Brent Allsop (allsop@swttools.fc.hp.com)
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 10:38:08 -0600

John K Clark <johnkc@well.com> protested:

> What's this "we" business? The only feelings you can detect directly
> are your own, if you reject the evidence of behavior then there is
> no reason you could not be the only conscious being in the universe.

Yes! As long as we are trapped inside our own spirit world we
can't "eff" feelings. As long as we don't scientifically understand
them they are ineffable.

But, once we discover what they are, how and why they are
produced we will be able to eff them. We will be able to produce a
stimulus inside your brain after possibly altering a few neurons and
say to you: "This is what salt tastes like to someone else". you
might reply after experiencing the sensation: "Whoa, that isn't what
salt tastes like to me!" Then you will know for sure that the other
person, though different than yourself, most definitely is conscious!

> Consciousness is overrated, you can get along fine without it. I'll
> let you in on a little secret, I am not conscious and never have
> been, I've been on the Extropian list for several years now and if
> anybody has suspected my lack of sentience nobody has been unkind
> enough to say so.

Yes, it is very possible that you are telling the truth.
(Although I doubt mere abstract representations could achieve the
particular kind of intelligence you have without absurdly extreme
amounts of bruit force. How many bits of information must be used to
record all the possible appropriate answers to the question: "What is
blue like"? It has to be much more efficient to just honestly
reproduce an actual blue sensation.) Today, as you say, we do not have
a way to know for sure. But, when we discover what blue really is and
how it is produced we will be able to observe the particular
neural/chemical behavior that corresponds to or produces a blue
conscious experience and know for sure if you are lying. Just because
we can't YET do it doesn't me it is impossible. Have a little
faith. :)

Brent Allsop