Thursday, 21 May 2009

DARPA's physicalism

All the thought experiments in the field of consciousness philosophy of the last several decades are starting to become manifest.  The idea that there could be a silicon-based functional isomorph of the brain, which is equally conscious, has captured the imagination of DARPA.  The project to create consciousness from computers is ambitious, to say the least, and will always have trouble with one of the fundamental problems of consciousness: the problem of other minds.

It's impossible to prove that another human being has consciousness.  All you have to go on is that you are conscious and that you and I look similar enough as objects in experience.  Ergo, I must have consciousness too.  But at the same time, I could just give you the appearance of consciousness, but not actually have consciousness.  I might have no experience of the "I" at all, and you cannot prove it one way or the other.

And if that's difficult from one human to another, it's going to be extra difficult from one human to a machine.  But I completely understand why they're doing it.  Sounds like fun.
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