Re: Dreaming On

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 23:07:23 +1000

2009/8/24 David Nyman <>:

> Having said all this, it is interesting to reconsider your formulation
> "the brain did its thing without us understanding it, creating its own
> context".  What is it about *being* the brain that causes this context
> to be self-referentially available, but hides it beyond possibility of
> recovery from 'observation'?

Whether it can be hidden beyond the *possibility* of recovery is an
interesting question. Certainly it would be very difficult to figure
out what an alien brain is thinking about from observation, like
cracking a very difficult code, but could it be made so that it's
impossible to figure out? We would be able to figure out something
about an alien code, such as a written language, by observing various
regularities, but we would be unable to figure out the actual meaning
of words unless we had some extra-language information; that is, we
could figure out the syntax, but not the semantics. Similarly with the
brain, we might be able to figure out certain patterns and
regularities, but without further information obtained by connecting
I/O devices or perhaps by obtaining the instruction manuals, we would
have no idea what the brain activity means, let alone what it feels
like from the brain's point of view. But would it be possible for the
brain's activity to be deliberately obscured such that not even the
syntax can be guessed at, the equivalent of encryption using a
one-time pad?

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Mon Aug 24 2009 - 23:07:23 PDT

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