Gaydar2000SE wrote:Hmm, not per se a choice. But that the intelligence has an 'awareness' of what it is doing. A perspective, instead of being a machine which can do complex tasks simply because the laws of physics force it to do those. A conscious machine also has a sense of introspection and experience about those tasks and realizes that it is doing them, regardless of there being a choice or deterministically bounded by physical laws.
OK, so if I'm following you correctly, you require that something that is conscious has an interior perspective, a sense of 'I'. Basically what people usually refer to as being "self-aware". I don't consider this anything special. Self-awareness arises naturally from external awareness once external awareness becomes sufficiently rich. I restate my requirements for consciousness as the following:
Something is "conscious" if it exhibits the following abilities (I'll call these C-Abilities from now on for brevity):
* It can perceive its environment
* It can make decisions based on its perceptions (whether by "free will" or by programming)
* Remember cause and effect relationships based on the perception->decision (i.e. learn)
* Abstract these relationships to create general propositions about its environment
* Maintain an internal model to predict future cause and effect relationships
All of these can be readily observed by an outsider and require no sharing of an internal perspective. Self-awareness emerges from these C-Abilities quite naturally. For an entity possessing these C-Abilities the entity itself is the only constant amid all of its numerous experiences. Naturally, the entity will form many propositions and relationships which center on itself. The aggregation of all of these relationships and propositions is the entity's sense of "self".
Further, I don't think consciousness is an all-or-nothing proposition as you seem to think. I would say that a chimp is conscious. It is conscious to a lesser degree than a human because its C-Abilities are much less developed. Likewise a chimp is much more conscious than say a goldfish.
The crux of your argument seems to be that "If we have something that seems to exhibit all of these C-Abilities, how do we know it has a sense of 'self'?" How do we know it is "really" conscious and not a mere automaton acting like it is conscious. How do we prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not just following a program that just happens to always give the appearance of having C-Abilities?
Strictly speaking (according to your definition), we can't.
We can't "prove" that something is or isn't conscious. Is this the point you're trying to make?
However, there is no evidence that other humans have a non-self-aware interior experience, and believing that they do is simply misplaced skepticism. Absence of proof has no bearing on a proposition's likelihood of truth or falsehood. Even if something is unproven, we can make conjectures about its likelihood. For instance most Computer Scientists believe that P != NP, and it's a good working assumption even though it's unproven. I can't prove that there aren't argon-breathing unicorns on Jupiter. That says nothing about the likelihood of their existence.
According to our understanding of how our brains work as a swarm intelligence of neurons, individual neurons shouldn't have an 'awareness' of what exactly it is doing, and how a swarm intelligence grouped together of them some how has it as a unitary vehicle is even more defying the current laws of electricity and quantum chemistry that physics has to offer.
I have never heard anyone of note claim our brains break the laws of physics or chemistry. Citation please.
Most people don't think that our brains work as a "swarm intelligence". "Swarm intelligence" implies a measure of variety and randomness that our neurons just don't have. No more than the billions of transistors in a CPU constitute a "swarm intelligence". Each transistor is nothing but a mechanism. Properly arranged, a system emerges that exhibits higher-level properties not present in any of the component parts. This is analogous to how many people think the C-Abilities arise from the lower level of neurons and is usually referred to under the umbrella term of an epiphenomenon
Gaydar2000SE wrote:The difference is that 'I believe I am concious' is not an empirically testable fact ,it is in fact a vague construct having no meaning in science. However 'I say that I am conscious' is indeed empirically testable as true or false. Your argument is the same as:
A stone believes he is conscious
All stones are.
Of course, then you're going to say, 'Well, but stones don't believe that.', and then I'll say 'And neither do you.', it cannot be proven that you believe you are, only that you say you are.
Please tell me, how does your saying a stone is not concious is any more valid than my saying you are not, likewise?
Ultimately, of you saying 'I am concious because I feel it.' is as arbitrary as me saying 'A piece of paper is concious, because it feels it.', one must prove either to feel it, some thing that can hardly be done.
If a stone could exhibit C-Abilities and indeed claim that it was conscious, I would happily accept it as such. At that point the burden is now on me to present some sort of evidence that it is not conscious. Lacking evidence to dispute the claim, I would have to at least accept it as very likely. Or at the very least remain agnostic (but that's a thoroughly boring position).
You seem to think that the claimer and the doubter are on equal footing. They are not.
Consider Fred who, to an outside observer, exhibits C-Abilities equal to that of a normal human.
If Fred makes the claim "I am conscious" the doubter says "prove it". But Fred's mere appearance to possess C-Abilities is already a mountain of evidence in his defense. If someone wishes to doubt Fred's consciousness they had better have some evidence to the contrary. Doubting Fred's claim of consciousness without evidence to the contrary is foolish. The doubter's skepticism is baseless. If you want to be skeptical about something you also need a basis for your skepticism. Absence of an air-tight proof is not sufficient impetus for skepticism in the face of copious evidence to the contrary.
Gaydar2000SE wrote:There is no overwhelming evidence, far from, there is only humans continually claiming that they can feel and have emotions and senses and perception, but that's it. And that can easily be explained by that evolution has shaped them to claim that, because other, likewise evolved humans, then do things they want. All other physical theories strongly indicate it's implausible for a human central nervous system to have any sense of 'perception' or 'feeling' or 'emotion'.
Sure, if you think "feelings" or "emotions" are something magical or other-worldly. I don't. They're just specific patterns of firing neurons that elicit a particular response. That doesn't mean they aren't being perceived by the being "experiencing" the patterns of firing neurons.
hammerkrieg wrote:Alright, so, if the thermostat has beliefs corresponding to its changes of state, what else does?
I reject the notion that the thermostat has any level of consciousness or beliefs. It does not exhibit C-Abilities to the extent that I require for even weak "consciousness". Further, subatomic particles are right out as they don't even meet the bare minimum of the ability to perceive their environment.