Are plants conscious?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Musika, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It represents an expansion of degrees of freedom of the will - acquisition of consciousness increases freedom of the will.
    Tautology. Define "choice" and "decision" in that context.
    You are arguing timing. How many choices are present, in some handwaving "latent form", at the time of decision? And how are they made?
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I would argue that it increases the number of choices, but not necessarily that those choices are made by FW.
    The exercise of FW?

    Does one ever intentionally choose the greater of two evils or the lesser of two rewards? If so, are there secondary reasons which justifies acting against your own best interests? IMO, the movement in the direction of "Optimum Parsimony" is a fundamental survival law of all living things.
    No human brain is identical and every brain has it's own peculiar ability, which determines making the one choice out of many varies from person to person and depends in large part on the brain's mirror neural network and motor responses.
    You want to see a smart slug? Check out this amazing creature called the "Cuttlefish"

    In less complex forms, the choices become narrower and narrower, depending on physical motor abilities and then we call it intuitive, i.e. Deterministic, unless forced by uncertain circumstances. Then it becomes Probabilistic, but still not FW......

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    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
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  5. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Nope. Nor do I think there's any way to differentiate between chemicals arranged in the form of living things and "real" living things. You don't seem to be able to explain the difference either.
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I still believe Anil Seth's statement; "Our brains make best guesses", which IMO, precludes FW because we're only reacting on our best guess of what is the preferred course of action in the first place, given the circumstances.
    One answer = no choice from FW.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  8. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Let us assume we watch a stage performance involving things that seem to defy the laws of physics.
    If we define "magic" as being simply that which we observe to seemingly go against known laws of physics then it would seem that "magic" exists.
    If we define "magic" as being that which actually goes against the laws of physics, can we say that "magic" exists?
    The latter is looking at what is actually going on, rather than what is simply observed to be going on.

    Similarly I think the existence or otherwise of "free will" depends on how it is defined.
    If you define free will as that which we perceive as being the freedom of our will to choose, then it can be said to exist, as it doesn't actually matter how that perception arises.
    If you look at it from the perspective of what one thinks is actually going on, i.e. the individual interactions of things that obey deterministic laws, for example, then any perception of free will that may emerge is simply illusory as everything that happens does so in a determined manner already set out.

    So I think a consensus needs to be reached on what notion of free-will is actually being discussed, and the assumptions around it.
    If one wishes to talk of free-will in a deterministic universe while still defining it as the latter, then I would suggest they have a significant burden on their shoulders.

    Note, I am not necessarily agreeing with the view that the universe is a deterministic, just following from your own position.
    If one starts with an indeterministic universe then the question is whether that indeterminism arises through randomness or other means, I guess.
  9. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    I don't think the universe is deterministic, just our brain.
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    In the same sense as one intentionally chooses to tie one's shoes in a granny knot, or light a cigarette.
    Is "intention" another of these illusions?
    You seem to require that the will be magic in order to be free - that the only freedom is freedom from physical law.

    There is a third path.
    Let's focus for a minute on these "uncertain circumstances". They will involve the entire history and experience of the decision-making brain, as it is capable of incorporating and modeling that history - right?
    Including the dreams it had last week, as influenced by a thunderstorm one night.
    Do you recognize a difference between a half-remembered dream as a "cause" and the momentum transfer from a rock impact on another rock as a "cause"?

    The point being:
    There's nothing special about the shorthand, problematic, mentally efficient but fundamentally dubious notion of "cause". It's a handy mental tool, a concept that has proved very useful, but there's no sense in elevating simplistic formulations of it to some kind of assumed and unchallenged nature of the universe. As a thinking box, it's too small.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
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  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    First, that is a false equivalency. These are two distinctly different actions. But let's unpack each;
    a) What kind of shoes are you wearing? If going to an formal event, what is the most socially parsimonious way of tying your shoe laces? OTOH, you may want to tie your sneakers differently. It depends on external conditions. But you choice is always in the direction of maximum convenience or utility, i.e. satisfaction.
    b) Lighting a cigarette is determined by your addiction to nicotine. Thus lighting a cigarette is the only way to receive "satisfaction" for a physical craving.
    Intention implies that the decision has already been made. In fact, our mirror neural system is often able to anticipate the intention of another's action.
    Actually it's the opposite. All those actions are a result of "best guesses" of what is appropriate or functional and will produce the most satisfactory results for each individual.
    Does it matter what the causality is? If the causality influences your "action" it is deterministic to your brain, but may not necessarily result in the correct action. But that is still not FW. I believe that is called "soft determinism", but Hameroff proposes that brain functions still happen via QM.
    I agree, the brain is also a small thinking box and is unable to perceive (consider) all the laws of nature and is therefore forced to make a "best guess", which can be wrong at times. Optical illusions clearly demonstrate the limitations of the brain to process all information and must rely on a best guess. But "guessing" is not synonymous to FW.

    However, the universe functions mathematically and cannot do other than what the physical mathematics demand. I believe this is called "hard determinism".

    You are ignoring that people often make mistakes due to insufficient information which prevents one from making THE best guess and end up with "unintended consequences" which may not be parsimonious in the long run. The wanton use of fossil fuels, while convenient at the time, has resulted in GW because of our ignorance or inability to anticipate all possible consequences. Stupidity or ignorance does not constitute FW. It just produces bad results.

    OTOH, a rock striking another rock can be analyzed in great detail with the aid of mathematics or practical knowledge. I am sure the first flint knives were pretty crude, until someone discovered that striking a piece of flint in a specific way will produce a thin sharp edged cutting tool. This can already be demonstrated from artifacts at the Southern tip of Africa, where the earliest humans had much finer prying and cutting tools for opening clams and filleting fish than inland tribes, because you cannot open a clam by bashing it with a heavy club.

    Nevertheless, all our actions are determined by what the brain perceives as most parsimonious under any and all circumstances. You cannot get away from that basic "causality".

    If you want to slice a soft loaf of bread for making a sandwich, are you going to test a randomly selected knife for sharpness by cutting your wrist or do you "select" a knife designed to cut soft loafs? The circumstances "demand" a specific action for achieving a goal and thereby experience "satisfaction" of a nice well formed sandwich.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Causality influences a decision? What does that even mean?
    In general: The notion of "causality" is a vague and dubious and generally slipshod one in this context. It is unsuitable for careful analysis.
    Consider intending to decide, intending to do whatever one decides is best, and so forth - possible?
    You are assuming that without evidence, or even a coherent definition of convenience, utility, satisfaction, parsimoniousness, or any other of those quite different criteria you have thrown in as synonyms and equivalents.
    The word "parsimonious" has no meaning in that context.
    Also, obviously the brain is not "perceiving" whatever is "determining" its decision - the decision process is largely internal. At most one can hypothesize that some part of the brain "perceives" something from or in another part of the brain - a bit shaky, but maybe good for guiding research?
    In point of fact you do not know how the human brain makes choices and decisions, what criteria it employs, or what elements you would have to include in some postulated chain of cause and effect if you decided to attempt such a shorthand or simplistic explanation.
    No, it isn't. No matter what you meant by "determined", or "addicted to nicotine" (and those are borderline meaningless terms, in this context), that statement is false.
    People often light cigarettes without being addicted to nicotine. People who are addicted to nicotine often light cigarettes for other reasons than the addiction. People who are addicted to nicotine often decide not to light a cigarette. And so forth.
  13. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    If you have to rely on the mechanisms of reproduction (as opposed to synthesis), it's disingenuous to use the term "chemical arrangement".
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member


    All the above confirms my position.
    And regardless of the semantic argument you are trying to introduce (look up the full definitions and synonyms of parsimony), nothing you said disproves my position.

  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Why do so many species of plants use the Fibonacci Sequence in the growth patterns? It is a natural mathematically parsimonious pattern for growth.

    As to chemicals, just check out the Periodic Table of Elements. What do you see? Mathematical patterns, no?
  16. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    The only way your use of the term makes sense is if you are trying to say, regardless of whether the person lights or does not light the cigerette, the result is the same.
    So it's like a person locked in a solid square room with no doors or windows. It doesn't matter what actions (or what series of events they try to unleash through cause and effect) they perform, they cannot initiate any activity that will take them outside the room.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  17. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    And indicating what living entities utilize to grow or reproduce (regardless whether it's chemicals or models of efficiency) tells us what, exactly?
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    First I must apologize. Post # 171 was intended as a reply to Iceaura.

    But to answer your posit. No, whether you light or do not light the cigarette, if your physician tells you that your addiction will kill you in 3 months, that can be sufficient causality for not lighting that last cigarette. You will experience withdrawal symptoms, but living organisms always strive for survival first.

    The problem here is instant gratification v longevity. Either way the action to light up or not is preceded by causal information.
    a) physical addiction (subconscious physical "need") for instant gratification.
    b) medical diagnosis (conscious knowledge of "harm") for attaining longevity.
    Which is the "better choice"? Lighting up or dumping the pack of cigarettes in the toilet?

    A locked room is an external circumstance which is causal to your inability to leave the room.
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Movement in the direction of optimal parsimony. Can't put a square peg in a round hole, but you can put a square peg in a square hole. We even have toys to teach this to very young children.
    It develops cognition of patterns, such as circles, squares, triangles.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  20. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    It depends whether one is satisfied by dissemblance (mimicry) or not.

    I recall some film from many years ago. Basically the plot involved a malignant alien race keeping a human space traveller in a constant state of stupidity by making wonderful arrangements for him. One of which was giving him a beautiful female (that was actually a robot) to covort amongst the alien landscape with. During one of their romantic escapades, he accidently bumped her head, and a circuit board popped out. Needless to say, it spoiled the realationship, and catalyzed new plot developments.

    Along the same lines, when you start equating ai with earthworms, you are assuming a certain level of data processing gives rise to consciousness. You might compare a driverless car's ability to avoid an obstacle and an earthworm's, and see an identical or similar model of performance.
    But, if you want to equate them both under the banner of consciousness, you have to establish whether hazard avoidance (or any other activity we want to highlight as indicative of consciousness) arises from self interest or is a mere automated protocol. If ai is just as compliant to the directive to crash into something as to avoid it, where is the self interest?

    In a driverless car negotiating a typical residential urban environment, you could expect thousands of such alerts within a minute.

    In usual proceedings the defendant's defense can be clouded by a host of ambiguities. So when they are dragged to the stand, they give testimony about what they apparently saw and their apparent response.
    In ai there is a very precise record of what was seen when and what the response was. It doesn't merely see "objects" and avoids them. It identifies objects (such as car, bicycle, pedestrian etc) and associates them with certain predictable behaviours (for instance cars are capable of high speeds and rapid acceleration ... pedestrians are not). And furthermore, this is all stored in logs. In some sort of inquiry, all of this can be brought up. It is completely transparent (at least to the degree the data recotds aren't fudged).
    So if it comes up that in the case that the program defaults (regardless whether it is by design or absence of design) to a bias to the passenger or a bias to the pedestrian, you have a basis for professional negligence and possibly manslaughter when injury or death results. This is a charge above and beyond and besides suing for damages.
    Suppose an ai car is involved in an accident of proportions that warrants intensive forensic investigations. Do you think that software analysis won't be brought under the spotlight? Do you think that those individuals responsible for rolling out the software won't be liable to charges of professional negligence or manslaughter?
  21. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    How does evolving from simple structured living entities to complex structured living entities reflect obedience to parsimonious ideals?

    Or even better, how does abiogenesis fit in to that. It terms of maintenance, its difficult to beat the efficiency of a stone.
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Physical or mental Evolution for greater survivability and procreation.
    As opposed to Natural Selection which is usually due to external calamitous circumstances.
    True, but then stones don't procreate, there is no imperative for survival. It has already found its optimum parsimony as a stone and some stones are beautiful in form and structure (organization of molecules).

    And then there is clay.
    As Hazen demonstrated one (1) cubic centimeter of clay has enough surface area to coat a tennis court and provides an excellent condition for bio-chemical evolutionary processes at the most fundamental level.

    Lets take Pyrite crystals as an example, they actually grow, but are mainly inorganic.

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    I would call this quite parsimonious, don't you? Reminds of the Platonic solids.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  23. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member

    Zero evidence for mammals having greater chances for survivability than amoebas.
    Even the question that mental development secures an advantage is questionable when one takes stock of the anthropocene age.

    So what parsimonious advantage does life secure over a stone (or clay)?
    Or are you trying to say abiogenesis illustrates how estimations of parsimonious development are faulty?

    It's one thing to lay down how efficiency secures particular advantages in particular situations. It's something else entirely to say it a universal law governing the behaviour of everything within it.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018

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