Re: ECON The Abolition Of Work

J. R. Molloy (
Tue, 5 May 1998 12:50:42 -0700

From: John K Clark <>
> >input (sensations), but also relates to them by, for example,
> >remembering them, associating them with other sensations, combining,
> >analyzing, observing, and/or processing them in any of a variety of
> >ways, then that complex system of relations might constitute
> >sentience (or consciousness).
>It's easy to prove that any computer can "remember", "associate" and "analyze"
>input data.

Not without the help of a computer operator.

> That only leaves "observing", but that means placing input data
>into consciousness so it's no help in defining consciousness.

Defining consciousness presents a special problem, no doubt about it. Why not ask you computer to
define it?
> >It still remains possible to differentiate between intelligence and
> >sentience.
>How? What test could you possibly perform on someone to make this distinction?

Test yourself. See if you can sustain consciousness while doing nothing whatever of an intelligent

> >highly intelligent entities may completely lack sentience.
>I've been asking this question for years on this list but have never received
>an answer, if what you say is true what's the point of sentience?

Sentience requires no "point" or other teleological approach. Sentience has no purpose or intention.
Cosmic consciousness, according to some who claim to have experienced it, resides at the peak of
human experience. I don't think any kind of test can reveal the presence of sentience. But the
desire to test for it may indicate a lack of total awareness. Maybe it takes one to know one.

>Intelligence has survival value,

In some worlds, perhaps so. But it depends on your definition of intelligence. Viruses seem quite
robust, yet they don't demonstrate any equivalent intelligence to that of say, the average

>but if the two are unrelated why would

Who said they were unrelated? I wrote that it is possible to differentiate between the two.
Intelligence operates convergently, whereas consciousness seems to expand with divergent movement.

>random mutation and natural selection bother to make anything sentient?

It may turn out that life indeed finds sentience to be an unprofitable experiment.

>It seems to me it would be like a fifth wheel, and yet I know for a fact that
>evolution did bother to make at least one thing conscious.

There you go again. You say no test exists to determine consciousness, yet you claim that it
nevertheless exists.