Can machines be conscious?

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 07 Mar 2010 09:56

Leto Atreides II wrote:Interesting. I could spew insults at the most advanced computers without their taking offense. What's driving that lump of meat that the most advanced machines cannot acquire?

This was a retort?

Leto Atreides II wrote:I can imagine the attempt to ape consciousness with machines. ...

No, I think the rest of your post there shows you can't.

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 08 Mar 2010 12:50

MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:And yet, it hasn't been proven that the brain does generate awareness; so how would assuming that to be the case be any different than my assuming otherwise?

Postulating an extra metaphysical entity is not a favourable decision, and Occam's Razor says no.


Exactly. You can't just say, "well neither of us have been proved right or wrong, so we both have an equal liklihood of being right". You ask how is your assumption any different from mine? It is as different as different gets.

Here's an example:

I believe we are living in the Matrix (I don't really). I would like to see proof that this is not the case, I don't think there is any.

So by your logic, or at least the logic you've laid out so far - the above statement is a valid belief. There is no way to disprove it, just as there is no way to definitively disprove any kind of creator, but that doesn't make it valid, or make it a 50/50 situation that we might be in the real world, or might be in a simulation.

Your assumption that we have supernatural souls is not something I can disprove. Even when we eventually proove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness" people will still hang onto their belief in a soul. But that doesn't make it EQUALLY valid to assuming a simpler more scientific explanation.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby MrFlibble » 08 Mar 2010 14:44

It is also noteworthy that, according to Karl Popper, a hypothesis or theory that is not falsifiable cannot be scientific.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 08 Mar 2010 20:54

Yeah, that approach has worked so well over on FED2k against St. Hwi of the Burning Perschwanky of Proselytizing Love. I expect it will work about as well here, too. ;)

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 22 Mar 2010 22:09

MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:And yet, it hasn't been proven that the brain does generate awareness; so how would assuming that to be the case be any different than my assuming otherwise?

Postulating an extra metaphysical entity is not a favourable decision, and Occam's Razor says no.

Occam's Razor - "the simplest possible answer is most likely the correct one", or something along those lines? But if a radio fell into a primitive tribe's hands and they tried to explain the voices and music emanating from it, Occam's Razor might dictate that they necessarily assume it operates by magic, as they would have no concept of radio waves.
MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Personality, behaviour, functionality, memory... all things we can achieve in machines.

I think you would like to elaborate a bit more on how the creation of personality within a machine is accomplished.

Easy, by programming certain types of responses to certain situations. You could make two identical robots, and one might have friendly responses to stimuli, while the other might be programmed to be mean.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 22 Mar 2010 22:18

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Exactly. You can't just say, "well neither of us have been proved right or wrong, so we both have an equal liklihood of being right". You ask how is your assumption any different from mine? It is as different as different gets.

Here's an example:

I believe we are living in the Matrix (I don't really). I would like to see proof that this is not the case, I don't think there is any.

So by your logic, or at least the logic you've laid out so far - the above statement is a valid belief. There is no way to disprove it, just as there is no way to definitively disprove any kind of creator, but that doesn't make it valid, or make it a 50/50 situation that we might be in the real world, or might be in a simulation.

In that example, 'living in the Matrix' would at least have to make theoretical sense. And in a sense, we are living 'in the matrix', if by matrix one refers to the legal world of corporate identities.

Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us. And since these are theories, not established facts, then there is no final proof either way yet, and we are simply stuck with our differing theories.
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Your assumption that we have supernatural souls is not something I can disprove. Even when we eventually proove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness" people will still hang onto their belief in a soul. But that doesn't make it EQUALLY valid to assuming a simpler more scientific explanation.

Supernatural is perhaps a strong term to use here; I am thinking more in terms of a sublime natural energy.

I just stumbled across a book which may reflect my theory on the matter:

http://www.amazon.com/Self-Aware-Univer ... 0874777984

Amazon.com lets you read some of the pages, and so far it looks like this Amit Goswami fellow has ideas very similar to mine. He also looks like he's better at expressing them than I. I just might pick up this book so I can read it in its entirety.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 22 Mar 2010 23:30

Leto Atreides II wrote:Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us.

Nice try, but no.

You claim there are souls. We say there is no evidence for them. The onus is on you.

So, you could spend your time trying to find some evidence, OR you could spend it kiss-assing up to the Herberts trying to get them to let you write your stories in the Dune universe.

Both endeavors will probably prove equally fruitful. :)

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Omphalos » 23 Mar 2010 00:25

SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us.

Nice try, but no.

You claim there are souls. We say there is no evidence for them. The onus is on you.

So, you could spend your time trying to find some evidence, OR you could spend it kiss-assing up to the Herberts trying to get them to let you write your stories in the Dune universe.

Both endeavors will probably prove equally fruitful. :)


Word. Parliamentary procedure and debate, dude. Get the books.

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby MrFlibble » 23 Mar 2010 09:59

Leto Atreides II wrote:Occam's Razor - "the simplest possible answer is most likely the correct one", or something along those lines? But if a radio fell into a primitive tribe's hands and they tried to explain the voices and music emanating from it, Occam's Razor might dictate that they necessarily assume it operates by magic, as they would have no concept of radio waves.

Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor[1]), is the meta-theoretical principle that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem), meaning that postulating an extra (metaphysical) entity is methodologically undesirable. And no, this principle does not apply to "primitive" tribes that do not practice scientific research as we understand it.

Leto Atreides II wrote:
MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Personality, behaviour, functionality, memory... all things we can achieve in machines.

I think you would like to elaborate a bit more on how the creation of personality within a machine is accomplished.

Easy, by programming certain types of responses to certain situations. You could make two identical robots, and one might have friendly responses to stimuli, while the other might be programmed to be mean.

Wouldn't that be just a simulation of personality?
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 23 Mar 2010 11:05

Leto Atreides II wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Exactly. You can't just say, "well neither of us have been proved right or wrong, so we both have an equal liklihood of being right". You ask how is your assumption any different from mine? It is as different as different gets.
Here's an example:
I believe we are living in the Matrix (I don't really). I would like to see proof that this is not the case, I don't think there is any.
So by your logic, or at least the logic you've laid out so far - the above statement is a valid belief. There is no way to disprove it, just as there is no way to definitively disprove any kind of creator, but that doesn't make it valid, or make it a 50/50 situation that we might be in the real world, or might be in a simulation.

In that example, 'living in the Matrix' would at least have to make theoretical sense. And in a sense, we are living 'in the matrix', if by matrix one refers to the legal world of corporate identities.


It makes perfect theoretical sense. Someone or something at some point decided it would be benificial to them in some way (maybe as a joke?) to place all human beings in a computer simulation of reality. We have no way to tell whether our reality is real, or whether it is a perfect simulation of reality.

That belief cannot be disproven, and by your logic below (we'll call it "logic") it is as valid as your belief that there are some "extra" energies/forces involved in our consciousness, dispite the fact that we both know that dispite the fact that we cannot disprove that we live in a simulation, we all should agree that it's far fetched and ridiculous.

Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us. And since these are theories, not established facts, then there is no final proof either way yet, and we are simply stuck with our differing theories.


Yeah, Chig said it pretty clearly, you obviously don't understand how this works. You're making a claim, our only claim is that your claim has no evidence. I think you're confused here into thinking that us saying "nothing more than the physical brain is required to create consciousness" is a claim on par with your claim.

To refer to my example above, your claim is far-fetched (extremely), and is on par with the claim that we're all living in a computer simulation. Our claim is on par with "well, I can't disprove that we live in a simulation, but it's one of the most far fetched, unlikely, unnecessary ideas I can think of".

Because our statement is grounded in reality and yours is off in never-never-land, the onus of proof falls on you.

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Your assumption that we have supernatural souls is not something I can disprove. Even when we eventually proove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness" people will still hang onto their belief in a soul. But that doesn't make it EQUALLY valid to assuming a simpler more scientific explanation.

Supernatural is perhaps a strong term to use here; I am thinking more in terms of a sublime natural energy.
I just stumbled across a book which may reflect my theory on the matter:
http://www.amazon.com/Self-Aware-Univer ... 0874777984
Amazon.com lets you read some of the pages, and so far it looks like this Amit Goswami fellow has ideas very similar to mine. He also looks like he's better at expressing them than I. I just might pick up this book so I can read it in its entirety.


I haven't read this particular book, but I glanced over what was there, I've seen stuff like this many times, it's not a far cry from supernaturalism, and I can't take it seriously. It's the same old junk we saw from the old religions phrased in ways that sound pleasant to the new "scientific" ear. Again, not having read this particular book, these "conciousness creates the material world" charlatans place the same self-loving importance on humans as all the old religions did.

It's not that some of these people don't occasionally make a valid point, it's just that these concepts are just one more baby step away from our old security blanket of religion. Sadly the steps remain very small, as the vast majority of people simply can't cope with the idea that we're here alone.

"Natural Sublime Energy" is about 1 tiny fraction of a joke more valid than "Supernatural Sublime Energy", the only difference is that the wording has been changed to sound more plausible. Both are unnecessary, both are un-measurable by current methods. It's just semantics at this point, and once a debate degenerates down to someone having to resort to weak semantics I generally grow bored.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby reverendmotherQ. » 25 Mar 2010 08:59

Oh no. Magic and machines, god save me. Of course, we can't have a debate about consciousness without resorting to debating about the nature of it and if it requires such a thing as a soul in the mystical sense. God i wish I had mathematical talents, other wise i would go into computer engineering and find out some of this for my self. But for now I must be content with merely writing about them and research as much as possible.

Maybe i am simplifying the problem, going back to what someone described as simulation rather than true cognitive thinking, but I think the answer could lie in a closer examination and new discoveries on the wiring of the human brain. Until we can find how all of the parts of it work with one another and the body, I think any other assumption that we can generate true thinking machines is absurd.

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby MrFlibble » 25 Mar 2010 12:04

reverendmotherQ. wrote:Maybe i am simplifying the problem, going back to what someone described as simulation rather than true cognitive thinking, but I think the answer could lie in a closer examination and new discoveries on the wiring of the human brain. Until we can find how all of the parts of it work with one another and the body, I think any other assumption that we can generate true thinking machines is absurd.

There's a lot of research in this field already (not enough to give definite answers yet though), and experimental attempts to build artificial neural networks based on the same principle as organic neural systems have been made. The principle of spreading activation is also derived from this kind of research, and is used in a variety of fields, for example, lexical semantics.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby reverendmotherQ. » 30 Mar 2010 08:49

MrFlibble wrote:
reverendmotherQ. wrote:Maybe i am simplifying the problem, going back to what someone described as simulation rather than true cognitive thinking, but I think the answer could lie in a closer examination and new discoveries on the wiring of the human brain. Until we can find how all of the parts of it work with one another and the body, I think any other assumption that we can generate true thinking machines is absurd.

There's a lot of research in this field already (not enough to give definite answers yet though), and experimental attempts to build artificial neural networks based on the same principle as organic neural systems have been made. The principle of spreading activation is also derived from this kind of research, and is used in a variety of fields, for example, lexical semantics.

It consists of an interconnected group of artificial neurons and processes information using a connectionist approach to computation. In most cases an ANN is an adaptive system that changes its structure based on external or internal information that flows through the network during the learning phase. Modern neural networks are non-linear statistical data modeling tools. They are usually used to model complex relationships between inputs and outputs or to find patterns in data.

This is a absolutely fascinating. It feels as if this could really mean we are on the verge of something fundamentally altering on our ability to imbue a machine with cognitive processes. I feel a strong urge to change my major.
While a neural network does not have to be adaptive per se, its practical use comes with algorithms designed to alter the strength (weights) of the connections in the network to produce a desired signal flow.

For some reason I find this to be an exceptionally beautiful sentence.

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 04 Apr 2010 22:53

SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us.

Nice try, but no.

You claim there are souls. We say there is no evidence for them. The onus is on you.

I put forward the theory that there may be souls.

You claim that the brain and sensory organs are somehow sufficient to produce awareness. I'd say the onus is on you to support that claim... unless you're willing to admit that it's just another theory.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 04 Apr 2010 22:56

MrFlibble wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Easy, by programming certain types of responses to certain situations. You could make two identical robots, and one might have friendly responses to stimuli, while the other might be programmed to be mean.

Wouldn't that be just a simulation of personality?

No, because a personality is merely the manifestation of behaviour and attitude. A personality doesn't necessarily have to have a consciousness behind it; merely characteristics which one would identify as a personality.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 04 Apr 2010 23:07

Yawn.

My "theory" says, look, here's a complex animal with a brain and sensory organs that has evolved a society and culture advanced enough to allow it sufficient time from food gathering and other necessities to pick at and probe the bellybutton lint of the question of its own awareness! How can such awareness be?! It must arise from the parts of the system we can see! Why should we introduce some half-assed vaporous noggin-scratcher notion of entities with no observable physical nature or effect? That would be totally unnecessary and stupid.

Your theory ... involves non-definable entities and so therefore isn't scientific and can only be called a "theory" by a rather nasty and underhanded abuse of the term.

Please, peddle your snake-oil souls (and shit-for-brains Sky Boojum diety that no doubt goes with them) somewhere else. :roll:

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 04 Apr 2010 23:15

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Yeah, Chig said it pretty clearly, you obviously don't understand how this works. You're making a claim, our only claim is that your claim has no evidence. I think you're confused here into thinking that us saying "nothing more than the physical brain is required to create consciousness" is a claim on par with your claim.

I really don't see how assuming that a physical brain produces consciousness, when there is no way to demonstrate that it produces consciousness, is any different than theorizing a natural consciousness principle which also cannot be demonstrated. How can these not be two equal theories? Imagine if someone discovered coconuts but found no means of breaking them open; then one person argued that there had to be something other than the shell inside, while another argued that there was nothing but solid shell. One might be correct, but if they cannot open the coconut, how can either theory be superior to the other?
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Because our statement is grounded in reality and yours is off in never-never-land, the onus of proof falls on you.
How is it grounded in reality to presume that a brain generates consciousness, when this cannot yet be demonstrated? A presumption is a presumption.
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Your assumption that we have supernatural souls is not something I can disprove. Even when we eventually prove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness" people will still hang onto their belief in a soul. But that doesn't make it EQUALLY valid to assuming a simpler more scientific explanation.
Is simpler science necessarily better science? If I were to introduce walkie-talkies to seventeenth century Englishmen without explaining the underlying principle, and they assumed that the antennas broadcast the sound by directed sound-waves alone (if that were the conclusion they were to reach), should they discard my suggestion of invisible radio waves as being an unnecessarily complicated theory?

You seem to see yourself as enlightened, as discarding the fancies of the ignorant. Yet your attitude is not far off from that of the ultra-conservative Christian, who simply rejects any ideas that don't mesh with his religious rhetoric because they are 'obviously heretical'.

Purist science recognizes that our grasp of the world is built far more on theory than on any proven facts; at any time, a scientist must be prepared to let go of a long-held theory to make way for a new one, as old errors are discovered or new knowledge comes to light. The practical point of science fiction is that it uses the imagination to explore what may turn out to be science fact. "Even when we eventually prove that the brain does account for all of "consciousness"", you say, as if science could not possibly prove something completely different. I say science has brought the unseen to light before; and I shall be surprised if it never brings new unseen things to light again.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Leto Atreides II » 04 Apr 2010 23:18

SandChigger wrote:Yawn.

My "theory" says, look, here's a complex animal with a brain and sensory organs that has evolved a society and culture advanced enough to allow it sufficient time from food gathering and other necessities to pick at and probe the bellybutton lint of the question of its own awareness! How can such awareness be?! It must arise from the parts of the system we can see! Why should we introduce some half-assed vaporous noggin-scratcher notion of entities with no observable physical nature or effect? That would be totally unnecessary and stupid.

Your theory ... involves non-definable entities and so therefore isn't scientific and can only be called a "theory" by a rather nasty and underhanded abuse of the term.
Yet assuming that only what is visible is real is a false assumption. So your theory has no more substance than any other.

SandChigger wrote:Please, peddle your snake-oil souls (and shit-for-brains Sky Boojum diety that no doubt goes with them) somewhere else. :roll:
You speak as though uncomfortable at different perspectives. No one's forcing you to read my posts, you know.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby SandChigger » 05 Apr 2010 02:25

Leto Atreides II wrote:You speak as though uncomfortable at different perspectives. No one's forcing you to read my posts, you know.

Aw, what a pretty little lame gambit that is. Want me to go away and leave 'im precious' posts alone? Ask the preeqs how well that bullshit has worked and then try something more original.

Natural consciousness principle? Pull us some more rabbits out of your ass. :roll:

We may not yet be able to explain exactly how the brain does what it does, but seeing how Science has not yet raised the white flag and proclaimed, "Nope, we can't do it, we can't explain the brain!", it seems a bit premature to buy the ole mystic farm and start incorporating all the cow manure on it into our theories.

Damn ... this is starting to feel like one of those moronic evolution thread back-and-forths over on FED2k with that rabbid ID cunt Hwi Noree.

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby lotek » 05 Apr 2010 05:32

all this has nothing to do with machines being conscious or not...
at present they can't, or we'd know about it
And being conscious of one's existence has nothing to do with having a soul, that is the religious cop out: hey this is so mysterious it must be God(or the Spaghetti Monster for that matter)
We can only work with the tools we have, bringing in the fairies is just... well we know about deus ex machina failure here don't we?

to be conscious machines'd need to emulate thought processes so complex in the human brain I doubt any computer on the planet is powerful/fast enough to reproduce.

So as long as there is not a major technological breakthrough the question is irrelevant, without experimentation there is no proof.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 05 Apr 2010 08:19

lotek wrote:all this has nothing to do with machines being conscious or not...
at present they can't, or we'd know about it


Six words: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby TheDukester » 05 Apr 2010 11:35

You know, I've willfully avoided this discussion up until now, since so much of it has been useless navel-gazing, but I'm going to go out on a limb here:

Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:Six words: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Three words: that was fiction.
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby lotek » 05 Apr 2010 11:48

Aquila ka-Hecate wrote:
lotek wrote:all this has nothing to do with machines being conscious or not...
at present they can't, or we'd know about it


Six words: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


I thought that was an elaborate way of saying all those crazy comments on machines having souls was the deed of...
Loonies...

Most "Loonies", as the residents are called,


but it seems that was the point trying to be made:
HOLMES IV (High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV) is the Lunar Authority's master computer. It has gradually been given almost total control of Luna's facilities as a cost-saving measure; it is cheaper (though not as safe) to have a single main computer and expand its capacity than to have multiple independent systems.[3]

The story is narrated by Manuel Garcia "Mannie" O'Kelly-Davis, a one-armed computer technician called in when HOLMES IV begins behaving oddly. He discovers that it has become self-aware; the malfunctions are the result of its immature sense of humor.


TheDukester wrote:Three words: that was fiction.


case closed...
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Apr 2010 14:59

Leto Atreides II wrote:
SandChigger wrote:
Leto Atreides II wrote:Now, in arguments, the onus to provide proof is upon the claimant. But if I claim there are souls, and you claim there are none, and neither of us can provide proof, then the onus is on both of us.

Nice try, but no.

You claim there are souls. We say there is no evidence for them. The onus is on you.

I put forward the theory that there may be souls.

You claim that the brain and sensory organs are somehow sufficient to produce awareness. I'd say the onus is on you to support that claim... unless you're willing to admit that it's just another theory.


Wow, you clearly have not even the most basic understanding of what the word "theory" means in a scientific conversation. You put forward the GUESS that there may be souls. Maybe, if you've put some real thought and research into it we could upgrade your guess to "hypothesis". :lol:
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Re: Can machines be conscious?

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 05 Apr 2010 15:06

Leto Atreides II wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Yeah, Chig said it pretty clearly, you obviously don't understand how this works. You're making a claim, our only claim is that your claim has no evidence. I think you're confused here into thinking that us saying "nothing more than the physical brain is required to create consciousness" is a claim on par with your claim.

I really don't see how assuming that a physical brain produces consciousness, when there is no way to demonstrate that it produces consciousness, is any different than theorizing a natural consciousness principle which also cannot be demonstrated. How can these not be two equal theories? Imagine if someone discovered coconuts but found no means of breaking them open; then one person argued that there had to be something other than the shell inside, while another argued that there was nothing but solid shell. One might be correct, but if they cannot open the coconut, how can either theory be superior to the other?


The very fact that you don't see the difference lets me know that I should just give up on you. I already know from our personal chats that you're the kind of child that draws the conclusions he wants to draw rather than looking for the truth. And you already know what my opinions are of you, so let's drop the charade that either of us takes the other person seriously.

As for the last bit of your post, if you think that what you said there describes me at all then you obviously haven't understood anything of what I said. That's the problem with people like you, you'll quote a page of truth just to sneak in a couple small lies, and hope that everyone swallows it whole because some of the shit you say is the truth.

You can go on believing whatever you want about what causes consciousnes, and I'll go on believing what I believe. You'll have to forgive me if I undervalue your opinion based on my knowledge that you're a fool, that does tend to bias people. :lol:
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