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CactusMan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 8th, 2007, 4:20 pm

I am posting this here for the benefit of those interested. Many thanks, Grenville, your response. Anyone interested, please feel free to contribute.>>>>Hi CactusManI have had to think about your interesting question on and off for a few weeks.The Godelian argument reigns supreme: I can conceive of Godels theorem and a multitude of unprovable truths. Whatever rules there are in quantum chemistry, they are incomplete. All of the activity in my body and my brain cannot be explained by quantum chemistry - or any other axiomatic system. Within the term axiomatic, I include the term stochastic.RegardsGrenvillePS please feel free to post this exchange on the forums Tue Mar 20, 07 06:23 PM CactusMan Suppose a critic were to argue as follows:Quantum effects are not relevant to awareness, conciousness, and so on, because all of the activity in our bodies, including the brain, can be explained by ordinary chemistry.How would you respond? Wed Feb 28, 07 09:50 AM GrenvilleCroll Hi Cactusman,Thanks for the reference to the book.I havent read it, however based upon my reading of the Amazon reviews, the journalist author is pusuing the correct track.G Thu Feb 15, 07 06:21 PM CactusMan Hello, Grenville! What you think of this book?The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe
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CactusMan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 8th, 2007, 4:25 pm

I should add that the activity can be explained ***in principle***", because certainly NO ONE is anywhere close to actually doing it.Consider this: I was reading Konner's book on being a doctor, and he notes that right now we have about 30 drugs that are useful for anesthesia. However, curiously, they are chemically different, even very different, and seem to do different things to the cells of the nervious system. However, the gross effect is the same.So, even regarding something so basic, our understanding of the link between chemistry and conciousness is evidently VERY limited.
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Traden4Alpha
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Conciousness Discussion

April 8th, 2007, 7:20 pm

I'd agree with the "all of the activity in our bodies, including the brain, can be explained by ordinary chemistry" statement. That 30 different chemicals can temporarily supress consciousness suggests, to me, that consciousness is the outcome of a complex interconnected system. (I'm sure one can think of dozens of "different" interventions that would anesthetize a computer.)What is interesting to me is that consciousness is not a binary property either among people or across species. Among people, we can see that natural variations, the assaults of aging, and chemical impairments modulate the amount of consciousness. And the more we study animals, the more examples we uncover of animals doing things that we thought only humans could do (tools, language, grammar, planning, play, ethics, deviousness, empathy, etc.). Humans have more consciousness stuff than other animals, but we're less unique than we think. Consciousness is probably more an outgrowth of our large amounts of brain tissue (relative to body size) than some special property of that tissue.That said, its unclear to me that any rational being of human proportions can explain human-level consciousness without hitting an analog of the Tristram Shandy paradox
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CactusMan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 4:37 pm

That is intesting.I think it is worth noting that, for another example, how the brain controls the heart is not understood, as I have read in several sources. By this, I mean the exact mechanism. (The regions are known, but not what they do.)Now this is remarkable, because that's one of the most basic functions! And conciousness isn't normally involved with it. But, still they don't know?!!!By the way, I would take issue with the part about animals using language. So far, I have only seen *VERY* limited use if at all. There is no question that animals use some basic "language" to communicate (e.g., ants with chemical symbols), but *nothing* like human language. Not even close.
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 5:56 pm

I think language use is the key. I used to think that human consciousness was a big deep mystery.Nowdays, I think it is merely the sense that we get when we use language to talk to ourselves mentally.In other words, if an animal had comparable language skills, it would feel similarly conscious. It alsofollows that before a child learns a language, it is as unconscious as a 'smart' animal. regards,
 
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CactusMan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 6:46 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: AlanI think language use is the key. I used to think that human consciousness was a big deep mystery.Nowdays, I think it is merely the sense that we get when we use language to talk to ourselves mentally.In other words, if an animal had comparable language skills, it would feel similarly conscious. It alsofollows that before a child learns a language, it is as unconscious as a 'smart' animal. regards,Conciousness is just a feeling? So, you mean that nature somehow produces a feeling of conciousness. That requires two things:(1) Nature producing the feeling(2) Something existing that can feel itProduction of a feeling of conciousness seems just as complex as conciousness itself or more.Like Art Bel said once, "Some things are too weird even for this show!"
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 7:03 pm

Yes, it's the feeling that you get when you talk to yourself. Obviously 'nature' produced it, and the 'something existing' is you. It's a very simple idea. It might be wrong, but it's not hard to understand.
 
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CactusMan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 7:35 pm

But, you agree that just because a creature can use language, it does not follow that it is "smart".GilliganThere's Gilligan, for example, and even some severly retarded people can still talk. What about that?
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 9th, 2007, 10:54 pm

Haha! yeah, let's consider the severely retarded. First , even within a healthy normal individual,we move back and forth all the time between automatic behavior and actually conductingan inner dialog. When we are on automatic, I would say our consciousness is in animalmode. It rises to the uniquely human when the inner dialog with language starts. Now, Ihave no idea what kind of inner dialog goes on if you are severely retarded, have a severestroke or brain injury, and hope to never personally find out. But I would say the degree ofwhat we call truly human consciousness must degrade in those cases along with the languageabilities. Another thought experiment would be a putative artificial intelligence. By my hypothesis, itwon't be purely -external- language ability that matters so much. But, suppose we invent something that convinces us that it has this kind of internal dialog I am talking about. At thatpoint, I believe we will then start to argue if it deserves more rights than a digital clock.
 
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rmax
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Conciousness Discussion

April 10th, 2007, 12:38 pm

A nice description on Conciousness I read once was in "The User Illusion". The premise here is that Conciousness is a abstract construct formed by our brains. The example he gives is that the brain senses millions of bits of information a second (can't remember the exact amount - sorry), however our concious experience is limited to about 8 - 10 bits. The conciousness one experiences is just a way of filtering out all the stuff that is not needed at that point in time. There are experiments that point to experience laggin reality by about 1s or so.The User Illusion also uses a nice allusion which is that concious experience is like the "desktop" on a computer. When you drag a file into the trash can, the computer will rewrite the FAT to move the location of that file (I don't know how it works for NTFS) - however our experience of it is the click and drag onto the trash can. I suppose it is similat to Kant's Critque of Pure Reason and the implementation of framework for experience...
 
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 11th, 2007, 5:32 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: rmax. There are experiments that point to experience laggin reality by about 1s or so.I've heard that before and wonder if it's universally true. Think how difficult it makes some sports -- a 24 m across tennis courtwith a 70 m/sec serve gives the player less than 0.5 sec to react, even accounting for the diagonal. But that's a very fast serve -- you can hit some slower ones yourself here. Of course, it's possible that the tennis pros have neural broadband and the rest of us have dial-up.How does the User Illusion account for the special nature of human consciousness?
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Traden4Alpha
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Conciousness Discussion

April 12th, 2007, 11:51 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: AlanQuoteOriginally posted by: rmax. There are experiments that point to experience laggin reality by about 1s or so.I've heard that before and wonder if it's universally true. Think how difficult it makes some sports -- a 24 m across tennis court with a 70 m/sec serve gives the player less than 0.5 sec to react, even accounting for the diagonal. But that's a very fast serve -- you can hit some slower ones yourself here. Of course, it's possible that the tennis pros have neural broadband and the rest of us have dial-up.But does the tennis player consciously hit the ball? Do they really have a mental conversation with themselves and debate how best to cross the court, which foot to lead with, where to move their arm, what angle to hold the racket, when to start the swing, etc.? Some would say that these activities operate much more at a subconscious level in what some might call muscle-memory. Think about riding a bike or, more to the point, think about the fact that one really doesn't need to think about riding a bike in all the minutiae of maintaining balance.
 
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 12th, 2007, 1:52 pm

Sure, it's almost all automatic. They have returned so many serves that it's just a matter of invoking one of a few imprinted muscle movement patterns. But, you don't know on what side of you the ball is going to hit until it's in flightor perhaps very slightly before. You have to make a decision about which side -- minimal, but critical. I was just wondering if a 1 sec lag is compatible with the time you have to do that.
 
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Traden4Alpha
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Conciousness Discussion

April 13th, 2007, 12:34 pm

This issue of the lag in consciousness WRT real-time events depends on whether consciousness is central to the brain or an overlay on the brain. That is, does every decision/action/reaction of a tennis player go through the consciousness "module" of the brain or does the consciousness module act as a sideline monitor/manager to the subconscious real-time brain. One hint to this issue is the observation that in many stories involving acts of heroism, the person says "I did not have time to think about it. I just did it." I'd bet that tennis players don't really consciously think -- in this "having a conversation with oneself" sense of consciousness -- during the real-time parts of the game. They may have an internal running commentary (or an external stream of curses), but that commentary sits to the side and lags the real-time action. Perhaps what distinguishes the top players is not the broadband vs dial-up, but the extent that they have moved most of their game from the slow, lagged consciousness overlayer of the brain into the deeper, faster real-time core of the "animal" brain. The top players "instinctively" move to the best side to hit the ball with their best swing to put the ball where the opponent will have the most trouble returning it. One could analogize this to shift from an interpreted scripting language to compiled object code. All players have the same mental hardware, but beginning players use Javascript, whereas pros play in C.
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Alan
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Conciousness Discussion

April 13th, 2007, 3:51 pm

Yeah, I agree with all your last comments. Sports is really a bad example fortruly human consciousness. In principle, I believe we already know everything we needto know to build a tennis playing robot. But we have no clue as to how build a machinewith close-to-human consciousness.My main proposal is that our sense of consciousness may not be so mysterious, but merelyan internal dialog. Questions about consciousness should then reduce to questions about language -- how we acquired it, how it really works, etc. Hard questions, but perhaps a routeto building that machine I mention above. If someone sees a good counter-example to thisproposal -- an aspect of truly human consciousness that seems separate from language --would like to hear it.
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