Kosko on AI in L.A. Times

From: Brent Allsop (allsop@fc.hp.com)
Date: Wed Jul 11 2001 - 11:28:18 MDT

Hal <hal@finney.org> reported on Kosko's article in the L.A. Times:

> Chip minds will have a bit-based omnipotence because they could
> create entire virtual worlds simply by imagining them. Let's not
> forget that the world we see "out there" is but an illusion in the
> neural circuitry of our brain's visual cortex.

        Arggg! Why do so many smart people talk in such ambiguous
meaningless terms? Of course Dennett, who claims we have no qualia -
it just "seems like we do", would take an ambiguous and meaningless
statements like this as indicating that the "out there" we think
exists doesn't really exist. But a representationalists, like myself,
would take this ambiguous statement as meaning our knowledge of what
is out there does really exist, as something constructed out of qualia
in our brain, the "illusion" being simply that our perception that
this conscious knowledge appears to be "out there" when in reality it
is simply in our brain. Why can't he say one way or another, which of
these interpretations he is talking about, or if by this he means
something entirely different from either of these views. How can
anyone be expected to make any kind of rational sense out of such
meaningless and ambiguous statements?

> Even our subjective sense of time will change. We find the second a
> meaningful unit of time because electrical signals travel so slowly
> through our nerves. Chip time, or "nanotime," will be millions or even
> billions of times faster. One second of brain time will equal years
> or even decades of chip time.

        It seems to me he is making a categorical and ambiguous error
here also. He is confusing two drastically different things and
ambiguously talking about them as if they were the same thing. There
is a big categorical difference between how fast our brain hardware
can operate and how our brain represents the conscious perception of
time passage. Sure, given faster conscious phenomenal hardware, it
might be possible to change our representations of the passage of time
such that the qualia that once represented one second, can now be used
to represents a nanosecond... But again, conscious representations of
time, and what it is phenomenally or consciously like are very
different things than how fast you can switch a switch for which it
doesn't matter what the switch is "like" or what it is fundamentally
composed of.

        It's no wonder we haven't really discovered what consciousness
is yet. Even though it's obviously just right there, we're still just
so "unclear on the concept" that we can't even talk about it in any
kind of meaningful and unambiguous way.

                Brent Allsop

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