Zombie Relativity

Ken Clements (Ken@InnovationOnDmnd.com)
Sun, 12 Dec 1999 17:54:32 -0800

Dan Fabulich wrote:

> Look. Suppose I made a copy of you who was a zombie. He acted like
> in every way, but he had no experiences, no qualia, etc.
> Would he believe he was a zombie? No. He'd be just like you: he'd
> that qualia are real, that he is having an undeniable internal
> right now, etc. If I asked that zombie "how do you know you're not a
> zombie?" what would he tell me?

I love the zombie meme. It is great fun to kick around. Here are some places
to go play:

General Web Collections:
"Zombies on the web" http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/zombies.html "Zombies Invade Philosophy!"
http://members.aol.com/lshauser/zomboid.html Symposium on "Conversations with zombies" http://www.imprint.co.uk/jcs_2_4.html

http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~dennconf/ThomasWPolger'sPaper.html David Chalmers, "The possibility of zombies" http://www.ai.sri.com/~connolly/psyche-list-archive/1995/0283.html David Chalmers, "Self-ascription without qualia: A case-study" http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/goldman.html

Daniel C. Dennett, "The Unimagined Preposterousness of Zombies" http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/unzombie.htm Nigel J.T. Thomas, "Zombie Killer"
http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/nthomas/zom-abs.htm Brent E. Silby, "On the Conceivability of Zombies" http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/7551/silby010.html

Given that most of you know that I am fond of Dan Dennett, and have read my
comments about the 'q' word, you will be expecting me to declare something
like, "a false premise implies any conclusion" or the short form I use for my
kids, "if four were five, pigs could fly." However, I am going to come out,
right here on the extro list, and state that I believe in zombies, 100%.

Having made this declaration of faith, I am going to go on into new (I think)
philosophical ground by stating that the 100% means everybody. Yes, I believe
that you, me, everyone else, and everything else are zombies. The sneaky
thing about this zombieism is that it is relative, such that, you do not see
that you are a zombie, but you do see that creatures that are sufficiently
simpler than you (to the point that you can simulate them) are zombies. So it
is easy to see that a rock is a zombie, because you can simulate its thought
process without much trouble, and see that it is not conscious. A bacterium
is a bit more difficult, and an ant is still quite a task, but you can see
that they are zombies. This goes for all the AI programs we have built so

Now when we get to people, it is just too difficult to run the simulation at
this time to prove that they are zombies. However, in a few years I expect to
be able to go to my neighborhood SI and start to ask about this. I expect the
SI to stop me right there and tell me that it has run my life as a high speed
simulation while I was approaching, and knows the question I am going to ask,
and the answer is, "Yes, you are a zombie." Of course, it will think that it is not.

So, there it is. I think you will find my theory of "Zombie Relativity" to be
just as testable as any other zombie theory, and to have just as much explanatory value.