Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Reiku, Dec 5, 2011.
Sorry, I can't understand your question, worded this way. Please restate.
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Well, I'm saying math and physics should go hand in hand. The only difference between the two is that one of them is based entirely on observations, but since we catalogue those observations in the language of math, then essentially both math and physics must be abstract in nature. The physics we work with is a tool as best to describe the world, it's not the world itself.
The main problem in every science magazine I looked none has ever explained what consciousness really is, and how it is created? They are still struggling to find out the secrets of consciousness, but they didn't find out anything particularly new, only mere hypotheses.
I agree, but the problem is can QM explain consciousness? Some physicists even doubt that.
In what sense, like maybe consciousness is too complicated or something? or our knowledge of it will always be incomplete?
Yes, I think that. It's not the case it is not explainable, our understanding is simply too limited for such hyper-complex organism to explain. Even our brain has its limitations of understanding itself (what an irony). It seems to me that our knowledge of human brain will always be incomplete.
I can appreciate that.
All I would say, is have some faith in the developments of our understandings as time goes on... afterall, we have successfully mapped the genome, surely the possibilities for our understanding of more complex organic forms will simply be just a matter of time.
Well, personally I'm always hyper-critical, but I always hope science and high-tech will break all the limits, but I'm not so sure when it comes to brain, also you might want to see the copy of my post on "intelligence and machines".
Russ Altman began his lecture in the Unsolved Mysteries in Medical Research series with a tough question and a snappy answer. "Why can't computers simulate a living cell? That's easy -- because it's too hard. Thank you."
When the chuckles died down, Altman, MD, PhD, associate professor of medical informatics at Stanford, began the real work of explaining why computers can't yet replace living organisms in medical research.
During his April 17 lecture, Altman broke down the question into steps, each with its own problems and potential solutions. But first he issued a warning.
"Most of us are not trained to do this," Altman said of the challenge of reassembling millions of bits of experimental data into a cohesive model system that could, for instance, predict the effects of untested medication on humans. "We're taught to be reductionists, but usually the more simple a model is, the more likely it is to be wrong."
Altman said the first step in the process is identifying the individual components -- such as proteins and pools of molecules -- that affect cellular functions. Then the interactions between the components and pools must be identified and the results represented in a map format. Finally, it's necessary to translate the relationships represented by the map into equations, which can then be used to analyze input data -- such as the presence of a new drug -- and predict cellular responses.
The Human Genome Project, a national effort to identify and characterize all human genetic material, has helped to identify many of the players. But Altman emphasized that alternative splicing and multifunctional proteins could inflate the effective number of components beyond the 35,000 genes that have been identified. He also pointed out that differences in the three-dimensional distribution of molecules within a cell can affect their function.
Identifying interactions between the components is extremely complicated, Altman said. Current methods of calculating interactions between isolated components, such as the Michaelis-Menton equation used in enzyme kinetics, are not accurate when applied to living systems, he said. And it's difficult to precisely quantify interactions between feedback pathways.
"As soon as you draw both a plus and a minus on the same page of a model, you've bought yourself a quantitative problem," Altman said. These quantitative tussles can hamstring any effort to generate accurate equations.
Finally, it's not clear whether the computational power exists to crunch the numbers of the billions of interactions that occur in a cell, and whether enough experimental data exists to support this goal, Altman said.
"We may have to give up our desire to have a computer system that permits 'one-stop shopping' and -- at least for the short term -- scale back our expectations," Altman said.
When researchers associated with IBM announced that they had created a computer simulation that could be likened to a cat's brain, they hadn't talked beforehand to Ben Barres. They would have profited enormously from the conversation if they had.
n a widely covered announcement, IBM said that its researchers had simulated a brain with 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses, which it noted was about the complexity of a cat's brain.
That led many writers to conclude that IBM computers could, as one put it, "simulate the thinking power" of a cat.
Getting a computer to work like any sort of brain, even little Fluffy's, would be an epic accomplishment. What IBM did, unfortunately, didn't even come close, as was pointed out a day later by other researchers, who published a letter scolding the company for what they described as a cynical PR stunt.
Any potential over-claiming aside, IBM's brain research follows the same pattern of similar explorations at many other centers. The logic of the approach goes something like this: We know the brain is composed of a network of cells called neurons, which pass messages to each other through connections known as synapses. If we build a model of those neurons and synapses in a computer, we will have a working double of a brain.
Which is where Ben Barres can shed some light. Barres is a neurobiologist and a specialist in something called glial cells. These are brain cells that are nearly as populous as neurons, but which are usually overlooked by researchers because they are presumed to be of little use; a kind of packing material that fills up space in between the neurons, where all the action is.
Barres, though, has made remarkable discoveries about glials. For example, if you take them away, neurons basically stop functioning properly. How? Why? We have no idea.
He does his research in the context of possible treatments for Alzheimer's, but the implications for modeling the brain are obvious, since you can't model something if you don't know how it works.
"We don't even begin to understand how neural circuits work. In fact, we don't even know what we don't know," he says. "The brain is very far from being modeled."
The computer can be a tempting metaphor for the brain, because of the superficial similarities. A computer has transistors and logic gates and networks of nodes; the various parts of the brain can be described in similar terms.
Barres says, though, that engineers seem to have a diminished ability to understand biology, in all its messy glory. Glial cells are one example, as they occupy much of the brain without our knowing barely the first thing about what they really do.
Another example, he says, involves the little matter of blood. Blood flow through the brain--its amplitudes and vagaries--has an enormous impact on the functioning of brain cells. But Barres said it's one that researchers have barely even begun to think about, much less model in a computer.
There are scores of neuroscientists like Barres, with deep knowledge of their special parts of the brain. Most of them will tell you a similar story, about how amazing the brain really is and about the utterly shallow nature of our current understanding of it.
Remember them the next time you read a story claiming some brain-like accomplishment of a computer. The only really human thing these programs are doing is attracting attention to themselves.
That was one of my responses to Dwydyyr down below in "Are you living in a computer simulation?"
But the major difference between the two still stands. The formulas of physics were derived logically from empirical observations of, and experiments with, the behavior of the natural universe. That's a textbook definition of a "science." The abstractions used are the same abstractions we use for all communication of knowledge: language.
The formulas of mathematics are derived directly from abstractions. They could be derived by a completely deaf and blind person with no way to observe the behavior of the natural universe to any useful degree, who just happens to be really smart. This is not a science. It is a tool that is used by scientists (and by engineers, merchants and lots of other people).
This is a major, important, qualitative difference between science and mathematics.
How about "too subjective"?
Well, I've been writing a book right now which tackles the question of consciousness in the best way I think possible from years of studying the phenomenon. The idea of subjectivity is so important that a final theory of physics will require the notion of what is called the ''subject'' and ''objective'' worlds. The subjective is purely incorporeal, full of feeling, thought and possibly intuition.
The objective is the antithesis of this. Incorporeal, devoid of conscious meaning and of disbelief (tryng to find the opposite of Inuition but this is the best I can do.)
The subjective world and objective world then makes a good topic for set theory and allows me to draw assumptions based on a final theory. Suppose you have two circles which intersect and in one circle you can represent as the subjective world, the other circle is one reserved for the objective world. Then something remarkable happens when you understand that (or maybe realize) that the brain subjectively copies the best of it's ability the world outside.
I talk about this in my book with better detail, but essentially one must ask whether the world is as we see it? ... and the answer is no... The answer is that we actually never see the world at large at all, which says a number of things about the subjective existence directly, but before we even state them, we must assume two things, two premises if you will.
1) The brain attempts to recollect the objective world ''in here'' as best it can
2) The brain's subjective world is just as real as the objective world
One might ask the question whether the subjective world exists ''in the objectivity?'' Is consciousness somehow a real phenomenon which exists somewhere out there? We cannot answer that question yet due to insufficient knowledge, which I attempt to when I do have enough.
There is no where we can pin point and say is the origin of consciousness... not even in a physical mind can we pin point such an origin. Instead we must rely on set theory to answer the question of whether consciousness is real or not.
No universes nor copies of our universe (within or outside) exist. No copies can exist within the universe, because no subsystem can model precisely the larger system it is a part of. No copies can exist outside the universe, because the universe is by definition all there is.
The highlighted part is important. Whilst the brain attempts at recreating the world outside, it is never a precise copy of it. That part is simple enough. By default we already have all the answers then that we need. Assuming that no system can exist outside the universe because the universe is all there is and assuming that no system can be a complete copy of the universe at large, then the place of consciousness, the world of subjectivity is actually somehow ''out there''. The very fact that our consciousness develops information from the outside and processess it inside of our collective psyche tells us there is some bridge which exists between the subjective world and the objective world. If the mind did not exist in spacetime, how then can it mimick spacetime so efficiently?
So to finally answer your question Fraggle, it seems no, nothing is too subjective to deal with Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
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From here I begin to build a Geometrodynamics veiw of consciousness, using set theory further to explain the geometry of the universe as being the condition in which consciousness is experienced: For instance, the claim that consciousness is required to create the big bang cannot be applied. This was a famous assertion by Fred Alan Wolf that encapsulated me for many years.
I now realize however, that if consciousness was a geometrodynamical phenomenon that any of the elements that go with high energy physics cannot be applied to consciousness. A quick schematic of the thoughts brought forth include:
That consciousness is a low energy phenomenon. It is concerned with topics such as locality, translational and relational subsystems. We can talk about Geometry and we may be allowed to envoke the dimension of time because of consciousness itself. And of course, possibly most important of all, but low energy physics is attributed to matter - and as we are all usually quite a aware of, matter and consciousness are interconnected strongly. The world of locality arising from consciousness seems like a matter of fact, since we are local in measurements from this phenomenon we call perception.
Is what I wrote when speculating on the similarities between low energy phenomena and high energy phenomena, which in regards to the latter here, I had to say:
High energy phenomena might include the big bang. No locality. No subsystems and not relational. It is attributed to permutation symmetries as well.
So as far as we are aware, consciousness is a late phenomena of the universe concerned completely as far as we are aware, of events located in the low energy epoch.
A further speculation is that if consciousness can be desribed in terms of matter (which is should as a low energy phenom) then you may describe consciousness as a configuration space(s) of states which describes the fundamental particles involved as being in a Hilbert Space with their own sets of interactions. The interactions is what would hold all the relevant information to describe your system, assuming that consciousness and matter are capable of being understood in complete terms. We might find there are some hidden features of consciousness we cannot measure in terms of the matter in our brains, simply because there are many existing features of consciousenss such as ''experience'' which fails to have any physical attachmemt or meaning.
A topic I would like to clear here and today, is that in the past I have often mentioned that the past and future is what makes consciousness possible. I have often qouted Fred Wolf ''A mind without any past is no mind at all.''
I think the past and future (whilst they are not real artefacts of the world external to the human mind) are pivotal to understanding the mind and consciousness. It is only experience of events coupled to the flux of time (that inexorable flow of time which seems to extend from our past to our future histories) is what seems to make a consciousness spark at all. I have often said in my work that the world at large is never seen directly but because of this strange fact, time delays must be present in the mind to make sense of something and to explain how this works, I will present a very simply yet elegant way to envision this stuff concerning the past and future and implications of the ''now''.
Imagine it in this mathematical sense: Let the present time be denoted as \(t_1\), let the past time be \(t_0\) and let
The present time equals the present moment, simple enough. And a little basic, but here in this next equation, the present moment is understood to be made up of the past plus a time delay:
\(t_1 = t_0 + [t_1 - t_0]\)
The time delay is made up from this expression \([t_1 - t_0]\). If the time delay was not present in the equation, then all you would have is the past, so it seems quite logical to assume that the present is simply the past plus a small perturbation in time.
Yet, if the brain needs to collect images from the outside and recreates that information inside the nueral network of the mind then this also takes time. An interesting problem, if you want to call it that, is that the present moment we all come to collectively agree on with the the state of system which we might be observing is not quite the present state of that system when we come to know something.
It seems that our general knowledge about the universe is always a fraction of time away from the actual physical state because of the delay in time it takes for that information to reach our brains from the outside world. These time delays is what makes a present state a present state. One way to avoid this problem above is by resorting to Einstein's Relativity by stating there is no Absolute Time in the universe. This might also imply that relativity can be modelled into consciousness and that is precisely what I have attempted to do.
Taking the postulates of relativity seriously, we can see why our frame of reference is allowed in this universe. Our time is no truer than any other time. By applying relativity to explain why we are allowed to conjecture on states of time which have no true correspondance to the world at large finds consciousness then as something quite unphysical in many senses.
I suppose more importantly, consciousness can understand such time delays. Delays in time (very short one's) seem to be needed to explain why we process information which is never the true state of that system in the world at large but larger delays in time is something which created from the imagination of the mind. It is the record in which we linearly memorize event's and catalogue them until we stimulate the same signals that once sparked that experience in the form of a memory. Whilst this delay in time is called our past and has little meaning in relativity, it seems that we would not be able to evolve very easily if our mind was able to record the past in such a way.
Indeed, even the simplest of creatures with little to near no capabilities of storing large amounts of memory are simply driven by the most basic, primordial needs, most likely generated by the need for genetic procreation.
So the notion of asbolute time might have some meaning in consciousness. Whilst time is an experience created by a gene called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, as I have explained before, this physical interpretation of time for consciousness may answer why any kind of time is experienced, that time may not even exist outside the human mind, an idea that has been often asked in physics for a very long time.
But if this is so, then we should still consider time as real thing relative to ourselves. It might not have any applications in the world at large but it certainly does have real meaning when describing consciousness, so it will need to be included.
You realize that's an assumption. Fractals can and do often have subsets that that are similar or identical to (other than with respect to scale) the larger system of which they are a part.
The assumption "feels" right to me, but I can't completely count the possibility that a sufficiently advanced quantum computer could not, in principle, accurately model the universe. For there to be a perfect copy, we'd need to make certain assumptions, though (namely that the universe is deterministic, or define the "copy" in a way that allows for the simulation to diverge from the original as time progresses due to random chance).
This is true, except when speaking about a universe and exact copies, they simply don't exist within our models. For instance, take parallel universe models - we are often told in scipop culture that parallel universes are exact copies of ourselves, but the truth is each universe has a very small quantum difference, mind you, some might be very different. However the main point is, is that you will never find an exact copy.
So as far as my speculations are, I am comfy with them.
Quantum Mechanics in consciousness? The zeno effect might be the next revolutionary idea for consciousness.
Henry Stapp actually seems to share a common idea with me. I have stated in the past that the ability to have choice is in fact analogous to having a superposition of possibilities - it is only when we make a decision on something does a collapse of the wave function happen. Henry stapp believes that the quantum zeno effect is the method in which the brain uses a superposition when in attention. Interestingly, I had not known of his model till now, so if his conclusions are right, then I have drawn similar conclusions independantly.
''Significance to cognitive scienceThe quantum Zeno effect (with its own controversies related to measurement) is becoming a central concept in the exploration of controversial theories of quantum mind consciousness within the discipline of cognitive science. In his book, "Mindful Universe" (2007), Henry Stapp claims that the quantum Zeno effect is the main method by which the mind holds a superposition of the state of the brain in the attention. He advances that this phenomenon is the principal method by which the conscious will effects change, a possible solution to the mind-body dichotomy. Stapp and co-workers do not claim finality of their theory, but only:
The new framework, unlike its classic-physics-based predecessor, is erected directly upon, and is compatible with, the prevailing principles of physics.
Needless to say, such conjectures have their opponents, serving perhaps to create more furor, rather than less, for example, see Bourget. A summary of the situation is provided by Davies:
There have been many claims that quantum mechanics plays a key role in the origin and/or operation of biological organisms, beyond merely providing the basis for the shapes and sizes of biological molecules and their chemical affinities.…The case for quantum biology remains one of “not proven.” There are many suggestive experiments and lines of argument indicating that some biological functions operate close to, or within, the quantum regime, but as yet no clear-cut example has been presented of non-trivial quantum effects at work in a key biological process.
While this last objection may no longer be valid, the significance of the Zeno effect in determining the rate of quantum decoherence in biological systems remains unknown.''
I'm quite excited over it really! In respect of reading his work, I agree that the zeno effect could in fact answer for consciousness in this way.
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