change from one state to another according to a set of rules, which are applied to each state in order to determine how it changes into the next state. The output of one change is the input to the next.

The matter and energy making up our universe, combined with the "rules" we abstract as the laws of physics, make our world a very large physical computer. States of matter and energy change in many ways that are so consistent that we can write rules which describe them with predictive accuracy (and in other ways that we can’t).

Information processing

Human beings can apply this process to symbols, to make symbolic computers, or information processors. We could call our starting symbol "the number" and make it "1" and follow this rule: "If the number is not 100, replace it with the symbol indicating the next integer higher on the list of integers".

And we could work it out on paper, and after 99 calculations (that is, points at which we can change the symbol, or not, according to the rule) there'd be no next step so the process would stop. (If you began with a number higher than 100, it would never stop, so the program has 2 potentials – end at 100 or go on forever.)

In that system, the human is the "computer" – the one recognizing the symbols and applying the rules to produce new symbols.

Now there are two types of outputs from running this information processor.

One is the real output – a piece of paper with writing on it, a shorter pencil, and changes in the state of the human's brain – and another is the informational output, or the "meaning" of the symbol, which is to say the abstract notion of a group of 100 things, which actually is (or is part of) the third real output, changes in the brain of the human calculator.

Machines as Computers

But we can use machines for part of this process if we make them out of stuff that changes in predictable ways very quickly. As long as we set up the physical machine so that its changes proceed in the same way as we want our symbols to change, then we can let a process go indefinitely, check in whenever we want, and find that the appropriate symbols are being displayed at any given time.

In other words, we assign symbolic value to an instance of physical computation (the workings of the machine) which is set up to mimic the computations (of whatever sort) of another kind of system, whether real or imaginary, so that we can later interpret the symbolic values of later physical states of the machine to make inferences about the state of the other system.

In short, we can use a machine as an informational (rather than physical) computer precisely because objects in our world behave like physical computers.

The reason most rocks don't make good information processors is that their highly predictable changes occur so slowly, and if you make very rapid changes to them they tend not to be predictable with any degree of precision.

In any case, whatever we make the machine out of, the introduction of the machine into the process can change the physical outcomes, but the informational outcomes remain what they were before – states of the brain of the human interpreting the symbols.

Brain as Machine

We can look at the body and all its organs as a kind of naturally occurring organic machine. But is it an information processor, or rather does it contain one?

If you expose a human brain to the right kind of symbol – for instance, this string of sounds: “What’s two plus three?” – it can produce the correct symbol that would result from a properly formed calculation from your information processing machine: “Five.”

So it sure seems to function like an information processing machine.

You might say, “Well, yes, but there’s a difference – the person understands the meaning of the symbols, whereas the machine does not.”

And that is correct, but it’s not as significant as we might think, because although the human consciously understands the meaning of the symbols being used, he didn’t consciously come to the conclusion that the right answer was “Five”. Instead, it “occurred to him” or “popped into his head”.

In fact, he probably had begun to say the word “Five” before he was consciously aware of thinking “Five”.

Consciousness

One thing that the brain does, which our information processing machines don’t, is something we don’t even have a good verb for, unlike other bodily functions with fine verbs like urinate and sweat and flex and secrete and replicate and bite and sneeze.

We have to use unfortunately thingy language like nouns (consciousness) or adjectives (aware) for it.

But it’s certainly something our brain does. It gives us this sense of self and experience when we’re awake or dreaming, but doesn’t do that at other times.

We can manipulate it by changing the gross behavior of the brain, and we can watch the differences in how it stops when we go to sleep versus going under anesthesia, and we can watch it begin again when we wake up.

We know that it involves the coordination of activity in spatially distant areas of the brain. We know that originally disparate types of impulses (e.g. from the eye and from the ear) are merged into related but different types of impulses before being used in whatever processes cause conscious awareness, and because of this our conscious awareness is always a fraction of a second behind what’s actually happening.

For those who didn’t already know, everything you experience is already over by the time you experience it.

The mechanism for this is not yet known. But of course, it’s not the only thing the brain does. In fact, the brain perceives, imagines, decides, and learns all the time without bothering to communicate what it’s doing to the processes that are responsible for consciousness.

When you ask your buddy “What’s two plus three?” electro-chemical impulses will start cascading through his brain in patterns that are continually rebuilt as a result of having these impulses run through them, like water on a beach changing the shapes of the channels it runs through.

The part of the brain that retrieves the answer is the bit that appears to operate most like what most folks today think of as a computer, or information processor. It comes up with the answer, but in a way very different from the way your computer would respond to “2 + 3 = Enter”.

Again, we don’t yet know the mechanism, but we know that strength of association is a big player. Stronger associations with patterns of activity can be made by repetition, for example, or by certain conditions of exposure (part of PTSD, for example, is the brain’s scripted rehearsal of the trauma in order to strengthen the association of the conditions of the event with a strong aversion impulse, so that the animal avoids those conditions later, hence nightmares, panic attacks, etc.).

“Five” would likely be so strongly associated with “two plus three” in your friend’s brain that it would be the response without any attempt by any part of the brain to test whether it was “correct”, unless something else tipped it off, like a strange look on the face of the person asking the question.

And your friend would only be aware that his brain had bothered to make his mouth say “Five” sometime after it had already started doing so. Only at that point would your friend consciously understand what his brain had already done, as he hears his own mouth say the answer.

Can Consciousness Be Calculated?

Now here’s the important question, when it comes to how to interpret the Computational Model of Mind with regard to consciousness, given what little we know....

Is consciousness the result of a calculation, and if so, then what type of result is it, real or informational?

First, the only rules available to the brain (or any other organ) for its behavior are the laws of physics. We know consciousness is an outcome of the physical computation of the brain, which is to say, changes in state in brain tissue and associated phenomena such as brain waves according to physical laws, so yes, it’s the result of a calculation.

So, given our previous description of the brain as a kind of information processor, is the phenomenon of conscious awareness an informational output of these physical calculations, or a real one?

Well, remember, informational outputs are a subset of the real outputs. Specifically, they are part of the change of state of the brain which is interpreting the symbols that are known by that person to be piggy-backing on the actual physical process.

Which means that if consciousness were the informational output of a physical calculation, it would require an interpreter in order to understand it as such, which we have not got.

So consciousness is a real output – a real-world phenomenon in spacetime – rather than an informational one, else we’re back to needing little men inside our heads, and little men inside their heads, each to read the other’s symbols.

Which means that if we want to make a conscious machine, we’re going to have to build it to be conscious.

We are not going to have the luxury of merely programming it to be conscious, although I’m sure there’ll be plenty of programming involved whenever we finally figure out how to make it work.

And it looks like we didn’t need to discuss quantum mechanics after all.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:29 AM   #1808
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Then we're not at an impasse, because I think no such thing.
When you think of a river, does water flow out your ear?
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:31 AM   #1809
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
When you think of a river, does water flow out your ear?
Exactly my point. There's no river in my head, only the representation of one.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:34 AM   #1810
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The entities in the simulating machine are real, no doubt. ... So yes, you've created entities that exist, patterns of behavior in a machine.
Good. Now if only you can get the point.
Quote:
But you know darn good and well, or should by now, that when I say
Sorry, that's not the point. But if it makes you feel better, yes, I know that.
Quote:
Now, if you're going to disagree with me, you're going to have to explain why these real entities are tornadoes but cause no damage to the simulator.
Wrong. I disagree with you, but your criteria has nothing to do with what I disagree with.

I disagree that you understand what your opposition is saying. What makes you think you do? The fact that you get to say they're wrong because of what you mean by what they say?

That's not the way it works, piggy.
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Old 26th February 2012, 11:52 AM   #1811
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Oh, please....

The entities in the simulating machine are real, no doubt. I mean, the actual patterns of behavior of the machine itself.

But those things are not, for instance, tornadoes.

You can actually examine what it is you have caused to happen and you will see that you have not caused any tornado. That's very plain and simple.

What you've done is to make the computer change in certain ways that mimic certain changes in a tornado.

So yes, you've created entities that exist, patterns of behavior in a machine.

But you know darn good and well, or should by now, that when I say the tornado doesn't exist, I mean that the entities which do exist are not tornadoes.

Now, if you're going to disagree with me, you're going to have to explain why these real entities are tornadoes but cause no damage to the simulator.
Originally Posted by tsig View Post
When you think of a river, does water flow out your ear?
Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Exactly my point. There's no river in my head, only the representation of one.
You are on both sides of the river.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:32 PM   #1812
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Any media you use to make a representation will follow the rules described by the laws of physics, whether that's a piece of stone or a computer.
INTERNAL rules, Piggy. Please read carefully, next time.

Quote:
Nothing that's real follows any other set of rules.
I follow some rules that aren't laws of physics. What are you talking about ?
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:33 PM   #1813
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
In order to do that, you'd have to first build a machine that is conscious.
That's actually what we're talking about.

So now, computers can't be conscious because they're not real, but they'd feel real if they were made to be conscious except they're not because they're computers.

This is circular reasoning.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:35 PM   #1814
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
...Information processing

Human beings can apply this process to symbols, to make symbolic computers, or information processors. We could call our starting symbol "the number" and make it "1" and follow this rule: "If the number is not 100, replace it with the symbol indicating the next integer higher on the list of integers".
...so, you're viewing information processing as an algorithm, or at least partially composed of one. And best I can tell is that you include an "interpreter" in the definition of an information processor?
Quote:
and another is the informational output, or the "meaning" of the symbol, which is to say the abstract notion of a group of 100 things, which actually is (or is part of) the third real output, changes in the brain of the human calculator.
What meaning? In your example I can't quite figure out what it is that your information processor is doing. We're not feeding it any inputs, and we're setting it up to give us a fixed output.

But, yes, in a typical situation where you're programming something for the sole purpose of giving you an output so that you can utilize the algorithm and regularity of the computer to give you an output with a specific meaning to you, the meaning is in your mind.
Quote:
...
You might say, "Well, yes, but there’s a difference--the person understands the meaning of the symbols, whereas the machine does not."

And that is correct, but it’s not as significant as we might think, because although the human consciously understands the meaning of the symbols being used, he didn’t consciously come to the conclusion that the right answer was "Five". Instead, it "occurred to him" or "popped into his head".

In fact, he probably had begun to say the word "Five" before he was consciously aware of thinking "Five".
Here you're making a few assumptions I don't hold. First, you're assuming that the person is the same as the thing the person is consciously aware of. Second, you're assuming that meaning is produced by conscious awareness.
Quote:
One thing that the brain does, which our information processing machines don’t, is something we don’t even have a good verb for, unlike other bodily functions with fine verbs like urinate and sweat and flex and secrete and replicate and bite and sneeze.

We have to use unfortunately thingy language like nouns (consciousness) or adjectives (aware) for it.
The main problem here, I think, isn't that we have no good word for consciousness. In fact, I think this notion is contradictory. The problem, instead, is that the word that we do have is too vague--it does not precisely define what we have. This becomes apparent when you try to figure out if certain kinds of processes within the mind are conscious or not; there are a wide variety of processes where such consignment seems arbitrary and conventional: "depends on what you mean by conscious".

We have a lot of capabilities that are special--and there are a lot of them that we're aware of. I personally take the approach of selecting each one separately; some I have some idea on, some I have no clue about. In other words:
Quote:
But it’s certainly something our brain does. It gives us this sense of self and experience when we’re awake or dreaming, but doesn’t do that at other times.
...I don't think there's a single coherent "it" here.
Quote:
Can Consciousness Be Calculated?
...
Which means that if consciousness were the informational output of a physical calculation, it would require an interpreter in order to understand it as such, which we have not got.
We're a planning machine. Don't stop at the inputs and outputs--we move and interact with the environment as well, and can perceive its inputs and outputs. It's as if not only we are the information processors processing information from the environment, but we're treating the environment as an information processor processing information from us.

And part of what we look at in the environment, and part of what we study the effects of, is the result of our interactions with the environment. This is where meaning comes from. So, yes, we do have it (in fact, I find it absurd to suppose we don't have it). And no, it doesn't require the conscious mind. I would not only be surprised if meaning came from non-conscious processes, I would expect it.

Surely we're aware of meanings. But that doesn't mean that we "aware" them up.

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Old 26th February 2012, 12:36 PM   #1815
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
What has always been desired is a definition that can include brains and computers and exclude all the other systems that change state. The inability to come up with any such definition is the source of the difficulty.
Actually, no, and notice the "if", in my post.

The definition can include things besides computers and brains, but it mustn't include everything in the universe.

Quote:
And if there was a Santa Claus in the simulation, the conscious entity would get simualated presents in his simulated stocking.
Your attempt at ridicule overlooks the following fact: yes.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:38 PM   #1816
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Talking about what a hypothetical conscious entity could do if he actually were conscious entirely begs the question.
That's the whole point of a hypothetical.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:43 PM   #1817
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Let me walk you though some stuff and hopefully you can pick up what westprog and piggy seem to miss.

[...]

Let me reiterate: It is the way computations lead to other computations that eventually make a difference in the behavior of a system.
I know all that.

But the phrase "the brain is a computer" is useless since rocks are now computers too. "The brain behaves like an electronic computer" would be closer to what we want to say, only it doesn't really behave like that.

So, again, if the word "compute" means "changes state", why don't we use that, instead ? And second, how do you describe the behaviour of the brain, then ?

I was under the impression that to call something "computation" it had to meet some more criteria than "changes state". Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm arguing the use of the word itself, not whether a computer or simulation can be conscious.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:47 PM   #1818
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
You can actually examine what it is you have caused to happen and you will see that you have not caused any tornado. That's very plain and simple.
Tell that to the simulated guy running from it.
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Old 26th February 2012, 12:49 PM   #1819
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
What are you talking about?

"Possible" can mean just about anything here... could you explain what you're getting at?
Let's look at a computer, as an example. Typically, we consider the state of a computer as being a matter of whether bits are on or off. This generally means that a particular voltage range applies in a particular area.

However, objectively speaking, this is no more valid a way to consider the state of a computer than any other physical property. Instead of considering each memory cell to have a binary value based on voltage, they could each have a million values based on temperature.

If we are to accept that the state changes of a computer have objective significance, as opposed to the meaning they carry to a human observer, then we have to accept that no set of state changes is any more valid than any other. Given this, we are faced with an enormous number of possible state changes. I'm not qualified to calculate how many, but clearly the number increases hugely with the number of possible elements present.

For any single set of state changes among this uncalculably large number, there is an equally large set of possible interpretations of those state changes. We could consider the temperature fluctuations as representing the varying exchange rates among European currencies.

Do we consider that all of these possible interpretations - of all possible states - represent a world? Or do we say that the only simulation going on on the computer is the tornado - because that's the one we intended to be going on?
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:45 PM   #1820
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Good. Now if only you can get the point.

Sorry, that's not the point. But if it makes you feel better, yes, I know that.

Wrong. I disagree with you, but your criteria has nothing to do with what I disagree with.

I disagree that you understand what your opposition is saying. What makes you think you do? The fact that you get to say they're wrong because of what you mean by what they say?

That's not the way it works, piggy.
Nor is it "the way it works" to berate someone for failing to get a point without even trying to say what that point might be.

What is "the point"?

What is it that "my opposition" is saying that I'm getting wrong, and what is the correct expression of it so that I may get it right?
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:47 PM   #1821
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
You are on both sides of the river.
I am on one side.

There are no rivers in my head when I think of rivers, there are only representations of rivers, which are not rivers.

There are no tornadoes in the machine, only representations of tornadoes, which is why those representations cause no damage.

Everyone knows that the representations are real.

Some folks, however, forget that they are entirely representations, and never anything else.
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:49 PM   #1822
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
INTERNAL rules, Piggy. Please read carefully, next time.
No matter your medium, it's "internal rules" will be the laws of physics. Period. Those are the only real rules that are known.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I follow some rules that aren't laws of physics. What are you talking about ?
I submit that you do not.
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Old 26th February 2012, 01:57 PM   #1823
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
That's actually what we're talking about.

So now, computers can't be conscious because they're not real, but they'd feel real if they were made to be conscious except they're not because they're computers.

This is circular reasoning.
That bears no resemblance to what I've said.

Computers are real. You can go look at one anytime you like.

Biological machines can be conscious. We know that because we know people are conscious.

At the moment, we have no reason to doubt that some sort of machine could someday be built that would also be conscious. I mean, why not?

To do that, we'll have to build the machine do whatever it is that brains do when they're conscious.

There's no reason why a computer can't be part of that machine.

In other words, the real-world result can involve programming, but it can't be the result of programming alone because no real-world phenomenon is the result of programming alone.

The real-world results of the behavior of the simulation machine, if they're going to be a cause for any real-world event, have to be real, not informational.

For example, the car doesn't get painted because the logic is employed, it gets painted because part of the output of the physical computation that works according to the logic is a set of electrical impulses that power machine arms.

A machine with a computer in it can be conscious. But it must be designed and built to perform that function. Programming alone cannot make it happen.

That's all I'm saying and all I've ever said.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:02 PM   #1824
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
That's the whole point of a hypothetical.
Ideally, a what if leads one somewhere. I don't mind exploring what ifs either to discover what the hypothesis leads to, or to discover what needs to be true to bring them about. Just considering that something might be possible in isolation doesn't inform us. The very question under consideration is whether conscious entities can exist in a computer. Supposing that it is true, in isolation, doesn't help us decide that it really is true.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:08 PM   #1825
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Here you're making a few assumptions I don't hold. First, you're assuming that the person is the same as the thing the person is consciously aware of. Second, you're assuming that meaning is produced by conscious awareness.
Yes and no. Let's look at it again:

Quote:
You might say, "Well, yes, but thereís a difference--the person understands the meaning of the symbols, whereas the machine does not."

And that is correct, but itís not as significant as we might think, because although the human consciously understands the meaning of the symbols being used, he didnít consciously come to the conclusion that the right answer was "Five". Instead, it "occurred to him" or "popped into his head".

In fact, he probably had begun to say the word "Five" before he was consciously aware of thinking "Five".
Note that I say nothing about "the person" except in the hypothetical objection I'm addressing. Instead, I talk about what this lump of stuff we call a human being is doing.

Some of what this human's brain is doing is involved in producing a sense of self and experience (which is one way of defining "the person", but not the only way) and a lot of it is not.

And it makes perfect sense to say that the human in this example "understands the meaning" of the transaction consciously and non-consciously (the non-conscious bits of the brain got the answer right, didn't they?) but note that I was addressing a rhetorical question: "Well, yes, but thereís a difference--the person understands the meaning of the symbols, whereas the machine does not."

Generally, that sort of question refers to what we consciously understand, and it was that objection that I was addressing, and ultimately rejecting as an objection because the issue of whether or not we consciously understand what our brains are doing is different from the issue of what our brains are actually doing.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:11 PM   #1826
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
The main problem here, I think, isn't that we have no good word for consciousness. In fact, I think this notion is contradictory. The problem, instead, is that the word that we do have is too vague--it does not precisely define what we have.
The reason that the "word is too vague" is simply that we haven't yet figured out how the process works. The word will become less vague as our understanding improves.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:18 PM   #1827
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I know all that.

But the phrase "the brain is a computer" is useless since rocks are now computers too. "The brain behaves like an electronic computer" would be closer to what we want to say, only it doesn't really behave like that.

So, again, if the word "compute" means "changes state", why don't we use that, instead ? And second, how do you describe the behaviour of the brain, then ?

I was under the impression that to call something "computation" it had to meet some more criteria than "changes state". Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm arguing the use of the word itself, not whether a computer or simulation can be conscious.
When we use words, it's important that the context is known. We use "compute" quite correctly, meaning something specific quite different to "change state". If, however, we are describing the objective behaviour of a physical system, then we have to be considering the changes in physical state of that system. What else can we consider?

If we want to discuss how to generate the first 100 prime numbers, we can use the language of computation without considering at all how a computation comes to physically exist. If we want to discuss how the physical phenomenon of consciousness comes to exist, we have to do it in physical terms.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:37 PM   #1828
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Quote:
Can Consciousness Be Calculated?
...
Which means that if consciousness were the informational output of a physical calculation, it would require an interpreter in order to understand it as such, which we have not got.
We're a planning machine. Don't stop at the inputs and outputs--we move and interact with the environment as well, and can perceive its inputs and outputs. It's as if not only we are the information processors processing information from the environment, but we're treating the environment as an information processor processing information from us.

And part of what we look at in the environment, and part of what we study the effects of, is the result of our interactions with the environment. This is where meaning comes from. So, yes, we do have it (in fact, I find it absurd to suppose we don't have it). And no, it doesn't require the conscious mind. I would not only be surprised if meaning came from non-conscious processes, I would expect it.

Surely we're aware of meanings. But that doesn't mean that we "aware" them up.
Sure, but that doesn't change what I'm saying.

The question is, if consciousness is a result of computation, what sort of computation, and what sort of result?

We know that consciousness is the result of the electro-physical activity of the brain, which is a kind of physical computation, the sort of computation also done by oceans, stars, and hurricanes.

This physical computation includes all sorts of input in the form of stuff bouncing off our heads, like light and soundwaves and chemicals and such, triggering physical computations that are part of the mix inside the brain.

This physical computation involves making represenations of all sorts of things, from concrete objects such as walls and doors to intangibles such as kin relationships.

Most of these are not involved in the specific processes (physical computations) that result in conscious awareness, or at least most of the time they aren't.

But what can we say about what kind of output consciousness is, what sort of output of the physical computations of the brain? Is it a real output, like the heat your computer emits? Or is it a symbolic output, like the idea represented by the string "Sustained wind speed: 120 mph"?

Since all symbolic outputs of a system of physical computation require an interpreter -- and an encoder as well, though we've ignored that part -- because the symbolic outputs are a subset of the set of real outputs which are changes to states in a perceiver's brain, and are nothing more than this, then a real-world phenomenon such as conscious awareness can only be a real output of the physical computations of the brain, and cannot be a symbolic output without positing a homunculus to interpret it.

The interaction of the animal with its environment has no impact on this set of facts about its brain. It would be true of a conscious animal or machine that had no input from the environment beyond the brain at all.

Consciousness is as real an outcome of the physical calculations of the brain as the heat coming out of your computer is a real outcome of its physical calculations.

And merely simulating real events does not create replicas of those events, it only changes the shape of the simulating machine.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:40 PM   #1829
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Tell that to the simulated guy running from it.
I just did. In my imagination. Where he exists.

He says hello.
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Old 26th February 2012, 02:56 PM   #1830
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Nor is it "the way it works" to berate someone for failing to get a point without even trying to say what that point might be.
Tu quoque logical fallacy.

I'm correcting you, not berating you. You are doing something wrong, and I'm calling you out for it. I get to do that.
Quote:
What is "the point"?
It is exactly what I said it was explicitly in that post. You're insisting that what your opposition means by real is what you mean by it.
Quote:
What is it that "my opposition" is saying that I'm getting wrong, and what is the correct expression of it so that I may get it right?
They are saying that the simulated entities are real in the same sense that you just agreed with me that they are real. They are not saying that if you create a simulation of a particle, you violate a law of physics. If you don't believe me, I dare you to point out a law of physics that they're explanation breaks.

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Old 26th February 2012, 02:59 PM   #1831
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Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
That is ONLY because it is easier to use processors to emulate real hardware. Using a processor instead of Opamps enables us to TWEAK the parameters and BEHAVIOR a lot easier than REWIRING different Resistors and Capacitors to change gain and the TRANSFER FUNCTIONS of the neural nodes while in the R&D stages.

But if we already know the Transfer Functions we can just build the system using ENTIRELY electrical components with NO SOFTWARE WHATSOEVER.

But to do that with the tremendous number of Neurons and interconnections needed to reach the required Critical Mass might be quite a daunting task.
It would be an engineering problem.

Quote:
That is why it is often easier to just SIMULATE a NN on a computer.
Simulate or emulate?

Quote:
BUT...BUT.... have a look at the LAST paragraph in my post to see why that a normally functioning NN might not even be enough.
A 'normally functioning' NN? If neuronal cross-firing is relevant and/or necessary to the emulation, it too could be implemented.

Quote:
Precisely.....
We would program such a system indirectly, feeding it relevant input so that it could learn and organise itself over time, much as a biological brain does. The direct programming would be a layer of abstraction below, and would involve programming the way the system learns and organises itself. If the individual neurons were being emulated in software rather than hardware, their programming would be a level of abstraction below that.

Quote:
ETA: it seems you have deleted your post after I quoted it Sorry.... but I like what you said ...why did you change your mind
Ennui. I couldn't see it making any difference, given the entrenched opinions here. But seeing as you responded, and I've got some spare time...

I can see that simulating or emulating a power station in a computer will not generate real power, but I think it's a red herring. Information processing is qualitatively different - it is functionally indifferent to abstraction. A physical computer can run an OS running a program that runs Conway's Game of Life itself running a UTM implementation (Universal Turing Machine), which can run arbitrary TM programs. A cellular automaton may be a clumsy way to implement a UTM, but the UTM it runs is a 'real' programmable computer - it may be virtual and several levels of abstraction from the processor hardware, but it can really process data.

Where I worked, we had a big Linux server box that emulated multiple virtual machines at once. You could configure each virtual machine to run a different OS emulation. Users could run their OS-specific applications on it as if on a native machine. They could even run their favourite OS on a suitable microprocessor emulation running on this server. Were these real Windows, DOS, Unix, etc., machines? Real microprocessors? No, they were virtual emulations - but they behaved exactly the same as the 'real' ones. They gave exactly the same outputs for any given inputs as the 'real' thing.

The way I see it it looks to me at present is:

If, as the evidence suggests, a neuron is a sophisticated information processor, taking multiple input signal streams and outputting a result signal stream, we can, in theory (and probably in practice), emulate its substantive functionality with a neural processor (e.g. a chip like IBM's neural processor, but more sophisticated).

If, as the evidence suggests, brain function is a result of the signal processing many neurons with multiple connections between them, we can, in theory, emulate brain function using multiple neural processors connected in a similar way (with appropriate cross-talk if necessary). [We would probably need to emulate the brain-body neural interface too, i.e. give it sensors and effectors].

If, as the evidence suggests, consciousness is a result of certain aspects of the brain function described above, then, in theory, the emulation could support consciousness.

Each neural processor can itself be emulated in software, and multiple neural processors and their interactions can be emulated in software; i.e. an entire subsystem of the brain can be replaced by a 'black box' subsystem emulation.

In theory, all the neural processors in a brain emulation, and their interactions, can be emulated in software using a single (very fast) processor, e.g. with multi-tasking, memory partitioning, and appropriate I/O from/to the sensor/effector net.

Given the above, it seems to follow that, in theory, consciousness could be supported on such a single processor software emulation of a brain.

I'm curious to know which of the above step(s) are considered problematic by those who don't agree, and why.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:05 PM   #1832
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
And it makes perfect sense to say that the human in this example "understands the meaning" of the transaction consciously and non-consciously (the non-conscious bits of the brain got the answer right, didn't they?)
Okay, then I'm confused about what you're talking about. So an information processor requires interpretation of results. But the non-conscious mind acts like a computer. And the non-conscious mind is capable of generating meaning, and interpreting results.

So what then is your objection to the computational theory of consciousness?
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:06 PM   #1833
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The reason that the "word is too vague" is simply that we haven't yet figured out how the process works.
You're begging the question. Which process?
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:09 PM   #1834
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
You're insisting that what your opposition means by real is what you mean by it.
Good God almighty.... Hence my reply to the post asking if we can dispense with "objective reality" as redundant.

If "my opposition" means something by "real" other than "real", then why don't they use a more apt term?

Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
They are saying that the simulated entities are real in the same sense that you just agreed with me that they are real. They are not saying that if you create a simulation of a particle, you violate a law of physics. If you don't believe me, I dare you to point out a law of physics that they're explanation breaks.
The problem seems to be that you don't take PixyMisa at his word.

To create an honest-to-God for real particle, all he needs is a computer and logic. At the end of the process, he'll have the computer and a new "real" particle that didn't exist before. And he'll do it with only enough energy to change the state of the computer.

That violates the laws of conservation.

And any scenario that contemplates the points of view of characters in a simulation, while denying that no such character -- not the pattern of machine activity, but the character it represents -- exists outside of the imagination of the reader of the simulation, but insisting instead that the character will actually have a conscious experience like we have... well, that scenario demands some sort of objectively real existence for the symbolic outputs of the simulation, which is merely an absurdity.

By definition, the symbolic outputs are physical states in the brain of an interpreter.

The brain states are real.

So are the other outputs of the system, such as the physical state of the simulator, and the heat it emits, and any light or sound the system emits, and so forth.

But the entities which are intended to be symbolized by simulation... they have no claim to any sort of non-imaginary existence.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:18 PM   #1835
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Okay, then I'm confused about what you're talking about. So an information processor requires interpretation of results. But the non-conscious mind acts like a computer. And the non-conscious mind is capable of generating meaning, and interpreting results.

So what then is your objection to the computational theory of consciousness?
Right now, there is no computational theory of consciousness. There is a computational model of mind, but since we don't yet know how the brain consciouses, we don't have any clear theory about it, just a handful of facts and the nose end of some hypotheses.

But it's not the computational model I object to. It's the misuse of the model to conclude that consciousness can be programmed into a machine that's not in any other way built to be conscious, and that you could build a conscious machine by simulating the brain's activity using ropes, or that a machine could be conscious at any operating speed, or that you can run simulations of brains and this will create a conscious machine, and so on.

That's what I object to.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:20 PM   #1836
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
You're begging the question. Which process?
Whatever process makes the world take form when you wake up in the morning, makes you aware of nothing after you fall asleep, then makes dream worlds take form during the night.

That process.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:28 PM   #1837
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
What do you mean "name" one? Why would such a thing have a name?

Are you telling me that the physical activity of the simulator machine cannot be correspond to any other hypothetical system at all? All the components must correspond and can only correspond to a watershed?

I know you believe some weird things, but surely you don't believe that.
I am telling you that the physical activity of the simulator machine, when it is simulating a watershed, is ismorphic with the physical activity of a watershed ( or anything else that is isomorphic with the physical activity of a watershed ).

If the physical activity of an automobile is not isomorphic with that of a watershed to begin with, then the activity of the simulator machine cannot be, by definition, isomorphic with the automobile either.

Just because an intelligent entity can find a mapping between the initial state of the simulation and the initial state of an automobile doesn't imply that the activity of the simulation and the automobile is isomorphic. That is where you are getting confused, I think. Yes, we can find a million things that might map to the initial state of the simulation -- so what? Once the simulation is running, those mappings instantly become invalid.

Except for one -- the mapping between the watershed and the simulation. That mapping remains valid the entire time, which is why the activity of the two systems is isomorphic.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:33 PM   #1838
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Whatever process makes the world take form when you wake up in the morning,
Perception, but that occurs while I'm asleep as well. You could also be talking about the integration of perception into a world, but most of that happens outside of my awareness. Are you counting that process as consciousness?
Quote:
makes you aware of nothing after you fall asleep,
I take it you mean to contrast consciousness with this state.
Quote:
then makes dream worlds take form during the night.
I thought non-conscious processes make the dream world--I'm just aware of it while dreaming.
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:33 PM   #1839
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The problem seems to be that you don't take PixyMisa at his word.

To create an honest-to-God for real particle, all he needs is a computer and logic. At the end of the process, he'll have the computer and a new "real" particle that didn't exist before. And he'll do it with only enough energy to change the state of the computer.
Nope, you are completely misunderstanding the argument we are presenting.

We are creating an honest-to-god for real isomorphism to a real particle.

After which, any property of the real particle that survives the isomorphism is also present in the mirror system, honest-to-god for real.

For example, things like cause and effect. If the isomorphism is expressed as I(), and behavior A causes behavior B of the real particle, then I(A) will cause I(B) in the "computer and logic," and that is a real causal sequence. As real as it gets.

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Old 26th February 2012, 03:46 PM   #1840
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If we look at the possible state transitions of a physical system. Those states are not fixed - in the sense that a switch can only be on or off. They are subdivisions of the physical condition of the system, and can be allocated in any arbitrary way. If that is so, we could take any physical system, and consider its possible state transitions, and apply the state partitioning on any other physical system, choosing the possible states so that one mirrors the other. Given the hugely rich changes of state in most reasonably large physical systems, almost every system can be considered to be simulating every other system, at some level of granularity.

This is not an especially interesting or useful observation, unless one has the idea that each of these simulations is a world in itself, regardless of observers.
To take a rock and "map" its state transitions such that they simulate a tornado requires mapping the entire transition space of the states in the tornado to specific states in the rock.

To take a computer simulation of a tornado and "map" its state transitions such that they simulate a tornado requires mapping only a single transition.

That is why we use computers to simulate tornadoes instead of using rocks to simulate tornadoes.
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