Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Philosophical Zombies Would Require Extensive Compensatory Programming

Zombies of the type encountered in philosophical studies of the mind, such as the ones popularized by David Chalmer’s, would not be physically possible without an incredible amount of compensatory programming. I believe that the processes that allow us to have consciousness are key to our functioning, and to intelligent behavior, so to remove them and yet preserve the other functions would be implausible. Every way that I can conceive of to design such a zombie, involves creating an agent that is in fact much more complicated than a human. By this I mean that it would have to have more processing resources and a larger memory. Taking the entity out of the agent requires the agent to be capable of performing all of the same functions without the shortcuts made possible by sentience and self-awareness. I think that philosophers that discuss these hypothetical zombies have not considered this contention, mainly that: consciousness acts as a shortcut to devising behavior, and a zombie without consciousness (without Gazzaniga’s “interpreter” and without “mental continuity”) would necessitate a tremendous number of if-then rules that could allow it to make the same inferences and decisions that consciousness allows us to make. Programming the computational architecture for a zombie-like, artificially intelligent agent capable of performing human behaviors, in human-like ways, without any conscious insight, would necessitate a battery of rules and subsystems to instantiate simulacra of wanting, liking and feeling. To identify all of the various components of desire and sensation, and to coldly mimic them without actually replicating them would be incredibly complicated. In fact, I believe that to go this route, which some A.I. scientists are currently doing in my opinion, would be far more difficult than creating an A.I. agent that does use intentionality, mental continuity and consciousness.

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