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Thread: Consciousness.

  1. #1 Consciousness. 
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    At present an explanation of consciousness seems to be beyond the best minds in neuroscience and philosophy.
    I am sure I have asked this before, but could anyone give me some kind of explanation as to why this is?
    I am unable to understand why "something" that is a alive, possessing a brain providing roughly the same level of intelligence as a human being, could fail to have consciousness.
    I don't believe I could imagine such a creature without the above property.
    One example that might be put forward is a human baby, but if it argued a baby, early on, lacks consciousness then I would say it also lacks intelligence and possesses only potential intelligence.
    I must add I am not saying humans are the only species, on our planet, to possess consciousness.


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    I don't believe I could imagine such a creature without the above property.
    Such a hypothetical creature is called a “p-zombie”, or philosophical zombie. It behaves in all scientifically measurable ways exactly like a human being, but possesses no consciousness.

    I do think it is at least conceivable that one day we will be able to artificially create an entity that fulfills the relevant conditions for “being alive”, and that acts and behaves like a human in all measurable ways. Will such an entity necessarily be conscious? My guess is that the answer is probably no - which raises some interesting questions as to how consciousness emerges.

    Or perhaps lets put things a bit differently - if I took a human being, and replaced every single neuron in the body with a tiny machine that is capable of replicating the workings of a neuron (i.e. exchange of neurotransmitters, propagation of action potentials etc), and network those machines in the exact same manner as the original neurons, will the resulting human hybrid still be conscious? Will there be any noticeable difference, in terms of behaviour and intelligence?

    I don’t know the answer to these questions, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

    P.S. Consciousness and intelligence are completely separate things, and one is not a necessary condition for the other.


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    Is Markus' thought experiment ongoing as we speak?

    Is the content of our bodies not completely changed over the course of periods of time?

    Does anything physical remain after a certain time?
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Is Markus' thought experiment ongoing as we speak?

    Is the content of our bodies not completely changed over the course of periods of time?

    Does anything physical remain after a certain time?
    My understanding is that neurons, funnily enough, are not replaced. (Nor, I believe, are the cells of the heart muscle.)

    So your brain is the same tissue you were born with!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I do think it is at least conceivable that one day we will be able to artificially create an entity that fulfills the relevant conditions for “being alive”, and that acts and behaves like a human in all measurable ways. Will such an entity necessarily be conscious? My guess is that the answer is probably no....
    Just out of curiosity: Why do you lean toward “no” as the answer? Is it strictly an intuitive feeling, or is there an underlying rational?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I do think it is at least conceivable that one day we will be able to artificially create an entity that fulfills the relevant conditions for “being alive”, and that acts and behaves like a human in all measurable ways. Will such an entity necessarily be conscious? My guess is that the answer is probably no....
    Just out of curiosity: Why do you lean toward “no” as the answer? Is it strictly an intuitive feeling, or is there an underlying rational?
    From a Wiki article. The six requirements according to scientists for something to be alive:


    • Living things are made of cells.
    • Living things obtain and use energy.
    • Living things grow and develop.
    • Living things reproduce.
    • Living things respond to their environment.
    • Living things adapt to their environment.


    Perhaps Markus is referring to that list.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I do think it is at least conceivable that one day we will be able to artificially create an entity that fulfills the relevant conditions for “being alive”, and that acts and behaves like a human in all measurable ways. Will such an entity necessarily be conscious? My guess is that the answer is probably no....
    Just out of curiosity: Why do you lean toward “no” as the answer? Is it strictly an intuitive feeling, or is there an underlying rational?
    From a Wiki article. The six requirements according to scientists for something to be alive:


    • Living things are made of cells.
    • Living things obtain and use energy.
    • Living things grow and develop.
    • Living things reproduce.
    • Living things respond to their environment.
    • Living things adapt to their environment.


    Perhaps Markus is referring to that list.
    For it to be alive, maybe. But my question was about it being conscious. In any case I’m guilty of having glossed over his post. I briefly though he meant his guess was: “No: the artificial life form would not be conscious”, but the question he wrote down was: “Will such an entity necessarily be conscious?” which means his guess would be: “No: it would not necessarily be conscious”. Big difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post

    For it to be alive, maybe. But my question was about it being conscious. In any case I’m guilty of having glossed over his post. I briefly though he meant his guess was: “No: the artificial life form would not be conscious”, but the question he wrote down was: “Will such an entity necessarily be conscious?” which means his guess would be: “No: it would not necessarily be conscious”. Big difference.
    Does "be conscious" need to be followed by something one is conscious of? Does it make any sense to talk of a kind of freestanding consciousness ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I don’t know the answer to these questions, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

    P.S. Consciousness and intelligence are completely separate things, and one is not a necessary condition for the other.
    I'm not too sure of that and find the distinctions usually offered by philosophers largely not well defined at best or completely contrived to frame some pet argument.

    For Example:
    Such a hypothetical creature is called a “p-zombie”, or philosophical zombie. It behaves in all scientifically measurable ways exactly like a human being, but possesses no consciousness.

    I think that's BS. If we agree humans are conscious, and we create that p-zombie (or whatever you want to call it) that in all measurable ways behaves like a human, then that p-zombie is also conscious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I think that's BS. If we agree humans are conscious, and we create that p-zombie (or whatever you want to call it) that in all measurable ways behaves like a human, then that p-zombie is also conscious.
    That is the key: “in all measurable ways”. If we are to take this at face value, then to deny them “consciousness” at this point is to deny them of what exactly?


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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Does "be conscious" need to be followed by something one is conscious of? Does it make any sense to talk of a kind of freestanding consciousness ?
    It is difficult to reach a consensus about what “it” might be beyond those particular cases you have in mind (being conscious of this or that in a particular moment in time). I suppose we could agree that “to be a conscious being” is something as simple as having the capacity to be conscious (aware) of something (a rock would not make the cut). Consciousness would then no longer be thought of as a “free standing”, all-or-nothing proposition. We might think of it as something varied: It would come down to: What is the range of things a particular “living entity” can be conscious of? This reminds me of Hume when he describes “something simple and continued” that he might call “himself”:

    “For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception..”

    What else might a living entity “stumble upon” beyond the “perceptions” mentioned here by Hume? What else might it be aware of? What about memories, ideas, abstractions, a self-image?

    From a scientific viewpoint, it would come down to the machinery (nervous system, brain, perceptual organs etc). Which brings us back to the machinery of the so called p-zombie. If the “little machines” replicate the work of the “original neurons” with such fidelity that the p-zombie’s behaviour is indistinguishable from that of humans', then, when prompted to do so, they would be able to report on past and present experiences, or discuss how they perceive themselves in exactly the same way as humans do. It’s strange that we can still think this machinery might be insufficient to allow “consciousness to emerge”, that there would still be something missing from the p-zombie that would prevent it from “having” our “brand of consciousness”. Do we picture something “free standing” maybe? Something, as it were, like a halo above our heads? I dunno.

    Sorry I took so long to respond; your question gave me a headache.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Does "be conscious" need to be followed by something one is conscious of? Does it make any sense to talk of a kind of freestanding consciousness ?
    It is difficult to reach a consensus about what “it” might be beyond those particular cases you have in mind (being conscious of this or that in a particular moment in time). I suppose we could agree that “to be a conscious being” is something as simple as having the capacity to be conscious (aware) of something (a rock would not make the cut). Consciousness would then no longer be thought of as a “free standing”, all-or-nothing proposition. We might think of it as something varied: It would come down to: What is the range of things a particular “living entity” can be conscious of? This reminds me of Hume when he describes “something simple and continued” that he might call “himself”:

    “For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception..”

    What else might a living entity “stumble upon” beyond the “perceptions” mentioned here by Hume? What else might it be aware of? What about memories, ideas, abstractions, a self-image?

    From a scientific viewpoint, it would come down to the machinery (nervous system, brain, perceptual organs etc). Which brings us back to the machinery of the so called p-zombie. If the “little machines” replicate the work of the “original neurons” with such fidelity that the p-zombie’s behaviour is indistinguishable from that of humans', then, when prompted to do so, they would be able to report on past and present experiences, or discuss how they perceive themselves in exactly the same way as humans do. It’s strange that we can still think this machinery might be insufficient to allow “consciousness to emerge”, that there would still be something missing from the p-zombie that would prevent it from “having” our “brand of consciousness”. Do we picture something “free standing” maybe? Something, as it were, like a halo above our heads? I dunno.

    Sorry I took so long to respond; your question gave me a headache.
    Not to disagree but the object of this conscious experience cannot be a thing but it must be a moving process in time (even memories must change over time,like Chinese whispers) . The whole idea of fenced in objects of any kind is a non starter but a simplification I think we all go along with .
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    I'm not too sure of that and find the distinctions usually offered by philosophers largely not well defined at best or completely contrived to frame some pet argument.
    This is not my area of expertise, but my guess is that it is easy to create a machine that is highly intelligent by the definition of “intelligence” (think AI, neural networks etc), but not conscious. Conversely, there are forms of mental and physical disabilities where the affected person is (presumably) fully conscious, but possesses only a minimal degree of intelligence, making them fully dependend on 24/7 care. I think the two are correlated, but not causally connected.

    I think that's BS. If we agree humans are conscious, and we create that p-zombie (or whatever you want to call it) that in all measurable ways behaves like a human, then that p-zombie is also conscious.
    Hmm...I’m honestly not so sure about this. Given enough computing power and an advanced level of engineering, I can conceive of a robot (or even software program) that perfectly simulates human behaviour, but is not conscious. I am not saying that this would be an easy task, but I do not see a compelling scientific reason to rule this out as a possibility. After all, we cannot directly detect and measure “consciousness” - we can only observe behaviour in various experiments, and deduce from that whether something is conscious or not. At best we can examine brain activity in various ways (EEG, fMRI,...); there are known “signatures of consciousness” that allow us to draw conclusions as to the state of consciousness. But again, this is not a direct detection or measurement, it’s just a deduction from secondary phenomena. There may again be correlation without causation here, we simply do not know for sure just yet.

    Why do you lean toward “no” as the answer?
    For the reasons mentioned in the above paragraph. I think it should be possible to simulate human behaviour - even brain behaviour - to a level that allows no distinction from real humans, but without consciousness present. That would for all intends and purposes constitute a p-zombie, likely implying a dualistic interpretation of the phenomenon of consciousness.

    But again, I wish to make it clear that I am not trying to make any absolute claims. I may very well be totally wrong, and obviously I do not actually know the answer. It’s really just a personal opinion. Some very interesting questions to ponder, though.
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    Just to throw an interesting little observation into this mix - there is a condition called blindsight. It is something that happens as a result of specific types of brain injuries; basically, a person suffering from blindsight has no visual consciousness, i.e. he/she is not consciously aware of any kind of visual perception, in the sense that the field of vision is simply blank. However, the visual sensory apparatus remains fully functional otherwise, and visual inputs continue to be processed subconsciously - the afflicted person just isn’t aware of this happening.
    If you send a blind-sighted test subject into a room full of obstacles, then he/she will cross this room at a normal pace while avoiding all obstacles - just like any other person not afflicted with this condition. The test subject just isn’t consciously aware that he/she is in fact avoiding obstacles, or even that these obstacles are there; there is only awareness of the motion of walking itself. Based purely on behaviour, an external observer looking at this experiment would not be able to tell which test subject is conscious of the obstacles, and which one isn’t, unless they interact with the test subjects by inquiring about their subjective experience of crossing the room.

    In an admittedly very simplified and limited way, one could consider this to be “visual p-zombieism” - in the sense that there is visual processing and resultant behaviour that is observationally indistinguishable from any other human being - just without visual consciousness.

    In my opinion, and at least in principle, it is conceivable that this could be extended to all sense bases simultaneously (including the metacognitive level), yielding an automaton that acts and behaves exactly like any other human, but undergoes no subjective experience whatsoever while doing so.

    Again, I am not trying to make any claims at all. I just cannot think of any objective, scientific principle that explicitly forbids the existence of such entities - leaving open at the least the possibility. And that creates interesting questions around the nature, function and even purpose of consciousness.
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    This is not my area of expertise, but my guess is that it is easy to create a machine that is highly intelligent by the definition of “intelligence” (think AI, neural networks etc), but not conscious....

    Given enough computing power and an advanced level of engineering, I can conceive of a robot (or even software program) that perfectly simulates human behaviour, but is not conscious.

    What makes it not conscious? The fuzzy definition I have problems with. I think it's mostly due to our bias as humans rather than sound reasoning.

    As a perhaps useful anecdote--yesterday I had a call (I'm an EMT) of a very old woman. She followed with her eyes, but was unresponsive in every other way--not following even simple commands such as closing her eyes, moving her hand, or seemingly attempting to answer any questions. My partner said she was awake--but unresponsive--a reasonable summation. Or was it? Was she really awake? If just watching and listening the low standard we appy to define conscious? But other than the fact she was human, or at once behaved like one based her caregiver's observation that she was usually active and talky, how could we call her awake and not call a simple following security camera "not awake." Who could we call her awake while not talking my wife's offline Amazon Alexa? Still listening, "conscious" but unintelligence. Objectively there seemed to little difference other than our presumption that there's "more going on" in their brains (or computer). (It wasn't the time for philosophy and I hope the hospital was able to help her).

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    What makes it not conscious? The fuzzy definition I have problems with
    I agree with you - it’s difficult to even define the problem objectively, because being conscious means to undergo subjective experience, and that cannot be objectively measured in scientific terms. We can only look for what is called “signatures of consciousness”, and infer from there that subjective experience is present. This is often self-reported: “Yes, I am aware of this!”. But this statement can also be artificially generated by a machine programmed to simulate human behaviour. That makes it a tough problem.

    See my previous post about blindsight - the existence of such conditions implies that human behaviour can be influenced by completely unconscious processes, even to a very high level (crossing a room while avoiding obstacles is a very complex task!). I am hence very reluctant to outright dismiss the notion of p-zombies, which opens up interesting questions about the nature of consciousness.
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    How is Alexa's ability to use a multitude of algorithms to access a multitude of databases and come up with a seemingly human-like answer any different than a human? I'd submit that Alexa is both conscious (the parts we see and interact with...perhaps even the bit of coding inside our home box) and intelligent.
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    So is pan-consciousism tenable? Even the rocks have consciousness and we only fail to see this because it is so rudimentary and undeveloped...

    Consciousness is just a property of the universe and sentient life is its most developed manifestation ? (Trump aside).

    The Turing test seems very inadequate to distinguish between human and machine since we are at the very beginnings of AI.

    In my view that question may never really be posed as the two will probably(possibly?) meet and merge at some stage
    Last edited by geordief; February 2nd, 2018 at 04:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I just cannot think of any objective, scientific principle that explicitly forbids the existence of such entities - leaving open at the least the possibility.
    Your not alone! (lol) And I’m sure no one here thinks you are making absolute claims. Thanks for the contributions! I do not whish to make any absolute claims either. Just to ponder these, as you say, very interesting questions.

    This blindsight you speak of is well documented; and yes it does demonstrate that subjects with brain pathologies persistently fail to report behaviour which healthy subjects can easily do when prompted. What enables the healthy subjects to report is suspected to be tied to parts of the brain that are no longer functioning in the blindsight subjects. Now in the case of the p-zombie, this part of the brain would be functioning, and of course the zombie would be able to report on its behaviour. There would be, as you say, “signatures of consciousness”; but these would merely be “deductions from secondary phenomena”. However, the really cool thing to think about here is: None of this is any different from the means by which we detect consciousness in humans! I suppose this is what prompted the philosopher Dan Dennett to quip: “[Maybe] we are all zombies”!

    I emphasized the word “functioning” above because I wanted to provoke your thoughts regarding this idea of functionality: Is it really something that can be simulated? If so, to what extent? Put another way: would the functionality of a process simulated differ from one that isn't?
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    When your're all discussing consciousness, do you also mean self-awareness? I tend to trip up on semantics!

    Let's say in a universe where humans are not self-aware and are able to go about their daily lives - could these human philosophers still be able to ponder consciousness/self-awareness? I find it difficult to grasp that a non self-aware being could very conceive such a concept, but I don't know if it would be impossible?

    As for AI, if they ever start to question if humans are self-aware or not, i'm thinking that's probably the time to shut down Skynet!
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    Self-awareness seems to be a much higher standard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Self-awareness seems to be a much higher standard.
    Seems to be far more easily programmable though. Just needs a self referential function ,doesn't it? (a feedback loop)

    Consciousness though in AI can just be assumed...

    As an aside ,can we /do we (humans) have false "self" awarenesses as a default setting?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    As an aside ,can we /do we (humans) have false "self" awarenesses as a default setting?
    Alright, you've peaked my interest: Do we? And if so, then how so?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    As an aside ,can we /do we (humans) have false "self" awarenesses as a default setting?
    Alright, you've peaked my interest: Do we? And if so, then how so?
    Well in two ways perhaps.
    Insofar as imperfection is the default setting it comes as no surprise that our self image is faulty.


    Less trivially our various cultures see it as their function to regulate individual behaviour and a short cut is to convince the individual (or sub societal units) that their self image is what it deems appropriate.

    (it's "piqued" by the way )
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    Less trivially our various cultures see it as their function to regulate individual behaviour and a short cut is to convince the individual (or sub societal units) that their self imageIn is what it deems appropriate.

    Interesting. That seems more an open definition than the mirror test and so-called test. Clearly many social animals are self-aware by that criterion, where the group or leaders of a group modify individual behavior. (e.g. alpha wolf nips at an omega male wolf trying to court the alpha mate etc)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Less trivially our various cultures see it as their function to regulate individual behaviour and a short cut is to convince the individual (or sub societal units) that their self image is what it deems appropriate.

    Interesting. That seems more an open definition than the mirror test and so-called test. Clearly many social animals are self-aware by that criterion, where the group or leaders of a group modify individual behavior. (e.g. alpha wolf nips at an omega male wolf trying to court the alpha mate etc)

    Out of my depth but pure intimidation designed to modify behaviour is not the same as convincing the object of one's attention that they are themselves the author of the idea.

    I can see (by googling) how I harbour this notion (or something related to it)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_consciousness

    Probably says more about me than the validity of the idea itself (I feel I am vulnerable to charges of naive leftism down the years.....)
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    That link is about politics (and rather dated one before the field of behavioral or cognitive sciences) and doesn't have anything do with this discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    As an aside ,can we /do we (humans) have false "self" awarenesses as a default setting?
    Alright, you've peaked my interest: Do we? And if so, then how so?
    Well in two ways perhaps.
    Insofar as imperfection is the default setting it comes as no surprise that our self image is faulty.


    Less trivially our various cultures see it as their function to regulate individual behaviour and a short cut is to convince the individual (or sub societal units) that their self image is what it deems appropriate.

    (it's "piqued" by the way )
    Ah, I see.
    (By the way, I very much appreciate the correction)
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    How would AI consciousness affect the Universal Consciousness concept?

    Excerpt: Whichever way you cut it, you come to this one unavoidable conclusion: there is but One Consciousness of which your consciousness must be a part and "a part", as Charles Haanel said, "must be the same in kind and quality as the whole, the only difference being one of degree".

    Curious.....Would an AI consciousness satisfy the requirement?
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    "Universal Consciousness" BS.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    "Universal Consciousness" BS.
    Kinda makes one hope for AI to have a legitimate consciousness and then see what UC believers think about it.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    Kinda makes one hope for AI to have a legitimate consciousness and then see what UC believers think about it.
    We can't prove that we ourselves are conscious in any sense other than that the switch is on or off ,so how can we show it with AI?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    Kinda makes one hope for AI to have a legitimate consciousness and then see what UC believers think about it.
    We can't prove that we ourselves are conscious in any sense other than that the switch is on or off ,so how can we show it with AI?
    I guess we'll just have to wait until AI posts here one day and see what it thinks.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    Kinda makes one hope for AI to have a legitimate consciousness and then see what UC believers think about it.
    We can't prove that we ourselves are conscious in any sense other than that the switch is on or off ,so how can we show it with AI?
    I guess we'll just have to wait until AI posts here one day and see what it thinks.
    Are you sure one hasn’t already?
    You know, an AI, posted.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
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    It would be fun to impersonate an AI bot on a forum to see how long it would take before one was "sussed" ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    It would be fun to impersonate an AI bot on a forum to see how long it would take before one was "sussed" ...
    Checking member list and found ROBOT joined in Feb/2006. He only lasted 4 days. I wonder why?
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    I have always believed consciousness, like the mind, is an inevitable product, in the case of humans for example, of the brain.
    Many scientists/philosophers, who study consciousness, are of this opinion.
    As far as I understand it is those who believe the mind is "more" than the brain who have a problem with consciousness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halliday View Post
    I have always believed consciousness, like the mind, is an inevitable product, in the case of humans for example, of the brain.
    Many scientists/philosophers, who study consciousness, are of this opinion.
    As far as I understand it is those who believe the mind is "more" than the brain who have a problem with consciousness.
    What of the statement that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts"?

    Is that a scientific,philosophic,cod philosophic (or other) view?

    By "brain" what do you mean exactly? When does a living organism acquire a "brain"?


    Not sure what this recent story tells us
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...sia-180968035/
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    I fail to see how, if consciousness is real, it could occur without a brain. How many brains, how many consciousnesses could AI possess before it becomes recycled scrap?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I fail to see how, if consciousness is real, it could occur without a brain. How many brains, how many consciousnesses could AI possess before it becomes recycled scrap?
    But can it be called "real"? (aside from the difference between being conscious of something and not being conscious of same)

    At what stage does the brain lose its so called consciousness? (thinking of Kubrick's Dave here )

    As we destroy parts of the brain (if we did) when would the "conscious" individual be lost for good?

    If the person "grows back" and is resupplied with memories from before ,would that person feel that "he or she or them or it" (joke) was the same person with the same consciousness?

    Would that person be right or just deluded?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I fail to see how, if consciousness is real, it could occur without a brain. How many brains, how many consciousnesses could AI possess before it becomes recycled scrap?
    But can it be called "real"? (aside from the difference between being conscious of something and not being conscious of same)

    At what stage does the brain lose its so called consciousness? (thinking of Kubrick's Dave here )

    As we destroy parts of the brain (if we did) when would the "conscious" individual be lost for good?

    If the person "grows back" and is resupplied with memories from before ,would that person feel that "he or she or them or it" (joke) was the same person with the same consciousness?

    Would that person be right or just deluded?
    Feel the same way. I was thinking of Kubrick's/Clarke's HAL.

    I would think consciousness would require a healthy brain but I would add, at what evolutionary stage is a brain at? For those who believe, it appears as if consciousness is some kind of wavelength one has to be able to tune into.

    When a prey animal is being chased by a predator, is it aware of its being? Just thinking that we don't need to worry too much about being preyed upon and whether that which people refer to consciousness might be nothing more than that feeling of 'awareness that one is alive' allowed to expand so to speak (looking for the right word but can't find it).
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    Feel the same way. I was thinking of Kubrick's/Clarke's HAL.

    I would think consciousness would require a healthy brain but I would add, at what evolutionary stage is a brain at? For those who believe, it appears as if consciousness is some kind of wavelength one has to be able to tune into.

    When a prey animal is being chased by a predator, is it aware of its being? Just thinking that we don't need to worry too much about being preyed upon and whether that which people refer to consciousness might be nothing more than that feeling of 'awareness that one is alive' allowed to expand so to speak (looking for the right word but can't find it).
    If the predated animal was not conscious of its self then it would be gobbled up pronto.Every animal needs a basis self awareness merely to function but as animal endowed with sophisticated reasoning refines this to an exponential (sometimes dangerous ) degree.

    That is Penrose ,the antenna man wasn't it? I have come across his detractors (or disagreers) freely admitting that he has a very good intellect.
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    That is Penrose ,the antenna man wasn't it?
    Is it? I had to look that up. You mean the super positioning and actions of quantum particles in some kind of micro tubules within the brain being responsible for what is called consciousness? Sounds good to me.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    That is Penrose ,the antenna man wasn't it?
    Is it? I had to look that up. You mean the super positioning and actions of quantum particles in some kind of micro tubules within the brain being responsible for what is called consciousness? Sounds good to me.
    Years since I read his book. I just recall his idea that the conscious mind was like a radio tuning into some kind of ambient signal .

    I don't think that took off and Penrose is often referred to on the forums I have frequented with regret as his intellect (and reputation) are acknowledged as immense.

    He apparently has achievements that are far above my capabilities to comment on(did he perhaps collaborate with Hawking?)

    I don't think there is much evidence yet for important quantum effects in the brain although it would not surprise me if one day there were.
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    If AI is equipped with a consciousness then would it develop on its own or would we humans be credited with designing it? If AI starts building other AI's then does that make us machines or third party creator?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    It would develop on its own but could never (like us) escape its past or origin.
    "We" would not have created consciousness in AI ,merely endowed it with capabilities.The question of "creation" is a red herring.

    We are machines anyway but we also have an awareness of our own individuality as well as our communality.

    "Dumb" machines awareness is inflexibly limited to their instructions and hardware.

    I was watching a docu about Ada Lovelace's and Babbage's Analytical Engine last night

    It showed how the Jaquard weaving loom was a precursor to the computer.It operated with a long series of cards with (0 or 1) hole configurations being fed mechanically into the loom and led to the Luddite movement.
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    It seems to me that step one is to determine what we mean by consciousness.
    It's not an objectively observable state, as witnessed by ever-more sophisticated bots that mimic consciousness.
    Is it self-awareness? Even simple computer can be taught to say "Cogit ergo sum".

    The only thing I can convincingly say is conscious is myself.
    So, what is it about me, that makes me see myself as conscious and yet not be sure you are?

    Something to do with the pilot, in the chair behind my eyes, looking out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    It seems to me that step one is to determine what we mean by consciousness.
    It's not an objectively observable state, as witnessed by ever-more sophisticated bots that mimic consciousness.
    Is it self-awareness? Even simple computer can be taught to say "Cogit ergo sum".

    The only thing I can convincingly say is conscious is myself.
    So, what is it about me, that makes me see myself as conscious and yet not be sure you are?

    Something to do with the pilot, in the chair behind my eyes, looking out.
    I feel that we cannot talk our way into understanding consciousness -although we can talk our way out of understanding it.

    When the rise of AI comes about (as seems likely) I think we will look back and wonder what all the (existential) fuss was about as it (the nature of their "consciousness" ) will then be obvious.

    That is not to say that AI may not be a very dangerous toy and may be too hot for us to handle, but the nature of consciousness ,while interesting will never be revealed by the process of logic (except in hindsight )
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post

    I feel that we cannot talk our way into understanding consciousness -although we can talk our way out of understanding it.

    When the rise of AI comes about (as seems likely) I think we will look back and wonder what all the (existential) fuss was about as it (the nature of their "consciousness" ) will then be obvious.
    Sure, but I think we are still on the horns on the dilemma now, because we can construct - or at least conceive of - devices that act, to external appearances, like they are conscious, though we know they are not.
    So, we know there is a difference, but we can't seem to put our finger on it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post

    I feel that we cannot talk our way into understanding consciousness -although we can talk our way out of understanding it.

    When the rise of AI comes about (as seems likely) I think we will look back and wonder what all the (existential) fuss was about as it (the nature of their "consciousness" ) will then be obvious.
    Sure, but I think we are still on the horns on the dilemma now, because we can construct - or at least conceive of - devices that act, to external appearances, like they are conscious, though we know they are not.
    So, we know there is a difference, but we can't seem to put our finger on it.
    I think there is no dilemma ,simply consequences of what may be the latest in a series of revolutions.

    Any dilemma consists in what potential decisions should be taken.

    Since there seems to be no way to influence these decisions (those decisions are probably predetermined since AI will be an integral part of modern warfare and no side can back down) we just have to sit in for the ride I guess.

    There are plenty of benign uses for AI but I imagine you cannot separate the benign from the harmful...
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    It's not an objectively observable state, as witnessed by ever-more sophisticated bots that mimic consciousness.
    In post 49 you say "we know they are not [conscious]". How do we know that?
    What makes them “ever-more sophisticated”? What line would have to be crossed before you would say it is no longer mimicking?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    The only thing I can convincingly say is conscious is myself. So, what is it about me, that makes me see myself as conscious and yet not be sureyou are?

    One form of evidence supporting the idea that my fellow human beings are conscious is the high degree of fidelity between their verbal reports and their behaviour (or whatever stimuli they receive). If I don’t accept this method as scientific, and I can’t appeal to the similarities between myself and them (behaviour, structure, functionality, and brain activity) then I don’t even need the p-zombie to question the possibility of whether such fidelity can be achieved without “consciousness”. I can just look to you sitting next to me and say: “The only thing I can convincingly say is conscious is myself. So, what is it about me, that makes me see myself as conscious and yet not be sure you are?” Indeed.


    Like Markus, I still have a nagging suspicion that a p-zombie could exist, although the needle on the plausibility meter moves less with each passing day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    In post 49 you say "we know they are not [conscious]". How do we know that?

    Our current computing power is only just reaching the power of a flat worm's 300 neuron ganglia. We have yet to simulate anything more complex.
    We do not consider a flat worm to be conscious.
    So a computer with current, or near-term computing power would not, in any reasonable way, be seen as any more conscious than that consciousless flat worm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    What line would have to be crossed before you would say it is no longer mimicking?
    Exactly.

    Dunno.

    Machine consciousness requires something more sophisticated than we currently have.

    But we don't know how sophisticated a machine must be to achieve human-level consciousness.

    It's a good assumption that there must be some threshold. If we go high enough, a machine that can literally simulate the states and activity of ten billion neurons would actually be a brain*, even if not literally comprised of organic tissue.

    *Although that does make the assumption that the neural network is all that is required to make the human mind conscious. That there isn't some other undiscovered mechanism, such as those hypothesized microtubules in which entangled electrons live.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Our current computing power is only just reaching the power of a flat worm's 300 neuron ganglia. We have yet to simulate anything more complex.
    We do not consider a flat worm to be conscious.
    So a computer with current, or near-term computing power would not, in any reasonable way, be seen as any more conscious than that consciousless flat worm.
    This is again the appeal to similarity of structure and functionality, which is perfectly reasonable. And you followed through in exactly the way that many would: stating that it’s reasonable to assume there is a level of sophistication beyond which we would get the brain we’re after: where that quantitative change in the size and complexity of the neural network would sufficiently approach ours. So now that I know where you stand, let me ask you a slightly different question; this time, not about where the “threshold” would be, but rather how you would know it had been crossed. In other words: What evidence would convince you that the brain had “reached consciousness”—the point where you would no longer see the need to prolong the quest for other mechanisms (such as the one proposed by Penrose which you alluded to)?

    PS Thanks for the link.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    ... how you would know it had been crossed. In other words: What evidence would convince you that the brain had “reached consciousness”—the point where you would no longer see the need to prolong the quest for other mechanisms (such as the one proposed by Penrose which you alluded to)?
    That's what I've been saying. I don't know.

    How do you delineate the line between mimicking and actually being conscious?

    Upon further reflection, It occurs to me that the exact same thing could be asked about anything.

    Is this red sphere an apple or just a model? Obviously just a model.
    What if our copy was higher rez, and was shaped like an apple? Still just a model.
    What if it were made of a substance that had similar properties to cellulose? Still a model, but a really good one.
    So, how faithful would my creation have to be to actually qualify as an apple?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    That's what I've been saying. I don't know.

    How do you delineate the line between mimicking and actually being conscious?

    Upon further reflection, It occurs to me that the exact same thing could be asked about anything.

    Is this red sphere an apple or just a model? Obviously just a model.
    What if our copy was higher rez, and was shaped like an apple? Still just a model.
    What if it were made of a substance that had similar properties to cellulose? Still a model, but a really good one.
    So, how faithful would my creation have to be to actually qualify as an apple?
    There is no limit to how close the model approaches the modeled but the "line" is never crossed since the (dynamic) object is also defined by its history and its place in the wider system that the model can only incorporate by modeling the wider system, which is the Universe itself. (any good? )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqKl5eNvfsw
    Last edited by geordief; February 12th, 2018 at 07:34 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    That's what I've been saying. I don't know.

    How do you delineate the line between mimicking and actually being conscious?

    Upon further reflection, It occurs to me that the exact same thing could be asked about anything.

    Is this red sphere an apple or just a model? Obviously just a model.
    What if our copy was higher rez, and was shaped like an apple? Still just a model.
    What if it were made of a substance that had similar properties to cellulose? Still a model, but a really good one.
    So, how faithful would my creation have to be to actually qualify as an apple?
    An earlier poster emphasized the word "simulated" when referring to a system that would allow no distinction from real humans, and that led me to have those exact thoughts. What reason do we have to stop (or to not stop) calling it a simulation? In your example of the apple: Instead of asking if it qualifies as an apple on the whole, we might start out asking about specifics: Does it have the texture of an apple? Does it have the colour and reflective surface of a red delicious, granny smith etc? These are all things that could be tested empirically; we could work our way up the ladder. One would think that eventually whatever differences remained between those specific properties of the model and the modeled would be no more significant than the differences between different apples!

    In the case of consciousness: what empirical tests do we use? Even if our cyborg or p-zombie (or whatever) behaved in all measurable ways like humans, and their brain activity correlated strongly with the stimuli they receive etc, many of us would still think (feel?) that none of that is absolute proof of consciousness. I think after a certain point, though, credulity is strained. It’s like Wittgenstein once said about the strength of the solipsist notion of knowing only one’s pain despite all that pain behaviour in others: Doubting has its limits. Probably one day, like Geordief said, “we’ll look back and wonder what all the (existential) fuss was about” and just grant these entities “consciousness” in the same way that we do our fellow humans without the “absolute proof” required.
    Last edited by Vexspits; February 13th, 2018 at 12:31 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    An earlier poster emphasized the word "simulated" when referring to a system that would allow no distinction from real humans, and that led me to have those exact thoughts. What reason do we have to stop (or to not stop) calling it a simulation? In your example of the apple: Instead of asking if it qualifies as an apple on the whole, we might start out asking about specifics: Does it have the texture of an apple? Does it have the colour and reflective surface of a red delicious, granny smith etc? These are all things that could be tested empirically; we could work our way up the ladder. One would think that eventually whatever differences remained between those specific properties of the model and the modeled would be no more relevant than the differences between different apples!

    In the case of consciousness: what empirical tests do we use? Even if our cyborg or p-zombie (or whatever) behaved in all measurable ways like humans, that their brain activity correlated strongly with the stimuli they receive etc, many of us still think (feel?) that none of that is absolute proof of consciousness. I think after a certain point, though, credulity is strained. It’s like Wittgenstein once said about the strength of the solipsist notion of knowing only one’s pain despite all that pain behaviour in others: Doubting has its limits. Probably one day, like Geordief said, “we’ll look back and wonder what all the (existential) fuss was about” and just grant these entities “consciousness” in the same way that we do our fellow humans without the “absolute proof” required.
    I think you're right. (and geordief too)

    I think when it comes down to it - if it walks like and apple, talks like an apple and quacks like an apple, it's an apple.

    It should certainly be enough to grant it (the AI, not the apple) rights under the law.

    And yet, the cynical side of me thinks that a lot of people (*cough*theists*cough*) will still draw a distinction, insisting that it does not have a "soul".

    That'd be a cop-out, of course. Unless someone can invent a Soul Detector, it's moot.
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    There are scientists who believe plants have a consciousness.

    Without having a brain no less (the plants that is)....If plants can do it then how hard is it for AI? Personally I might give credence to plant consciousness before I accept AI having one.

    Is there any reason why a multi-cellular creature would be more likely to possess a consciousness over a uni-cellular? After all a brain is just cells, but collectively are they a consciousness? Why can't a single cell be conscious if a collection of them forms a consciousness?
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; February 13th, 2018 at 12:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    After all a brain is just cells, but collectively are they a consciousness? Why can't a single cell be conscious if a collection of them forms a consciousness?
    The brain is not just cells. The brain is 100 billion (that's 100,000,000,000) cells making up 100 trillion (that's 100,000,000,000,000) connections.

    A single cell has zero connections.

    It is the connections that make a mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    After all a brain is just cells, but collectively are they a consciousness? Why can't a single cell be conscious if a collection of them forms a consciousness?
    The brain is not just cells. The brain is 100 billion (that's 100,000,000,000) cells making up 100 trillion (that's 100,000,000,000,000) connections.

    A single cell has zero connections.

    It is the connections that make a mind.
    Your post reminded me of the movie Avatar for some reason. Perhaps it's the planetary neural connections the life on Pandora was capable of. Of course we could beat this to death as I could counter....with no cells then nothing to connect to. Synapses, neurons, axons aside, a brain cell is a single cell. I'm more interested in what kind of evolutionary event preceded two otherwise single cells connecting or why was the adaptation beneficial.

    Regardless I guess this thread is about AI having a mind that replicates connected brain cells, if you will. What would happen to our (mind's) evolution if we no longer relied on it? Would AI evolution consist of the machines updating themselves?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Synapses, neurons, axons aside, a brain cell is a single cell.
    No. It isn't.

    That's like saying a computer is a single transistor.

    A transistor is a transistor.
    A computer is a highly-ordered array of transistors (and other parts) that are intimately interconnected. That's the key.
    Without the interconnections, you do not have a computer at all - even a very simple one.

    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I'm more interested in what kind of evolutionary event preceded two otherwise single cells connecting or why was the adaptation beneficial.
    There's lots of info on the evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, as well as single-celled critters to multi-celled critters.

    The keyword here is symbiosis. Two types of cells discovering that they work better cooperating, with each performing a specialized task.
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    No. It isn't.
    Not going to quibble over semantics. Call it what you will. I think something got lost in the translation.

    That's like saying a computer is a single transistor.
    Don't remember saying a brain is a single cell.

    There's lots of info on the evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, as well as single-celled critters to multi-celled critters.

    The keyword here is symbiosis. Two types of cells discovering that they work better cooperating, with each performing a specialized task.
    I am aware of what probably occurred and why, I just find it more interesting, that's all.

    Somehow we're not connecting.

    Anyone for a Vulcan Mind Meld?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Somehow we're not connecting.
    I'm new here.
    I carry baggage from other, less ... civil ... fora.
    This space for rent
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Somehow we're not connecting.
    I'm new here.
    I carry baggage from other, less ... civil ... fora.
    A member of forum I once participated in many years ago (might have been one of the originals) saw fit to immortalize me by having my username placed in the Urban Dictionary complete with a definition he formed from a thread on Birdwatching. Something I don't really do, unless observing birds at my feeder counts He/she didn't like me very much. Not sure what that says about UD contributors.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    It is the connections that make a mind.
    The connections between neurons are of course needed, but I think this is only the beginning of the story. For one thing, the brain isn’t just a random network of neurons, it is actually a highly complex nested multi-scale hierarchy of networks. For example, at one scale you will have neurons bundled into microcolumns, which are in turn combined into macrocolumns, which form regional tissue complexes, and so on. The structure is actually self-similar and fractal-like across scales.

    The interesting thing here is that we find consciousness correlates at all scales that are accessible to us via our measurement techniques; not just that, but these correlates actually span multiple scales, and are also non-local. It is known that states of consciousness (wakefulness, sleep, coma, seizure etc) correspond to points on a sliding scale between locally isolated patterns, to globally coherent patterns across the entire nested hierarchy. A “normal” state of consciousness occurs only at an optimal point of balance between local isolation and global coherence.

    The current consensus - to the best of my limited knowledge - is that consciousness arises not directly from the physical neural net itself, but from dynamic multi-scale patterns “hosted” on it (i.e. local and global patterns of electrochemical potentials). In that sense, the brain is best understood as a kind of medium, which gives rise to higher-order patterns within its fractal-like structure. It’s a bit like waves - they are structures that are “hosted” on a medium, be that water, or air, or electromagnetic fields, or whatever else. The medium itself determines the dynamics of the wave on it, but the mere existence of the medium does not automatically imply the occurrence of particular patterns on it.

    So, several important questions remain:
    1. Is a brain alone (the medium) enough to give rise to consciousness, or is “something else” required?
    2. Can one have consciousness hosted on a medium other than neural nets with a particular structure, in the same way that waves can occur within different mediums?
    3. How and why exactly do patterns of electrochemical action potentials lead to qualia, and the subjective experience of “it feels like this”. This is called the “hard problem”.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    It is the connections that make a mind.
    The connections between neurons are of course needed, but I think this is only the beginning of the story. For one thing, the brain isn’t just a random network of neurons, it is actually a highly complex nested multi-scale hierarchy of networks. For example, at one scale you will have neurons bundled into microcolumns, which are in turn combined into macrocolumns, which form regional tissue complexes, and so on. The structure is actually self-similar and fractal-like across scales.

    The interesting thing here is that we find consciousness correlates at all scales that are accessible to us via our measurement techniques; not just that, but these correlates actually span multiple scales, and are also non-local. It is known that states of consciousness (wakefulness, sleep, coma, seizure etc) correspond to points on a sliding scale between locally isolated patterns, to globally coherent patterns across the entire nested hierarchy. A “normal” state of consciousness occurs only at an optimal point of balance between local isolation and global coherence.

    The current consensus - to the best of my limited knowledge - is that consciousness arises not directly from the physical neural net itself, but from dynamic multi-scale patterns “hosted” on it (i.e. local and global patterns of electrochemical potentials). In that sense, the brain is best understood as a kind of medium, which gives rise to higher-order patterns within its fractal-like structure. It’s a bit like waves - they are structures that are “hosted” on a medium, be that water, or air, or electromagnetic fields, or whatever else. The medium itself determines the dynamics of the wave on it, but the mere existence of the medium does not automatically imply the occurrence of particular patterns on it.

    So, several important questions remain:
    1. Is a brain alone (the medium) enough to give rise to consciousness, or is “something else” required?
    2. Can one have consciousness hosted on a medium other than neural nets with a particular structure, in the same way that waves can occur within different mediums?
    3. How and why exactly do patterns of electrochemical action potentials lead to qualia, and the subjective experience of “it feels like this”. This is called the “hard problem”.
    Any recommended reading ?

    I had been wondering myself whether ,as you seem to suggest ,the actual hardware in the brain might be amenable to consisting of different materials and that it was the formations and arrangements that were more fundamental.

    Can you think of any alternatives to the physical materials that are used for brains (and bodies) here on Earth?I have heard the term "silicon based".Would that be a candidate?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    The current consensus - to the best of my limited knowledge - is that consciousness arises not directly from the physical neural net itself, but from dynamic multi-scale patterns “hosted” on it (i.e. local and global patterns of electrochemical potentials). In that sense, the brain is best understood as a kind of medium, which gives rise to higher-order patterns within its fractal-like structure. It’s a bit like waves - they are structures that are “hosted” on a medium, be that water, or air, or electromagnetic fields, or whatever else. The medium itself determines the dynamics of the wave on it, but the mere existence of the medium does not automatically imply the occurrence of particular patterns on it.
    A fascinating way to look at it.
    This space for rent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    It is the connections that make a mind.
    The connections between neurons are of course needed, but I think this is only the beginning of the story. For one thing, the brain isn’t just a random network of neurons, it is actually a highly complex nested multi-scale hierarchy of networks. For example, at one scale you will have neurons bundled into microcolumns, which are in turn combined into macrocolumns, which form regional tissue complexes, and so on. The structure is actually self-similar and fractal-like across scales.

    The interesting thing here is that we find consciousness correlates at all scales that are accessible to us via our measurement techniques; not just that, but these correlates actually span multiple scales, and are also non-local. It is known that states of consciousness (wakefulness, sleep, coma, seizure etc) correspond to points on a sliding scale between locally isolated patterns, to globally coherent patterns across the entire nested hierarchy. A “normal” state of consciousness occurs only at an optimal point of balance between local isolation and global coherence.

    The current consensus - to the best of my limited knowledge - is that consciousness arises not directly from the physical neural net itself, but from dynamic multi-scale patterns “hosted” on it (i.e. local and global patterns of electrochemical potentials). In that sense, the brain is best understood as a kind of medium, which gives rise to higher-order patterns within its fractal-like structure. It’s a bit like waves - they are structures that are “hosted” on a medium, be that water, or air, or electromagnetic fields, or whatever else. The medium itself determines the dynamics of the wave on it, but the mere existence of the medium does not automatically imply the occurrence of particular patterns on it.

    So, several important questions remain:
    1. Is a brain alone (the medium) enough to give rise to consciousness, or is “something else” required?
    2. Can one have consciousness hosted on a medium other than neural nets with a particular structure, in the same way that waves can occur within different mediums?
    3. How and why exactly do patterns of electrochemical action potentials lead to qualia, and the subjective experience of “it feels like this”. This is called the “hard problem”.
    I agree! This is "a fascinating way to look at it".
    Rather, I think it is as I don't understand much of what is said.
    Given that admission I still feel wary, almost certainly wrongly, about the phrase "or is "something else" required".
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    Instead of addressing individual questions, the answers to which would merely amount to speculation on my part, let me just point out one thing, which I think is very crucial - to date, what we have done in neuroscience is collect physical data directly from the brain, such as EEG readings, fMRI scans, etc etc. We then compare this to states of consciousness of the test subject, which are almost always self-reported from introspection (“there’s a tingling in my finger”, “I am drowsy”, “I am aware of this object”,...). What we find is that the former correlates to the latter - certain self-reported states or contents of consciousness correlate with certain recorded electrochemical patterns. That’s why they are called “consciousness correlates”.

    The crucial point is that what we find is a correlation. And only that. There is, at this point in time, there is very little scientifically admissible evidence that certain electrochemical patterns actually cause a given, specific state of consciousness.

    If there is one thing we should have learned from the history of science, then that is that correlation does not automatically imply causation, most especially not in highly complex systems such as a neural network. I am saying this because in current neuroscience, there seems to be a strong tendency to simply explain away the hard problem by saying “well, electrochemical pattern X causes consciousness state Y, and that’s that”. We need to remember that - while understandable - such a strongly reductionist interpretation is not actually based on any scientific evidence, it’s merely conjecture. To test this, we would have to be able to induce precise and specific patterns on the brain, and as a result obtain a specific state of consciousness in a manner that is repeatable under controlled conditions. But we cannot do this at the moment. The best we can do is alter the brain chemistry globally (drugs etc), or electrically stimulate locally, which amounts to a change in the physical properties of the medium only. Actually establishing causation between dynamic patterns and specific consciousness states is a completely different matter.

    Hence, given the present state of affairs, the reductionist interpretation - to me at least - is not more or less valid than any other approach to the “hard problem”. The question remains wide, wide open.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Instead of addressing individual questions, the answers to which would merely amount to speculation on my part, let me just point out one thing, which I think is very crucial - to date, what we have done in neuroscience is collect physical data directly from the brain, such as EEG readings, fMRI scans, etc etc. We then compare this to states of consciousness of the test subject, which are almost always self-reported from introspection (“there’s a tingling in my finger”, “I am drowsy”, “I am aware of this object”,...). What we find is that the former correlates to the latter - certain self-reported states or contents of consciousness correlate with certain recorded electrochemical patterns. That’s why they are called “consciousness correlates”.

    The crucial point is that what we find is a correlation. And only that. There is, at this point in time, there is very little scientifically admissible evidence that certain electrochemical patterns actually cause a given, specific state of consciousness.

    If there is one thing we should have learned from the history of science, then that is that correlation does not automatically imply causation, most especially not in highly complex systems such as a neural network. I am saying this because in current neuroscience, there seems to be a strong tendency to simply explain away the hard problem by saying “well, electrochemical pattern X causes consciousness state Y, and that’s that”. We need to remember that - while understandable - such a strongly reductionist interpretation is not actually based on any scientific evidence, it’s merely conjecture. To test this, we would have to be able to induce precise and specific patterns on the brain, and as a result obtain a specific state of consciousness in a manner that is repeatable under controlled conditions. But we cannot do this at the moment. The best we can do is alter the brain chemistry globally (drugs etc), or electrically stimulate locally, which amounts to a change in the physical properties of the medium only. Actually establishing causation between dynamic patterns and specific consciousness states is a completely different matter.

    Hence, given the present state of affairs, the reductionist interpretation - to me at least - is not more or less valid than any other approach to the “hard problem”. The question remains wide, wide open.
    It's clear you have a real understanding of the topic.
    However, it seems you do not suggest the "reductionist interpretation" is not a a valid approach!
    How would you summarise the "reductionist interpretation" in layperson's language.
    Last edited by Halliday; February 19th, 2018 at 11:33 AM.
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    When I had surgery 5 years ago I was anesthetized. I don't recall a conscious moment during the entire procedure, from the time I went out until I awoke. Should that not tells us that consciousness is not an independent thing but totally reliant upon the mechanics of the brain? Does the fact that I can become unconscious mean consciousness only exists when the brain or the part of the brain that controls it is functioning properly?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    The crucial point is that what we find is a correlation. And only that. There is, at this point in time, there is very little scientifically admissible evidence that certain electrochemical patterns actually cause a given, specific state of consciousness.

    Very little indeed. Which is why I think the experiments described in this article are promising and important; www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/spacex-launch-universal-music-the-love-protein-and-more-1.4526115/turning-off-anxiety-could-be-as-easy-as-flicking-on-a-light-in-your-brain-1.4528162

    Here is an excerpt:
    Shutting down anxiety in mice
    Scientists were looking to pinpoint the nerve cells in the brains of mice that control anxiety. They wanted to study this in mice because they are anxious animals, especially when they go into open spaces. The scientists placed the mice onto a maze with two arms that were open to the environment. Then they used a special imaging technique to pinpoint the neurons that fired when the mice were forced into the open spaces. That study only proves there's a correlation between these neurons and anxiety, but scientists wanted to dig deeper to find out if these neurons were causing the anxiety. For that, they turned to optogenetics.
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    How would you summarise the "reductionist interpretation" in layperson's language - or maybe you have done that already?
    It just means saying that any state of consciousness (which is a subjective experience) can be fully reduced to - and explained by - physics, i.e. electrochemical patterns in the brain. It’s just materialism applied to the “hard problem”.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    When I had surgery 5 years ago I was anesthetized. I don't recall a conscious moment during the entire procedure, from the time I went out until I awoke. Should that not tells us that consciousness is not an independent thing but totally reliant upon the mechanics of the brain? Does the fact that I can become unconscious mean consciousness only exists when the brain or the part of the brain that controls it is functioning properly?
    I would say that anaesthesia changes brain chemistry, meaning it changes the dynamics of the underlying medium. That is similar to the fact that, in order to obtain specific wave patterns in water, you need a set of specific circumstances (depth, currents, etc). But that alone isn’t enough - you also need wind to actually make the waves. You need an outside agent, otherwise you won’t have any waves, just a medium. Who’s to say that the brain and consciousness are not like that, too? I’m just throwing this out there as food for reflection, that is all. I’m trying not to take a specific stance.

    But in general, yes, I’d say you’d need a normally functioning brain to have “normal” states of consciousness. That still does not establish causation, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    The crucial point is that what we find is a correlation. And only that. There is, at this point in time, there is very little scientifically admissible evidence that certain electrochemical patterns actually cause a given, specific state of consciousness.

    Very little indeed. Which is why I think the experiments described in this article are promising and important; www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/spacex-launch-universal-music-the-love-protein-and-more-1.4526115/turning-off-anxiety-could-be-as-easy-as-flicking-on-a-light-in-your-brain-1.4528162

    Here is an excerpt:
    Shutting down anxiety in mice
    Scientists were looking to pinpoint the nerve cells in the brains of mice that control anxiety. They wanted to study this in mice because they are anxious animals, especially when they go into open spaces. The scientists placed the mice onto a maze with two arms that were open to the environment. Then they used a special imaging technique to pinpoint the neurons that fired when the mice were forced into the open spaces. That study only proves there's a correlation between these neurons and anxiety, but scientists wanted to dig deeper to find out if these neurons were causing the anxiety. For that, they turned to optogenetics.
    Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
    On the other hand though stands this: I used to do volunteer work with a charity that looks after people with acquired brain injuries. One of the clients there was missing a very large part of his cerebral cortex (in fact almost an entire hemisphere, plus substantial damage to the other hemisphere), including areas that are generally considered as crucial for higher functions and consciousness. And yet, his disability was almost entirely motor-based, meaning he exhibited normal (actually even above normal) intelligence and conscious awareness - from right after his accident happened! How is this to be reconciled we the notion that specific neuronal regions somehow “cause” specific states? If you look at the literature, you will find documented cases like this. You will also find documented cases that seem to indicate just the opposite - so personally, I honestly don’t know what to really make of it.

    I think the consensus is that states of consciousness are - in general - non-local phenomena, i.e. they can’t be reduced to specific areas of the human brain, but involve global dynamic patterns. This is true also if parts of the brain are damaged, and the location of the damage is not always indicative of how this manifests outwardly.

    On a more general note, just because a specific region is important in order to support a specific state of consciousness, does not necessarily imply that that region causes it. It may indicate that, but it isn’t a conclusion that is both necessary and sufficient. That’s why I think care is needed.
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    P.S. Let’s be careful to distinguish states of consciousness from objects of consciousness. Not the same thing!
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    When I had surgery 5 years ago I was anesthetized. I don't recall a conscious moment during the entire procedure, from the time I went out until I awoke. Should that not tells us that consciousness is not an independent thing but totally reliant upon the mechanics of the brain? Does the fact that I can become unconscious mean consciousness only exists when the brain or the part of the brain that controls it is functioning properly?
    That's a good argument in favour of consciousness being a property of the biochemical brain, and not some "soul" thingy.

    I can see that irking God somewhat:
    "My greatest creation in the universe - my gift to you - and you guys go and make an OFF switch?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    One of the clients there was missing a very large part of his cerebral cortex (in fact almost an entire hemisphere, plus substantial damage to the other hemisphere), including areas that are generally considered as crucial for higher functions and consciousness. And yet, his disability was almost entirely motor-based, meaning he exhibited normal (actually even above normal) intelligence and conscious awareness - from right after his accident happened....If you look at the literature, you will find documented cases like this.

    Yes. I have heard of equally bizarre cases: https://www.sciencealert.com/a-man-w...-consciousness .

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I think the consensus is that states of consciousness are - in general - non-local phenomena, i.e. they can’t be reduced to specific areas of the human brain, but involve global dynamic patterns.

    From what I’ve read this seems to be the case. Even some of those whose theories are considered by many to be reductionist (such as Stanislas Dehaene) envision a global communicative “workspace”.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    How is this to be reconciled [with] the notion that specific neuronal regions somehow “cause” specific states?
    I suppose the only way would one could, is to consider the possibility that causal relationships between specific regions and specific states can differ from one brain to the next.

    It would be interesting if evermore non-intrusive means to establish a causal relationship such as those developed in Japan (see second paper from the same journal linked in the article) could be used to study these bizarre documented cases in humans. Sticking to a consciousness-from-brain-activity hypothesis, presumably one might ask: Could a subject still exhibit “normal intelligence and conscious awareness” without the prior history of a functional whole-brain that is subsequently eroded away or removed suddenly? (I’m not familiar with such a case). If not, then in what ways are the remaining neurons exapted to enable a continuous workspace? How much of a workspace is really needed? Could there be cases where such a space is already somewhat un-tethered from the regional areas prior to their being removed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    ...personally, I honestly don’t know what to really make of it.
    You and me both mister: I’m not sure what to make of it either.


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    That's a good argument in favour of consciousness being a property of the biochemical brain, and not some "soul" thingy.
    True, it’s an argument in favour of that conclusion. Allow me to reiterate again that I am not trying to argue against this particular interpretation, I am merely trying to point out that we aren’t yet in a position to exclude other interpretations. I just think we need to keep an open mind with regards to this subject, and not fall prey to a confirmation bias rooted in materialism.

    However, there are counter arguments that seem to indicate just the opposite: for example, there are documented cases of people who experienced temporary brain death (i.e. all EEG readings were flatlining for some period of time), and yet they had conscious experiences during that period. I’m trying to find the reference at the moment, will post it here when I do.
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    It would be interesting if evermore non-intrusive means to establish a causal relationship such as those developed in Japan (see second paper from the same journal linked in the article) could be used to study these bizarre documented cases in humans. Sticking to a consciousness-from-brain-activity hypothesis, presumably one might ask: Could a subject still exhibit “normal intelligence and conscious awareness” without the prior history of a functional whole-brain that is subsequently eroded away or removed suddenly? (I’m not familiar with such a case). If not, then in what ways are the remaining neurons exapted to enable a continuous workspace? How much of a workspace is really needed? Could there be cases where such a space is already somewhat un-tethered from the regional areas prior to their being removed?
    Very good questions
    I’m really looking forward to seeing more research done in this area.

    Here’s another thing I’d like to put out there: while brain chemistry is evidently correlated to states of consciousness, the reverse is true as well. For example, I myself am an experienced meditator, and I can induced certain altered states of consciousness pretty much at will (on good days anyway lol). In particular, there are states of meditative absorption called the jhānas; never mind the details here now, just suffice to say that these can be entered by anyone who has cultivated the necessary concentration, and knows the appropriate techniques. Extensive studies have been done into these states, with the result that dynamic patterns in the brain become much more coherent while they last, and certain neurotransmitters are found in abundance as well. So it seems obvious that it is possible to actually alter brain chemistry at will just by using mental techniques, just as brain chemistry influences states of consciousness. It’s a 2-way process, which casts doubt on the “chemistry alone causes consciousness” idea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    [...there are counter arguments that seem to indicate just the opposite: for example, there are documented cases of people who experienced temporary brain death (i.e. all EEG readings were flatlining for some period of time), and yet they had conscious experiences during that period. I’m trying to find the reference at the moment, will post it here when I do.
    This episode of Ideas: Decoding Death: The science and significance of near death experiences - Home | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio gives some examples of documented cases by doctors and is balanced by criticisms from scientists. It’s just under an hour long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vexspits View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    [...there are counter arguments that seem to indicate just the opposite: for example, there are documented cases of people who experienced temporary brain death (i.e. all EEG readings were flatlining for some period of time), and yet they had conscious experiences during that period. I’m trying to find the reference at the moment, will post it here when I do.
    This episode of Ideas: Decoding Death: The science and significance of near death experiences - Home | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio gives some examples of documented cases by doctors and is balanced by criticisms from scientists. It’s just under an hour long.
    Interesting point, but I wasn’t really thinking about NDEs. The case I had in mind was about a patient who was put into severe hypothermia under controlled conditions, so that a particularly risky surgery could be performed. During that time, her (?) heart was stopped, body temp lowered to 15 Celsius, and her EEG was flatlining. She survived, and afterwards she reported a conscious experience during that time. And there are other, similar, cases as well. There is a proper scientific paper with a collection of such case reports, I just can’t find it right now. Will keep looking.
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    I don't put much stake into NDE, flatline consciousness, and to some degree meditation states however I have no doubt that weird or uncommon brain activity resulting in a conscious experience occurs. My own experience has told me that a brain can produce the unusual.

    I was a pretty good athlete when I was younger and excelled at all sports. My favourites were basketball and soccer. Actually it didn't matter what I played because during competition my brain for some reason presented patterns for me, allowing me to anticipate better than most. I saw the playing field not as if it was just grass and lines but as if it was a tapestry or map of some kind, guiding me to where I should go to make the biggest impact. In soccer I scored a lot of goals just because I was always in the right place. Later on I discovered that I experienced Synesthesia, more so and more intense when physically active. It occurs on a daily basis for me otherwise, but I always thought it normal so I'm used to it. Some synesthetes claim to see time for instance. I think it explains certain visual perceptions and I think if we study it a lot closer then it might explain those other conscious states people refer to or reach. Maybe these visual conscious experiences are just vestigial remnants of past evolutionary traits associated with how our ancestors saw the world, I don't know. Maybe it's just something new. Weird shit.

    Excerpt from Wiki article: ...support for the disinhibition idea in the so-called acquired forms[5] of synesthesia that occur in non-synesthetes under certain conditions: temporal lobe epilepsy,[38] head trauma, stroke, and brain tumors. They also note that it can likewise occur during stages of meditation, deep concentration, sensory deprivation, or with use of psychedelics such as LSD or mescaline, and even, in some cases, marijuana.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; February 20th, 2018 at 01:01 PM.
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    I have no doubt that weird or uncommon brain activity resulting in a conscious experience occurs
    In the absence of any EEG readings, i.e. electrochemical activity? How does this fit into the materialist-reductionist interpretation?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I have no doubt that weird or uncommon brain activity resulting in a conscious experience occurs
    In the absence of any EEG readings, i.e. electrochemical activity? How does this fit into the materialist-reductionist interpretation?
    I'm talking about my own experience. I see the world differently than most. I call that weird now but I suppose it may be normal, or part of something we consider normal. Don't know what else to attribute it to except the brain.

    Not sure what you mean with the 2nd question unless you're suggesting there's more to life than the interactions of matter as in some unknown unproven as yet, external agency or feature. I wouldn't know but I don't entirely dismiss the possibility, even though I don't like to admit it.

    I don't see Synesthesia as a gift bestowed upon me by whatever, or as some wonderful attribute that I should feel privileged to have. I didn't always know only a small percentage of the population can see time, colours, patterns, etc that others can't. I call that weird for lack of a better word but I do so knowing there is an explanation. What that is I couldn't say. You're great at physics, I'm not as are many others and no one would classify that as weird. Just the way we perceive/classify things I guess.

    I ask myself whether I have an evolved trait (mutation if you will) or a trait that once belong to my ancestors. How would I know? Does a bat's echo enable it to see sound? Does a snake see prey with its tongue? Does a magnetic field enable a migrating bird to see a path or direction? I have no idea how my ancestors sensed the world or how present day creatures manage it. Yep, I'm an evolutionist and if that falls into the reductionist category then so be it. I don't see that as being wrong or odd if that's what you're saying. So ya, consciousness is just one of those unproven things or maybe even a trait that not everyone possesses.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    There is a proper scientific paper with a collection of such case reports....
    Sounds meaty; something you can really stick your teeth into. Look forward to it. My own minimal attempts have turned up a lot of anecdotal evidence and the occasional anonymous site with large, colored fonts.
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    I didn't always know only a small percentage of the population can see time, colours, patterns, etc that others can't.
    I‘m a synesthaetic too, and didn‘t know that I was seeing the world differently until I hit primary school. It became rather obvious then, but it still took me a long time to get my head around the fact that it was me who was „unusual“, and not everyone else.

    Even despite this, I was still staunchly and unfalteringly in the materialist-reductionist camp for near on three decades. However, I now find myself beginning to question this, since there are aspects of my (and everyone‘s) existence that just don‘t fit into this view of the universe very well. Don‘t get me wrong, materialist science does an excellent job, and is a marvellous success story in many respects. But I am no longer so sure that it is all there is to the universe. At the end of the day, the notion that the universe must be completely explainable in terms of matter/energy only is really just an assumption, in the same manner that „absolute time“ had been an unassailable assumption for a long period in the history of science.

    But these are just personal musings, so I‘ll stop here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I didn't always know only a small percentage of the population can see time, colours, patterns, etc that others can't.
    I‘m a synesthaetic too, and didn‘t know that I was seeing the world differently until I hit primary school. It became rather obvious then, but it still took me a long time to get my head around the fact that it was me who was „unusual“, and not everyone else.

    Even despite this, I was still staunchly and unfalteringly in the materialist-reductionist camp for near on three decades. However, I now find myself beginning to question this, since there are aspects of my (and everyone‘s) existence that just don‘t fit into this view of the universe very well. Don‘t get me wrong, materialist science does an excellent job, and is a marvellous success story in many respects. But I am no longer so sure that it is all there is to the universe. At the end of the day, the notion that the universe must be completely explainable in terms of matter/energy only is really just an assumption, in the same manner that „absolute time“ had been an unassailable assumption for a long period in the history of science.

    But these are just personal musings, so I‘ll stop here.
    You are asking too much of material science. Even if , as you put it "it is all there is to the universe" it would not be up to the task of pointing this out.

    "Faith" is the suspension of disbelief (viewed as the contrast) and either world view qualifies as faith.

    All our opinions(however acquired) disappear when we do and so even our personal "faith" (which we all have willingly or not I think) is simply a "faithless" representation of our objective and subjective observations.

    By all means stop your musings now but they will recur like an itch although it is possible to redirect your thoughts in other directions if they seem like a pointless distraction at times (because there is no final answer not even a concealed one**)



    btw I thought synaesthesia was widely spread throughout the population in lesser degrees there have been studies,apparently)


    **I realize that is a tautology chasing its tail.
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    By all means stop your musings now but they will recur like an itch although it is possible to redirect your thoughts in other directions if they seem like a pointless distraction at times (because there is no final answer not even a concealed one**)
    Unfortunate choice of words on my part - because I never stop my musings for even an instant I don’t just acquire knowledge, I also reflect on it and apply it in my own ways, so I have a lot of ideas on my own about things like how consciousness could fit into a model of the world. But they are just my personal ideas, so they don’t belong onto a science forum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    By all means stop your musings now but they will recur like an itch although it is possible to redirect your thoughts in other directions if they seem like a pointless distraction at times (because there is no final answer not even a concealed one**)
    Unfortunate choice of words on my part - because I never stop my musings for even an instant I don’t just acquire knowledge, I also reflect on it and apply it in my own ways, so I have a lot of ideas on my own about things like how consciousness could fit into a model of the world. But they are just my personal ideas, so they don’t belong onto a science forum.
    No the fault was mine . Your meaning was clear but I extrapolated unnecessarily and changed the subject.(one of my mental dropouts)
    '
    You probably are familiar with Nuala o'Fualain's reaction to the dimming of her light and the coming loss of her acquired lifetime's knowledge.

    We have to tread lightly...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuala_O%27Faolain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    How would you summarise the "reductionist interpretation" in layperson's language - or maybe you have done that already?
    It just means saying that any state of consciousness (which is a subjective experience) can be fully reduced to - and explained by - physics, i.e. electrochemical patterns in the brain. It’s just materialism applied to the “hard problem”.
    Suppose one is using a "reductionist interpretation" to analyse and describe a complex phenomenon such as consciousness.
    Does the use of reductionism tend to be criticised, or even dismissed, when used as an explanation for a difficult subject such as the above?
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    Even a reductionist can have an open mind. I think it would be silly to think there isn't more to all that the universe comprises. Not talking religions, gods, etc but perhaps things we can either never know or for which there is no evidence of.

    Back to consciousness....If man can take scrapyard junk and manufacture an AI machine, then what of creating a life form in the lab? I think I have a better case for a new life form producing a consciousness than animated scrap metal/plastics....that is assuming a consciousness exists or can exist. Mind you, the new life form might take a few billion years to eventually develop the consciousness but at least you know it's possible, assuming intelligence is a result of evolution.
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  94. #93  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I think it would be silly to think there isn't more to all that the universe comprises. Not talking religions, gods, etc but perhaps things we can either never know or for which there is no evidence of.
    If there is something that we can never know about or which there is no evidence of, then in what way does this something actually exist?
    There are no paradoxes in relativity, just people's misunderstandings of it.
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  95. #94  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJW View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I think it would be silly to think there isn't more to all that the universe comprises. Not talking religions, gods, etc but perhaps things we can either never know or for which there is no evidence of.
    If there is something that we can never know about or which there is no evidence of, then in what way does this something actually exist?
    Whoa! I did say perhaps. .......I've always liked the Lawrence Krauss quote where he stated(paraphrasing)..... that at some future time when the galaxies have been separated by space expanding faster than light that any new civilization that develops will know absolutely nothing of a universe that's full of galaxies. Primarily because there will be no evidence. So who's to say if some evidence has already disappeared that could provide the clue to the universe's origins? How would we know....exactly, we wouldn't.

    Exact quote:In 5 billion years, the expansion of the universe will have progressed to the point where all other galaxies will have receded beyond detection. Indeed, they will be receding faster than the speed of light, so detection will be impossible. Future civilizations will discover science and all its laws, and never know about other galaxies or the cosmic background radiation. They will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about the universe......We live in a special time, the only time, where we can observationally verify that we live in a special time.”

    Judging by the last line it appears Krauss is satisfied that all the evidence is still available at this time to make the right conclusion. It is practically contrary to what he says previous to it. So like you ask me, I could ask him, how would you know that?

    There's more. He says future civilizations will discover science and all its laws......inevitably coming to wrong conclusion. But that only compares to our findings. The fact that a future civilization could even rightly conclude is amazing. Take mathematics for instance, no doubt that future civilization will have their correct findings verified by the math. What does that say about math? Are we doing the same thing? Were we once a future civilization?

    Anyway I digress from topic at hand. Maybe AI can figure out consciousness even it doesn't have one.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; February 22nd, 2018 at 04:13 PM.
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    So how old (in comparison to the "real age") would an observer on one of the "desert island" galaxies judge their isolated corner of the universe to be?

    Would they still be able to see back to the communal Big Bang?
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    So how old (in comparison to the "real age") would an observer on one of the "desert island" galaxies judge their isolated corner of the universe to be?

    Would they still be able to see back to the communal Big Bang?
    Maybe they could look at the BH at the centre of galaxy and make some judgement, your guess is as good as mine. ? Not sure but if there are such things as FTL particles then they might be the only thing in their cosmos, need an expert opinion whether that would be possible.

    I don't think there's a chance of them seeing back to BB. I wonder if Krauss ever expanded on his comment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KJW View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I think it would be silly to think there isn't more to all that the universe comprises. Not talking religions, gods, etc but perhaps things we can either never know or for which there is no evidence of.
    If there is something that we can never know about or which there is no evidence of, then in what way does this something actually exist?
    Whoa! I did say perhaps. .......I've always liked the Lawrence Krauss quote where he stated(paraphrasing)..... that at some future time when the galaxies have been separated by space expanding faster than light that any new civilization that develops will know absolutely nothing of a universe that's full of galaxies. Primarily because there will be no evidence. So who's to say if some evidence has already disappeared that could provide the clue to the universe's origins? How would we know....exactly, we wouldn't.
    I should point out that I wasn't referring to where evidence existed in the past but no longer exists today, nor even where evidence doesn't exist today but will at some time in the future. Nor was I referring to evidence that exists but is never looked at. I'm not even referring to evidence that exists but only indirectly. I'm referring to where the existence of something leads to a total history of reality that is indistinguishable from the non-existence of that something. The point is that while it is impossible to prove in the strictest sense that the something does not exist, one can constrain the notion of existence to the requirement of distinguishability, thereby reducing the problem of proving that the something doesn't exist to the problem of proving that existence is indistinguishable from non-existence. This leads to Ockham's razor.
    There are no paradoxes in relativity, just people's misunderstandings of it.
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    Suppose one is using a "reductionist interpretation" to analyse and describe a complex phenomenon such as consciousness.
    Does the use of reductionism tend to be criticised, or even dismissed, when used as an explanation for a difficult subject such as the above?
    No, please don’t misunderstand me. It is quite possible that consciousness can indeed be reduced to simply being an emergent phenomenon of the brain; in terms of the current scientific consensus, this is the most likely explanation, even if there is no known mechanism that can actually achieve this. I am merely trying to point out that the “hard problem” may admit other solutions, which would in turn have interesting consequences for our understanding of the universe as a whole.

    It was never my attention to attack or denounce the materialist position in any way, I am saying only that there may be other ways to understand the human condition, and that those should not be outright dismissed. Materialism has served as well so far, but that doesn’t mean it must necessarily continue to do so. And this is from someone who has been staunchly materialist for a very long time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJW View Post
    If there is something that we can never know about or which there is no evidence of, then in what way does this something actually exist?
    The issue I see with this is that the only thing we can have direct knowledge of are objects of the mind. This specifically also includes the entirety of our knowledge about the “external” world, because all we can be conscious of are percepts, i.e. the end results of a complicated process of preception, which depends on a very large number of factors. Not only do we not have direct access to anything apart from what the mind presents us, we do not even have direct access to the raw data generated by our own sensory apparatus. We can, from what we are conscious of, infer characteristics of the external world, and build a mental model out of this as well as a social consensus we arrive at with other minds; but that isn’t direct knowledge of the world, it’s just a mental fabrication, which may or may not serve as a good model, since the reality we perceive is heavily conditioned by many external and internal factors.

    Just to give an example: as mentioned before, I am a synaesthetic. When I mentally think of (not just read on screen) your username “KJW”, then I perceive a very complex object that has shape, colour, texture, smell (not very pronounced, but still present), sound, spatial orientation, extent in space, extent in time, and a few other things that I have long since given up trying to explain to other people. These are all properties and qualia of “KJW”, not separate percepts. The point is that no one else would know about this unless I tell them, and even then they will never know, because they cannot directly experience this KJW-object in the way I do. To me, this is reality. To you, it is not; it is just a sequence of letters. I in turn have no concept of what it is like to “just read letters” - I cannot imagine this, in fact the mere idea makes no sense to me, it is like suggesting that one could see a picture in the complete absence of any colours (including black and white). It’s nonsensical to me. The absence of qualia to mental objects is beyond my ability to picture or understand. To me, your universe would be a very strange and bleak place. To you, my universe would probably be a place of complete madness, or so I imagine.

    So, my reality is very different from your reality, and neither one of us can really “know” the other one’s reality, we can only give dim ideas trough verbal communication.

    Given all of this, does my KJW-object “actually exist”, or not? I can measure this object in a repeatable manner, by directly experiencing it at will, whenever I want. But no one else can. Does this render it “non-existent”? It’s certainly not non-existent to me. And if we were to somehow be able to induce the exact same electrochemical brain patterns that are present when I experience the KJW-object in your own brain, would you experience the KJW-object in the same way as I do? I can’t rule out that you would, but truth be told, I have my doubts, because the connectome of your own brain is not completely identical to mine. Even if it were, there is not actually any evidence that we would experience the same things, or share the same mental landscape.

    So perhaps ignoring subjective experience of an observer in favour of postulating an “objective reality” that doesn’t depend on who experiences it, may not be the best way forward when trying to understand the human condition - which includes the universe we are part of as well. This is what I am beginning to ponder - not that materialism is “wrong” in any way (it has been very successful so far), I just think that it may not be able to give a complete description of reality.
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    I obviously missed the intent of KJW's question. Completely turned it around so maybe I can twist that into something more on topic. If I had never tuned in again to the forum then I would have gone to my grave never knowing what KJW was actually asking. Despite the fact the evidence is there for me to interpret it his/her way, I didn't. Still I did interpret it to be something else. In some peculiar way I believe my misunderstanding may actually be the answer KJW was looking for, albeit indirectly.
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