[ExI] Fwd: Is Artificial Life Conscious?

Colin Hales col.hales at gmail.com
Mon Apr 25 23:38:32 UTC 2022

On Tue, Apr 26, 2022 at 6:19 AM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Hi Brent,
> I appreciate your quick response and for getting to the heart of the
> issue. My replies are in-line below:
> On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 1:43 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi Jason,
>> Yes, Stathis and I have gone over these same arguments, in a gazillion
>> different ways, for years, still unable to convince the other.  I agree
>> with most everything you say, but it is all entirely missing the point.
>> I think you get to the core of the issue with your:
>> "First, I would like you to deeply consider for a moment the question
>> 'What is matter?'"
> I am curious what your intuition says on this? Do you think that there are
> intrinsic properties of matter (beyond its third-person observable
> behavior) which is somehow necessary for consciousness or quale such as red?
>> The issue is with one of these assumptions:
>> "1. Given the Church-Turing Thesis, any finitely describable process can
>> be perfectly replicated by an appropriately programmed Turing Machine"
>> The isus is that any description of redness (our claim that something is
>> redness) tells you nothing of the nature of redness, without a dictionary
>> pointing to an example of redness.
> Yes this is the "symbol grounding problem". All communication, of anything
> (even so-called objective properties like mass, distance, time durations,
> etc.) require ostensive (pointing to) definitions. Since no two minds can
> ever share that common reference frame, and point out to the same quale,
> ostensive definitions of these quale, and hence meaningful communication
> concerning them, is impossible (since there can never be a verifiable
> common foundation).

Ok. Can I suggest rethinking things along these lines:
Kitchener, P.D., and Hales, C.G. (2022). What Neuroscientists Think, and
Don’t Think, About Consciousness. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 16.

In terms of 'material' or 'matter' or 'physical' in our biosphere (all of
it rocks to humans), fundamental physics (the standard model) says it is,
effectively, entirely electromagnetic fields from the atomic level up. To
quote the article:

*"The standard model of particle physics is about twice the age ofthe
modern “correlates-of ” form of the science of consciousness(Cottingham and
Greenwood, 2007; Rich, 2010). In it, physicshas already determined what our
biosphere and everythingin it is made of. It is effectively entirely
electromagnetism(electromagnetic fields). This idea applies to anything
made ofatoms from the table of the elements at a spatiotemporal scaleabove
that of the atomic particles comprising atoms (electronsand nuclei). At the
atomic level and above, we and our hostenvironment are defined by three
things: space, an EM fieldsystem impressed on space (due to subatomic
charge and spincontent tightly bound up with the subatomic mass), and
agravitational field impressed on space (due to sub-atomic
mass,functionally inert in context because it is more than 16 ordersof
magnitude weaker in force transmission than EM). In roughterms, at the
intra-atomic scale, EM fields occupy the spaceoccupied by an atom to the
extent of at least 14,999 parts in15,000. The remaining “1 part” is the
interior of electrons andnuclei. When you add in the space between atoms,
the proportionof overall spatial occupancy by EM fields is far higher.
Wehumans are nearly entirely EM field objects. In our context ofthe brain,
when we use the words “material” or “physical,” thesewords (abstractions)
refer to EM phenomena."*

Then, in terms of implications .....

*"The EM field system impressed on space by brain tissue is*

*therefore not a side effect of cells made of something else. Theentire
tissue is a single, unitary EM field system impressed onspace with
atomic-level resolution. For example, there is nospecial substance that is
a neuron. A neuron is a collectionof EM fields “behaving neuron-ly” to an
observer made ofEM fields. “Chemical” or “chemical reaction,” or
“chemicalpathway” is a reference toEM field activity. “Mechanical” (such
assound propagation/transduction/phonons, or cell deformation)is also an EM
phenomenon. “Electro-chemical” is also selectingphenomena entirely
comprised of EM. “Quantum mechanics” isnot a substance. It is a set of
(wave-equation-based) quantizingconstraints on EM field expression (such as
that determiningthe electron orbitals in an atom). “Chemical potential” is
apopulation statistic depicting average EM field properties forparticular
collections of atoms in relation to each other. “Actionpotentials” are a
system of EM field dynamics propagatingslowly through space longitudinally
following neuronal cellmembrane (also an EM field construct). Synapse
activity(“electrical” and “chemical”) is an EM field phenomenon.
Thefamiliar electrophysiological measurements made in brain tissuedetect
“total field” in the brain that is a result of the vector
fieldsuperposition of myriad individual atomic/molecular fieldsources that
superpose to dominate (spatially, temporally, andin intensity) the
underlying atomic/molecular EM field “noise”found at any point in space.
“Electrical current” is a transitof an EM field system through space.
Ultraweak biophotonand thermal (heat) radiation is also an EM field
phenomenonoriginating in the same system of atomic sources. Diffusionis a
collection of randomly colliding atomic EM field systemsbouncing off each
other due to EM field-based repulsion. To“touch something” with your finger
is to engage in an interactionbetween the EM field system of a finger
surface and the EM fieldof the touched entity."*

>From the point of view of accounting for a brain (1st- or 3rd- person),
there is only 1 substrate (substrate independence is a myth): it is EM
fields. If you talk about any XYZ-ism at all, then the brain actually
implements it with EM fields. A computer is also 100% EM fields. The
difference is in how the EM is organized. There is no necessary
relationship between the field system organization of a computer and its
function. The chip designers spend a lot of time eliminating field
cross-talk effects (treated as functional errors), confining EM fields to
individual devices. In the brain, nature has created a unique signature in
its EM field expression and the bulk EM field has a functional role.
Field-effect cross talk is so pronounced, that it is possible to regard the
brain as a single, unitary 100% solid EM field object so spatially large
and strong that it spills out into the surrounding tissue (EEG/MEG see it).

In the end I predict that it will be found that the brain will not be
Turing-computable. But to explore that you have to stop using
general-purpose computers alone to explore artificial brains. Something
that is not in the AI play-book .... and is a prospect that never gets
countenanced in lists like these, where the great cargo cult of 'to do AGI
is to use a general-purpose-computer' reigns without question.

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