Re: Predictions by Kurzweil

From: KPJ (
Date: Mon Feb 21 2000 - 01:57:28 MST

It appears as if Brent Allsop <> wrote:

| My prediction is that within the next 20 years we will finally
|discover what "spiritual" stuff or "qualia" (i.e. a red or
|salty... sensation) are. This will be the most important scientific
|discovery of all time and it will finally tell us what we, as
|"spiritual machines", are. Once we do this people will finally
|realize that trying to know if a machine really "feels" such
|"spiritual" things simply by observing external behavior as he
|describes can result in at best an "idle claim". When a machine
|finally says: "Oh *THATS* what salt tastes like" and we objectively
|know it isn't lying (i.e. just regurgitate this response from some
|"rich, complex, and subtle" abstract lookup table is a lie since it is
|not really feeling or knowing what a salty sensation is like.)

Eliezer and others may feel that I am ``flogging the dead horse'', as it were,
but I find it _important_ to investigate this subject for several reasons.

                                - = # = -

I note that a number of Extropian Mailing List members treat ``qualia''
(the raw, verbally un-translated sense data) as somehow ``magical'', and
refer to them with the phrases like "spiritual" and "not Turing computable".

They seem to believe that human cannot explain ``qualia''. Why?

  o Why do apparently reasonable and rational human believe in ``qualia''
        as some kind of mystical, and un-explainable, semi-supernatural entity?

        Why can't humans explain ``qualia'' just as any other natural
        phenomenon, given enough time, and experimental data?

  o If one treats ``qualia'' as semi-supernatural, and mystical, stuff,
        then one will find research into the field meaningless and irrelevant.

        Since the nervous system, inclg. the brain, does the processing of
        the sense data, this implies one has declared the nervous system and
        the brain as somehow metaphysical. I have not seen any support for
        this hypothesis. It seems to me a rather quasi-religious move to

        So why do people assume it?

If you feel that the list should not contain this discussion, feel free to
discuss the matter with me directly, and I will summarize to the list.

BTW, should not matters such as this, which pop up now and again, appear in
     an FAQ, so that new list members need not as about it on the list?

     As a matter of fact, I have not seen any current FAQ on the subjects.
     Does one exist?

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