This is just a copy

John K Clark (
Thu, 9 Jul 1998 09:57:47 -0700 (PDT)

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- On Wed, 8 Jul 1998 Wrote:

       >>From my "Waiting for Zed"        

       >>Bob: How do you know the particles are not changing positions, and       
       >>would anything be different if they did? 

>It seems to me that Bob, here, has conceded the argument, so far, by
>using "they" instead of "it". He realizes that there really are two
>separate atoms, not just one in two places. They are certainly
>interchangable, but not only one atom, in reality.

Clearly there are two atoms, they have twice the mass of one atom for one thing, but they're interchangeable in ALL circumstances, that is, if they are exchanged nothing happens. To repeat, when atoms are exchange no phenomena changes in any way, including the phenomena of consciousness, good thing too because from birth the atoms in our body are in a constant state of flux yet we remain the same person... I think.


>>Atoms have no individuality, If they can't even give themselves
>>this property I don't see how they can give it to us.

>Atoms cannot be wet, either, or soft, or...but you see the point.

Yes I believe I do, atoms have no individuality but by arranging them into large complex patterns you can make an object that does behave in a unique way, and of course a pattern is defined by information. Atoms are generic but there is only one place where they are put together in such a way that they behave in a John Clarkish way, at least only one place so far.

>*Half* of the music being played does indeed stop, though. You can
>measure the volume and notice a lower level, so *something* is gone.

And if I erase an Email message on my computer that you sent me but you retain a copy (or should I say "the original"?) on your machine does that mean half the message is gone, are 50% of the ideas in it reduced to oblivion?


>I would say that we are a process running on an object. :)

But lots of objects would do just as well but if we change the process we change who we are. You're not really trying to argue that the reason I'm me and you're you is that there's something special about our particular atoms are you?

>>What Process X does is certainly not simple, so it's very hard to
>>avoid concluding that Process X itself is not simple.

>What do you mean by "simple"?

Simple means easy for intelligence to understand. I'm too simple to understand what else it could mean.

>It may be simple for whatever mechanism produces it.

Now who's attributing meaning to inanimate processes?


>It is pretty simple for water to be wet; it's just an emergent
>property of those atoms and bonds.

That phrase, "emergent property" has never been one of my favorites, it's a vague catch all idea that, near as I can tell, just means complex stuff happening without the help of intelligence. We need to understand how it works or we might as well call it "magic property".

     >*Simulating* wetness is considerably more difficult, and it could be      
     >argued that you can't simulate wetness without simulating water as well. 

True, especially if you insist on going from first principles. Nobody has ever calculated the freezing point of water starting from the equations of Quantum Mechanics. It's can be done in principle but it's too complex in practice, maybe in 20 years, less if somebody makes a Quantum Computer.

>it may be that we can only produce consciousness by simulating
>whatever it is that produces consciousness in the brain,

Could very well be true.


>if that something is not really information processing.

If it's not information processing then it's the soul and it's far too early in the game to give up and abandon reason, especially when things are progressing so well.


>I think that we may be able to decipher exactly how consciousness
>is produced.
But how could you ever know if your deciphering is correct?
>Once we learn how to record and playback memory studies of
>consciousness will have an experimental basis, no?

No, it could be the experimental basis for the study of intelligence but not for consciousness. You could examine the position and velocity of every atom in my brain and know better than I do myself what I'm going to do next, but the only way you could know for certain what my subjective experience is would be for you to put you're brain into the exact same state as my brain is in. The trouble is even that wouldn't work and "you" still wouldn't know because you wouldn't be you anymore, you'd be me, and that would be a pointless experiment because I already know what it's like to be me.


>Playing back selected memories would be a better approach, I'd

You might be able to make a machine that would let you know what it's like to be you pretending to be me, but all the memories in the world won't let you know what it's like for me being me.

>Since I can select a certain memory to think about, a hypothetical
>machine that understands how the brain works would be able to do it
>as well.

But that's exactly the problem, there is absolutely no way to know for certain if your hypothetical machine really does understand how consciousness works.

>If *I* act like you, am I you?



>Suppose that I've apent the last 20 years studying you in every
>waking moment. I should then be able to act like you in every
>conceivable circumstance,

I've hear something like that suggested as a method for uploading, you carry around a passive device that would observe you and try to predict your next move, when it made a mistake it would change it's programming and try again, gradually it would get better and better until it was you. Philosophically this would work but I'm not sure it's practical or how long it would take.

>yet I am *still* not you. :)

Why not? You're certainly not you anymore so you must be me.

                                            John K Clark

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