Insects can teach us about the origins of consciousness

April 19, 2016 by Colin Klein And Andrew Barron, The Conversation
Are compound eyes the window to the soul? Credit: Gilles San Martin/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Do bees like the taste of nectar? Does the ant foraging for your crumbs feel better when she finds one?

Are insects merely tiny robots? Or, in the phrase popularised by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, is there something it is like to be a bee?

Until recently, most scientists and philosophers would have laughed at the question. But now, research is challenging that dismissive attitude towards invertebrate .

It is worth clarifying what we mean when we talk about insect consciousness, since the term consciousness carries a lot of baggage. Everyone agrees that bees can take in environmental information and perform impressive computations on it.

We want to know something more: whether insects can feel and sense the environment from a first-person perspective. In philosophical jargon, this is sometimes called "phenomenal consciousness".

Rocks, plants and robots don't have this. Metaphorically speaking, they are dark inside. Conversely, most of us think that a dog running for its dinner isn't just a little guided missile. It smells its food, wants to eat and sees the world around it as it runs.

Each of these feel a certain way to us, and they feel like something for the dog too. If that is right, then dogs are conscious, at least in the minimal sense.

Does this ant look angry to you? Credit: r reeve/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Consciousness is sometimes used to refer to a much more complicated capacity: the ability to self-reflect. That is a rare achievement. Humans may well be the only animals that can become aware that they are aware. Even then, we are mostly just conscious in the more minimal sense, rarely pausing for true self-reflection.

The structure of consciousness

The consciousness of others is a thorny philosophical problem. Our typical handle on consciousness is through observing behaviour. We think babies and dogs feel hungry, in part because they act like we do when we feel hungry.

Behavioural analogies become harder when we consider animals such as insects, which don't look or act much like us. We might say that a bee is angry when we disturb its hive. But an angry bee doesn't act much like an angry toddler, so it's easy to remain sceptical. Behaviour alone certainly doesn't prove that any animal is conscious.

An emerging approach to animal consciousness offers a way forward. Rather than moving from behaviour back to experience, this new approach moves directly to the neural underpinnings of consciousness.

Even if insect behaviour is very unlike our own, there might be important similarities between their brains and ours. On this new approach, we can thus ask whether the insect brain has the structures that could support a basic capacity for any form of consciousness.

Neuroscientist Björn Merker has argued that the capacity for awareness in humans depends on structures in the midbrain alone.

The midbrain is the evolutionarily ancient neural core that our enormous neocortex surrounds like a thick rind. Self-awareness requires our evolutionarily young neocortex, but awareness is supported by the simpler and evolutionarily much older midbrain.

Why is the midbrain so important? Once animals started moving around in their environment, they had to decide where to go next. Deciding efficiently requires combining many different sources of information into a single neural model with a single perspective on the world.

Tying together knowledge, desire and perception in this integration is the start of a first-person perspective on the world, and thus the origin of conscious experience.

What it's like

While insect brains are minute – the largest are far smaller than a grain of rice – new research has shown that they perform the same ancient functions as the human midbrain.

The insect central complex ties together memory, homeostatic needs and perception in the same integrated way. This integration has the same function as well: to enable effective action selection.

In the bee, this detailed representation of the animal in space is what allows it to perform remarkable feats of navigation. Thus, while insect brains and human brains could not look more different, they have structures that do the same thing, for the same reason and so support the same kind of first-person perspective.

That is strong reason to think that insects and other invertebrates are conscious. Their experience of the world is not as rich or as detailed as our experience – our big neocortex adds something to life! But it still feels like something to be a bee.

If this argument is correct, studying is a powerful way to study basic forms of consciousness. The honeybee brain has less than a million neurons, which is roughly five orders of magnitude fewer than a human. That is a lot easier to study.

Completely mapping the insect nervous system is within the realm of current technology. Several labs are already working on it.

Once we map the insect nervous system, we can emulate it to test theories of computational function. Initiatives such as The Green Brain Project have already used existing knowledge to begin building a biologically-inspired drone that behaves like a honeybee in complex environments.

Studying invertebrate experience also opens the possibility of studying how and why conscious experience evolved. Our research suggests the tantalising possibility that consciousness has evolved – and been lost – multiple times across evolutionary history.

One important driver of this process is mobility in the environment. Parasitic worms that have lost their ability to freely navigate have also lost the structures responsible for the first-person perspective.

This suggests a close relationship between consciousness and the demands of moving around the world. By clarifying the environmental demands that press animals to evolve the capacity for consciousness, we might thus shed light on the relationship between subjectivity and the external world.

Invertebrates have long been overlooked in the study of consciousness. The time has come to take them seriously as a scientific and philosophical model for the evolution of subjective experience.

Explore further: What makes us conscious?

More information: Andrew B. Barron et al. What insects can tell us about the origins of consciousness, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520084113

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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (17) Apr 19, 2016
Deciding efficiently requires combining many different sources of information into a single neural model with a single perspective on the world.

I read this as to mean you need a temporal intergration.
I.e. not just "stimulus-response", but "stimulus plus response to past experiences" (where past expierences/memories would be the 'perspective' part)
Whydening Gyre
4.7 / 5 (15) Apr 19, 2016
Wow.. this deep for just having woke up 10 minutes ago.
Shakes up yer perspective...:-)
kochevnik
1.7 / 5 (17) Apr 19, 2016
Consciousness involves folding the electromagnetic waves back upon themselves. These waves spiral inward like seeds on a sunflower creating a singularity, or artificial black hole. In the singularity is no time. Rather the knots of time are untwisted creating a permanent now bliss state sought sought by many eastern gurus.

Robots are based upon entropic design, not negentropic. Hence they are dead or at best, zombies
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (20) Apr 19, 2016
Consciousness involves folding the electromagnetic waves back upon themselves.

What does that even mean?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Apr 19, 2016
I predict that in the future consciousness will be viewed in the same perspective as tabula rasa is now.

This is the same perspective that tabula rasa salesmen viewed the soul back when they were plying their wares.

Philos stand on the faces of previous generations.
kochevnik
1.3 / 5 (14) Apr 19, 2016
Consciousness involves folding the electromagnetic waves back upon themselves.

What does that even mean?

The only way a system can be self-aware is if the wave activity folds back upon itself, yes? There is only one way to accomplish that mathematically. It is the prime number spirals created from the fibonacci sequence. Only specific approach trajectories fall from the torus into the singularity. The flame letters of the Hebrew alphabet are such specific shapes. The brain has choices about what frequencies are used to invoke thought. This is why music is so powerful in coordinating thought. Alphabets are specific sounds used to access bliss singularity states rapidly. That is one way to make awareness
Noumenon
2.1 / 5 (20) Apr 19, 2016
I predict that in the future consciousness will be viewed in the same perspective as tabula rasa is now.

This is the same perspective that tabula rasa salesmen viewed the soul back when they were plying their wares.


'Consciousness' is simply a word to denote an experienced phenomena, that is in need of further investigation and understanding (assuming this doesn't become recursive).

It is not like the word "soul", as the word 'soul' never denoted an experienced phenomenon, nor was it meant to. It was meant to denote a 'thing unto itself', with no further explanation.

It is more like the word "atom" which we still use, and yet is reducible to other phenomena, like electron and proton, the latter of which is still further reducible to quarks. However, there is a limit to such explanation.

Place holder terms, like consciousness, are very ubiquitous in science. They simply denote phenomenon that in principal are investigable and so are reducible to physical laws.r
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (15) Apr 19, 2016
I didn't say I was actually going to engage with you here did I?
antialias_physorg
4.8 / 5 (21) Apr 19, 2016
The only way a system can be self-aware is if the wave activity folds back upon itself, yes?

No. Because a "wave activity folding back upon itself" doesn't MEAN anything. I'm sure you want to say something - but wave activity is not something that "folds". Much less "back". Much less "upon itself".

It's just pseudo-sciency mumbo-jumbo.

It is the prime number spirals created from the fibonacci sequence.

Prime number spirals are just an artistic concept. Whether you take the fibonacci primes or not. Again: you're typing sciency mumbo jumbo without meaning. You might as well not bother.

The rest of your posts is just a grabled mess without any relevance to any point you might think you're trying to make.
gwrede
4.6 / 5 (18) Apr 19, 2016
Consciousness involves folding the electromagnetic waves back upon themselves.
What does that even mean?
The only way a system can be self-aware is if the wave activity folds back upon itself, yes? There is only one way to accomplish that mathematically. It is the prime number spirals created from the fibonacci sequence. Only specific approach trajectories fall from the torus into the singularity. The flame letters of the Hebrew alphabet are such specific shapes. The brain has choices about what frequencies are used to invoke thought. This is why music is so powerful in coordinating thought. Alphabets are specific sounds used to access bliss singularity states rapidly. That is one way to make awareness
Sigh. You really should smoke less. That way you could really begin to learn. Conjuring up glittering and sparkling ideas feels cool at the moment, but a month from now even you can't understand what you wrote today.
compose
Apr 19, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
4.8 / 5 (14) Apr 20, 2016
Very nice! I would have thought consciousness were tied to the mushroom bodies that insects are homologous to the neocortex. But it seems there is where the symbol handling (essential for learning without overtraining) takes place, which has nothing to do with the sensor integration of external and internal signals into consciousness. I stand corrected.

@Nuomenon: "there is a limit to such explanation."

There is currently no know constraints for science theory and testing. Also, having general theory descriptions such as "consciousness" isn't a placeholder anymore than "force" is.

@compost: Flies suits you. I didn't have time to watch all that, but an image scan showed no butterflies. (Which by the way are in general not attracted to bullshit.)
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (14) Apr 20, 2016
There is currently no know constraints for science theory and testing. Also, having general theory descriptions such as "consciousness" isn't a placeholder anymore than "force" is.
Nicely put although force is a category while consciousness isn't even that... any more than 'soul' is.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (14) Apr 20, 2016
Consciousness' is simply a word to denote an experienced phenomena, that is in need of further investigation and understanding (assuming this doesn't become recursive)
And what makes you think an experience is in 'need' of anything?
It is not like the word "soul", as the word 'soul' never denoted an experienced phenomenon, nor was it meant to. It was meant to denote a 'thing unto itself', with no further explanation
-And this is a little presumptuous don't you think? Offering a definition of something which has a million conflicting and unconfirmable definitions, in order to clarify your definition of a thing which itself has a million conflicting and unconfirmable definitions?

But you guys do that all the time don't you?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (15) Apr 20, 2016
Let me give you a definition of 'soul'. It was a thing invented which could survive death and travel to either heaven or hell. It is our essence separate from our corporeal selves.

And as it was meant to experience either eternal bliss or eternal torment, then of course it was meant to be an 'experienced phenomenon'.

It was meant to be the very thing that experiences.

And so on further thought it kind of fits your constrained definition of 'consciousness' very well. Although it does not leave room for the soulless beasts and bugs and apostates who inhabit the corporeal realm.
Noumenon
2.1 / 5 (18) Apr 20, 2016
It is more like the word "atom" which we still use, and yet is reducible to other phenomena, like electron and proton, the latter of which is still further reducible to quarks. However, there is a limit to such explanation


There is currently no know[n] constraints for science theory and testing.


What was stated, is that there is eventually a limit in reducing phenomena to other observed phenomena. It can't go on forever. For example, we stop at an "electron" because it is sufficient to know its attributes,..... there is nothing else observable to it.

Also, having general theory descriptions such as "consciousness" isn't a placeholder anymore than "force" is.


I don't understand this response at all. The word "consciousness" does not denote a theory, but rather an experience. That experience is lacking a theory at present, but in principal has an explanation from physical laws. Thus its a placeholder term with no further reduction available.

Noumenon
2.2 / 5 (17) Apr 20, 2016
@otto, the point is that the "soul" is gibberish and so not experiential ,.... while consciousness is literally the most immediate experience possible. Science attempts to explain phenomena. Therefore the experience of consciousness/ self-awareness is scientifically investigable in principal.

Like all experienced phenomena , eventually consciousness will be reduced to physical processes in the brain. At present it is a placeholder term for some at present unknown,... like an "electron".

All physical theory must 'bottom out' eventually , as it can't go 'all the way down',.... it must stop somewhere.
Noumenon
2.1 / 5 (18) Apr 20, 2016
..... theories also start with postulates that are themselves not reducible. Limits at the start and at the end, intrinsically. Of course this is not meant to be anti-science in anyway.

In fact you come off anti-science by denying, without any basis, that the experienced phenomenon of consciousness is amendable to the scientific method . Science investigates all phenomena. That's what science is.

TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (14) Apr 20, 2016
@otto, the point is that the "soul" is gibberish and so not experiential ,.... while consciousness is literally the most immediate experience possible
No, no, and no. You can't describe it. You can't use it to describe anything. And merely stating that it obviously exists does not in any way mean that it exists.

You also can't differentiate between the mechanism of 'experienced phenomenA' in bugs as opposed to the common apex philo. You like to imply that our consciousness influences quantum phenomena but I assume you don't believe that mosquitos can collapse the waveform.

But insects experience and react to phenomena much the same as us, and for the same general evolutionary reasons, and using the term consciousness to try to compare the 2 is pointless, despite what the gentlemen in the article say.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (15) Apr 20, 2016
Who are these guys anyways? Let's see...

Colin Klein is a cognitive scientist and Andrew Barron is - of course - a philo at Macquarie university in australia.

But as we dig further we find that Colin Klein is an ARC Future Fellow and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy (caps their own).

-ie another philo.

Of course.

Salesmen.
Noumenon
2.1 / 5 (19) Apr 20, 2016
@otto, the point is that the "soul" is gibberish and so not experiential ,.... while consciousness is literally the most immediate experience possible


No, no, and no. You can't describe it. You can't use it to describe anything.


That is only because there is at present a lack of understanding wrt how that phenomenon is emergent from the brain. That placeholder term is not meant to be also 'the explanation'. It is only meant to refer to an experience.

And merely stating that it obviously exists does not in any way mean that it exists.


I am not saying that "it" exists as a disembodied entity of itself,... only that consciousness is an experience that somehow manifests from the physical brain,.... through introspection it is a-priori for experience to be possible. Experience is observation, of which science is based.

Noumenon
2.4 / 5 (20) Apr 20, 2016
Your anti-philo comments are intellectually immature. To be anti-philo for the sake of being anti-philo without any further substance, is vacuous. The more sweeping the generality, the more vacuous the statement.

You like to imply that our consciousness influences quantum phenomena …..


That is not representational of anything that I have ever posted.

Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (12) Apr 20, 2016
Does this ant look angry to you?
It's got sharp, pointy mandibles... look at the boooooooones!
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Apr 21, 2016
That is only because there is at present a lack of understanding wrt how that phenomenon is emergent from the brain
Again, no, you're implying that the existence of the phenomenon is a given with no evidence whatsoever.

Where's your evidence?
Your anti-philo comments are intellectually immature. To be anti-philo for the sake of being anti-philo without any further substance
Reiterate your theory that consciousness is essential to eliciting quantum actions, and then explain why a mosquito or a dog or an ape or a computer can't do the same things.

Otto is not the one who needs pacifier placeholders. You can't even describe the place that the word is holding.
That is not representational of anything that I have ever posted
And that's a lie nou. Reiterate your concept of consciousness regarding quantum phenomena, in your own words.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Apr 21, 2016
The more sweeping the generality, the more vacuous the statement
Yeah really. What's more general and sweeping than 'consciousness is literally the most immediate experience possible'?

It's like saying that 'life is literally the most immediate experience possible'. Except that we can define what life is.

YOU have trouble differentiating between consciousness and conscious. YOU didn't know that unconscious people still have consciousness, at least according to employed salesmen and pundits within your own discipline.
Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (16) Apr 21, 2016
That is only because there is at present a lack of understanding wrt how that phenomenon is emergent from the brain

Again, no, you're implying that the existence of the phenomenon is a given with no evidence whatsoever.


That I am self-aware is as good as evidence can be. That I can experience anything is evidence of consciousness. Denialism of the most immediate experience possible is meaningless.

Traditionally in science what is meant by "evidence" is observation of external phenomenon. To claim that consciousness does not exist on this basis,... of lack of external phenomenal observation**, is to deliberately ignore the internalized and private nature of consciousness,... to deliberately apply the wrong methodology in order to refute it. However, in reality all experience, all observation is internalized through introspection.

**an anesthesiologist may disagree that all evidence of consciousness is exclusive to introspection.

Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (16) Apr 21, 2016
You like to imply that our consciousness influences quantum phenomena …..


That is not representational of anything that I have ever posted.


And that's a lie nou


So you're going to degenerate the discussion by such accusations? I never said what you're claiming I said. Shouldn't you already know what you're objecting too?

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 21, 2016
That I am self-aware is as good as evidence can be
And yet you cant explain why it should be called anything other than self-awareness, or why you can't describe it as being any different than the self-awareness of anew ape, a dog, a frog, a bug, a computer, or a car that stops when you apply the brake.

Teach Koko to wave when he hears his name. Teach fido to come when he hears his name. Teach Siri to speak when it hears it's name. Teach nou to bristle when he hears the word 'philo'. Etc.
So you're going to degenerate the discussion by such accusations? I never said what you're claiming I said. Shouldn't you already know what you're objecting too?
Don't insult me. You and anyone who has read your stuff knows full well what I'm talking about, and I'm not going to comb through umpteen threads looking for a quote.

Why are you playing games? Do me a favor and just restate it.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (16) Apr 21, 2016
You like to imply that our consciousness influences quantum phenomena …..


That is not representational of anything that I have ever posted.


And that's a lie nou


So you're going to degenerate the discussion by such accusations? I never said what you're claiming I said. Shouldn't you already know what you're objecting too?

Don't insult me. You and anyone who has read your stuff knows full well what I'm talking about,


Well I doubt that is true,.... I want to know if you can articulate your objection to something I posted before I respond, for otherwise what I am I responding to?

and I'm not going to comb through umpteen threads looking for a quote.

So you wish me to supply to you, your own objection to me?

Let me help you.... in google type "site:phys.org noumenon kant quantum"

Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (16) Apr 21, 2016
Let me reiterate,... I never said nor have ever believed that consciousness "reaches out" and effects quantum systems in anyway.

I have, described von "Neumann's cut" from his classic text on QM, (in order to substantiate my view),... in which he introduced the projection postulate (wavefunction collapse), and speaks of consciousness.

However, in this interpretation, the wavefunction is not taken as a physical wave,... nor is he implying that consciousness (or mind) "does something" to the quantum system. He was justifying the state reduction postulate on the basis of the superposed state being a description of the physical system, the apparatus, the observers brain, ..... and not a physical wave itself.

If you can wait, I will find that link.....

Noumenon
2.4 / 5 (14) Apr 21, 2016
That I am self-aware is as good as evidence can be

And yet you cant explain why it should be called anything other than self-awareness, or why you can't describe it as being any different than the self-awareness of anew ape, a dog, a frog, a bug, a computer


That's correct, except for degrees of complexity, consciousness is at present unknown as to how that experience manifests from physical laws. You seem to be denying that it is even scientifically investigable.

As to Strong-AI, the unfounded assumption is that substratum and therefore physical forces does not matter,... that its only a matter of organized information.

Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (15) Apr 22, 2016
In This Link I summerize von 'Neumann's Cut' wrt wavefunction collapse and consciousness/mind, (as well as mention of Kant). If you search 'Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics'.

In This Link I explain a bit as well.

In This Thread is an extremely rare occurrence given the quality of phys.org posters, where another poster understood the topic and added like comments (hyperion1110).

TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (12) Apr 22, 2016
That's correct, except for degrees of complexity
So why does a degree of complexity make it different? Youre implying that a gnat doesnt have 'consciousness'. Do severely impaired or senile humans have consciousness? Do brain dead humans have consciousness if they respond to certain stimili? What IQ level is sufgicient to initiate consciousness?

Your explanations dont hold up.

Consciousness has always been presented as something beyond self-awareness and rarely without some metaphysical component. Something 'beyond definition'. Mystical.

And your defs of that and other words you use like mind are changing to fit the arguments presented here.
consciousness is at present unknown as to how that experience manifests from physical laws
Consciousness is NOT a given. Stop implying that it is. Your 'experience' could be entirely illusory, like an epiphany, and you would have no idea that it is.
Cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 22, 2016
Many people accept this and can say that their experience tells them that they have no consciousness. Can you refute that?

They may tell you that their sensory imperfections and flaws in their neural makeup allows for all sorts of self-delusion which may have been evolutionarily selected for because they helped humans to survive to propagate.

But they may point out that that makes your experience of consciousness nothing more than a form of pathology common in our species, like drug addiction.

Perhaps it is the same sort of wishful self-delusion which someone previously chose to call the soul, but which has since gone out of style in some circles, they may say.

And there is no way for you to refute any of this beyond saying 'it's obviously real because I feel it'.
yep
1.5 / 5 (8) Apr 23, 2016
My apologies Otto, for accidentally lumping you into a post with Stump and Vietvet it was completely unintentional. I hold you in high regard.
Cheers!
loneislander
4.3 / 5 (3) Apr 23, 2016
To me, the most rational approach to this subject is to assume that every living thing has consciousness exactly equivalent to human consciousness expressed in whatever senses the animal (or plant) has. If scientists were to try to disprove that, which is a falsifiable conjecture, there would be much faster progress in this area of research.

We simply do not know if our cells have consciousness or not. What we do know is that we are ecosystems of a multitude of organisms.
loneislander
5 / 5 (2) Apr 23, 2016
https://www.youtu...codt1YoU


Absolutely you can train a fly. Ask David Suzuki
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Apr 23, 2016
My apologies Otto, for accidentally lumping you into a post with Stump and Vietvet it was completely unintentional. I hold you in high regard.
Cheers!
Danke.
To me, the most rational approach to this subject is to assume that every living thing has consciousness exactly equivalent to human consciousness expressed in whatever senses the animal (or plant) has
No, you can't do that until you have determined whether a thing called consciousness actually exists or not. And you left machines out of your list.

If consciousness is not something above and beyond self-awareness, which is something we CAN define, then the word shouldn't be used because it usually implies the existence of components beyond the physical.

And this is why philos invented it - to replace 'the soul' in their endless discussions as something that made humans superior to lesser creatures.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (9) Apr 23, 2016
The unfortunate fact that this meme has become ubiquitous and that people refer to it as though it were a universal given, only lends credence to the idea that humans are actually far less self-aware than they give themselves credit for. This is what dennett was saying in his TED talk.

Consciousness - mind - soul - what good are they? What do they explain? Where do they reside?

Scientists study brains and neurosystems and these memes are of no use to them whatsoever beyond piquing the interest of laymen. Theme songs do the same for TV shows. Jingles do the same for commercials.

It's no wonder we are so gullible; we grew up watching actors interact according to script and imitate feelings they didn't actually feel. We have little experience with genuine interaction and emotion.

We become uncomfortable, we change the channel or the song, or we take a pill.

We're conditioned to accept artifice without thought. These words help us do that.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (16) Apr 23, 2016
If consciousness is not something above and beyond self-awareness, which is something we CAN define, then the word shouldn't be used because it usually implies the existence of components beyond the physical.


That consciousness implies something 'beyond the physical', seems more to do with your own insistence on that strawman than any actual discussion with me.

....
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 23, 2016
Self-awareness to me is a subcategory of consciousness,… in that it is the continuity of thought that we associate with being 'ourselves',… while consciousness includes also awareness of qualia that may exist without self-awareness. Both self-awareness and consciousness can be defined as experienced phenomena, at minimum through introspection.

You asked about machines. A machine would not need qualia,… the experience of blueness, pain, sound. All of which are produced in the brain, and do not exist in objects outside the mind.

So, following Chalmers, ….why do we even experience qualia? Why don't we process experience "in the dark",.... that is, without qualia?

The eye/brain registers different frequencies of electromagnetism and sends appropriate signals to the brain. This occurs autonomously. A machine could also do this just as well as the brain; however the brain produces qualia, which is not necessary had consciousness no further meaning, and lack of understanding.

humy
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 23, 2016
When it comes to consciousness, nobody knows what the hell they are talking about including myself.
Before we can validly even begin to talk about it, we need to first define what it is. But, as far as I am aware, nobody has ever satisfactorily defined it.
And the vary vague statements in the link attempting to give it some sort of respectable meaning such as "...feel and sense the environment from a first-person perspective..." (so how do you define "first-person perspective" in this context? ) and "true self-reflection" (how do you define that? ) just doesn't do it. FAIL!
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Apr 23, 2016
Self-awareness to me is a subcategory of consciousness,… in that it is the continuity of thought that we associate with being 'ourselves'
So in order to establish the existence of something non-existent, the philo adds an esoteric term for something else which is also non-existent... and includes a nice poetry word at the end to add a dash of mystery-
So, following Chalmers
And why would we want to do that?
Noumenon
2.6 / 5 (15) Apr 23, 2016
Self-awareness to me is a subcategory of consciousness,… in that it is the continuity of thought that we associate with being 'ourselves'
So in order to establish the existence of something non-existent, the philo adds an esoteric term for something else which is also non-existent... and includes a nice poetry word at the end to add a dash of mystery


Your response here is mysterious to me. None of the words I used were esoteric. Do you not want me to define words? Does your position benefit if no such attempt is made? These are standard terms.

I mentioned the conscious experience of qualia. Are you going to deny the experience of "blueness"? You've received the impression of "blueness", yes. THAT, is a conscious experience.

So, following Chalmers
And why would we want to do that?


If you wish to revel in denialism then indeed make sure to avoid as many opposing points of view as possible,... but the reason is because I posed a question
compose
Apr 23, 2016
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kochevnik
1 / 5 (8) Apr 23, 2016
Subconscious is simply neural waves that do not fold back upon themselves. There is only one way to do that mathematically. The untrained downvoting monkeys are not capable of grasping how. So they squirm about the initial stages of science, which is violent opposition to anything outside their micro-paradigm. Yanks are so entertaining. Even my dog was more open-minded
kochevnik
1 / 5 (7) Apr 23, 2016
@ghost But insects experience and react to phenomena much the same as us, and for the same general evolutionary reasons, and using the term consciousness to try to compare the 2 is pointless, despite what the gentlemen in the article say.
Can't agree. But birds are interesting. Many move in discrete steps, as if their awareness is quantized. Perhaps the downscaling illustrates the key atoms of language, and what specific frequency pathways and sequences allow explosive resonance, i.e. recall. Birds are vocal and have the necessary hardware for consciousness. Witness the boundless skills of parrots
humy
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 24, 2016
Subconscious is simply neural waves that do not fold back upon themselves.

How do you know this?
+ How do you define "Subconscious"?
Is there any distinction between "Subconscious" and "Unconscious"?
Can your personal computer have a "Subconscious"?
humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
Until if or when someone comes up with a satisfactory non-vague clear definition for 'consciousness' and 'subconscious', any talk about 'consciousness' and 'subconscious' is NOT part of any real science and is just pseudo-science gibberish and thus we should avoid any such talk about 'consciousness' and 'subconscious' in science unless as an attempt to at least try and properly define it.

One implication of that is that this link is pseudo-science gibberish.

I do not pretend to have any such satisfactory definitions.
compose
Apr 24, 2016
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humy
2 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2016
... for example to recognize itself in a mirror. We can reproduce it in experiments. Some actions can be affected by free will and some not (salivation, dilatation of pupils). These first ones can be furthermore spontaneous or intentional - this is all reproducible science.


"free-will" is ALSO currently without a satisfactory definition.
And the fact that we can scientifically study whether an animal response mirrors our own has nothing to do with it because that doesn't allow us to rationally say anything about 'consciousness' because we are still left with NO satisfactory definition of it. The experiments being reproducible means the experiments are scientific, yes, BUT that doesn't lead us to a reasonable and satisfactory definition of 'consciousness' because those experiments, perfectly scientific as they are, tell us absolutely nothing about what we actually MEAN by 'consciousness' and, if we cannot even say what we are talking about in science, it isn't science.
humy
2 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2016
experiments of animal responses that mirror our own are perfectly scientific and may tell us much about animal behavior and brain functions. But, until if or when someone makes a satisfactory definition of 'consciousness', none of those experiments will tell us anything about what 'consciousness' IS. All they tell us are things about animal behavior and brain functions but NOT 'consciousness' brain function because we still don't know what that is or what we mean by it. Thus, as long as the report of such experiments don't talk about 'consciousness', they may be perfectly scientific. But the moment the report of such experiments talks about 'consciousness', that changes it into pseudoscientific gibberish.
compose
Apr 24, 2016
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compose
Apr 24, 2016
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humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
"free-will" is ALSO currently without a satisfactory definition
For example, we usually blink when some object emerges before our face suddenly. But we can also get prepared for it and not to blink - it just requires some intentional effort. This is action, the manifestation of which you can inhibit willingly. The difference which makes responsible us for this reaction is just the free will.


That is only an example of what we think "free will" DOES, Not what it IS. That is not a definition of 'free will'. I could program a computer to normally respond in a certain way to a stimulus but not respond that way under certain circumstances; would that prove the computer has 'free will'? No, it doesn't. Because that is what we think "free will" DOES, Not what it IS.
humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
Earwigs are unusual among insects because they are not social insects, yet they display https://www.youtu...9ZGcI8A. At the video the earwig mother tries to hide eggs exposed to sunlight into a shadow. Occasionally she wets the eggs by its saliva and she cleans the eggs from fungi spores etc. Without this care most of eggs will not develop at all. What makes this complex behavior intriguing is, it requires sorta decisions and a good orientation in environment (navigation through space) - this is the activity, which cannot be made blindly, or it cannot be successful.


How do you know all that complex behavior isn't purely automatic and purely the result of blind instinct?

Even an animal response learned from experience doesn't imply so-called 'free will'; I can program my computer to rudimentarily 'learn' new responses from experience but most people wouldn't say that indicates it having 'free will'.
humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
I am a computer programmer and have already, as part of my researched, programmed my personal computer to learn new responses to stimuli and, at least in a rudimentary way, make decisions. Would you say that indicates my computer has either "free will" or "consciousness", whatever that is supposed to mean?
If not, then all evidence of animals learning new responses and making decisions is NOT evidence of either "free will" or "consciousness", whatever that is supposed to mean; and that is why all reports of evidence of "free will" or "consciousness" ", whatever that is supposed to mean, from animal experiments and observations, is pseudo-science gibberish. This is in despite of the fact that all the OTHER conclusions from such animal experiments and observations may be and often are perfectly valid and scientific.

compose
Apr 24, 2016
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humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
How do you know all that complex behavior isn't purely automatic and purely the result of blind instinct?
You can expect bunch of reactions from earwig mother after exposing it to a sunlight: she could decide to hide themselves in panic, https://www.youtu...SKs22ig, it could exhibit protective or aggressive behavior, etc.


So how do you know all THAT complex behavior isn't purely automatic and purely the result of blind instinct?
Variability in its responses can be just part and parcel of that automatic blind instinct.
I even know how to program my computer to have variability in its responses; evidence my computer has free will?
humy
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2016
I have part of my research program my computer to have huge variability in its responses partly via learning algorithms and partly via pseudo random elements to the program to make its responses unpredictable. Is that evidence my computer has 'free will', whatever that is supposed to mean?
If not, then, logically, huge variability and unpredictability in animal responses is also NOT evidence of them having 'free will', no matter HOW huge that variability and unpredictability.
compose
Apr 24, 2016
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compose
Apr 24, 2016
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humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
Variability in its responses can be just part and parcel of that automatic blind instinct.
Most of intelligent activity of people is just a mixture of rational and automatic actions as well: ...

No, that is not what I said at all. I didn't say/imply " Variability in its responses can be just part and parcel of a mixture of automatic blind instinct AS WELL AS rational". I said nothing about "rational".
How do you know that automatic blind instinct in animals comes with "rational" as in the same kind of "rational" that comes with 'free will' or 'consciousness'? This is an assumption without bases.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2016
@humy – you've made a conscious effort here to say consciousness is pseudoscientific gibberish. Evidently you think your efforts will somehow increase your chances of procreating or living longer, and nothing more. You're free to decide what consciousness means or you're free to dismiss it. Aren't you?
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
@humy – you've made a conscious effort here to say consciousness is pseudoscientific gibberish.

It clearly is not part of any real science and, until someone comes up with a satisfactory definition of it, it won't be.

Evidently you think your efforts will somehow increase your chances of procreating or living longer, and nothing more.

what?
I don't see how inability to define what consciousness means could have any RELEVANCE to how long one might live or if one reproduces.
You're free to decide what consciousness means or ...

How can I be 'free' to decide what something means when nobody can define what it means?
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
How can we be 'free' to define an apparently undefinable thing? ( such as 'consciousness' )
We are not 'free' to do something that we don't know how to do.
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
Start working from home! ..... You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection...

Not sure why you mention that here but that is exactly what I am currently trying to do but, sadly, getting no pay check yet and won't get paid for a very long time (months if not years)
Captain Stumpy
3.4 / 5 (10) Apr 24, 2016
@humy – you've made a conscious effort here to say consciousness is pseudoscientific gibberish.

It clearly is not part of any real science and, until someone comes up with a satisfactory definition of it, it won't be.
@humy
"life" also has a very "satisfactory definition of it" - will you reject that as being part of real science as well?

Noumenon
2.9 / 5 (15) Apr 24, 2016
...programmed my personal computer to learn new responses to stimuli and,[..] Would you say that indicates my computer has either "free will" or "consciousness", whatever that is supposed to mean?


No, because your A.I. machine will not 'experience qualia',... by which is meant, producing impressions of "blueness", "sound", "pain",( etc). Qualia like "Blueness" do not exist in objects outside the mind,... that experience is produced entirely by the mind, upon registering external stimuli.

IOW, your A.I. machine could simply register external stimuli and respond, without ever being conscious or even having an 'experience' at all.

This is why the term consciousness has meaning but yet at the same time is at present inexplicable from physical laws,..... look at something red, and ask your self where does that "redness" come from? It does not come from the object. How is it, ...how are impressions produced in the physical brain,.. how do we experience them, physically?

Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2016
Deciding efficiently requires combining many different sources of information into a single neural model with a single perspective on the world

I read this as to mean you need a temporal intergration.
I.e. not just "stimulus-response", but "stimulus plus response to past experiences"


The same thing can be implemented as a state-machine or the neural analog of a state machine, so simple animals do not necessarily need to be concious in order to utilize past experience in future decisions. A state machine is a system composed of conditions which select behaviour from a space of possible rules the system can follow. Some of those rules are able to change the selecting conditions, which leads to complex behaviour.

The difference is that there is no direct memory of the past - which has the significant advantage of not needing so many neurons to encode and process the information. The past is encoded in the current state.
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
"life" also has a very "satisfactory definition of it" - will you reject that as being part of real science as well?


I assume that was a misprint and you meant to say " "life" also has a very "Unsatisfactory definition of it" "?
If so:
I disagree that "life" also has a very "Unsatisfactory definition of it".

As an example, you could define life as anything that has ALL these 4 characteristics:

(1) it is made of matter (so a computer virus is not life but a physical virus is)

(2) it can reproduce or at least was produced by a lifeform reproducing (Thus worker ants are life despite being unable to reproduce themselves )

(3) it must have genetic inheritable material (normally DNA or RNA but can be something else) that determines some of its characteristics (thus growing and reproducing crystals are not life)

(4) it must require a liquid solvent, usually water but it can be another liquid solvent (thus self-replicating machines are generally not life)
Eikka
5 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
it can reproduce or at least was produced by a lifeform reproducing


That's a circular definition. You can't define life as being produced by life, because you have to define life first before you can tell whether it was produced by a lifeform.

It's also not clear why growing crystals would break 3, because you don't define "inheritable material" sufficiently.

Number one is also not justified, because the same atoms of a virus in a different configuration would not work - therefore the life is not the matter. Rather, it's the configuration of matter, and a computer program can act that role just fine as a computer program too is a configuration of matter (charge) in a computer's memory in the same sense as a virus is the configuration of atoms in the form of genes.

humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016
it can reproduce or at least was produced by a lifeform reproducing


That's a circular definition. You can't define life as being produced by life,


correct. I made a verbal error. So I now modify that part of that definition to:

" it can reproduce or at least was produced by something else reproducing "

It's also not clear why growing crystals would break 3, because you don't define "inheritable material" sufficiently.


so call it "material with inheritable information" with DNA being an example of that.

Number one is also not justified, because the same atoms of a virus in a different configuration would not work - therefore the life is not the matter.

Number one doesn't say that the only requirement that life must have to be life is that it must be made of matter.
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2016

Number one is also not justified, because the same atoms of a virus in a different configuration would not work - therefore the life is not the matter.

Number one doesn't say that the only requirement that life must have to be life is that it must be made of matter.

I should continued with that with:

-therefore number one doesn't imply that how the atoms are arranged doesn't matter.
+ number one by itself isn't my definition of life but rather 1, 2, 3, 4 TOGETHER is my definition of life i.e. anything that violates any one of those 4 things is not life according to my definition.
I made this absolutely clear where I said

"As an example, you could define life as anything that has ALL these 4 characteristics:.. "

-note the operative word "ALL" above which I did emphasis in capitals to make sure.
kochevnik
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 24, 2016
I have part of my research program my computer to have huge variability in its responses partly via learning algorithms and partly via pseudo random elements to the program to make its responses unpredictable. Is that evidence my computer has 'free will', whatever that is supposed to mean?
If not, then, logically, huge variability and unpredictability in animal responses is also NOT evidence of them having 'free will', no matter HOW huge that variability and unpredictability.
Free will happens when free variables are set by consciousness. For example neural waves can fire at multiple octavies of a base frequency, without affecting free energy of the system. A basic example is singing. Frequencies can also heterodyne for memorization then later be recalled at multiple integrals of the base frequency. More generally competing scales cause oscillations that employ alternate waveforms of equal energy. Massively coupled systems such as neural nets display avalanching
humy
2 / 5 (4) Apr 24, 2016
]Free will happens when free variables are set by consciousness.

This statement has no real scientific meaning whatsoever without at least just one example of a satisfactory definition of consciousness relatively free of ambiguities.
As far as I am aware, nobody has ever made such a satisfactory definition.
Without such a definition, you cannot say what set those "free variables" (and I am also unsure what you mean by that as well)
kochevnik
2.1 / 5 (7) Apr 24, 2016
]Free will happens when free variables are set by consciousness.
This statement has no real scientific meaning whatsoever without at least just one example of a satisfactory definition of consciousness relatively free of ambiguities.
As far as I am aware, nobody has ever made such a satisfactory definition.
Without such a definition, you cannot say what set those "free variables" (and I am also unsure what you mean by that as well)
Plenty of evidence around you. Something is setting free variables and whatever that is, it is setting free eigenvalues in very observable ways. I call is consciousness. Maybe you have another name. Semantics don't change the maths

Free variables can accept a range of values without affecting the system energy. Really any system with free energy has the potential for free will. If the system does not fold back upon itself coherently, chaos ensues. Infinite recursive folding can attain singularity removing fictional time
compose
Apr 24, 2016
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humy
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2016
Something is setting free variables and whatever that is, it is setting free eigenvalues in very observable ways.

what does this statement mean? -I truly honestly have absolutely no idea what you mean. And I bet few other people know what you mean also.
dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2016
dtxx
Are you feeling all right?
dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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dtxx
Apr 25, 2016
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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Apr 25, 2016
(1) it is made of matter (so a computer virus is not life but a physical virus is)

(2) it can reproduce or at least was produced by a lifeform reproducing (Thus worker ants are life despite being unable to reproduce themselves )

(3) it must have genetic inheritable material (normally DNA or RNA but can be something else) that determines some of its characteristics (thus growing and reproducing crystals are not life)

(4) it must require a liquid solvent, usually water but it can be another liquid solvent (thus self-replicating machines are generally not life)


There's a problem with this:
(2) Cannot be a good definition because it doesn't hold for the first thing that was alive (and by induction then nothing subsequent can be alive)

Personally I think 'life' is just a qualitative issue, not a quantitative one. It's the difference between something being complex and it being complicated. Life is complicated - but not inherently more complex than inert stuff.

humy
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2016

There's a problem with this:
(2) Cannot be a good definition because it doesn't hold for the first thing that was alive...



That's a good point antialias_physorg :)

So I need to modify BOTH 1 (to make it none circular) AND 2 so now I have his definition of life, with all the bracketed comments left out to make it less cluttered, of:

Life is anything that has all four of these four characteristics:

(1) it is made of matter

(2) it can either reproduce or at least was produced by something else reproducing or both but not neither of those two things.

(3) it must have material with inheritable information that determines some of its characteristics.

(4) it must require a liquid solvent to have chemical reactions between solutes in at least one part of its life cycle that it would not be able to complete without it.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2016
I'll nitpick some more (not trying to put you down...I think this is a genuinely interesting subject)

(1) it is made of matter

I think this is not a necessary qualification. At least I can see no reason to add it. Either it's tautological or needlessly limiting. In any case it's already contained implicitly in (3) and (4) and applies to non-living stuff just as well

(2) it can either reproduce or at least was produced

Reproduction does not seem to be necessary for something to be considered life. E.g one could imagine life starting of as something like this
https://en.wikipe..._dohrnii
(not as complex, but having this mechanism of constant rejuvenation and spreading as a single entity rather than reproduction)

(3) is in question by the same argument

(4) I'm also not on board with. Reactions can happen in solids (e.g. ice) just a lot slower. Or in gaseous phases. A limit to aquaeous phases seems unnecessarrily limiting.
humy
3 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2016


(1) it is made of matter

I think this is not a necessary qualification. At least I can see no reason to add it.

My motive for it is my desire to exclude computer viruses, which are made of software, not matter, as 'life' as I personally I wouldn't call that 'life', no matter how sophisticated a computer virus might be. Could you personally call a computer virus 'life'?
humy
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2016


(2) it can either reproduce or at least was produced

Reproduction does not seem to be necessary for something to be considered life. E.g one could imagine life starting of as something like this
https://en.wikipe..._dohrnii

Each and every individual cells of this animal can either reproduce or was once produced by something reproducing (another cell in this case), yes?
I don't think there is any examples in the natural world of living cells, which most living things are made of (except viruses) that cannot either reproduce or was not ever once produced by something reproducing.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Apr 25, 2016
I'll throw a different label (not definition, as I think the line between alive and non-alive isn't distinct)

Life is that which
(1) gathers information about changes in the environment and processes/reacts to that information in an a-temporal* manner in order to increases the chances of continuing to do (1)

* where "a-temporal" means: not simply stimulus-response.
I.e. it stores the information to use at a later time within a similarly changed environment in a better way (this covers simple strategies like mutation(and selection) as well as more complex ones like hive/colony organisms or creating memories for learned responses)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Apr 25, 2016
My motive for it is my desire to exclude computer viruses, which are made of software, not matter, as 'life' as I personally I wouldn't call that 'life'

Life is more of a "what it does" thing as opposed to "what kind of matter it's made of". I have no problem with non-biological life. Especially if you think beyond computer viruses to something as futuristic as sentient AI. Anything that shows that kind of consciousness would be 'alive' in my book. Whether the substrate was created naturally or artificially isn't important (and since we are created naturally even the notion of what one could even call 'artificial' itself is a bit iffy. Everything is natural.)

I don't think there is any examples in the natural world of living cells, which most living things are made of (except viruses) that cannot either reproduce or was not ever once produced by something reproducing.

I agree. But I don't see that this *needs* to be this way.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
I think you're right, that it has to be composed of matter**,.... given our present understanding of "life". A conglomeration of matter with innate mechanisms to perpetuate and sustain itself, or its kind through reproduction, by absorbing energy to continuously change and adapt to external conditions and is subject to natural evolution.

**even an A.I. would need some substrate and physical ability to receive external stimuli,.... however...

I would also differentiate between natural-life with artificial-life, (though ultimately I'm not sure why), so that "test-tube life in the lab" would qualify as life, while A.I. without consciousness would not.

Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (8) Apr 25, 2016
I would also differentiate between natural-life with artificial-life, (though ultimately I'm not sure why), so that "test-tube life in the lab" would qualify as life, while A.I. without consciousness would not.
I would posit that, in the way that a telescope or microscope is an extension of human vision, computer hardware and software are an extension of human consciousness.
Noumenon
2.7 / 5 (14) Apr 25, 2016
I would also differentiate between natural-life with artificial-life, (though ultimately I'm not sure why), so that "test-tube life in the lab" would qualify as life, while A.I. without consciousness would not.
I would posit that, in the way that a telescope or microscope is an extension of human vision, computer hardware and software are an extension of human consciousness.


Or at minimum an extension of our senses, yes,....

For A.I. to be considered "life" I added my requirement of consciousness [self-awareness, ability to experience qualia], while at the same time not requiring natural biological mechanisms to have that requirement to be considered "life". This would be an extreme case of comparison, the point of which is to magnify the question. I'm not entirely sure why I think this, though.

Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (5) Apr 25, 2016
Or at minimum [computers are] an extension of our senses, yes,....
Which "sense" is it of mine that has a curiosity about prime numbers?
humy
1 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2016
I'll throw a different label (not definition, as I think the line between alive and non-alive isn't distinct)

Life is that which
(1) gathers information about changes in the environment and processes/reacts to that information in an a-temporal* manner in order to increases the chances of continuing to do (1)

* where "a-temporal" means: not simply stimulus-response.
I.e. it stores the information to use at a later time within a similarly changed environment in a better way (this covers simple strategies like mutation(and selection) as well as more complex ones like hive/colony organisms or creating memories for learned responses)


unless I am mistaken, you seem to be trying to define intelligence here, which is not exactly the same thing as 'life'. A cell of bacteria has no intelligence but I say it is still 'life'.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Apr 25, 2016
unless I am mistaken, you seem to be trying to define intelligence here

Not really. Genes are an information carrying substance. The process of mutation and selection (evolution) selects for that set of information that is viable. This does not require intelligence (or a nervous system) - but it is a way of carrying over adaptation strategies to future situations.

We interact with our environment via the interchange of information. This is not limited to our senses. (note: everything reacts via interchange of information. Even a rock in sunlight warms due to information being passed to the rock via photons. The difference is that the rock reacts immediatelya dn always in the same way - whereas the reaction time of 'life' is variable. Life can react immediately. It can react in the next generation, or the same individual can even react differently to the same stimulus in the future)
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (12) Apr 25, 2016
Your response here is mysterious to me. None of the words I used were esoteric
Qualia is typical of the many esoteric terms you cast about which require some effort to discover that they have no intrinsic meaning.

Time wasted is time lost.

"Esoteric - intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest."

"Qualia -Much of the debate over their importance hinges on the definition of the term [well duh], and various philosophers emphasize or deny the existence of certain features of qualia. As such, the nature and existence of qualia remain controversial."

-But let's find 1 or 2 who admit the obvious...

Dennett - " brings qualia into the world of neurosurgery, clinical psychology, and psychological experimentation... once the concept of qualia is so imported, it turns out that we can either make no use of it in the situation in question, or that the questions posed... are unanswerable."

-IOW unscientific
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
Drescher - "Drescher explains, "we have no introspective access to whatever internal properties make the red gensym recognizably distinct from the green [...] even though we know the sensation when we experience it... This does not, however, imply that our experience of red is non-mechanical; "on the contrary, gensyms are a routine feature of computer-programming languages"

-IOW indistinguishable

Lewis - "Learning transmits information, but experiencing qualia doesn't transmit information; instead it communicates abilities"

-IOW irrelevant

Minsky- "The artificial intelligence researcher... thinks the problems posed by qualia are essentially issues of complexity, or rather of mistaking complexity for simplicity"

-IOW obscurantist

Tye - "holds the opinion there are no qualia, no "veils of perception" between us and the referents of our thought..."

-IOW no there there, move along, nothing to see, etc
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
Tye - "The idea that qualia intervene between ourselves and their origins he regards as "a massive error"; as he says, "it is just not credible that visual experiences are systematically misleading in this way"

-Makes sense to me. Make sense to you nou?
https://en.wikipe...f_qualia
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
Your response here is mysterious to me. None of the words I used were esoteric
Qualia is typical of the many esoteric terms you cast about which require some effort to discover that they have no intrinsic meaning.


I went out of my way to explain the term. I mentioned the impression generated by the mind (brain) of colours, sound, pain..... I asked you if you had ever "seen blueness". You answer of course is in all probability, yes,.... thus you are answered as to what I meant by qualia.

You are on ignore for being dishonest, not answering questions posed, manufacturing absurd arguments, troll-cabal ratings, and web-botting out-of-context nonsense.

The idea that qualia intervene between ourselves and their origins


Redness does not exist in objects but yet is experienced as an observational phenomenon. This is a fact and must be taken as such,.... though will certainly have an scientific explanation in terms of the physical brain.

Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (9) Apr 25, 2016
late edit – When I say an extension of "human" consciousness, I am of course being anthropogenic. It's absurd to think some other species with sufficient intelligence on some other planet in orbit around some other star in some other galaxy would experience the abstract qualia of prime numbers in any fashion incongruous with their abstract universal nature.
Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
late edit – When I say an extension of "human" consciousness, I am of course being anthropogenic. It's absurd to think some other species with sufficient intelligence on some other planet in orbit around some other star in some other galaxy would experience the abstract qualia of prime numbers in any fashion incongruous with their abstract universal nature.


Interesting point. If so, and I don't doubt you, ... perhaps the common denominator being the evolutionary capacity to experience external objects under the same physical laws, ...objects that are enumerable,.... countable.

Instead of mathematical idealism,.... as if mathematics ontologically exist independently of mind (alien or otherwise),... I think it is rather that the elements of math are evolved 'conceptual forms of understanding',.... a means of synthesizing experience.

Noumenon
2.7 / 5 (14) Apr 25, 2016
,... so like time, space, causality, etc,..... the elements of math are conditions for experience [and/or thought] to be possible, given the nature of mind. This would explain the seemingly ubiquitous and universal nature of "time" for example,..... it is an a-priori mind-dependent condition for experience or the synthesis of experience to be possible. "Time" as a "thing" has never been observed independent of its application,... not a particle nor a field. Likewise... for prime numbers.

Noumenon
2.3 / 5 (12) Apr 25, 2016
"Time" as a "thing" has never been observed independent of its application,

Still, relativity is claiming that time is an observable.


Relativity makes use of an operational definition of time, by selecting a physical system to represent it. Time is not an entity of itself like a particle or a field that is involved in any physical dynamics. It is simply the congruence of one system to that of another. All physical systems are in effect, a clock.

Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 25, 2016
.....General relativity is formulated using tensors, the point being to exclude observer dependent coordinates, as they are not a-priori to nature, but rather artifacts of measurement.

However, there IS the space-time-interval derived 'proper-time', .... which is an invariant and seems to encode the history of physical systems in some way.

However, I don't know of any physical process where Time is involved in dynamical interactions,... i.e. as a dynamical force or mass or field, particle, etc,.... rather one has to define time to be represented by an arbitrary physical system (operational definition).

I don't take literally that space-time is physically curved,.... but rather the mathematical space representing it is curved (Riemann manifold).

TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (14) Apr 25, 2016
I went out of my way to explain the term
NO. You went out of your way to explain your own particular understanding of the term.

I showed you that there are many conflicting understandings of what it might be or whether it even exists at all.
You are on ignore for being dishonest
So youre as gutless as you appear to be?

Redness does not exist in objects but yet is experienced as an observational phenomenon. This is a fact and must be taken as such,....
Nou still thinks he is schooling a poster here rather than ignoring the judgement of only 1 of the many experts I referenced, all of whom have opinions which conflict with his.

The fact that he is not aware of this info until us amateurs present it to him here, kind of says that he is an amateur himself. Who nevertheless thinks he's not 'cause he read the CoPR in 2 languages.

Is anybody else laughing?
Protoplasmix
4.6 / 5 (10) Apr 25, 2016
@Ghost – you hate "philos", did you just quote a bunch and refer to them as experts? I won't laugh, it's a cool discussion, and from the Wiki link you provided, on William Robinson, "The problem is so stubborn, he says, that too many philosophers would prefer "to explain it away", but he would rather have it explained and does not see why the effort should not be made." Me either, for what it's worth.
Noumenon
3 / 5 (18) Apr 25, 2016
you hate "philos", did you just quote a bunch and refer to them as experts?


GhostofOtto is a drive-by poster, not in the least interested in an actual substantive discussion that does not involve accusations, characterizations, sweeping generalities, and argument by proxy,.... in order to argue one singular point,... 'I hate philo and philo words are meaningless'.

Thus he is on Ignore.
Noumenon
2.4 / 5 (14) Apr 25, 2016
I went out of my way to explain the term [qualia]


NO. You went out of your way to explain your own particular understanding of the term.


Which is apropos given that I was the one using the word in my posts. If you desired to understand what I meant in those posts, it's appropriate for me to have provided examples of my meaning.

Which btw, corresponded to the standard meaning of that word, Qualia.

I showed you that there are many conflicting understandings of what it might be or whether it even exists at all.


I asked you, have you ever experienced the phenomenon of "redness"? Have you ever experience sound? Yes, is the appropriate answer here. Therefore, Qualia exists as phenomena. Science investigates phenomena. Therefore, at least that aspect of consciousness/mind is in principal investigable.

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (9) Apr 25, 2016
Redness does not exist in objects but yet is experienced as an observational phenomenon. This is a fact and must be taken as such,.... though will certainly have an scientific explanation in terms of the physical brain.

"Red" is a label for an observed phenomenon of particular frequencies of light. "Redness" is a common label for all things that emit those particular frequencies. This is common to ALL visible frequencies, regardless of "color". (or any other sensory input, for that matter...)
It's a learned categorization process which brains have evolved to perform as a "survival" technique.
BTW - a HUGE portion of the animal kingdom have this same ability...
Some of us humans have a tendency to OVER think it...
Noumenon
2.4 / 5 (14) Apr 26, 2016
Nou still thinks he is schooling a poster here rather than ignoring the judgement of only 1 of the many experts I referenced, all of whom have opinions which conflict with his.


There are other so called experts and points of view, which I could just as well reference. This is refuse to understand. It's why arguing via proxy with others opinions is pointless and leads nowhere.

The fact that he is not aware of this info until us amateurs present it to him here, kind of says that he is an amateur himself. .


WRT consciousness studies, I am an amateur. I only read a few books on this. One edited by Jonathan Shear (1995) is a particularly good one as it presents many differing opinions on how to approach and define the problem.

Who nevertheless thinks he's not 'cause he read the CoPR in 2 languages


No, two types of translations,... one literal and one interpretative,... both in English.

Noumenon
2.4 / 5 (14) Apr 26, 2016
Redness does not exist in objects but yet is experienced as an observational phenomenon. This is a fact and must be taken as such,.... though will certainly have an scientific explanation in terms of the physical brain.

"Red" is a label for an observed phenomenon of particular frequencies of light. "Redness" is a common label for all things that emit those particular frequencies.


I'm not concerned with what word we selected to use or even that we selected a word for it, nor 'why' we evolved the ability to sense various frequencies of light, although important to investigate.

Why you experience "redness" (or any qualia) is not at all clear how from physical laws (at present),... but yet you do. The eye receptors detect a small spectrum of EM frequencies, and sends a message to the brain. This signal or threshold of signals, are not themselves "red",.... only upon receiving this signal, the brain produces "redness" as an experienced impression.....

Noumenon
2.5 / 5 (13) Apr 26, 2016
If there was no consciousness, or if one developed or let develop an A.I. , there would be no need for the impression of "redness", ....because only the detection of a given spectrum of EM and its registration via a message, is all that would be required.

@OttoGhost,... I have not claimed to be an expert on Kant, there are some who study his entire works. I make use of some of his ideas because they're in effect the Bohr argument or similar,... because its a means of refuting metaphysics in science, .... because its about what we mean by "knowledge" and thus obviously relevant to physics.



TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (11) Apr 26, 2016
Ghost – you hate "philos", did you just quote a bunch and refer to them as experts?
I reference philo experts for various reasons, mostly to show the prevalence of disagreement. Dennett for instance says

"[Others] note that my 'avoidance of the standard philosophical terminology for discussing such matters' often creates problems for me; philosophers have a hard time figuring out what I am saying and what I am denying. My refusal to play ball with my colleagues is deliberate, of course, since I view the standard philosophical terminology as worse than useless—a major obstacle to progress since it consists of so many errors."

-which shows a fundamental and embarrassing problem with the entire field; lack of definitions.

There was even an entire -ism devoted to replacing philo words with normal everyday words. I've lost the name of this -ism.

But they gave up. Of course. None of these guys can agree on what any of their words means.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (11) Apr 26, 2016
WRT consciousness studies, I am an amateur
Uh huh. But yet you feel qualified to state unequivocally that consciousness is the most obvious thing there is, even when presented with evidence from experts that THEY think it's an illusion.

Formal philosophy seems to give believers the idea that authority is a posture.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (8) Apr 26, 2016
Why you experience "redness" (or any qualia) is not at all clear how from physical laws (at present),... but yet you do. The eye receptors detect a small spectrum of EM frequencies, and sends a message to the brain. This signal or threshold of signals, are not themselves "red". Only upon receiving this signal, the brain produces "redness" as an experienced impression..

Only after repetitive experiences does it become engrained as an impression. A Newborn does not experience "redness". Only the EM frequency of what we define as "red". What makes it "red" is the constant input and associated categorization " algorithms" that our brains have evolved to process sensory input. Associative memory, for lack of better term.
Consider synesthesia...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (7) Apr 26, 2016
@WG
"A Newborn does not experience "redness". "
How would we know ?
I believe it is likely that a newborn does recognise "red". It is equipped with sensors to do just that, so why wouldn't it have the software as well?

Phys,
I used "redness" as a response to Nou's process. I think I meant more the "impression" aspect. Sure, they experience it. Just not the learned "feeling" (redness) of it - at first...:-) What it means and a proper response to it, is the learned part.
The software? Is generated by the hardware and firmware already in place...:-)
compose
Apr 27, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 30, 2016
Phys,
I used "redness" as a response to Nou's process. I think I meant more the "impression" aspect. Sure, they experience it. Just not the learned "feeling" (redness) of it - at first...:-) What it means and a proper response to it, is the learned part
Red has certain environmental cues such as types of food, a mothers nipple, blood, the inside of a predators mouth, etc and so we can expect that we are born with the ability to recognize it.

Further these hardwired cues would remain with us and would be referenced consciously or subconsciously throughout our lives.

I don't know if many philos are up on the nuances of evolutionary psychology.
https://en.wikipe...ychology

Like Dennett says when you try to use terms like qualia in the context of actual science, they don't fit.
BongThePuffin
May 03, 2016
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