All posts tagged anonymous

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.”