Ghost in the Machine, Redux ad nauseum

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 02:54:36 MST

We went over this last year. Here's a URL and an excerpt.
Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, director of the Computational Neurobiology
Laboratory at the Salk Institute, agrees that the properties of the brain
can likely be duplicated in artificial devices, although he regards
questions of consciousness with a decidedly unphilosophical bent of mind.
"My own suspicion is that words like 'consciousness' and 'qualia' will go
the way of words like 'phlogiston' and 'vitalism.'"

"The Ghost in the machine is dead."
--New Yawk Tymes

Stay hungry,

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lee Corbin" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 6:49 PM
Subject: Re: Emulation vs. Simulation

> Robert J. Bradbury wrote (Mon, 26 Mar 2001 10:17:09)
> > Hmmmm, but it is generally thought that the only 'conscious'
> > animals are from the ape-level to humans. Go back in the
> > archives and look up the mirror (self-recognition) test
> > discussions (in fall of '99 I think). That means all other
> > animals down to the level of fish survive *quite* will with
> > little or no consciosness. So for your statement above
> > to be true you seem to be saying that the natural environment
> > that these animals live in is not 'challenging'.
> The mirror tests are important and significant, but I
> doubt if we want to peg "consciousness" to them. The
> reason that I say so is that passing/failing the mirror
> test has too sharp a demarcation line. I predict that
> we will want to conceive of consciousness as lying
> smoothly on a continuum, and that it will be something
> more along these lines (even if I'm wrong and we do
> call it something else) that will be seen as important.
> For the same reason, I disagree with the contention that
> quite a few people are unconscious during most of their
> waking day. I don't think that consciousness is so easy
> to pin down, and almost wish that I could join J. R.
> Molloy and believe it to be as useless to discuss as
> phlogiston.
> Lee

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