Agency, qualia and life: connecting mind and body biologically

In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), Philosophy and theory of artificial intelligence 2017. Berlin: Springer. pp. 43-56 (2017)
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Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which does not motivate as a force, but as a control signal. From brain research and the locality principle of physics, I surmise that qualia are a fundamental, biological form of energy generated in specialized neurons. Subjectivity is explained as thermodynamically necessary on the supposition that, by converting action potentials to feelings, the neural cells avert damage from the electrochemical pulses. In exchange for this entropic benefit, phenomenal energy is spent as and where it is produced - which precludes the objective observation of qualia.

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David Longinotti
University of Maryland (system-wide page)


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