Precepts to use in everyday life

1. Think for yourself, 2. Be yourself, 3. Speak up, 4. Feel free to agree and disagree, 5. Be honest with yourself and others, 6. Be open-minded, 7. Avoid being judgmental and 8. Question everything - even your own thinking.

TOK Essay Titles Nov 2017

Friday, October 9, 2009

Examples

Natural Sciences, Human Sciences and the Arts (The problem of consciousness, Part 2)


Literary writers have been fascinated about the consciousness conundrum, most dramatically Mary Shelley in her Gothic novel, Frankenstein. Haing been impressed by the work of the 18th Century Italian physicist Luigi Galvani in the fiel of electricity, she constructed that well-known parable of man playing God and giving life to a inanimate piece of matter comprising the body parts of different dead humans sewn together. Dr. Frankenstein harnessed the raw power of electricity in lightning and channelled it into the lifless flesh of his Creation. And the rest is fictional history.

But this isn't how it happened with us, is it? It's going to be extremely hard to specify a date when our ancestors first became conscious. And perhaps it's going to be harder still to explain how this happened, unless we're drawn to the God hypothesis. But what if we aren't so drawn? What sort of hypthothesis are we left with.

Clarifying our concepts

Let's begin with some definitions. In the debate, 'Will machines become conscious?', Kurzweil defines 'consciousness' in two ways:

1. 'Apparent consciousness': "We can define apparent consciousness, which is an entity that appears to be conscious—and I believe, in fact, you have to be apparently conscious to pass the Turing test, which means you really need a command of human emotion. Because if you're just very good at doing mathematical theorems and making stock market investments and so on, you're not going to pass the Turing test...Mastering human emotion and human language is really key to the Turing test, which has held up as our exemplary assessment of whether or not a non-biological intelligence has achieved human levels of intelligence.

And that will require a machine to master human emotion...That's the most intelligent thing we do. Being funny, expressing a loving sentiment—these are very complex behaviors..." and reflect our "emotional intelligence".

CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE OUTWARD, PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF INTERNAL STATES - IT CAN BE EXPLAINED IN TERMS OF ALL THE PHYSICAL FACTS WE CAN COLLECT ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH OUR BODIES AND IN OUR BRAIN WHEN WE EXPERIENCE THINGS.

2. 'Subjectivity': "Consciousness is a synonym for subjectivity and really having subjective experience, not just an entity that appears to have subjective experience...There's no consciousness detector we can imagine creating, that you'd slide an entity in—green light goes on, OK, this one's conscious, no, this one's not conscious..."

CONSCIOUSNESS IS SOMETHING INTERNAL AND PRIVATE AND INACCESSIBLE - IT IS SOMETHING MORE THAN THE PHYSICAL FACTS RELATING TO BRAIN STATES AND THE ACTIONS OF YOUR BODY.

What implications does this distinction have to our understanding of the human mind as opposed to the mind of a machine?

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