[ExI] Newest, state of the art description of "Representational Qualia Theory"?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at canonizer.com
Sun Jun 5 23:17:44 UTC 2011

Lincoln, and everyone else,

I very much appreciate the efforts many of you continue to expend, on my 
behalf, in my efforts to better understand qualia and how to talk about 

A group of experts, including Lehar, Smythies, Raggett... are hard at 
work collaboratively developing a new current state of the art statement 
for the current leading consensus "Representational Qualia Theory" 
camp.  I've included the current  draft of the first section of this 
statement we've developed so far here for feedback.  Lincoln, the 
discussion we had yesterday on the way home for the SLC Singularity 
Summat was very educational and enlightening about some of the problems 
we still have with some of this stuff.  I've encorporated some of what 
we talked about in this newest version below.

Some of us people, who haven't been able to stop our brains from 
thinking about this stuff non stop for the past 20+ years, often have a 
real hard time writing this stuff such that normal people can 
understand.  Many people have often commented that the current version 
(see: http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/88/6 ) makes no sense at all to 
them, it just being a bunch of random words to them.  So we desperately 
need to improve this, and the below is an attempt in this direction.  
Any feedback of how to better say any of this, or any problems with 
this, would be of great assistance!!  Any of you famed and accomplished 
authors like Damien Boderick, care to rewrite any of it or get more 
involved in this rewrite effort, or at least be willing to review all of 
it for the benefit of everyone?  If so, just let me know.

And of course, if any of you buy into any of this, we could really use 
your help by signing this online petition, or joining the camp, to help 
us continue to spreed this critically important information (or if you 
still have a different POV, we desperately need to know that concisely 
and quantitatively also.)  Is taking 5 minutes to sign something like 
this too much to ask of transhumanists, for the benefit of everyone?  
You don't need to be an expert, or know for sure, it just has to be 
reasonably close to your current working hypothesis, or way of thinking 
about this stuff, so we can know, concisely and quantitatively, what 
everyone currently believes, especially all the trans-humanist experts.  
We've got to measure all this, as that which you measure will improve.


Brent Allsop


Representational Qualia Theory

Our working hypothesis is that a phenomenal red property or quale is not 
a property of something like a red strawberry reflecting 650nm light, or 
the initial cause of a perception process.  It is, instead, a property 
of the final result of a perception process.  The world finally fully 
realizing this will be far more significant than when everyone finally 
switched from the working hypothesis of a geocentric solar system. This 
full realization by everyone could lead to the most significant 
scientific revolution of all time.  The early significant lead this 
collaboratively developed camp has ahead of all others to date is 
exciting evidence that, at least for some experts and hobbyists, we 
might have already made a great bit of progress towards a real 
scientific consensus.

Information theory mandates that information or knowledge must be 
represented by something.  If you know something, there must be 
something that is that knowledge.  If you know lots of phenomenal stuff 
like the redness of some strawberries, together with the greenness of 
some leaves, and cognitive ideas about lots of other things like the 
memory of how sweet the reddest ones are, there must be something that 
is all this information, and it must be somehow bound together in the 
same world of awareness we experience.

All information that comes to us through our cause and effect based 
senses is done so in the abstract.  This type of abstract information 
suffers from a '''"Quale Interpretation Problem"'''.  This problem is 
why qualia are ineffable.  The cause and effect way this type of 
abstracted information comes to us by properly interpreting our senses 
has three important related (dis) functionalities:

1. What this abstract information is represented by doesn't matter, as 
long as it is interpreted properly.

2. Anything that represents this abstract information must be properly 
interpreted to get the abstract information represented by it.

3. External abstractly represented information has no relationship to 
any fundamental properties the media doing the representation may or may 
not have.

This type of problematic abstractness extends beyond our senses into any 
detection instruments, and includes all our current computational and 
simulation devices.  If you are going to represent information, you must 
have some media which can assume distinguishable states.  Abstracted 
information being communicated someplace else is, by design, only 
concerned about detectible and distinguishable behavioural local 
properties of the media.  Regardless of what the properties of this 
media are, or may be like, the only relevant part is are you 
interpreting these behaviours properly to get the abstract information 
being represented.  External abstract information has nothing to do with 
what any of the intermediate representations might be fundamentally 
like, either phenomenally or behaviourally.  With the design of whatever 
represents red in a computer, the only important thing is that whatever 
is doing the representation should have possible differentiable states, 
and that such differences be interpreted properly so a machine can pick 
the red ones.  How such interpretation is being done has nothing to do 
with the higher level abstracted information processing and binding 
simulation algorithms that are enabling the awareness of and the picking 
of the reddest strawberry by the robot.

With consciousness, on the other hand, information is represented in an 
entirely different phenomenal way.  With consciousness, what information 
is represented with and what this is fundamentally like, or experienced 
as, is all important.  In addition to mere causally detectible 
properties, there must be something that also has these ineffable 
properties we experience and know so well in our consciousness.  These 
properties must have some way of being uniformly distributed across the 
entire brain and bound together and integrated with our cognitive 
reasoning ideas about them, memory of such, and so on.

Properly interpreting abstract representations is a very local and 
isolated process and only the local interpretation or transduction of 
such is all that is important.  With consciousness, such surely must be 
distributed to many systems in the brain enabling all this information 
to be bound together so we can experience the phenomenal difference 
between red and green in different parts of the brain, the memory of 
such, and so on, all at once.  All this non local binding enabling us 
the ability to be aware of the phenomenal and often motivational 
differences, so we can want and choose the reddest ones while avoiding 
all the green.

This theory predicts that if neural researchers are going to make any 
progress towards explaining consciousness, they must have a clear 
understanding that there is something special or ineffable they must be 
looking for.  They must understand just '''what''' to look for - qualia, 
'''where''' to look for it - a property of a neural correlate, and 
finally '''how''' to look for it - via effing the ineffable or some type 
of repeatable and sharable binding process.  The longer nuts and bolts 
neural researchers ignore this special sauce, and only focus on 
abstracted and incorrectly interpreted behaviour of neurons, they will 
surely continue to make the glorious exponential success they are having 
in about mere behaviour in this field, but the longer they will continue 
to fail to achieve what could arguably become the greatest scientific 
realization and discovery of all time:  the discovery of the 
relationship of these phenomenal properties we experience to the 
underlying neural correlates.  The discovery including the mapping and 
sharing of all possible experiencable phenomenal properties to the 
behavioural properties we already know so much about.

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