Re: How would a computer know if it were conscious?

From: Colin Hales <>
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2007 10:02:28 +1000 (EST)

I am going to have to be a bit targetted in my responses.... I am a TAD
whelmed at the moment.....

>> 4) Belief in 'magical emergence' .... qualitative novelty of a kind
utterly unrelated to the componentry.

> The latter clause refers to "emergence" (without the "magical"
> qualifier), and it is impossible IMHO to have creativity without

The distinction between 'magical emergence' and 'emergence' is quite
obviously intended by me. A lake is not apparent in the chemical formula
for water. I would defy anyone to quote any example of real-world
'emergence' that does not ultimately rely on a necessary primitive.
'Magical emergence' is when you claim 'qualitative novelty' without having
any idea (you can't point at it) of the necessary primitive, or by
defining an arbitrary one that is actually a notional construct (such as
'information'), rather than anything real.

>> The system (a) automatically prescibes certain trajectories and

> Yes.

>> (b) assumes that the theroem space [and] natural world are the same
and equivalently accessed.

> No - but the system will adjust its model according to feedback. That is
the very nature of any learning algorithm, of which EP is just one example.

Ok. Here's where we find the big assumption. Feedback? HOW? who's
rules? Your rules. This is the real circularity which underpins
computationalism. It's the circularity that my real physical qualia model
cuts and kills. Mathematically:

* You have knowledge KNOWLEDGE(t) of 'out there'
* You want more knowledge of 'out there'
* KNOWLEDGE(t+1) is more than KNOWLEDGE(t)
* in computationalism who defines the necessary route to this?...

     --------------- = something you know = YOU DO.

So this means that in a computer abstraction.

--------------- is already part of KNOWLEDGE(t)

You can label it 'evolutionary' or 'adaptive' or whatever...ultimately the
rules are YOUR rules and come from your previously derived KNOWLEDGE(t) of
'out there', not intrinsically grounded directly in 'out there'. Who
decided what you don't know? YOU DID. What is it based on? YOUR current
knowledge of it, not what is literally/really there. Ungroundedness is the
fatal flaw in the computationalist model. Intrinsic grounding in the
external world is what qualia are for. It means that


(a) built into the brain hardware (plasticity chemistry, out of your
cognitive control)
(b) partly grounded in matter literally/directly constructed in
representation of the external world, reflecting the external world so
that NOVELTY - true novelty in the OUTSIDE WORLD - is apparent.

In this way your current knowledge minimally impacts


In other words, at the fundamental physics level:


in a human brain is NOT part of KNOWLEDGE(t). Qualia are the brain's
solution to the symbolic grounding problem.

> Not at all. In Evolutionary Programming, very little is known about the
ultimate solution the algorithm comes up with.

Yes but that is irrelevant....the programmer said HOW it will get cigar....see the above....

>> My scientific claim is that the electromagnetic field structure
literally the third person view of qualia.

> Eh? Electromagnetic field of what? The brain? If so, do you think that
chemical potentiation plays no role at all in qualia?

Chemical potentiation IS electric field. There's no such thing as
'mechanical' there's no such thing as 'chemical'. These are all metaphors
in certain contexts for what is and charge (yes...and mass
associated with certain charge carriers). Where did you get this weird
idea that a metaphor can make qualia?

The electric field across the membrane of cells (astrocytes and neurons)
entire structure! It does not have to go anywhere. It just has to 'be'.
You 'be' it to get what it delivers. Less than 50% of the signalling in
the brain is synaptic, anyway! The dominant cortical process is actually
an astrocyte syncytium. (look it up!). I would be very silly to ignore the
single biggest, most dominant process of the brain that is so far
completely correlated in every way with favour of any other

Once again I'd like to get you to ask yourself the killer question:

"What is the kind of universe we must live in if the electromagnetic field
structure of the brain delivers qualia?"

A. It is NOT the universe depicted by the qualia (atoma, molecules,
cells...). It is the universe whose innate capacity to deliver qualia is
taken advantage of when configureed like it appears when we use qualia
themselves to explore it....cortical brain matter. (NOTE: Please do not
make the mistake that sensors - peripheral affect - are equivalent to

My original solution to

Re: How would a computer know if it were conscious?

stands. The computer must have a qualia-depiction of its external world
and it will know it because it can do science. If it doesn't/can't it's a
rock/doorstop. In any computer model, every time an algoritm decides what
'is' (what is visible/there) it intrisically defines 'what isn't' (what is
invisible/not there). All novelty becomes thus pre-ordained.

anyway.....Ultimately 'how' qualia are generated is moot.

That they are _necessarily_ involved is the key issue. On their own they
are not sufficient for science to occur.


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Received on Sat Jun 16 2007 - 20:02:53 PDT

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