Cylon Origins according to Ziggy

Cylon Origins according to Ziggy September 18, 2013

Was I the only person to read yesterday's Ziggy comic and think of Battlestar Galactica?

We actually focused on machines becoming self aware in my religion and science fiction class yesterday, the readings being “Gus” by Jack McDevitt and “Good News from the Vatican” by Robert Silverberg. For next time, they are reading “Reason” by Isaac Asimov.


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  • As I explain in a post about the inner experience of a bat sending out an ultrasound

    even if a machine showed us all the characteristics of self-consciousness, we would have no way to really think if it had subjective feelings, let alone to know what those feelings are.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe, Marc.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    • David Evans

      I disagree with the argument in your first link.

      In it, you write

      “1. if RM is true, someone knowing all the physical processes making up the subjective experience of a creature would know that experience”

      and say you cannot understand how a reductive materialist can deny 1).

      Suppose that, while I am conscious, someone scans my brain in complete detail, down to the signal level in each neuron. Later they give me the results – a map of my brain and an incredibly long list of numbers describing the activity of my neurons. Would it be reasonable to expect that I, or any human, would be able to know from that data what I had experienced? No, because no human mind could process that amount of data or remember it from one instant to the next. Even if the data in fact determined what I had experienced, so that an infinitely powerful intelligence could read it off from the data, it’s certain that we humans can’t.

      • Hello David.

        This is an interesting position, thanks for your comment and having read my post.

        If I understand you correctly, you believe that

        1) subjective feelings are REAL and completely IDENTICAL to an ensemble of brain processes

        2) a human scientist knowing everything about the brain of a bat emmiting an ultrasound could not know what the creature feels because his own brain is not capable of well representing the complexity of the processes at stake

        3) a superhuman scientist capable of representing (almost) everything would know what the bat subjectively experiences

        But if this were true, should we not expect to be already capable to figure out A PART (say 1-5%) of this subjective experience?

        And the more we would know the physical and chemical reactions involved here, the greater would be our knowledge of the bat’s feelings.
        Even given our limiteds representational abilities we would expect a growth of our knowledge of the bat’s subjective experience with any increase of the physics and chemistry of its brain.

        Yet I fail to say how the discoveries of new firing pathways could increase our knowledge of what it feels like to be the flying mammal in this situation.

        There is another problem with your position. You certainly believe that the bat has a perfect knowledge of what it consciously experiences.
        But how is it possible if its experience is IDENTICAL with extremely, extraordinarily complex physical processes the best of our scientists are utterly unable to know?

        If you want to defend materialism, it seems to me that eliminativism (an error theory of consciousness saying people intutions about their inner experience is significantly wrong) is a much safer route to take than a reduction.

        Friendly greetings from continental Europe.

        Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • Ben B