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Old 28th February 2012, 02:17 PM   #2001
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Because ours is the "real" world, duh !
I think we can be reasonably confident that whatever the real world consists of, we don't fully understand it. I.e. there's a gap between reality and our theory of reality. The same applies to the virtual people. Reality is the same in both cases.
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Old 28th February 2012, 02:34 PM   #2002
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
They would have no experience or perception outside the virtual world; to them, the laws of nature would be the laws governing the behaviour of the elements of the virtual world they perceive.

On encountering a Bishop Berkeley-style message from us that his world is virtual and has no material existence, the Dr. Johnson consciousness would strike his virtual foot with mighty virtual force at a large virtual rock, from which it would rebound, sending the sensation of a stubbed toe to him, and exclaim "I refute it thus!".
Yes, and they would be wrong - objectively wrong - just as we would be wrong to think that Newtonian physics was right, or that the Earth was flat. That's why, after a long, long time, scientists don't claim that their theories are a true model of reality - just that they can predict what is happening. We expect to continue to find out more, and to make better models that will better predict what is going on.

It might be that in a closed system, the artificial consciousness will hit a dead end of scientific research - that his scope for investigation will be able to go no further than the rules programmed for him. He will continue to be bound by ultimate reality, though. What ultimate reality might be, and how it confines us, is as unknown to us as to him. We both live in the same world, however.
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Old 28th February 2012, 03:53 PM   #2003
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Interesting conversation. You two are right in there in the nity gritty of it all. I've run over the same ground as I've seen posted here in my own reflections and I currently think consciousness is an emergent property of a combination of processing power. sensory input and adaptive coding ... or did I already say something like that.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:05 PM   #2004
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
You literally don't know what you are talking about piggy.

Read a book on computer architecture and get back to us when you know something.
Well, you should be able to tell me what happened, then, which falls outside the scope of that description.

Please do.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:07 PM   #2005
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Doesn't matter. I don't believe 197 of anything matched up with 203 of anything when I multiplied the two to get 39991 (sorry for picking an easy example, but what's fun is that I get to use a non-standard algorithm here).

But nevertheless, when I, in my head, said (200-3)*(200+3)=(200^2-3^2)=40000-9=39991, I really did multiply numbers. Why? Because those numbers have names, according to a convention that we set out. And the goal of multiplication is to find the name of the number that is the product of the two numbers we just named. And that's exactly what I did.
That's right. We both agree about that.

You found the right name.

We also agree that no physical multiplication took place.

So we're perfectly in line here.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:41 PM   #2006
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
I did not perform the math directly. I cheated. I used a trick--an algorithm I learned--in this case, one I learned in algebra class. But the standard multiplication algorithm is also a trick--it's just as much a cheat. But it's multiplication.

This is because, in mathematics, how you get the answer isn't as important as simply getting the answer in a valid way. There is no single proper way to get the answer; any valid way that you use to get the answer is legitimately performing mathematics.

This is why I'm telling you it's a bad example. Anything that works in a dual space that maps to the problem space, where you use the dual to perform the work, counts as doing the work.
Actually, that's why it's such a good example.

The trick to seeing why is to make sure to always clearly distinguish between the material and the symbolic, the physical computations and the logical computations, the real and the imaginary.

How does real addition happen? Stuff that was separate moves into a group. Or maybe new stuff is created to increase the size of the group. We can observe this happening in all kinds of ways.

Computers simulate this happening, which means they use a different physical system -- their own hardware -- which gets them into the state to, as you say, find the right name.

Now this is a very different kind of thing to do. Real addition isn't part of what the machine is doing. And in fact even what it's doing when we add the human to the system, ending up with the right light pattern on a screen or pattern of ink on paper to make a human brain think of the number five, is quite distinct from real (physical) addition.

So when you say "in mathematics, how you get the answer isn't as important as simply getting the answer in a valid way", that's true, but mathematics is about as deep into the symbolic/imaginary side as you can get, so keep in mind that this point is clearly relevant only when you're discussing the "informational" side, but not necessarily the physical side.

I mean, mathematically, time is reversible, but in our lives it's not.

So you're right, the computer comes up with the name -- which is what it's designed to do -- it does not perform physical (real) addition.

And what's interesting, when you think about it, is that the computer isn't even actually simulating real addition... it's simulating mental "addition", which is itself simulating real addition.

The human brain is also in the game of coming up with the name, rather than actually adding things physically.

The brain does that, though, not by having its behavior shaped by a programmer, but by having its behavior shaped by evolution. Which actually isn't a metaphor here, since the process of evolution quite literally determines the physical shape of the brain and all the rest of the body.

And the shape and material of the brain in its environment are the things that determine what it does, how it operates. (Same for a computer, of course, or a kidney.) For these objects, symbols mean nothing... the only "rules" they can be said to follow are the laws of physics.

Over time, the physical channels in your brain which are active when you hear the sound "two plus three" and when you think about the number five, come to overlap to such a degree that the cascade of neural activity that is physically inevitable when that sound hits your ear will at some point include the neural activity that is going on when you think of the number five. (It should do this when you're asleep in many conditions, too.)

This is how the idea of five "occurs to you" or "pops into your head" after you hear the sound "What's two plus three?" It's a matter of neural erosion.

To use the hydraulic metaphor, a flood in the "two plus three" sound area will cause heavy flooding in the "five" number area of the brain, because that's how the pipes are laid out.

This is not the way the computer operates.

So all 3 cases are distinct.

From a mathematical point of view maybe not, but taking that point of view wipes out the entire reason for the exercise, because that view is immersed in one panel of the triptych that we're looking at.

And I might suggest that a failure to move out of the symbol world when considering the physical world may be a big part of the reason why the "man in the world of the simulation" idea still appeals to you.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:48 PM   #2007
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I agree. I think that what you proposed, albeit theoretical, is quite different to running a computer program.
To the contrary, that's exactly what it would be. Perhaps not a computer program that people unfamiliar with multi-tasking & time-slicing CPUs or multi-threading software would recognise, but still a computer program. Being composed of a (very large) number of software modules emulating neurons wouldn't change that.

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It would be a different form of cyborg.
Different from what other form of cyborg?
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:52 PM   #2008
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
To the contrary, that's exactly what it would be. Perhaps not a computer program that people unfamiliar with multi-tasking & time-slicing CPUs or multi-threading software would recognise, but still a computer program. Being composed of a (very large) number of software modules emulating neurons wouldn't change that.
It might be like a computer, but that doesn't mean that it would be like a computer program. In particular, the type of computer program typically specified for artificial intelligence.

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Different from what other form of cyborg?
A man with an artificial limb, for a start.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:52 PM   #2009
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Well, you should be able to tell me what happened, then, which falls outside the scope of that description.

Please do.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arithmetic_logic_unit

The digital logic that occurs when performing an arithmetic operation on two bitfields is very specific -- it is a dedicated portion of the hardware. Not only is the ALU different from the rest of the hardware, but the portions of the ALU responsible for different arithmetic operations are themselves very distinct.

Any intelligent entity can look at the way the gates are set up and see that they correspond to specific arithmetic operations -- addition, multiplication, and division.

Arithmetic isn't some "generalized" computation that happens in a "generalized" computer part.
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Old 28th February 2012, 04:56 PM   #2010
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It might be like a computer, but that doesn't mean that it would be like a computer program. In particular, the type of computer program typically specified for artificial intelligence.
Make sure you watch your step as you backtrack, seems you are doing it at quite a good clip now. Wouldn't wanna trip.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:06 PM   #2011
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
But we're not talking about the brain friendliness of what the computer did. We're talking about the addition-ness of what it did. So comparing how brain-friendly the computers processes were to how brain friendly the thing I did above was is a non-sequitur; we should, instead, compare how "math friendly" the computer's addition was versus how "math friendly" our brain friendly addition was.
No, this is not what I was talking about.

You seem to want it to be.

But in fact, I meant what I said.

And I wasn't comparing the brain-friendliness of what the computer did versus what your brain did.

I was pointing out that the behavior of the computer (the machine) is much less brain-friendly than a programmer's GUI.

The programmer can think in terms of containers which have contents that can be read, erased, added to, moved from place to place, and so forth. She can think in terms of objects and their relationships. (Like the post office model of the brain.)

All of that, of course, has nothing to do with the physical computations of the machine... and the physical computations of the machine, which is to say what you can observe the computer doing, is the only thing she is making happen, period.

Which is to say, what is really happening is that machine wiggling around when it's electrified.

The implementation of the logic is not occurring at all, in real terms.

And this is where the rubber meets the road.

Remember, the logic is merely a symbolic value that human brains associate with the physical computations (the real-world behavior of the machine).

An infinite variety of symbolic values can be imagined for the behavior of any machine, and none of them have any impact on the machine at all, nor leave any mark or sign of their existence upon it.

So anytime you want to talk about what's "really" happening, you cannot appeal to the logic of a symbolic system, because that resides entirely in patterns of people's brains.

The implementation of the logic cannot be occurring in the machine, because the logic is imaginary -- because it's patterns in brains.

This is the bit that you have not been getting, which is keeping you from understanding that a simulated person cannot become really conscious.

Once you make a clear distinction in all of your reasoning between what's going on in the wider physical world, and what's restricted to brain states, then I think it will all fit nicely into place and you'll no longer have to wonder what would happen if a person in a simulation were conscious.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:08 PM   #2012
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Originally Posted by ufology View Post
Ouch ... nice pun. It was intentional right?
If you prefer discussing fantasy, there's another section for that.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:10 PM   #2013
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Read a book on computer architecture and get back to us when you know something.
Btw, if you're talking about logical architecture (which you probably are) then you need to understand I was talking about what the physical machine is doing, not the logic we assign to a subset of those actions.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:12 PM   #2014
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
I think we can be reasonably confident that whatever the real world consists of, we don't fully understand it. I.e. there's a gap between reality and our theory of reality. The same applies to the virtual people. Reality is the same in both cases.
That is, again, and unsurprisingly, irrelevant.

The "real" laws of physics may not change, but as far as the simulated entity can ever perceive, its laws of physics are different and, from its point of view, they constitude its reality. Of course the "real" world doesn't change, but why would you mention that in the first place, unless you completely fail to understand what I'm talking about ?
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:17 PM   #2015
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Replace "a simulation" with "the universe".
Yes, that's what I was trying to say.

A simulation... that is, the action of mimicking one thing with another thing... or in another sense the apparatus as it's operating... is a real thing, just like the rest of the real stuff in the universe.

What the simulation is supposed to represent, however, is not part of, nor even evident in, the simulation... only the brain of the programmer and reader make that association.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:19 PM   #2016
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Informational. Not imaginary.
Informational, in that context, is imaginary.

In other words, in the sense in which computers are information processors but stars are not.

In that sense, informational is necessarily imaginary, because we're talking about the states of people's brains.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:23 PM   #2017
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
No. That doesn't follow. First, it completely ignores the statistical mechanics of each system. The key factor of a computational system is that it can exhibit behaviour starkly different from the bulk properties of the material involved. Otherwise your brain would be nothing more than a sponge.

Second, you just pulled "infinite" out of your ass.
First of all, the number of possibly simulated systems must be infinite, because every combination of particles could be simulating at least one complete system, and an infinite number of larger but incompletely represented systems.

And your use of "computational system" here is what's getting you into trouble.

You aren't distinguishing between physical and symbolic computations, which at this stage of the conversation is necessary. (Well, it always is, really, but especially now.)
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:26 PM   #2018
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
You said "When you emulate any real thing in software... you've turned a real thing into an imaginary one". I'm saying this isn't necessarily so. When one microprocessor emulates another in software, it is just a language translation; whether it is done hard-coded on-chip or in RAM makes no difference. The same algorithm using the same instruction set can run on both processors identically. The same principle applies to one microprocessor emulating multiple others by time-slicing or other means.

I'm trying but failing to see what imaginary thing you think I've substituted for what 'real' thing.
The language can be touchy.

I took you to mean that at some point a computer simulation of a physical entity was taking the place of that entity within a system.

I may well have misunderstood you. I've had few programming courses, and they were several years ago, so you can't count on me to get shop talk.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:44 PM   #2019
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Exactly what simulation are you referring to? I talked about replacing neurons with functionally equivalent chips running neuron algorithms, which you accepted, and replacing groups of those chips with a single mutli-tasking chip that emulates them - still running the original neuron algorithms on each virtual processor. What has become imaginary?
Sorry, I obviously misunderstood you there.

Looks like you're just changing the chair legs.
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Old 28th February 2012, 05:55 PM   #2020
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Now this is a very different kind of thing to do. Real addition isn't part of what the machine is doing. And in fact even what it's doing when we add the human to the system, ending up with the right light pattern on a screen or pattern of ink on paper to make a human brain think of the number five, is quite distinct from real (physical) addition.
Could you please tell me what "real addition" is?

ETA:
Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
The implementation of the logic is not occurring at all, in real terms.
Could you please tell me what "implementation of the logic in real terms" is as well?
Quote:
The implementation of the logic cannot be occurring in the machine, because the logic is imaginary -- because it's patterns in brains.
I think you're confusing the intensions with the extensions.

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Old 28th February 2012, 05:55 PM   #2021
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Eh? the inputs going into such a black box are not physical calculations, they are just modulated signals, e.g. electrical pulses. That apart, would you accept such a black box replacement part for, say, the visual cortex (assuming we could handle all the necessary inputs and outputs)?
Electrical pulses are physical calculations. Anything that changes state according to the laws of physics is a physical calculation, because those laws are the rules, the universe provides something which can have a state, and time requires (or is) the changing of those states. Which makes the physical universe a computer.

A black box replacement for visual cortex is a trickier proposition than it might seem at first.

If that black box is to accept the same inputs, which is to say the same physical computations... and note that we cannot snap our fingers here and substitute logical computations... and emit the same physical computations as outputs... and if this is to be done in a densely tangled mesh of finely interconnected neural tissue that's warped into all kinds of shapes that we know have tremendous impacts on the brain's behavior if disrupted (not to mention the almost entirely unknown role of brainwide electrical waves)... well, it becomes difficult to see what you might put into that box if not the cortex itself.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:01 PM   #2022
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Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Could you please tell me what "real addition" is?
Already have.

It's like when I bring my 3 dogs over to your yard and let them loose with your 2 dogs.

It's precisely because things get added to and subtracted from groups in the real world that we have the kind of brain which thinks in terms of abstract addition and subtraction... and goes on to invent machines to help it do that incredibly fast.

Our brains evolved to think in those terms because our environment shaped them that way. Literally.

Our brains evolved equipment to help us respond to differences in number, because brains which could do this had a better chance of making more brains like them.

Certain instances of changes in the number of a group can be described as addition. That's real addition.

Like everything else we know of in this world, it can be represented symbolically, in any number of ways.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:07 PM   #2023
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It might be like a computer, but that doesn't mean that it would be like a computer program.
Not sure I understand what you mean - the computer is generally the hardware; processor, RAM, I/O ports, wiring, etc. The computer program is the software that runs on that hardware (or that the hardware executes if you prefer). The software (computer program) in this case would be the code for the virtual neurons and the code that manages the connections between their inputs and outputs and the overall timing & synchronisation, etc.

Quote:
In particular, the type of computer program typically specified for artificial intelligence.
I didn't know there was a type of program typically specified for AI programs - what type of program would that be, in particular?

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A man with an artificial limb, for a start.
O. Well, a computer consciousness wouldn't be a cyborg unless you gave it some biological body parts, and why would one do that?
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:12 PM   #2024
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
So, in theory, we can have a brain emulation running on a single physical processor with memory, and apart from the I/O subsystem, everything else would be software or data.
What exactly do you think the I and O of such a system would be?
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:13 PM   #2025
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
I took you to mean that at some point a computer simulation of a physical entity was taking the place of that entity within a system.
I meant that a physical neuron or neural processor was being emulated in software - I've explained all this in detail in earlier posts.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:17 PM   #2026
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Not entirely. As you yourself said, you can replace a subsystem with a black box where the real inputs going into it and coming out of it are identical to the physical system you want to replace; and there are certainly neural circuits at the lower levels (e.g. on the order of neural columns), whose well-defined contribution could be replaced by a component that isn't based on neuron emulation.
Well, you're right, and I'm not gonna argue with the fellows trying to build it either.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:19 PM   #2027
yy2bggggs
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Already have.

It's like when I bring my 3 dogs over to your yard and let them loose with your 2 dogs.
This is incomplete. Which of the following is real addition?
  • When you bring your 3 dogs over to my yard and let them loose with my 2 dogs, and there winds up being 5 dogs?
  • When your dogs enter my yard?
  • The relationship between the quantity of your dogs and the quantity of my dogs with the quantity of the dogs combined?
  • All of these? Some of them? Something else?

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Certain instances of changes in the number of a group can be described as addition. That's real addition.
I think this is a bunch of hoopla. The fact that your bringing three dogs into my yard when I have two there results in five dogs is addition. Anything which correctly describes that your three dogs plus my two dogs winds up having five dogs describes the same exact situation. It's the same extension.
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Like everything else we know of in this world, it can be represented symbolically, in any number of ways.
So what makes one the "real representation" and the others not?
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:28 PM   #2028
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Originally Posted by piggy
what he's trying to explain to belz is simply that if there were any conscious entity generated by the activity of the simulating machine, it would live in the same world we do, not in some other world... It might just have a different sort of experience of that world.

But one thing's for sure... If the behavior of a machine caused any incidence of conscious awareness, and that machine were also running some sort of simulation of another world, the world that its behavior is intended to simulate would not be the world that the conscious entity would be aware of.

It cannot be, since there's no information in the system that could possibly identify such a world out of the infinite variety of possible worlds that could be described by associating symbolic values to its state changes.

And even if there were, there is no mechanism for making that imaginary world into the world where the conscious entity exists.
ok; let's suppose this conscious entity has been developed and brought to conscious awareness of our world through a link to humanoid robot with basic movement and senses. The entity experiences the real world through the senses of this robot.
I have to stop you here.

First of all, we're going to dispense with the robot, simply because the word "robot" has a lot of unnecessary baggage which (I can promise you) would hinder discussion.

So let's just call that thing a "machine".

Quote:
Let's suppose this conscious entity has been developed and brought to conscious awareness of our world through a link to a machine with basic movement and senses. The entity experiences the real world through the senses of this machine.
OK, we've solved one problem, but there are others.

The largest of these is that you propose the existence of a "conscious entity" that has been "brought to conscious awareness of our world" by some sort of "link" with a machine.

So you've just whipped this "conscious entity" up out of even less than thin air (no energy or mass appear to be involved) and then procede to make it aware of "our world"... at which point you also invent "its world" necessarily by contrast... by means of an unspecified "link" with a machine of nondescript construction.

This is just the first of the problems.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:40 PM   #2029
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Electrical pulses are physical calculations. Anything that changes state according to the laws of physics is a physical calculation, because those laws are the rules, the universe provides something which can have a state, and time requires (or is) the changing of those states. Which makes the physical universe a computer.
OK, I see what you're saying, but calling every event in the universe a calculation is a hopeless obfuscation in this context. I'm not going to play that game.

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A black box replacement for visual cortex is a trickier proposition than it might seem at first.
I chose it for it's complexity

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If that black box is to accept the same inputs, which is to say the same physical computations... and note that we cannot snap our fingers here and substitute logical computations... and emit the same physical computations as outputs... and if this is to be done in a densely tangled mesh of finely interconnected neural tissue that's warped into all kinds of shapes that we know have tremendous impacts on the brain's behavior if disrupted (not to mention the almost entirely unknown role of brainwide electrical waves)... well, it becomes difficult to see what you might put into that box if not the cortex itself.
Well that's why it's a thought experiment - we don't have to worry about all the practical difficulties. But just for fun, the box doesn't have sit inside the skull - it can be arbitrarily large - and it can be connected via fine probes. The signals between neurons are very slow compared to electrical currents in wires.

So, assuming the practicalities could be overcome, do you think it would integrate with functional transparency? Would the patient see with the black box installed?

If so, how much brain functionality do you think could be replaced with black boxes in a similar way? What about extending the scope of the original black box to replace more of the brain?

What about replacing the whole brain with a black box that takes sensory input and outputs motor activities just like you or me?

I've rushed ahead here - I'm curious to know where the line should be drawn. If we can replace whole subsystems with black boxes that, for the same inputs, give the same outputs as the biological subsystems, how much can we replace without 'breaking' consciousness?

My bet is that only a limited number of subsystems could be replaced that way.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:46 PM   #2030
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
That is, again, and unsurprisingly, irrelevant.

The "real" laws of physics may not change, but as far as the simulated entity can ever perceive, its laws of physics are different and, from its point of view, they constitude its reality. Of course the "real" world doesn't change, but why would you mention that in the first place, unless you completely fail to understand what I'm talking about ?
What I am denying is that the situation is any different for any (conscious) entity. There's the world as perceived, and reality. I'm saying that the situation is no different for the entity in the computer. The distinction between the artificial consciousness and the human being is of degree, not kind.

I still don't know if you agree or disagree with this. It might be a useful fiction to refer to the "virtual world" in which the artificial consciousness lives, but it is just a fiction. There are people proposing that the virtual world has an existence of its own. I don't accept this.
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Old 28th February 2012, 06:57 PM   #2031
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
First of all, the number of possibly simulated systems must be infinite, because every combination of particles could be simulating at least one complete system, and an infinite number of larger but incompletely represented systems.
It may be a finite number, due to quantisation, but if so, it's such an enormously big number that it might as well be infinite.

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And your use of "computational system" here is what's getting you into trouble.

You aren't distinguishing between physical and symbolic computations, which at this stage of the conversation is necessary. (Well, it always is, really, but especially now.)
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Old 28th February 2012, 07:39 PM   #2032
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
If you prefer discussing fantasy, there's another section for that.

Now I understand why you feature a giant flaming not so friendly looking thing in your avatar.
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Old 28th February 2012, 07:41 PM   #2033
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Piggy, you never responded to this post of mine.
Sorry, I don't know why I didn't see it....

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
I would like you to explain how in I(O) I(A) causes I(B) without in S(O) S(A) causes S(B). That is, how can an information overlay contribute to causality?

My point is that in all cases it IS actual machine parts that are involved in the causal sequence, even if a given observer needs an informational overlay to see it.

But yes, I am speaking about the machine parts. The transistors of the computer.
I'm not claiming that an informational overlay contributes to causality.

I'm observing that it doesn't.

If it did, it would muck things up. It's possible to do that, you know. If the parts (for instance, research subjects) do incorporate the informational overlay (for example, come to find out exactly what's being measured) then you've introduced such a causality, and it can complicate things to the point of having to scrap it all.

I agree with you that O(A)->O(B) in both systems, or else it's not a simulation.

But it's important to keep in mind that we're talking about discreet systems, one of which might be purely imaginary to begin with (if you're simulating a fantasy world, for instance) or in other words a state of someone's brain.

We can think of these two systems as a pair of identical twins, Pete and Repeat, and Repeat has been trained to behave exactly like Pete, even when they're apart.

As long as Pete doesn't go through anything that changes the way he acts, we'll be able to look at Repeat and know what Pete is doing.

But let's take a look at that claim.

On the surface, it seems like we're claiming a real connection between Pete and Repeat. But this doesn't exist. Pete and Repeat are each behaving according to their own physics, they've just been set off into similar patterns.

The real connection is in my brain, which knows that Repeat and Pete are behaving in sync in one of many possible ways, and that therefore I can look at Repeat and know something about Pete.

And I do mean real. It exists as a physical shape in my brain.

In fact, this is what enables me to look at Pete and Repeat and conclude that something's gone wrong with Repeat's behavior.

But without that bit of knowledge that can only exist in the brain of the programmer and user -- which is to say, the knowledge that Repeat is supposed to act like Pete, and not the other way around, or that it's all just a freakish coincidence, or that they're both acting like someone else -- then the similarities between certain aspects of these 2 systems isn't anything but that.

This is why Repeat (or anything else) can only be an information processor if used as one, not by virtue of physical design. "Info processor" is an imaginary rather than real class of object, which means it's one if people intend it to be one or use it as one.

So we're right back to the brain of the programmer and user. That's the only location of the connection between the two systems which makes one a simulation of the other.

Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
So now answer this:

If there is a simulation of a neural network running on a computer, and in the real neural network a neuron fires due to the integration of signals from other neurons, is there not an isomorphic causal sequence that takes place in the transistors of the computer? And isn't that causal sequence in the transistors of the computer just as "real" as the corresponding sequence in the actual neural network? Meaning, isn't something like "voltage from transistor X caused transistor Y to switch" just as "real" as whatever happens in the neural network?
Yeah, the voltage changes are as real as the neural firings.

But the similarity between these changes is only significant if you know that one is supposed to symbolize the other.

That's so important, it bears repeating:

The similarity between these changes is only significant if you know that one is supposed to symbolize the other.

And because the symbolic changes, which is to say the logical computations or "information processing", depend on this understanding of the similarity, it makes no sense to talk of info processing (in this sense) or logical computations without an observer.

It only makes sense to talk of physical computations without an observer.

And it only makes sense to talk of logical computations as imaginary (which is to say, changes in brain states).
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Old 28th February 2012, 07:51 PM   #2034
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Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arithmetic_logic_unit

The digital logic that occurs when performing an arithmetic operation on two bitfields is very specific -- it is a dedicated portion of the hardware. Not only is the ALU different from the rest of the hardware, but the portions of the ALU responsible for different arithmetic operations are themselves very distinct.

Any intelligent entity can look at the way the gates are set up and see that they correspond to specific arithmetic operations -- addition, multiplication, and division.

Arithmetic isn't some "generalized" computation that happens in a "generalized" computer part.
So you agree with me that the correspondence must exist in the mind of an observer.

Thank you.
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Old 28th February 2012, 07:54 PM   #2035
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
The "real" laws of physics may not change, but as far as the simulated entity can ever perceive, its laws of physics are different and, from its point of view, they constitude its reality.
Stop!

At this point you have already assumed that there is a simulated entity which has perceptions and a point of view on reality.

But the entire point of this conversation is to determine if any such thing could exist.

You can't argue that something could exist by assuming it exists and asking what the world looks like from its eyes.
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Old 28th February 2012, 08:04 PM   #2036
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
I meant that a physical neuron or neural processor was being emulated in software - I've explained all this in detail in earlier posts.
The details don't matter.

If you're replacing a physical neuron, you need to replace it with something that has a real (physical) output that performs the same work as the physical output of the original physical system.

Note that I don't refer to logic here, but work. Logic alone gets you squat. Logic applied to the wrong materials, or in the wrong way, gets you something, but not what you want.

The problem with emulating a physical neuron in software is that your software emulation is useless... that is, unless the physical apparatus running it can also take the physical input of a neuron and convert it into the physical functional equivalent of the output of a neuron, which is to say, the kind of physical output the next neuron will accept.

And if it can do that, it doesn't matter whether or not it also bothers to run a simulation of the neuron or anything else. It can skip that step.
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Old 28th February 2012, 08:11 PM   #2037
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For anyone who thinks logic is going to replace physical work, try to logic your way through your front door instead of using your key.

No kidding, not being metaphorical, try it. Seriously, try to replace real work with logic alone.

I guarantee you the only solution you come up with to replace that key is going to involve some real work.

Not a representation of that work expressed via another medium, but the actual work itself.

Perhaps a representation of the work will open a representation of the door for a representation of you in the world of the representation.

But if that happy world exists, it still will not have opened the door for you.
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Old 28th February 2012, 08:14 PM   #2038
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
OK, I see what you're saying, but calling every event in the universe a calculation is a hopeless obfuscation in this context. I'm not going to play that game.
This is not a game.

Some of the core problems here arise precisely from conflating the physical computations with the symbolic ones.

I'm not bringing this up to try to create a smoke screen.

I'm bringing it up because staying clear on the difference between these two meanings is absolutely crucial to not making errors in logic about all this.
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Old 28th February 2012, 08:17 PM   #2039
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
Well that's why it's a thought experiment - we don't have to worry about all the practical difficulties.
No, I'm sorry, but that's not correct.

If you conduct a thought experiment about a ladder, the ladder shouldn't be covered with scales and eating bugs in a lake somewhere.

These things which you call "practical difficulties" are real features of the system which are known by direct observation and experiment to affect the behavior of the system.

You don't just get to ignore them.
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Old 28th February 2012, 08:19 PM   #2040
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Originally Posted by dlorde View Post
What about replacing the whole brain with a black box that takes sensory input and outputs motor activities just like you or me?
Uh huh.

And what about replacing my whole truck with something else that does exactly what my truck does?
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