Let's assume that at some hypothetical point in the future, we arrive at two results:

  • Based on results like DesCartes or Kripke's, philosophers and logicians arrive at a conclusive proof in favor of dualism, something that might look like an incompleteness or undecidablility theorem, but with regards to the impossibility of reducing mental states to physical sates. Or maybe Chalmer's and Jackson's arguments regarding qualia are refined and become conclusive.
  • At the same time, engineers finally achieve fully sentient strong AI. They are able to artificially construct computational devices which pass all sentience and intelligence tests (we assume that by then, there will be more advanced tests than Turing's). In fact some of these AI's, provided only with the information available to a human 5 year old and nothing else (i.e. they get no exposure whatsoever to advanced topics in philosophy and science, etc...), arrive on their own to the conclusion that "I think, therefore I am".

What would the implications of such a state of affairs be (i.e. that both dualism is true and strong AI is possible)?

  1. Would this mean that pan-psychism is true, since using engineering alone we were able to imbue a physical artificial device with mind-substance?
  2. Would such AI's be the proverbial philosophical zombie that several authors have speculated about?
  3. Dualism and strong AI are incompatible, and the above mentioned scenario is impossible?
  • How would you know, your so-called AI could be built with the dualism where as many people already know human beings are the species that makes tools, which implies at their ultimate goal, we might possibly build your AI ( someday, of when we do not know ), which has the same capacity or some sort of thing like us. So I would like to bet on the other choice No.4. a metaphysical walking dead. Sorry it may sound offensive.
    – user13955
    Jun 14, 2015 at 2:54
  • @KentaroTomono "a metaphysical walking dead" isn't that the same as option #2? Jun 14, 2015 at 3:02
  • Since I would not like to be negative here, I deleted downvote. Sometimes I really wonder, why people with high IQ, go on an adventure to where I can not personally understand what these people try to attempt???????? I hope somebody other than me with good knowledge will answer to your question in nice way.
    – user13955
    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:10
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    I am afraid I was not able to cancel the downvote. Instead, let me add a badge ( the star below ) with thank you.
    – user13955
    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:12
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    Since when is the modal fallacy a conclusive proof? And Kripke has nothing to do with the leap from imaginable to possible:"There seem to be good arguments that time-travel is incoherent, but every episode of Star-Trek or Doctor Who shows how one can imagine what it might be like were it possible".
    – Conifold
    Jun 14, 2015 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


1) pan-psychism can be both true and irrelevant; think of the popular thought experiment of simulating a brain with the entire population of china; the fact that each person in that experiment is sentient is irrelevant to the sentience of the system as a whole; and in analogy, the pan-psychism sentience of each atom in a machine may be irrelevant to the sentience of a machine as a whole; even if pan-psychism is true, why would computation be that thing which binds atomwise sentience into the unified mystery we know as a mind.

2) A Dualist may argue that a machine passing the Turing test can be a philosophical zombie; we already have IBM Watson winning Jeopardy against human competitors, and communicating with kids, and unsupervised neural networks learning to give human-like descriptions to pictures; A dualist will deny there is anything it is like to be these systems, and yet it is possible to imagine how honing these systems further may yield a machine that can pass the Turing test, in the near future.

3) Dualism and strong AI are compatible according to Chalmers, who argues for non-reductive functionalism; he believes both in dualism and that the right kind of computation will posses a mind (I think he is wrong).

A question: if you ask me and a machine what green is like, we may both answer: "I don't know, it is just green, it is just this color, ya know?"; so, can you explain what in your mind is a "sentience test"?

  • I mentioned that these sentience tests are hypothetical. Right now all we have is the Turing test. In the future there might be more advanced tests. On for example might be that AI can arrive independently at certain conclusions, or maybe there will be creativity tests, or ability to "think out of the box tests", tests for being able to put things in context, etc.... Jun 15, 2015 at 12:35
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    @Alexander S King Why bother with hypotheticals? (Most) other humans pass the Turing test today, and by definition there is no way to tell if they are philosophical zombies (Dennett claimed he is one). I don't see how future AI, whatever they are, change this situation in any appreciable way. And more generally, how can any empirical development whatsoever have any affect on the truth of a metaphysical doctrine like dualism, or materialism for that matter? If existence of God or souls could be verified experimentally we wouldn't need metaphysics.
    – Conifold
    Jun 15, 2015 at 22:42
  • "Why bother with hypotheticals?" if we didn't, most philosophers would be out of business. Jun 16, 2015 at 23:18

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