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  #51  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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Originally Posted by Donkey View Post
Jim, my friend the cat, is a living organism that is arguably conscious - aware of himself and his relationship to me.
Holy remarkable coincidence Batman! Do you have a cat named Jim as well as JHC does?
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  #52  
Old Jun 7th 2011, 10:20 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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Holy remarkable coincidence Batman! Do you have a cat named Jim as well as JHC does?
Ugh. I really need to be more careful with my quoting.

Our cat is Reggie.
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  #53  
Old Jun 9th 2011, 10:53 AM
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Default Re: Consciousness

How do you/we know about Jim's self-awareness? Jim performs some behaviors, but what behaviors indicate true self-awareness? Is there any indication of a sense of time? Of history? Of a knowledge of the future? Of a place in the universe? Or, does Jim react to certain stimuli with a set of behavior that earns rewards?
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  #54  
Old Jun 9th 2011, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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Originally Posted by pramjockey View Post
How do you/we know about Jim's self-awareness? Jim performs some behaviors, but what behaviors indicate true self-awareness? Is there any indication of a sense of time? Of history? Of a knowledge of the future? Of a place in the universe? Or, does Jim react to certain stimuli with a set of behavior that earns rewards?
The bolded, I think, is an intractable problem. This reminds me of the Chinese Room.

As far as I can see, the best that we could manage is:
(premise-A) "I know that I'm self-aware/conscious."
(premise-B) "I know that I act in such-and-such a manner."
(conclusion) "Therefore, things which act in such-and-such a manner are also conscious."

Ergo, the more things behave as I behave (or would behave in their circumstances) the greater the likelihood that they are conscious.

But there's a considerable leap between the premises and the conclusion that I don't see any way to get over.
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  #55  
Old Jun 9th 2011, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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The bolded, I think, is an intractable problem. This reminds me of the Chinese Room.

As far as I can see, the best that we could manage is:
(premise-A) "I know that I'm self-aware/conscious."
(premise-B) "I know that I act in such-and-such a manner."
(conclusion) "Therefore, things which act in such-and-such a manner are also conscious."

Ergo, the more things behave as I behave (or would behave in their circumstances) the greater the likelihood that they are conscious.

But there's a considerable leap between the premises and the conclusion that I don't see any way to get over.
It is a difficult problem, and even more confounded by our own egocentrism - that which behaves most like what we want it to must be the most conscious/self aware. One must wonder what we'll do if/when we come across life from outside our planet - will we be able to recognize sentience in a being that is completely alien? Will it be able to recognize sentience in us (assuming that we are)?
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  #56  
Old Jun 19th 2011, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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Originally Posted by pramjockey View Post
It is a difficult problem, and even more confounded by our own egocentrism - that which behaves most like what we want it to must be the most conscious/self aware. One must wonder what we'll do if/when we come across life from outside our planet - will we be able to recognize sentience in a being that is completely alien? Will it be able to recognize sentience in us (assuming that we are)?
Is it possible that it exists on our own planet but because we are, as you ascribe, egocentric, we assume that we are superior anyway.

If you think about it, we have a tendency to even believe that we are superior by virtue of skin color, race, religion, nationality, education, affluence, the type of car we drive, political opinions, speech, and where our waste band and hemline ride.
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  #57  
Old Jun 20th 2011, 08:13 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
The bolded, I think, is an intractable problem. This reminds me of the Chinese Room.

As far as I can see, the best that we could manage is:
(premise-A) "I know that I'm self-aware/conscious."
(premise-B) "I know that I act in such-and-such a manner."
(conclusion) "Therefore, things which act in such-and-such a manner are also conscious."

Ergo, the more things behave as I behave (or would behave in their circumstances) the greater the likelihood that they are conscious.

But there's a considerable leap between the premises and the conclusion that I don't see any way to get over.
I get hung up on the "such-and-such a manner" - I just can't insert any viable or functional term to serve in place of your place-marker.

The more I try to define 'conciousness' the more I end up including fruit flies.

Or maybe that's the point?
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  #58  
Old Jun 20th 2011, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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I get hung up on the "such-and-such a manner" - I just can't insert any viable or functional term to serve in place of your place-marker.

The more I try to define 'conciousness' the more I end up including fruit flies.

Or maybe that's the point?
I think that (the broad definition of 'such-and-such') is one extreme.
The other would be to define the 'such-and-such' very narrowly and thus end up only including yourself.

Either way, I don't see how there's anyway to really know about anything (fruit flies, AIs or other people) except yourself.
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  #59  
Old Jun 25th 2011, 09:38 AM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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I think that (the broad definition of 'such-and-such') is one extreme.
The other would be to define the 'such-and-such' very narrowly and thus end up only including yourself.
That would be a form of sollipscism - or Plato's Cave - the idea that the outside world of perception is merely just a dream or delusion.

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Either way, I don't see how there's anyway to really know about anything (fruit flies, AIs or other people) except yourself.
I think this is a bit extreme since you are apparently dismissing the entire field of scientific endeavour here. I think that the application of the scientific method (and the associated concept of peer review) can produce relative claims of substantive knowledge.
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  #60  
Old Jun 25th 2011, 01:23 PM
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Default Re: Consciousness

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That would be a form of sollipscism - or Plato's Cave - the idea that the outside world of perception is merely just a dream or delusion.
No, I think it's just the idea that all other creatures might be autonoma (Philosophical Zombies). You can detect their actions, but not their experiencial perceptions.

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I think this is a bit extreme since you are apparently dismissing the entire field of scientific endeavour here. I think that the application of the scientific method (and the associated concept of peer review) can produce relative claims of substantive knowledge.
I should have said "I don't see how there's anyway to really know about [the consciousness of] anything...".

Science is fine for exploring what's perceivable, but I don't see how we can perceive other people's perceptions without making the sort of assumption I laid out a few posts back.

For example:
I put my hand in the fire. Three things happen:
1) I feel pain as a qualatative experience.
2) I say "ouch".
3) I pull my hand away.

Someone else puts their hand in the fire:
1) I hear them say "ouch"
2) I see them pull their hand away.
3)...but I can't actually perceive whether or not they felt any pain or simply behaved automatically as a senseless response to stimuli.

I assume that, beacuse they appear similar to me and behave similar to me (which I can observe), that they must also experience feelings similar to my own (which I can't observe). But it's just an assumption. I don't see any logical reason that physical processes of nerves firing and muscles moving must be accompanied by a qualatative experience. I notice that they are (usually) in my case; I assume they must be in other similar cases as well.
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