state of another mind. As yet no meaningful or useful definition of mind, or
explication of how it comes to be, has been put forward so we are discussing
something we know very little about. The mind, in the sense of a conscious
being's sense of self, might not even exist, or at least not in the sense we
appreciate it. Computers, on the other hand, clearly do not have a mind.
They are computational machines, not beings.
Whilst there seems to be a connection between mind and thought, the ability
to compute and process information, it isn't necessary for an individual to
have a higher level of intelligence to possess a mind, although intelligence
and mind appear interdependent. Humans and most animals, even some organisms
with minimal neural capacity, exhibit the properties associated with having
a mind. This allows us to feel empathy with a small bird dying in our hand,
even a fish caught in a net, but little empathy for a carrot that has just
been pulled from the ground. That said, it is possible to feel empathy for a
tree that has been injured. Where is the difference here? Where is the line
between us projecting our sense of self onto the other (anthropomorphising a
tree, for example) and our sense of an actual other, perceiving its
subjective state in some way? If we knew the answer to this question, the
difference between objects and subjects, then perhaps we could simulate mind
and create a conscious machine.
One thing I would be pretty confident of is that the mind is only partially
dependent on the brain and other elements of the organism it is associated
with. Mind seems as much emergent from and interactive with non-biological
factors, such as social and physical space. In this respect mind is
determined as much by our social relations, as expressed through language or
the normalisation and negotiation of individual and collective behaviour,
as the neural tissue in our heads. We would be wise to keep the ideas and
practices emergent from the work of Freud, Merleau-Ponty and Levi-Strauss at
the centre of any discussion on this subject. However, what is clear is that
until we do understand what mind is we will not be able to simulate it. I
wonder if we will ever achieve that understanding. Most of the time I doubt
we will. When I do think we will I'm pretty quick to discount my hubris.
I would propose that our understanding of ourselves, of the world around us,
remains very limited. As a consequence of our limited knowledge I would
argue that to date most things remain beyond our capacity to simulate them.
To claim we do have the capacity to simulate things is to assume we have
knowledge of them we most likely do not possess. This would seem arrogant in
the extreme. Further to this, a simulation is only a knowledge modelling
activity. Even where we do have enough information about something to build
what seems to be a useful and functional simulation it does not mean we have
made an accurate copy of something. It is only as accurate as we are able to
test its accuracy and that testing is constrained by what we know. Even the
best simulations are likely to be incomplete or even erroneous in their
conception. To assume otherwise is to consider oneself to have complete and
irrefutable knowledge of something. That does not seem like good (sceptical)
science or philosophy. It starts to sound like arrogant dogma.
On 23/01/2011 17:43, "Jennifer Kanary Nikolov(a)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Dear All,
> In the meantime, I apologise if my own posts have actually contributed to the
> rise to confusion :) Here is a post about the simulation of subjective
> experience. Its in addition to my previous posts.
> Like I stated before, I'm interested in the Simulation of Empathy, well known
> humans, but considered impossible in computers (for AI purposes). Empathy
> the mental simulation of the experience of the other. When we know how our own
> empathy systems work, and what role our own senses play in this, we might
> more about how this could be evoked in digital systems, AI and Robotics. This
> strongly related to the theory of mirror neurons (it is also where we left off
> at the last discussion with Derrick De Kerckhoves contribution). I am
> in how artists knowledge about how to evoke subjective experiences in humans
> could contribute to our understanding as to how to evoke such experiences in
> systems and robotics. I'm interested in the role art experiences play in
> empathy, how it jiggles our neurons and is there a form of programmability to
> For one to experience empathy, to have a sense as to what the other is
> one must have an idea or awareness that there is an other and one must have an
> inner archive of subjective experiences and believe that the other feels. I
> the word subjective experience to separate the subjective aspect of a
> a signal of the sense organ, and its emotional affect. I experience a signal,
> experience the signal as pain, I experience fear. A digital system can sense
> signal, but as far as we know, does not have a sensation about this signal,
> does it compare it to our signals.
> Some believe that it is impossible for AI to feel, subjective experience is
> ambiguous and ambiguity causes error in a computers calculations. Some believe
> that subjective experience comes from a heart and soul, and that computers do
> not have a soul and thus can never experience subjectivity. As an artist
> interested in scientific speculations I wonder how to change our perspective
> this thinking. This changes dramatically when scientific speculations rise
> The Universe is a Quantum Computer. In such a world Simulation is Life. We are
> Avatars creating Avatars. We are Worlds creating Worlds. The Simulated
> in an ongoing cycle of many layers. It gives a whole new meaning to concepts
> God as a Creator, God residing in All of us, God made man in his own image.
> is a very cybernetic approach, that everything is computed.
> For me Simulation is Computation, be it by my brain, by a digital or analogue
> quantum computer. I'm interested in how technology and art are used as a tools
> of empathy. I am interested in how subjective experience is generated by all
> technologies. I'm interested in how qbits might solve the issue of ambiguation
> causing error in computations of classical computers.
> Our senses play a big role in how we empathise. We sense muscles tensions in
> the faces of others, we learn to 'read' such faces and make conclusions about
> how the other is feeling, we compare it to how we feel when our muscles are
> that. In our current society we do not take several of our senses seriously.
> need to focus on how our all our senses can be simulated with digital
> and how the data, the incoming signals of sensors interfere and affect
> How our senses dance a dance of signals that triggers our neurons. If we know
> how it is evoked in brains with the use of technology, we will learn more
> how to evoke it in computers. In particular from the view that we are all
> jiggling atoms ;) How to make my Avatar/Robot feel? How to put the Gaia in the
> world of my Avatar/Robot?
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HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
HOW TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.