Re: The return of the revenge of qualia, part VI.

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Tue Jul 26 2005 - 17:30:47 MDT

Discussions of qualia tend to carry on interminably for multiple
reasons. One of the more elusive reasons is that we don't all share a
clear understanding of what we mean by "qualia".

    * One person will argue that obviously qualia exist, as the term
      describes the most immediate, subjective, most "knowable"
      experience we have.
    * Another person will argue that qualia don't exist because there's
      no physically measurable evidence of such "stuff" and it is
      therefore a hypothesis bereft of any measurable significance.
    * Another person will argue that the term "qualia" is just as
      meaningful as most other concepts that we use and communicate, but
      let's not confuse the map with the territory and think qualia are
      anything more than a description of a (necessarily subjective)

Some of these understandings will begin to show their limitations when
exposed to a larger context, asking *who* is this "self" that is
understood to be "experiencing" the qualia. For a "self" to "experience
qualia" requires that the self be apart from the qualia being
experienced, and thus contradiction quickly arises.

Any system with a model of itself within its environment that can report
on this internal model can be demonstrated to have qualia essentially
the same in any measurable way to yours and mine. The only way you have
to know your own subjective experience is by interrogating that very
same system. It only looks special from within the system.

We look around us, and the behavior of the rest of the world including
all the other humans like us seems explainable in non-mysterious terms,
but because our perception--from within the system--seems so vivid, so
immediate, so real, and because at a very basic level we are built to
protect the "self", and raised in a culture where our interactions with
others reinforce the illusion of self, we feel deep down in our souls
selves minds that there must be something special going on.

- Jef

pdugan wrote:

>>Note that I do not assert that AI without qualia
>>cannot exist, if you are willing to include AI
>>like Deep Blue, for example, which do one thing
>>well. But general AI? SAI? I doubt that you could
>>pass human level without getting qualia along the
>>Tom Buckner
> I used to think that, until last saturday when Rain Man came on at 3:00 AM.
>That guy lacked qualia for many of the emotional and/or social connections we
>take for granted, yet had raw, brute-force intelligence which could do
>incredible things on a seemingly transhuman level. I think alot of the
>speculation about AGIs paper-clipping the universe is quite valid in the
>somewhat anthropomorphic analogy of an autistic AI. An AI might self-improve
>in terms of intimately knowing the molecular combination of every atom on the
>planet, without having any idea what the letter "q" means, much less "qualia".
> Patrick

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