[ExI] A paper that actually does solve the problem of consciousness

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at comcast.net
Sat Nov 15 18:38:18 UTC 2008


Oh, AGI 09.  That sounds fun too.

When you say:

 > Chalmers' argument is *consistent* with what I have argued, but the 
two statements are very very different.

That is precisely the type of information we are attempting to capture 
concisely and quantitatively at canonizer.com.  Almost nobody agrees on 
every single little thing.  And we tend to spend all our time on the 
little minor disagreements, when in reality, unbeknownst to most, there 
is quite a bit of consistency and agreement after all on many critically 
important things.  Our inability to capture and measure this consensus 
concisely and quantitatively is why so many junk theories and noise 
survive and so effectively drown out the real signal that I believe 
we'll soon find within all the noise loud and clear.

So, in other words, perhaps we could work with the members of that 
Chalmers camp to create a 'super camp' containing all the things that 
are 'consistent' with what all of you agree with.  All of the great 
additions that you have that they all agree with can be added to that 
super camp they 'support'.  Anything that they all do not fully agree 
with can be added to your own supporting sub camp.  A good way to get 
started, would be to join this camp, if you agree with most of it.  You 
will then received communication from the camp and topic forums about 
proposed improvements, and have 'object' privileges to proposed changes 
to your camp - preventing them from going live (such can then be added 
to a competing sibling camp or supporting sub camp.)

That is why the representationalist camp is so vague on many things.  It 
simply states that our conscious knowledge is the final result of the 
cause and effect chain of events that is pereception and located in our 
head.  This is what we all agree on.  There are obviously a diverse set 
of compeeting theories about what this phenomenal knowledge is, 
precicely.  All this is being continually developed as we write.  So you 
need to read and follow the various sub camps to see the survey of the 
various theories beyond representationalism as they continue to develop.

You picked up quite a bit from your simple reading of the phenomenal 
properties camp, but you are still obviously missing quite a bit.  (as I 
surely am still missing much about your beliefs)  We know that the stuff 
on the surface of a strawberry has a behavioral property in that it 
causes 700 nm light to reflect in a certain pattern.  Science tells  us 
all about this behavior, but not much about the how or why, and it is 
very blind to any other properties beyond mere behavior.  Our theory 
simply is that in addition to such causal behavioral properties, there 
is something in our brain that also has phenomenal properties.

This is of course way oversimplifying things but as an example say one 
neurotransitter has a red phenomenal property, and another a green.  So 
evolution simply used the phenomenal properties of these two neural 
transmitters to represent both the red strawberry and the green leaves 
in an intelligently distinguishable conscious way.  Just because cause 
and effect observation is blind to anything other than behavioral 
properties doesn't mean that they do not have such more than behavioral 
properties.  Nor does it mean that evolution could not utilize such 
ineffable properties o make us more intelligent in a phenomenally 
conscious way.

The predictions and falsifiable claims are simply that some of your 
falisfiable predictions will be wrong, and that we will descover just 
what it is in nature that has these phenomenal properties.  If all the 
claims made by your theory turn out to be true, this theory will be 
falsified.  If, as this theory predicts, we discover that something in 
our brain does have phenomenal properties, that evolution has used these 
phenomenal properties to represent our knowledge, and if we develop the 
ability to map and eff such to each other's minds (as in oh THAT is what 
red is like for you), it will prove this theory correct, and at least 
some of your theories' predictions wrong.

We're very much looking forward to getting your theories concisely 
stated and quantitatively measured with all the other theories.  And I 
think you are very much a 'Mind Expert' so I (and surely others) would 
love to join your camp if you would create one containing some of your 
bio information representing you with other experts here: 

I'm betting that all these Hard Problem camps are about to collapse into 
one - the discovery of what the mind really is.  And I bet this will be, 
by far, the greatest and most world changing scientific achievement of 
all time.  Boy, is this going to be dramatic, and what a wonderful time 
to be alive to likely witness and be a part of such and to see who are 
the first ones in that camp.


Brent Allsop

Richard Loosemore wrote:
> Brent Allsop wrote:
>> Richard,
>> First, a few trivial problems I noticed:
>> page 4:
>>  > We cannot simply wave our hands and pick a
>>  > set of criteria to apply to these things, we ??? some convincing
>>  > reasons for choosing as we do.
>> conclusion:
>>  > We could never "prove" this statement the
>>  > way that we prove things about other concepts, but all of
>>  > the concepts related to consciousness are deemed to have a
>>  > special status-??the?? are real, but beyond analysis
> Many thanks for catching those
>> Definitely, yet another falsifiable theory of consciousness.  But I 
>> like a different theory much better which falsifiably predicts you're 
>> making some key mistakes.  This theory - that nature simply has 
>> phenomenal properties - is here:
>> http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/23/2
> I confess I have read only a short way into this piece, but already I 
> see a severe problem:  it belongs in the "Let's just pass a scientific 
> law to say that C-phenomena are valid, and forget about explaining 
> them" category.
> In other words, it seems to "explain" C by simply asserting that 
> Science is actually Science+C, with C being some additional set of 
> primitives, with no connection (other than an epiphenomenal one) to 
> the regular world of Science.
> That position has been articulated before, but most people find it 
> deeply unsatisfactory.
> Moreover, the position described in that page makes a telling 
> statement near the beginning:  "We believe that evolution has managed 
> to use something that has a red phenomenal property to represent 
> knowledge of something that reflects 700 nm light...".  This brings 
> down their whole position, because if "evolution" was able to "use" 
> something that has a red phenomenal property, then (a) how did it 
> manage to get hold of it, if the "something" was beyond the reach of 
> science? and (b) if the "something" was not beyond the reach of 
> science (so one day we can objectively observe the something and 
> connect it to the rest of the physical world), then what is this 
> "phenomenal quality" that the something is supposed to have ... it 
> seems that the original questions are all there, in 100% of their 
> original force, about the "something".
> I cannot see any way to parse this Camp Statement "Nature Has 
> Ineffable Phenomenal Properties" that gets around these problems.  The 
> statement does not address them.
> And where is the falsifiable prediction in this camp statement?  I 
> cannot find it.
> Nor can I find any sense in which this position "falsifiably predicts 
> that [I] am making some key mistakes"..... ummm, isn't that, like, 
> nothing to do with the meaning of "falsifiable prediction"? :-)  One 
> cannot falsifiably predict that someone is making some mistakes; we 
> just predict some phenomena, and then go and measure them...... no?
>> It appears to me your theory is very similar to the one Chalmers 
>> argues for represented by this slightly more well represented camp 
>> (i.e. two people so far, and possibly Chalmers himself) here:
>> http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/23/9
> Well, I guess I would say that it is not exactly fair to say the two 
> theories are similar, because Chalmers' argument does not make any 
> attempt to say where all this comes from and what its ontological 
> status is.
> Chalmers' argument is *consistent* with what I have argued, but the 
> two statements are very very different.
> FWIW, Chalmers did actually listen to and read my argument when I put 
> it on a poster at the 2006 conference in Tucson.  His first reaction 
> was that it broke down at a certain place, but when I pointed out to 
> him that I had already defended against that reply (and defended 
> against all possible extensions of that reply), his only comment was 
> that "yes, that might work", and he asked me to send him a copy of the 
> paper.
>> Both of these competing camps agree on, and support the 
>> representational super camp here.
>> http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/23/7
> Again, this only a general statement about a category of possible 
> solutions to the problem, without any flesh on its bones, which would 
> allow it to explain exactly *why* the quandary arises.  It talks about 
> C-phenomena being an "illusion" without addressing the problem of what 
> kind of illusion, and why.  It is vague, and leaves many, many 
> questions unanswered.
> I believe that the paper I just presented did not leave any loose ends 
> (of any substance), and gave a more comprehensive account of all the 
> various sub-issues than I have ever seen in any of the extant positions.
> So, having stuck my neck out like that, I need to be attacked on 
> specific points that people think I did not cover.
>> I"m wondering if you would consider yourself a representationalist?  
>> If not then what?  I don't see anything you've said that disagrees 
>> with what is stated there, yet you fail to mention it at all.  And 
>> there are some leading theinkeers currently working together on 
>> joining and improving this representational camp such as: John 
>> Smythies, Richard Wilson, Edmond Wright, Mark Ancil Crooks, and 
>> Stephen Harrison.
> That is a tricky question.
> The problem is this.  Representationalists say some things that are 
> entirely consistent with the position I have stated - for example, 
> that the only knowledge that we have is actually just the concepts in 
> our heads, and that the "real world" is not a thing that can be 
> separated from our knowledge of it (or, indeed, the "real world" might 
> not even exist.... we simply have no way to know).
> So far so good.  But then the representationalists sometimes use 
> further language that introduces concepts that are hard to parse or 
> justify.  To take an example from the position statement at
> http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/23/7,
> "There is also our *knowledge* of what we are looking at which is the 
> final result of the perception process entirely in our brain. We 
> believe this conscious knowledge to be composed of phenomenal 
> properties."
> (emphasis added)
> This paragraph can be taken as referring to the concept-atoms that I 
> described in my paper (i.e. when they say "knowledge"), BUT then they 
> go on to say that "this conscious knowledge to be composed of 
> phenomenal properties", which is a huge leap from mechanism-talk 
> (concept-atoms) to phenomenological talk (...composed of phenomenal 
> properties).
> My response to that paragraph is that everything was going fine until 
> the sudden jump!
> So it would take a great deal of detailed explication to pick apart 
> the difference between me and a representationalist, but the short 
> reply is that they go places I do not want to go, for reasons that 
> seem pulled out of thin air.
> And, to repeat my theme throughout this post, they do not give a 
> detailed account of why all the various problems related to 
> consciousness should be the way that they are.  Nor do they make 
> falsifiable predictions.
>> It would definitely be great to get this "Loosemore Argument"? 
>> canonized with the rest of the theories, so it can be concisely and 
>> quantitatively represented along with all the other theories being 
>> added.
> Yes, I will try to do that.
>> When you say:
>>  > This escaping-the-objective
>>  > feature is not just about explaining consciousness, it is also
>>  > about defining it: for every "objective" definition that has
>>  > ever been proposed, it seems, someone has countered that
>>  > the real mystery has been side-stepped by the definition.
>> and
>>  > We could never "prove" this statement the
>>  > way that we prove things about other concepts, but all of
>>  > the concepts related to consciousness are deemed to have a
>>  > special status-the are real, but beyond analysis
>> The nature has phenomenal properties theory predicts this is false or 
>> wrong.  The 'objective' definition and proof is to simply 'eff' what 
>> it is like - as in: 'oh THAT is what salt is like'.  Very different 
>> than saying what it behaves like in a cause and effect way.
> As I said above, the Nature Has Phenomenal Properties Theory can be 
> criticized for (a) not really saying why the various observations 
> about consciousness should be the way they are (my theory does do 
> that, I believe), and it also has internal inconsistencies, like its 
> ambiguity concerning the relationship between the phenomenal 
> properties and the real.
> Also, you mentioned "prediction" again.  I think this is confusing: 
> their disagreement with my position is not the same as predicting that 
> I am wrong, because prediction is really only about doing empirical 
> experiments (or rather, in the context of *my* usage of "flasifiable 
> predictions", that is what it means).
>> And of course when you conclude:
>>  > Any computer designed in such a way that it had the same
>>  > problems as we do with the analysis mechanism (arguably,
>>  > any computer intelligent enough to be comparable to
>>  > ourselves) would experience consciousness.
>> Chalmers would probably agree with you, but the nature has phenomenal 
>> properties camp predicts this will be proven wrong.
> Hmmmm, perhaps you could clarify.  What is the exact nature of the 
> prediction that they make?  I am unclear.
>> Looking forward to hearing how your presentation of this goes this 
>> weekend at Convergence08.  I wish I could be there to experience it, 
>> and I hope everyone will let me know how this and everything else went.
>> Brent Allsop
> Oh, this is for possible inclusion in AGI-09:  I am not going to 
> Convergence08.
> Richard Loosemore
>> Richard Loosemore wrote:
>>> I completed the first draft of a technical paper on consciousness 
>>> the other day.   It is intended for the AGI-09 conference, and it 
>>> can be found at:
>>> http://susaro.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/draft_consciousness_rpwl.pdf 
>>> The title is "Consciousness in Human and Machine: A Theory and Some 
>>> Falsifiable Predictions", and it does solve the problem, believe it 
>>> or not.
>>> But I have no illusions:  it will be misunderstood, at the very 
>>> least. I expect there will be plenty of people who argue that it 
>>> does not solve the problem, but I don't really care, because I think 
>>> history will eventually show that this is indeed the right answer.  
>>> It gives a satisfying answer to all the outstanding questions and it 
>>> feels right.
>>> Oh, and it does make some testable predictions.  Alas, we do not yet 
>>> have the technology to perform the tests yet, but the predictions 
>>> are on the table, anyhow.
>>> In a longer version I would go into a lot more detail, introducing  
>>> the background material at more length, analyzing the other 
>>> proposals that have been made and fleshing out the technical aspects 
>>> along several dimensions.  But the size limit for the conference was 
>>> 6 pages, so that was all I could cram in.
>>> Richard Loosemore
>>> P.S.  Yes, I know: everyone and their mother has a theory of 
>>> consciousness these days.  But, believe me, I wouldn't dare to join 
>>> that (mostly confused and disreputable) crowd unless I really 
>>> thought that this paper actually *did* solve the problem.
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