There Are Two Hard Problems of Consciousness, Not One

I would agree:

One problem is the “ontological problem” of how it might be possible to engineer the felt experience of being. The other is the “epistemological problem” of directly knowing another’s primary experience.

I’d the other hard problem too, of determining if we could even possibly engineer a mind, even in principle.


In one sense, yes we can (and we did).

In another sense, no we couldn’t – and for the same reason.

In the first sense, we engineered our own mind starting with prenatal development, and continuing throughout our lives.

In the second sense – no, we could not engineer a mind because it has to be “designed” and built by the organism that will use it.

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The problem is solved by some strange birds who suggest that evolution is designed and providentially directed. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I think Chambers would consider this an easy problem, assuming the mind did not have to have phenomenal experience to qualify.

A lot does ride on what is meant by “engineering”. Do GANs qualify as a type of engineering? The adversary could be viewed as selecting for fitness.

If by mind we mean human adult mind, then we could engineer only a baby’s mind (or perhaps even a fetal precursor) and then rely on encultured action to develop an adult human mind. Possibly that action could take place in a virtual world. Far from current technology, of course, but still easy problems in the Chalmers classification.

I do agree with the linked paper’s conclusion that there are domains of knowledge, like morality, that cannot be addressed solely by science.

Scott Aaronson on IIT and the “pretty Hard problem of consciousness.: to give some general criterion for taking an arbitrary physical system – a description of any physical system – and deciding whether it is conscious or not.”

Yes, very likely. However, I was not responding to the title question about the hard problem. Rather, I was commenting on the question about engineering a mind. And I agree that the meaning of “engineering” is not completely clear.

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