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

From: Colin Hales <>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 12:45:43 +1000 (EST)

down a waaaays......
Russell Standish wrote:
> On Sun, Jun 17, 2007 at 03:47:19PM +1000, Colin Hales wrote:
>> Hi,
>>> All I can say is that I don't understand your distinction. You have
>> introduced a new term "necessary primitive" - what on earth is that? But
>> I'll let this pass, it probably isn't important.
>> Oh no you don't!! It matters. Bigtime...
>> Take away the necessary primitive: no 'qualititative novelty'
>> Take away the water molecules: No lake.
>> Take away the bricks, no building
>> Take away the atoms: no molecules
>> Take away the cells: no human
>> Take away the humans: no humanity
>> Take away the planets: no solar system
>> Take away the X: No emergent Y
>> Take away the QUALE: No qualia
>> Magical emergence is when but claim Y exists but you can't
>> identify an X. Such as:
> OK, so by necessary primitive, you mean the syntactic or microscopic
> layer. But take this away, and you no longer have emergence. See
> endless discussions on emergence - my paper, or Jochen Fromm's book for
> instance. Does this mean "magical emergence" is oxymoronic?

I do not think I mean what you suggest. To make it almost tediously
Necessary in that if you take it away the 'emergent' is gone.PRIMITIVE
ORGANISATIONAL LAYER = one of the layers of the hierarchy of the natural
world (from strings to atoms to cells and beyond): real observable
-on-the-benchtop-in-the-lab - layers..... Not some arm waving "syntactic"
or "information" or "complexity" or "Computaton" or "function_atom" or
"representon". Magical emergence is real, specious and exactly what I have
said all along:

You claim consciousness arises as a result of ["syntactic" or
"information" or "complexity" or "Computational" or "function_atom"] =
necessary primitive, but it has no scientifically verifiable correlation
with any real natural world phenomenon that you can stand next to and have
your picture taken.

>> You can't use an object derived using the contents of
>> consciousness(observation) to explain why there are any contents of
>> consciousness(observation) at all. It is illogical. (see the wigner quote
>> below). I find the general failure to recognise this brute reality very
>> exasperating.
> People used to think that about life. How can you construct (eg an
> animal) without having a complete discription of that animal. So how
> can an animal self-reproduce without having a complete description of
> itself. But this then leads to an infinite regress.
> The solution to this conundrum was found in the early 20th century -
> first with such theoretical constructs as combinators and lambda
> calculus, then later the actual genetic machinery of life. If it is
> possible in the case of self-reproduction, the it will also likely to
> be possible in the case of self-awareness and consciousness. Stating
> this to illogical doesn't help. That's what people from the time of
> Descartes thought about self-reproduction.
>> <snip>
>>> So this means that in a computer abstraction.
>>>> d(KNOWLEDGE(t))
>>>> --------------- is already part of KNOWLEDGE(t)
>>>> dt
>>> No its not. dK/dt is generated by the interaction of the rules with the
>> environment.
>> No. No. No. There is the old assumption thing again.
>> How, exactly, are you assuming that the agent 'interacts' with the
>> environment? This is the world external to the agent, yes?. Do not say
>> "through sensory measurement", because that will not do. There are an
>> infinite number of universes that could give rise to the same sensory
>> measurements.
> All true, but how does that differ in the case of humans?

The extreme uniqueness of the circumstance alone....We ARE the thing we
describe. We are more entitled to any such claims .....notwithstanding

Because, as I have said over and over... and will say again: We must live
in the kind of universe that delivers or allows access to, in ways as yet
unexplained, some aspects of the distal world, so which sensory I/O can be
attached, and thus conjoined, be used to form the qualia
representation/fields we experience in our heads.

Forget about HOW....that this is necessarily the case is unavoidable.
Maxwell's equations prove it QED - style...Without it, the sensory I/O
(ultimately 100% electromagnetic phenomena) could never resolve the distal
world in any unambiguous way. Such disambiguation physically
happens.....such qualia representations exist, hence brains must have
direct access to the distal world. QED.

>> We are elctromagnetic objects. Basic EM theory. Proven
>> mathematical theorems. The solutions are not unique for an isolated
>> system.
>> Circularity.Circularity.Circularity.
>> There is _no interaction with the environment_ except for that provided by
>> the qualia as an 'as-if' proxy for the environment. The origins of an
>> ability to access the distal external world in support of such a proxy is
>> mysterious but moot. It can and does happen, and that ability must come
>> about because we live in the kind of universe that supports that
>> possibility. The mysteriousness of it is OUR problem.
> You've lost me completely here.

Here you are trying to say that an explanation of consciousness lies "in
that direction" (magical emergence flavour X"), ........when you appear to
never have fully intraspected and explored the brute reality of what your
own neurons deliver to you moment to moment...see the above para.... you
therefore must harbour some sort of as yet undisclosed (even to
yourself...?) metaphysics.

I'll try again.....We necessarily live in a universe that supports the
existence of the internal life qualia delivers...yes? The 'contents'
delivered by this radically sophisticated "set of experienced
reality-metaphors" cannot be literally what the universe is made of.... is
indisputable. Physiological and plain_old_logical evidence seems
blindingly clear to me. Whatever the reality-metaphors are made of, it is
the same as what everything else is made of.....OK... some evidence worth
considering.......I quote the SCIENCE mag 2005 "125 Questions....."
article yet again......Top question: #1, from the cosmologists.


Look at the question from a META-LEVEL standpoint..... It means

"We currently do not know what the universe is made of"
"The universe is not made of anything in any of the standard particle
model. It's not made of electrons, protons, neurons or any'thing' else.
......All these things are made of something and we do NOT KNOW what that
 The universe is NOT MADE OF ATOMS or their constituents"... nor photons
...not quarks...NONE of it.

And of course you must take on board the blizzard of critical argument
that led the entire scientific community as a group in the world's
preeminent science journal to make such a statement... and that there are
good reaosns EMPIRICAL reasosns why that stateent can be made....

............. we then are forced to entertain that the universe is MADE OF
SOMETHING and that something is not any of the things that QUALIA have
ever delivered to us as observations....(QUALIA are the ultimate source of
all scientific evidence used to construct all the empirically verified
depictions of the natural world we have BAR NONE.)....


At the same time we can plausibly and defensibly justify the claim that
whatever the universe is really made of , QUALIA are made of it too, and
that the qualia process and the rest of the process (that appear like
atoms etc in the qualia....are all of the same KIND or CLASS of natural
phenomenon...a perfectly natural phenomenon innate to whatever it is that
it is actually made of.

That is what I mean by "we must live in the kind of universe....." and I
mean 'must' in the sense of formal necessitation of the most stringent



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Received on Wed Jun 20 2007 - 22:46:03 PDT

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