We don’t know that neurons give rise to experience though.
What else would? Besides, as long as a bunch of nodes in a particular arrangement firing electrical signals is a possible cause of experience, it invalidates your claim that advanced computers will never have experience
Experience could be fundamental. Physics is an experience. Math is an experience.
"as long as a bunch of nodes in a particular arrangement firing electrical signals is a possible cause of experience, it invalidates your claim that advanced computers will never have experience"
Sure, but I don’t think that it is a possible cause. Why would electrical signals cause anything other than electrical signals…and what’s a ‘signal’ without consciousness?
If it’s fundamental and not caused by electrical signals, wouldn’t you have to conclude it’s actually everywhere and everything at all times wherever there is stuff, and is kind of a continuum where it’s “more aware” in complex places like someone’s brain? In which case a advanced computer could still act like someone’s brain and be capable of experience.
It may not be a matter of where it is, but when. Complexity may be the footprint of deeper histories of conscious experience making use of shallower histories, in a manner similar to how larger vocabularies might be used in more serious literature. In nature, an ‘advanced vocabulary’ would generally represent an advanced level of communication, but when we artificially imitate the vocabulary of a great communicator we do not conjure an author out of the pages of a book.
What I have come to is the idea that spacetime is only half of nature, and it is the half of nature which is used by the other half to disperse itself, to isolate, organize, and realize its aesthetic projects. By aesthetic projects I mean histories of experiences - expressions of theatrical immersion. This is the true fabric of the universe; what I call pansensitivity. Perceptual participation. Touch and feel. Seeing and looking. Tasting and eating.
In order to accomplish this anabolic construction through time, the aesthetic half of nature employs a contra-aesthetic; a hemi-insensitivity if you will, which is the modulation of entropy and negentropy, i.e. physics and computation. Physics is the outflowing, catabolic arrow of time which fixes public space and scale relation, contact surfaces, topological realism, etc. Computation is the inflowing synthesis of experience and physics (thesis and antithesis). It is the reinternalization of that which has been externalized in spacetime.
The problem (or solution, depending on what you’re trying to do) with AI is that we are a high level experience which is carrying a tremendous amount of what I call significance: We are individual people, we are anthropology and zoology, we are biology, genetics and chemistry, we are physics and mathematics. We have participated directly in the creation of these levels in real time over billions of years. What has happened now is that we have come full circle and are now building high level human intellectual logic as math in physics, from the outside in. Like any puppet or assembled machine, it is a vehicle for our motives and sense-making, rather than for its own agendas that arise from the inside-out. It’s a kind of sculpture, but not a three dimensional marble statue, or a four dimensional movie, but an interactive, five dimensional movie-making meta mechanism. This is something new in our history, and it brings new challenges and new promise.
One of the challenges is that these super-machines push the envelopes of individual people to truly understand what they are, and how to interpret their lifelike qualities without mistaking them for life. Even though CGI has come a long way, I find, and I think that most people find it pretty easy to tell that there is something inauthentic about it. It may not always rise to the level of conscious attention, but particularly when a main character’s image is computer generated, the phenomenon of the uncanny valley is evident. Something about it feels creepy. There is an emptiness where there should be warmth. There seems to be nothing ‘behind the eyes’ and animators often try to compensate with big, anime eyes or comical stylings. Indeed computer animation, in my view, is most authentic and creative in its original 8-bit forms - as PacMan or Tetris. If a computer has a soul it is that; brightly colored simple graphic images which present themselves as modular, miniature dolls rather than a virtual reality.
Look at how we use the internet; not to explore machine intelligence but to talk to each other and about each other, to look at pictures of each other, of food, hear music, etc. Even our online games are mostly fictional adaptations of human experience, not an encounter with any cybernetic other waiting to be born. Computers aren’t learning about their world, they are tools of our world which we use to predict and control ourselves. Acting like a brain is not enough, being a brain is not enough, you have to actually be a person in order to feel like a person and live like a person.