Is Consciousness Real? A Practical Answer.

This is a conversation I had back in October, but I haven’t posted anything recently, so I figured I’d copypasta it here for posterity.

A friend wrote:

Do you think consciousness is
(i) A real phenomenon
(ii) Unreal phenomenon ?

Real here means that there exist (a) physical process/es (in the brain) that causally correspond to the “observed” phenomenon of consciousness. While unreal means that it is just a word people use to describe something that is not a part of reality, but rather a construct that was input to them since they were children ( for example, like fairies ) OR a word that stands for many processes and adds an imaginary glue, thus gaining new meaning ( like vis vitalis).
Note: I’m aware of problems with definitions of causality and reality, but let’s just take the usual practical ones.

This was my response:
Continue reading

Extremist Language

On the 27th, which was 8 days ago, now, Jon Stewart had Andrew Napolitano on The Daily Show. I am a self-described libertarian. I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 (yes, I know he wasn’t on the ballot). I also love The Daily Show and Mr. Stewart; I think he’s insightful, wise, and funny.

Here’s the first part of the interview I’m going to be commenting on, I encourage you to click-through to see the next two parts.

Continue reading

Re: Conversations on Strong AI

I am having a conversation with Rod Furlan over on his blog about the possibility of self-preservation being an emergent property of intelligent systems. Just, you know… in case you were curious what I’m up to.

Edit: I am commenting. I did not send the original email.

Synaptic Growth (Economics)

[INSERT MEME HERE]I am not a motorist. I dislike most everything about cars, and I do not drive (or even know how). I get rides between places that aren’t practical to walk to bike to, but when I have free time I like to be impractical and walk between them anyway, even if it takes me several hours.

In addition to exercise and fresh air (and significant personal risk of mugging, nowadays), these long walks help link my mental representations of these two places in my mind. When I take a bus from A to B, it seems like they’re on different worlds, only reachable by spacecraft, but when I take the time to go by foot they become anchored as part of a larger spacial model.

Linking two things, be they places, people, objects, events, or ideas, is what our brains are good at. The very structure of the neuron is built around the all important synapse—the link between cells. This morning I made a similar link, this time between cognitive science and economics. It’s somewhat trivial, but seeing as it’s taken me this long to work out, I figure that it might not be immediately obvious to everyone.

Continue reading


Earlier today Aaron Saenz, the lead writer at Singularity Hub (an excellent tech news-blog) wrote a piece called The Myth of the Three Laws of Robotics – Why We Can’t Control Intelligence. In it he dismissed fears of “robot apocalypse”, saying:

Let’s get something out of the way. I’m not worried about a robot apocalypse. I don’t think Skynet is going to launch nuclear missiles in a surprise attack against humanity. I don’t think Matrix robots will turn us all into batteries, nor will Cylons kill us and replace us. HAL’s not going to plan our ‘accidental deaths’ and Megatron’s not lurking behind the moon ready to raid our planet for energon cubes. The ‘robo-pocalypse’ is a joke.

Continue reading

© 2015

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑