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  1. Some people have accused me of being an automaton, and I could never figure out a way to absolutely disprove them. 🙂

    • The onus is on those who say they’re not to prove it, not the other way around. What is this consciousness stuff, anyway?

  2. I am unsure about what you mean by “consciousness stuff,” but typical characteristics of human consciousness include abilities to observe the environment and develop engineering theories. However, an automaton could only observe the environment and perform various tasks according to the program built into the automaton, which would never involve the development of new theory. Is this a clear enough description of consciousness?

    • The problem with functionalist accounts of consciousness is that they do not preclude nonhuman things, including sufficiently sophisticated Turing machines, from being able to meet those criteria. For example, there was a computer system a while back that, unguided, managed to produce most of Newtonian physics. Likewise, adaptive systems often do the sorts of things humans are supposed to be the only ones to do. I think functionalism is probably right, which is why I would say the drones are conscious, like us, for all intents and purposes.

      • Two questions:
        1. Could the automatic drones discover theories of science and engineering?
        2. Could the automatic drones deliberate or merely pseudo-deliberate?

        • Yes. In fact, they already have…

          [Added] And if “deliberate” is defined on what drones like us do, then what is the difference between real deliberation and pseudo deliberation?

        • What theories have they discovered?
          Was that yes to they deliberate?
          Or was that yes to they merely pseudo-deliberate?

        • Or is tricky you implying that humans are the automatic drones who discovered theories of science and engineering?

        • I am sneaky, aren’t I? But then again, do a Google scholar search on Automated Theory Formation…

        • I shall do that, but I need to put researching a new theory on my back burner.

  3. DaveC DaveC

    In science or philosophy or religion, the need to be “right” seems fundamental. If you read various science, philosophy, and religious sites you can easily confirm that. And yet, how can that be separated from the self? If reality is not what You think it is, then what is it? Can you separate your understanding of reality from yourself? Does it exist when you are dead, and would it matter? If you are not the decider, then who is? The Pope? Richard Dawkins? John Wilkins? Maybe that’s what the whole consciousness debate is about.

    • I don’t know what is right, I only know what seems right to me [Where “me” is the totality of psychosocial functions and underlying mechanisms, etc. &c.], and I do not see the need for anything much like a metaphysical self, soul or qualia. I cannot argue this is right, but I can ask for a reason to think it isn’t. The question is what has to be the default presumption, and where the onus or burden of proof lies, and since I think the self is a recent invention, and qualia are little more than verbal tricks, to change my mind, I need more than intuitions based on the social conventions of philosophers, or the subject-predicate distinction of logic or grammar.

      Still, if anyone can convince me, it is likely to be you.

  4. Fred Myers Fred Myers

    Is it reasonable to think of consciousness as a sixth sense. Consciousness does seem to have the ability to organize the impressions of our experience with our environment but these impressions seem to be limited by the paradigms constructed based on previous impressions which are biased by our own paradigm of thought. It seems to me we could be self-programed automatons, moving, but in reality going in circles. Maybe we give ourselves too much credit and consciousness more credit than it deserves! Just a thought, I think. Try and catch me the next time around.

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