X-Message-Number: 17951
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2001 14:54:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: OT: Re: In Defense of Consciousness

First: Let me say that I have only a layperson's
understanding on this topic.

Second: How many kinds of consciousness are there?

(1) Block s (1991; 1993; 1994; 1995a,b) phenomenal
consciousness, access consciousness, monitoring
consciousness, reflective consciousness, self

(2) Rosenthal s (1986; 1993a,b; 1997; forthcoming)
state consciousness, creature consciousness,
transitive consciousness, introspective consciousness.

(3) Armstrong s (1981) minimal consciousness,
perceptual consciousness, introspective consciousness.

(4) Tye s (1995) higher-order consciousness,
discriminatory consciousness, responsive
consciousness, phenomenal consciousness.

Given that,

[Dave Shipman] wrote:

"The BOT senses the same natural phenomena as the cat
and I, but I doubt if it is having the same
experience, or indeed any experience whatsoever."

That's because you're assigning values to the things
you're observing and the BOT isn't (though it could
probably be programmed to). 

You look at the the waves and your brain perhaps
recalls pleasant experiences in your past associated
with swiming in the ocean with your friends so you
(mostly unconsciously) assign a positive valence to
ocean waves. Ah, life is good ... 

The guy at the restaurant across the street looks out
of the window at the waves and recalls how his wife
drowned on a boating excursion last week. He sees the
same waves you're seeing but for him, life sucks ...

I thought before that you were saying that being aware
of the environment was being conscious, but it now
sounds like you're more precisely saying that
appreciating the environment is what makes one
conscious ... that consciousness is the ability to
construct or develop positive and negative attitudes
toward objects in the environment.

But going back to my earlier statements, wouldn't an
AI who sets goals have to assign values to certain
objects in it's environment in order to achieve those
goals. Could we say the AI now has attitudes? That it
"feels" one way about some end results while it feels
differently about others? Setting a goal is, itself, a
judgmental process.

So what do you think?  Consciousness is:

1. being aware of the environment
2. being aware that you exist apart from the
3. being aware of how you feel about and relate to the
4. the experience of qualia
5. some combination of the above

I have much to read at:


Scott Badger

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