Inventor of Micrprocessor Denies Computationalism

23 Replies, 1969 Views

Is it possible to make a conscious computer?



Federico Faggin




Quote:I thought that if it arises from the brain, which is a complex information processing system like a machine, then a computer could be conscious as well, at least in principle. Taken by great curiosity, I began to think how I could make a conscious computer. This led me to reflect deeply on the characteristics of consciousness, and I soon encountered the great obstacle: the complete lack of understanding we have about the nature of sensations and feelings.


Quote:A computer that identifies a rose by its aroma only mechanically captures the pattern of electrical signals produced by appropriate sensors of the rose’s aromatic molecules (the chemical symbols). The computer is not aware of the scent of the rose, even though it may respond in various ways to the rose symbol. Thus, the computer blindly responds to a rose the way it has been programmed to, or in the way it has automatically learned. The computer can neither be aware, nor consciously know anything. Thus, the comprehension brought by consciousness is not accessible to a computer. Herein lies the fundamental limitation of artificial intelligence.




Quote:Consciousness is where the conversion from outer material symbolic reality into inner semantic reality takes place, and qualia are the bearers of meaning. But couldn’t consciousness also be the space in which the inverse conversion from meaning to symbols takes place? If yes, this would imply that inner reality could have a direct impact on outer reality as well, though classical physics denies this possibility by postulating that only outer reality exists and inner reality has no causal power. This is equivalent to saying that either the inner world is illusory or that inner reality can only be influenced by outer reality though not vice versa. But then how can interiority emerge solely from outer reality when the physical laws control only the transformation of outer phenomena into other outer phenomena? The logical conclusion of materialism is that inner reality is illusory and meaning does not exist.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-04-23, 07:39 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
[-] The following 6 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Ninshub, Hurmanetar, Obiwan, Kamarling, tim, Stan Woolley
Good article.


Quote:The computer can neither be aware, nor consciously know anything. Thus, the [i]comprehension[/i] brought by consciousness is not accessible to a computer. Herein lies the fundamental limitation of artificial intelligence.



Quote:What is the physical phenomenon responsible for the feeling associated with the scent of a rose? What something “feels like,” a sensation or a feeling, is called quale (plural: qualia), and therefore the hard problem of consciousness can be stated as: “How do qualia emerge from matter?”

Science cannot explain this phenomenon, and nobody seems to have the faintest idea about how this miracle happens. It is surprising that most researchers believe there is no miracle. [i]We are so used to being aware that we generally do not recognize that consciousness cannot possibly emerge from unconscious matter[/i]. Only those who have begun to think seriously about this problem realize that consciousness is a fundamentally unsolved problem.
[-] The following 2 users Like North's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel, Typoz
(2021-04-27, 02:21 PM)North Wrote: It is surprising that most researchers believe there is no miracle.

Is it not more that they say there's no 'miracle' rather than they believe there's no 'miracle' ? Like Dennett, for instance, who just basically waves it away as not being important at all. The only thing we possess that allows us to have a meaningful existence and live is basically no more important than some stomach bile. What an idiot he is.
(This post was last modified: 2021-04-27, 03:26 PM by tim.)
[-] The following 2 users Like tim's post:
  • nbtruthman, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2021-04-27, 03:26 PM)tim Wrote: Is it not more that they say there's no 'miracle' rather than they believe there's no 'miracle' ? Like Dennett, for instance, who just basically waves it away as not being important at all. The only thing we possess that allows us to have a meaningful existence and live is basically no more important than some stomach bile. What an idiot he is.

Dennet is more a priest for the Physicalist Faith than a philosopher, as can be seen when he tried to do scientific work ->

Quote:"....A recent book by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, called Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York 2006) is a catastrophe if our goal is to persuade skeptics of the advantages of cognitive approaches to the study of religion - or even just introduce cognition to the curious! Dennett seems to be hellishly bent on turning his readers off. I would say that about 40% ofthe book is an inelegant, polemical attack on religion and religious people. He claims to be using all those pages to persuade intolerant religious people to read his book.

I used to think that philosophers by definition are sophisticated thinkers, gifted in the art of persuasive argument, valiantly exposing hidden assumptions and opaque meanings. But I am wrong.


What Dennett has done is a disservice to the entire neuroscientific community.

If people were skeptical before his book came out, they will be downright hostile ftom now on, and the rest of us in the cognitive science of religion will have to pay the price!


The worst thing about the book is that the cognitive part is poorly done..."
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 2 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • tim, Stan Woolley
Sci, the three quotes in your OP sum up the debate quite succinctly. The fact that someone who approached the problem from a computational perspective and reached this conclusion is telling and ought to be noted by materialists.


Quote:The computer is not aware of the scent of the rose, even though it may respond in various ways to the rose symbol. Thus, the computer blindly responds to a rose the way it has been programmed to, or in the way it has automatically learned. The computer can neither be aware, nor consciously know anything. Thus, the comprehension brought by consciousness is not accessible to a computer. Herein lies the fundamental limitation of artificial intelligence.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
[-] The following 5 users Like Kamarling's post:
  • nbtruthman, Stan Woolley, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, Typoz
As someone with a background in computational science and having worked in IT for my whole career (not that this makes me especially qualified) I’ve never believed that computers will do more than simply emulate consciousness.
[-] The following 5 users Like Obiwan's post:
  • stephenw, Stan Woolley, Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence
(2021-04-27, 09:47 PM)Obiwan Wrote: As someone with a background in computational science and having worked in IT for my whole career (not that this makes me especially qualified) I’ve never believed that computers will do more than simply emulate consciousness.

Emulate in the context of computing is a bit open to interpretation. Sometimes one computer technology is used to emulate a very different computer, and the results may be effectively the same, apart from different keyboard layout or other external differences. Maybe to some readers, emulate may mean 'does everything that the original did' or words to that effect. Which I suspect was not your intended meaning.

In fact, it may be just the opposite. Computer emulation of consciousness may mimic the external appearance rather well. But behind the scenes it may not do anything at all. In other words it is all bluff. Rather like the emulation in the restaurant in When Harry met Sally.
(This post was last modified: 2021-04-28, 06:05 PM by Typoz.)
[-] The following 3 users Like Typoz's post:
  • nbtruthman, Obiwan, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2021-04-28, 04:13 AM)Typoz Wrote: Emulate in the context of computing is a bit open to interpretation. Sometimes one computer technology is used to emulate a very different computer, and the results may be effectively the same, apart from different keyboard layout or other external differences. Maybe to some readers, emulate may mean 'does everything that the original did' or words to that effect. Which I suspect was not your intended meaning.

In fact, it may be just the opposite. Computer emulation of consciousness may mimic the external appearance rather well. But behind the scenes it may not do anything at all. In other words it is all bluff. Rather like the emulation in the restaurant in When Harry met Sally.

IMHO it all boils down to subjectivity. Computers operate with mathematical precision - on/off, yes/no decisions which, when arranged into loops, routines and complete algorithms, might resemble something that human minds might achieve albeit through an entirely different process. But computers don't make decisions which are influenced by the way they feel today. They don't boot up and feel a little depressed and decide to play a game rather than grind through a spreadsheet. 

That's why Marvin, the paranoid android is so funny. We know that electro-mechanical "brains" don't really have feelings like paranoia that's a subjective human thing. This materialist obsession with reducing everything to objective on/off logic is just doomed. There is no truth-table for feelings.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
[-] The following 1 user Likes Kamarling's post:
  • Typoz
(2021-04-28, 04:13 AM)Typoz Wrote: Emulate in the context of computing is a bit open to interpretation. Sometimes one computer technology is used to emulate a very different computer, and the results may be effectively the same, apart from different keyboard layout or other external differences. Maybe to some readers, emulate may mean 'does everything that the original did' or words to that effect. Which I suspect was not your intended meaning.

In fact, it may be just the opposite. Computer emulation of consciousness may mimic the external appearance rather well. But behind the scenes it may not do anything at all. In other words it is all bluff. Rather like the emulation in the restaurant in When Harry met Sally.

Perhaps simulate would have been a better description Smile
[-] The following 3 users Like Obiwan's post:
  • tim, Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2021-04-23, 07:39 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Is it possible to make a conscious computer?



Federico Faggin

...Through his deep thinking he realized the so called "hard problem", but many people have. This is not an actual problem, but one created by us when we frame it as such.

I think a computer could be conscious. I just posted this on Skeptiko so I'll copy it here as it is pertinent... and I've said this many times before so if you're tired of hearing it, my apologies:

A spirit can act upon any boundary in the mechanism. A pair of gears for example have a boundary between them which is interaction potential and the grain boundaries of metallic crystal within them could also serve as boundaries for interaction. When the ratio of surface area to volume is high and when the boundary is fuzzy rather than thin, there is a large interaction potential. A pair of gears have a very thin rigid boundary between the teeth so they have a very low surface area to volume ratio and very low interaction potential. There is a very small probability the gear tooth will break and disrupt the normal functioning of the mechanism therefore it is very difficult for a spirit to shift the probability creating a meaningful effect.

A light bulb has slightly greater ratio of surface area to volume: long thin wires and filaments and some have chips in them. Light bulbs often go out so the boundary is larger and fuzzier than the gears. I've personally experienced on two occasions poltergeist type of activity where the light bulb next to me went out at the exact moment of a negative emotional spike.

A microchip with billions of transistors represents billions of boundaries between mechanisms. The ratio of surface area to volume is much higher.

The brain not only has billions of neurons, but each neuron contains structures we don't fully understand such as the microtubules so there may be orders of magnitude higher ratio of boundary surface area to volume offering great interaction potential with the spirit world.

We can think of this boundary like the surface of water. The air above represents the mechanism and the abyss below represents spirit. A ball floating on the surface of the water has low ratio of surface area to volume. A sponge floating saturated on the surface of the water with all of its pores has a very high ratio of surface area to volume. The brain is analogous to a sponge and a gear or lightbulb is analogous to a plastic ball.

Boundaries in the mechanism are assigned by choice regarding what is most useful in accomplishing a goal. For the purpose of my thesis above a boundary is a place where the probability that something could go either left or right is closer to 50/50. It is less useful to consider low probability regions as being a boundary.
[-] The following 2 users Like Hurmanetar's post:
  • stephenw, Sciborg_S_Patel

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)