What scientists believe, but can't prove V

|

Continuing from The Edge, the fundamental question, what is a human being? Is addressed inadvertently by:
DANIEL GILBERT
Psychologist, Harvard University
In the not too distant future, we will be able to construct artificial systems that give every appearance of consciousness-systems that act like us in every way. These systems will talk, walk, wink, lie, and appear distressed by close elections. They will swear up and down that they are conscious and they will demand their civil rights. But we will have no way to know whether their behavior is more than a clever trick-more than the pecking of a pigeon that has been trained to type "I am, I am!"
Gilbert starts with his radical thesis: that computing will mimic consciousness to the point where the ordinary person is fooled. This he posits as a psychologist. Many programmers, on the other hand, doubt it can ever be done. Quite a few attempts have been made, but even using just text interfaces humans are not fooled for long, especially if they are looking to find the machine. Magnify the problem by several orders of magnitude to replicate the other sensory input - all the non-verbal cues etc. - and it becomes apparent that Gilbert seriously undervalues what it means to be human. This is evident from his next statement: "We take each other's consciousness on faith because we must, but after two thousand years of worrying about this issue, no one has ever devised a definitive test of its existence." Consciousness can't be "proven" to exist, so it will be easily replicated? The underlying assumption is articulated in the next sentence: "Most cognitive scientists believe that consciousness is a phenomenon that emerges from the complex interaction of decidedly nonconscious parts (neurons)…" If neurons are primary, then consciousness is a byproduct of matter. Philosophically this is simple materialism.
It is interesting that Steiner posited a separate sense, the highest of the 12, that he called the "ego-sense", the thing that allows you to recognize the existence of other human beings. This is one way to explain how consciousness recognizes consciousness without debasing humanity to simple arbitrary fluctuations of neurons.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on January 17, 2005 7:40 PM.

Interspecies coevolution of languages on the Northwest Coast? was the previous entry in this blog.

Responding to the WC is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 4.01