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Author Topic: Consciousness  (Read 8150 times)
hazek
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March 09, 2012, 05:28:09 PM
 #101

Here's a very sobering thought, though. If we're all descendants from the same species of microscopic DNA based life, then it seems that it only happened once. Why aren't there other descendants from other primordial microscopic forms of life on Earth?

Have you seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7TAGf4lOXA

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hazek
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March 09, 2012, 05:31:19 PM
 #102

2. Just DNA life is bound to happen, given a primordial soup.

3. Life is common in the Universe, and technology wielding life is common, and they have spread through their home galaxy in a diaspora.

3. Even a moderate fraction of light speed is not possible. Consider our technology. Our fastest spacecraft would require something like 70,000 years to reach the nearest star, and it's only 4.5 light years away, as opposed to stars in our own galaxy that are nearly a hundred thousand light years away. Still, consider generation ships migrating outwards, or utilizing the resources in the Oort Cloud to hop our away across the void between the stars the way the Pacific Islands were colonized.

Those three sound the most plausible to me. But I'm just guessing.

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March 09, 2012, 06:21:50 PM
 #103

That (mostly) annoying emergent property that comes between naps.

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March 09, 2012, 07:37:18 PM
 #104

Also, consider that the universe is about 14 billion years old and for the first 10 billion or so of those years there were not enough heavy elements to support the formation of rocky planets. Our local star is part of the third generation (about 5 billion years per generation) of stars, which is the first generation that could have rocky planets in orbit.

It really is possible that we are just the first species to develop space-faring technology.
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March 09, 2012, 07:57:38 PM
 #105

Did you watch that video yet?
no Embarrassed  but i will, i promise.

Fascinating stuff guys.

I like to think there is other life out there. However I am not down with the UFO nuts. If some lander ever found a life form in space, my first question would be; Is it DNA based? If yes then I would assume it is related to Earths life forms. Perhaps part of a panspermia system.
If it is not DNA based I would tend to think that life is all over the universe and that there are many paths to achieving living status. I would also think that wherever life comes from is deeper than chemistry. Maybe life is a sub-atomic/quantum phenomenon?

I have a lot of reading to do.   


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March 09, 2012, 08:06:05 PM
 #106

I think it's most likely life arose multiple times independantly on the early earth, but then one form was best and completely out-competed the others for resources. I've got no data for that though.


Here is something to think about. You probably learned in school that you think with your brain. signals are sent along neurons and processed by vast arrays of cells. That makes sense, but it can not be entirely correct. Consider the amoeba. It is a single celled organism with no neurons at all. Yet under my microscope I can watch them hunt, avoid things, even make choices about what to do next. How?

F#(K if I know???
 

Amoebas will move along chemical gradients towards food and away from deleterious stimuli. Their responses to these things are pretty much (ignoring epigenetics for now) hard coded in their DNA. They have receptors on their surface that change conformation in response to binding external molecules, the internal portion of the receptor then has a different most stable conformation and thus begins a chain of reactions (with all sorts of feedbacks) that alter the cytoskeleton giving movement. This is well known, so what exactly are you looking for an explanation for?
I also doubt that life on Earth is a One-off. Since planets and stars everywhere look similar, why should life here be special? Maybe it did not even start here.
What I want to know about the amoeba is... Is it conscious? Or perhaps, when is the benchmark of consciousness crossed? A human is clearly conscious, an amoeba could be considered to be; but what about a chemical reaction? My guess is that consciousness and what makes something alive are closely related. 
P.S. Don't get me started on the epigenome! Wow, there a lot of undiscovered knowledge on that topic!

First Ascent would disagree, but I would say stop thinking of consciousness as a binary phenomenon and start thinking of it as a spectrum that is related to how complex a system (organism, cell) is.
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March 10, 2012, 04:47:49 AM
 #107

First Ascent would disagree, but I would say stop thinking of consciousness as a binary phenomenon and start thinking of it as a spectrum that is related to how complex a system (organism, cell) is.

Bitcoinbitcoin113 almost has it right, but not quite. His advice is just a little simple.

Obviously consciousness spans a spectrum from being highly aware to being sort of aware. If you've ever been put under, you know what I'm talking about. You just slowly drift out of consciousness.

What bitcoinbitcoin113 fails to address or acknowledge is that even variable things have quanta - i.e. most all things with variable amounts of power are still composed of units at some basic level. Bitcoinbitcoin113 might argue that it's a neuron, but that's because he's a neuroscientist and he clings to this logically false ideal that because of that, neurons must be the answer to saying why we're conscious. If you give it some hard thought though, you'll see how silly that is.

Fundamentally, consciousness is likely composed of simpler units. I subscribe to the idea that consciousness is composed of tiny proto-conscious units which are fundamentally part of the Universe.

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March 11, 2012, 04:09:39 AM
 #108

http://vimeo.com/38101676
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March 11, 2012, 04:24:17 PM
 #109

First Ascent would disagree, but I would say stop thinking of consciousness as a binary phenomenon and start thinking of it as a spectrum that is related to how complex a system (organism, cell) is.

Bitcoinbitcoin113 almost has it right, but not quite. His advice is just a little simple.

Obviously consciousness spans a spectrum from being highly aware to being sort of aware. If you've ever been put under, you know what I'm talking about. You just slowly drift out of consciousness.

What bitcoinbitcoin113 fails to address or acknowledge is that even variable things have quanta - i.e. most all things with variable amounts of power are still composed of units at some basic level. Bitcoinbitcoin113 might argue that it's a neuron, but that's because he's a neuroscientist and he clings to this logically false ideal that because of that, neurons must be the answer to saying why we're conscious. If you give it some hard thought though, you'll see how silly that is.

Fundamentally, consciousness is likely composed of simpler units. I subscribe to the idea that consciousness is composed of tiny proto-conscious units which are fundamentally part of the Universe.



I would nuance this. I don't think "neurons must be the answer", just that it is most plausible.
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March 11, 2012, 05:10:10 PM
 #110

I would nuance this. I don't think "neurons must be the answer", just that it is most plausible.

And just what the heck is it about a neuron and it's firing that makes consciousness whereas something else doesn't?

I'll say it again: the brain's structure and organization capitalize on and efficiently build our level of consciousness from the most basic and primitive components which essentially already possess a sort of proto-consciousness at a very fundamental level.

I absolutely do not think that it is logical to believe that a set of neurons and their wiring should produce qualia otherwise.

I do believe that neurons and their wiring can produce behavior and zombie like memory, but there would be no qualia without there being some intrinsic qualia like property built into the Universe already at a deep down level.

The brain amplifies the sensing of qualia and organizes it into millions of different experiences, but it does not create qualia out of nothing.
hazek
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March 11, 2012, 05:29:25 PM
 #111

Did you watch this TED talk?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrzdk_YnYY

Also a question for you. Do you know of any computer on this planet as capable and running as many functions simultaneously as our brain is/does?

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

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March 11, 2012, 05:36:52 PM
 #112

Did you watch this TED talk?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrzdk_YnYY

Also a question for you. Do you know of any computer on this planet as capable and running as many functions simultaneously as our brain is/does?

I watched part of the video.

The brain has about 100 billion neurons, each connecting to about 5,000 other neurons, giving about 500 trillion connections. It is these connections which are varying in strength which define our memory and how our brain will behave. In a simple computer model, you need to store both the strength of the connection, and the distance (to model synaptic timing). That's two values, preferably floats, which would require 4,000 terabytes. That would be a really simple model.
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March 11, 2012, 05:50:35 PM
 #113

Did you watch this TED talk?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrzdk_YnYY

Also a question for you. Do you know of any computer on this planet as capable and running as many functions simultaneously as our brain is/does?

I watched part of the video.

The brain has about 100 billion neurons, each connecting to about 5,000 other neurons, giving about 500 trillion connections. It is these connections which are varying in strength which define our memory and how our brain will behave. In a simple computer model, you need to store both the strength of the connection, and the distance (to model synaptic timing). That's two values, preferably floats, which would require 4,000 terabytes. That would be a really simple model.

Get back to me, when you've seen the whole video, especially past the 11min mark, and get back to me when such a computer has been built.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

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FirstAscent
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March 11, 2012, 06:16:59 PM
 #114

Did you watch this TED talk?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMrzdk_YnYY

Also a question for you. Do you know of any computer on this planet as capable and running as many functions simultaneously as our brain is/does?

I watched part of the video.

The brain has about 100 billion neurons, each connecting to about 5,000 other neurons, giving about 500 trillion connections. It is these connections which are varying in strength which define our memory and how our brain will behave. In a simple computer model, you need to store both the strength of the connection, and the distance (to model synaptic timing). That's two values, preferably floats, which would require 4,000 terabytes. That would be a really simple model.

Get back to me, when you've seen the whole video, especially past the 11min mark, and get back to me when such a computer has been built.

Ummm, so I watched the video. He's doing good work - on the Easy Problem. No mention of the Hard Problem though. Get a solid understanding of the distinctions between those two problems, and then we can move on.
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March 18, 2012, 12:39:26 AM
 #115

While perhaps not so pertinent to the hard problem, what do you guys think of Bruce Liption (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeZL72IStGo&feature=related)?

The marketing for his books and videos made me initially assume it was new agey nonsense (maybe it is).  He purports that our perceptions physically drive our biology, then he goes on to conclude that through various methods we can learn to alter our own perceptions to gain at least some mastery over the biology in our bodies.  The science he describes seems compelling however with only high school biology under my belt I feel completely unqualified to confirm or question in part or whole the science behind his work.

Honestly I have no idea how his conclusions are perceived by the science community.  Is this fringe stuff or fairly widely accepted?

Would be interest in your reactions.

Thanks.
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March 18, 2012, 11:23:20 PM
 #116

While perhaps not so pertinent to the hard problem, what do you guys think of Bruce Liption (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeZL72IStGo&feature=related)?

The marketing for his books and videos made me initially assume it was new agey nonsense (maybe it is).  He purports that our perceptions physically drive our biology, then he goes on to conclude that through various methods we can learn to alter our own perceptions to gain at least some mastery over the biology in our bodies.  The science he describes seems compelling however with only high school biology under my belt I feel completely unqualified to confirm or question in part or whole the science behind his work.

Honestly I have no idea how his conclusions are perceived by the science community.  Is this fringe stuff or fairly widely accepted?

Would be interest in your reactions.
Thanks.

Almost everything he is saying is widley known and commonly accepted, so I am not sure why he paints himself as a contrarian. I think some of the metaphors he uses are more confusing than they need to be (i.e perception=interaction between cell and environment).

There is only very weak evidence for directed mutations, and all of it is from single celled organisms. He is making a quite a leap of faith in jumping from that to the idea that human perception can alter DNA in some targeted fashion. However, it is generally accepted that mental state can affect the functioning of all the tissue in the body, the question is how much.

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March 19, 2012, 03:30:40 AM
 #117

However, it is generally accepted that mental state can affect the functioning of all the tissue in the body, the question is how much.

Agreed.
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March 19, 2012, 04:39:03 PM
 #118

So are we settled then and in agreement that qualia is not any of the following:

- The intake of sensory data by the body's sensory organs
- The filtering and translation of that data from one neuronal pattern to another
- The presence of that data in some pattern of neuronal pattern of activity in a brain
- The continued firing of neurons which change neuronal patterns from one pattern to another
- The resulting pattern of neuronal activity in a brain which causes one to lift a finger and do something
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March 19, 2012, 11:53:40 PM
 #119

The ability to be conscious of a thing, mentally, is the only manner through which anyone experiences anything!

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March 21, 2012, 12:22:26 AM
 #120

So are we settled then and in agreement that qualia is not any of the following:

- The intake of sensory data by the body's sensory organs
- The filtering and translation of that data from one neuronal pattern to another
- The presence of that data in some pattern of neuronal pattern of activity in a brain
- The continued firing of neurons which change neuronal patterns from one pattern to another
- The resulting pattern of neuronal activity in a brain which causes one to lift a finger and do something

Qualia:


I don't think we should assume that qualia can be satisfactorily described with human language.
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