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At Mind Matters News: Chalmers and Penrose clash over “conscious computers”

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Philosopher Chalmers thinks computers could be conscious but physicist Penrose says no. Eric Holloway explains:

Chalmers argues that, while the conscious mind cannot be reduced to a physical process, it is possible to imagine a being that is physically identical to one’s self that is also without consciousness (the philosopher’s zombie). Therefore, he thinks, it is possible that a computer program could possess consciousness.

On the other hand, Penrose argues that the non-computable aspect of the mind is generated by a physical process, which he speculates is related to four-dimensional quantum gravity. This is because reconciling two divergent timelines with four-dimensional quantum gravity requires knowledge about arbitrarily distant points, making it an undecidable process, just like the aperiodic tiling concept that Penrose developed. So, on this point, the authors’ conclusions contradict each other.

But Penrose and Chalmers don’t have to contradict each other. What if the human mind is not a computer precisely because it is conscious? This is not so far-fetched. There are a number of concepts of which we are conscious that cannot be computed, for example Chaitin’s unknowable number.

More generally, there is the experience of the infinite and the experience of truth. Let’s see why these concepts are not computable.

Eric Holloway, “Chalmers and Penrose clash over “conscious computers” ” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: There are hard, practical reasons why computers cannot understand concepts like “infinity” and “truth” and therefore cannot be conscious.


You may also wish to read: Can quantum physics, neuroscience merge as quantum consciousness? Physicist Marcelo Gleiser looks at the pros and cons of current theories. The problem is, if we assume that “the mind is nothing more than the brain,” there may be nothing we can discover about how it works.

and

Why physicalism is failing as the accepted approach to science. The argument that everything in nature can be reduced to physics was killed by the philosophical Zombie, as Prudence Louise explains. Physicalism which depends on a mechanistic view of the universe, was challenged by observer-dependent quantum mechanics. Then the Zombie started walking…

7 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Chalmers and Penrose clash over “conscious computers”

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Two idiots arguing over a topic they know nothing about. Reminds me of the idiotic “definition” of consciousness as “There is something it feels like”. Jesus. These brainless twats are PAID TO BE EXPERTS?????????????????????????????

  2. 2
    PaV says:

    Computers will never be “conscious” for two reasons. First, and most importantly, being “sentient” and being “conscious” are not the same. We are “aware that we are aware” while animals are simply aware. Second, because ‘conscious’ thought requires an “initiator,” that is a ‘person,’ who freely decides what the input to a mental operation will be–computers can only work off of “output”; that is, they have no way of PURPOSIVELY selecting the input. IOW, the “first cause” and the “final cause” are united. No way a computer will EVER do such a thing.

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    No computer will ever be truly conscious. An artificial general intelligence at the same level as a human is one of the impossible dreams of modern technology, as explained here:
    https://thopid.blogspot.com/2019/04/futile-technological-dreams.html

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Since we don’t know how human consciousness works, it seems to me we’re not in a position to say with any degree of confidence that AI will never achieve consciousness.

  5. 5
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Seversky
    Since we don’t know how human consciousness works, it seems to me we’re not in a position to say with any degree of confidence that AI will never achieve consciousness.

    😆 If you don’t know how a thing works you can’t replicate it.

  6. 6
    EugeneS says:

    Since we don’t know how human consciousness works, it seems to me we’re not in a position to say with any degree of confidence that AI will ever achieve consciousness.

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    That’s right.

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