[ExI] Consciousness as 'brute fact' and meta-skepticism

Will Steinberg steinberg.will at gmail.com
Sat Feb 8 02:12:00 UTC 2020

On Fri, Feb 7, 2020 at 6:45 PM John Clark via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Nobody has ever proposed a scientific exparament that could, even in
> theory, teach us anything new about consciousness. That's why although we
> know vastly more about most things in our world than we did a thousand
> years ago we know as little about consciousness as we did during the Dark
> Ages. And I can see absolutely no reason to think this situation is going
> to change this year or next year or ever.

Here is one that I think might work.  It is impossible now, but
theoretically possible.

It has been shown that mice can inherit fear of a smell *acquired during
the lifetime* through generations:

This means that, as opposed to a traditional belief that genetic mutations
would generate genetic information that would be processed into associating
fear behavior with a certain olfactory quale (OQ for short,) we have said
quale being forced, by a pain quale (PQ), 'backwards' into hereditary
information(HI).  This means that the lifeform has some way of encoding OQ
into hereditary information.  This could be by any variety of
sources--histone configuration, methylation, genes, bacterial flora, or
some unknown vessel.  Then this information is able to flow back into the
brain of the offspring, causing a neural configuration (NC) which effects
aversion behavior (AB) to OQ.  The process would be something like:

smell (OQ) + shock (PQ) = fear response in parent (pAB)
pAB x repetition = brain changes in parent (pNC)
pNC ---> unknown method ---> inheritable data in parent (pHI)
pHI ---> procreation ---> inheritable data in child (fHI)
fHI ---> unknown method ---> brain changes in child (fNC)
fNC + OQ = fear response in child (fAB)

The experiment would be to locate the precise neural configuration that
encodes the quale and aversion behavior pair in the parent, then the
precise hereditary information that encodes the pair, and then the precise
neural configuration that encodes the pair in the child.  Then you do it
with various different olfactory qualia.  Finally, you compare the
traveling quale/behavior pairs with each other and see if there is anything
innate that makes one set of pNC/HI/fNC associated with a certain quale
(say, almond) and another set associated with another (say, vanilla).  In
other words, can we look at two NCs and two HIs and by some metric be able
to tell which pairs are associated with the same quale/behavior combo?

The point of this would be to demonstrate that there IS some innate code
that reality uses to produce qualia.

Just saying that there are definitely experiments you can do.

Now you will probably say "well I can only verify my own qualia" but that
solipsism is literally pointless and does not contribute anything.  You
might be a brain in a vat and all the fundamental forces are fake.  You
might be in a demon's illusion world.  These experiments make the simple
assumption that other beings experience qualia just like you.  I'm trying
to be as practical as I can with consciousness here.  The solipsist shit is
annoying; I got most of that out of my system when I was a pothead in high
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