X-Message-Number: 11647
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: To D. Broderick, on the subject of awareness once more
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 23:50:06 +1000 (EST)

To Damien Broderick:

I will note that you have brought into the discussion various sensors etc
that we have and through which we perceive the world. That's fine, and it
makes us not at all the same as the classical Turing machine.

However, simply imitating such sensors and feeding them artificial 
information will not be enough. Even in quantum mechanics reality is not
digital in the sense that a computer is digital. It is an essential part
of our senses, and (in terms of evolution, the reason why we HAVE senses)
that they can tell us quite unexpected things about the world outside
our brain. Those things are not just unexpected because we with our
"poor" computational ability could not have predicted them: they are
unexpected in the deeper sense that there is no possible way we could
have predicted them prior to their occurrence. Those sensory impressions
may often seem trivial --- I am not saying that this property only occurs
rarely, or that when it does it is particularly striking. They come from
the fact that we live in the real world, not inside any computer program.

As I have said in my previous (very recent) postings to Mike Perry, this
feature is ESSENTIAL. Without it I find it hard to distinguish any kind
of awareness: a person running solely in a program with input solely
from an artificial reality created by that program is no more real than a
character in a computer game... no matter how elaborate the program may
be. And as I also pointed out, that sensory connection to the world can
(at least theoretically) be part of a robot, too. I am not arguing that
only brains can be aware, even though right now that is the case; I am
discussing those factors essential to awareness no matter what physical
form the aware being might take.

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=11647