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

From: Mark Peaty <>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 00:55:30 +0800

[Grin] I just found your question here John.

JM: 'What is electric field?'

MP: It is just part of a way of talking about that which is. In
combination with other good science it is an extremely useful
description of many consistencies in the world we see. It helps
us to be more exacting in distinguishing changeable features of
our world from things which don't change.

But then, as you have said so many times, everything changes -
if we observe it for long enough. So, what does not change?
I think the answer to that question is: 'We don't know'. What we
DO however is to fix on certain ideas and principles and use
these to guide ourselves in all the big and little things in
life. Because we humans have words we have a potentially
infinite number of potential 'fixed points', or at least things
which may be used as such, to steer our course through life.
[NB: Hidden in the forgoing is an explanation of why I have
great difficulty with Bruno's COMP and AR arguments, but I am
not a mathematician so say no more here.]

I think Colin is doing a tremendous job here in paring down the

I think this:
> --------------- = something you know = YOU DO.
> dt
is brilliant!

As I see it, this term is an equivalent expression to my UMSITW
'updating model of self in the world'. It entails a
self-referencing, iterative process.
For humans there is something like at least three iterations
working in parallel and such that the 'output' of any of them
can become the 'input' of any other. Something like:
a/ basic animal responses to the world -
Senses---------->| brain stem |->| |
Senses---------->| thalamus |->|body motor image|->muscles
proprioception-->|basal ganglia |->| body image |

b/ high speed discrepancy checking -
body motor image->|cerebellum|->muscles
body sense image->| memory |->body motor/pre motor image

c/ multi-tasking, prioritising ["Global workspace"]
frontal cortex-------><-|hippocampus|-><-multiple cortex
brain stem, thalamus-><-| memory |->body motor/pre motor image
basal ganglia--------><-| |-><-cerebellum

And that is all guesswork of course, based on gleanings from
some of the writings of A Damasio, G Edelman, J.P.Changeaux, A
Luria, V.B.Mountcastle, M Gazaniga, and many more who my faulty
memory has left buried. In fact the interlinking is far more
complex than I could possibly talk about but the basic drift is
that Colin's KNOWLEDGE term is the sum total of everything which
has been assimilated from the individual's prior experience. The
brain uses about 20% or 25% of the body's energy supply in
creating representations of changes going on in the world around
as well as developments in completely internal processes.
Measuring the changes against prior knowledge and expectation
allows the individual to achieve her best effort in doing the
most appropriate thing at the right time and in the most
efficient way possible.

Oops! That was much longer than expected, I hope you didn't miss
all the good bits with your finger on the 'fast forward' button?


Mark Peaty (Dilettante - still practising :-)

John Mikes wrote:
> Hi
> On 6/16/07, *Colin Hales* <
> <>> wrote:
> ....
> " >Chemical potentiation IS electric field...<
> ...
> What is electric field?
> John M (frmr chemist)
> Hi,
> 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
> emergence.
> 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
> space
> 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.
> dt
> So this means that in a computer abstraction.
> --------------- is already part of KNOWLEDGE(t)
> dt
> You can label it 'evolutionary' or 'adaptive' or
> whatever...ultimately the
> rules are YOUR rules and come from your previously derived
> '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
> ---------------
> dt
> is
> (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
> ---------------
> dt
> In other words, at the fundamental physics level:
> ---------------
> dt
> 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)
> dominates the
> 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
> cause.
> -------------------
> 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
> qualia.)
> 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.
> cheers
> colin

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Received on Tue Jun 19 2007 - 12:55:42 PDT

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