Re: qualia

Brent Allsop (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 17:17:21 -0700 (MST)

John K Clark <> asked:

> Then will somebody please explain to me why evolution ever came up
> with it!! Even a hint would be wonderful advance.

Right off the top there are two real obvious reasons. First Phenomenal qualia are fantastic fore representing information. An abstract "1" or "0" have minimal diversity while the various different qualia are way diverse. Can you imagine how confused our conscious mind would be if the smell of a flower was anything like warm and red...? We'd become very confused very fast just as mathmaticians and computer programmers are very limited in the amount of 1s and 0s they can keep in their head at once.

I bet when we discover what qualia are and how the brain uses them to consciously represent different kinds of information artificial intelligence will make huge leaps and bounds using such phenomenal and robust information representation technologies. You've got to have lots of inefficient abstract ones and zeros to get anything close to what qualia can model.

But an even more compelling reason might be motivation. How motivated are current abstract AI programs? It takes a lot of ones and zeros carefully crafted into complex and usually brittle control logic to come up with any kind of artificially motivated behavior doesn't it? But the phenomenal qualities of qualia are fundamentally mostly motivational. Joys are constructed of qualia and these are mostly what makes us want what we want with so much passion. Sure, you can simulate such abstractly, but I'm betting that evolution uses qualia because they are fundamentally and robustly motivational. Take a "tired" sensation for example. I think the fact that things get harder for us to do as we get tired is a very natural thing for qualia. Just try to model the same kind of you should slow down behavior with abstract logic. It gets complicated very fast. Sure it's possible, but is it as easy, especially for nature or evolution? Commander Data on Star Trek wants to experience pleasure because without pleasure there is no purpose or reason to life is there?

How do these arguments sound? Now that I've expressed them they don't sound all that bullet proof. What do you all think?

Brent Allsop