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  1. #1 are animals robots? 
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    When presented with questions about the evils of humanity, war, poverty, etc. Christians frequently respond using the free will argument. They further qualify this argument that without this free will, we would all just be "robots".

    When presented with questions about why humans are different than any other animals, it is argued that free will is one of the things that sets humans apart.

    Therefore, since it is claimed that animals do not possess free will and without free will, you are nothing but a figurative "robot", does it not follow that animals are then nothing but robots?

    They are just pre-programmed like a RoomBa vacuum cleaner to just "do what they do"?


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    I argue that humans do not have free will, philosophically. We are salves to our evolution, and those that escape most of it by brute intelligence are still slaves to their intelligence. True freedom is a concept inconceivable to humanity, because humanity is still a slave to itself.

    Indeed, I believe we are very little different from "lesser" animals. We follow our programming perfectly.


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  4. #3 Re: are animals robots? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrimshaw1803
    When presented with questions about why humans are different than any other animals, it is argued that free will is one of the things that sets humans apart.

    Therefore, since it is claimed that animals do not possess free will and without free will, you are nothing but a figurative "robot", does it not follow that animals are then nothing but robots?

    They are just pre-programmed like a RoomBa vacuum cleaner to just "do what they do"?
    Well this Christian doesn't believe any such thing. Free will is the nature of life - all life, and all living things have an eternal spirit. However life and free will are highly quantitative in nature. A bacterium is not the same as an elephant, which is not the same as a human being. What set human beings apart is certainly not our chemistry and DNA for in that regard we are bretheren to all the animals of the planet for it has all been inherited from common ancestors. I certainly DON'T believe in the spirit as a device for pretending that the things which supposedly have them are more than what are. The spirit of a zygote does not make it more than a zygote any more than the spirit of a dog makes it more than a dog.

    No what sets man apart is only the obvious - the human mind, for in this we have an inheritance that does does not come from any animal. Where most living things on this planet primarily learn from generation to generation by the process of evolution in which characteristics acquired by the individual are not inherited, human beings learn from day to day and pass on what they learn to others. This represents an intensity of life that is greater by a factor of 25000 at least.

    There are of course those human beings which refuse to learn... and they are another matter...



    In fact on this issue of some non-physcial part whether you call it soul or spirit being that which makes something different from a robot, I should also mention that I believe that the angels which are completely non-physical or spirit are VERY MUCH like robots or computers. For all that they are spiritual beings they are nevertheless designed and made for a purpose like tools or servants and as a result are lacking quite a bit in the free will department. I believe it is for the very purpose of free will in the physical phenomenon of life that the physical universe was created.
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    In a way, robots. And I agree with Darius - why stop at animals? You could say individuals obey selfish economic/reward laws that cause us to, like, run trains under the English Channel or whatever. You could say a species or the whole interdependent biosphere is one big robot. A collection of dumb cogs. :| It's one perspective.

    "Just" robots? What does "just" mean? It is slipping something unspecified into the argument. For the Christian that would be free will, but for others it might be something else, like pride. Then the argument is deceitful because it pretends to depend one thing while it really depends on something else.
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  6. #5 Re: are animals robots? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrimshaw1803
    When presented with questions about the evils of humanity, war, poverty, etc. Christians frequently respond using the free will argument. They further qualify this argument that without this free will, we would all just be "robots".

    When presented with questions about why humans are different than any other animals, it is argued that free will is one of the things that sets humans apart.
    The free will argument is used to avoid confronting the truth, that we humans do not have free will and that we are like beastly animals. One may want to scrutinize this properly. There is a famous saying, "We are born against our will, we live against our will and die against our will." Humans cannot choose to whom, where and when they're born. What ever decisions we make are partly coded by our genetics and partly influenced by our environment - society. The only that separates us from animals is that we're able to suffer for future gain. We calculate (subconsciously) the amount of suffering against the amount of future profits. A child would take 1 sweet if given to him. But if told that he would be given 1 sweet if he would wait for 30mins he would gladly do so, even if he desires for the sweet at that very moment. So where is our freewill?
    ~ Oneís ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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    around 2025 we'll have the computing power to simulate the neural network of our brain.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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  8. #7 Re: are animals robots? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrimshaw1803
    When presented with questions about the evils of humanity, war, poverty, etc. Christians frequently respond using the free will argument. They further qualify this argument that without this free will, we would all just be "robots".

    When presented with questions about why humans are different than any other animals, it is argued that free will is one of the things that sets humans apart.

    Therefore, since it is claimed that animals do not possess free will and without free will, you are nothing but a figurative "robot", does it not follow that animals are then nothing but robots?

    They are just pre-programmed like a RoomBa vacuum cleaner to just "do what they do"?
    On the contrary, if anyone could be considered a "robot" it would be a theist who follows their religions doctrine. All Christians, for example, are to follow one set of doctrines "downloaded" on a daily basis from birth, hence all Christians are "programmed" to act, live and believe the same thing.

    It is the atheist that is furthest from the concept of a "robot" as they are free thinkers who don't follow a specific "program."
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    around 2025 we'll have the computing power to simulate the neural network of our brain.
    I think it's more a problem of not knowing exactly how the brain works, so we wouldn't really know how to program the emulation even with an infinitely fast computer.

    Still, if and when we can emulate a human brain on a computer and have it act indistinguishable from a "real" brain even though it's merely following a deterministic program, I wonder if people will still insist that me really have "free will."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    around 2025 we'll have the computing power to simulate the neural network of our brain.
    I think it's more a problem of not knowing exactly how the brain works, so we wouldn't really know how to program the emulation even with an infinitely fast computer.

    Still, if and when we can emulate a human brain on a computer and have it act indistinguishable from a "real" brain even though it's merely following a deterministic program, I wonder if people will still insist that me really have "free will."
    I believe that we would have to program them in precisely the same way that we "program" our children (consider what that means when you think about how much efforts in that regard usually fails, LOL). If we simulate how a human brain works then it should be no surprise that it actually works like a human brain. And when we treat them as dumb machines and slaves then we should also not be surprise if they rebel and seek our destruction just like human beings would.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I believe that we would have to program them in precisely the same way that we "program" our children
    Yup. A realistic animation of a puppy is not a puppy.
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    ASIMOV FTW!
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    i welcome my robot overlords!
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Yeah I loved the ending of the film "AI", where human attemps to create machine life/intellegence becomes our final and lasting legacy in the universe.
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  15. #14 Re: are animals robots? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    On the contrary, if anyone could be considered a "robot" it would be a theist who follows their religions doctrine. All Christians, for example, are to follow one set of doctrines "downloaded" on a daily basis from birth, hence all Christians are "programmed" to act, live and believe the same thing.

    It is the atheist that is furthest from the concept of a "robot" as they are free thinkers who don't follow a specific "program."
    Actually that is not true. You yourself are testament to that. You have programmed yourself. You might think yourself to be flexible, but really you're quite rigid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I believe that we would have to program them in precisely the same way that we "program" our children (consider what that means when you think about how much efforts in that regard usually fails, LOL). If we simulate how a human brain works then it should be no surprise that it actually works like a human brain. And when we treat them as dumb machines and slaves then we should also not be surprise if they rebel and seek our destruction just like human beings would.
    I was thinking more along the lines of using some sort of fantastically advanced scanner to create, for example, a "virtual mitchellmckain" by feeding information about the current state of your brain into an advanced physics simulation engine that models how your brain would respond to different stimuli or situations. Such a program would be entirely deterministic; it's just chugging through fixed algorithms and a very large data set to calculate the state of your "virtual brain" every microsecond, or whatever timescale is necessary for a convincing emulation. Would I be "killing" an entity if I turned the computer off?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Would I be "killing" an entity if I turned the computer off?
    Sure, you kill Christmas lights when you unplug them. Christmas lights do have a living quality beyond mere bulbs on wires, since they inspire and reproduce (viral fashion), perhaps better than that virtual MM in a computer lab.

    I think by "entity" you mean something intrinsic independent of environment. I think that "entity" (soul) is our bewildered way of grasping all the incalculable effects of one apparently discrete life. The little butterfly that happened to set a distant hurricane in motion, has lost some soul because we traced a cause through its wings, and the wings' beating to the shadow of a bird. If we understood the butterfly in all its relationships and implications (like a machine) it would have no soul left in our eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I believe that we would have to program them in precisely the same way that we "program" our children (consider what that means when you think about how much efforts in that regard usually fails, LOL). If we simulate how a human brain works then it should be no surprise that it actually works like a human brain. And when we treat them as dumb machines and slaves then we should also not be surprise if they rebel and seek our destruction just like human beings would.
    I was thinking more along the lines of using some sort of fantastically advanced scanner to create, for example, a "virtual mitchellmckain" by feeding information about the current state of your brain into an advanced physics simulation engine that models how your brain would respond to different stimuli or situations. Such a program would be entirely deterministic; it's just chugging through fixed algorithms and a very large data set to calculate the state of your "virtual brain" every microsecond, or whatever timescale is necessary for a convincing emulation. Would I be "killing" an entity if I turned the computer off?
    Ok while we are indulging in total fantasy and science fiction: I imagine a visit by aliens who explain that in their enounters with hundreds of intellegent species and seeing how they developed, that there have been some small percentage of species that managed to throw off the chains of religious belief and every one of them without exception were extinct within a short period of time. Thus they have come to the conclusion that while this belief in some sort of God that pays any attention to them may indeed be a fantasy of self-importance, such self-importance and the creative fantasy manufactured it, is an essential component of life itself.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I was thinking more along the lines of using some sort of fantastically advanced scanner to create, for example, a "virtual mitchellmckain" by feeding information about the current state of your brain into an advanced physics simulation engine that models how your brain would respond to different stimuli or situations. Such a program would be entirely deterministic; it's just chugging through fixed algorithms and a very large data set to calculate the state of your "virtual brain" every microsecond, or whatever timescale is necessary for a convincing emulation.
    You cannot simulate a non-deterministic process with a determistic simulation. An authentic simulation of a human brain would also have to simulate the quantum processes and chaotic dynamics to an infinite degree of precision, but having done so they would be no different than the real thing and thus not the least bit deterministic at all.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Would I be "killing" an entity if I turned the computer off?
    If it was indeed a deterministic process then it would not be alive and would be little different from a recording that you can stop and start and play back anytime you like. But if it was indeed real life that simulated a human brain in actuality then it would have to learn just as a human brain learns and thus it could never be a duplicate of another person.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I was thinking more along the lines of using some sort of fantastically advanced scanner to create, for example, a "virtual mitchellmckain" by feeding information about the current state of your brain into an advanced physics simulation engine that models how your brain would respond to different stimuli or situations. Such a program would be entirely deterministic; it's just chugging through fixed algorithms and a very large data set to calculate the state of your "virtual brain" every microsecond, or whatever timescale is necessary for a convincing emulation.
    You cannot simulate a non-deterministic process with a determistic simulation. An authentic simulation of a human brain would also have to simulate the quantum processes and chaotic dynamics to an infinite degree of precision, but having done so they would be no different than the real thing and thus not the least bit deterministic at all.
    Apropos, I hope, as Dennett and others have maintained (and as Penrose rebuts), 'mechanistic' might be more useful than deterministic, because you can use randomness as part of an algorithm or process. As you point out, though, once that enters the situation, the two entities (if one is a simulation) will over time diverge in their tracks.

    Thanks to mathematical chaos, however, we do not need to claim that thinking beings must be non-deterministic, they could simply, because of mathematical chaos, be unpredictable, no?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    You cannot simulate a non-deterministic process with a determistic simulation. An authentic simulation of a human brain would also have to simulate the quantum processes and chaotic dynamics to an infinite degree of precision, but having done so they would be no different than the real thing and thus not the least bit deterministic at all.
    But it's unknown whether or not the working of the human brain/mind are deterministic. Neurons and synapses are pretty damn big on the quantum scale. It's entirely possible that quantum-level indeterminant effect don't play any more role in the opperation of the brain than they do in a game of billiards. And even if such indeterminant quantum effects are necessary to the operation of the brain, it would be easy to simulate them using determinist pseudo-random number generators.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    You cannot simulate a non-deterministic process with a determistic simulation. An authentic simulation of a human brain would also have to simulate the quantum processes and chaotic dynamics to an infinite degree of precision, but having done so they would be no different than the real thing and thus not the least bit deterministic at all.
    But it's unknown whether or not the working of the human brain/mind are deterministic. Neurons and synapses are pretty damn big on the quantum scale. It's entirely possible that quantum-level indeterminant effect don't play any more role in the opperation of the brain than they do in a game of billiards. Agenerators.
    But the evidence suggests otherwise. It has been proven that non-linear processes require a specification of the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision and that makes quantum level interminant effect unavoidable in such processes. It is abundantly clear that the processes of life are most non-linear of all physical processes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    And even if such indeterminant quantum effects are necessary to the operation of the brain, it would be easy to simulate them using determinist pseudo-random number generators.
    Incorrect. Either you have control of the parameters of an random generator or you do not. If you have the control of those parameters then the result is like a recording which you can stop, and rewind at will. That is deterministic and that is not alive. Such a process has no reason to imagine that it is in control of its own choices. If you do not have the control of those parameters then it cannot be repeated or copied and you cannot make any closure in the causal chain of events. Such a process may well be alive and such a process may have every reason to imagine that it is in control of its own choices, whether you choose to believe it or not.

    Part of the problem however is the fact that belief is part of reality and if you believe that you are just a victim of events beyond your control then that is probably exactly what you are.
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    Is there no way at all to build a truely random number generator? Another way to get to it, would be an actual mock-up of a working brain, built by nanobots. This is not possible at the moment of course, but is certainly possible in principle. I mean we are strong on the way to quantum computers and are building all sorts of nano constructions in the lab.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But the evidence suggests otherwise. It has been proven that non-linear processes require a specification of the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision and that makes quantum level interminant effect unavoidable in such processes. It is abundantly clear that the processes of life are most non-linear of all physical processes.
    I am not aware of any evidence suggesting that the brain is strongly influenced by nondeterministic processes. Neurons are tens to hundreds of microns across; on the quantum scale they might as well be bowling balls. It's entirely possible that any nondeterministic effects are merely "background noise" that doesn't significantly impact the brain's functioning.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Incorrect. Either you have control of the parameters of an random generator or you do not. If you have the control of those parameters then the result is like a recording which you can stop, and rewind at will. That is deterministic and that is not alive.
    Again, you seem to be equating "nondeterministic" with "not alive" - but so far as I know there is no evidence that our behavior isn't deterministic. It seems to me that I have the potential to decide one thing rather than another, but if turned out that my brain was an entirely deterministic machine it wouldn't be the first time my perception fooled me about reality. Perhaps when I have an internal dialog and waffling back and forth about a decision, the outcome is already predetermined even though I feel as though I could decide one way or the other. My internal waffling might be similar to a coin falling down a plinko machine, bouncing one way and then the other according to deterministic laws of physics.

    In any case, as I said, even if it is necessary to use a pseudo-random number generator tied to, say, the computer's internal clock, you could still produce an emulation of a brain that could convincingly behave like a brain. The nondeterministic quantum effects, should they be necessary, will still follow predictable statistical distributions. If it's necessary for a brain to take advantage of nondeterministic effect to produce a "real" conscious mind, you still wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a real mind and my emulation of a mind. Or if you're really SO insistent that my simulation of a brain be able to receive nondeterministic input, I can always build a gadget to generate truly random outputs by counting radioactive decays or something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Is there no way at all to build a truely random number generator?
    What we do is to use a pseudo-random number generator which determinstically determines a number from a starting number called a seed (but in a way that no discernable pattern can be detected) but then you set the seed based on input data from the real world (in games this would usually be a keyboard or control activation by the program user). But then you must not use the random generator long enough for patterns to start appearing, so you occasionally reset the seed from fresh data from the real world.

    There are ways of calculating a series of numbers that have no pattern at all, like computing the digits of an irrational number but that would take more computing time, but this does not make it any less deterministic.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Another way to get to it, would be an actual mock-up of a working brain, built by nanobots. This is not possible at the moment of course, but is certainly possible in principle. I mean we are strong on the way to quantum computers and are building all sorts of nano constructions in the lab.
    Another way to get what?


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I am not aware of any evidence suggesting that the brain is strongly influenced by nondeterministic processes. Neurons are tens to hundreds of microns across; on the quantum scale they might as well be bowling balls. It's entirely possible that any nondeterministic effects are merely "background noise" that doesn't significantly impact the brain's functioning.
    Strong influence is not required. If they change the course of macroscopic neural events only occasionally then the operation of the brain is not a deterministic process. Now the argument you have made here WAS the basis of a conclusion that quantum events had NO such impact BUT that was before the advent of the new science of chaotic dynamics, before which scientists habitually made linear approximations to the non-linear equations of nature. Linear equations will indeed be insensitive to small perturbations which will be only background noise that has no net effect on large scale phenomena. But this is not true of non-linear equations, for these will damp out most perturbation and amplify others. This is the so called butterfly effect. The equations governing the weather are nonlinear and so to these equations all butterflies are not equal -- most are ignored and others are amplified. Furthermore it was conclusively proven by Illya Prigogine that non-linear differential equation require the specification of the intial condition to an infinite degree of precision in order for their results to be determined. The consequence is that in the case where things are governed by non-linear mathematics, quantum indeterminacy cannot be neglected. It takes no genius whatsoever to see that the behavior of living things are not well approximated by linear equations.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Again, you seem to be equating "nondeterministic" with "not alive" - but so far as I know there is no evidence that our behavior isn't deterministic.
    No I am not. There are a lot of phenomena which are nondeterministic but not alive. Quantum objects are not alive. But the process of life definitely occurs in the far from equillibrium non-linear regime. Thus I am indeed equating that which IS deterministic with being completely devoid of life and I explained why - let me repeat again one more. Such determinism makes the process essentially no different from a recording which can be stopped, rewound and played again. That is not life but a machine and completely controled by something external to it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    It seems to me that I have the potential to decide one thing rather than another, but if turned out that my brain was an entirely deterministic machine it wouldn't be the first time my perception fooled me about reality.
    With scientific training one learns to discard hypotheses that are inconsistent with the facts. The deterministic machine hypothesis is inconsistent with the facts. Part of the problem here is the "how high is high" question. The universe is by and large quite deterministic and it is only special circumstances far from equillibrium where nonlinear mathematics gives rise to this phenomenon of self-organization, of which life is the most complex example. Many parts of a nonlinear process can in the short run be approximated by linear equations. Observe the Mandlebrot set. Most areas of this set are not the least bit complex, you have to look in the right places for some areas are exploding with neverending complexity which equates to an infinite sensitivity to the parameters.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Perhaps when I have an internal dialog and waffling back and forth about a decision, the outcome is already predetermined even though I feel as though I could decide one way or the other. My internal waffling might be similar to a coin falling down a plinko machine, bouncing one way and then the other according to deterministic laws of physics.
    Indeed it might. One of the key features of nonlinear systems is feedback amplification and this is one of the things that plays a key role in the nondeterministic nature of living things. The most obvious manifestation of this feedback phenomenon in the human mind is known as self consciousness. But consciousness does not operate independent of perception and perception does not operate independent of belief and so there can be no doubt that not believing in the reality of the self will have a shrinking effect on self consciousness. Human being can indeed behave reactively and habitually and approaching life as an objective observer rather than as an active participant is one way of achieving such a reactive existence.

    Human behavior is in fact largely a matter of habit and it is these habits which make people quite predictable. But these habits are the result of how we have chosen (whether actively or passively) to live our lives. Furthermore not all habits are equal. Some habits (take reading for example) can actually expand our awareness and thus increase the range of choices available to use when we do make choices.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    In any case, as I said, even if it is necessary to use a pseudo-random number generator tied to, say, the computer's internal clock, you could still produce an emulation of a brain that could convincingly behave like a brain. The nondeterministic quantum effects, should they be necessary, will still follow predictable statistical distributions.
    You cannot make meaningful statistical distributions of actions when the number of possible actions exceeds the number of particles in the known universe. Thus you can only make a statistical analysis by lumping people together with gross generalizations. Such efforts to simplify the world in order to stuff reality into the mentality of small minds is a large part of what is wrong with the world.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    If it's necessary for a brain to take advantage of nondeterministic effect to produce a "real" conscious mind, you still wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a real mind and my emulation of a mind.
    I guarantee that I can detect an artificially constructed simulation in a shorter amount of time than was used to construct the simulation. This is because the number of circumstances the simulation can be confronted with is infinite varied and thus it is inevitable that I will be able to confront the simulation with situations that the designers haven't been able to anticipate. Where a real person will adapt to new situations and generate its own responses to new circumstances the simulation can only act as it was designed, and where the designers did design it to deceive me, the simulation will reveal its true nature.

    The only alternative is true AI - that is machine life, which may indeed become possible with the advent of quantum computing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Or if you're really SO insistent that my simulation of a brain be able to receive nondeterministic input, I can always build a gadget to generate truly random outputs by counting radioactive decays or something.
    Yes of course. But then as I said before, your simulation would then be truly non-deterministic and it might be perfectly justified in imagining that it too was a conscious being with free will

    There is a fundamental flaw of magical thinking running consistently throughout your analysis that I see most often in theological considerations of Christians and this is the assumption that the result of what one creates can be independent of the means by which it is created. I think that this assumptions is not only without foundation but competely wrong. Result cannot be separated from means.

    In any case, my original observation remains. If it is truly an authentic simulation of the operation of the human brain then you would have to teach it as you teach a child and you certainly would not be able to treat it like a recording or machine.
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  25. #24 Re: are animals robots? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sox

    Actually that is not true. You yourself are testament to that. You have programmed yourself. You might think yourself to be flexible, but really you're quite rigid.
    That makes no sense at all. How have I programmed myself? What do mean by "rigid?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    You cannot make meaningful statistical distributions of actions when the number of possible actions exceeds the number of particles in the known universe. Thus you can only make a statistical analysis by lumping people together with gross generalizations. Such efforts to simplify the world in order to stuff reality into the mentality of small minds is a large part of what is wrong with the world.
    I'm not sure you understood what I meant. I'm talking about a computer program that uses a physics engine to simulate how a real brain would behave, based on deterministic laws of physics. You objected by pointing out that I can't get non-deterministic quantum effects from a deterministic program, which would ruin the simulation. What I was saying in the paragraph that you wrote this in response to is that any non-deterministic quantum effects that my physics engine needs to do its calculations will follow statistical distributions, so it would be easy for me to create a plausible set of "faux non-deterministic" data to feed into my physics engine. While this would not necessarily allow my program to predict with perfect accuracy what your brain would really do in the real world, it should be good enough to produce realistic results that would fool anyone who knew you. I was not talking about simply making statistical predictions about the macroscale results, which based on your comment here seems to be what you thought I meant.
    There is a fundamental flaw of magical thinking running consistently throughout your analysis that I see most often in theological considerations of Christians and this is the assumption that the result of what one creates can be independent of the means by which it is created. I think that this assumptions is not only without foundation but competely wrong. Result cannot be separated from means.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. "the result of what one creates can be independent of the means by which it is created"? If you are talking about a my notion of simulating a brain and whether or not its behavior is deterministic, of course I agree that any program you might run on a computer will be deterministic in nature.
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    Another way to get what?
    A functional replica of a brain. Not necessarily one that looks the same, but one that has enough potential for the dynamic interconnected complexity and random actions needed for it to qualify as being "a person". Equipping it with the same kind of learning procedures and ways of connecting everything together of the desired animal will produce an animal brain. It won't be organic, but it will do the same job. Knowing what those initial hard wired input/processing/output procedures should be, I think, is the most difficult part and where we might never succeed.

    The vast amount of information that the brain will be flooded with and the unimaginable complexity of interrelating, evaluating, discarding and incorporating all of this in different ways and to varying degrees provide more than enough unpredictability for it to qualify as real.

    Where the real difference comes in between an army of near clones and a collection of individuals is variability in aspects of the initial operating system and the environment it is released into.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    What I was saying in the paragraph that you wrote this in response to is that any non-deterministic quantum effects that my physics engine needs to do its calculations will follow statistical distributions, so it would be easy for me to create a plausible set of "faux non-deterministic" data to feed into my physics engine. While this would not necessarily allow my program to predict with perfect accuracy what your brain would really do in the real world, it should be good enough to produce realistic results that would fool anyone who knew you. I was not talking about simply making statistical predictions about the macroscale results, which based on your comment here seems to be what you thought I meant.
    I understood perfectly and I don't think you know what you are talking about. The space of human actions is not only infinite but infinite dimensional and yet this is a space you are proposing to do a statistical analysis on??? Any set of possible actions that you can manage to think of in an interval of time is one that I will be able think outside of in the same interval of time.

    I have no doubt that you can write a program to fool people for short periods of time, but over periods of time comparable to the time you spend programing it, the limitations will start becoming apparent to intellegent people.

    But frankly your indulgence in fantasy and science fiction here make the ideas of every religion and fairy tale on planet seem rather practical and down to earth by comparison.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    There is a fundamental flaw of magical thinking running consistently throughout your analysis that I see most often in theological considerations of Christians and this is the assumption that the result of what one creates can be independent of the means by which it is created. I think that this assumptions is not only without foundation but competely wrong. Result cannot be separated from means.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. "the result of what one creates can be independent of the means by which it is created"? If you are talking about a my notion of simulating a brain and whether or not its behavior is deterministic, of course I agree that any program you might run on a computer will be deterministic in nature.
    I am talking about your fantastic idea that you can somehow copy and duplicate the content of a human mind and that it will behave in the same way. How like a "pie in the sky" philosopher and theoretician. That may work well in fantasy novels and Star Trek episodes but this has little to do with reality. Things are created by complex processes and it is on by pure imagination that you can abstract the result from the process by which it is created. The human brain and mind is what it is because of the process by which it came into existence. Magic just isn't real. There are no Star Trek "replicators" and there is no God that can turn dirt or a piece of bone in a real human being. AND just because you call your magic "nanites" doesn't change a thing.

    Living things are more than just a static structure, they are a dynamic structure and a process and so it is not just a matter of putting together the pieces. The pieces have to be doing the right thing. But any machinery that you put in place to make the pieces do what you want them to do will be bigger than the pieces themselves and make the very processes that you are trying to make them enact impossible.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Another way to get what?
    A functional replica of a brain. Not necessarily one that looks the same, but one that has enough potential for the dynamic interconnected complexity and random actions needed for it to qualify as being "a person". Equipping it with the same kind of learning procedures and ways of connecting everything together of the desired animal will produce an animal brain. It won't be organic, but it will do the same job. Knowing what those initial hard wired input/processing/output procedures should be, I think, is the most difficult part and where we might never succeed.

    The vast amount of information that the brain will be flooded with and the unimaginable complexity of interrelating, evaluating, discarding and incorporating all of this in different ways and to varying degrees provide more than enough unpredictability for it to qualify as real.

    Where the real difference comes in between an army of near clones and a collection of individuals is variability in aspects of the initial operating system and the environment it is released into.
    Machine life? Sure. I got no problem with that. It may or may not be possible. But in principle, life is a process not a substance and thus it is theoretically independent of the medium. In practice the nature of the medium may have enormous impact on the nature of the life that can occur in that medium.

    But in any case, the process is nevertheless a HIGHLY non-deterministic one. Sure todays machines are determistic and such machines will never simulate life. But if we do manage to simulate life it will be because we have included non-determistic features in the operation of the simulation.

    The most important thing you have to understand is that life by its very nature is a SELF ORGANIZING process that only occurs in the non-linear dynamic of a far from equillibrium environment. A product of design is by its very nature fundamentally different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    if we do manage to simulate life it will be because we have included non-determistic features in the operation of the simulation.
    Are you familiar with the Game of Life? Applet here. Click "start", and paint on it. "Fast" if you're impatient for emerging patterns.
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    The most important thing you have to understand is that life by its very nature is a SELF ORGANIZING process that only occurs in the non-linear dynamic of a far from equillibrium environment. A product of design is by its very nature fundamentally different.
    Can a natural being make unnatural things? Could one not say that the machine-life is also the product of self organisation? It would be a secondary product of a self organising thing, but would that stop it from being life in its own right? If God made the universe in a certain way so that we would result from it, does that not make us designed in the same way the machine life is, yet we count as life?

    Further, if the machine-life develops and learns as it goes, it could only do so by taking in information from the outside, which is non-deterministic in any case. So the reactions of the machine-life will also be non-deterministic. Its development will be non-deterministic. Also, the workings of the brain and body will be manufactured on a scale where quantum effects play a larger role.

    In case I am still missing something, can you explain why machine-life will be deterministic?

    I guess my problem is that I don't understand the difference between life and an autonomous being whose actions and thoughts where directly moulded in the same world the standard life was. Is complexity the determining factor? The more I think about it, the more I am getting the impression that the final deciding factor will be who made it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    if we do manage to simulate life it will be because we have included non-determistic features in the operation of the simulation.
    Are you familiar with the Game of Life?
    Of course I am. I wrote some of the most elaborate versions of such cellular automata nearly 30 years ago. How can such simple rules produce such complex self organizing features? Because just like all the equations that prduce fractals like the Mandlebrot it include the key feature of non-linear systems: feedback. The next state depends on the curent state which depends on the previous state and so on. That means the result of the process is constantly fed back into the same process. Feedback doesnot always produce interesting results. Many will just produce exponential growth or universal amplification and other will produce exponential decay or a universal damping of perturbations, but you can also find dependendencies that lead to more interesting results.

    Do no mistake what I mean here. What you see in cellular automata is no more an example of life than fractals. It is simply a demonstration of the complexity and self organization that can arise in a non-linear system.



    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The most important thing you have to understand is that life by its very nature is a SELF ORGANIZING process that only occurs in the non-linear dynamic of a far from equillibrium environment. A product of design is by its very nature fundamentally different.
    Can a natural being make unnatural things?
    I would say that this is so obviously the case that it make me wonder what you mean by "unnatural". Are machines natural or unnatural?


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Could one not say that the machine-life is also the product of self organisation?
    Sure and the body produces fingernail clippings, hair and poop but these are not living organisms. None of these organize themselves. They are created by a living organism that does. The human body however is not simply the product of a living organism in this way. It receives an inheritance of information as does all higher forms of life, but it uses that information to organize itself from materials gathered from its environment. That is the nature of a living organism.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    It would be a secondary product of a self organising thing, but would that stop it from being life in its own right?
    Correct. If all that it is, is what it was made to be then it would not be alive.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    If God made the universe in a certain way so that we would result from it, does that not make us designed in the same way the machine life is, yet we count as life?
    No it does not. This is the difference between poop and a baby. Both come out of a human body and are a product of the human body in that sense. But the structure of one of these was not in fact created by the body that it came out of. It organized itself from a single cell invisible to the naked eye. A tumor is quite a bit more like the baby than the poop since it is its own creator, but its level of organization is not much greater than can be found in its individual cells.

    Besides a contribution to the inheritance of information and an initial investment of material, the mother simply contributes the right environment where this new life can grow. So in the creation of this universe God has made a womb for the beginning of new life, but this new life begins from scratch and must learn everything and at most God plays the role of a farmer or shepherd to provide the right environment and the right stimulation for this life to learn and grow.

    Look you cannot have it both ways. Either we are product of design or not. If not then we have this capacity that has created incredible complexity and function from nothing, and we have created the rules of our own existence. If we want machine life then we have to give a machine this same capability and you will not accomplish this by simply giving it a set of rules for its existence.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But in any case, the process (of life) is nevertheless a HIGHLY non-deterministic one. Sure todays machines are determistic and such machines will never simulate life. But if we do manage to simulate life it will be because we have included non-determistic features in the operation of the simulation.
    In case I am still missing something, can you explain why machine-life will be deterministic?
    Apparently what you are missing is that I am saying precisely the opposite of this. Machine life will NOT and cannot be deterministic! Therefore as long as our machines operate in a completely deterministic manner there will be no machine life.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Further, if the machine-life develops and learns as it goes, it could only do so by taking in information from the outside, which is non-deterministic in any case. So the reactions of the machine-life will also be non-deterministic.
    Incorrect. If you have machine-life then it is already nondeterministic. A deterministic machine can only respond to the environment according to the design of its programmers. It will always be purely reactive and never creative. It will in many ways resemble animal life that does not evolve (although ultimately only superficially perhaps).


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Its development will be non-deterministic.
    A determinstic machine responding to the environment will only reflect the environment and that is what distinguishes it from a living organism. A living organism has no response designed into it, instead it has a means of responding to new environmental changes in a purely creative way. Thus the living organism will learn, adapt and evolve.

    Now IF that environment includes living organisms like human beings then the environment they reflect will be a highly non-deterministic one. I think we already know that the interaction between deterministic machines and non-deterministic human beings can produce HIGHLY unpredictable results.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Also, the workings of the brain and body will be manufactured on a scale where quantum effects play a larger role.
    Are you a making a prophecy or proposing a new sci fi television show? LOL


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I guess my problem is that I don't understand the difference between life and an autonomous being whose actions and thoughts where directly moulded in the same world the standard life was. Is complexity the determining factor? The more I think about it, the more I am getting the impression that the final deciding factor will be who made it.
    EXACTLY!!!! You have got it EXACTLY!!!! If it is made by others it is not life. If it is made by itself in it own way and for its own reasons then it is life.
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    In short, MM, you believe life requires free will.

    Is it really necessary? What's your problem with Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving each generation? You may snicker but I doubt you or anybody can wipe them out or regulate their spread. As for the "determinism" of Christmas decorations, can you really predict where they'll be or what they'll be doing this December, better than say fir trees or migratory geese?


    the living organism will learn, adapt and evolve.

    I think you'll want to break that down a bit. Are plants living organisms? May life adapt only through evolution or must individual organisms adapt (creatively, I think you mean) within their lifetimes?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    In short, MM, you believe life requires free will.

    Is it really necessary?
    correction: Life is a particular kind of physical process and free will is one of the most significant results of that process. Higher forms of life are hierarchical unities/organizations (both spatially and temporally) of many such processes and so life is also a quantitative measure (in several dimensions). Since free will is a principle result of this process then like life it is also quantitative.

    Necessary? It is what it is. But I will say this: our instinctual recognition of the presence of life is a recognition of the presence of free will.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    What's your problem with Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving each generation? You may snicker but I doubt you or anybody can wipe them out or regulate their spread. As for the "determinism" of Christmas decorations, can you really predict where they'll be or what they'll be doing this December, better than say fir trees or migratory geese?
    snicker? not at all. I have had the same thought about slot machines in Nevada.

    But this perception is on par with the perception of design in nature by the relgious and by which they often argue for the existence of a creator. It is a superficial subjective perception that is ultimately wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    the living organism will learn, adapt and evolve.

    I think you'll want to break that down a bit. Are plants living organisms? May life adapt only through evolution or must individual organisms adapt (creatively, I think you mean) within their lifetimes?
    Yes plants are living organisms. They adapt and learn even as individuals (quite minimally to be sure), but all living organisms with only the exception of human beings do most of their learning not as individuals but as species, for non-human forms of life pass very little if anything of what they have learned individually to the next generation. Thus when you compare the quantitative measure of life between human and all the rest you are dealing with very different time scales. Furthermore, in the same way the life of the human body is insignificant compared to the life of the human mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I understood perfectly and I don't think you know what you are talking about. The space of human actions is not only infinite but infinite dimensional and yet this is a space you are proposing to do a statistical analysis on???
    No, not at all. The simulation that I am proposing would calculate the behavior of a brain at the molecular or atomic level, based on the laws of physics that the matter that makes up the brain obeys. I'm talking about using statistics to simulate the specific non-deterministic physical elements of the individual particles that make up the brain. The non-deterministic quantum elements that the simulation would require would be on the level of particle positions, interactions, and energy states. The physics at that level is all pretty well understood, and the statistical analysis has thankfully already been done. If the simulation needs to know how many radioactive atoms in our simulated brain will decay, or how many meta-stable things will tunnel back to the ground state, or any of the other non-deterministic things that would affect the simulation, the statistics for those processes is already known.

    I have no doubt that you can write a program to fool people for short periods of time, but over periods of time comparable to the time you spend programing it, the limitations will start becoming apparent to intellegent people.
    You only program an elaborate physics engine that's very good at calculating how a few kg of matter would behave at the atomic or molecular level, then feed in data from a real brain. You now have a "virtual copy" of the brain that you fed into the simulator, and you can see how it reacts if you tell it to, say, write a scholarly paper comparing Dante to Milton. Of course your request for it to do so would need to be "posed" in terms of whatever physical inputs a real brain would receive if you asked it to perform such a task.

    I am talking about your fantastic idea that you can somehow copy and duplicate the content of a human mind and that it will behave in the same way. How like a "pie in the sky" philosopher and theoretician. That may work well in fantasy novels and Star Trek episodes but this has little to do with reality. Things are created by complex processes and it is on by pure imagination that you can abstract the result from the process by which it is created. The human brain and mind is what it is because of the process by which it came into existence. Magic just isn't real. There are no Star Trek "replicators" and there is no God that can turn dirt or a piece of bone in a real human being. AND just because you call your magic "nanites" doesn't change a thing.
    Actually it appears to me that you are the one who is indulging in magical thinking. My assumption is that the human brain is no more than the matter that it's composed of and the chemical/physical interactions that it undergoes. If the matter in the brain is governed by physical laws, and if you have a good understanding of both the structure of the brain and the physical laws that govern it, then you should be able to compute how it would behave just like you can compute how any other collection of matter should behave. You, on the other hand, appear to think that there is some element to the human brain above and beyond the ordinary chemical/physical interaction that its matter undergoes which would make simulating its behavior with a computer impossible. That is magical thinking. If anything, my belief that the brain is merely a collection of ordinary matter that is governed by the same laws of physics as everything else (and therefor just as potentially subject to detailed simulation as anything else) is depressingly non-magical. You could certainly say that the idea of a computer with enough processing power and storage to run such a simulation strains the limits of credulity, or that the idea of being able to actually collect the necessary data on a real brain requires fanciful sci-fi technology that won't be available for the foreseeable future. Fine, I can accept that criticism. But "magical thinking"? My entire premise here is that there isn't anything magical about the brain or the mechanisms by which it operates.
    Living things are more than just a static structure, they are a dynamic structure and a process and so it is not just a matter of putting together the pieces.
    And you don't think we can write computer programs that predict how dynamic systems will behave at the atomic or molecular level, based on the known laws of physics and chemistry??? There's a (very expensive) example of such software on a (very expensive) computer in the room next to me. http://accelrys.com/products/materials-studio/

    I assure you it's quite good at predicting how a dynamic collection of molecules will behave over time given an arbitrary set of initial conditions. Of course if you tried to feed it the data for an entire brain it would probably choke and lock up for the next thousand years, but that's merely a computational hardware issue.

    Of course, it's also entirely possible that you wouldn't need to actually model things at the atomic or molecular level to convincingly simulate a brain. You might be able to get away with simply modeling the connections and interactions between entire neurons, in which case the simulation would be many orders of magnitude less complex, and wouldn't need to include quantum effects at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving
    a superficial subjective perception that is ultimately wrong.
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    ...My entire premise here is that there isn't anything magical about the brain
    Firmer ground, I agree.

    Maybe MM's (supernatural) soul is a sort of matter randomizing agent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    No, not at all. The simulation that I am proposing would calculate the behavior of a brain at the molecular or atomic level, based on the laws of physics that the matter that makes up the brain obeys. I'm talking about using statistics to simulate the specific non-deterministic physical elements of the individual particles that make up the brain. The non-deterministic quantum elements that the simulation would require would be on the level of particle positions, interactions, and energy states. The physics at that level is all pretty well understood, and the statistical analysis has thankfully already been done. If the simulation needs to know how many radioactive atoms in our simulated brain will decay, or how many meta-stable things will tunnel back to the ground state, or any of the other non-deterministic things that would affect the simulation, the statistics for those processes is already known.

    You only program an elaborate physics engine that's very good at calculating how a few kg of matter would behave at the atomic or molecular level, then feed in data from a real brain. You now have a "virtual copy" of the brain that you fed into the simulator, and you can see how it reacts if you tell it to, say, write a scholarly paper comparing Dante to Milton. Of course your request for it to do so would need to be "posed" in terms of whatever physical inputs a real brain would receive if you asked it to perform such a task.
    LOL This is pure fantasy

    There about 5x10^10 cells in the human brain, about 7x10^15 atoms per cell. If for each human action we can consider only one quantum event in a trillion atoms, this is still 35x10^13 events. If each event is only has only 2 significant possibilities, there 2^(35x1-^13)=10^(10^14) possible results. There are on the order of only 10^80 atoms in the entire universe so even with all the atoms in the universe you could not make a computer that could consider the possibilities in a single human action. And if you considered the possible things that could be written in such a scholarly paper you talk about, you get a similarly high number that makes the number of particles in the universe look ridiculously small. And yet you are proposing to do a statistical analysis that is going to choose which of these possible actions are the most likely? LOL You don't know what you are talking about.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Actually it appears to me that you are the one who is indulging in magical thinking. My assumption is that the human brain is no more than the matter that it's composed of and the chemical/physical interactions that it undergoes. If the matter in the brain is governed by physical laws, and if you have a good understanding of both the structure of the brain and the physical laws that govern it, then you should be able to compute how it would behave just like you can compute how any other collection of matter should behave.
    Yes before the 1950's and the advent of the chaotic dynamics people had the same fantasies about predicting the weather and the complexity and nonlinearity of those calculations are nothing compared to that of the human brain.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    You, on the other hand, appear to think that there is some element to the human brain above and beyond the ordinary chemical/physical interaction that its matter undergoes
    That must be this overactive imagination of yours at work again, since I have not only said no such thing but believe no such thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    there is some element to the human brain above and beyond the ordinary chemical/physical interaction that its matter undergoes which would make simulating its behavior with a computer impossible.
    I have already explained that it is the mathematical realities of the physics itself that what makes this impossible. It is the simple fact that we are dealing with a non-deterministic system whose real and unpredictable possibilities far far exceeds the number of particles in the known universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    That is magical thinking.
    You are the one using your imagination to invent devices that are a definite impossibility and you think that imagining non-physical things in my mind can make me the one who is doing the magical thinking??? Your indulgence in imagination has stepped over the boundaries of speculation into the delusions you use to to justify your unreasonable conclusions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    If anything, my belief that the brain is merely a collection of ordinary matter that is governed by the same laws of physics as everything else (and therefor just as potentially subject to detailed simulation as anything else) is depressingly non-magical.
    Your magical thinking is found in the way you prop up your conclusion with magical devices and its similarity to religious thinking is striking. How is your extrapolation from real computers to a God computer really any different that the fantasies by with theists have extrapolated from human watchmakers to a divine universe maker.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    You could certainly say that the idea of a computer with enough processing power and storage to run such a simulation strains the limits of credulity, or that the idea of being able to actually collect the necessary data on a real brain requires fanciful sci-fi technology that won't be available for the foreseeable future. Fine, I can accept that criticism. But "magical thinking"? My entire premise here is that there isn't anything magical about the brain or the mechanisms by which it operates.
    It not only strains but exceeds credulity and your sci-fi tecnology is of the same sort of pure fantasy as ftl space ships. You thinking that your imagining such devices proves anything reminds me of the way the religious right thinks that their imagining that zygotes have "souls" proves that all abortion is murder.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Living things are more than just a static structure, they are a dynamic structure and a process and so it is not just a matter of putting together the pieces.
    And you don't think we can write computer programs that predict how dynamic systems will behave at the atomic or molecular level, based on the known laws of physics and chemistry??? There's a (very expensive) example of such software on a (very expensive) computer in the room next to me. http://accelrys.com/products/materials-studio/
    LOL LOL LOL I spent all my undergraduate and graduate studies working on such simulations (including on parallel processing super computers) and so I know how they work. Of course we can predict how dynamic systems will behave not only at atomic or molecular levels but on the far larger scale of earth's weather systems, but all of the predictive power of these simulations are necessarily limited in how far in the future they can make such predictions even with the simplest of dynamic systems. This is the consequence of non-linearity. We can make linear approximations over the short run but the reality eventually deviates from the approximations. Furthermore the whole process leads to deceptive conclusions. It is like thinking the set of rational numbers can accurately represent the set of irrational numbers just because any irrational number can be approximated by a rational number to a arbitrary degree of precision. It sounds reasonable but it is wrong. You should read the Gleick's book on the historical development of the science of chaotic dynamics.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I assure you it's quite good at predicting how a dynamic collection of molecules will behave over time given an arbitrary set of initial conditions.
    I am sure that there are many situations where this software is quite good at predicting the behavior of a dynamical system just as there are many simple areas of the Mandlebrot set. But unless you can supply the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision there are other situations where the software will be quite useless and that is when we ignore quantum fluctuations.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Of course if you tried to feed it the data for an entire brain it would probably choke and lock up for the next thousand years, but that's merely a computational hardware issue.
    I would be amazed if a computer could even handle a single human cell. And then to imagine that it could accurately simulate its behavior over a single hour makes me laugh. One day we may have a computer that can do such a simulation, IF it takes several years to simulate that one hour. But I cannot indulge this fantasy of yours that we could actually gather the information about the state of a single human cell, which I know is impossible. It is a quantum mechanical fact that measurement alters what you are measuring and that is dealing with a single particle. In the case of a human cell your interference in the cell would your measurements a product of the measuring process and not any kind of objective observation at all.

    I dont think you understand the computational hardware issue at all. Its like the problem of factoring primes. Incremental increases in functionality require exponential increases in computing capacity and that is what quickly leads to the need for a computer with more atoms than there are in the known universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Of course, it's also entirely possible that you wouldn't need to actually model things at the atomic or molecular level to convincingly simulate a brain. You might be able to get away with simply modeling the connections and interactions between entire neurons, in which case the simulation would be many orders of magnitude less complex, and wouldn't need to include quantum effects at all.
    You have to make approximations somewhere. And we will make whatever approximations are required to get results. I have no doubt that we will find applications for such efforts, for that is the serendipity of scientific investigations. So perhaps there are pragmatic reasons for indulging such delusions as yours, just as I see pragmatic reasons for indulging the delusions of many of the religious. I am a pragmatist after all. That is why my own little sci fi story suggested that a delusion of self-importance may actually be necessary for the survival of a species.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  37. #36  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving
    a superficial subjective perception that is ultimately wrong.
    Why?
    LOL LOL LOL LOL The Creationists would LOVE you. They would love the idea that Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving is just like the evolution and development of living things for obvious reasons. They cannot see the difference either. But I rarely waste my time explaining the difference to them because it just seem too much like trying to argue with the flat earth society.

    They look at the universe and to their subjective perception it look like a giant clockwork mechanism that must have a designer for a watch after all is designed and created by a watchmaker. But what seems to have been designed was not necessarily designed and what seems to have evolved has not necessarily evolved. They seem similar because both are a product of what is essentially a learning process but in one case it is a learning process by the living things themselves and in the other case it is a learning process an intellegent designer.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    ...My entire premise here is that there isn't anything magical about the brain
    Firmer ground, I agree.
    Supernatural computers, magical measuring devices and impossible recording devices are firmer ground? What is in direct contradiction to physical impossibilities obviously cannot be firmer ground than mere unknowns.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Maybe MM's (supernatural) soul is a sort of matter randomizing agent.
    Since you and SR are the ones introducing these ideas of supernatural and "souls", whatever you imagine them to be, it will be up to you to explain what they are and how they have anything to do with the discussion. But the fact that you bring them into the discussion is only typical of the way your thinking is more magic and imagination than anything else.

    The only matter randomizing device that I have seen in this discussion is SR's imaginary device for gathering the information of the molecular states of human brains.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I am a pragmatist after all.
    That explains why all you wrote essentially is saying "minuscule equals zero". But then you recognize the difference and put free will in there. Microscopes destroy souls?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There about 5x10^10 cells in the human brain, about 7x10^15 atoms per cell. If for each human action we can consider only one quantum event in a trillion atoms, this is still 35x10^13 events. If each event is only has only 2 significant possibilities, there 2^(35x1-^13)=10^(10^14) possible results. There are on the order of only 10^80 atoms in the entire universe so even with all the atoms in the universe you could not make a computer that could consider the possibilities in a single human action.
    Who said anything about considering all possible combinations of outcomes? The program will simply select random values for each of the needed 3.5e14 quantum events using an appropriate function for whatever quantum event we're talking about. If there are only two possible outcomes then it's only 1 bit of storage per event, and my set of faux non-deterministic data to feed into the simulation will be less than a petabtye. Iím not interested in calculating every plausible thing that a brain might hypothetically do, Iím just talking about generating a single final output that would be plausible.

    And if you considered the possible things that could be written in such a scholarly paper you talk about, you get a similarly high number that makes the number of particles in the universe look ridiculously small. And yet you are proposing to do a statistical analysis that is going to choose which of these possible actions are the most likely? LOL You don't know what you are talking about.
    No, I know what I'm talking about, but clearly you somehow still don't get what I'm talking about. You seem to think I'm proposing having the computer consider all possible scholarly papers that might potentially be written and then choose the one that seems most likely, which isn't what I'm talking about at all.
    It is the simple fact that we are dealing with a non-deterministic system whose real and unpredictable possibilities far far exceeds the number of particles in the known universe.
    And if I were talking about having a computer sort through "possibilities," this would be relevant. You keep saying things like "I understand exactly what you're talking about," and then go on to say something that indicates you have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm getting bored with trying to make you understand what I'm talking about, so I think I'm just going to give up. If you want to continue to believe that I'm talking about building a "god computer" that can consider any and all possible outcomes, despite my repeatedly telling you otherwise, I guess you can go ahead.

    Edit:There are about 10e25 atoms in a brain. If you needed to store a kb of information on each atom, that would be 10e28 bytes. At a density of 1 tb/cubic inch, that would be a memory array that made a cube about 3.4 miles on its side. This is certainly impractical, but there is no need for "magical" amounts of storage, and I suspect there are enough atoms in the universe to build it.
    Reedit: Fixed my math typo
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    Man, this is getting heated!

    "Can a natural being make unnatural things? "


    I would say that this is so obviously the case that it makes me wonder what you mean by "unnatural". Are machines natural or unnatural?
    I guess I meant to convey that I am of the opinion that nothing is unnatural. A Ford Mustang is just as natural as the stripped stick a chimp uses to catch termites with, if you understand my meaning.

    "It would be a secondary product of a self organising thing, but would that stop it from being life in its own right? "


    Correct. If all that it is, is what it was made to be then it would not be alive.
    If we are able to one day exactly understand how DNA works and then build, from the raw elements, a brand new DNA molecule. If we built this molecule to produce an animal that can fill a niche (maybe the Martian soil), be able to adapt its behaviour and pass it on generationally, take in resources from its environment for fuel and to maintain its body, etc. You know, to be an animal. Would this animal also not be alive? I mean, the only difference between it and another animal would be that it was conceived by humans. Once we set it going, it is on its own. It would not have developed evolutionarily, but it would only differ in this conceptual way. If an alien took a look at it, it would not know the difference.

    I guess what I am getting at is that, to my mind, the only difference between a sufficiently complex and adaptively reactive automaton and life, in principle, is the origin. For instance, if a certain gut bacteria in humans died out so that it could no longer make a vitamin we need and we then went and created brand new bacteria from scratch, both would still qualify as life to me. An adaptive bacteria is not creative, it is still only a product of its environment. The defining criteria for a definition of life to me becomes a complex arrangement of compounds whose whole being is geared towards reproducing itself by dodging things that might stop it from doing so. Where it came from does not matter. It merely has to be able to do this without any help from outside.

    This would create the subjectively ridiculous idea that a robot that can build copies of itself, would also qualify as life. The only difference then would be the level of complexity.

    Then I want to ask this question again. I think you have answered it before and you can tell me to look it up if that is the case, but how do random processes and a chaotic sequence meld into each other? Where is the point that it happens? Do the random processes dictate which branches the chaotic cascade will move into along the whole sequence of events or just at the beginning (or either)?


    PS: It is 3 AM now, so my thinking is a bit fuzzy.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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  41. #40  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Christmas decorations reproducing and evolving
    a superficial subjective perception that is ultimately wrong.
    Why?
    LOL LOL LOL LOL The Creationists...
    I think you're evading. Do you?

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Supernatural computers, magical measuring devices and impossible recording devices
    Granted his proposal is extreme and technically impractical, but it isn't super-natural.


    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Maybe MM's (supernatural) soul is a sort of matter randomizing agent.
    Since you and SR are the ones introducing these ideas of supernatural and "souls", whatever you imagine them to be, it will be up to you to explain what they are and how they have anything to do with the discussion. But the fact that you bring them into the discussion is only typical of the way your thinking is more magic and imagination than anything else.

    The only matter randomizing device that I have seen in this discussion is SR's imaginary device for gathering the information of the molecular states of human brains.
    As I recall, you believe free will a property of all life. Obviously that's non-deterministic and beyond the resolution of SR's simulator. From his persective your free will must appear random, or he'd have accurately predicted it.

    I think we are all talking about souls here. I think your position is that the cogs in motion aren't truly alive without soul.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Granted his proposal is extreme and technically impractical, but it isn't super-natural.
    No, but what he appears to think I'm proposing would certainly be supernatural. He's stubbornly refusing to understand what I'm talking about, as evidenced by his nonsensical attempt to estimate how much storage would be required for a round of calculations. It's analogous to trying to use a computer to simulate a game of billiards. His objection regarding non-deterministic quantum effects is similar to the problem of not knowing exactly how a player will hit the cue ball, so you can't be exactly certain how the game will go. I'm saying that if you have good statistics on how real players tend to hit the cue ball, you could certainly have your simulation program make a plausible guess about how a player would hit the ball, and use that random-but-plausible value to simulate a plausible game. Except instead of billiard balls we're talking about molecules, and instead of uncertainty about where the player will hit the ball we're dealing with random quantum uncertainty.

    You could use my hypothetical brain program to simulate, for example, a plausible paper on Milton and Dante that a real, conscious, intelligent human brain might have created. To go back to my billiards analogy, he seems to think that I want to simulate all possible billiard games that could ever occur based on all the nearly-infinite ways players could hit the cue ball, then somehow use statistics to pick the best one. Which isn't what I said, but apparently he's latched on to the idea. Of course I might not be understanding him correctly, I'm just sort of trying to reverse-engineer his logic to figure out what made him post the things he did.
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  43. #42  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This would create the subjectively ridiculous idea that a robot that can build copies of itself, would also qualify as life. The only difference then would be the level of complexity.
    Compare this to the Creationist concept that God designed all the living creatures including the means by which they reproduce. I would not consider the result to be alive any more than these replicating robots, because NO it is NOT sufficient that they simply build copies of themselves. IF that was all that biological organisms did then I would not consider them to be alive either - no more alive that rocks tumbling down a hill. But that simply is NOT what living things are. The are NOT simply a consequece of mathematical laws resolving themselves. SR's fantasies about computer predicting what living things do is absurd.

    He thinks that if he makes a program that randomly choose cards that this is a predictor of what I would actually be dealt in a poker game. Somehow he thinks that what cards I am actually dealt don't really matter. He uses the term statistical analysis without understanding, equating the statistical analysis of a single card to the statistical analysis of poker. Thus he refuses to see the point that an understanding of the statistics of a single atom is worthless when it comes to predicting the behavior of an actual human brain.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Then I want to ask this question again. I think you have answered it before and you can tell me to look it up if that is the case, but how do random processes and a chaotic sequence meld into each other?
    Well it is difficult to see what explanation you are looking for exactly.

    The point is that nonlinear systems require the specification of the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision in order to guarantee that you can predict the result. But that makes quantum fluctuations significant. Just like the butterfly effect where instead of simply averaging out the behavior of all the butterflies so there is no net effect like in linear systems, the nonlinear system can amplify the behavior of a single butterfly and it is what that butterfly does that decides what happens.

    This is in fact precisely what happens every time we make any quantum measurements at all. The only way that we can detect what a single electron does and make it observable is to set up a situation where the behavior of that one electron determines the behavior of 6 trillion electrons (in order to light a 1 milliamp display for 1 millisecond). And it is these measurements which we have established cannot be the result of hidden (unknown) variables.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Where is the point that it happens? Do the random processes dictate which branches the chaotic cascade will move into along the whole sequence of events or just at the beginning (or either)?
    I don't see any reason why we would not see both cases.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    No, but what he appears to think I'm proposing would certainly be supernatural.
    I have no use for the word "supernatural" myself, but as I understand it, the typical usage by atheists is to refer to something that simply doesn't exist. In that case I am flabbergasted that you would not call these supernatural by your own usage of the word. But perhaps in your case, what you mean by the word "supernatural" is that which you don't want to exist. In that case it makes sense I guess, for then even if you acknowledge that these fantasy machines don't exist, you nevertheless wish that they did exist. :wink:


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    He's stubbornly refusing to understand what I'm talking about, as evidenced by his nonsensical attempt to estimate how much storage would be required for a round of calculations. It's analogous to trying to use a computer to simulate a game of billiards.
    Understanding is not the problem. It is your conclusions that are the problem.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    His objection regarding non-deterministic quantum effects is similar to the problem of not knowing exactly how a player will hit the cue ball, so you can't be exactly certain how the game will go. I'm saying that if you have good statistics on how real players tend to hit the cue ball, you could certainly have your simulation program make a plausible guess about how a player would hit the ball, and use that random-but-plausible value to simulate a plausible game. Except instead of billiard balls we're talking about molecules, and instead of uncertainty about where the player will hit the ball we're dealing with random quantum uncertainty.
    We were talking about the difference between living things and machines and so you suggested that you could make a virtual "mitchellmckain" that would be no different than the real thing and this is what I have explained is absurd. Your virtual "mitchellmckain" fantasy is of course nothing like me at all, because your calculation of a plausible behavior is in such an enormous space of possible behaviors that it is of no significance at all.

    As I said before, no matter how well you can approximate an irrational number with a rational number doesn't change the essential nature of these two things, and in the same way plausible simulations do not in any way mean that your simulation would have the same nature as what you are simulating.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    You could use my hypothetical brain program to simulate, for example, a plausible paper on Milton and Dante that a real, conscious, intelligent human brain might have created. To go back to my billiards analogy, he seems to think that I want to simulate all possible billiard games that could ever occur based on all the nearly-infinite ways players could hit the cue ball, then somehow use statistics to pick the best one. Which isn't what I said, but apparently he's latched on to the idea. Of course I might not be understanding him correctly, I'm just sort of trying to reverse-engineer his logic to figure out what made him post the things he did.
    Yes I can even see the value of such an exercise in testing whether the validity of the principles according to which you have made the simulation. But I don't think we will ever manage a simulation of the human brain from the atomic or molecular level. When all you are interested in is a plausible approximations then I don't even see what the need for it would be. But cannot say that I think much of the possibilities for a real time simulation of a brain that will handle the full variety of situations encountered in real life.

    I was thus much more interested in a machine simulation of the process of life itself which would represent the creation of machine life (real AI). Again I don't know whether this is possible or not, but it does seem possible in principle to me. And it is in that case that the process of "programing" would be similar to raising a child.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    NO it is NOT sufficient that they simply build copies of themselves. IF that was all that biological organisms did then I would not consider them to be alive either - no more alive that rocks tumbling down a hill. But that simply is NOT what living things are.

    ...We were talking about the difference between living things and machines...
    Okay, one last time: what's the difference?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think you're evading. Do you?
    Nope. I think your whole talk of Christmas lights has been an evasion from the beginning and I have explained why several times now.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I think we are all talking about souls here. I think your position is that the cogs in motion aren't truly alive without soul.
    No that is what you are talking about. I don't believe in non-physical entities as explanations for objectively observable phenomenon.

    I think you want to introduce this topic because then you can fall back on the rhetoric that you are used to using.

    But I will ignore your dishonesty and generously take this as a plea for me to explain how my understanding of the non-physical fits into all of this, OK?

    It is my understanding that non-physcial physical forms of energy, or spirits, play a mostly "epiphenomenal" role in the process of life. In terms of objectively measurable aspects of what is going on, I see it as playing no role at all. But I do think that it has everything to do with the subjective experience of consciousness, which is entirely a consequence of this subjective perception that we are responsible for our choices of action. But I see the effective causality all going the other way in that the choices which are made is what give form and identity to this non-physical aspect of our existence (our spirit).

    Happy now? Does that give you the spitoon you were looking for?


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    ...We were talking about the difference between living things and machines...
    Okay, one last time: what's the difference?
    Okay, one last time, I will repeat:
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    If it is made by others it is not life. If it is made by itself in it own way and for its own reasons then it is life.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I don't believe in non-physical entities as explanations for objectively observable phenomenon.
    Of course. Neither have you been a member of the Communist Party or associated with certain persons linked to al-Qaida on three separate occasions.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    It is my understanding that non-physcial physical forms of energy, or spirits, play a mostly "epiphenomenal" role in the process of life.
    Well you're honest. "Mostly" eh? I think where it must enter is indirectly under the radar, i.e. in what SR's simulator can't grasp. So...

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    ...In terms of objectively measurable aspects of what is going on, I see it as playing no role at all.
    The life-soul is real and subtly effective ("mostly" ineffective) but can't be measured or simulated?

    Because pragmatically, minuscule equals zero... Because we'll never build the computer Scifor Refugee imagines? And if we did, life-soul would simply retreat further into the, uh, gaps?

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    If it is made by others it is not life. If it is made by itself in it own way and for its own reasons then it is life.
    God is "others" isn't He? :? Wow that is some hardcore free will. I do like how it damns viruses though, by virtue of my own dumb cells making them.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    He thinks that if he makes a program that randomly choose cards that this is a predictor of what I would actually be dealt in a poker game.
    If a brain simulation uses randomly generated faux nondeterministic data to simulate quantum effects, and if the brain is a sufficiently chaotic system that the quantum effects have a noticeable impact on the final outcome, then of course the simulation can't predict exactly what would really happen in "real life." I never said it could. My position has always been that the simulation would merely produce a plausible output of what your brain might do. I have said this over and over, and yet you keep trying to ague against the idea of a computer being able to predict with perfect accuracy exactly what your nondeterministic brain will do at some point in the future - an imaginary proposition that no one here has made. I said that if the brain is deterministic, then your future actions could be calculated exactly. I immediately admitted that if the brain is heavily influenced by nondeterministic quantum effects then exact predictions would be impossible, but apparently your poor reading comprehension caused you to miss it. Still, one has to admire the way you tenaciously carry on your half of an imaginary argument.
    Understanding is not the problem.
    Really? Then why did you try to criticize me by pointing out that a computer could never calculate or store every possible 3.5e14 bit number, when that has absolutely no relevance to the discussion? Why did you just tell KALSTER that I think a statistically-plausible randomly generated poker game could predict exactly what would happen in a real poker game, when I have said over and over again that I'm only talking about creating a plausible output, rather than an exact prediction?

    Your virtual "mitchellmckain" fantasy is of course nothing like me at all, because your calculation of a plausible behavior is in such an enormous space of possible behaviors that it is of no significance at all.
    Following that logic, I could never use a computer to simulate a plausible poker game because the set of all possible poker games is nearly infinite, and there's no way to sort through them.

    I don't know why I'm still trying to get through to you, but I'll give it one more try.

    Suppose I want to simulate a poker game. So I program my computer with information about the rules of poker, statistics on how likely players are to bluff, call, raise, etc, and a "virtual deck" of cards in a specific order, then turn it loose to generate a virtual game. When it finishes, it prints out a play-by-play account of the fictitious game. At the same time as I'm writing my program, a real poker game is taking place in the room next to me using a deck that's in exactly the same order as the virtual deck in my program. Someone keeps careful track of exactly what happens in each hand, and at the end of the game produces a play-by-play account of the real game. If I hand you the two accounts, would you be able to tell which one is computer generated and which was real? I doubt it. Note that I am not saying that the computer's game corresponds exactly to the real game. Nor am I saying that I would try to use statistical analysis to sort through all possible poker games that might be played out with the starting deck.

    Similarly, if I tell my "virtual mitchellmckain" simulation to compose an essay comparing Milton to Dante, it should be able to compose an essay that might plausibly have been written by you - even if it's not the exactly the same as the essay you actually would have written if I had ordered you to produce one in real life. How similar my computer-generated essay is to your real essay will depend on how chaotic the brain is and how much quantum effects affect the outcome. If quantum effects don't play much of a role, it's possible that the computer's paper will be very similar or identical to your real paper. If quantum effects have a huge impact, then the odds of the two papers being the same might be trivially small. But even if the odds of my virtual paper and your real paper being the same are very small, my virtual paper would still be a plausible paper that you might have written. The differences between them, in that case, would be similar to the differences between the paper you would write in if told you to write it right now vs. if I told you to wait to write it until after you have lunch.
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  48. #47  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    "Mostly" eh? I think where it must enter is indirectly under the radar, i.e. in what SR's simulator can't grasp. So...
    The reason for the "mostly" was given in my post here:
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But I do think that it has everything to do with the subjective experience of consciousness, which is entirely a consequence of this subjective perception that we are responsible for our choices of action.
    That is the only role of the spirit that might not be considered epiphenomenal.

    You can program the simulation to say whatever you want and so whatever the simulation says only reflects that programming and not any kind of subjective experiences. So no observations of the simulator will not tell you anything about any subjective experiences.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    ...In terms of objectively measurable aspects of what is going on, I see it as playing no role at all.
    The life-soul is real and subtly effective ("mostly" ineffective) but can't be measured or simulated?
    I don't know what a "life-soul" is or what you imagine that it should be effective for, but no you cannot measure spiritual forms of energy because they are not a part of the quantitative space-time relationships that all physical things are a part of and no you cannot simulate them. Spiritual forms of energy are what they by their own nature not because of some coincidental conjunction of material components and therefore the whole concept of simulation is really inapplicable.

    But I am open to possiblity of the simulation of the process of life itself and that would be a form of life in a different medium, what I have called "machine life". But since all life has spirit, so would this machine life, and I suppose you could sort of call that a "simulation" of spirit, if you want.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    If it is made by others it is not life. If it is made by itself in it own way and for its own reasons then it is life.
    God is "others" isn't He?
    Yep, but then I already said that. Here, I will quote again here, so you don't have to strain yourself:
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Compare this to the Creationist concept that God designed all the living creatures including the means by which they reproduce. I would not consider the result to be alive any more than these replicating robots, because NO it is NOT sufficient that they simply build copies of themselves. IF that was all that biological organisms did then I would not consider them to be alive either - no more alive that rocks tumbling down a hill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I do like how it damns viruses though, by virtue of my own dumb cells making them.
    Dams them??? LOL Your compassion for the poor viruses aside, you are incorrect. Lets bring the implied question out into the open: "Are viruses alive?"

    Yes. Unlike the usual inane biological definition which has trouble with viruses and mules because of their difficulties in reproducing, I see that they are alive quite clearly because the ability to reproduce has nothing to do with it. Indulging in science fiction as posters in this thread have done so liberally, I have no difficulty in imagining some alien form of life that does not reproduce at all.

    But remember that life as I understand it is a quantitative thing and not simply either or. So while it is quite clear to me that viruses are definitely a form of life, it is also quite clear that its life is indeed rather miniscule by comparison to other forms of life.



    Yep. I can see that you are now happy to have your spitoon. But now that you have your spitoon your reading and thinking abilities have gone down the drain and since I have no interest in your spitting contest you are quickly ceasing to worth my time.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  49. #48  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Understanding is not the problem.
    Really? Then why did you try to criticize me by pointing out that a computer could never calculate or store every possible 3.5e14 bit number, when that has absolutely no relevance to the discussion? Why did you just tell KALSTER that I think a statistically-plausible randomly generated poker game could predict exactly what would happen in a real poker game, when I have said over and over again that I'm only talking about creating a plausible output, rather than an exact prediction?
    Because your plausible approximation is irrelevant to me and it did not seem to be what we were originally talking about. We were talking about the difference between living things and machines and so you said that you could make a virtual "mitchellmckain" implying that this would be no different than the real thing. But as I said before, no matter how well you can approximate an irrational number with a rational number doesn't change the essential nature of these two things, and in the same way plausible simulations do not in any way mean that your simulation would have the same nature as what you are simulating.

    Shouting past each other like this is typical in these kinds of discussions because the biggest difference between people is the fact they are interested in different things. You think the ability to at least theoretically make such plausible simulations is somehow significant in a discussion of what things actually are. I do not.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Your virtual "mitchellmckain" fantasy is of course nothing like me at all, because your calculation of a plausible behavior is in such an enormous space of possible behaviors that it is of no significance at all.
    Following that logic, I could never use a computer to simulate a plausible poker game because the set of all possible poker games is nearly infinite, and there's no way to sort through them.
    Here is a prime example of just shouting past... I deny the significance of your plausible approximations and you respond with your neverending refrain that such pausible approximations are possible. Yes they are possible. I certainly think you can make a plausible simulation of of a poker game. It has already been done.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    I don't know why I'm still trying to get through to you, but I'll give it one more try.
    Boy this is silly! I have been creating such simulations all my life and you sit there acting like you cannot communicate to me the fact that such simulations are possible. LOL


    But since you bother to repeat yourself I can at least repeat myself by quoting:

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Yes I can even see the value of such an exercise in testing whether the validity of the principles according to which you have made the simulation. But I don't think we will ever manage a simulation of the human brain from the atomic or molecular level. When all you are interested in is a plausible approximations then I don't even see what the need for it would be. But I cannot say that I think much of the possibilities for a real time simulation of a brain that will handle the full variety of situations encountered in real life.

    I was thus much more interested in a machine simulation of the process of life itself which would represent the creation of machine life (real AI). Again I don't know whether this is possible or not, but it does seem possible in principle to me. And it is in that case that the process of "programing" would be similar to raising a child.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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  50. #49  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    now that you have your spitoon your reading and thinking abilities have gone down the drain and since I have no interest in your spitting contest you are quickly ceasing to worth my time.
    I think it's clear who's poisoning the well here.


    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    the subjective experience of consciousness, which is entirely a consequence of this subjective perception that we are responsible for our choices of action.
    So, spirit exists in a sort of parallel universe, which only meets the objective universe as subjective experience. It gives brains of all kinds the illusion of free will. Except not brains that are created - they have no subjective experience and illusion of choice... or if they do it's artificial not the real McCoy.

    No, I'm not getting it. I can't see how ferns and RNA molecules would have subjective experience let alone illusion of choice even in minuscule quantities.

    EDIT: So you know where I'm coming from, I think subjectivity a development of self-referential and literal "echos" or "reflections" in a brain. In this way a refrigerator thermostat has limited subjective "experience", though of course humans have a lot more. In any case it isn't strictly necessary to living systems. Although ironically a computer sim of Mitchell McKain seems more subjective than the original creature.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    the subjective experience of consciousness, which is entirely a consequence of this subjective perception that we are responsible for our choices of action.
    So, spirit exists in a sort of parallel universe
    No that is incorrect. To be in a parallel universe would mean that spirits are part of some system of relationships external to them just as physical things are and that is incorrect. In the terminology you use here it would be more accurate to say that each spirit is itself a parallel universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    which only meets the objective universe as subjective experience.
    Physical forms of energy are objectively perceived because they are part of these mathematical equations and relationships of quantitative measures of time and space, which are independent of the observer who percieves them. Spiritual forms of energy are not objectively perceived because they are not a part of any relationships that are independent of the observer who percieves them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    It gives brains of all kinds the illusion of free will. Except not brains that are created - they have no subjective experience and illusion of choice... or if they do it's artificial not the real McCoy.
    Brains have nothing to do with it. The connection is the self-organizing process of life. It is simply the case that the human brain provides the medium for a life form which is much more intensely alive than any other on this planet - the human mind.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    No, I'm not getting it. I can't see how ferns and RNA molecules would have subjective experience let alone illusion of choice even in minuscule quantities.
    RNA molecules are an information storage and transmission mechanism not a living organism. But as for ferns, most of their learning and creativity is on the evolutionary time scale and so their life is found in the whole species rather than in any individual plants.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    So you know where I'm coming from, I think subjectivity is a development of self-referential and literal "echos" or "reflections" in a brain.
    You mean that is your description of the physical process going on when someone has what you call a subjective experience.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    In this way a refrigerator thermostat has limited subjective "experience", though of course humans have a lot more. In any case it isn't strictly necessary to living systems.
    A thermostat has no subjective experience. It hasn't the least reason to feel responsible for what it is. It is essential for every living organism to have a sense of identity because it is the very nature of life to maintain the integrity of their dynamic structure by reacting to environmental change - they maintain themselves not by stasis but by constantly rebuilding and conforming themselves to their "identity".
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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  52. #51  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    So you know where I'm coming from, I think subjectivity is a development of self-referential and literal "echos" or "reflections" in a brain.
    You mean that is your description of the physical process going on when someone has what you call a subjective experience.
    Yes. And there's no epiphenomenal dimension, in the same way when you tie a shoelace... it's just string.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    In this way a refrigerator thermostat has limited subjective "experience", though of course humans have a lot more. In any case it isn't strictly necessary to living systems.
    A thermostat has no subjective experience. It hasn't the least reason to feel responsible for what it is. It is essential for every living organism to have a sense of identity because it is the very nature of life to maintain the integrity of their dynamic structure by reacting to environmental change - they maintain themselves not by stasis but by constantly rebuilding and conforming themselves to their "identity".
    I don't know that "reason" and "feeling responsible" are necessary to subjectivity. For example the fridge thermostat might be in "hot" state - which I think you'll agree is subjective - and move to effect "cold" state... hot and cold being related none-too-objectively by a "-->colder" dial. Isn't that explicitly subjective and devoid of "feeling" responsible?

    Now I think you're saying all life feels a sense of identity. And this sense guides organisms to maintain their structure or modify it. So without this subjective sense of ...purpose?... life couldn't function. But before you said the subjective quality (or was it quantity?) of life can't be observed.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Yes. And there's no epiphenomenal dimension, in the same way when you tie a shoelace... it's just string.
    Yes you operate on the premise of physicalism or metaphysical naturalism: the physical or objectively observable is all there is.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I don't know that "reason" and "feeling responsible" are necessary to subjectivity. For example the fridge thermostat might be in "hot" state - which I think you'll agree is subjective - and move to effect "cold" state... hot and cold being related none-too-objectively by a "-->colder" dial. Isn't that explicitly subjective and devoid of "feeling" responsible?
    No there is nothing the least bit subjective in what you are talking about at all. Everything you are talking about is 100% objectively observable. The word you may be thinking of is "relative". Yes "hot" and "cold" are relative measures.

    Now I think a person may say that they feel cold when we can find no objectively observable reason for it. Now that is a subjective perception!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Now I think you're saying all life feels a sense of identity.
    Nonsense. They have a sense of identity. That they must for the reason I explained. What's the difference? I leave that for you explain because you are the one that changed my words. What was your reason for doing so? Could it be that while it is obvious that a virus has an identity, you think it is absurd that it has feelings? LOL You are transparent.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    So without this subjective sense of ...purpose?... life couldn't function.
    Without some sense of identity there is no life. Changing my words again? LOL

    Tools have a purpose. Living things are not tools. Some people may decide that they have a purpose and others may not.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    But before you said the subjective quality (or was it quantity?) of life can't be observed.
    No I did not. In fact I have no idea what you are talking about. I cannot imagine what a subjective quality might be. Sounds like more of your efforts to create absurdities.

    The words "subjective" and "objective" refer to human perception and thus to what is perceived. Our primary perception of the world is subjective, but we learn that some perceptions are shared by others and some are not. Thus we construct an abstraction to refer to those things which everyone perceives. Modern science has developed an effective methodology for discovering new and unexpected things about the world by restricting itself to objective observations - these are observations which are observer independent (by means of writing down a proceedure that should obtain the same results no matter who follows them).

    Then along comes the metaphysical naturalist with the highly dubious premise that this abstraction - this reality constructed from objective observations is all that is real. I certainly reject that premise as not only unfounded but absurd.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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