X-Message-Number: 11801
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 17:44:30 -0700
From: Jeff Davis <>
Subject: Binding of space and time

Dear Dr. Ettinger, 

As I understand it, you have questioned the ability of a computer to
achieve consciousness because of the its asserted inability to "bind space
and time".

First, would you please explain what you mean by "bind space and time"?

And second, it appears that the brain may be a "meat machine": a wholly
physical mechanism which provides the phenomenon of consciousness without
the requirement of some vitalistic, mystical,  higher dimensional, or other
key "magical" feature inherently inaccessible to science and technology.
Perhaps there is some unique feature of the organically-constructed brain,
something about the structure or function achieved by the particular use of
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosporous, etc.--the "organic"
materials--which simply cannot be achieved in an alternate medium.  But
barring that, and supposing a thorough understanding of the details of
structure and function of the one machine, what would suggest that a second
machine of alternate--dare I say "better"--materials would not be
theoretically designable and constructable?

Whenever it is suggested that the achievement of synthetic consciousness is
beyond reach--or even difficult--I suspect a sort of anthropic elitism.
The fact that we want to believe that we are special, that life is special,
that consciousness is special, and that they are too special to be
reducable to nuts and bolts, numbers and diagrams--is a friendly old
prejudice to be at once sadly and gladly let go of.  Having eaten of the
apple, our footsteps lead us--looking back--ever further from eden, looking
forward--ever onward to the stars.
Jeff Davis
Socket Science
322 Princeton Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019-4039

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