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robot bains

dmb106 dmb106 at york.ac.uk
Mon Mar 1 16:53:52 EST 1999

On Mon, 1 Mar 1999, Michael Edelman wrote:
> dmb106 wrote:

> >
> > The robot is. You are nothing more that an intentional system. We
> > ascribe beleifs and desires to you because that gives us most
> > predictive power and understanding. Does that make the beleifs and
> > desires we ascribe real?
> If you are the intentional system, you are doing the writing. If you maintain that
> the brain is doing the writing, you may as well say that the hand is doing the
> writing. What is the prime mover?

No, there is no data processing in the hand. The brain is a big data
processor, of sorts. The fact that we are aware of the meaning of the
data we process, the fact that the processing is accessable to
processing, and that each concept is part of a conceptual background
is what makes us beleive we are free agents. There is no need to
postulate a prime mover, no more than it is necessary to postulate an
initiator neurone. No neurone fires whithout input, so where is the
initiator? It dosn't exist. Think of the concept of the grandmother

> >         I agree that self-awareness is the heart of conciousness, but
> > if this is the case ask your self one more question...
> > What is the difference between being self aware and behaving as though
> > you are self aware?
> To an outside observer, perhaps none. But our idea of the existence of self-awareness
> is based on the notion that we all share the experience of self-awareness.

And we do. It is just that I maintain the expirience of self-awareness
to be a computable process. 

> > ...A rat is aware that a red light means food, for example, and it
> > behaves in such a way so as to eat. We do not, however, ascribe any
> > internal life to the rat.
> Though perhaps we should. It is not that we deny the rat an external life- only that
> it is not necessary to ascribe this to explain most rat behavior.

OK, but do you or not? Do you think the rat is thinking, in the same
way we think, about food, and the *meaning* of the red light? Or it it
a learned mechanism in the rats NN? 

> > - if you do then just think of a lower
> > organism which could be similarly conditioned. We humans have the
> > added ability of being aware that we are aware that a light means
> > food, in some bizare experiment.

Why dont you ?

> > It is my beleif that this infinate regress is what we call awareness.
> Where do you get the infinity? We're aware that we're aware, and I suppose we could
> conceivably be aware of *that*, but in general, we're not. At least, we don't, as a
> rule, engage in infinite recursive metal descent. The problem with inifinities is
> that they take an infinite amount of time to resolve...but we live finite lives and
> make decisions in finite time.

There is an infinate regress weather you want to *solve* it or not. I
think that the infinate regress is only what makes thinking about
thinking so confusing. 
> > The fact that it is an infinate regress is not key, it just makes it
> > intractable.  Just think about what it is like to be aware of
> > somthing? i.e. aware that it is daytime, I dont think you have to be
> > concious to do this. Then extend the idea and become aware that you
> > are aware- why would you need to be concious at the next step? yet the
> > effect of all this unconcious computing is what we call conciousness.
> I don't think you're explained or described conciousness there. You've rather pushed
> the problem back an infinite number of steps. Self-awareness is but one property of a
> concious agent.

Right you are. But I find it all interesting though. Wherever you go,
there is intuition staring you in your face. There is no way to
rationally explain you intuitions. 


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