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Friday May 24th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    Amongst those who have spent time thinking about Consciousness, or Awareness, or Experience of Being in us people there's a grand debate around what's defined as "internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena." In another way, my experience of the red colors in a sunset, my experience of the difference between a Red Norland Potato and Pontiac Potato. It would include my experience of having a headache, feeling sad, feeling happy, and it goes on to include being in love and so on. These components are  a long sometimes self centered soppy business that can be referred to as Qualia, which kind of sounds like some part of quality or the short lived ground nesting bird called a Quail. The singular of Qualia is a Quale, and the word Qualia comes from the Latin 'what kind.'  Easy to assume that my experience of these things is the same or similar to your experience of these things. But how do we know if we can't measure it. Then the question is if a machine were to become aware in the sense of getting all excited about falling in love, getting weak-kneed around a sunset or whatever, how would we know with any degree of objective certainty. There's no way, as things currently stand, that were the technical device on the table beside me to tell me that it thinks I'm fantastic that I'd believe it unless for example I could somehow determined whether it's eyes were rolling or not. And if for example it was to go down stairs and get me a cup of coffee I'd have no idea whether it actually wanted to go downstairs, took any joy from going downstairs, and certainly we could watch the sunset together, I could ramble on about sunsets past and I'd have no idea whether any utterance from the technical device was anything very much more than one iteration or other of the date, time, season, phase of the moon, perhaps the odd humanizing ditty about red sky at night and shepherds. Much more likely as my relationship with the technical device develops and becomes frustrating I'd decided it was struggling with autism and I wanted it to be more like what I wanted it to be, so I'd end up removing its virus protection, force feeding it a dilution of bleach.

 

Past

    On the other side of this grand debate, it's basically "So What! you poor simple and deluded personages, no wonder the world's such a mess and has been since the Sumerians." They won't say it like that, their scientists, erudite and learned, but there's a little smile they have that speaks volumes. They'll argue that given time and resources we'll know enough about the human brain and we'll have a technology that will be able to manipulate neurons in such away as to enable you to experience falling in love with another person. Entirely possible we could manipulate neurons so that you could enjoy the experience of falling in love with a Mushroom, might not be a long relationship, but pretty much guarantee it'll be a loving experience for you. And if for example you for unaccountable reasons have decided you can't drink Coca Cola because you've developed a poor reaction to the color red, we can help you with that too. So you can imagine the fun we'll all have on April Fools day 2040 or thereabouts, and fair warning we scientists like you are very flawed people, but we are assiduous note takers and we have very long memories which are entirely capable of isolated anomalous acts of bitterness. Once we've identified the matrix of interactions that the human brain engages in, and once we have understood the mechanics of those interactions we will be able to recreate a human brain, which will experience and be able to describe those experiences as profoundly or as un-profoundly as you and I are able to describe our experiences at this moment. Indeed it'll be entirely possible that one day we will be able to send Poets to the outer limits of our solar system and not have to concern ourselves with the many and varied requirements of the human brains current energy source. If necessary for solace, wellbeing and balance the electro-magnetic waves that provide energy will taste and have the texture of sweetened condensed milk, cheeseburgers, fruit cake, beer, rice cakes, lettuce leaves or whatever a poetic soul requires to fulfill the function of keeping the folks back home sufficiently engaged. The questions will abound from the audience. "Will it be allowed to vote?" If the answers is no, history of our species would suggest that in time a recreation of ourselves unable to participate in the political process will become aggravated and when that happens odds are these new poets will chose to wander in the wilderness of their being and sooner or later will decide they are better than we are, and there'll be a whole bunch of colorful, imaginative, possibly eccentric and totally out of touch yet creative UFO's flying around looking for their just rewards by wreaking terrible vengeance in an attempt to rebalance their collection of Qualia. So we got that to look forward to.

  

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