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Human brain uploads possible by 2045 ?


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#61    DeWitz

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:36 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 29 June 2013 - 01:31 PM, said:

How do you know?  Animals and humans both share sentience.  Humans may have more than just sentience, or our special characteristics may just be another form of sentience.  I don't think increasing computer power is going to make thinking machines.  The hype of AI has passed and its promises fell flat.  Some different paradigm will be needed to get sentient computers.  My only point in this that we don't need to understand sentience to make it artificially.  Natural selection "understands" nothing, but it made it.

Technically, I don't "know" anything for certain. With a few exceptions (cetaceans, some primates, maybe elephants) observation and common sense suggest animal sentience is of a different level than human self-consciousness (excepting some anomalies). You are clearly a materialist (I know you have previously described yourself as a communist, as am I, and dialectical materialism is part of the Marx-Engels angle) based on your assumption that human consciousness is reducible to physical material to be confined in a box full of wires, computer chips and digitized data (beware of power outages until the discovery of 'infinity batteries').

There are many "faith statements" in your post, but for this post I'll say this: Natural selection is a recognizable physical process over time, not a personal entity that "understands" or "makes" things. That's called 'anthropomorphization' when we apply it to 'gods,' and the same holds true when we apply it to natural processes, systems and concepts categorized by observation and testing. It is a corrosive tautology to say that we don't have to understand sentience to make it artificially because an impersonal, inexorable process called natural selection "made it" without sentience of its own, because natural selection is a concept, not a causative agent, and therefore doesn't make anything.

On seventeenth thought, what I just described in the above paragraph is theological--akin to 'creatio ex nihilo,' 'creation out of nothing,' alleged to be in the purview of the Judeo-Christian god "Yhwh" (and others, but not all gods). Gods, in theory and theology, can create something out of nothing, but humans, whales, dolphins and elephants can't. That's why the notion is Frankensteinian. We are not gods.

There is no evidence--scientific, anecdotal or otherwise-- that human consciousness, an immaterial, ephemeral and unrecordable reality known only to its possessor, can be contained in a human-made structure designed to host a facsimile of human brain activity. Only mystics would assert this is possible, but they would never stick it in a box and call it human.

Edited by szentgyorgy, 29 June 2013 - 02:38 PM.

[previously incarnate as 'szentgyorgy']

"Things fall apart. . . it's scientific." - Talking Heads

#62    Frank Merton

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 03:12 PM

Well first I'm not a materialist; I'm a Buddhist.  I think mind is life-spirit and is reborn in the cycle of Samsara.  The Buddha never addressed the question of how this world and the cycle came into existence, I think wisely, and I long ago figured out that it had to be through the Western concept of evolution.

I'm a Communist of the "Ho Chi Minh" variety, being Vietnamese, and this envisions a mixed society, primarily socialist, and a government of a limited number of people (party "members") to avoid the failings of both Western democracies and oligarchic or aristocratic systems.  The government here is not hostile to religion, nor even officially atheist, although I am (most educated Buddhists are atheists, in my experience).

The key concept here in this discussion, to me at least, is whether or not a sensate computer is possible.  I think we tapped into something very non-physical, Taoist, non-reductionist, when we evolved sensate existence.  How is it that we experience the world we live in?  When I say the sky is blue, the "blue" is entirely in my head or mind -- it has nothing to do with the particular wavelengths of light impinging my eyes.  When I feel pain, what I "feel" is not nerves reporting injury, but a sensation that no one who has never felt pain could possibly describe, and that is a creation of my mind.  These are the "qualia" of sensate existence.  A a reader who does not get it would do well to research the subject.

Now can a computer be built that also experiences the world?  On the surface it seems unlikely, since it seems to involve something non-material, not subject to reductionist analysis, and in fact inconceivable in the world of cause and effect.  But still, natural selection tapped it and found it so useful it took over from the previous reflexive programming in almost all life processes.

A side issue -- you accuse me of anthropomorphizing natural process.  I rather dislike that accusation.  We use the anthropomorphisms entirely metaphorically, and I don't know a biologist talking about evolution who doesn't


#63    DeWitz

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 04:41 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 29 June 2013 - 03:12 PM, said:

Well first I'm not a materialist; I'm a Buddhist.  I think mind is life-spirit and is reborn in the cycle of Samsara.  The Buddha never addressed the question of how this world and the cycle came into existence, I think wisely, and I long ago figured out that it had to be through the Western concept of evolution.

I'm a Communist of the "Ho Chi Minh" variety, being Vietnamese, and this envisions a mixed society, primarily socialist, and a government of a limited number of people (party "members") to avoid the failings of both Western democracies and oligarchic or aristocratic systems.  The government here is not hostile to religion, nor even officially atheist, although I am (most educated Buddhists are atheists, in my experience).

The key concept here in this discussion, to me at least, is whether or not a sensate computer is possible.  I think we tapped into something very non-physical, Taoist, non-reductionist, when we evolved sensate existence.  How is it that we experience the world we live in?  When I say the sky is blue, the "blue" is entirely in my head or mind -- it has nothing to do with the particular wavelengths of light impinging my eyes.  When I feel pain, what I "feel" is not nerves reporting injury, but a sensation that no one who has never felt pain could possibly describe, and that is a creation of my mind.  These are the "qualia" of sensate existence.  A a reader who does not get it would do well to research the subject.

Now can a computer be built that also experiences the world?  On the surface it seems unlikely, since it seems to involve something non-material, not subject to reductionist analysis, and in fact inconceivable in the world of cause and effect.  But still, natural selection tapped it and found it so useful it took over from the previous reflexive programming in almost all life processes.

A side issue -- you accuse me of anthropomorphizing natural process.  I rather dislike that accusation.  We use the anthropomorphisms entirely metaphorically, and I don't know a biologist talking about evolution who doesn't

Well, Frank, I didn't mean it as an accusation. My comment was about the way in which you spoke about natural selection as if it were a causative agent. It may have been my misreading, but it sounded like something akin to sentience was being imputed to a concept. I agree that natural selection was the means by which sentience/human consciousness developed.

Either we're saying the same thing from different vectors, or we disagree on what constitutes consciousness. I still maintain that human consciousness, although it may be produced in the brain, is not reducible to a physical form (cells, biochemistry, electro-magnetism, brain waves, whatever) that can be captured on a silicon chip. Here's an example, speculative though it may be. I just wrote a poem about my hatred of America's inordinate self-pride. After a few days, I memorize the poem. Then, after burning the only manuscript of the poem, I am arrested by Homeland Security agents who plug electrodes into my head. Do you think they can (ever) "read" my poem from my 'grey matter?' I doubt it, if only because all the memory and sensate data included in the poem will be inextricably intertwined with my reading of American history, my neural pathways representing rage, frustration and disappointment, my cognitive understanding of freedom of expression, etc. etc. It is just this kind of "stuff" that no one has shown is recordable and retrievable--even in a live brain, much less the boxed one. Only my personal consciousness, metaphorically my 'spirit,' can organize that stuff.

Thanks for clarifying your thinking on this. I'll admit that part of my concern in this thread is the idea that a human personality could be reduced to materiality. I'd rather remain silent, strapped in the Homeland Security interrogation chamber, reciting the poem they can't retrieve to my (metaphor alert!) heart's content, free and unassailable in the castle of my consciousness.

Edited by szentgyorgy, 29 June 2013 - 04:45 PM.

[previously incarnate as 'szentgyorgy']

"Things fall apart. . . it's scientific." - Talking Heads




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