Re: TECH: Fractal Tardis Brains
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 15:21:07 -0700

Eugene Leitl, <>, writes:
> James Rogers writes:
> > Perhaps I am being stubborn.
> >
> > I don't see sentience or consciousness as a requirement for experiencing
> > qualia. In fact, I would state that qualia occur at the same primitive
> > levels as emotion and intelligence.
> I think usage of philosophical terms such as 'qualia' to explain
> (away) intelligence is a definite dead end. You can't explain
> consciousness at an abstract level without resorting to all the
> neuroscience, and the conscious 'I' is a much too high construct
> to be able to deal with all that amount of detail.

Here is a definition from a dictionary of philosophy at

: qualia - The 'what it's like' character of mental states. The way it feels : to have mental states such as pain, seeing red, smelling a rose, etc.

The point is not to explain away intelligence or consciousness, rather this is a shorthand for the fundamental mystery of consciousness. Why is it that our mental states have this (nearly indescribable) property of immediacy? Why is it that being conscious is so different from being unconscious?

I use the terms consciousness, sentience, and "having qualia" largely interchangeably. (Qualia can be considered a specific form of consciousness, consciousness of perceptions.) But they all refer ultimately to this mysterious phenomenon. "Intelligence" on the other hand is a purely information processing ability which would not necessarily require consciousness. Deep Blue has tremendous chess intelligence but no consciousness (as far as we know).

This is how I took Eliezer to be using the terms as well and was the basis on which I responded. I think you and James may be using somewhat different definitions, which is causing confusion.