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A flash of lightning produces a single sound. Pain in the brain is not like that. Neurons in the brain can excite or inhibit many other neurons, to which they are connected. Pain is not controlled by a single neuron.
A flash of lightning has no intended direction. But pain in the brain is not like that. The synaptic connections between neurons enable coordinated patterns of activation between millions of interconnected neurons. A type of pain is just a type of activation pattern.
Pain in the brain is not conducted like a symphony orchestra by a single individual. It is more like a free-jazz ensemble whose music is produced by loose and coordinated effort among the ensemble members.
‘Do you try to find the real artichoke by stripping it of its leaves?’ Wittgenstein once said. The same can be said of pain in the brain.
The brain is a causal mechanism to convey pain as a sensation. Pain also conveys to us itself. Pain in the brain is like a melody in music. When we feel a pain, the pain doesn’t convey something else that compounds with the activation patterns in the brain. We get the feeling of a pain because pain just is an activation pattern.
In the absence of a general theory of pain or brain function, metaphor and philosophy serve useful placeholder roles.
It is not obvious that experiences of pain are identical to brain activation patterns. In reply, it is not obvious that an ensemble of human beings could produce exciting jazz music, either.
One day, artificial thought will be achieved.
An artificially intelligent computer will say, “that makes me happy.”
Will it feel happy? Assume it will not.
Still: it will act as if it did. It will act like an intelligent human being. And then what?
My hunch is that adult human beings will view intelligent computers as simplified versions of themselves (child-like). Human children will view them as peers; ‘friendships’ will form between children and intelligent computers.
Why? I am reminded of Wittgenstein’s remark: ‘The human body is the best picture of the human soul’.
Look at this video of ASIMO.
How would you interact with ASIMO? What would your reactions be?
It is also remarkable that ASIMO does not possess any physiology.