Re: The Future of Human Evolution

From: Jeff Medina (
Date: Sat Oct 02 2004 - 10:13:57 MDT

= 1 =
Michael Wilson wrote: "I characterise qualia and subjectivity in general as
flaws because they are both irrational (don't map onto a consistent
Bayesian prior) and based on lack of information (poor human
introspective capability)."

Qualia are arational, not irrational. There is a critical difference.
Water, e.g., is not rational, but not irrational either.
Neurons and nanobots "don't map to consistent Bayesian priors", yet
minds that incorporate neurons or nanobots are not -as necessary
consequence- irrational.

Qualia are not based on lack of information. Introspective perfection
-- the ability to know as much about one's own internal structure as
the nature of reality allows -- and qualia, the "what it's like"
associated with various methods of information processing are not
mutually exclusive. Short of a reason to believe they are, this is the
rational default. If you disagree, you must provide reasoning to that
effect, not just declarations that "this is how I characterize qualia,
and this is their nature" as if you were writing a Bible.

= 2 =
I wrote: "But this sort of example misappropriates responsibility to
qualia for the unwanted result, when the problem is the cognitive
association between a particular phenomenal experience and a
particular negative behavior or loss of ability."

Michael Wilson wrote: "That statement is a Gordian knot of
philosophical and cognitive
confusion. Briefly, you can't reengineer associations without changing
the qualia involved; the associations are a large part of the

I'm afraid you'll need to be less brief, my good man. Specifically,
you'll need to give reasons for anyone reading to believe such claims
as "associations [e.g., the example of green associated with
depression because of a traumatic experience] are a large part of the
definition". You speak as though you're teaching the list about qualia
from some place of authority, repeatedly declaring rather than
justifying, yet the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the
Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind, and Wikipedia all disagree with your
construal of the meaning of qualia.

[referenced links]

So whose statements are confused, given that you're not even clear on
what 'qualia' means? Right.

= 3 =
I wrote: "Aside: It remains to be seen whether it is even
theoretically possible to remove phenomenal consciousness from a
sufficiently intelligent, metacognitive being."

Michael Wilson wrote: "It's possible (if silly), but you're looking at
this the wrong way."

Again with the prophetic, unsupported answers on what is and isn't
possible. Argue it or leave it out. It certainly contributed nothing
to the actual contention of the paragraph, which was that I was
looking at the problem the wrong way.

= 4 =
I said: "Some form of panpsychism may yet be true, meaning qualia may
be an intrinsic property of all existence, even though it's only
recognizable by a certain class of mind-like, reflective structure."

Michael Wilson replied: "I used to be that open minded once, but then
I learned that philosophy is just confused psychology and cosmology.
Repeat after me; 'qualia are
not ontologically fundamental' (or rather not more ontologically
fundamental than any other class of causal process)."

Hmm... how about...
"I used to be open minded to your argument, but then I discovered it's
just confused philosophy. Repeat after me; 'this argument form is

You've provided no justification for the claim that panpsychism is
false (nor for the much broader, stronger, drastically ignorant claim
that philosophy is "just confused psychology and cosmology"). Rational
agents require justification prior to accepting such claims as true,
or even likely. So you've three options now -- (1) include rational
argument in defense of your points, especially ones as contentious as
the aforementioned, (2) withhold your "rebuttals" until you've figured
out how to put such an argument together, or (3) take your empty
rhetoric to the postmodernists where it belongs.

= 5 =
Michael Wilson wrote: "free will as implicit in the shape of your
self-reference class's distribution across universes as derived from
the root cause for anything existing
at all (yeah, I'm still working on that one too :)."

I'm not "still working on that one", and you shouldn't be either,
because it provides a severely incomplete definition of what is meant
by free will in its context, and is therefore unproductive gibberish.

= 6 =
Michael Wilson wrote: "Legal systems are a red herring as they will be
either nonexistent or changed beyond recognition after a Singularity
anyway, and legality is functionally irrelevant to the desirability of
post-Singularity outcomes. Speculation on the legal consequences of
transhumanism and AI is an SL3- topic."

?... Ahem... Then perhaps *you* shouldn't have brought up the topic of
speculation on the legal consequences of transhumanism and AI in your
originating "Siren Song" post, eh?

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