All posts for the month February, 2015

This, I believe, will be the official blog space for my Patreon project, “A Future Worth Thinking About.” Partially because I feel need to differentiate it from the random noodling I do on Tumblr, and partially because I need a blog for that project with actual formatting tools.

Coming soon: A post about race, institutional power dynamics, and robots!

I think that his Chinese Room argument entirely misses the point of the functionalist perspective. He proposes the software as the “aware thing” rather than understanding that it would be the interactions between components and the PROCESSES which would be, together, the thing.

That is, in the Chinese Room, he says that a person in a room who has been given a set of call-and-response variable rules that govern which Chinese characters they are to put together in what order in which situations DOES NOT KNOW CHINESE. And He’s Right. That person is a functional component in a larger system—the room—which uses all of its components to communicate.

In short, The Room Itself Knows Chinese. The room, and the builders, and the people who presented the rules, and the person who performs the physical operations all form the “Mind” that “Knows” “The Language.”

So, bringing the metaphor back around, “A Mind,” for functionalists, is any combination of processes which can reflexively and reflectively engage inputs, outputs, and desires. A cybernetic feedback loop of interaction and awareness. In that picture of a mind, the “software” isn’t consciousness. The process is consciousness.

TL;DR: He’s wrong, for a number of reasons, of which “an imperfect understanding or potentially intentional miscasting of functionalism” is just one.

No, not really. The nature of consciousness is the nature of consciousness, whatever that nature “Is.” Organic consciousness can be described as derivative, in that what we are arises out of the processes and programming of individual years and collective generations and eons. So human consciousness and machine consciousness will not be distinct for that reason. But the thing of it is that dolphins are not elephants are not humans are not algorithmic non-organic machines.

Each perspective is phenomenologically distinct, as its embodiment and experiences will specifically affect and influence what develops as their particular consciousness. The expression of that consciousness may be able to be laid out in distinct categories which can TO AN EXTENT be universalized, such that we can recognize elements of ourselves in the experience of others (which can act as bases for empathy, compassion, etc).

But the potential danger of universalization is erasure of important and enlightening differences between what otherwise be considered members of the same category.

So any machine consciousness we develop (or accidentally generate) must be recognized and engaged on its own terms—from the perspective of its own contextualized experiences—and not assumed to “be like us.”

ninjaruski replied to your link “A Future Worth Thinking About: Does An AI Have A Buddha Nature?”

Of course an AI has a buddha nature., why wouldn’t it?


The problem is that the investigation of the potential for non-biological intelligence or consciousness has been so geared toward a Western view of selfhood and moral responsibility that there hasn’t been muchc time give to other ways of thinking about what it could mean to be a self, or to be responsible and connected to the rest of the world, in a practical, experiential manner.

Let me be SUPER clear, so we can remove all doubt: The potential moral Patiency of #ai/#robots—that is, what responsibilities their creators have to THEM—has been given Far Less consideration or even Credence than that of the AGENCY of said, and that is a Failure.

I coined the phrase “Œdipal Obsolescence Fears” because we’re like Oedipus’ dad, bringing about the very prophecy we’re fighting against. Only w/ machine intelligence, WE WROTE THE PROPHECY…

…We wrote this story about what AI would be and do. WE wrote it. And we can CHANGE IT…

A Future Worth Thinking About: Does An AI Have A Buddha Nature?