Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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Some interesting discussions. Following a link rendered one more along those lines:
Markram and the "computationalists" believe that if the simulation is sufficiently complete and detailed, including everything from the flow of neurotransmitters across each individual synapse to the amazingly complex network of the trillions of inter-synaptic connections across the brain tissue, that it will function just as a human brain does, including a consciousness in every way as amazing as ours. To them, the hard problem doesn't exist: everything can be obtained from pilling neuron upon neuron on computer chip models, as bricks compose a house, plus all the other building details, plumbing, wiring, etc.
Although we must agree that Markram's project is of enormous scientific importance, I can't quite see how a computer simulation can create something like a human consciousness. Perhaps some other kind of consciousness, but not ours.
Another philosopher from New York University (that ought to be an amazing department to work in), Thomas Nagel, argued that we are incapable of understanding what it is like to be another animal, with its own subjective experience. He took bats as an example, probably because they construct their sense of reality through echolocation and are so different from us. Using ideas from MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, who has argued that every brain has cognitive limitations stemming from its design and evolutionary functionality (for example, a mouse will never talk), Nagel showed that we will never truly understand what it is like to be a bat.
- "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.
"And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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