John K Clark (
Mon, 4 May 1998 23:13:57 -0700 (PDT)


On Tue, 05 May 1998 Damien Broderick <> Wrote:

>it could be that reflexive self-awareness is an incidental
>computational by-product of very complex brained bodies responding
>in complex ways

I think that's very probably true, it's certainly my working assumption.

>John's answer to this suggestion, I guess, would be that natural
>genomic variations might by now have allowed the emergence of a
>sub-class of non-conscious humans (zombies) if sentience in this
>sense is just an unimportant side-consequence.

Yes, if consciousness is unrelated to intelligence then the conclusion is
unavoidable, human zombies exist, in fact with only one exception genetic
drift could have turned all humans into zombies by now. There is no evidence
that this has happened, there is no evidence that it has not.

>consciousness provided to the animals with it (in varying degrees).

Sometimes I wonder, are animals less conscious that we are? Are smart people
more conscious than stupid people? When I was 7 years old I was not as
intelligent as I am now (I think) but I was just as conscious (I think).
It's true that I don't remember being conscious when I was 7 months old and I
was even dumber then, but that must just be due to a malfunction in my memory
because I don't remember anything, not just being conscious, when I was that
age. Also, consciousness must be related to emotion as well as intelligence
and most of the emotional parts of our brain are very old and quite similar
to those found in animal brains.

Time for my pet theory, I suspect that consciousness is ancient, easy to
produced and requires only a tiny amount of intelligence. High level
intelligence on the other hand is much newer in the history of life because
it's harder to make. If so then the real challenge is not to make a machine
conscious but to make one intelligent. Remember it's just a theory.

>my skin itches horribly when I see informed comments cast in this
>dangerously misleading shape.

If I was writing anyplace else I might be a little more careful in using
anthropomorphic words when talking about evolution, but it's a useful
shorthand and I really don't believe any Extropian thought I approved of
teleology when interpreting nature.

>Gravity doesn't bother to make things fall down

Well, actually it does. Gravity doesn't bother to make things fall up. (:>)

John K Clark

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