The Chinese Room Revisited

Written by Sam Vaknin


Continued from page 1

Consciousness, mental states, intelligence are transferable and can be stored and conferred. Pregnancy is a process of conferring intelligence. The book of instructions is stored in our genetic material. We pass on this book to our off spring. The decoding and unfolding ofrepparttar book are what we callrepparttar 133582 embryonic phases. Intelligence, therefore, can (and is) passed on (in this case, throughrepparttar 133583 genetic material, in other words: through hardware).

We can identify an emitter (or transmitter) of mental states and a receiver of mental states (equipped with an independent copy of a book of instructions). The receiver can be passive (as television is). In such a case we will not be justified in saying that it is "intelligent" or has a mental life. But if it possessesrepparttar 133584 codes andrepparttar 133585 instructions it could make independent use ofrepparttar 133586 data, process it, decide upon it, pass it on, mutate it, transform it, react to it. Inrepparttar 133587 latter case we will not be justified in saying thatrepparttar 133588 receiver does NOT possess intelligence or mental states. Again,repparttar 133589 source,repparttar 133590 trigger ofrepparttar 133591 mental states are irrelevant. What is relevant is to establish thatrepparttar 133592 receiver has a copy ofrepparttar 133593 intelligence or ofrepparttar 133594 other mental states ofrepparttar 133595 agent (the transmitter). If so, then it is intelligent in its own right and has a mental life of its own.

Mustrepparttar 133596 source be point-like, an identifiable unit? Not necessarily. A programmer is a point-like source of intelligence (inrepparttar 133597 case of a computer). A parent is a point-like source of mental states (inrepparttar 133598 case of his child). But other sources are conceivable.

For instance, we could think about mental states as emergent. Each part of an entity might not demonstrate them. A neurone cell inrepparttar 133599 brain has no mental states of it own. But when a population of such parts crosses a quantitatively critical threshold an epiphenomenon occurs. When many neurones are interlinked repparttar 133600 results are mental states and intelligence. The quantitative critical mass happens also to be an important qualitative threshold.

Imagine a Chinese Gymnasium instead of a Chinese Room. Instead of one English speaker there is a multitude of them. Each English speaker isrepparttar 133601 equivalent of a neurone. Altogether, they constitute a brain. Searle says that if one English speaker does not understand Chinese, it would be ridiculous to assume that a multitude of English speakers would. But reality shows that this is exactly what will happen. A single molecule of gas has no temperature or pressure. A mass of them does. Where didrepparttar 133602 temperature and pressure come from? Not from any single molecule so we are forced to believe that both these qualities emerged. Temperature and pressure (inrepparttar 133603 case of gas molecules), thinking (inrepparttar 133604 case of neurones) are emergent phenomena.

All we can say is that there seems to be an emergent source of mental states. As an embryo develops, it is only when it crosses a certain quantitative threshold (number of differentiated cells) that he begins to demonstrate mental states. The source is not clear butrepparttar 133605 locus is. The residence ofrepparttar 133606 mental states is always known whetherrepparttar 133607 source is point-like and identifiable, or diffusely emerges as an epiphenomenon.

It is because we can say very little aboutrepparttar 133608 source of mental states and a lot about their locus, that we developed an observer bias. It is much easier to observe mental states in their locus because they create behaviour. By observing behaviour we deducerepparttar 133609 existence of mental states. The alternative is solipsism (or religious panpsychism, or mere belief). The dichotomy is clear and painful: either we, as observers, cannot recognize mental states, in principle or, we can recognize them only through their products.

Consider a comatose person. Does he have a mental life going on? Comatose people have been known to have reawakened inrepparttar 133610 past. So, we know that they are alive in more thanrepparttar 133611 limited physiological sense. But, while still, do they have a mental life of any sort?

We cannot know. This means that inrepparttar 133612 absence of observables (behaviour, communication) we cannot be certain that mental states exist. This does not mean that mental states ARE those observables (a common fallacy). This says nothing aboutrepparttar 133613 substance of mental states. This statement is confined to our measurements and observations and to their limitations. Yet,repparttar 133614 Chinese Room purports to say something aboutrepparttar 133615 black box that we call "mental states". It says that we can know (prove or refute)repparttar 133616 existence of a TRUE mental state as distinct from a simulated one. That, despite appearances, we can tell a "real" mental state apart from its copy. Confusingrepparttar 133617 source ofrepparttar 133618 intelligence with its locus is atrepparttar 133619 bottom of this thought experiment. It is conceivable to have an intelligent entity with mental states that derives (or derived) its intelligence and mental states from a point-like source or acquired these properties in an emergent, epiphenomenal way. The identity ofrepparttar 133620 source andrepparttar 133621 process through whichrepparttar 133622 mental states were acquired are irrelevant. To say thatrepparttar 133623 entity is not intelligent (the computer,repparttar 133624 English speaker) because it got its intelligence fromrepparttar 133625 outside (the programmer) is like saying that someone is not rich because he got his millions fromrepparttar 133626 national lottery.



Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com




The Technology of Law

Written by Sam Vaknin


Continued from page 1

(a) A positive law which follows a technological advance (a law regarding seat belts after seat belts were invented). Such positive laws are intended either to disseminaterepparttar technology or to stifle it.

(b) An intentional legal lacuna intended to encourage a certain technology (for instance, very little legislation pertains torepparttar 133581 internet withrepparttar 133582 express aim of "letting it be"). Deregulation ofrepparttar 133583 airlines industries is another example.

(c) Structural interventions ofrepparttar 133584 law (or law enforcement authorities) in a technology or its implementation. The best examples arerepparttar 133585 breaking up of AT&T in 1984 andrepparttar 133586 current anti-trust case against Microsoft. Such structural transformations of monopolists release hitherto monopolized information (for instance,repparttar 133587 source codes of software) torepparttar 133588 public and increases competition -repparttar 133589 mother of invention.

(d) The conscious encouragement, by law, of technological research (research and development). This can be done directly through government grants and consortia, Japan's MITI beingrepparttar 133590 finest example of this approach. It can also be done indirectly - for instance, by freeing uprepparttar 133591 capital and labour markets which often leads torepparttar 133592 formation of risk or venture capital invested in new technologies. The USA isrepparttar 133593 most prominent (and, now, emulated) example of this path.

4. A Law that cannot be made known torepparttar 133594 citizenry or that cannot be effectively enforced is a "dead letter" - not a law inrepparttar 133595 vitalist, dynamic sense ofrepparttar 133596 word. For instance,repparttar 133597 Laws of Hammurabi (his codex) are still available (throughrepparttar 133598 internet) to all. Yet, do we consider them to be THE or even A Law? We do not and this is because Hammurabi's codex is both unknown torepparttar 133599 citizenry and inapplicable. Hammurabi's Laws are inapplicable not because they are anachronistic. Islamic law is as anachronistic as Hammurabi's code - yet it IS applicable and applied in many countries. Applicability isrepparttar 133600 result of ENFORCEMENT. Laws are manifestations of asymmetries of power betweenrepparttar 133601 state and its subjects. Laws arerepparttar 133602 enshrining of violence applied forrepparttar 133603 "common good" (whatever that is - it is a shifting, relative concept).

Technology plays an indispensable role in bothrepparttar 133604 dissemination of information and in enforcement efforts. In other words, technology helps teachrepparttar 133605 citizens what arerepparttar 133606 laws and how are they likely to be applied (for instance, throughrepparttar 133607 courts, their decisions and precedents). More importantly, technology enhancesrepparttar 133608 efficacy of law enforcement and, thus, rendersrepparttar 133609 law applicable. Police cars, court tape recorders, DNA imprints, fingerprinting, phone tapping, electronic surveillance, satellites - are all instruments of more effective law enforcement. In a broader sense, ALL technology is atrepparttar 133610 disposal of this or that law. Take defibrillators. They are used to resuscitate patients suffering from severe cardiac arrhythmia's. But such resuscitation is MANDATORY by LAW. So,repparttar 133611 defibrillator - a technological medical instrument - is, in a way, a law enforcement device.



Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com




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