X-Message-Number: 8268
Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 23:00:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: John K Clark <>
Subject: Computers and Behavior


In #8261  (Thomas Donaldson) On Fri, 30 May 1997  Wrote:

        >please tell me what you consider to be a "computer". 

A computer is a device that can be emulated by a Universal Turing Machine.

        >we have no trouble, in our rough way, in saying that one person is
                >conscious while another is not. We do so on the basis of their        

        >behavior. In terms of what we ourselves notice about ourselves, we
        >find that usually a judgement based on our behavior is correct: when
        >others decide that we are unconscious, then after we awaken we will
        >agree. When others decide we are conscious, we will also agree. Yes,
        >sometimes people try to act as if they are asleep, and many other
                >such things happen, but there is a rough correspondence. 

Although I can't prove it I am totally convinced that every word you say is 
true and I could not have expressed it better myself. I am somewhat confused 
however, I have been saying for years that flawed or not, behavior is the 
only way we will ever have of determining if something is conscious or not 
and you have been telling me it's not true, that a computer, or an upload, 
could act just like me and yet you would have absolutely no reason to think 
it was any more conscious than a rock. Have you changed your mind?   

        >So therefore: what is it that makes you say that no observational
                >test for consciousness exists?

What I said is that there is no direct test for consciousness that can be 
proven to work, nevertheless, even without proof, I am convinced that 
intelligent behavior implies consciousness. As I said many times, I could not 
function if I really thought that solipsism was true.

                                             John K Clark    

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