[ExI] Possible seat of consciousness found

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 16 14:30:43 UTC 2020

You are talking about computers, boxes, simulations, and evolution.  Let's
talk about people.  I don't know much about biochemistry, but I know how
complex it can be and you seem to be denying that.


On Sun, Feb 16, 2020 at 8:09 AM John Clark via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Sat, Feb 15, 2020 at 8:17 PM William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> wrote:
> > I'd say that we understand intelligence far more than we do emotions.
> I wouldn't. If given a box of parts it would be easy to design a circuit
> that would display fear and pain, just rig it up such that if a particular
> number showed up in a register it would change that number to something
> else and stop all other activities of the machine until that change was
> made. But it would be far more difficult to take that box a parts and,
> starting from scratch, make a circuit that could play even a mediocre game
> of checkers.
> > Biochemically emotional expression is very complex - each chemical
>> affecting the brain, muscles and other body parts.
> You're talking about hormones, and I'm not impressed with hormones and I
> see nothing sacred in them. I don't see the slightest reason why they or
> any neurotransmitter would be especially difficult to simulate through
> computation, because chemical messengers are not a sign of sophisticated
> design on nature's part, rather it's an example of Evolution's bungling.
> If you need to inhibit a nearby neuron there are better ways of sending
> that signal then launching a GABA molecule like a message in a bottle
> thrown into the sea and waiting ages for it to diffuse to its random
> target.
> I'm not interested in chemicals only the information they contain, I want
> the information to get transmitted from cell to cell by the best method,
> and few would choose to send smoke signals if a fiber optic cable was
> available. The information content in each molecular message must be tiny,
> just a few bits, because only about 60 neurotransmitters such as
> acetylcholine, norepinephrine and GABA are known, even if the true number
> is 100 times greater (or a million times for that matter) the information
> content of each signal must be very small. Also, for the long range stuff,
> exactly which neuron receives the signal can not be specified because it
> relies on a random process, diffusion. The fact that it's slow as molasses
> in February does not add to its charm.
> If your job is delivering packages and all the packages are very small,
> and your boss doesn't care who you give them to as long as it's on the
> correct continent, and you have until the next ice age to get the work
> done, then you don't have a very difficult profession. I see no reason why
> simulating that anachronism would present the slightest difficulty.
> Artificial neurons could be made to release neurotransmitters as
> inefficiently as natural ones if anybody really wanted to, but it would be
> pointless when there are much faster ways.
> Electronics is inherently fast because its electrical signals are sent by
> fast light electrons. The brain also uses some electrical signals,but it
> doesn't use electrons, it uses ions to send signals, the most important
> are chlorine and potassium. A chlorine ion is 65 thousand times as heavy
> as an electron, a potassium ion is even heavier, if you want to talk
> about gap junctions, the ions they use are millions of times more massive
> than electrons. There is no way to get around it, according to the fundamental
> laws of physics, something that has a large mass will be slow, very,
> very, slow.
> The great strength biology has over present day electronics is the ability
> of one neuron to make thousands of connections of various strengths with
> other neurons. However, I see absolutely nothing in the fundamental laws
> of physics that prevents nano machines from doing the same thing, or
> better and MUCH faster.
> > John, in what sense are emotions 'easy'?
> In the sense that Evolution found it much easier to invent emotions than
> intelligence. Some of our most powerful emotions like pleasure, pain, fear
> and lust come from the oldest parts of our brain that evolved during the
> Cambrian explosion, the same time multicellular creatures did 540 million
> years ago and perhaps even a bit earlier. Our spinal cord, the medulla and
> the pons is quite similar to the brain of a amphibian and first made an
> appearance on the earth about 400 million years ago, among other things
> it's responsible for our aggressiveness territoriality and social
> hierarchies.
> The Limbic System is younger, about 150 million years old, and ours is
> similar to that found in other mammals. Some think the Limbic system is the
> source of awe and exhilaration because it is the active sight of many
> psychotropic drugs.  After some animals developed a Limbic system they
> started to spend much more time taking care of their young, so it probably
> has something to do with love too. But it is our grossly enlarged neocortex
> that makes the human brain so unusual and so recent, it started to get
> ridiculously large less than a million years ago. It deals in deliberation,
> spatial perception, speaking, reading, writing and mathematics; the one new
> emotion we got was worry, probably because the neocortex is also the place
> where we plan for the future.
> If nature came up with feeling first and high level intelligence much much
> later, I don't see why the opposite would be true for computers. It's
> probably a hell of a lot easier to make something that feels but doesn't
> think than something that thinks but doesn't feel.
> John K Clark
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