[ExI] Mental Phenomena

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Thu Jan 23 20:00:59 UTC 2020

On Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 10:32 AM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> The term “elemental” is simply to contrast an idea with the different
> composite qualitative experiences.

The term "elemental" suggests there is some fundamental physical thing - as
opposed to a pattern of information - that is redness.  You keep linking it
to glutamate.

When you experience redness, there are lots of other things bound into the
> experience.  The things that we can be aware of at the same time can
> include the name ‘red’, holidays, how sweet a ‘red ‘strawberry tastes…..

So far, so true.

> A good amount of people think qualia are everything else but the redness
> quality.  They think the redness is a property of the strawberry, out
> there.  It is evident that you are thinking in this qualia blind way when
> you say things like:
> “Qualia are not elemental properties of anything, they are patterns of
> information.”

This is where you fail.

He means that you keep insisting on terminology that suggests there is some
discrete protein - some molecular unit - that encapsulates "redness" in the
brain.  "Redness" is a pattern of information.  It has a physical
substrate, but it is distinct from that substrate.  In the same manner, a
computer program is distinct from the silicon upon which it runs.  It is
true that if one exactly duplicated this physical substrate - including all
its energy states, and specifically the patterns - then one would have
duplicated the program as well.  But it is not the case that just
duplicating the CPU - without regard for the energy states in its
transistors and memory - is sufficient to duplicate the program.

The way you have been using "elemental" suggests the latter, incorrect
approach.  That is his and my objection.

So tell me, when a pixel of knowledge on the surface of a strawberry is
> switching between redness and greenness, as illustrated here
> <https://canonizer.com/videos/consciousness/>, what might the change be
> in this “pattern” of information.  And can you tell me anything about the
> phsyics, of which such a ‘pattern” might exist?

Of course he can.  So can I.

If you want to wrestle it down to a single pixel, what happens is that one
or more photoreceptors in the eye stop giving the signal they give when a
photon of about 570 nanometers is received, and start giving the signal
they give when a photon of wavelength about 540 nanometers is received.
This signal is then transmitted via the optical nerve to the brain's
sensory cortex, whereupon a previously learned association (memory) is
triggered, noting that the sensation previously labeled "red" has stopped
for this pixel and the sensation previously labeled "green" has started for
this pixel.

It is these previously learned associations - the patterns that form the
memories - that matter.

This has been tested thoroughly and found true.  Humans in different
societies, with different language terminology, perceive color differently
- same basic human wetware, different learned associations.  Even the
difference in male vs. female color perception within the same Western
societies appears to be more nurture (learned associations) than nature
(actual genetic differences).

>   If not, then your theory isn’t falsifiable, is it?  Is inverted qualia
> even possible in your theory?
> “Representational Qualia Theory
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Approachable-Via-Science/2#statement>”
> predicts that consciousness can be ‘painted’ (more accurately:
> computationally bound) out of an elemental set of qualities, similar to the
> way a painting can be built out of a set of pixels with elemental colors.
> It points out that it is a necessary fact that if you know something, there
> must be something, physical, that is each piece of that knowledge.  At some
> level, you need to break down consciousness it’s elemental constituents.

These constituents are informational, just like the painting's pixels.  It
is true that they have a physical representation at any given time, but
what is important is the information.  The information can be represented
in different physical forms, and remains the same information.

For instance, this provides the possibility of silicon, or similar
computational substrates, emulating the energy states, hormone levels, and
other informational qualities in a human brain (a concept commonly termed
"uploading").  This emulation could then be run without the long-term
degradation that biological solutions fall to, allowing the (emulated)
brain a much longer run time (which is commonly termed "longevity" or

> Part of what “Representational Qualia Theory
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Approachable-Via-Science/2#statement>” is
> predicting is that all the peer reviewed journal articles reporting on all
> this “neurology studies and experiments” is qualia blind.  For example, all
> of it only uses one word for all things red.  Nothing in any of that stuff
> you are pointing to can account for the fact that qualia can easily be
> inverted, again as illustrated in the video
> <https://canonizer.com/videos/consciousness/>.

That video only demonstrates that the inputs can be rewired, such that
greenness can be triggered off of something that is actually red.  That
seems to be a distinct concept from actually inverting the qualia.

Further, "inverted" implies there are only two states, and that they are
both pre-existing.  Does your brain have qualia for infraredness or
ultravioletness?  Probably not, as infrared and ultraviolet are colors that
you can not directly perceive.  If your eyes were to grow photoreceptors
that could trigger off these colors, your brain would have to figure out
what to do with these stimuli, and then you might gain those qualia.

You must be able to say things like: “My redness is like your greenness,
> both of which we call red.

Not really.  Not in the general case truth that that phrasing implies,
anyway.  My redness is what I call red; your redness is what you call red.
That's the definition.  Perhaps "my redness is like your greenness right
now, since your redness inputs and greenness inputs have just been
switched" would be defensible, though.

All of the stuff you are referencing is just abstract descriptions of stuff
> in the brain.  Nowhere in any of that can anyone tell you the physical
> color of any of their abstract descriptions are describing.

Sure they can - if that person knew what the physical stuff mapped to.  The
person whose brain it is has an intuitive knowledge of this, even if no one
(yet) has a complete physical map of how it all works - but there is no
reason to believe that such a map can not be made, at least to a useful
general purpose level.  Just recently, such a map was published for how a
certain insect species' brain works.

I’ve run into lots of people that think the way you do, and disagree with
> the general ideas now supported by all these experts.  I beg them to
> canonize whatever it is they think is wrong with this emerging consensus.
> But nobody ever does.

Because they see no value in engaging with Canonizer.  It's the inverse
network effect: you have so few users that Canonizer fails to be worth the
time to even look at, let alone vote in or write opinions for, for most
people.  This says nothing about the validity of their logic.

And yes, you have very few users.  A quick check suggests you do not even
have a thousand users yet, let alone a million.  (As of right now you seem
to have about 402 users, the most recently signed up user having a gmail.com
email address and having only given name and email for biographic info - a
typical low-engagement user, but then, this is the most recently signed up
so there might not have been time for much engagement yet.)  Just last year
I was working on (moonlighting side job) a system with a few hundred
million users.

> If you do disagree with all these experts, could you please create a
> competing camp to “Representational Qualia Theory
> <https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Approachable-Via-Science/2#statement>”
> and concisely state what you are trying to say here?

Why bother?

> Don’t you think it would be interesting to see if anyone else is brave
> enough to risk their reputation by supporting competing camps?

No, we don't.  We also don't believe that any significant reputation would
be risked by doing so.  More reputation can be gained or lost - trivially -
by debating on this list.  (Granted, this list doesn't have even a thousand
members either - I think; Spike can correct me if needed.  But active and
relevant participation on this list is currently well in excess of what
Canonizer seems to offer.)

I sympathize: you have this thing that you want to be of value, so you
promote it, only for people to dismiss it because it isn't already being
used by lots of people so they don't see value in it.  This is quite
similar to getting a startup corporation through the valley of death, which
I have done many times.  It takes a lot of work to get something through
that stage.

Before you plead, beg, and whine like so many others have: I am not going
to do that work for you for Canonizer, nor am I going to hold your hand and
give you a walkthrough that I don't have.  The process is different for
each such effort, and it must be done by the people who are passionate
about it.  In this case, that's you, not me.  I can tell you that
pretending that you are already through that phase and that it thus has the
value it would have when it has a lot of users, is a quick way to turn off
would-have-been early adopters.  You need to find some other way to attract
and sustain initial participation.

I have seen the ruins of countless social media efforts, infrastructure
there but participation low and then zeroing out, virtual ghost towns built
for people who never came.  When I encounter them, unless I care, the only
useful use of my time is to move along.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20200123/dd44875c/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list