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    1. #1
      Xei
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      Recognising Zombies



      They have grey skin and make creepy groaning noises, yes, I know, thank you very, very much.

      This being the philosophy board though, it's actually philosophical zombies I'm talking about. Yeah, if you haven't heard about these guys before, ask Wikipedia:
      A philosophical zombie, p-zombie or p-zed is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experience, qualia, sentience, or sapience. When a zombie is poked with a sharp object, for example, it does not feel any pain. It behaves exactly as if it does feel pain (it may say "ouch" and recoil from the stimulus), but it does not actually have the experience of pain as a person normally does.
      Heavyweight philosophers like to get in big bitch fights about them, but I think they're all wrong.

      A philosophical zombie, although not conscious, is supposed to act exactly like everybody else. Perhaps they are real? Perhaps everybody but you is a zombie? How can you tell?

      The Turing Test is, by definition of a zombie, useless, so what can you do?

      I think the bleedingly obvious answer here which nobody else seems to have is to go ahead and ask them.

      Think about it. If somebody asks if you are conscious, you check to see if you are, and say 'yes'. I am experiencing, hence I am a conscious being.

      If you asked a zombie, they would check to see if they were experiencing, and say 'no'.

      So, doesn't this show that consciousness does actually have physical, tangible manifestations, and is not just an added extra, and completely falsifies the idea of zombies?

      Discuss. It's not as if you have anything better to do.

    2. #2
      adversary RedfishBluefish's Avatar
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      That won't work, because it's possible that they'll just say 'yes' anyway, in order to properly mimic a "real person". As long as their brainstate is exactly the same as that of a normal human, they will have exactly the same beliefs and experiences as a normal. Except without the experience, of course.

    3. #3
      Member Belisarius's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post


      They have grey skin and make creepy groaning noises, yes, I know, thank you very, very much.

      This being the philosophy board though, it's actually philosophical zombies I'm talking about. Yeah, if you haven't heard about these guys before, ask Wikipedia:

      Heavyweight philosophers like to get in big bitch fights about them, but I think they're all wrong.

      A philosophical zombie, although not conscious, is supposed to act exactly like everybody else. Perhaps they are real? Perhaps everybody but you is a zombie? How can you tell?

      The Turing Test is, by definition of a zombie, useless, so what can you do?

      I think the bleedingly obvious answer here which nobody else seems to have is to go ahead and ask them.

      Think about it. If somebody asks if you are conscious, you check to see if you are, and say 'yes'. I am experiencing, hence I am a conscious being.

      If you asked a zombie, they would check to see if they were experiencing, and say 'no'.

      So, doesn't this show that consciousness does actually have physical, tangible manifestations, and is not just an added extra, and completely falsifies the idea of zombies?

      Discuss. It's not as if you have anything better to do.
      The only problem is that the zombies wouldn't be able to check if they were conscious or not. Zombies do process sensory stimuli to produce a response, so the zombie would interpret this as consciousness and say 'yes'.
      Super profundo on the early eve of your day

    4. #4
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      Wanna know how I check for zombies? They smell!
      I would rather die on my feet then to live on my knees.

    5. #5
      What's up <span class='glow_006400'>[SomeGuy]</span>'s Avatar
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      Lol, but I agree with post # 2.

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    6. #6
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      But even if that were true, it's possible that a regular person (and by extension, a zombie) would simply lie to you.

    7. #7
      Xei
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      Well, this is presuming that they are not lying. A zombie would have no motivation to lie about being conscious if it thought that it was not.
      That won't work, because it's possible that they'll just say 'yes' anyway, in order to properly mimic a "real person". As long as their brainstate is exactly the same as that of a normal human, they will have exactly the same beliefs and experiences as a normal. Except without the experience, of course.
      Well... just imagine, I ask you if you are conscious. Actually properly check if you are experiencing at this time, right now. You would say yes. A zombie, not being conscious, would check if they were conscious, and say no... surely? Why wouldn't they?

    8. #8
      What's up <span class='glow_006400'>[SomeGuy]</span>'s Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well, this is presuming that they are not lying. A zombie would have no motivation to lie about being conscious if it thought that it was not.

      Well... just imagine, I ask you if you are conscious. Actually properly check if you are experiencing at this time, right now. You would say yes. A zombie, not being conscious, would check if they were conscious, and say no... surely? Why wouldn't they?
      Do you not understand that post? You said that they act like humans. Than, they would act like a human, under all the circumstances. Therefore, they would give the same answer as someone concious.

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    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well, this is presuming that they are not lying. A zombie would have no motivation to lie about being conscious if it thought that it was not.
      But if it acts exactly like a conscious being, then most would incorrectly answer yes like conscious beings do. Some conscious beings would have motivation to lie and say no, so we would probably expect that most zombies will say yes and some will say no.

    10. #10
      Xei
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      Well what I'm saying is that it is impossible that it would act like a conscious being for the stated reason, and that zombies hence cannot exist. Anything capable of thinking 'I think therefore I am' is conscious.
      Do you not understand that post? You said that they act like humans. Than, they would act like a human, under all the circumstances. Therefore, they would give the same answer as someone concious.
      No, look, you're missing the point. Although admittedly it's very subtle and I'm having a hard time trying to communicate it. Let's describe a zombie thus:

      A zombie's neural activity is identical to a conscious person's, but there is no consciousness there. Key to this idea is that consciousness can treated as some added extra layer that can be removed with no 'ill effects'.

      What I'm saying is that this is paradoxical. When you ask it if it is conscious, it must surely come to the conclusion that it is not because it is not, which is physically manifested in the activity of different neurons (hence the paradox, its neural activity is not the same), and eventually speech, saying 'no'. So consciousness in fact has tangible physical manifestations and there is no such thing as a zombie.

      I know I said that a zombie acts like a human, but what I have just shown, I think, is that this is in fact impossible, so the definition of a zombie is inherently contradictory.

    11. #11
      What's up <span class='glow_006400'>[SomeGuy]</span>'s Avatar
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      Oh, okay. I see where your going. Then yes it would be paradoxial, because noaturrally a humn would check to see if they are, so when the zombie does (like a human) it would realize it isn't. So then what would happen if it realized it wasn't concious? Would it dissapear, like if it divided by zero?

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    12. #12
      Xei
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      Well, speculating about what happens when zombies realise that they are not conscious is like speculating about what happens when you divide by zero, seeing as both have no existence or meaning... I think. It's like asking 'if lemons tasted of apples, what would bananas taste like'? The question itself is an impossibility.

      Although good point, it's something I actually hadn't thought to consider.

    13. #13
      What's up <span class='glow_006400'>[SomeGuy]</span>'s Avatar
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      Yes, there isn't enough sufficient evidence to prove what the bannanas taste like, or what happens when you divide by zero. Ima go try that...
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    14. #14
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      I look at these zombies and don't need to ask.


    15. #15
      adversary RedfishBluefish's Avatar
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      This whole question really depends on whether you think consciousness is epiphenomenal or not. Regardless, there's no theoretical difference between asking someone a question, or opening up their brain to find out the answer, so if there's not other way the find it out, asking won't work. (Consider how the neurons in the brain are supposed to check for consciousness, when you ask them.)

    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post


      They have grey skin and make creepy groaning noises, yes, I know, thank you very, very much.

      This being the philosophy board though, it's actually philosophical zombies I'm talking about. Yeah, if you haven't heard about these guys before, ask Wikipedia:

      Heavyweight philosophers like to get in big bitch fights about them, but I think they're all wrong.

      A philosophical zombie, although not conscious, is supposed to act exactly like everybody else. Perhaps they are real? Perhaps everybody but you is a zombie? How can you tell?

      The Turing Test is, by definition of a zombie, useless, so what can you do?

      I think the bleedingly obvious answer here which nobody else seems to have is to go ahead and ask them.

      Think about it. If somebody asks if you are conscious, you check to see if you are, and say 'yes'. I am experiencing, hence I am a conscious being.

      If you asked a zombie, they would check to see if they were experiencing, and say 'no'.

      So, doesn't this show that consciousness does actually have physical, tangible manifestations, and is not just an added extra, and completely falsifies the idea of zombies?

      Discuss. It's not as if you have anything better to do.

      The part about the grey skin and noises is my grandfather in the morning

      oh shit
      he's a zombie?

    17. #17
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      I don't think they exist because consciousness is in everything, it's the source of all existence. There is no single object, living or "not" without consciousness, including people. Existence doesn't even exist without consciousness to recognize it.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    18. #18
      Xei
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      I disagree but that's a rather separate issue. I think there are many objective realities (multiverse theory) but we can only observe those in which conscious systems develop, and we are likely to be observing one in which a large number of conscious systems have developed. There are many objects we observe which are simply products of sets of rules which allow for consciousness, for example, rocks. They are not conscious, they are just a result of the constants of the universe.
      This whole question really depends on whether you think consciousness is epiphenomenal or not. Regardless, there's no theoretical difference between asking someone a question, or opening up their brain to find out the answer, so if there's not other way the find it out, asking won't work. (Consider how the neurons in the brain are supposed to check for consciousness, when you ask them.)
      Absolutely, epiphenomenalism is essential to this. One of the crucial consequences of what I have said above, I think, is that it disproves epiphenomenalism and the concept of 'added inconsequential layers', and with it zombies.

      But I think the key issue that you have raised is, how do the neurons actually respond to the question? Do they do something very special when we ask ourselves to check for consciousness? Where is the brain's activity when that occurs?

    19. #19
      Member JET73L's Avatar
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      Personally, my opinion agrees with Belisarius' post. If a zombie set up a "consciousness check," They would be unable to thell theat they aren;t conscious, because they wouldn;t know what consciousness, or a lack thereof, feels like. People are trained from their first pseudophilosophical lecture to assume that they are conscious (I think, therefore I am), and a zombie would assume that since it thinks, insofar as can be described, it must exist as a conscious being. It;s like if someone was raied a perfectly normal life, except that the color red was always labelled blue, and the colour blue ewas always labelled red (and they weren't colorblind). If they were pitted against another person who was raised to believe red and blue are the wavelengths of light that we understand they are, they would believe that they are correct, especially if the two judged the colors based on placards that they had painted, and the other person was unable to see. It's basically a similar idea. The zombie, not knowing otherwise, would assume they were conscious, and since the human, not being able to percieve the zombie's lack of consciousness, could not disprove that.

      As for the definition quoted in the first post, there are actual people who don;t have a predefined reaction to sensory stimulius. I forget what it's called, but they have been shown to exist, I believe it';s some form of neurological disorder but I could be wrong, and from what I know, most of them eventually associate different actions with different stimuli (such as saying "ouch" when injured).

      Edit: As for the question of how the neurons respond to the question, I assume it's something along the lines of the same neurons that go "Am I typing on DreamViews, or typing the e-mail?" (when one spontaneously forgets what one is doing, I assume it happens to everyone occasionally), fgo "Am I thinking?" Then the srecent memory cells and cells that process conscious thought go "Well, that was though, so, I suppose I'm thinking. I;'m still thinking. THis is stupid." Then the cells that process vocabulary, facial and breathing muscles, and speaking dexterity all work together to say "Yes, i'm conscious."
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    20. #20
      adversary RedfishBluefish's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      But I think the key issue that you have raised is, how do the neurons actually respond to the question? Do they do something very special when we ask ourselves to check for consciousness? Where is the brain's activity when that occurs?
      It seems to me that there's no evidence a neuron is vastly different from other pieces of matter. The implication is that if neurons are capable of checking for consciousness, than any other piece of matter should be able to, including a surgeon doing brain surgery.

    21. #21
      Always there just in time kingofclutch's Avatar
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      The only zombies here are the gingers! They CAN'T be living.

    22. #22
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      Buddhist simile:

      The ego and the self can be looked at like two birds on a tree, one bird hops around tasting the sweet and sour fruits of the tree while the other bird sits and watches the first.

      Consciousness/awareness in itself is described One That Watches. It has no intentions, no judgments, no comments, it simply experiences so that creation can be observed. People are ruled by the basics of Chaos Theory, pretty much, which means their intentions, choices, opinions, thoughts, and everything else are just the result of Cause and Effect. We learn, we feel joy and pain, we associate things in order to fit new information into the set-ups we develop of the world we exist in. A "zombie" could do all of this, a zombie can have fears, doubts, pride, selfishness, everything. The only thing it lacks is a connection to the greater awareness.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    23. #23
      Member Belisarius's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnius Deus View Post
      Buddhist simile:

      The ego and the self can be looked at like two birds on a tree, one bird hops around tasting the sweet and sour fruits of the tree while the other bird sits and watches the first.

      Consciousness/awareness in itself is described One That Watches. It has no intentions, no judgments, no comments, it simply experiences so that creation can be observed. People are ruled by the basics of Chaos Theory, pretty much, which means their intentions, choices, opinions, thoughts, and everything else are just the result of Cause and Effect. We learn, we feel joy and pain, we associate things in order to fit new information into the set-ups we develop of the world we exist in. A "zombie" could do all of this, a zombie can have fears, doubts, pride, selfishness, everything. The only thing it lacks is a connection to the greater awareness.
      The only question is: If our thoughts and experiences are generated by the material world, and we can think about our consciousness, doesn't that consciousness have to be connected causally with the material world? If our consciousness causes us to think about consciousness it must be part of the material world of cause and effect that creates thoughts. The only other possible explanation is that our ideas of consciousness aren't related to our consciousness itself and instead are just a weird byproduct of our evoulution.
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    24. #24
      Nicotine Connoisseur bcomp's Avatar
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      That's a difficult challenge, proving someone else is conscious.

      But I have an idea! ... sort of.

      Let's assume people are robots. The robots have a set path or program. Some robots are conscious, some are not. In these conscious robots, their awareness monitors their programming, allowing them to realize when it is being altered. The zombie robots don't have this ability. To tell the robots apart, one would have to alter the robots' programs in such a way that the sentient robots would realize their code was changed, and the zombie ones would simply run the new code, oblivious to any change.

      If we translate this to the p-zed idea, both zombies and humans have the same program, to exist and respond the way a human should. If there was some way to force people to exist or respond in some way that was inhuman, then we could tell humans apart from zombies. However, changing this "program" would have to be more than a series of elaborate physical or mental tricks, it would have to be something that not even a human could imagine...

      So, hypothetically, it's possible to tell a zombie apart from a human, but you'd have to be something... inhuman. dun Dun DUN!!!

    25. #25
      Member JET73L's Avatar
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      So you're saying the consciousness is analogous to one of those anti-virus programs that has a blind spot including and limited to itself? Interesting.
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