11. Qualia

From Wikipedia: “The term qualia derives from the Latin neuter plural form (qualia) of the Latin adjective quālis […] meaning “of what sort” or “of what kind”.

So qualia is a question word, asking “of all of the kinds, or sorts, or categories available, which one is *this*?” This question only makes sense if there is more than one to choose from.

We can use a variation of the “Mary the color scientist” thought experiment as an example to show how this might work:

Imagine Mary is in her room with a bundle of fiber-optic cables coming in thru a hole in the wall. Suppose there is another room with a camera. In a third room there is a computer that gets input from the camera, and when something red is in the room, the computer lights up exactly one of those fibers going into Mary’s room, with white light. So Mary knows everything about physics, and light, and computers, and she knows that the fibers are hooked up to computers, but she doesn’t know which fiber in her bundle is hooked up to the “red thing” computer. All the fibers look the same. Then, something red is put into the room, and one of the fibers lights up. Mary can now label that fiber with tape, and from now on she knows which one is the “red” one. When that one lights up, she can report “I see red”.

[put robot, attention, multi-sign medium here]

Now let’s put this into the psychule framework. The computer in this case is a unitracker, recognizing exactly one pattern, the color red. We could have more computers in more rooms, each watching the same camera, but each tracking a different pattern, each lighting up their own optic fiber. Some of these computers are connected to others. So for example, the “red” recognizing one and the “fire truck” recognizing one could each talk to the other, making it more likely that when one is recognized the other is also recognized. Let’s say there are one million such computers.

Under the current framework, to ask “which category is this?” makes the most sense in the context of a multi-pattern medium representing a given unitracker. The question then becomes, of the possible unitrackers representable in this medium, which one is this one currently being represented?