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Consciousness Doesn't Care What Processors

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Here I am reading an introduction to a three article series appearing in Science News When I encounter the following:

Ultimately I think the key thing that matters is information,” Koch says. “You have these causal interactions and they can be quantified using information theory. Somehow out of that consciousness has to arrive.” An inevitable consequence of this point of view is that consciousness doesn't care what kind of information processors are doing all its jobs — whether nerve cells or transistors.

“It’s not the stuff out of which your brain is made,” Koch says. “It’s what that stuff represents that’s conscious, and that tells us that lots of other systems could be conscious too.”

Say what?...

Now this article is dealing with the fact that science can be "loopie". As in math, where a formula can result in a number, and so that number can represent that formula. Then, that number can also replace a variable in that formula.

Then the article continues explaining how consciousness "has" the same property of being loopie.

Okay with that as a given, in an attempt to prove something, and with those statements composed by the blood ox red text above being assumed, by us, as being true, is the statement in forest green true?

Yeah! Who am I to argue differently with Koch, but I must since I feel there is a contradiction in the above logic.

It seems to me that a part of my consciousness is not only my "self concept", but also knowing what "Who I am." means to me. "Who I am." and its meaning, is certainly tied up in the "What materials comprise me?" which is answered by the statement, "I am made up of flesh and bones, as well as other biological stuff."

If such is rolled up into being a part of my self concept and if consciousness has the property of being loopie, and I say both are true, then how can the statement in the forest green be anywhere near true? Because in fact I do care. And the fact that I caught this error of thinking and realized initially that it was in error, was a result of my caring, having been told that I would be just as satisfied with my self concept if I were made of transistors. As a flesh and blood individual, I would not.

So, how do we fix this? Is the error in the premise:

“You have these causal interactions and they can be quantified using information theory. Somehow out of that consciousness has to arrive.”

And I venture to say that his presence in the field of discussion is the cause of the blindness that allowed such an error:

Perhaps, in the end, it will be the ability to create unmistakable features of consciousness in some stuff other than a biological brain that will signal success in the quest for an explanation. But it’s doubtful that experimentally exposing consciousness as not exclusively human will displace humankind’s belief in its own primacy. People will probably always believe that it can only be the strange loop of human consciousness that makes the world go ’round.

Edited by encouraged

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With all due respect to Turin, I think the true test of "Artificial" Intelligence / Consciousness will be the ability of The MACHINE to collapse the wave-function. When that happens. . . all bets are off.

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With all due respect to Turin, I think the true test of "Artificial" Intelligence / Consciousness will be the ability of The MACHINE to collapse the wave-function. When that happens. . . all bets are off.

From: http://integralscience.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/the-imaginary-collapse-of-the-wavefunction/

"Not only is collapse of the wave function totally unverifiable and nonphysical, but another big problem with collapse is that it is in blatant violation of the Schrödinger equation! Any other scientific hypothesis that both violates known laws of physics and is not verifiable would normally be immediately rejected as pseudo-science. Why, then, has the notion of collapse stuck? Perhaps because one consequence of rejecting collapse would seem to be that it would lead us inevitably to the many worlds interpretation. Strange as the many worlds interpretation may be, however, it does have the virtue of being consistent with the laws of physics, at least as we know them so far." :huh:

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The more I read and study on both sides of the isle, scientific and spiritual, the more I come to believe that if you believe in a notion or an idea enough that you can find evidence to support that claim no matter what it is.

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With all due respect to Turin, I think the true test of "Artificial" Intelligence / Consciousness will be the ability of The MACHINE to collapse the wave-function. When that happens. . . all bets are off.

Machines can already do this. Anything that "detects" a photon is collapsing the wave-function. Edited by Rlyeh

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Any other scientific hypothesis that both violates known laws of physics and is not verifiable would normally be immediately rejected as pseudo-science.

hmm. well it seems to me* that science has had no problem chucking known laws of physics out the window. Take the Big Bang theory and the 2nd law of Thermodynamics.

The Law states energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but the theory says in the beginning there was nothing. . . which exploded. Where's the consensus?

* but I'm no scientist --

Edited by 7STAR

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With all due respect to Turin, I think the true test of "Artificial" Intelligence / Consciousness will be the ability of The MACHINE to collapse the wave-function. When that happens. . . all bets are off.

From: http://integralscience.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/the-imaginary-collapse-of-the-wavefunction/

"Not only is collapse of the wave function totally unverifiable and nonphysical, but another big problem with collapse is that it is in blatant violation of the Schrödinger equation! Any other scientific hypothesis that both violates known laws of physics and is not verifiable would normally be immediately rejected as pseudo-science. Why, then, has the notion of collapse stuck? Perhaps because one consequence of rejecting collapse would seem to be that it would lead us inevitably to the many worlds interpretation. Strange as the many worlds interpretation may be, however, it does have the virtue of being consistent with the laws of physics, at least as we know them so far." :huh:

The more I read and study on both sides of the isle, scientific and spiritual, the more I come to believe that if you believe in a notion or an idea enough that you can find evidence to support that claim no matter what it is.

Machines can already do this. Anything that "detects" a photon is collapsing the wave-function.

hmm. well it seems to me* that science has had no problem chucking known laws of physics out the window. Take the Big Bang theory and the 2nd law of Thermodynamics.

The Law states energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but the theory says in the beginning there was nothing. . . which exploded. Where's the consensus?

* but I'm no scientist --

Okay guys, this is a prime example of what my wife tells me ALL the time, "If I want to have fun, all I have to do is sit down and watch you do the things that you do."

So, here we are chuckling at her chuckling at my attempts to start a discussion on consciousness under the guess of the Philosophy Forum Banner, and what do I get? One hell of a good discussion of Quantum Physics--who says they don't intersect on the theoretical stage of science?

So, frankly, I don't know what to do to... Should I add fuel to the fire, and do a better job of starting the other topic all over with more extracted from the original article?

OR

Should I try to turn this into what was originally intended?

How do I cause these crazy things to happen?

Please continue on this theme if there is more to be said. After this has completed I will re-introduce the other for us to take on!

Now let's see how do I get the wife (pronounced wiif--I grew up in Arkansas, don't you know) to stop giggling?

Edited by encouraged

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The Law states energy cannot be created nor destroyed, but the theory says in the beginning there was nothing. . . which exploded. Where's the consensus?

I'm not aware of any theory that claims there was nothing in the beginning.

There is one reference to nothing in the beginning, but it isn't from a scientific theory. To paraphrase the great philosopher, Groucho Marx:

"In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God said, "Let there be light". And there was still nothing but you could see it."

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With all due respect to Turin, I think the true test of "Artificial" Intelligence / Consciousness will be the ability of The MACHINE to collapse the wave-function. When that happens. . . all bets are off.

If I may add. That isn't the first mistake Turin made!

He hide the basis of understanding languages into the rules in the clipboard buried deep in the Chinese Room, thereby making it agreeable with opponents and making it disappear with proponents. A nasty little thought exercise.

I want to see a computer know what, "He ran the business into the ground means and to derive its etymology!

I'm not aware of any theory that claims there was nothing in the beginning.

There is one reference to nothing in the beginning, but it isn't from a scientific theory. To paraphrase the great philosopher, Groucho Marx:

As to Nothing:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704206804575467921609024244.html

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/09/much-ado-about-ldquonothingrdquo-stephen-hawking-and-the-self-creating-universe

Edited by encouraged

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I think what the article said is right... Imagine you replace your brain cells one by one, little by little with a mechanical storage, which can do the exact same thing as a cell (interact with other cells, storing information). In final, you do not lose your consciousness. I think consciousness is simply an electrical/chemical signal in our brain which detects the presence of other cells and "command" them.

It's possible to send our consciousness into a machine/computer

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Encourage...if you are trying to support a given argument with links, it would behoove you to...well, actually read and understand the links. If you post a link trying to support one view, and the link itself provides the argument showing how you are incorrect, it kind of makes you look like someone more concerned with winning the argument than solving it.

As I mentioned before, there is no actual theory that claims the universe began from nothing. Yes, the most brilliant mind on the planet may have well made that analogy when trying to explain one of the most complex scientific explanations in the history of mankind to people who can barely comprehend what the phenomena actually is, however the theory itself does not make that actual claim.

And, as previously mentioned, the articles you linked to do indeed bring up this precise point, in an attempt to avoid such confusion:

The dramatic possibility Hawking is considering (and many others before him) is that such a system might make a transition from its "no-universe state" to a state with one or more universes.

Would this be "creation" in the sense that theologians mean it? And in particular, would it be creation ex nihilo, creation from nothing?

The answer is no. First of all, one isn't starting from "nothing." The "no-universe state" as meant in these speculative scenarios is not nothing, it is a very definite something: it is one particular quantum state among many of an intricate rule-governed system. This no-universe state has specific properties and potentialities defined by a system of mathematical laws.

Edited by aquatus1

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The Science News article's author said:

“...An inevitable consequence of this point of view is that consciousness doesn't care what kind of information processors are doing all its jobs — whether nerve cells or transistors."

I think what the article said is right... Imagine you replace your brain cells one by one, little by little with a mechanical storage, which can do the exact same thing as a cell (interact with other cells, storing information). In final, you do not lose your consciousness. I think consciousness is simply an electrical/chemical signal in our brain which detects the presence of other cells and "command" them.

It's possible to send our consciousness into a machine/computer

An inevitable consequence =means= this will occur

consciousness doesn't care =means= that part of you which would normally care, doesn't

However, here I sit realizing that I--that which is currently conscious in me--does care an awful lot if I am composed of transistors or nerve cells.

Perhaps the author means, "The consciousness will not be impacted in its performance if transistors do the processing rather than nerve cells." However, this meaning is hugely different from the meaning above.

Work is work, when it is done, it is done. You can use a knife to sharpen a pencil or the machine pencil manufacturers use. The only conscious I am familiar with has aesthetic values and values of pride. Thereby, it "cares" what it is constructed of.

As to the entry above, I can say, "What if we replace each part of your watch with a cell from your body which can do the exact same thing as the part? You would still be able to tell time." You would, and probably are, saying but that isn't the same. I disagree! The only difference is that the obvious inadequacies are higher up on the surface of the argument--a more obvious level where they can be easily seen.

Likewise, in order to have a transistor array that could replace a neural cell, which can do the exact same thing as a cell you would have to compose the transistor in such a way that it is exactly like the neural cell.

IMHO, it's impossible to send our consciousness into a machine/computer because the world is not a mechanical machine or mechanistic. I argued this topic with a friend in 1986 who now invites himself to Microsoft board meetings, the last time I brought the topic up he said, "That was when I was... Well, lets just say he reversed his position, but he did make his millions.

Edited by encouraged

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Encourage...if you are trying to support a given argument with links, it would behoove you to...well, actually read and understand the links. If you post a link trying to support one view, and the link itself provides the argument showing how you are incorrect, it kind of makes you look like someone more concerned with winning the argument than solving it.

As I mentioned before, there is no actual theory that claims the universe began from nothing. Yes, the most brilliant mind on the planet may have well made that analogy when trying to explain one of the most complex scientific explanations in the history of mankind to people who can barely comprehend what the phenomena actually is, however the theory itself does not make that actual claim.

And, as previously mentioned, the articles you linked to do indeed bring up this precise point, in an attempt to avoid such confusion:

You are misjudging your prowess. The answer you gave me before convinced me that you were right after I did some research. So, when someone else saw it the way I had before, I gave them reason to see it the way you expressed.

Perhaps I should note when I have changed my opinion. Please give yourself "a pat on the back."

You response leads me to believe that growing from the exposure to discussion is an unusual thing to experience, otherwise IMO you would have realized it on your own, if I may say so.

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An inevitable consequence of this point of view is that consciousness doesn't care what kind of information processors are doing all its jobs — whether nerve cells or transistors.

I think you misinterpreted the statement. What it is pointing to is the fact that consciousness isn't necessary in the setup of the physical requirements of being conscious. It is only a result.

Thus consciousness doesn't care about information processes/nerves w.e doing their jobs. It is only there when the necessary requirements are met.

Also I saw some conversation going on in regards to nothing. Something important to understand with nothing is that most of the time it is simply undefined. Which can be due to not knowing enough of the system one is trying to describe or doing things with an incomplete system you have trying to describe something else.

I.e trying to explain 3 dimensional geometry using only 2 dimensional geometry from a 2 dimensional perspective. 3 Dimensional geometry appears as "nothing" to 2 dimensional geometry visually. It simply is not there.

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The more I read and study on both sides of the isle, scientific and spiritual, the more I come to believe that if you believe in a notion or an idea enough that you can find evidence to support that claim no matter what it is.

Yep, made even easier now with google :)

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You are misjudging your prowess. The answer you gave me before convinced me that you were right after I did some research. So, when someone else saw it the way I had before, I gave them reason to see it the way you expressed.

If you wish.

Perhaps I should note when I have changed my opinion. Please give yourself "a pat on the back."

Yes, you should make it a bit clearer. After all, people are liable to read into postings things you may not mean.

You response leads me to believe that growing from the exposure to discussion is an unusual thing to experience, otherwise IMO you would have realized it on your own, if I may say so.

Unbelievably unusual.

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If you wish.

Yes, you should make it a bit clearer. After all, people are liable to read into postings things you may not mean.

Unbelievably unusual.

I do appreciate the note of being careful, as I prefer people know the "me" that I actually am, hopefully genuine, open to new ideas and concepts, and somewhat vulnerable. That is already hard enough for anyone to achieve without such a misinterpretation.

I find this place a learning experience as well as just interesting.

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I think you misinterpreted the statement. What it is pointing to is the fact that consciousness isn't necessary in the setup of the physical requirements of being conscious. It is only a result.

Thus consciousness doesn't care about information processes/nerves w.e doing their jobs.

It is only there when the necessary requirements are met.


  • I think what this discussion represents is my being out of step with all the rest of the marching troops, because I was told:
  • "When the drill Sargent says, 'Left.' that is the foot you are stepping forward with [the normal marching order]." However, the rest of the troops have been told:
  • "When the drill Sargent says, 'Right.' that is the foot you leave planted while stepping forward with the other foot [an abnormal marching order]."
    Thereby, being technically correct but not traditionally right [or is it left-lol], i.e. there is a set interpretation among those who discuss this matter which overrides the literal statement that has been made, further i.e. what he said is not what he means. Else wise, I have no idea why what I have said and am saying is not clear.

Even when people are simplifying a concept, I expect their editors to make them articulate what they are simplifying with accuracy. Perhaps others do not. With that in mind:

This color is that which I disagree with.

This color is that which I agree with.

This color is that which I can not "decipher".

I am feeling more and more that I am making a mountain out of a mole hill.

I think you misinterpreted the statement. And I am saying the person misspoke the statement. Perhaps I misinterpreted the statement's traditionally assigned meaning, which is contrary to what it states (which is the topic at hand.)

Thus consciousness doesn't care about information processes/nerves w.e doing their jobs.

Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind... As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives." arrow3.gifView: Wiki on consciousness

Perhaps I can better differentiate/contrast what I am saying by rewording the comment posted above as:

Thus, the mind doesn't care about information processes/nerves w.e doing their jobs. However, consciousness does care. One of my mind's products is consciousness. If my mind could exist through a construction of transistors, it would not know the difference. True! However, if my current consciousness were asked what is its preference of mind construction, it would have an opinion, i.e care! It (I) would say the normal cellular configuration is my preference. My consciousness is what made the article meaningful, not just read. It is what judged the accuracy of truth in the article. It is what determined that it would indeed care and therefore was untruthful. It is what decided the article should become a topic in UM-philosophy. It is what is expressing and revealing, again, at this moment, that it does indeed care. And it is what understands the difference of what was said (my point) and what you think the author meant (your point). I don't know how to further clarify this, if this doesn't do it for me.

It is only there when the necessary requirements are met.¡No comprende!

I hope I have explained myself well enough this time to be generally understood. Sorry I didn't do better before. Perhaps this demonstrates the difficulty of the subject and even more the difficulty of trying to bring a report of it to the public, who probably would not even notice what I am talking about.

edited by me to close wikipedia quote marker.

Edited by encouraged

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Also I saw some conversation going on in regards to nothing. Something important to understand with nothing is that most of the time it is simply undefined. Which can be due to not knowing enough of the system one is trying to describe or doing things with an incomplete system you have trying to describe something else.

I.e trying to explain 3 dimensional geometry using only 2 dimensional geometry from a 2 dimensional perspective. 3 Dimensional geometry appears as "nothing" to 2 dimensional geometry visually. It simply is not there.

I think you misinterpreted the statement. What it is pointing to is the fact that consciousness isn't necessary in the setup of the physical requirements of being conscious. It is only a result.

Thus consciousness doesn't care about information processes/nerves w.e doing their jobs. It is only there when the necessary requirements are met.

Also I saw some conversation going on in regards to nothing. Something important to understand with nothing is that most of the time it is simply undefined. Which can be due to not knowing enough of the system one is trying to describe or doing things with an incomplete system you have trying to describe something else.

I.e trying to explain 3 dimensional geometry using only 2 dimensional geometry from a 2 dimensional perspective. 3 Dimensional geometry appears as "nothing" to 2 dimensional geometry visually. It simply is not there.

This color is that which I agree with.

Thanks for adding to the need for clarification.

Above I said my mind was changed and it was. To do so I had to add a new sense to my understanding of Nothing. That is the quantum sense, which hereafter will be qNothing in my usage, unless someone has already labeled it in such a way. If so, I will adapt that.

All my thinking up to now--25 years since the introduction to me of Hegel's Nothing--has been in the Hegel line of thinking. Like he said, "Nothing is the hardest thing to comprehend." Perhaps that is hNothing?

All of the comments I have made at the UM site, up to now about Nothing, have been hNothing based.

Kind of like whiplash to finally understand hNothing just in time to start understanding qNothing.

So, this brings the question, "If qNothing is removed is hNothing left?

So, on this one I am now in correct step with the troops!

Thanks again.

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“Ultimately I think the key thing that matters is information,” Koch says. “You have these causal interactions and they can be quantified using information theory. Somehow out of that consciousness has to arrive.” An inevitable consequence of this point of view is that consciousness doesn't care what kind of information processors are doing all its jobs — whether nerve cells or transistors.

Okay, this is how I read the above quote.

I read it in regards to the process that occurs when consciousness comes about and the role that consciousness plays in this process.

How I read it is that consciousness isn't required, or doesn't care, in the process that results in the creation of itself.

It's like saying, you weren't conscious before you were born. Some things happened and then you were conscious. At some point there was "qNothing" as you might say. One can derive that consciousness wasn't a necessary factor in the processes that occurred to become conscious.

It is from this that one might be able to reword the part in green to- "consciousness isn't a necessary factor in the processes that requires consciousness to come about." And can then be understood as "An inevitable consequence of this point of view is that consciousness doesn't care what kind of information processors are doing all its jobs — whether nerve cells or transistors."

The reason I read it in this way is because of

"“Ultimately I think the key thing that matters is information,” Koch says. “You have these causal interactions and they can be quantified using information theory. Somehow out of that consciousness has to arrive.”"

Information could be interpreted as matter or DNA or w.e. It then goes on to point to causal interactions leading me to think of a process, not a state of being. It then says somehow consciousness has to arrive and this is the key, it's pointing to the arrival of consciousness. Not the state of being of consciousness.

I care about my origins and my anatomy and what not. I wasn't "here" to care about these things when my cells were assembling themselves though, it was causal or at least I assume it was causal.

Edit: Also I like your way of editing your work. Might try to adopt it myself for future posts :). Sorry for being unclear on some things. My way of understanding things is not the same as someone else. I was told to always explain things as if for the layman which I haven't been doing x).

Edited by PsiSeeker

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