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douglas comments on Torture vs. Dust Specks - Less Wrong

41 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 October 2007 02:50AM

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Comment author: douglas 30 October 2007 07:45:40AM 0 points [-]

The non-linear nature of 'qualia' and the difficulty of assigning a utility function to such things as 'minor annoyance' has been noted before. It seems to some insolvable. One solution presented by Dennett in 'Consciousness Explained' is to suggest that there is no such thing as qualia or subjective experience. There are only objective facts. As Searle calls it 'consciousness denied'. With this approach it would (at least theoretically) be possible to objectively determine the answer to this question based on something like the number of ergs needed to fire the neurons that would represent the outcomes of the two different choices. The idea of which would be the more/less pleasant experience is therefore not relevant as there is no subjective experience to be had in the first place. Of course I'm being sloppy here- the word choice would have to be re-defined to include that each action is determined by the physical configuration of the brain and that the chooser is in fact a fictional construct of that physical configuration. Otherwise, I admit that 3^^^3 people is not something I can easily contemplate, and that clouds my ability to think of an answer to this question.