Re: distributed AI was Re: computronium prime-oxide

Paul Hughes (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 14:14:07 -0800

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Hal Finney wrote:
> > Do you think Dennett would predict that a person would instantly become
> > unconscious if he were put into a complete sensory deprivation booth?
> > It seems pretty obvious to me that he would continue to be conscious.
> > There was a fad for sensory deprivation in the 1970s and from what I
> > understand you sometimes would begin to hallucinate after a while, but
> > you certainly still remained conscious (and I suspect the hallucination
> > had much to do with expectations).

Having experimented quite a bit with float tanks, the brain certainly seems to have a need to continue to process information, whether of an external or internal nature. John Lilly recommend the tank experience for that reason - it allowed the user to process internal information that they would otherwise not be able to do amongst environmental distractions. In my experience, solutions to several problems I was working on in frustration, revealed themselves while I was in the tank.

> I dunno. Think of a fetus. Do you know of any cases whatsoever where the fetus
> was aware and thinking while in the womb, which is a remarkable sensory
> deprivation chamber. A human being does not really become aware until at least
> a few weeks to a few months after being born. They need time to learn how to
> sort out all of the sensory imput into a rational format.

I have to disagree here. I don't think an infant needs to process input in a *rational* format in order to be aware of it - think of all the irrational people out there! :-). All healthy infants respond to environmental stimuli immediately after birth. I would call that response awareness. Proving they are self-aware however, may prove as difficult as doing it for anyone else.

Paul Hughes