Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us

The Self as an Inference Engine

The nature of sentience has been a hot topic lately, particularly because it is so intangible and difficult to define. Many have tried to produce a catch-all definition or trial that could scientifically or experimentally be used to determine this, but to no avail (as of yet). One of the more well-known tests in this area is the Turing Test [1], which sounds great initially, but has a few hilarious shortcomings[2: Satire]. As such, I propose an alternative to the issue of sentience and the self that completely avoids sentience altogether. This alternative solves many of the problems that we are forced to indeterminately wonder about now, but adds new complications…

I propose that the self is (at the least) a high-speed inference engine. Hopefully this is non-controversial to you. We are beings who take in huge amounts of data, filter it, and make judgments based on the data we’ve received. And that’s it. Since all the controversy comes up when we “give” ourselves sentience and the very realization of life, why not just remove it? We don’t have to worry about stem-cells and abortions and all these other problems that people feel so strongly about because they inferred a certain decision from their holy book [3] if we just remove the perception of sentience from it. So much pain and suffering would be simply gone if we didn’t have to worry about this.

But this pain might be necessary. This train of thought allows murder to be more permissible as well as other crimes. We could attempt to remedy this by still enforcing harsh punishments on those who harm others, but then we have the exact same problem all over again by having to determine degrees of punishment based on something. And if we allow that something to be the degree by which that person has developed or their future potential that has been lost by this crime, then we fall victim again to a mostly indeterminate guessing game.

We may need to find a more scientific solution to this problem…perhaps a revised Turing test of sorts? Just remember to plan with the children in mind!

[1] Wikipedia – Turing test
[2] BBSpot – Turing Test Proves 2-Year-Olds Not Human – Warning: Satire
[3] Wikipedia – Abortion debate