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How close are we?

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How close are we to having "real" AI? Have any "intelligent" computer systems been implemented yet? And have they acted in unpredicted ways (have they become more than the substance of their programming?) I am hinting that true intelligence would act in unpredictable ways. Maybe that is not a good or reliable indication of intelligence (predictability). I think maybe what I meant was...has demonstrable learning taken place in an AI system and then has the learning been applied to change behavior? ----------- Also, I have been wondering if trying to start with mimicking the human mind is a bit too much to bite-off at once. Have some AI researchers started off with trying to mimic the intelligence and learning of, let's say, a house cat, or a fly? I would want to take the simplest observable "mind"...but one that can demonstrate actual learning...and try to duplicate it. I would not start with a human mind. Am I far off base? Also...would it be easier to observe learning in a CLOSED system versus and OPEN system? For example, if I wanted to allow an AI system to have an opportunity to "learn"...should I let it roam the planet...or keep it in a laboratory?

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Original post by Tom Knowlton
How close are we to having "real" AI?

Have any "intelligent" computer systems been implemented yet? And have they acted in unpredicted ways (have they become more than the substance of their programming?)

See this thread: What is considered an advanced AI?

The other thing is called emergent behavior, and it happens all the time. The Black and White avitar looking for food and trying to eat itself. MASSIVE, developed to model the fighting in LOTR, where the humans and orcs decided the best action was best to run away from the battlefield, etc.

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Original post by Tom Knowlton
I am hinting that true intelligence would act in unpredictable ways. Maybe that is not a good or reliable indication of intelligence (predictability).

I think maybe what I meant was...has demonstrable learning taken place in an AI system and then has the learning been applied to change behavior?

Most of the original bars of "artificial intellegence" were passed long ago. The bar was raised, and then met. Whatever we consider to be a "good AI" this year will be considered "just a normal adaptive program" a few years from now.

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Original post by Tom Knowlton
Also, I have been wondering if trying to start with mimicking the human mind is a bit too much to bite-off at once. Have some AI researchers started off with trying to mimic the intelligence and learning of, let's say, a house cat, or a fly?

Why would you want to? Some argue that it is impossible to make true intellegence, whether for religious reasons, random probabilities, or the open debate on the Universe being nondeterministic.

It *is* possible (but not practical) to record all the actions, nuances, and other behavoirs of a human, and with technology and algorithms already develped, make a perfect replica that would respond the same way. If nothing else, it can memorize responses and use markov chains to work out what to do next.


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Original post by Tom Knowlton
I would want to take the simplest observable "mind"...but one that can demonstrate actual learning...and try to duplicate it. I would not start with a human mind. Am I far off base?

Also...would it be easier to observe learning in a CLOSED system versus and OPEN system?

For example, if I wanted to allow an AI system to have an opportunity to "learn"...should I let it roam the planet...or keep it in a laboratory?

Those are all fairly advanced AI techniques. You might look in to two of the ACM's special intrest groupss: SIGART (Artificial Intellegence) and SIGCHI (Computer Human Interaction). Also AAAI (American Association for Artificial Intellegence) has had challenges for AI robots to attend and minimally participate in an academic conference

All that and more would be appropriate for a grad school research and machine learning classes.

frob.

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Original post by Tom Knowlton
How close are we to having "real" AI?


Don't misunderstand the term. "Artificial Intelligence" is the study and application of different methodologies to solve problems that are usually handled by humans , different methods already exist, so it is real.

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Original post by owl
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Original post by Tom Knowlton
How close are we to having "real" AI?


Don't misunderstand the term. "Artificial Intelligence" is the study and application of different methodologies to solve problems that are usually handled by humans , different methods already exist, so it is real.


Based on his questions about modeling the human mind, and having the model be externally inspected, I'm pretty sure he's not talking about AI in the computer theory sense. [grin]

Back in grad school, a similar question was asked to the machine learning teacher.

His response was basically "Why would you want to exactly match human behavior? Humans are lazy, slow to think, slow to learn, have suboptimal skills on thinking, don't work well when tired or otherwise impaired, have terrible memory, and there are lots of stupid people that are basically mental rejects. We use computers and machine learning so that we don't have to deal with all that."

frob.

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Original post by Tom Knowlton
How close are we to having "real" AI?


Don't misunderstand the term. "Artificial Intelligence" is the study and application of different methodologies to solve problems that are usually handled by humans , different methods already exist, so it is real.


So there are computer programs that can learn and apply what they learn?

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Here's some food for thought.

Hubert L. Dreyfus Interview: Artificial Intelligence

Quote:

...
Who had taken over philosophy?

The people in the AI lab, with their "mental representations," had taken over Descartes and Hume and Kant, who said concepts were rules, and so forth. And far from teaching us how it should be done, they had taken over what we had just recently learned in philosophy, which was the wrong way to do it. The irony is that 1957, when AI, artificial intelligence, was named by John McCarthy, was the very year that Wittgenstein's philosophical investigations came out against mental representations, and Heidegger already in 1927 -- that's Being in Time -- wrote a whole book against mental representations. So, they had inherited a lemon. They had taken over a loser philosophy. If they had known philosophy, they could've predicted, like me, that it was a research program. They took Cartesian modern philosophy and turned it into a research program, and anybody who knew enough philosophy could've predicted it was going to fail. But nobody else paid any attention. That's why I got this prize. I saw what they did and I predicted it, and that's the end of them.

You write -- I think it's in the Internet book -- that "in cyberspace, then, without our embodied ability to grasp meaning, relevance slips through our non-existent fingers." And you go on to say, "The world is a field of significance organized by and for beings like us with our bodies, desire, interest and purpose."

Right. That's where Merleau-Ponty comes in. None of that would be said by Heidegger. Heidegger was just interested in the way we could disclose the world without mental representation. But Merleau-Ponty sees that there isn't anything mental about it. It's the basic level. Our body and its skills for dealing with things and getting an optimal grip on things is what we need to understand, and then it becomes clear that computers just haven't got it. They haven't got bodies and they haven't got skills.
...


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Original post by Tom Knowlton
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Original post by owl
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Original post by Tom Knowlton
How close are we to having "real" AI?


Don't misunderstand the term. "Artificial Intelligence" is the study and application of different methodologies to solve problems that are usually handled by humans , different methods already exist, so it is real.


So there are computer programs that can learn and apply what they learn?


If by "learn and apply" you mean "catching the rule" of a problem, then yes, neural-networks can do that to some extent by function aproximation.

I pointed out the specific meaning of the term because sometimes it is tought that the only objective of AI is to re-create an entire human into a computer and that until this isn't achieved everything else is a failure or isn't worth, and that's the notion I felt OP was having about it.

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We are nowhere close to a "real" AI. We do not even have a reliable FRAMEWORK to base study from, nor do we have even a complete idea of what QUALITIES an intelligent system should have. Several frameworks have been proposed, claiming to be THE one, for instance Minsky proposed a logical framework, Grossberg proposed a framework using neural networks, and just recently Jeff Hawkins' On Intelligence proposed a "memory prediction framework" (which, btw, is a repetition of earlier cognitive psychology research). All of these (to varying degrees) have moreorless only provided dead-ends.

The field is mired by the simple question of defining "intelligence". If we can't characterize intelligent systems well, then how do we know whether we're moving toward a promising goal? Further, the biological data for intelligence just isn't there, and especially not the data needed for accurate mathematical models. Of central importance to the simulation community is determining how much detail is needed to elicit complex behavior, but since the mathematical simulations are so complex, really hope only fuels any effort beyond predicting biological results. (Neural networks are an attempt at formalizing neural theory, but their ability to learn is limited.)

If you clarify "true intelligence" though, you will likely find some neural models out there that meet your criteria. The problem is then perhaps that we don't really know what makes something intelligent!

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AI and monsters have a lot in common-- one you know what they are they stop being that thing.

A sea-monster is only a sea-monster until you know what it is, then it's just another animal.

A chess AI is only 'intelligent' until you understand how it works-- after that, it's just an algorithm.

I think think the big question is how close are we to a sentient concious entity. To know that, we have to know what a sentient concious entity is, and WHY it is. If we can answer that, then we ourselfs are no longer 'sea monsters' and can then fairley compare ourselfs to an artifical creation.

I think there is no answer to that question.

We don't even know what it means to be a concious sentient being ourselves. The only truth, in this regard, is 'I think, therfore I am'. Of course the questions 'What is I' and 'What is Think' still go answered.

Don't think about it too hard. These questions have driven people to depression and madness. :)

Will




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Original post by RPGeezus
AI and monsters have a lot in common-- one you know what they are they stop being that thing.

A sea-monster is only a sea-monster until you know what it is, then it's just another animal.

A chess AI is only 'intelligent' until you understand how it works-- after that, it's just an algorithm.

I think think the big question is how close are we to a sentient concious entity. To know that, we have to know what a sentient concious entity is, and WHY it is. If we can answer that, then we ourselfs are no longer 'sea monsters' and can then fairley compare ourselfs to an artifical creation.

I think there is no answer to that question.

We don't even know what it means to be a concious sentient being ourselves. The only truth, in this regard, is 'I think, therfore I am'. Of course the questions 'What is I' and 'What is Think' still go answered.

Don't think about it too hard. These questions have driven people to depression and madness. :)

Will




Oh, don't worry...I don't stay up late thinking about it.

BUT....I am curious about it, to be sure.

That really was my question: how close are we to a sentient concious entity.

That is my question.



The appeal for me...or one reason it appeals to me...is the raw computational power and storage capability of computers. If you could harness THAT with some form of real intelligence it would open up new worlds for us (it would seem)

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If you mean how close are we to a human like intelligence well we are pretty far, not even the biggest experts of robotics were able to beat an insect in intelligence yet.

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Original post by RPGeezus
We don't even know what it means to be a concious sentient being ourselves. The only truth, in this regard, is 'I think, therfore I am'. Of course the questions 'What is I' and 'What is Think' still go answered.

Don't think about it too hard. These questions have driven people to depression and madness. :)


The question is undecidable. You need to prove or disprove determinism first, which is provably not possible. But, if the world is nondeterministic, then the proof doesn't matter...

If the Universe is nondeterministic, then it follows that you can think. It also follows that all math and logical proofs are invalid.

If the Universe is deterministic then math and logical proofs are valid, but it means we aren't really thinking, that there is no morality, and that all decisions were pre-decided from the big bang, or before.

Any good AI class (or philosophy class) will get in to this subject.

frob.

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Some people try to copy the human mind, yes, but a lot of what people strive for when attempting to make "real AI" is not perfect human behavior but rather the ability to communicate with humans effectively. A lobster may be smarter than any AI we've made so far, but honestly, what good is a lobster? There are a lot of chatbots out there which, although really not very intellegent at all, are a lot more interesting than any lobster I've ever met simply because what they output appeals to humans.

That's the real reason people want to "copy" the human mind, I think.

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Original post by alvaro
I never understood what determinism has to do with anything. Do you care to explain or post a good link?


Wikipedia has a pretty good article on determinism, but it focuses more on the philosophy of the problem.

(Okay all you skilled math people, don't cringe too much at this. I know there are flaws and holes in what I am describing below. I'm trying to convey the principle.)

The basic axioms of pure sciences, such as math, are that:
* The Universe behaves the same way, everywhere
* Given the same conditions, you get the same results

This is called "determinism".

It is something we rely on in computers all the time. If we set the same starting conditions, and we run the algorithm a bazillion times, it will always give exactly the same result. If it doesn't, either the algorithm or the machine is flawed.

It is a guiding principle in the scientific method. We find a set of rules that describe the Universe as we understand it. When we find a problem with it, we improve on the rules to include the new observations.

Next point

There are many Grand Challenge problems out there. These are basically really big problems that will help lots of people if they are solved.

One Grand Challenge problem of a century ago: Is it possible to have an automatic proof verification machine?


The answer led to several odd results, including Godel's incompleteness theorms, Very simply put, it means:
* We can never have a system that finds ALL math proofs. Such a system will also generate falsehoods.
* If a set of proof is complete and proves itself to be consistant, those proofs are inconsistant.

So as long as we take the first two basic theories (universal consistancy of results) then the second set follows (some things cannot be proven).

So we divide things in to three classes:
* Stuff we can figure out. (computable)
* Stuff we could figure out with infinite time. (intractable)
* Stuff we can never figure out, even if we had limitless resources. (undecidable)

Lots of things are computable. You can count the fingers on your hand, or the leaves on a tree, or figure out your taxes. (Well, maybe not the taxes... [grin])

An intractable issue is something like breaking strong encryption algorithms with a huge crypto key. It is possible to do. If we only used the resources and knowledge we have today, a brute force attack could take longer than the expected life of the Universe. Maybe someday we'll have the resources or knowledge to solve the problem, but we don't today.

One undecidable is issue is the continuum hypothesis. If we subdivided time and space (and a few other things) into smaller and smaller pieces, do we eventually get to a single atomic unit of time or space? Or is it infinitely divisible and continuous? It is impossible to know.

Another undecidable issue is the halting problem. Simply, it is undecidable if the function defined by an algorithm will stop in finite time. There are several very small programs (some as small as 10 lines of C code) that we cannot prove will ever finish, such as finding a number with certain properties where the number may not exist. Again, it is impossible to know.


This gets us back to the original problem: Can we prove or disprove the first two issues, namely, is the Universe consistant everywhere, and do we always get the same results?

If it can be proven, then it follows that everything that happens in the Universe, has happend, and will ever do, was predetermined from the first instant of time. This includes all human thought, meaning all choices people make are not choices at all.

If it can be disproven, then it follows that absolutely nothing is certain in the Universe. It means it is possible for objects, planets, even star systems, to simply pop into existance. Or instantly be destroyed. It also means that people are capable of thought, rather than being compelled by the first instant of the Universe.

Solving the problem has been proven to be undecidable. Therefore, we cannot know the answer within the confines of the Universe.


I've oversimplified a few issues and left out few details, but most of them require more detail and math than is appropriate for a gd.net post.


The result end result is a great philosophy problem. If we don't have free will, explain moral issues like the law and punishments. If we have free will, explain what it is and how it works. Your essay is due at the beginning of class on Friday


frob.

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Original post by frob
If the Universe is nondeterministic, then it follows that you can think. It also follows that all math and logical proofs are invalid.


Actually there is another possibility besides Freedom and Necessity - Chance. It only follows that you can think if the universe is nondeterministic and Freedom rules.

But if the universe is indeterministic and Chance rules, then you can't think (because everything happens by chance, not by will), and at the same time nothing can be predicted (or accurately simulated) either.

P.S. If you fully embrace the description of the universe currently given to us by physics, then it follows from quantum mechanics that the universe is indeed ruled by Chance.

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Original post by Devilogic
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Original post by frob
If the Universe is nondeterministic, then it follows that you can think. It also follows that all math and logical proofs are invalid.


Actually there is another possibility besides Freedom and Necessity - Chance. It only follows that you can think if the universe is nondeterministic and Freedom rules.

But if the universe is indeterministic and Chance rules, then you can't think (because everything happens by chance, not by will), and at the same time nothing can be predicted (or accurately simulated) either.

P.S. If you fully embrace the description of the universe currently given to us by physics, then it follows from quantum mechanics that the universe is indeed ruled by Chance.


Like I said, it is an oversimplification. [grin]

You're right, nondeterminism doesn't prove free will, only that free will is possible.

Chance is nondeterminism. And the problem still exists: prove it.

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By the way, what kind of a proof are you asking for? A mathematical proof, or a philosophical "proof"?

Since philosophy is mathematically not a science, you can prove anything within its context. So I guess you can also prove (or disprove, whichever you like) determinism. :)

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Original post by Devilogic
By the way, what kind of a proof are you asking for? A mathematical proof, or a philosophical "proof"?

Since philosophy is mathematically not a science, you can prove anything within its context. So I guess you can also prove (or disprove, whichever you like) determinism. :)


Since it's been proven to be an undecidable problem, it will have to be a philosophical proof.

I'm comfortable enough with the problem that whichever way you argue, I'll argue against it. [disturbed]

frob.

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I am fairly familiar with Gödel's works, or at least I understood the proofs when I took the time to study them (my memory is a little bit fuzzy on some details now). I am also familiar with the notion of determinism. And I still don't see a connection between these things and intelligence or conciousness. I know some of these connections are made in "The emperor's new mind" by Roger Penrose, but I don't think his reasoning is sound.

I will explain my personal position. I honestly think that there is no such thing as free will in a strong sense. That doesn't mean that people don't make decissions. It just means that decission making falls within the laws of physiscs, like everything else.

The problem of conciousness is probably not a problem at all. I think the problem is with the way humans tend to think of the world. Most people have a description of the world that consists of some space populated by inanimate things and by living things. Both inanimate and living things are subject to the laws of physics, but living things have complicated behaviours that we don't fully grasp with our understanding of physiscs, so we imagine a "soul" or a "conciousness" attached to them, which is responsible for their behaviour. The question of whether a computer can have a conciousness is a human-centric questions, since "conciousness" is probably an artifact of human [poor] thinking, and not an element of reality.

The answer is then that whenever a machine has a complicated enough behaviour, humans will treat it as having a conciousness, and that will be it. Gödel and determinism have very little to do with conciousness. Belief in souls or spirits might have more to do with it.

Just my personal opinion. Feel free to attack it. That's what forums are for. :)

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Original post by alvaro
Just my personal opinion. Feel free to attack it. That's what forums are for. :)

Just to keep with the thread, I'm going to post a counter argument. Your beliefs are of course your own, and you are free to keep them.

This is simply a counter argument.

I have my own view, and this counter argument is not it.
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Original post by alvaro
I am fairly familiar with Gödel's works, or at least I understood the proofs when I took the time to study them (my memory is a little bit fuzzy on some details now). I am also familiar with the notion of determinism. And I still don't see a connection between these things and intelligence or conciousness. I know some of these connections are made in "The emperor's new mind" by Roger Penrose, but I don't think his reasoning is sound.

First, you need to define conciousness.

I define it is the ability to make a choice between at least two options (aka Freedom model). That means you must have at least two options and (somehow) be able to take one or the other at your own free will.

If you were to (somehow) rewind the entire Universe to the instant before your choice, you could replay it and instead make a different choice. You might instead make a model of the Universe and test it instead.

You might have to rewind again and retry it hundreds, thousands, or a near infinite number of times, but the fact that there is a non-zero chance of a different choice is all it takes. Godel's and other's work says you can't do that test within the Universe, unless you accept nondeterminism and Freedom, and that their theories don't hold. Indeed, if you accept that, then no proofs are ever certain.

Your ability to make a choice means that the Universe is nondeterministic. Again by definition, you cannot absolutely determine or perfectly reproduce the future state of the Universe based on the previous state of the Universe.

If the future state does not follow from the prevoius state, then there is a non-zero probability that materials at any point in space or time may vary from the previous state, or lots of other weirdness. In Universal scope, non-zero probability means that you accept that it happens.

Therefore, the two base axioms of pure science are untrue: Given the same conditions, you get different results, and the Universe does not behave the same everywhere.

So your original question about the connection of the Freedom model involving Godel's work. The freedom model demands nondeterminism.

If it is deterministic, Godel's work says you can't prove Universal determinism. If it is nondeterministic, you cannot prove it within the scope of the Universe -- and under nondeterminism, proofs don't matter anyway. [wow]

(Did I cover everything?)
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Original post by alvaro
I will explain my personal position. I honestly think that there is no such thing as free will in a strong sense. That doesn't mean that people don't make decissions. It just means that decission making falls within the laws of physiscs, like everything else.

I disagree, but that's a philosophical, moral, and/or spiritual question.
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Original post by alvaro
The problem of conciousness is probably not a problem at all. I think the problem is with the way humans tend to think of the world. Most people have a description of the world that consists of some space populated by inanimate things and by living things. Both inanimate and living things are subject to the laws of physics, but living things have complicated behaviours that we don't fully grasp with our understanding of physiscs, so we imagine a "soul" or a "conciousness" attached to them, which is responsible for their behaviour.

Philosophical, moral, and/or spiritual questions.
Quote:
Original post by alvaro
The question of whether a computer can have a conciousness is a human-centric questions, since "conciousness" is probably an artifact of human [poor] thinking, and not an element of reality.

Again, you need to get back to the definition of conciousness. If humans are capable of the Freedom model, then you need to define precisely what that model is, and you'll need to explain why other creatures, devices, machines, or other object cannot have conciousness.
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Original post by alvaro
The answer is then that whenever a machine has a complicated enough behaviour, humans will treat it as having a conciousness, and that will be it.

That's psychology, philosophy, morals, and/or religion.
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Original post by alvaro
Gödel and determinism have very little to do with conciousness.

Back to the definition of conciousness.

If a person is able to make a choice, then the Universe is nondeterministic by definition. The definition is back to Godel's work.
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Original post by alvaro
Belief in souls or spirits might have more to do with it.

Again, that's the philosophical, moral, and/or relgious debate.



frob.

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Original post by alvaro
I know some of these connections are made in "The emperor's new mind" by Roger Penrose, but I don't think his reasoning is sound.

Agreed.

My problem with the conclusion is that it assumed a 'level of precision' in a simulation. Maybe simulating / duplicating these things doesn't require quantum effect in order for the desired property to emerge.

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Original post by alvaro
I honestly think that there is no such thing as free will in a strong sense. That doesn't mean that people don't make decissions. It just means that decission making falls within the laws of physiscs, like everything else.


Except that we can't every know the laws of phyisics-- they are unproveable. We can't know if the universe is deterministic or not. Laws are hardley laws when they don't obey themselfs by randomly deciding to do things. :)

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Original post by alvaro
so we imagine a "soul" or a "conciousness" attached to them, which is responsible for their behaviour.


It's not imagined. I can't prove this but you are aware of yourself, which you know, so it's not imagined.


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Original post by alvaro
The question of whether a computer can have a conciousness is a human-centric questions, since "conciousness" is probably an artifact of human [poor] thinking, and not an element of reality.

I disagree. There is likely some process, some thing, that _is_ conciousness. The 'I' or presistance of self. If it can be simulated, or duplicated (which we know it can, vis-a-vis child birth), then it may be possible to give a non-human entity the same property.

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Original post by alvaro
The answer is then that whenever a machine has a complicated enough behaviour, humans will treat it as having a conciousness, and that will be it. Gödel and determinism have very little to do with conciousness.

Just because something looks like it's concious doesn't make it so. Fooling people and actually _being_ are two different things. Fake ducks (decoys) are not ducks.

Let me ask you this: If I could somehow make a copy of you as you are now, would I have one or two separate concious entities? If I killed the original, would that original continue to exist as a concious entity by way of the second, or would he move on in to the afterlife (oblivion, or heaven, whatever your beliefs dictate).

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Original post by alvaro
Belief in souls or spirits might have more to do with it.

Who knows!? I sure as heck don't.

Will

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Regarding RPGeezus's point of duplicating a person:

Imagine a Star Trek like machine that can teleport you from A to B. Imagine it malfunctions and duplicates you.

Now, I've heard the above situation in various counciousness and sentient discussions, but what many people seem not to know, or to forget, is that since we're born, a huge percentage of our body gets recicled.

I don't know the exact percentage, but in a decade I would guestimate that above 98% of our body is eliminated by natural processes (food is converted into new cell structures, and old structures are eliminated from the body via urine or fecal mater).

So, how much "me" is there in me after a 10 year lifespan?

I'm also aware that some of our cells can remain on the body for a very long time with little deterioration. This seems to be truer in nervous cells, and neurons especially seem to be pretty resilient (well, the cranium is especially designed to be an organic "clean lab", so to speak, in that every little detail, like bloodflow, oxygenation, temperature, even sudden movements are taken into account and minimized).

None the less I'm 27 now, and I still "feel" like me. It seems there is no need for a super high-tech machine from the future to test out the theory of counsciousness then. Parts of "me" can change, will change, and "me" will still feel like "me", if the changes are slow enough for "me" to adapt.

Just wanted to bring this point up.

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Original post by frob
Since it's been proven to be an undecidable problem, it will have to be a philosophical proof.

I'm comfortable enough with the problem that whichever way you argue, I'll argue against it. [disturbed]

frob.


Ok, I will accept your challenge. Here is a sketch of my proof of non-nondeterminism:



I will assume that I live in a world of complete freedom (and that the statement F "I am completely free" holds true by definition).

But, if F holds true, and I am completely free, I am also free to imagine a world in which I am unfree (if I would not be allowed to do that, I would not be completely free).

Even more, if I am completely free, I am free to state that I have always lived in such a world (and that the statement U "I have never been free" holds true).

Therefore F implies U.

But the statement U ("I am not free") is in contradiction with the statement F ("I am free").

This contradiction implies that the original premise F can not be true.

But if the statement F is not true, then the statement U (which says that I live in a world without freedom) must be true.

[Edited by - Devilogic on December 7, 2005 3:14:14 PM]

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Original post by Prozak
Regarding RPGeezus's point of duplicating a person:

Imagine a Star Trek like machine that can teleport you from A to B. Imagine it malfunctions and duplicates you.


I'd never step in to one of those crazy things. I say they're suicide machines. :)

Quote:
Original post by Prozak
but what many people seem not to know, or to forget, is that since we're born, a huge percentage of our body gets recicled.
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You're not all getting recycled at the same time. You're body doesn't instantly decay only to regrow again.

Pieces come and go all fizzy like, not in big chunks.

Maybe over a 10 year span you have changed all of your parts, but it was gradual.

I'm not trying to play down the implications of what you are saying. :) I think this is an important clue about the nature of conciousness.


Quote:
Original post by Prozak
None the less I'm 27 now, and I still "feel" like me..


We're the same age and I still feel like me too, most of the time. ;)

A friend of mine believes that he's not the same person, that his self from 10 seconds ago is gone to oblivion. He thinks persistance of conciousness is an illusion. I don't believe this though, and I have a small thought experiment for it.


Imagine that you are only you for 10 seconds at a time. After 10 seconds you have changed enough that you're a different person, a different conciousness. The interval of time maybe irrelevant, I'm just picking 10 for illustrative purposes.

During the course of a minute, an outside observer will see only one you, but in reality, 6 separate conciousness's have come and gone.

Here is where I get metaphysical, but it's only for illustrative purposes.

Lets assume there is an after life-- not heaven, but a celestial zoo. In the afterlife you conciousness continues unbroken, taking in the sights at the zoo.

At my zoo there are six exhibits, and when you enter the zoo the zoo-keeper sends you to one of the exhibits based on the order in which you came. The first person in sees the monkeys, the second the tigers, the third the elephants, the fourth sees Flamingos, etc...

Mr. Entity sits down in front of the TV and begins conversing with his wife..

10 seconds in, *BOOM*, conciousness two takes over-- he feels like his conciousness 1, since he has all of the memories, etc... Conciousness one on the other hand finds himself strangley looking at monkeys, wondering where his wife went.

20 seconds in to life, conciousness two suddenly finds himself staring at tigers, and conciousness three is continuing a converstation with a woman he believes is his wife.

30 seconds, then 40, 50, 60.. You get the point.

Now, if you really are a different conciousness, and not the same conciousness over the course of your life, at some point in time you would find yourself sitting at the zoo! You can't be _all_ of the different conciousnesses-- you have your turn, and then it's zoo time. Being them all would be saying that there is something persistant.

Replace the zoo with heaven, or oblivion. It wont matter. Either way, you still can only be one of them. If you only persist for 50 miliseconds and oblivion is your fate, then thats were you'll be.

It IS possible that _I_ just happen to be taking my turn at bat right now, but, eventually it will have to come to an end putting me somewhere else (with or without a conciousness).

Since I'm not sitting at the zoo right now, I'm not having fun in heaven (or hell), and I'm definately not in oblivion, I find it rather hard to conclude that I'm a different conciouness this week from the one last week.

I believe that there is something persistant... at least persistant enough from one moment to the next to allow me to be the same conciousness through the course of my life.


-Will



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