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

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Thu Mar 16 21:08:36 UTC 2017

Hi Ben,

It seems evident from what you say here, that you haven't seen the video on
detecting qualia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHuqZKxtOf4 .  I think
this will answer most of the questions or issues you are pointing out here.
Also, you use the word "red" in ambiguous ways.  For me, the word "red"
means something has a property such that it reflects something like 650 nm
light - the initial cause of a perception process.  The final result of
this perception process is our knowledge of the "red" thing. This knowledge
has a “redness” quality you can experience.  When you say “red”, I often
can’t tell which one you are talking about.  This is important because, in
cases like inverted qualia, my redness could be more like your greenness,
which we both represent “red” with.

You indicated I'm overly confident with this stuff., but the only thing we
know for sure is that conscious experienced includes at least 3 elements:
an ability to experience redness quale, and ability to experience a
greenness quale, and a mechanism the binds these two qualia together to
make a composite experience qualia of redness and greenness.  It is this
binding mechanism which enables us to be aware of both at the same time, so
we can compare them, qualitatively, enabling us to verbalize things like:
“yes those are qualitatively different or the same”.  You like to think of
a redness quale as particular patterns of firing neurons,  John thinks of
them as ineffable, or not sharable, or not approachable via objective
science.  Stathis thinks that redness is something functional, independent
of any particular hardware.  All these are still theoretically possible, or
not yet falsified.  So, I need to have a term to use that represents all
these possible neural correlates of redness to all people.  Since most
people’s theories about the neural correlates of redness might be are
overly complex and lack specificity, so it is almost impossible to describe
to people what is required to detect qualia or eff the ineffable. (in the
various week, stronger, and strongest, ways.  We need to have a basic
understanding of the requirements to think about this kind of qualitative
theory, so we know how to test for all the many theories, to find out if
people have inverted qualia, and so on.

So, I’m only confident that we can experience multiple qualia, that
something in the brain is the neural correlate of each, and that there is a
binding mechanism that enables us to experience all of these, as a
composite qualia enabling us to qualitatively compare them.

So, in order to verbalize this kind of qualitative information, I need a
simple theoretical example which could be use in some simplified world to
test the various theories of what qualia might be.  Then once everyone,
with all their diverse ways of thinking about qualia, can understand how to
think in these kinds of qualitative testing ways, they can know how to test
if their particular theory is correct or not, and how we might be able to
eff the ineffable with their theory.

So, instead of trying to describe this relatively simple qualitative theory
in all possible, mostly very incomplete and non specific ways of thinking
about qualia, I just use this simple theory of how people in a simplified
world would be able to detect, eff, qualia and prove various qualitative

You, Stathis, and everyone keep complaining about my usage of glutamate,
and pointing out problems with it.  But this is missing the point.  “Glutamate”
is just a simplified term that represents whatever is doing the neural
function of a redness experience in an objectively and quantitatively
describable way in a simplified world.  If you think a redness experience
is a set of neurons firing in a particular pattern, then just substitute
that idea whenever I use the term “glutamate”.  Stathis needs to substitute
the term “glutamate” with something “functional” that is a redness quale,
and so on.  The important part is just that we need some over arching
qualitative theory we can all understand, so we can talk to each other, and
propose ways to objectively prove which of our various theories are the on
right theory, and how to tell if people have inverted qualia and so on.

Once a person understands how qualitative theory works in a simplified
world, then you can use the same general qualitative ideas to better
understand qualia in the real world.


On Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 8:52 AM, Ben <bbenzai at yahoo.com> wrote:

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