Re: Uploading

Hara Ra (
Fri, 18 Jul 1997 05:26:53 -0700

Hagbard Celine wrote:
> Hara Ra wrote:

> > = A system is conscious if:
> >
> > = 1. It is capable of lingusitic communication (it can talk)
> > = 2. It can discuss its own existence (it knows it exists)
> Why does the ability to talk have anything to do with consciousness? A
> computer can talk, but someone with cerebral palsy might not be so able.

Cerebral Palsy is an interface problem. What I am referring to is the
inate ability to have language at all. KoKo meets condition 1; it's
problematical whether KoKo can really meet condition 2. Saying "Koko
wants banana" does not meet condition 2. "Koko feel angry" is on the
edge. "Koko thinks Koko angry" probably meets condition 2. I don't know
if Koko ever said something whose topic is self reference.

> Hobbes (?) would agree that the use of language is what separates man
> from animal. I don't think he went so far as to say it is what makes us
> conscious.

That's why condition 2.
> As far as the second criteria, I agree that self-awareness is necessary
> to consciousness, indeed I think it is the definition of consciousness.
Go back and read condition 2. Self awareness by itself, without means of
communication, is not consciousness as defined above. My computer here
as I write this posting may be self-aware, but I have no way of
accessing this. The point is to create an operational definition which
can be subjected to experimental testing.

> In order to be self-aware, a system must have two things 1) will and 2)
> power.
> Will is the ability to self-direct (L. volo) according to one's own
> self-interest.
> Power is the abilitiy to warp (L. inflecto) the normal course of events.
> If something exists it by definition must have a certain measure of
> power.

I believe a cruise missile meets your definition quite nicely. Will
drives it to its target. Exploding empowers it. Many religions state
attainment of Heaven as the ultimate self interested goal, so I guess it
will have to be a cruise missle from Iraq.... :-)

> So a system is self-aware if it can discuss its experiences? I think the
> more distilled version of this is if a system can understand and use the
> first person singular. I think, I feel, I did, I was, etc.

No... go read it again. It has to discuss its awareness of its
existence. Per your definition, even little Sojourner is arguably
self-aware. Is reporting sensory experience self awareness??

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