[ExI] Quantum consciousness, quantum mysticism, and transhumanist engineering

Ben bbenzai at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 15 14:52:25 UTC 2017

 > I'm using "qualitative" in relation to qualia.  As in a redness 
qualia (sic) has a specific set of detectable subjective and objective 
 > Or a redness experience is qualitatively different than a greenness 

Oh, that's interesting. So a specific quale has a specific set of 
detectable objective, um, qualities?

Hang on, that doesn't make sense! I assume you mean objective 
*properties*, things that can be measured. In other words quantitative 
data, not qualitative.

And of course, a quale has a certain set of detectable /subjective/ 
properties, that's the whole point of the idea of qualia. They are 
experiences detectable by the subject.

So you are saying that there is something measurably different about 
someone's brain when they look at a red object to when they look at a 
green one. I suppose that must be true, although I doubt if we know how 
to do that measurement, it must be horribly complicated. And I'm not 
sure if this holds if that person looks at /any/ red object vs. /any/ 
green object, rather than say a red ball when you're in a good mood 
after a nice meal vs. a green ball under similar circumstances. Could we 
be sure that it's true of a red ball seen during a game of tennis vs. 
the memory of a red ball seen in a photograph of that same game of 
tennis? I honestly don't know.

The more I think about it, the more remarkable I find your confidence 
that there is such a specific set of detectable objective properties. 
What leads you to that conclusion?

And even if it is true, I don't see how this could extend to comparisons 
between individuals, so it's of limited use for detecting if some random 
person was seeing something red or not.

 > There is no translation mechanism involved with the qualitative 
values of a redness we can experience.

Er, you just said that there is: "a redness qualia (sic) has a specific 
set of detectable ... objective ..."

So if we can hook someone up to a decector of some kind (an MRI scanner, 
say), and after a set of tests (probably lots of tests!), come up with a 
characteristic signal that occurs when the subject looks at a red ball, 
we'd be able to have them look at an object and tell from the signals 
alone whether he was looking at a red ball or not. Or, you seem to 
claim, any red object.

If this works, then you have a translation mechanism. This precise set 
of signals from the MRI scanner = an experience of 'red' in this 
specific experimental subject (or at least an eel wearing a red dinner 
jacket in a hovercraft, or whatever the test data was).

 > Effing the ineffable is still simply theoretical, yet to be proven by 
 > Many people, like John, are predicting that it will always be 
impossible to eff the ineffable or that it will be impossible for me to 
know anything about John's redness.

Well, you could ask him.

 > A simplified example testable theory is that glutamate is the 
objectively observable side of subjective elemental redness

Please, stop with the glutamate and the 'elemental' redness. It has been 
pointed out many times that this concept is just wrong.

By all means, talk about detectable conditions or events (a specific 
pattern of spike trains in a certain set of nerve tracts, or whatever) 
corresponding to reported experiences (like seeing red), but obstinately 
sticking with a concept that directly contradicts what we know about 
neuroscience is not helping. "It's a simplification" is not an excuse. 
As I've pointed out already, it's not a simplification, it's a fabrication.

 > So, if you can prove that if you have one, you always have the other

If the results of the MRI experiment above on Bob are applied to Susan, 
how can you say with confidence, without repeating the whole experiment 
again on Susan, that she also sees red when the same signals are 
observed? What if she insists that she is seeing pink? You'd have to 
calibrate the system for every single individual, and I'm betting you'd 
always find exceptions who say "I'm looking at a red ball" when the 
signals are totally different, or "I'm looking at a polar bear" when 
they are the same.

But by all means, do the experiment. You may be right. With enough 
experiments on enough individuals, it may be possible to arrive at a 
standard set of neural signals that reliably indicate an abstract 
experience of 'red'. I'm skeptical*, but willing to be persuaded by hard 
experimental evidence.

Ben Zaiboc

* to say the least. Consider all the myriad ways that people learn the 
concept of 'red'. The different experiences and circumstances, different 
eyes, bodies, environments, histories, etc., tied up with the linguistic 
label 'red'. Consider the huge variety of brain-states across billions 
of people, that lead them all to say "I'm seeing a red ball".
There are languages that don't distinguish between 'blue' and 'green'. 
What does this mean for the subjective experience of the people who 
speak them? How could a 'test for experiencing blueness' apply to them?


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list