RE: [agi] What are qualia...

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2005 - 06:06:34 MST

Hi Philip,

Interesting thoughts, but IMO they don't address the so-called "hard
problem" of consciousness, which is how the subjective experience of qualia
is connected to the neural correlates of qualia.

You say "qualia are properties generated in the brain relating to the
*experience* of real world" ---- but the tricky question is how a physical
system (the brain) can "generate" subjective, phenomenal experiences. What
is the nature of the "generation" that you mention?

So far as I can tell, your comments don't address this at all...

-- Ben

  -----Original Message-----
  From: []On Behalf
Of Philip Sutton
  Sent: Friday, January 21, 2005 11:49 PM
  Subject: [agi] What are qualia...


  I just been thinking about qualia a bit more recently.

  (I have to make a disclaimer. I know next to nothing about them, but
other people's ideas from this list have been fermenting in my mind for a

  Anyway, here goes......

  How about the idea that qualia are properties generated in the brain
relating to the *experience* of real world. They are artifacts that are
generated as ways of embedding labels or evaluations of data from the real
world into the data streams that, in the brain, are tagged as being 'real'.
eg. 'red' is an identification label, a 'stink' is a safety evaluation.

  Using qualia is probably the quickest way to compile data about the real
world into a digested form that contains everything from data that is
relatively close to what the real world is like together with other
subjective responses from within the brain that is convenient to be
transferred through the brain tightly bound to the data that might be
considered more objective.

  Given that biological systems have had hundreds of millions of years to
evolve this 'objective'/'subjective'data bundling it is no wonder that it
seems marvellously rich and seemless and carries an overwhelming sense of
being reality.

  Once complex brained / complecly motivated creatures start using qualia
they could play into lifepatterns so profoundly that even obscure trends in
the use of qualia for aesthetic purposes could actually effect reproductive
prospects. For example, male peacocks have large tails that look nice -
clearly qualia are playing a role in the differentiation process that
decides which peacocks will be more or less successful in breeding.

  Cheers, Philip


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