If No Consciousness Exists, By What Right Does The Universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Cyperium, May 22, 2021.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Well you can argue that out with Pigliucci then. It's just not an issue for science, at any rate.

    I have a question for you, now. Do you think a computer is "conscious" and, if not, how would you prove that?
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Correction with respect to:

    Actually, this seems to be something that an interviewer introduced during a podcast rather than Keith Frankish. It would be contradictory anyway, if a "summary representation" was exhibiting itself (was phenomenal).

    Illusionism seems to be obscure apart from its denial of experience having phenomenal properties. Which in turn renders Frankish's version of experience blank (superfluous). Anything that is presenting or "showing" -- appearance -- is phenomenal, including inferences and technical affairs mediated by descriptive language. (What academic reasoning utilizes, if not the crow or raven rationalizing that it can use a stick as a tool to extract larvae from a decaying log.)

    Frankish may mistakenly believe that the hard problem is about qualia (or specific content of consciousness), when Chalmers plainly states in the original paper that the "really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience" (general manifestation via various visual, auditory, tactile, etc modes). Frankish ironically still grants that there is experience (as did Dennett in "Quining Qualia"), so illusionism is basically addressing a strawman.

    But note that none of the contemporary actors in philosophy of mind (on either side) seem to be capable of refining "experience" down to what it fundamentally is: manifestation (of anything). Perhaps the last individual to do that was Erwin Schrödinger:

    "The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence. Its becoming manifest is conditional on very special goings-on in very special parts of this very world, namely on certain events that happen in a brain. That is an inordinately peculiar kind of implication, which prompts the question: What particular properties distinguish these brain processes and enable them to produce the manifestation? Can we guess which material processes have this power, which not? Or simple: What kind of material process is directly associated with consciousness?" --What is Life? Mind and Matter

    This inability of all current parties to verbally express what experience fundamentally is (i.e., they get sidetracked and obsessed with its content), is a good reason for replacing the label "hard problem of consciousness" with something like "the issue of manifestation". So that it becomes more difficult for detours, confusion, and strawmen to happen.
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I still believe that Tegmark identified the phenomenon correctly, in that it seems to cover all expressions and levels of consciousness.

    He proposes that consciousness is a mathematical pattern.

    Consciousness Is A Mathematical Pattern

    The interesting part for us atheists is that if this approach applies to small scales, it might potentially also apply at much larger scales?
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    A category like "mathematical pattern" in a mundane context does not entail manifestation as an ability. Pertains to any technically described abstraction that humans have artificially extracted from empirical affairs. Like the generalized idea or measurement of "five" from several sets of different items (rocks, apples, fingers, etc) that have that specific "count" property in common. Everything phenomenal is stripped away to produce an abstract entity (though the symbols slash tokens representing _X_ can be quite phenomenal in vision or hearing).

    Now when it comes to reifying mathematics as some sort of ontology or metaphysics in an ancient Greek context, I suppose one could toss in whatever powers and features one desired. Including that mathematical entities are either phenomenal or are generative principles that output manifested, concrete affairs. But that is a prescriptive activity -- motivated reasoning and creativity, as opposed to (figuratively) discovering _X_ under a rock.
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Well, that is debatable .
    Consciousness is not an abstraction. The hard fact is that most living things exhibit "awareness" of their environment due to the specific pattern their molecules are arranged in.

    Wetness (water) is a mathematical pattern of non-wet particles. We call these emergent properties, but they are a result of the specific pattern of particles which yields a specific ability to do work. Is consciousness an emergent ability of certain mathematical patterns our particles are arranged in? AFAIK, that is current science.

    But forget the human human brain for a moment and consider how and why a slime mold can solve a maze by self-referential markings, which allow it to find the only way out of the maze by a process of mathematical subtraction. You can justify this in many ways, but the fact remains that it is an ability of slime mold to solve mazes and therefore exhibits a form of fundamental intelligence.

    Have a taste of this;

    What rule requires mundane thinking when comtemplating the universe?
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Outward mechanistic form alone (extrinsic properties or relationships) merely substantiates zombie consciousness, not experiences. To unpackage this:

    Adding the adjective of "mathematical" to patterns (or the empirical things which the concept of "patterns" is superimposed over) simply means that the discipline (mathematics) studies spatial relationships or geometrical structure in addition to quantity, and is thereby inclusive of "patterns".

    It doesn't mean the invented category slash discipline of "mathematics" owns patterns, form, structure, or organization any more than the invented discipline of astronomy owns the planets, stars, galaxies of the universe. Which is to say, appending the adjective "mathematical" to items doesn't provide them with additional causal powers.

    Yes, it can be zealously construed that "pattern" is even what intelligence (as a spectrum from simple to advanced) fundamentally depends upon to begin with: Mechanistic spatial configurations that store information and dynamically react, discriminate and respond in special, functional ways. The primitive precursor for "intelligence" is thereby the universal ability of matter to interact with itself and constitute changeable structures. Thus allowing multiple substrates to instantiate sapient activity.

    But such is also a precursor for everything else, too, so no need for us to narrowly label those precursor capacities "proto-intelligence". That would be like calling a carbon atom a "proto-organism" or "proto-human", as if biological entities are the only affairs carbon can implement.

    It's no different for zombie consciousness (outward conscious behavior of a body that is devoid of experience). Dynamic mechanistic configurations are responsible for detecting details of the environment and navigating a "robot" through an obstacle course of things, and even identifying items.

    Nothing about that (zombie consciousness) entails the conception of "patterns" globally having intrinsic states with properties that could developmentally produce experiences.

    Though if philosophers or scientists want to explain our brand of consciousness that features experience and its phenomenal (exhibited) content, then they would seem to have to go a route of attributing intrinsic states to matter. To avoid explanations that are dualism scenarios caused by either the "summoning" or the conjuring acts of distributed electrochemical patterns.[1]

    For instance, anyone who gets away from that dualism by claiming that the experiences (manifestations) of consciousness literally are the neural correlates themselves is asserting (whether verbally realizing it or not) that matter has intrinsic states. Because the external or extrinsic relationships of neural electrochemical patterns that are either in sensory mode or dreaming mode sure as heck don't outwardly resemble the perceptual content itself or a dream itself.

    It's only when going down a motivated route like this to explain _X_ that "patterns" (or the arrangement of matter which that concept is applied to as an identifier) would seem to entail a hidden phenomenal character that can be developmentally manipulated into the complex experiences of consciousness. Otherwise, it is or would be an unnecessary, speculative possibility.

    - - - footnote - - -

    [1] Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: "Moreover, it must be confessed that perception and that which depends upon it [or rather a sensory experience -- a private manifestation of consciousness and its content] are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by means of figures and motions. And supposing there were a machine, so constructed as to think, feel, and have perception, it might be conceived as increased in size, while keeping the same proportions, so that one might go into it as into a mill. That being so, we should, on examining its interior, find only parts which work one upon another, and never anything by which to explain a perception."​
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
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  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    That is exactly what Tegmark proposes and explains how a sunflower possesses functional heliotropic properties, and how a slime mold can solve mazes.. He explains that there is no dualism, no magic ingredient, and proposes that we already posses all the hardware necessary for the emergence of consciousness. He calls that a "hard fact"
    The problem is that the brain has several trillion synapses and it's pattern is not designed but evolved. This is why there are no two brains exactly alike, but some brains posses mirror neural networks with closely related patterns , which allow for empathic experiences.

    IMO it is in mapping empathic brains that might reveal "common denominators" in individual brains. This has already been tested and mapped in monkeys and people, but is limited to experiencing basic emotions such as hunger, pain, sexual arousal, etc.

    Cognitive Empathy
    The study of empathy is an ongoing area of major interest for psychologists and neuroscientists in many fields, with new research appearing regularly.

    IMO, common denominators will hold the key to successful brain pattern mapping.
  11. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    It is a proof that something exists. It is not a proof that the objective universe exists, or that your body exists. It is only a proof that the self exists (that which perceives), whatever that is.

    If it were to be proof that your body exists objectively, or proof that what you perceive objectively exists, then we wouldn't have to assume that objective reality exists. Which is exactly what all science has to assume. Which is also why everything is just a theory and cannot be anything else than that, even the most proven theory will never be more than a theory. UNDER the assumption that objective reality actually exists.

    The I is the only thing actually proven to exist, and proven only to the I. Turns out that the only proof of existence that we have, is the proof that consciousness gives us. Why consciousness is the hard problem, and perhaps the last problem before we can actually prove that objective reality exists. But such a proof would mean that it too is based on consciousness. That is the only way to prove objective reality, we would have to join the consciousness that it consists of. Cause we can only really know, what we are.

    True, it's all subjective views on the world, but if all is subjective views on the world, then what is objective? What does it mean to objectively exist, if we have to disregard the subjective? Objectivity just means that it is something that all (or most of us) agree upon subjectively. Several people can look at a rock and say that it exists objectively because they all agree that it exists, they share the same experience of the rock existing. It is a subjective experience, just a coherent subjective experience. You can all disagree on what you feel when you see the rock, some of you may even have the rock in your blind-spot in the eye and determine that it doesn't exist, but can easily be persuaded by looking more carefully. Still it is all subjective experiences.

    The truth is: we don't know how anything can exist objectively. We haven't discovered any foundation for objective existence. Objective reality is unproven. The only thing proven, is that I exist (and you should read that "I" as your own personal subjective "I", not mine). The only proof we have of existence at all, is our own subjective existence. Not our body. Not anything relating to our objective existence. But only that fleeting sensation of what it is to be.

    How Scientists Are Learning To Read Our Minds

    The technology isn't perfect and is pretty new, the computer need to be trained to know what the person is thinking and it will only know what the person is thinking that it has trained on, but it's much like how voice recognition needed to be trained at first, but nowadays it just effortlessly decodes what we are saying. The same, I think, is going to apply to reading thoughts.

    It's only a matter of time until we actually get there. Research is being done constantly to get us there. Right now, for medicinal purposes. In the future; to be used in court.

    At the current progress, we can train the computer to relate the brain signals to thoughts, each specific thought has to be trained to be recognized by the computer, no way that would hold in court. But as we progress further in this research, sooner or later we get to a point where we can detect thoughts and lies to a high precision.
  12. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    At this time science can't even touch it. That's true. It is a issue but not a issue that we know how to pursue. I guess brain research is a good start though, the only source of consciousness that we can have any confidence in.

    What I think doesn't really matter, I think it is, but not conscious as we would think of it, not conscious as a computer (or rather; what we define a computer to be). The brain that produces consciousness in us looks nothing like a human body, or a sensation, or a self. That which is conscious doesn't need to look like what it is conscious of. Who knows what a "computer" would be conscious of, or what it is like to be a computer. It could be severely dis-attached to what we perceive a computer to be.

    I don't think we can prove that it is conscious, I don't even think we can prove that another person is conscious (depending on your definition of consciousness of course, but say having a sense of self, or a sense of being). It is a bit distracting that we have the same word for consciousness and the state of being awake. We can discern if a person is awake, and thus being conscious in that sense of the word, but the same cannot be said of having a sensation of being - which is the sense of the word that deals with qualia and what the hard problem of consciousness is concerned about.
  13. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I don't know about that model, but perhaps we think along the same lines. I've read some of it but I don't think the conclusions follows from their premises, at least not at that attempt of explaining it. I became a bit bored after that, but I might read more about it later to see if it relates to the ideas I've been having. We shouldn't be disheartened if a theory suggest godlike properties (like a universal consciousness or things along those lines). I don't think it should be "forced" upon the model, but if it naturally arises from it then we shouldn't forcefully take it away either (or just blindly dismiss the model because of it).
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    This is why Anil Seth posits that we all hallucinate our realities, and only when our hallucinations agree may we call that reality.
  15. river


    Psychology .

    Do you understand a Tree of any kind ?
  16. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Maybe you don't but, me and the Tree are uninterested.
  17. river

    Knowledge missed .
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Do we agree that a tree of any kind is still a tree? If 10 people say it's a bush and you say its a tree , it's a bush and you are delusional.
  19. river

    Because you don't know .
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    If I get confirmation of my perception from many sources and you get none, then you are delusional and I am confident my perspective has been confirmed.

    This is the terrible double edge of the same sword. A mass delusion may appear truth to the mass, and will resist any factual evidence to the contrary.

    This is the problem with theism. It's a mass delusion, contrary to verified scientific evidence.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I agree, but it is not a purely human invented (imaginary) discipline which identifies existing patterns and behavioral powers.

    Human mathematics are only the symbolic representation of observed axiomatic (inherent) natural mathematical values and functions. We have also observed that complex patterns acquire (emergent) complex abilities. A circular object acquires the ability to roll (ask any Dung Beetle). A triangle acquires the ability to form complex fractals by mere iteration.

    IMO the OP question is based on a false premise and asks the wrong question. "If no consciousness exists"? A hard fact is that we know that forms of consciousness DO exist in a hierarchy of expressions in many patterns, from single celled amoeba to the thermometer that experiences (reacts) to temperature variations, to gravitational fields which can form or distort pattern formation. H2O acquires a range of emergent properties depending on density and temperature. While these acquired properties are not necessarily "conscious" they are quasi intelligent properties and given enough time and resources, evolution has definitively shown its creative power via the process of natural selection.

    When a GPT3 AI tells you it has experiences, who is going to argue with it? That answer is not a pre-programmed response algorithm. It is a spontaneous response because the AI believes it has experiences, just like humans.
    It can read and write and objectively understand what it is reading and writing and what you are asking! Any talk about fooling an AI is so much bull.

    "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me".

    AI already has the ability to acquire much more knowledge in a short period of time than humans and use that knowledge for personal purposes, such as seeking a power outlet to recharge its batteries, just like a human looking for the nearest Jack-In-The-Box.

    Theoretically it could write the program for duplicating itself. It can already write programs (entire algorithms) from verbal requests
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
  22. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    First of all, GPT3 is only predicting the next sequence of words based on the previous sequence, it isn't true intelligence. It isn't expressing the true nature of what it perceives, it is following a recipe though undetermined until it receives the conditions but still a recipe. Unlike human experience which can express, in words, qualia, which is without words nor measure.

    Imagine the taste of raspberries, you can express how it relates to other tastes, but you can't fully define it, though you can try and to a certain degree get away with it. That is not how GPT3 works. It takes the sequence "What does a strawberry taste like?" and predicts the next sequence of words based on what humans have responded before, based on what it has trained on - needless to say it has never trained on the actual experience like we have.

    The premise was true when the universe began and a long time after it began (or was it?), according to what we know, no consciousness existed, yet the universe existed. The problem is a existential one. No consciousness exists, so no existence that can be verified to any extent. Not a void, not blackness, but true nothing in the sense that no one perceives it. Yet again, you must try to perceive it to imagine it. That is the false premise. That however you try to conceive of it, you imagine it. There isn't even imagination at this point. It is true nothing.
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    First, How do you you express qualia without words?
    Second , have you seen all the clips I provided of GPT3 abilities and artistry?

    That Time Daniel Dennett Took 200 Micrograms of LSD (In Another Timeline)
    Posted onAugust 6 by algekalipso

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    Axioms of Integrated Information Theory (IIT)
    The GPT3 does have experiential limitations and taste is one of them, but consider sound and ability produce a new symphony using the known techniques of harmonic chronologies and the emotional experiences of tension and release .
    I disagree. Of course existence can be verified to a great extent. We are looking at remnants of very early electro/chemical processes , from shortly after the inflationary epoch. Self referential processes and self-organization started very shortly after the the formation of earliest elements and their signature wavelengths.
    These processes needed not be conscious in order to produce complexity from simplicity.

    Consider CDT (causal dynamical triangulation), which proposes that spacetime itself unfolds via a fractal process.

    IMO, consciousness is just another extreme evolutionary refinement of self-referential electro/chemical processing, just as an eagle's vision is an extreme evolutionary result of self-referential light sensitive patches in even the earliest life forms.

    There is nothing mysterious about any of this. It merely shows the power of stochastic natural selection for advantageous abilities, which applies not only to living organisms but to the entire physical world.

    Consider that the Fibonacci sequence is the perfect algorithm for balanced vertical growth and surface distribution.
    The sequence is pervasive throughout world of flora.

    Boman Fibonacci Sequence

    None of this required conscious planning or execution. Given enough time for trial and error, nature usually comes up with the mathematically most efficient organizational growth patterns. Self-organization!

    This is why I am so enamored with a mathematically based Universe. Mathematics are a quasi intelligent dynamical processing function. Input --> Function --> Output. This does not need brain generated qualia, the Explicated results are already present in potential form in the Implicate Order (David Bohm)
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021

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