Re: Protean Self-Transformation

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 31 Mar 1997 21:16:13 -0800 (PST)

> No one has shown me any evidence that a computer has the ability to feel
> emotive sensation, and I do not believe our discussion is progressing in
> that direction. Thus at this point, at least for the time being, I
> propose that we agree to disagree.

I still hold some small hope for you to understand, so I'll try one
more tack: from where you're sitting now, look up to the corner of
the room you're in. See it? /Where/ do you see it? Sure, it appears
to be in the corner of the room, a few feet away. But you don't have
any tentacles out there; your eyes are next to your head. But your
eyes aren't really seeing it either; they're just photosensors. The
act of /seeing/ is occurring in the processes of your brain, where
you are processing data from the retina, concluding that those data
represent a corner 10 feet away, and then causing you to /experience/
a corner that /appears/ 10 feet away.

Now, pinch your hand. Feel that? /Where/ did you feel it? You
didn't feel it with your hand, because if you could, it wouldn't have
any need for the nerves that carry the impulse up to the brain to do
the feeling. And the brain doesn't send anything back down to the
hand. The /feeling/ happens right up there in your brain, and the
processing arranges things so that you /believe/ you are feeling it
in your hand, and it even back-patches the timestamps in memory so you
think you felt it when the stimulus actually happened. The brain is
very good at that, as evidenced by things like phi experiments and
sound compression (that takes advantage of the fact that sounds can
mask other sounds that occur forward in time).

So, tell me again where those emotional experiences occur? Sure, I
may experience fear viscerally, but there aren't even any nerves in
my viscera, so those experiences are taking place /in the brain/, as
patterns of chemical transmission and potentiation. It then produces
some outputs like heart rate, sweaty palms, etc., which I also become
aware of /in the brain/.

Now then, what is the difference between "fear" manifested as patterns
of chemical transmission and potentiation in the brain, and those same
patterns manifested as electrical transmissions and magnetic storage
in a computer of similar speed and capacity? When computers become
sufficiently powerful to learn the way children do, and control their
own sensory inputs and mechanical outputs, in what way would reactions
of its software be qualitatively different from those of our wetware?

Why do you continue to label him an inferior being? Either you are
postulating dualism (and say so if that's your case), or else you
are simply a "carbonist" for reasons you will not justify.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC