Re: computer pain

From: Mark Peaty <>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 00:22:32 +0900

Well this is fascinating! I tend to think that Brent's 'simplistic'
approach of setting up oscillating EM fields of specific frequencies at
specific locations is more likely to be good evidence of EM involvement
in qualia, because the victim, I mean experimental subject, can relate
what is happening. Do it to enough naive subjects and, if their accounts
of the changes wrought in their experience agree with your predictions,
you will have provisional verification. Just make sure you have a
falsifiable prediction first.

On the other hand Colin's project seems out of reach to me. This is
probably because I don't really understand it. I do not, for example,
understand how Colin seems to think that we can dispense with the
concept of representation. I am however very sceptical of all 'quantum'
mechanical/entanglement theories of consciousness. As far as I can see
humans are 'classical' in nature, built out of fundamental particles
like everything else in the universe of course, but we can live and move
and have our being BECAUSE each one of us, and the major parts which
compose us, are all big enough to endure over and above the quantum
uncertainty. So we don't 'flit in and out of existence' like some people
say. We wake up, go to sleep, dose off at the wrong time, forget what we
are doing, live through social/cultural descriptions of the world, dream
and aspire, and sometimes experience amazing insights which can turn our
lives around. We survive and endure by doing mostly the tried and true
things we have learned so well that they are deeply ingrained habits.
Most of what we do, perceive, and think is so stolidly habitual and
'built-in' that we are almost completely unaware of it; it is fixtures
and fittings of the mind if you like. It all works for us, and the whole
social and cultural milieu of economic and personal transactions,
accounting, appointments, whatever, can happen so successfully BECAUSE
so much of what we are and do is solidly habitual and predictable. In my
simplistic view, consciousness is the registration of discrepancy
between what the brain has predicted compared to what actually happened.
Everything else, the bulk of what constitutes the mind in effect, is the
ceaseless evoking, selecting, ignoring or suppressing, storing,
amalgamating or splitting of the dynamic logical structures which
represent our world, and without which we are just lumps of meat. These
dynamic logical structures actually EXIST during their evocation. [And
this is why there is 'something it is like to be ...']

This may seem like a very boring view of things but I think now there is
an amazing amount of explanation already available concerning human
experience. I am not saying there is nothing new to discover, far from
it, just that the continuous denial that most of the pieces of the
puzzle are already exposed and arranged in the right order is not helpful.

What ought to be clear to everybody is that our awareness of being here,
of being anything in fact, entails a continuous process of
self-referencing. It entails a continuous process of locating self in
one's world. This self-referencing is always inherently partial and
incomplete, but unless this incompleteness itself is explicitly
represented, we are not aware of it. We are only ever aware of
relationships explicitly represented and being explicitly represented
entails inclusion of representation of at least some aspects of how
whatever it is, is, was, will be, or might become, causally connected to
oneself. When we perceive or imagine things, it is always from a view
point, listening point, or at a point of contact. The 'location' of
something or someone is an intrinsic part of its or their identity, and
the key element of location as such is in relation to oneself or in
relation to someone who we ourselves identify with; they are extensions
of ourselves.

I'll leave that there for the moment. I just want to add that I believe
Colin Hales is right in focussing on the ability of humans to do
science. I look at that more from the point of view that being able to
do science, and being able to perceive and understand entropy - even if
it is only grasping where crumbs and fluff balls come from - are what
allow us to know that we are NOT in some kind of computer generated
matrix. We live in a real, open universe that exists independently of
each of us but yet is incomplete without us.
Mark Peaty CDES

Brent Meeker wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>> Colin Hales writes:
>>>> I understand your conclusion, that a model of a brain
>>>> won't be able to handle novelty like a real brain,
>>>> but I am trying to understand the nuts and
>>>> bolts of how the model is going to fail. For
>>>> example, you can say that perpetual motion
>>>> machines are impossible because they disobey
>>>> the first or second law of thermodynamics,
>>>> but you can also look at a particular design of such a
>>>> machine > and point out where the moving parts are going
>>>> to slow down due to friction.
>>>> So, you have the brain and the model of the brain,
>>>> and you present them both with the same novel situation,
>>>> say an auditory stimulus. They both process the
>>>> stimulus and produce a response in the form of efferent
>>>> impulses which move the vocal cords and produce speech;
>>>> but the brain says something clever while the computer
>>>> declares that it is lost for words. The obvious explanation
>>>> is that the computer model is not good enough, and maybe
>>>> a better model would perform better, but I think you would
>>>> say that *no* model, no matter how good, could match the brain.
>>>> Now, we agree that the brain contains matter which
>>>> follows the laws of physics.
>>>> Before the novel stimulus is applied the brain
>>>> is in configuration x. The stimulus essentially adds
>>>> energy to the brain in a very specific way, and as a
>>>> result of this the brain undergoes a very complex sequence
>>>> of physical changes, ending up in
>>>> configuration y, in the process outputting energy
>>>> in a very specific way which causes the vocal cords to move.
>>>> The important point is, in the transformations
>>>> x->y the various parts of the brain are just working
>>>> like parts of an elaborate Rube Goldberg mechanism.
>>>> There can be no surprises, because that would be
>>>> magic: two positively charged entities suddenly
>>>> start attracting each other, or
>>>> the hammer hits the pendulum and no momentum
>>>> is transferred. If there is magic -
>>>> actually worse than that, unpredictable magic -
>>>> then it won't be possible to model
>>>> the brain or the Rube Goldberg machine. But, barring magic,
>>>> it should be possible to predict the physical state
>>>> transitions x->y and hence you will know
>>>> what the motor output to the vocal cords will be and
>>>> what the vocal response to the
>>>> novel stimulus will be.
>>>> Classical chaos and quantum uncertainty may make it
>>>> difficult or impossible to
>>>> predict what a particular brain will do on a
>>>> particular day, but they should not be a theoretical
>>>> impediment to modelling a generic brain which behaves in an
>>>> acceptably brain-like manner. Only unpredictable magical
>>>> effects would prevent that.
>>>> Stathis Papaiaonnou
>>> I get where you're coming from. The problem is, what I am going to say
>>> will, in your eyes, put the reason into the class of 'magic'. I am quite
>>> used to it, and don't find it magical at all....
>>> The problem is that the distal objects that are the subject about which
>>> the brain is informing itself, are literally, physically involved in the
>>> process. You can't model them, because you don't know what they are. All
>>> you have is sensory measurements and they are local and
>>> ambiguous....that's why you are doing the 'qualia dance' with EM fields -
>>> to 'cohere' with the external world. This non-locality is the same
>>> non-locality observed in QM and makes gravity 'action at a distance'
>>> possible. ..... I've been thinking about this for so long I actually have
>>> the reverse problem now...I find 'locality' really weird! I find 'extent'
>>> really hard to fathom. The non-locality is also predicted as the solution
>>> to the 'unity' issue.
>>> The empirical testing to verify this non-locality is the real target of my
>>> eventual experimentation. My model and the real chips will behave
>>> differently, it is predicted, because of the involvement of the 'external
>>> world' that is not available to the model.
>>> I hope to be able to 'switch off' the qualia whilst holding eveything else
>>> the same. The effects on subsequent learning will be indicative of the
>>> involvement of the qualia in learning. What the external world 'looks
>>> like' in the brain is 'virtual circuits' - average EM channels (regions of
>>> low potential that are like a temporary 'wire') down which chemistry can
>>> flow to alter synaptic weights and rearrange channel positions/rafting in
>>> the membrane and so on.
>>> So I guess my proclaimations about models are all contingent on my own
>>> view of things...and I could be wrong. Only time will tell. I have good
>>> physical grounds to doubt that modelling can work and I have a way of
>>> testing it. So at least it can be resolved some day.
>> I'm not sure of the details of your experiments, but wouldn't the most direct
>> way to prove what you are saying be to isolate just that physical process
>> which cannot be modelled? For example, if it is EM fields, set up an appropriately
>> brain-like configuration of EM fields, introduce some environmental input, then
>> show that the response of the fields deviates from what Maxwell's equations
>> would predict.
>> Stathis Papaioannou
> I don't think Colin is claiming the fields deviate from Maxwell's equations - he says they are good descriptions, they just miss the qualia.
> Seems to me it would be a lot simpler to set up some EM fields of various spatial and frequency variation and see if they change your qualia.
> Brent Meeker
> >

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Received on Sun Dec 17 2006 - 10:23:21 PST

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