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February 25, 2012, 04:01:14 AM
 #361

I am somewhat familiar with philosophical zombies and turing machines. I just learn best by asking questions... So, with regards to experience: Would you say "experience is the result of physical processes"?

That is the 64 million dollar question. The short answer is: yes.

The long answer:

1. Can we say that experience is strictly the result of physical processes, or is it the result of physical processes and some other component/layer/plane of the Universe that we don't know about?

2. Can we say that all physical processes give rise to experience, or only some types. i.e. is calcium a required component?

3. Is experience not tied to physical processes at all, but the timing of information transmission and in certain amounts at certain frequencies?

More information about what is happening physically inside the brain is unlikely to yield satisfying answers. More information will tell us how better to correlate physical brain processes to experience (i.e. consciousness, qualia and experience), but it will not answer the big question without a revolutionary theory, in my opinion.

Is consciousness a fundamental property of the Universe - something which exists and is ready to manifest when the proper physical structure and events occur? If so, what is that fundamental property?

To rephrase in scientist language (correct me if I have misinterpreted):

1. Are known physical processes sufficient to explain experience?
- To answer this we must add all possible combinations of physical processes to an unconscious substance until it becomes conscious or we run out of processes to add.

2. Are all physical processes known to be involved in generating experience actually necessary to generate experience? Are there other processes that could substitute?
-To answer this we need to remove physical processes from a conscious substance one by one (and in all possible combinations) then record whether or not consciousness remains. Next we need to substitute all other physical processes (one by one and in combination) for each of the removed processes (one by one) and observe if consciousness reappears.

3. The timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. Do these phenomena explain consciousness?

-You are making the assumption that the timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. We need to address why this assumption was made.

It is impossible to prove a negative, one can only state a theory is exceedingly implausible when compared to alternatives. Is there any evidence for some other plane of the universe that contributes to consciousness? How strong is this evidence relative to the evidence that experience is strictly the result of physical processes? Since we will never have complete information about the universe, in the end there will always be an aspect of subjectivity (i.e., more spiritual people will give the unknown process hypothesis a higher prior probability). All we can do is look for support of the hypothesis that experience can be accounted for due to known physical processes. In other words, need more data.

The experiments mentioned above would get us a conclusive answer but they are infeasible to perform in a human lifetime (likely taking millenia), and we humans want answers immediately. So, rather than swapping in and out physical processes in a random order, we should learn more about what processes are important in generating experience to determine what the most likely physical processes may be. Then do the experiments with those likely culprits first. This is what neuroscientists are currently doing. Maybe humans are one of the experiments of an extremely long lived entity trying to rule out non-physical explanations for consciousness?

With regards to #3:
What examples of information transmission are you aware of that occur without being tied to physical processes?
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February 25, 2012, 04:09:27 AM
 #362

3. The timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. Do these phenomena explain consciousness?[/b]
-You are making the assumption that the timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. We need to address why this assumption was made.

Without addressing anything else you have said at this point in time, let's clarify:

Without regard to the method of information transmission, is it strictly the timing and structure of the information flow independent of the physical process which facilitates it which gives rise to conscious experience?
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February 25, 2012, 04:15:00 AM
 #363

With regard to the rest of what you've said, you really need to read Chalmers. His landmark book is this: http://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Mind-Search-Fundamental-Philosophy/dp/0195117891/

Absent reading that, how about trying these papers:

http://consc.net/papers/nature.pdf

http://consc.net/papers/representation.pdf

Here is the source: http://consc.net/consc-papers.html
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February 25, 2012, 04:16:44 AM
 #364

A summary of the book:

Quote
What is consciousness? How do physical processes in the brain give rise to the self-aware mind and to feelings as profoundly varied as love or hate, aesthetic pleasure or spiritual yearning? These questions today are among the most hotly debated issues among scientists and philosophers, and we have seen in recent years superb volumes by such eminent figures as Francis Crick, Daniel C. Dennett, Gerald Edelman, and Roger Penrose, all firing volleys in what has come to be called the consciousness wars. Now, in The Conscious Mind, philosopher David J. Chalmers offers a cogent analysis of this heated debate as he unveils a major new theory of consciousness, one that rejects the prevailing reductionist trend of science, while offering provocative insights into the relationship between mind and brain.

Writing in a rigorous, thought-provoking style, the author takes us on a far-reaching tour through the philosophical ramifications of consciousness. Chalmers convincingly reveals how contemporary cognitive science and neurobiology have failed to explain how and why mental events emerge from physiological occurrences in the brain. He proposes instead that conscious experience must be understood in an entirely new light--as an irreducible entity (similar to such physical properties as time, mass, and space) that exists at a fundamental level and cannot be understood as the sum of its parts. And after suggesting some intriguing possibilities about the structure and laws of conscious experience, he details how his unique reinterpretation of the mind could be the focus of a new science. Throughout the book, Chalmers provides fascinating thought experiments that trenchantly illustrate his ideas. For example, in exploring the notion that consciousness could be experienced by machines as well as humans, Chalmers asks us to imagine a thinking brain in which neurons are slowly replaced by silicon chips that precisely duplicate their functions--as the neurons are replaced, will consciousness gradually fade away? The book also features thoughtful discussions of how the author's theories might be practically applied to subjects as diverse as artificial intelligence and the interpretation of quantum mechanics.

All of us have pondered the nature and meaning of consciousness. Engaging and penetrating, The Conscious Mind adds a fresh new perspective to the subject that is sure to spark debate about our understanding of the mind for years to come.
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February 25, 2012, 04:18:28 AM
 #365

3. The timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. Do these phenomena explain consciousness?[/b]
-You are making the assumption that the timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. We need to address why this assumption was made.

Without addressing anything else you have said at this point in time, let's clarify:

Without regard to the method of information transmission, is it strictly the timing and structure of the information flow independent of the physical process which facilitates it which gives rise to conscious experience?

Is there any evidence that the timing and structure of the information flow is independent of physical processes? How does this evidence compare to the evidence that it is dependent?

We have returned to:

Quote
Since we will never have complete information about the universe, in the end there will always be an aspect of subjectivity (i.e., more spiritual people will give the unknown process hypothesis a higher prior probability). All we can do is look for support of the hypothesis that experience can be accounted for due to known physical processes. In other words, need more data.
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February 25, 2012, 04:24:39 AM
 #366

3. The timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. Do these phenomena explain consciousness?[/b]
-You are making the assumption that the timing and magnitudes of information transmission are not tied to physical processes. We need to address why this assumption was made.

Without addressing anything else you have said at this point in time, let's clarify:

Without regard to the method of information transmission, is it strictly the timing and structure of the information flow independent of the physical process which facilitates it which gives rise to conscious experience?

Is there any evidence that the timing and structure of the information flow is independent of physical processes? How does this evidence compare to the evidence that it is dependent?

We're back to panpsychism, Chinese populations, economies, silicon neurons, Turing machines, and Chinese Rooms. I think your synopsis and analysis of the problem and suggestions for methods are premature given your general lack of knowledge regarding discussion on the subject, notably the concepts listed in the first sentence of this paragraph.

Read Chalmers, Searle, Hofstadter, and others.
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February 25, 2012, 04:35:56 AM
 #367

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Chalmers convincingly reveals how contemporary cognitive science and neurobiology have failed to explain how and why mental events emerge from physiological occurrences in the brain.

Yes, the ideal experiments will take forever to perform unless we are lucky or can plan them well. It is no surprise the reductionist approach has thus far failed. This alone does not mean that it cannot succeed, nor that it is not the best approach.


Quote
He proposes instead that conscious experience must be understood in an entirely new light--as an irreducible entity (similar to such physical properties as time, mass, and space) that exists at a fundamental level and cannot be understood as the sum of its parts. And after suggesting some intriguing possibilities about the structure and laws of conscious experience, he details how his unique reinterpretation of the mind could be the focus of a new science.

So, consciousness is an emergent property. This does not mean it cannot be understood. There are many phenomena that cannot be understood as the sum of their parts. This does not make them irreducible. That said, the idea that information (energy-entropy, order) is as fundamental (if not more fundamental) a part of the universe as mass, time, and space will get no argument from me.


Is there any evidence that the timing and structure of the information flow is independent of physical processes? How does this evidence compare to the evidence that it is dependent?

We're back to panpsychism, Chinese populations, economies, silicon neurons, Turing machines, and Chinese Rooms. I think your synopsis and analysis of the problem and suggestions for methods are premature given your general lack of knowledge regarding discussion on the subject, notably the concepts listed in the first sentence of this paragraph.

Read Chalmers, Searle, Hofstadter, and others.

That is not evidence, it is a list of systems with large numbers of degrees of freedom. I am interested in the ideas of others, but learn best when I am able to ask questions. You are here and seem to have taken the time to understand these philosophers, they are not accessible to me.
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February 25, 2012, 04:45:25 AM
 #368

That is not evidence, it is a list of systems with large numbers of degrees of freedom. I am interested in the ideas of others, but learn best when I am able to ask questions. You are here and seem to have taken the time to understand these philosophers, they are not accessible to me.

I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted when you think that I should help you understand these difficult topics when at the same time you dispute and nitpick what I say.

I'll say it again. Read Chalmers. He's not just some random book author on the subject. And that's a major understatement.
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February 25, 2012, 05:02:04 AM
 #369

Sorry if it comes off as insulting. In my work, it is common for people to question every claim we make. When I let it bleed though, it can come off as insulting. "Dispute and nitpick" = "questioning and trying to put in my own words".

Reading chalmer's may be the ideal thing, but I have limited time. Rather than searching through his work for the passages relevant to what I have said, it would be easier (for me) if you addressed them directly. If I was talking to Chalmer's would he tell me to just read his books? If his response to my specific claims would be so complex as to require a book-length response, then I have to say it is probably convoluted. If you simply don't feel like putting forth the effort to explain it, then ok.
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February 25, 2012, 05:21:01 AM
 #370

Rather than searching through his work for the passages relevant to what I have said, it would be easier (for me) if you addressed them directly.

This is what is wrong with your methods. You apply the same methodology to your understanding of climate change. Stop looking for passages relevant to what you are looking for. You're not going to prove anything to anyone, least of all yourself, by applying selective choice to your assimilation of knowledge.

Reading Chalmers (or books on climate change) is not an endeavor engaged in for the purpose of answering some specific and most likely ill defined question that you have posed to yourself. Instead, it's about gaining an invisible companion for ten or so hours, as he or she tells you stories and shares with you their thought processes, in a complete argument which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Quote
If I was talking to Chalmer's would he tell me to just read his books?

He would only have so much patience with you, and be more than right when he says he has limited time, given that you just made that claim yourself. Respect others. Your claim about limited time is a little hypocritical.

Quote
If his response to my specific claims would be so complex as to require a book-length response, then I have to say it is probably convoluted. If you simply don't feel like putting forth the effort to explain it, then ok.

I enjoy discussion. But that discussion becomes more enjoyable when the other party finally realizes that there is a treasure trove of wonderful information out there that deserves to be consumed in whole, rather than in snippets.

Furthermore, technical articles on the subject become more useful and meaningful (and I mean snippets and phrases as well) when one has read whole primers on the subject first.

On biodiversity, read:
Edward O. Wilson
John Terborgh
Dave Foreman

On climate change, read:
Tim Flannery
Paul Ehrlich

On consciousness, read:
David Chalmers
John Searle
Douglas Hofstadter
Daniel Dennett
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February 25, 2012, 05:53:43 AM
 #371

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This is what is wrong with your methods. You apply the same methodology to your understanding of climate change. Stop looking for passages relevant to what you are looking for. You're not going to prove anything to anyone, least of all yourself, by applying selective choice to your assimilation of knowledge.

Reading Chalmers (or books on climate change) is not an endeavor engaged in for the purpose of answering some specific and most likely ill defined question that you have posed to yourself. Instead, it's about gaining an invisible companion for ten or so hours, as he or she tells you stories and shares with you their thought processes, in a complete argument which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Well at least we are both consistent. Cheesy

I think your way of understanding is faulty, you think mine is. To each their own I guess. I would say that you are also applying selective choice in assimilating knowledge. It is a necessary problem due to having a limited time on this earth. The real choice is how to spend it. I choose to focus on how data/arguments fit in my schema and accommodate when the schema no longer works, you seem to assess complete arguments and assimilate them into your schema according to "what satisfies you". Both of us probably dabble in the other (I know I do).

And you are right, Chalmer's would only have so much patience with me. I am the same with others with regards to "alkaline diets" and "sub-clinical candidiasis," etc. That is why it is best to figure out the exact source of disagreement ASAP. If it is based on trusting authority or consensus, then most likely we will be wasting our time arguing about logical sounding narratives and ambiguous/misunderstood definitions. I probably will read chalmers one day though.
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February 25, 2012, 05:27:11 PM
 #372

Quote
This is what is wrong with your methods. You apply the same methodology to your understanding of climate change. Stop looking for passages relevant to what you are looking for. You're not going to prove anything to anyone, least of all yourself, by applying selective choice to your assimilation of knowledge.

Reading Chalmers (or books on climate change) is not an endeavor engaged in for the purpose of answering some specific and most likely ill defined question that you have posed to yourself. Instead, it's about gaining an invisible companion for ten or so hours, as he or she tells you stories and shares with you their thought processes, in a complete argument which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Well at least we are both consistent. Cheesy

I think your way of understanding is faulty, you think mine is. To each their own I guess. I would say that you are also applying selective choice in assimilating knowledge. It is a necessary problem due to having a limited time on this earth. The real choice is how to spend it. I choose to focus on how data/arguments fit in my schema and accommodate when the schema no longer works, you seem to assess complete arguments and assimilate them into your schema according to "what satisfies you". Both of us probably dabble in the other (I know I do).

And you are right, Chalmer's would only have so much patience with me. I am the same with others with regards to "alkaline diets" and "sub-clinical candidiasis," etc. That is why it is best to figure out the exact source of disagreement ASAP. If it is based on trusting authority or consensus, then most likely we will be wasting our time arguing about logical sounding narratives and ambiguous/misunderstood definitions. I probably will read chalmers one day though.

Fair enough.

The only real problem I have with the above is this:

That is why it is best to figure out the exact source of disagreement ASAP. If it is based on trusting authority or consensus, then most likely we will be wasting our time arguing about logical sounding narratives and ambiguous/misunderstood definitions.

Complex concepts (ecosystems, climate change, philosophy of mind, etc.) are topics which are understood through illustration of numerous subtopics, examples and explanations which are best absorbed by fully reading a treatise articulated by an expert within the field. Your mining of such texts for particular phrases really leaves you no wiser.

Once you've read the following, you'll be in a better position to understand and dissect the information. I recommend the following books:

The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory - David Chalmers
Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness - Daniel Dennett
The Future of Life - Edward O. Wilson
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth - Tim Flannery
The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment - Paul Ehrlich
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February 27, 2012, 05:26:37 AM
 #373

I must misunderstand you. Are you claiming Scientific American is proper scientific literature but the IPCC reports are not?

No. I'm claiming that your method of filtering what you read is counter productive and detrimental to your learning.

Quote
Is there a review article you recommend?

No. But I have recommended some books for you.
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March 05, 2012, 07:03:19 PM
 #374

I had a go at discussing consciousness in the Off-Topic forum, since this is the Politics and Society forum. I've never really posted there before, but now, after having watched it for a week or two, I can see its really childish. It's too bad the only reasonably intellectual discussion unrelated to Bitcoin must be shoehorned into the category of Politics and Society.
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March 06, 2012, 07:42:10 PM
 #375

I am somewhat familiar with philosophical zombies and turing machines. I just learn best by asking questions... So, with regards to experience: Would you say "experience is the result of physical processes"?

Hameroff is the only guy who "gets it" in this group: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnS_cT8yLtU

It makes you wonder if the guy who interrupted him in the last part is a philosophical zombie.
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March 08, 2012, 03:51:56 AM
 #376

Well it looks like hammeroff takes issue with your ordering in the other thread as well.

I scanned this (get the pdf if you can, it is formatted much better):

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/penrose-hameroff/orchOR.html

It does not answer my initial question, maybe you can point me in the right direction. All cells have microtubules, so why is it only those in the brain that are giving rise to consciousness?

Also, the analysis of microtuble dynamics in that paper is very simplified, maybe because it was published over a decade ago (I can't say for the physics).
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March 08, 2012, 04:26:58 AM
 #377

Well it looks like hammeroff takes issue with your ordering in the other thread as well.

No, he does not. Do not confuse symbolic reflection with the fundamental building blocks of consciousness.

I scanned this (get the pdf if you can, it is formatted much better):

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/penrose-hameroff/orchOR.html

It does not answer my initial question, maybe you can point me in the right direction. All cells have microtubules, so why is it only those in the brain that are giving rise to consciousness?

First of all, let's be clear. I am neither for or against the theory of microtubules. I think the theory is interesting. With regard to your assessment of my 'ordering' and what Hameroff said in the video I linked to, he was not discussing microtubules.

Secondly, and in answer to your question, why don't you dig up what Hameroff has to say about paramecium?

Finally, and in reference to the first quoted statement of yours in this post, do not confuse your brand of emergence with my ideas. Tell me, at what point does the emergence of consciousness occur?
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March 08, 2012, 05:16:28 AM
 #378

I was just asking a question geez...

On rewatching the video, Hammeroff says " it (protoconsciousness) has probably been there since the big bang". So I guess he wasn't talking about consciousness per se.

Quote
Spier and Thomas also argue that 'microtubules are too unstable to account for consciousness' While this is true of non-neuronal dividing cells, whose microtubules radiate from centrioles and are (as Spier and Thomas describe) dynamically unstable, neurons in the brain don’t divide, their microtubules do not radiate from centrioles, and they do not manifest dynamic instability11. Brain microtubules are quite stable and interlinked in complex cytoskeletal networks.
http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/views/freewill.html

Touche. Except that neuronal microtubules do radiate from centrioles and exhibit dynamic instability, (the reference #11 does not exist in that document...) once again this stuff is from the 90's though.

Quote
Finally, and in reference to the first quoted statement of yours in this post, do not confuse your brand of emergence with my ideas. Tell me, at what point does the emergence of consciousness occur?

I think there is likely a continuum of "consciousness" so it does not "emerge" at a certain point.
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March 08, 2012, 05:19:55 AM
 #379

I think there is likely a continuum of "consciousness" so it does not "emerge" at a certain point.

So then you're saying that the fundamental building block of consciousness is there all the way down.

Like this: http://books.google.com/books?id=R6fNPulyndcC&pg=PT82&lpg=PT82&dq=hameroff+proto-consciousness&source=bl&ots=YVoPflad-E&sig=Pf_X0ymAETqFeraIAoCQjsBsyz4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kDZYT_3vFdHIsQLLnNnJDQ&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=hameroff%20proto-consciousness&f=false

That's the thing. Emergence is bullshit. At least with regard to consciousness. Nature (evolution) merely found a good structure (the brain) to harness what was already there.
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March 08, 2012, 05:26:08 AM
 #380

That's the thing. Emergence is bullshit. At least with regard to consciousness. Nature (evolution) merely found a good structure (the brain) to harness what was already there.

To be more precise, proto-consciousness would be the fundamental building block of qualia. That alleviates the Hard Problem somewhat, by stating that qualia is fundamental, right down to the core components of the Universe. From there, evolution merely harnessed that trait inherent in the Universe, and evolved structures which amplify and utilize it.
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