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machine brains

Joe Kilner jjmk2 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Wed Feb 10 18:52:24 EST 1999

Chris Malcolm wrote in message <79sg3c$1rf$1 at scotsman.ed.ac.uk>...
>"Joe Kilner" <jjmk2 at hermes.cam.ac.uk> writes:
>>from the brain being concious?  For you to fool someone it implies that
>>there is someone there to fool, and if there someone "in" the brain for
>>brain to fool then surely the brain "contains" a conciousness.
>Hackers fool computer systems every day without anyone supposing that
>the computers must be conscious. You might wish to argue that this is
>not real fooling, just metaphorical fooling, in which case please
>reconsider the argument you disliked with "fool" replaced by "fool in
>the metaphorical sense appropriate to non-conscious dupes".

Hackers do not fool computers in the same way that a baseball bat does not
fool a baseball.  They are both just manipulating a system - one mechanical
the other electrical.  In both cases there is no one to be "fooled" - if
there was then there would be conciousness present.  We might *say* that a
computer is fooled but we do not actually mean it.  We do not believe that
we have confused the computer, we just mean that the computer has been
manipulated in the correct way to cause it to act in a way other than that
it was designed to.  We may have "fooled" the programmer or the user but
that is another matter.  The computer never thinks it is doing one thing
while it is doing another.  It never believes it is talking to one person
when it is talking to another.  This is because a computer neither believes
nor thinks about it's actions it simply reacts to a set of stimuli according
to a set of rules layed out by some programmers.  In this way a computer is
incapable of being fooled.

For something to be fooled into thinking it is conscious it must be
conscious.  A mechanical system can be set up to fool others into believing
it is concscious, but it can not fool itself, if it is not truly conscious
then there is no one to fool.


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