0xBADFEED wrote:Just so we're clear, when I say "other-worldly" I mean something in the realm of the supernatural. That is, something that is not bound by physical law.
I don't like involving physical law in this definition because it introduces a lot of additional complications.
It brings into play question like:
- Do you see math as emerging from physics or physics as emerging from math?
- Will our physical model of the universe ever be a true representation of the universe?
- To what extent do ideas/intelligence physically exist?
- What is reality? An entity's experience of the physical world, the physical world, or maybe something else (the matrix)? (And how can it be verified?)
- If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it does it make a sound?
I think they are interesting things to contemplate but might be getting off topic as far as conciousness is concerned.
Anyways, since you believe that human reasoning has a physical basis, wouldn't you say that not being bound by physical law implies being outside the realm of human reasoning? If so, demonstrating qualia are within the realm of human reasoning is the same as demonstrating they are bound by physical law.
And besides that I don't think physical law is going to be a very helpful tool in examining the emergent behaviour of such a complicated physical system as the human brain. To me, that seems like trying to understand a computer program by reading its binary and looking at a spec for the CPU it was compiled for.
0xBADFEED wrote:I don't really subscribe to the idea of "qualia", or at least the part of the idea that points towards a supernatural definition of the mind. That something like the "feeling" of "redness" or "burning" cannot be suitably conveyed from one person to another doesn't suggest to me any supernatural basis for "feelings". It only suggests that our rather primitive methods of communication are insufficient to describe them.
The idea of communicating different qualia is intriguing. Although I'm not convinced it is possible.
One of Daniel Dennet's four properties of qualia suggest that they are...
ineffable; that is, they cannot be communicated, or apprehended by any other means than direct experience.
I'm not convinced that qualia cannot be communicated either, but you seem to have adopted an ideology that science will eventually conquer all which is why I think you should take notice of the explanatory gap argument. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explanatory_gap
This Joseph Levine quote taken from it I think is particularly of interest:
The explanatory gap argument doesn't demonstrate a gap in nature, but a gap in our understanding of nature. Of course a plausible explanation for there being a gap in our understanding of nature is that there is a genuine gap in nature. But so long as we have countervailing reasons for doubting the latter, we have to look elsewhere for an explanation of the former.
I think one of the most intriguing questions here is this: If there is a "gap in nature," how is it possible to know that the gap exists?
Certainly, if enough time passes where we make our best efforts to determine something and fail, we will have good reason to suspect a gap is there, but to prove it is not possible in some cases (see the halting problem).
If you wish to claim that qualia are communicable, then I think you should at least explore what it would entail.
For your consideration, I have prepared the following questions about communicating qualia:
- Are qualia not implementation specific? (So to elaborate, can a man send/recieve qualia with a goat?)
- When communicating qualie will it be possible to differentiate one's own qualia from someone else's?
- Through what medium will qualia be communicated? (Will there need to be some kind of direct connection between minds?)
Also, this is a little bit nit-picky, but I was bothered by your use of the word primitive.
Primitive is at best a comparative measurement, and at worst a highly biased and subjective one.
What could our methods of communication be primitive with respect to beside hypothetical communication methods of the future?
0xBADFEED wrote:Imagine we had an AI that displayed C-Abilities equal to that of humans. We'll assume somewhere in the depths of its programming the AI software has some kind of internal ability to detect buffer overflows, and that the perception percolates up to the higher level such that it is aware of them. I imagine it would be analogous to a human pricking his finger.
What if you were to ask it "What does a buffer overflow 'feel' like?"
As hammerkrieg pointed out, an AI having any sensical experience of a buffer overflow is unlikely. It would be like the AI equivalent of a seizure.
So, for simplicity sake lets just say the question is "What is quale X like?"
These are the possible outcomes I can think of:
The computer does not experience qualia and...
- The computer says it does not experience qualia.
- The computer lies and says it does experience qualia but can not articulate them.
The computer does experience qualia and...
- The computer lies and says it does not experience qualia.
- The computer says it does experience qualia but can not articulate them.
- The computer successfully explains what the designated qualia feels like.
0xBADFEED wrote:Would the AI's inability to communicate or fully explain this "feeling" indicate that there is something supernatural about buffer overflows or the AI's ability to detect them?
This question only seems to addresses one of the aforementioned outcomes: The computer does experience qualia and says it experiences them but can not articulate them. And the answer is a definite maybe.
In that case either the computer is specifically programmed to experience qualia (which indicates an understanding of qualia by its programmer, and thus that they are within the realm of human reasoning), or qualia have emerged on their own somehow (which indicates good chance of them being outside of human reasoning). As far as qualia emerging on their own I see two important cases:
- Qualia emerging as a by-product of some kind of programming. (for example, the computer being programmed to pretend it experiences qualia and through pretending actually experiencing qualia.)
- Everything experiencing qualia, and the articulation of them being irrelevant to the concious experience of them.