Consciousness Is Not Computable

first_imgA key principle of materialism and physicalism is that all processes must be reducible to matter and energy.In the march from molecules to man, materialists must not encounter any insurmountable hurdles: any observable facts that cannot be reduced to processes beyond matter and energy. That’s because matter and energy are all that exist. Materialist reality cannot countenance anything irreducible to those entities. Already they have a candidate for the insurmountable hurdle, because the proposition of materialism itself is immaterial. As Robert Jastrow said,[Film courtesy of Illustra Media, at TheJohn1010Project.com]Ignoring that show-stopper, the materialist faces several other candidates for insurmountable hurdles: (1) the origin of the universe, (2) the origin of heavy elements, (3) the origin of the Earth, (4) the origin of life, (5) the origin of mulicellular life, (6) the origin of sex, and (7) the origin of consciousness. Consider that last one. If consciousness were reducible to material processes, it should be computable. In other words, a sufficiently programmed computer should be able to re-create consciousness. (Ignore the conundrum for now that programming implies a programmer, which implies intelligent design.)An article by Subhash Kak from Ohio State, published at Live Science, explains flatly “Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious.” One should never say never, but Kak is convinced that artificial consciousness is forever beyond the reach of robots and computers. It’s not a limitation of technology. His conclusion derives from the nature of human consciousness, that inner experience of self that is our closest experience of reality. We humans are aware of our thinking. Computers are not. Kak relates a thought experiment by the late Alan Turing that illustrates the problem: Try to prove that a program will stop on its own. Another computer, monitoring the program, would have to rely on a stop-checking algorithm to decide if it will stop or not. But a deceptive programmer codes the program to do the opposite of what its stop-checking routine says it will do. Kak describes what will happen:Running the stop-checking process on this new program would necessarily make the stop-checker wrong: If it determined that the program would stop, the program’s instructions would tell it not to stop. On the other hand, if the stop-checker determined that the program would not stop, the program’s instructions would halt everything immediately. That makes no sense — and the nonsense gave Turing his conclusion, that there can be no way to analyze a program and be entirely absolutely certain that it can stop. So it’s impossible to be certain that any computer can emulate a system that can definitely stop its train of thought and change to another line of thinking — yet certainty about that capability is an inherent part of being conscious.Human consciousness is also distributed throughout the brain (or at least activates disparate parts of the brain), Kak adds, as he recounts other show-stoppers to the computation of consciousness thought up by scientists and philosophers. So if consciousness is not computable, that makes it a strong candidate for a hurdle too high for reductionist materialism.Not Just One Man’s DifficultyLike Thomas Nagel, author of God and Cosmos, philosopher of mind David Chalmers would prefer to stay satisfied with a material universe. Both of them, however, only have highly speculative and untestable ways to maintain their preference. In a well-stated interview on YouTube reposted by Evolution News, Chalmers delves into the “hard problem of consciousness.” None of us can doubt our own consciousness, he says; it is the most direct experience we have. We can doubt other people’s consciousness, but not our own. He illustrates it with zombies—not the living dead, but theoretical zombies that appear and behave just like us but are not conscious.“When God created the world,” Chambers speculates (ironically for an atheist), He could have created a material world without consciousness. “That would make sense,” he says; it would be logically conceivable. But consciousness is something God would have had to add as a separate thing. Even taking out God, the problem remains that consciousness is separate from materialism, and superfluous to a material reality.Chalmers then dispenses with evolutionary theory as a source of consciousness. Theories about this are generally vague and doubtful, he says. The main problem, though, is that evolution has no need to invent consciousness. The world could work perfectly well without it. An evolutionist’s world would work just fine with complex reflexes and behaviors programmed by genes. Evolution also cannot explain qualia, the direct experiences we have of the world. A color-blind person can know about colors, but cannot have the experience of red unless cured of colorblindness. Chalmers concludes that humans will never be able to solve the hard problem: Why is our behavior and sensation accompanied by conscious experience? Scientists will never find that in neurons, he argues.How many show-stoppers does it take to stop a show? All the other insurmountable hurdles listed above for molecules-to-man evolution in a materialistic universe remain. But here we see three prominent experts in physics and philosophy of mind, who are non-Christians, stating explicitly that materialism is missing something critical. Two of them say that consciousness is permanently beyond the reach of materialism. So readers do not have to take our word for it that the materialist show is stopped. We would just heighten the hurdle infinitely further by saying that the very use of language by these thinkers requires supernaturalism. Every proposition depends on logic (which must refer to timeless, universal and necessary truths), and morality (which assumes that the speaker desires to share his logic honestly). The materialist show, therefore, is stopped; go to another show. There’s a good one across town about a Creator. It’s called the greatest story ever told. (Visited 528 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

This Friday, Celebrate Beautiful SA!

first_img6 September 2010Plant a tree. Host a recycling day. Help clean up around your home, school, place of work … as part of its “Legacy” campaign, Brand SA has called on South Africans this Friday to “fly the flag for our beautiful country.”Brand South Africa’s Legacy campaign aims to leverage the momentum of the 2010 Fifa World Cup by providing platforms for South Africans to keep achieving and showcasing their “South Africanness” to the world, while entrenching the principles of pride, patriotism and solid citizenship that have been established over the past year.SA Legacy campaign explainedFor the past two Fridays, and the next three to come, South Africans have been “celebrating all the things that make us who we are”. Each Friday has a different theme, this Friday’s being a call to celebrate South Africa’s natural beauty by, for example:Hosting a recycling day. Ask everyone to bring in paper, glass, plastic and tins to be recycled and given a new lease on life.Planting a tree at home, at school, at your office or in a community space..Hosting a clean-up day around the office, your school or community.Celebrate Our Beautiful Country – poster“Thousands of new visitors experienced South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ and went home with memories to last a lifetime,” Brand South Africa said in a statement. “We impressed the world with our ability to unite for a common cause and create a legacy for our country and children.“We now know what we can do when we stand together, so let’s do it again this Friday – by making sure our country stays beautiful for generations to come.”SAinfo reporterSA Legacy campaign: programmeWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Animal Health Alert: Bovine Tuberculosis Detected In SE Indiana

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey is recommending cattle owners in Southwest Ohio monitor their herds closely after the Indiana Board of Animal Health reported this week that bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been diagnosed in a wild white-tailed deer in Franklin County in Southeast Indiana. No cases have been diagnosed in Ohio.“While the extent to which the disease may be present in the wild deer population is not known, cattle owners in Southwest Ohio should be aware of this finding and take precautions,” said Dr. Forshey. “Monitor your cattle for signs of TB, including lethargy, low-grade fever, and cough, and to take steps to prevent contact between your cattle and wild animals.”Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but can be transmitted to any warm-blooded animal. While clinical signs are not visible, in early stages, signs that the disease is progressing may include emaciation, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, low-grade fever and pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough.  Cattle owners who notice any of these signs in their livestock should contact their veterinarian immediately.Hunters should take precautions to protect themselves, including wearing gloves when field dressing animals and fully cooking all meat. Deer can be infected without noticeable signs of disease, like the doe that tested positive in Indiana. Hunters who notice signs of TB in wildlife should contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).last_img read more

AudioVroom: Music Sharing for the Streaming Generation

first_imgTags:#music#Product Reviews#web 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… AudioVroom, which should be available for iOS in the next couple of weeks, offers users the ability to create custom playlists of streaming music based on friends musical tastes. AudioVroom builds a profile of each user’s musical tastes according to a few different methods. First, it can look at your iTunes library and build a profile by examining artist frequency, play counts, skip counts and star ratings. If you don’t want it to look at your library, it can build a taste profile according to what you “love” and “fail” while using the app to play friends’ stations. If neither of those fit your fancy, AudioVroom co-founder and CEO Marcos Lara says that the company is working on integrating Facebook and Last.fm to pull in your musical preferences.Once the app has your musical tastes pinned down, you can begin sharing with friends. AudioVroom lets users “bump” their phones with each other (using the Bump API) to exchange profile information. From there, it looks at common interests, finds intersections and creates custom stations according to these points. The app has yet to hit the App Store shelves but we got to hear a bit about it and give it a try and we’re looking forward to seeing what new music we might find by simply bumping our phone with our friends. Lara says that an HTML5 version is on the way for Android phones, as well as a Facebook app. For now, all we can do is wait for it to hit the app store so we can convince all of our friends to download it and stop listening to that same old Pandora station day after day. 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts mike melanson Nowadays, music discovery can be a magical, yet completely disconnected, experience. There are tools to find the most popular music from blogs, algorithms to suggest music according to characteristics and custom created lists and channels made by curators. Still, something integral is missing – your friends.Once upon a time – long before peer-to-peer file sharing services hit the Web – the way to discover music was by trading mix tapes with friends. Nowadays, you might burn a CD for a friend but, as our music collections increasingly move into the cloud, it’s becoming harder and harder to share your musical tastes with your friends. AudioVroom wants to change this and bring your friends to the music discovery experience of apps like Pandora. 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more