Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Brent Allsop (
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 17:16:42 MST

Hello "Emlyn" <>,

        Thank you for joining this discussion! It's great when
someone so knowledgeable joins in and has so much to contribute. Are
you a philosophy professor on this topic or something?

        It appears that my terminology has caused you to make some
incorrect assumptions about what I believe. Perhaps, if you have a
chance, you could read my paper on this. I'm sure it would help you
understand better what it is I'm and am not trying to say. I'd love
to hear your thoughts on this!

        HTML version: <URL:>
        MS Word version: <URL:>

> The *major* assumption is that qualia are something, rather than a
> figment of our imagination. There is a major camp in the
> consciousness debate (Dennett et al) who say that qualia are so
> difficult to describe and define because they are not
> real. Personally, I still lean toward qualia existing and meaning
> something, but I could be swayed the other way... the jury is
> definitely out on this question.

        Yes, I don't mean to imply that we or especially I, know
absolutely how things will turn out. I simply have an opinion, and am
willing to take almost any bet on this subject, like it will turn out
that we can't be pure simulations... the topic of this thread.

        I argue that qualia aren't difficult to describe at all. They
are simply phenomenal (ineffable via causal senses and traditional
science) properties of some physical stuff in our brain. When our
scientific instruments probe the stuff in our brain, they are only
looking for their causal properties. This is not enough.
Subjectively we are able to know more about the stuff in our brain
than its causal properties. Once science starts to look for more than
just the causal properties of this stuff, it will finally start to
discover what part of our brain it is that has these physical
properties that make up our conscious knowledge.

> Secondly, you assume that qualia are not physical.

        Absolutely not! As I said above, they are simply the
phenomenal properties of the physical stuff in our brain that is our
conscious knowledge.

> Thirdly, and importantly, you assume that qualia are not
> epiphenomena, which would emerge implicitly from the operation of a
> brain simulation, given that the brain simulation is identical in
> operation to the original brain. If qualia were an emergent
> property, they should emerge from the sim just as the original,
> excepting if there is something sacred in the meat (shades of mvt
> and similar silliness).

        Yes, definitely. But there is something phenomenal about the
way our brain takes all these qualia and integrates them into our
conscious knowledge, or as I like to call it, the spirit world of our
conscious awareness. Within this spirit world we can experience red
next to green and know they are very different. The only way to eff,
is to augment our brain such that a new qualia can be brought into
this spirit world that is ur conscious awareness so that we can
compare and contrast it to the other qualia we experience. It's not
quite clear yet, whether something like a single chemical compand has
some kind of "red" phenomenal properties by itself, or if there has to
be more physical stuff (a set of neurons?) supporting it before red
can "emerge" or be realized?

> Thus, I think it is clear that qualia are simulatable; either they
> are physical, and so measurable and simulatable, or they are
> intangible, but have tangible effects, which are in themselves
> simulatable. If the second case is true, the "qualia themselves" are
> slashed away by Occam; the effect is all that is necessary.

        I completely agree. The simple color detecting machines in
paint stores can "simulate" more color than our brain can "represent"
with qualia any day. Causally, with regards to color, they are more
intelligent than we are. I believe fully in zombies, that simulations
will soon be able to pass the Turing test. But if these purely
abstract zombies ever try to indicate they really know what salty is
like, they would be lying. If they were honest they would say
something much more like you indicated: "Eff? What the F?" By the
way, can I quote you with this phrase!? I love it!

                Brent Allsop

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:41 MDT