Friday, August 12, 2005

Philosophy Logic issues and concious Robots

Richard from Philosophy Et cetera considers himself and a hypothetical Robot

Our behaviours both have physical causes, but they are different physical causes. Maybe mine are of the right type to give rise to consciousness, whereas Bichard's [the robot] aren't.

It is valid for you to exclude the robot because it can’t do something you can do (at the risk of being arbitrary - so one would hope the thing was pretty significant, and I note, usually very poor definitions are used) but that implies the robot does something different to you.

A problem however arises where one indicates that a robot might do all the same things as you exactly - and hten be denied conciousness regardless of the process. the problem is that we have all the evidence that it is conscious as we have for the individual which it is similar to except that it is a machine. For a logical external actor to deny it the status of consciousness they would have to also deny the human that status. Unless they use one of a number of flawed pieces of logic

the first is the "understanding" argument that I will detail as follows.

The "understanding" argument is an implied argument one that one often finds in the justice system and in religion.

There is a complex system and you declare that if you can understand it is let say "not conscious" and if you can understand it is "conscious". In this example a simple computer program "if see LION then take action RUN" is likely to be viewed as not concious while a mysterious object doing exactly the same thing may well be.

Similarly in religion this is used to define a "god of the gaps" - if you can’t understand it, then it is god if you can, it is nature

In the legal system it takes another form again where peoplewonder if htey can understand a criminal - for example if he had a bad up bringing or if there was some reason why he might have been so angry that he comitted a crime. Under htis argument - if you can understand it, then it is OK ... if you can't, it is "evil"

The problem is that understanding is in internal to you and basically a function of how smart and well educated you are - so how can it be valid for judging individuals and facts (or robots for that matter).

There are some other twists of logic people may use here

one is to define consciousness arbitrarily as "what I have" or "what I and every natural born human has" in which case you can deny a conscious robot that can exceed you on every test as a result of him just not being identical (in every aspect) to you. However this is "conclusion by definition" - your definition of convenience defines what your conclusion will be.

Furthermore when Richard says
Our behaviours both have physical causes, but they are different physical causes. Maybe mine are of the right type to give rise to consciousness, whereas Richard’s aren't.

he usues another flawed argument - common amongst philosophers

the tool of defining a hypothetical that is potentially impossible and then marvelling at the fact that it is possible as a result of your hypothetical. tautology strikes again.

for example I might say imagine if two things are pulled towards the earth - but one thing is pulled towards the earth by a different but absolutely identical force to gravity on the same trajectory but you look and find that that one is being effected by gravity while the other is being effected by another force - therefore you cannot say that if something obeys gravity it is being effected by gravity.

Now I guess you can say "yeah that’s true" but few people are using that hypothetical to dispute gravity.


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