A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

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A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:01 pm UTC


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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:50 am UTC

This is like, mostly arguments from personal incredulity, and it's a little hard to follow in places without knowing what this Terasem thing is. I admit I was kinda hoping that reading it would explain a bit of their ideology instead of spending most of the time indirectly describing yours.

This is a contradiction you might want to think through a bit.

(and absurdly, in the movie 2b, a storage device containing the “mindfile” of a major character is treated as if it has personhood, and in the same sense as the character himself)


In practice, the soul is whatever it is that people think is important about themselves, even when it isn’t real, isn’t yet actual, or can’t ever be actualized.


Software is not a soul.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:23 pm UTC

They don't have a coherent ideology. I suppose you would need to be philosophically literate to understand why these are not arguments from personal incredulity.

It's not a contradiction, it's a context sensitive treatment of an equivocation in the use of the word "soul"

The first quote is about pershonhood, not the soul. The soul =/= personhood.

The latter two can be disentangled/clarified like this:

1. In practice, the soul in this sense (the sense of its pragmatic implications)...

2. Software is not a soul, in the sense of an essential property that...

Maybe I will edit the post for clarity, but probably not.

Edit: You are right on one count though, which is that people could think of software that replicates them without actually being conscious as an extension of their soul: and in fact this is what Terasem does! But I argue that this is silly and ridiculous and based on misunderstanding, so...

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Xanthir » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:16 am UTC

Nah, a good part of this is definitely arguments from incredulity. You don't believe that consciousness can be embodied in "unlikely" mediums (repeatedly calling the idea "patently absurd"), like a Turing machine. Several of your later "refutations" hinge on this basic incredulity (such as "Sophistry over continuity of consciousness"). This incredulity is, of course, baseless; Searls is a dumbass and his Chinese Room is indeed conscious in the very way he's attempting to argue against.

Also
I suppose you would need to be philosophically literate to understand why these are not arguments from personal incredulity.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:52 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:Nah, a good part of this is definitely arguments from incredulity. You don't believe that consciousness can be embodied in "unlikely" mediums (repeatedly calling the idea "patently absurd"), like a Turing machine.


I don't make this argument.

Several of your later "refutations" hinge on this basic incredulity (such as "Sophistry over continuity of consciousness"). This incredulity is, of course, baseless; Searls is a dumbass and his Chinese Room is indeed conscious in the very way he's attempting to argue against.


How?

A control+f for "patently absurd" reveals zero results. Zero is not a repeating number. Perhaps reading carefully would help (this seems to be a recurring problem with you?)

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:30 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Xanthir wrote:Nah, a good part of this is definitely arguments from incredulity. You don't believe that consciousness can be embodied in "unlikely" mediums (repeatedly calling the idea "patently absurd"), like a Turing machine.


I don't make this argument.

Several of your later "refutations" hinge on this basic incredulity (such as "Sophistry over continuity of consciousness"). This incredulity is, of course, baseless; Searls is a dumbass and his Chinese Room is indeed conscious in the very way he's attempting to argue against.


How?

A control+f for "patently absurd" reveals zero results. Zero is not a repeating number. Perhaps reading carefully would help (this seems to be a recurring problem with you?)


Does your defense of your reasonableness, or you have not made the argument, hinge on having chosen "plainly absurd" rather than "patently?"
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Xanthir » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:33 pm UTC

ahahahaha
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:50 pm UTC

doogly wrote:
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Xanthir wrote:Nah, a good part of this is definitely arguments from incredulity. You don't believe that consciousness can be embodied in "unlikely" mediums (repeatedly calling the idea "patently absurd"), like a Turing machine.


I don't make this argument.

Several of your later "refutations" hinge on this basic incredulity (such as "Sophistry over continuity of consciousness"). This incredulity is, of course, baseless; Searls is a dumbass and his Chinese Room is indeed conscious in the very way he's attempting to argue against.


How?

A control+f for "patently absurd" reveals zero results. Zero is not a repeating number. Perhaps reading carefully would help (this seems to be a recurring problem with you?)


Does your defense of your reasonableness, or you have not made the argument, hinge on having chosen "plainly absurd" rather than "patently?"


A control+f for "plainly absurd" gives one result. The context is

If a cortex can be constructed as a turing machine, then it can be constructed in various ways. Not just in the sense of a modern, electrical computer, but also in terms of a water based computer, or even potentially a large collection of abacuses. It could even be some god-awful Rube Goldberg contraption involving all of these elements, in addition to smoke signals, pigeon carriers, and american sign language exchanges between trained chimps. If it is enough that the structure of the cortex is encoded in these operations, then consciousness should be present in some sense in all of them, but that seems plainly absurd.


Bolding added for emphasis. I don't see what's wrong with this, and I certainly don't see how it constitutes mere personal incredulity. At any rate, since some sort of argument would be necessary to prove that such a machine is conscious, it seems like the burden of proof rests on the person arguing that position, rather than the incredulous person, even in the case that the incredulity is somehow merely "personal" and not in accordance with philosophy.

Other places where the base term "absurd" appears:

Terasem elsewhere seem to advocate the position that what matters to consciousness is just information, and make little explicit distinction between whether they mean this statically or in its sequential operations. But this is unhelpful as well. If they mean statically, then it is hard to see why a book, for instance, isn’t afforded the same moral status as a human being (and absurdly, in the movie 2b, a storage device containing the “mindfile” of a major character is treated as if it has personhood, and in the same sense as the character himself).


Bolding again added for emphasis. This is not personal incredulity either, it just reflects the reasonable belief that consciousness must involve a process in some way; that it isn't merely a substance sans process.

But Terasem seem to think that just replicating the structure, input, output, and data of a human mind in silicon would be enough to create consciousness. This is potentially absurd, and raises other questions:


This is the weakest example, since it only says that absurdity might appear in contemplating this matter depending on premises, which seems entirely incontestable to the point I'm not even sure an argument can be had about it. At any rate, since it immediately segues into a discussion of the questions raised by it instead of resting on the potential for absurdity as a final argument of any sort... honestly, why am I even arguing with you? This is either not in good faith or pathetically incompetent.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:28 pm UTC

Yeah I feel like it is absurd to suggest that there is something magic about the wet carbon in your brain that contributes to consciousness in a way that the exact same processing executing in silicon or abacus would lack. I don't think it would be terribly likely to get the same processes executed in abacus or carrier pigeon, sure, but not because neurons have magic. If you believe you are more special than a turing machine, I can't see why.

As to why you are arguing, it is difficult to speculate. You did create the thread, but it was just with a link. Is there something specific you are trying to achieve?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Xanthir » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:36 pm UTC

Yeah, ultimately, posts that are just links to something else, with no commentary or discussion, are more or less verboten here. At minimum, they're considered quite rude. Like, thanks for letting us know, cool, but this board isn't an RSS reader; if we care about updates to your blog we'll follow it on our own.

But also, still lol. Like, arguing that a mindfile being afforded roughly equal moral status to a person means that a *book* (comprising a few MB of information at most, and not organized in a way remotely like a mind) should also be considered to have personhood? Jeezus.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:45 pm UTC

I don't argue that a Turing machine can't be conscious. I argue that specific types of Turing machines are unlikely to be conscious. This has nothing to do with Magick, but with lack of continuity of process over substrate. Now, from a panpsychist perspective there may still be consciousness in such machines, and to the extent there is any continuity of process over substrate this may be functionally and definitionally equivalent to thinking, phenomenologically, in the case of turing machine calculations. Nor does the substrate need to remain the same substrate. But I don't see how there can be continuity of consciousness in highly discretized processes in a system.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:51 pm UTC

Xanthir wrote:Yeah, ultimately, posts that are just links to something else, with no commentary or discussion, are more or less verboten here. At minimum, they're considered quite rude. Like, thanks for letting us know, cool, but this board isn't an RSS reader; if we care about updates to your blog we'll follow it on our own.

But also, still lol. Like, arguing that a mindfile being afforded roughly equal moral status to a person means that a *book* (comprising a few MB of information at most, and not organized in a way remotely like a mind) should also be considered to have personhood? Jeezus.

Bigness => Personhood. Got it. Also lol at introducing data organizational significance after claiming structural organization is all that matters.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:14 pm UTC

I want to note that I do not even advance Searle's distinction between semantic and syntactic operations. I just hold that some difference exists between different types of Turing machines such that not all of them can support continuity of consciousness.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:18 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Xanthir wrote:Yeah, ultimately, posts that are just links to something else, with no commentary or discussion, are more or less verboten here. At minimum, they're considered quite rude. Like, thanks for letting us know, cool, but this board isn't an RSS reader; if we care about updates to your blog we'll follow it on our own.

But also, still lol. Like, arguing that a mindfile being afforded roughly equal moral status to a person means that a *book* (comprising a few MB of information at most, and not organized in a way remotely like a mind) should also be considered to have personhood? Jeezus.

Bigness => Personhood. Got it. Also lol at introducing data organizational significance after claiming structural organization is all that matters.
The point is that organization is important.

And no one said bigness implies personhood. More like the opposite: personhood implies bigness. If something is a person, we can expect it to have a lot more information than a book. That doesn't mean we expect a collection of many books to suddenly become conscious or whatever.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:19 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:I don't argue that a Turing machine can't be conscious. I argue that specific types of Turing machines are unlikely to be conscious.

That is even weirder.

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote: But I don't see how there can be continuity of consciousness in highly discretized processes in a system.

I don't see how that matters for anything. Are you trying to do calculus to it?


But also, to what extent is this fictional science? Did you want to talk about consciousness in SB? Are there going to be laser swords soon? Is the 'continuity of consciousness' thing going to segue into Star Trek transporter malfunction fanfic?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:21 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Xanthir wrote:Yeah, ultimately, posts that are just links to something else, with no commentary or discussion, are more or less verboten here. At minimum, they're considered quite rude. Like, thanks for letting us know, cool, but this board isn't an RSS reader; if we care about updates to your blog we'll follow it on our own.

But also, still lol. Like, arguing that a mindfile being afforded roughly equal moral status to a person means that a *book* (comprising a few MB of information at most, and not organized in a way remotely like a mind) should also be considered to have personhood? Jeezus.

Bigness => Personhood. Got it. Also lol at introducing data organizational significance after claiming structural organization is all that matters.
The point is that organization is important.

And no one said bigness implies personhood. More like the opposite: personhood implies bigness. If something is a person, we can expect it to have a lot more information than a book. That doesn't mean we expect a collection of many books to suddenly become conscious or whatever.

A file is still not a person. It doesn't have agency. It plainly by itself lacks consciousness unless and until something acts on it. It is inert.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:22 pm UTC

Have you tried plugging it in?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:27 pm UTC

doogly wrote:I don't see how that matters for anything. Are you trying to do calculus to it?


Human and animal consciousness is continuous. It seems reasonable to think that if it corresponds exactly to material processes, these processes must also be continuous; at least, to the same extent and in the same way as human and animal consciousness are.


But also, to what extent is this fictional science? Did you want to talk about consciousness in SB? Are there going to be laser swords soon? Is the 'continuity of consciousness' thing going to segue into Star Trek transporter malfunction fanfic?

It's speculative and rooted in personal and highly motivated reasoning on all sides. That seems sufficiently fictional, in the sense that it is more about narrative than the scientific or philosophical arguments instrumentally and incidently invoked.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:28 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Have you tried plugging it in?

Right, but then something is acting on it.......................................................................................................

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:31 pm UTC

Oh so this is like a game where you are defining what a soul could be like? I totally dig this kind of game.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:34 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Oh so this is like a game where you are defining what a soul could be like? I totally dig this kind of game.

Game, yes. But not in the sense of a children's amusement. More like war game, or language game, or game theory

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby SuicideJunkie » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:37 pm UTC

If it is enough that the structure of the cortex is encoded in these operations, then consciousness should be present in some sense in all of them, but that seems plainly absurd.
That sounds like personal incredulousness being passed off as a trivial conclusion of absurdity.
I don't see what's so absurd about that, and I'm pretty sure a fair number of other people don't either.
Quantum mechanics is weirder than the concept of emergent properties.

But also, still lol. Like, arguing that a mindfile being afforded roughly equal moral status to a person means that a *book* (comprising a few MB of information at most, and not organized in a way remotely like a mind) should also be considered to have personhood? Jeezus.

Bigness => Personhood. Got it.
A typical tome that might be on your shelf at the moment, assuming it contains info on the relevant subject, would not be big enough for a person. It may be large enough to hold a fruit fly's info, but they aren't considered people. There is certainly a fuzzy minimum size bound on holding a person.
And if the book doesn't even try to contain such info, being for example an atlas from 1952, then it definitely doesn't hold a person. Certainly not any more than a collection of mom's milk is a share of a baby.

Given that the mindfile is morally a person, the library of enormous tomes (or the USB drive, or whatever storage medium) is basically their brain in stasis. Burning the library would be equivalent to shooting them in the head while they're in a temporary coma.

I argue that specific types of Turing machines are unlikely to be conscious. ... But I don't see how there can be continuity of consciousness in highly discretized processes in a system.
Have you considered that from the inside, there will be continuity of consciousness? When the machine is paused or between steps, time isn't passing for the mind. They may observe that clocks and sundials seem to run faster and slower at different points in their life, but that's not important to consciousness.

Even humans report such problems very frequently, on so-called 'long' weekends, and while boiling water for the obvious examples.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:39 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
doogly wrote:Oh so this is like a game where you are defining what a soul could be like? I totally dig this kind of game.

Game, yes. But not in the sense of a children's amusement. More like war game, or language game, or game theory

Right, big kid amusement.

So then if your blog post is jumping in and playing the game, can we first declare the rules?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:43 pm UTC

Will respond this afternoon.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:47 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:They don't have a coherent ideology. I suppose you would need to be philosophically literate to understand why these are not arguments from personal incredulity.

Lawl

Edit: You are right on one count though, which is that people could think of software that replicates them without actually being conscious as an extension of their soul: and in fact this is what Terasem does! But I argue that this is silly and ridiculous and based on misunderstanding, so...

You don't argue it, you claim it as fact without evidence. Based on your personal incredulity.

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
doogly wrote:Have you tried plugging it in?
Right, but then something is acting on it.

So a book has no value unless it's actively being read and we're free to burn them all.

Edit: Like, does it simply not occur to you that the thing we consider the value of a person may consist of more than one theoretically separable quality that simply can't be separated in practice in the scope of present human experience? That it isn't some irreducible kernel of absolute personhood?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:25 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Human and animal consciousness is continuous.

No. Human consciousness seems continuous from the inside.

But we already know tons about all kinds of other illusions your mind creates about your experience, such as the illusion that you don't have a blind spot or the illusion that your whole field of view is high resolution and just as colorful as it is at the center of your field of view, or the illusion that things in the world happen when you consciously perceive them happening, rather than a chunk of a second ahead of that.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:14 am UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:That sounds like personal incredulousness being passed off as a trivial conclusion of absurdity.

I don't care what it sounds like, I care what it is. What it is, is an argument for the necessity of continuity of operations over substrate for continuity of consciousness to exist, via phenomenology.

SuicideJunkie wrote:I don't see what's so absurd about that, and I'm pretty sure a fair number of other people don't either.

There are also a fair number of people who don't see what's so absurd about flat earth theory.

SuicideJunkie wrote:Quantum mechanics is weirder than the concept of emergent properties.

I don't really use the concept of emergent properties, and the weirdness of quantum mechanics hardly seems sufficient for your argument.

Given that the mindfile is morally a person, the library of enormous tomes (or the USB drive, or whatever storage medium) is basically their brain in stasis. Burning the library would be equivalent to shooting them in the head while they're in a temporary coma.

It's not morally a person. It's data. It may have moral significance, but it's not morally equivalent to a person.

But let's break down the possibilities of a coma:

1. A person is unconscious, but still in some sense conscious, just in a reduced sense
2. A person is not conscious, their body is just alive in such a way that will eventually heal their brain and reinstantiate their personhood

In the case of 1, the person in a coma is fundamentally unlike a mindfile because a mindfile is not conscious. In the case of 2, there are real similarities, but the comatose body lacks personhood while there is not a mind in it, just as the mindfile lacks personhood. Therefore, whatever moral significance both have is not the moral significance of personhood, but rather more like the moral significance of the potential for personhood as it corresponds to the known wishes or preferences of an entity that is no longer extant.

Have you considered that from the inside, there will be continuity of consciousness? When the machine is paused or between steps, time isn't passing for the mind. They may observe that clocks and sundials seem to run faster and slower at different points in their life, but that's not important to consciousness.

Even humans report such problems very frequently, on so-called 'long' weekends, and while boiling water for the obvious examples.


It's an interesting thought, but there are two complications: first, on a physical level, a digital electrical computer actually often has continuity of operations over substrate to a certain extent:

Image

Note in this picture that digital 0 can be anywhere between true 0v and 0.8/0.4v. In practice, this will tend to mean that 0's in a computer correspond to a positive voltage and there's a continuity in electrical signals to a certain extent, depending on how the logic gates of the circuitboard are configured; there may still be discontinuities over space, but there are at least fewer discontinuities over time than one would imagine if thinking purely in terms of discrete operations.

Secondly, without continuity, there is no time, and therefore no mind. This continuity could itself be time delayed; you could store the states in capacitors, for instance, or the time between successive operations could be quick enough that the voltage in the circuitry just doesn't drop to zero. But mind requires time. This is, again, a phenomenological argument, which I'm not really able to get into in detail because I'm homeless and don't have my books with me, and schizophrenic and thus my memory is fucked and I can't recount it from memory.

doogly wrote:
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
doogly wrote:Oh so this is like a game where you are defining what a soul could be like? I totally dig this kind of game.

Game, yes. But not in the sense of a children's amusement. More like war game, or language game, or game theory

Right, big kid amusement.

So then if your blog post is jumping in and playing the game, can we first declare the rules?


I think the only rules that really matter are good faith. The rest can be defined on the go if that is in place. Defining them ahead of time is liable to exclude too much discussion.

Copper Bezel wrote:You don't argue it, you claim it as fact without evidence. Based on your personal incredulity.


This is gaslighting at this point.

So a book has no value unless it's actively being read and we're free to burn them all.


Value =/= personhood

Edit: Like, does it simply not occur to you that the thing we consider the value of a person may consist of more than one theoretically separable quality that simply can't be separated in practice in the scope of present human experience? That it isn't some irreducible kernel of absolute personhood?


I do consider this, as is evident from my contemplation of the soul. But the value of a person is not the personhood of a person. This part of the discussion was only about the personhood of a person, and the idiocy of trying to append broader concerns about human value to a rigid and well defined concept that has its own, separate meaning.

gmalivuk wrote:
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Human and animal consciousness is continuous.

No. Human consciousness seems continuous from the inside.


To what? If you can credibly articulate a what to which an illusion of time is possible without time, then maybe this would be meaningful.

gmalivuk wrote:But we already know tons about all kinds of other illusions your mind creates about your experience, such as the illusion that you don't have a blind spot or the illusion that your whole field of view is high resolution and just as colorful as it is at the center of your field of view, or the illusion that things in the world happen when you consciously perceive them happening, rather than a chunk of a second ahead of that.

The mind is at least as reasonable as it is unreasonable, and at any rate you can make no inductive inference based on a handful of examples of popular, subversive scientific discoveries.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:59 am UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:But the value of a person is not the personhood of a person. This part of the discussion was only about the personhood of a person, and the idiocy of trying to append broader concerns about human value to a rigid and well defined concept that has its own, separate meaning.

I don't know how "personhood" is in any way a useful concept in the way that you're choosing to define it. But you're also apparently not saying at all what I took you to be saying so I don't whatever. Likewise "soul" - I don't see the utility of redefining it to mean "whatever we want to put in this box, but only this box."

I'm having similar issues following your sense of "continuity", which is not at all the sense in which I've seen that term used previously in discussions of consciousness and identity. The phrase "continuity of consciousness" gets thrown around in discussions of these topics at much lower reading levels, and means the subjective sense of an uninterrupted chain of experience. I'm understanding now that you aren't referring to that.

It's possible that when you say things like

But I don't see how there can be continuity of consciousness in highly discretized processes in a system.


You mean it differently than I think you do, but I have to say that this is the sort of place where I'm seeing a repeated return to discarding conclusions as impossible because they sound funny to you. In this case ... why not? What could possibly hint to you that this is a potential issue? It seems wholly arbitrary to me. Like, I will be very surprised if we find that the subjective experience of consciousness is anything other than a side effect of consciousness itself; I'd be very surprised if science were to one day discover that any system that has consciousness in the computational and behavioral sense, but does not experience it subjectively. But I don't feel this is a hill I'd feel the need to plant a flag on one way or the other without any actual information whatsoever.

But in general I'm completely lost here. You can copy a person's brain to a file, and that has moral value, presumably much like any human life, but that value isn't synonymous with "personhood". You can run that file in a special computer, and it's effectively the same person as the original and presumably now, again, has the same personhood, but the thing you've recreated is not the "soul". But then you don't believe that this new person will have subjective conscious experience unless the computer operates in a very specific way at the electronic level, so ... I guess if it's an ordinary computer architecture like we know today, that person is a P-zombie now? Despite behaving identically in every way?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:11 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I don't know how "personhood" is in any way a useful concept in the way that you're choosing to define it. But you're also apparently not saying at all what I took you to be saying so I don't whatever. Likewise "soul" - I don't see the utility of redefining it to mean "whatever we want to put in this box, but only this box."


Terms don't have to have rigid meanings, but they do have to be used in a rigid way, or negotiated down to a rigid form, for the purposes of articulating a given series of points, or for the purposes of a given argument or discussion.

Copper Bezel wrote:I'm understanding now that you aren't referring to that.


I'm not sure that I'm not referring to that. I don't really know what you mean.

Copper Bezel wrote:What could possibly hint to you that this is a potential issue?

The phenomenological argument for time as an intrinsic property of conscious experience, via Sartre, via the first 50 pages or so of Being and Nothingness, reinstantiated in a mad black capacity into a physical reductionism, not because I am entirely a reductivist but because I needed to make my argument in a form that wouldn't just be laughed at as metaphysics.

Copper Bezel wrote:Like, I will be very surprised if we find that the subjective experience of consciousness is anything other than a side effect of consciousness itself; I'd be very surprised if science were to one day discover that any system that has consciousness in the computational and behavioral sense, but does not experience it subjectively.

Can you rephrase this? I am having trouble parsing it.

Copper Bezel wrote:But in general I'm completely lost here. You can copy a person's brain to a file, and that has moral value, presumably much like any human life, but that value isn't synonymous with "personhood". You can run that file in a special computer, and it's effectively the same person as the original and presumably now, again, has the same personhood, but the thing you've recreated is not the "soul". But then you don't believe that this new person will have subjective conscious experience unless the computer operates in a very specific way at the electronic level, so ... I guess if it's an ordinary computer architecture like we know today, that person is a P-zombie now? Despite behaving identically in every way?


I don't think it is even a P-zombie. I think in the worst case scenario it is a sporadically semi-conscious nightmare entity gasping for consistency in a context where it flickers in and out of existence in a randomized, incoherent way, bits of its being perpetually torn apart and reinstantiated, all to serve the goals of data-processing to produce behavior that looks like a person but has nothing to do with its actual, horrifying hellish existence.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:01 am UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:I don't think it is even a P-zombie. I think in the worst case scenario it is a sporadically semi-conscious nightmare entity gasping for consistency in a context where it flickers in and out of existence in a randomized, incoherent way, bits of its being perpetually torn apart and reinstantiated, all to serve the goals of data-processing to produce behavior that looks like a person but has nothing to do with its actual, horrifying hellish existence.

It may not be a P-zombie exactly, but this scenario has all the same philosophical problems as P-zombies. If you ask an android running such a person-derived program "how does your existence feel to you? horrifying and hellish?" and it replies in exactly the cadence etc that the original person would "nah I feel pretty much the same as I did when I was an organic human"... I don't even know where you can go with that. So far as I know, if I ask you (presumably an organic meat bag like me) if your existence is a horrifying and hellish series of discontinuous blips of consciousness and you say no, your existence is a normal one like every other human, the behavior of you saying that to me might be just as fake as that android. Maybe every human's behavior of producing words that claim they have a normal experience is fake behavior, and they're all secretly living horribly hellish pseudo-lives. [insert joke about that being metaphorically true and everybody hiding their existential suffering behind a disingenuous mask of normalcy] But I have no reason to suppose that. I mean, I have lots of reasons, on the weight of modern psychological and neurological research, to think that people's brains work in a way that's not perfectly analogous to their conscious experience, such as the examples gmal gave earlier, but presumably my own brain operates that way to produce my experience that's no more discontinuous, horrible and hellish than is to be expected, so I've no reason to think everyone else isn't the same way, both humans and anything that appears functionally identical to a human.

(FWIW, my general stance on all of this and topics discussed upthread: the answer is functionalist panpsychism, where every thing's phenomenal experience is, just like its behavior, determined by its function, which is a map from its experience to its behavior, and things with the right kind of function are access-conscious and therefore persons. P zombies are an incoherent pseudo-idea; if it functions like a person it has the same experience as a person. Seale's Chinese Room is not access-conscious, but not because a Turing machine can't be conscious, just because it doesn't instantiate the right kind of function: Searle's right that syntax is not semantics, but wrong that semantics aren't just another function. If the guy in the room memorized the books, he could not pass as a fluent Chinese speaker in person because he could not connect the symbols he had memorized rules about with the experiential world; that connection with sense-experience is what gives the symbols semantic meaning. If his rule books included photos and audio recordings and scratch and sniff pads and so on to associate sense-data with the symbols, then they would just be books on how to speak Chinese, and the man+room would speak Chinese as much as the man-with-memorized-books would.)
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Dr34m(4+(h3r » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:30 am UTC

It seems to me that evolutionary pressures cause an incentive to create confluence between behavioral and phenomenal processes, for the sake of simplicity and to use the substantive facticity of quale as part of the machinery of behavior, and that these alignment pressures don't exist with artificially made intelligence

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:39 am UTC

An artificial person(-simulacrum) would need to make use of its qualitative experience in order to believably behave like a natural person, so in that sense there is such a pressure.

I mean, you could build a system that takes sense-input and feeds it into a modeled consciousness that has no output to the behavior of the system, which could easily be a hellish and horrible existence for that modeled consciousness, and have the system output behavior with no regard for any sense-input, but nobody's going to say that a system like that behaves like a person. You could have the sense-input go into two different modeled consciousnesses, one that has no control over the behavior of the system and another that does, and that would give a system that behaves like a natural person and also has a hellish and horrible conscious experience going on inside of it, but why would you want to do that? Also, the part of the system connected to the behavior, with which you're interacting, could have no input from, and therefore no awareness of, the tortured consciousness going on elsewhere inside of it, because if it did, that would be an output from that tortured consciousness that would affect the behavior of the overall system. Basically, you could put two minds into one body and make one of them Have No Mouth Yet Must Scream, but that would just be some kind of sadistic addition to a system with only one mind that is functionally indistinguishable (in behavior and experience) from a natural person.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:54 am UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:I'm not sure that I'm not referring to that. I don't really know what you mean.

Junk like this. In that example the blogger is really just grappling with the Ship of Theseus problem in a really naive way and ultimately decides that it counts as the same ship as long as you replace the boards one at a time. But he starts with the idea of continuity of consciousness as a simple "my memories and experience are subjectively an unbroken chain" idea. And to be clear, nothing in the piece is valuable but it's representative of the concept I had thought I'd recognized.

The phenomenological argument for time as an intrinsic property of conscious experience, via Sartre, via the first 50 pages or so of Being and Nothingness, reinstantiated in a mad black capacity into a physical reductionism, not because I am entirely a reductivist but because I needed to make my argument in a form that wouldn't just be laughed at as metaphysics.

I'm not convinced yet it's not, and I wouldn't look to Sartre for neuroscience, computer science, or anything in the space between. I don't think you can meaningfully learn anything about the fundamental nature of subjective experience by just thinking really hard about how it feels to you. You have to know at least a little bit about the actual functioning of the system that generates it.

Now, maybe Sartre had done his homework, I wouldn't know, but I'd need to know a bit more about what it means for time to be "a property of conscious experience". It's obviously a necessity for it, but there isn't any kind of Turing machine that doesn't process sequentially in time, so....

Can you rephrase this? I am having trouble parsing it.

Without further evidence, my default assumption would be that any running simulation of a human brain that is capable of perceiving, mentally modeling, and acting in an environment would have a subjective experience concordant with the one being simulated. That is, any system that is conscious in an objective sense probably has a subjective experience of consciousness. But it'd only be my first guess without access to any kind of evidence.

Like you, I have only the dangerously small sample size of one kind of brain and mind to draw this assumption from, so I recognize that it's a guess. However, the one example we do have is a kind of mind where the subjective experience is concordant with the stimuli being processed, the kind of brain that you and I are presently using, and we have none where it is some other thing independent of what is effectively the running program.

I don't think it is even a P-zombie. I think in the worst case scenario it is a sporadically semi-conscious nightmare entity gasping for consistency in a context where it flickers in and out of existence in a randomized, incoherent way, bits of its being perpetually torn apart and reinstantiated, all to serve the goals of data-processing to produce behavior that looks like a person but has nothing to do with its actual, horrifying hellish existence.


I would have more easily accepted the P-zombie.

Where does it feel the horror? Where does it grasp for consistency? Our simulated brain here only has one set of brain cells, and they're busy thinking they're a human playing the violin or whatever they happen to be doing. That's where the behavior that looks like a person is coming from, and it's the only program we're running here. No matter how we do the processing, the math comes out the same, so the simulated brain behaves in the same way.

Horror and grasping and vague feelings of discontinuity, however, all require a mind and brain to generate them. So from where do they come?

I think you're describing some kind of ghost in the machine with its own independent anthropomorphic qualities, and as far as I'm concerned, that's right out, like suggesting that electrons have smiley faces on. Equally unfalsifiable as well, since this simulated brain's discordant sequence of confused little subjective souls have no influence whatsoever on its behavior and it will never know it has them.

Pfhorrest tackled some of this while I was typing, and I'm just going to agree with him in response to this point:

It seems to me that evolutionary pressures cause an incentive to create confluence between behavioral and phenomenal processes, for the sake of simplicity and to use the substantive facticity of quale as part of the machinery of behavior, and that these alignment pressures don't exist with artificially made intelligence


A subjective experience that's invisible to every objective quality of the processing system and does not in any way influence the behavior of the entity we're imagining is not under any selection pressure. On the other hand, if qualia are some effectual thing in the world, we will notice we've left them out of our simulation when it misbehaves. So the pressures are the same in both situations either way.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:11 am UTC

Reading back over the topic more closely than I've been skimming, I think the point about time not being perceived in between operations of a thinking-machine (natural or artificial) is really the crux here.

I want to expand on that by inviting you to consider how we perceive time. At any given moment, I am only directly experiencing that moment, and in that moment there is no flow of time, because it is just one moment. But there are memories of things being differently than what I perceive in this moment, and previously-created extrapolations from those memories anticipating ways that things might be different in the future. It is this model that exists in the present in my mind, this series of snapshots of different ways of the world being arranged in an order, with my present direct experiences just one of those frames in the middle of that order, that constitutes my perception of time in the moment.

If somehow you could swap out those memories and expectations with different ones for a few minutes, then for those few minutes my perception of time would be drastically different. If you blanked out all of my memory and shut down all of my experiences, then gave me a couple brief flashes of different experiences in rapid succession, and then waited a few moments for my brain to try to make sense of that, I might end up having the experience of hours or days having passed, if that's the time necessary to fill in the interpolations between the flashes of experiences. This is exactly how dream time works and why it is so weird: your brain is sorting around and you catch glimpses of different things and then the narrative part of your brain responsible for stitching together your perceived timeline does its best to make sense of that nonsense series of random garbage shuffling around in your brain.

So it really doesn't matter if the process that gathers sense data and stores memories and computes the relations between them and extrapolates future members of that series is continuous or not. At any given moment, so long as you have some connected series of frames in a timeline like that, you will experience a "continuous flow of time". Even if you're an artificial mind who was just given that timeline for a few second of your minutes-long existence, and the timeline contains events years apart. For those few seconds, you will feel like you are in the midst of a continuous existence that has been going on for years.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby doogly » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:58 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
SuicideJunkie wrote:I don't see what's so absurd about that, and I'm pretty sure a fair number of other people don't either.
There are also a fair number of people who don't see what's so absurd about flat earth theory.

A flat earth is not dismissably absurd, it's *demonstrably* wrong. You have to leave the house to disprove it.

But yes, Phorrest is correct. Functionalism is the correct answer. Consciousness discussion over.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:25 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
Human and animal consciousness is continuous.

No. Human consciousness seems continuous from the inside.


To what? If you can credibly articulate a what to which an illusion of time is possible without time, then maybe this would be meaningful.
I wasn't talking about the illusion of time, but the illusion of continuity.

And it seems continuous to *humans*. I'd have thought that part was pretty obvious because humans are the only ones that experience human consciousness from the inside.

gmalivuk wrote:But we already know tons about all kinds of other illusions your mind creates about your experience, such as the illusion that you don't have a blind spot or the illusion that your whole field of view is high resolution and just as colorful as it is at the center of your field of view, or the illusion that things in the world happen when you consciously perceive them happening, rather than a chunk of a second ahead of that.

The mind is at least as reasonable as it is unreasonable, and at any rate you can make no inductive inference based on a handful of examples of popular, subversive scientific discoveries.

That's not an inference, that's some counterexamples that disprove your implied premise that what seems to be the case about how our minds work is in fact the case.

Movies seem continuous but aren't. Why couldn't the same be true for consciousness?
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby SuicideJunkie » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:06 pm UTC

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:
SuicideJunkie wrote:That sounds like personal incredulousness being passed off as a trivial conclusion of absurdity.

I don't care what it sounds like, I care what it is. What it is, is an argument for the necessity of continuity of operations over substrate for continuity of consciousness to exist, via phenomenology.

SuicideJunkie wrote:I don't see what's so absurd about that, and I'm pretty sure a fair number of other people don't either.

There are also a fair number of people who don't see what's so absurd about flat earth theory.

SuicideJunkie wrote:Quantum mechanics is weirder than the concept of emergent properties.

I don't really use the concept of emergent properties, and the weirdness of quantum mechanics hardly seems sufficient for your argument.

The general point here, is that you're saying it is obviously absurd, but we're saying it is not obvious; just strange to think about. You can't just dismiss it as obvious because it is one of the key points of disagreement. At least if you want a discussion instead of a monologue.

Dr34m(4+(h3r wrote:It's not morally a person. It's data. It may have moral significance, but it's not morally equivalent to a person.
But let's break down the possibilities of a coma:
1. A person is unconscious, but still in some sense conscious, just in a reduced sense
2. A person is not conscious, their body is just alive in such a way that will eventually heal their brain and reinstantiate their personhood

In the case of 1, the person in a coma is fundamentally unlike a mindfile because a mindfile is not conscious. In the case of 2, there are real similarities, but the comatose body lacks personhood while there is not a mind in it, just as the mindfile lacks personhood. Therefore, whatever moral significance both have is not the moral significance of personhood, but rather more like the moral significance of the potential for personhood as it corresponds to the known wishes or preferences of an entity that is no longer extant.

That runs into the problem of having a world where putting someone into a cryotube, freezing them solid so there is zero activity for a while, and then vaporizing them with a bomb instead of thawing them back out... is somehow less of a crime than straight up vaporizing them with a bomb.
I don't think that is a reasonable morality.
(even though it mirrors reality in that an expensive and arcane process can often get you off the hook for serious crimes)

I do consider this, as is evident from my contemplation of the soul. But the value of a person is not the personhood of a person. This part of the discussion was only about the personhood of a person, and the idiocy of trying to append broader concerns about human value to a rigid and well defined concept that has its own, separate meaning.

If you can decompress/unpause the thing back into a person with full value, why would it have any less value as a person when paused?
There is an argument to be made that only the *last* remaining copy has value; up to that point, undo operations are possible... after that point it is a murder.
Or put another way; the value is still there, even if there are some outstanding medical expenses to be paid before you can access the value.



Regarding continuity, I think the others have covered that just fine. Not sure why you demand external continuity at all; it does not seem useful.

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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Xanthir » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:06 am UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:
If you can decompress/unpause the thing back into a person with full value, why would it have any less value as a person when paused?
There is an argument to be made that only the *last* remaining copy has value; up to that point, undo operations are possible... after that point it is a murder.

Yes, *this* is definitely reasonable. (If it's not, and *every* copy has the full moral weight of the original human, then, uh, running someone on a computer is automatically multiple murders, as the mind gets copied between memory segments (and thus deleted from the previous ones). Same with transferring someone over the network, which would be vivisection (into network packets) followed by continual destruction of the giblets in each router they passed thru. ^_^

A more consistent way to phrase this idea is as a compression-based theory of identity - the moral weight of a mind-copy is proportional (via some monotonic function, almost certainly not linear ^_^) to the amount of extra storage it would take if compressed with the other minds you have available to you. So making an identical copy is just worth a bit, which is effectively zero - deleting it is totes okay. If you run the minds separately for a time, tho, they'll quickly begin to diverge, and the compression becomes less effective and requires more storage. At some (purposely unspecified) point, probably more than a second but less than a year, the diff is large enough that the second mind-state can no longer be considered a copy, and gain the moral weight of an independent person, such that deleting them is murder. There's probably some gradient of morality there, where deleting isn't quite murder but is still a harm (against the remaining copies? against polite society?).

This is basically the exact same question as the morality of Star Trek-style teleporters, which don't just move a person, but rather disintegrate them, then reconstruct an identical copy somewhere else. They are, straight up and without question, killing the source body. But as long as the teleporter successfully constructs a sufficiently-identical body elsewhere, it's not considered murder, and they're considered the same person. (Star Trek does some hand-waving to make this only an occasional B-episode plot device, rather than something that fundamentally alters society like it would actually be.)
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:12 am UTC

Which, to be fair, is because the transporters never made sense with the rest of the technology anyway and were shoved in for filming convenience in the original series with the explanation following. They and the replicators are both limited to doing the one job they're assigned, despite the fact that a realistic technology capable of doing either could store any object, living or otherwise, as data, and reproduce it freely.

I do feel like the question of the moral weight of divergent copies depends a little on the society we're actually picturing. I mean, what is valuable is what is scarce, and the replaceability of something is in inverse proportion to its value, including in moral considerations. We have to know at least a little bit about the economics and customs of this situation.
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Re: A dragon confronts the Terasem movement

Postby SuicideJunkie » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:18 pm UTC

It also implies that cults are bad, and their members are easy targets since they've actively destroyed their own moral weight.


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