Re: Searle

Brent Allsop (
Fri, 6 Feb 1998 14:31:16 -0700

John K Clark <> responded:

> True, and equally true is the fact that the data in a computer's
> memory that a photo cell has received a photon of 700 nm light is
> nothing like that light. I don't know if that data is anything like
> my idea of red, and I don't know if your red is the same as mine
> either.

Exactly! I wish all people that thought about consciousness
would get this simple representational idea through their skull! Then
we might be able to make some progress in this field.

In order to know that we use the same red, you must
objectively know what and why red is or what objective physical
phenomenon produces a red sensation in our consciousness and be able
to objectively observe that particular phenomenon going on in your
brain and my brain before we can know if we use the same subjective
sensation to represent 700 nm light. I like to call this "effing" of
the ineffable which we will be able to do once we understand what and
why qualia are and can objectively observe such phenomenon
representing information in our consciousness awareness.

> All bits are abstract whether in a brain or a machine, and if
> computers contained nothing but non unified set of bits they would
> produce only gibberish. They don't.

You can measure possible diversity or information content in
any particular physical data media as bits of information, and you can
abstractly simulate any physical media or physical representation with
any other physical process as long as it can store the same number of
bits of information (but it is usually not possible to represent one
physical phenomenon with equal efficiency in some other physical
media. For example: one oxygen atom can represent perfectly what one
oxygen atom is like but it takes many atoms of silicone formed into
transistors to achieve enough abstract bits to represent all the
information about one single oxygen atom, not to mention the
additional interpretation hardware...)

What the fundamental physical representation is like is very
important to consciousness and our ability to process information and
consciously "know" about things. When there is a dot of red qualia in
a field of green in our conscious representation of a strawberry
patch, the fundamental nature of this red qualia, what it is like, how
it is fundamentally different than a green qualia, how it stands out,
and how it is represented in an isomorphically similar 3D space in our
mind is a key part of the computation process that allows us to be
aware of and select the ripe strawberry that is ready to be picked.
What these qualia phenomenally are, how they are fundamentally
different from one another, and how they are unified together into one
simultaneous filed of visual conscious knowledge in our brain is why
we are smartly aware. Unlike an abstract machine which purposefully
isolates it's representations from the particular physical
representation of the data, requiring much more machinery to
accomplish the same intelligent awareness, especially if it is a man
in a room.

> To exist information must be in a context, otherwise a hole in a
> paper tape is not data it's just a hole, but there is nothing unique
> about the human mind in that regard.

No. This is only when talking about abstract information.
The meaning of a whole in a paper tape, as you say, perfectly
represents a whole in a paper tape. THAT is the meaning unless you
put it in or interpret it within some other context. An oxygen atom
perfectly represents what that oxygen atom is like. Again, THAT is
the meaning. It is when you try to represent that oxygen atom with
wholes in paper tape that requires the mapping, context, and
interpretation. Red is like red, there is no other meaning required.
But, in the context of our consciousness and other color quali, it can
represent 700 nm light and visa versa.

> As for Searle's Chinese Room, it only proves one thing, a very small
> part of a mechanism does not have all the attributes of the whole.

No! All Searls's Chinese Room proves is that any physical
phenomenon, no matter how absurdly inefficient, can abstractly
represent or model any other physical phenomenon, including conscious
qualia, and can eventually duplicate the output. This has nothing to
do with the fundamental nature of qualia and what consciously aware
information is fundamentally composed of and what it is fundamentally

Brent Allsop