Re: Dennett: Making Conscious Robots

From: Crisp Jodi (
Date: Fri May 25 2001 - 15:35:00 BST

> Kyriacou:
> You can not assume that it is good enough to claim it is conscious
> because a robot that is indistinguishable from its human counterpart
> is still a system that is defined by a set of rules, thus prohibiting
> it from ever truly being conscious, since a conscious mind can be
> considered to be caotic in its actions and decisions.

I think that we need to look at what consciousness
actually is. I don't believe it's just following rules,
because it could be said, from a behaviourist or physical
reductionist point of view, that all we do is follow rules-
we put our hand in the fire, the c-fibres fire, causing
pain, and thus we then don't touch the fire again.

You say that "a conscious mind can be considered to be
chaotic in its actions and decisions", but is a mind really
ever chaotic? It has to follow certain rules also. The term
"chaotic" is a bit confusing - maybe randomness is meant? In
which case, similarly I do not believe in "true" randomness
- everything in this universe follows sets of rules, from
stones being held down by gravity to us never actually being
able to imagine anything strictly new, everything seems to
have its limitations. There is also, of course, the other
minds problem, can you really tell the difference between
"chaotic in its actions and decisions" from following some
strange rules? Can we really tell other people are
conscious, and does it matter if they are or not? All that
really matters is if we believe they are, since that is just
another factor that influences our view of the
world. Consciousness is being aware of one's own existence,
and thus is not something we can know about other people

Maybe consciousness also involves something else - for
example, people often say they can sense when someone else
is in the room, and that someone else in the room is
conscious. Although this may not be an important aspect of
consciousness, for a system to actually be regarded as being
able to pass T3, everyone must be convinced forever, and
those people that do sense such things, would not be
convinced otherwise.

> Kyriacou:
> It does not have its own free, conscious choice.

Do we really have our own free, conscious choice though? Can
you make the gravity in the room suddenly disappear because
you choose to? Can you imagine something you've never seen
or heard of, that isn't a composite of anything else?

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