[ExI] Fwd: Is Artificial Life Conscious?

Colin Hales col.hales at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 03:58:49 UTC 2022

On Tue, Apr 26, 2022 at 1:02 PM Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 7:35 PM Colin Hales via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>  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).
> ### Does the bulk EM field of the brain have a functional role? How? Is
> there empirical evidence in favor?

*The most recent (in 10 years of results) is *
Chiang, C.-C., Shivacharan, R.S., Wei, X., Gonzalez-Reyes, L.E., and
Durand, D.M. (2019). Slow periodic activity in the longitudinal hippocampal
slice can self-propagate non-synaptically by a mechanism consistent with
ephaptic coupling. The Journal of Physiology 597, 249-269.

When the researchers air-gapped the tissue (1mm)  with a scalpel and still
got an influence, they pretty much nailed it. The reviewers did not believe
them and made them do the experiment again.

Here's a collection of references:
(Anastassiou and Koch, 2015; Anastassiou, Perin et al., 2011; Chiang,
Shivacharan et al., 2019; Frohlich and McCormick, 2010; McFadden, 2020;
Qiu, Shivacharan et al., 2015).

All ultra-cautious, of course. But it's real.

> AFAIK EEG is just noise, not a functional part of the brain. If the EEG
> had a functional role, then applying external very weak electric fields at
> the power level of the EEG over the bulk of the brain would produce
> dramatic cognitive effects, and we know empirically that such electric
> fields do not have a measurable effect on cognition.

Saying 'EEG is just noise' is part of the problem! It's not noise. It's
complex and originates at the nanometer scale of the neural membrane.

Did you read the two quotes? The entire brain is EM from the atomic level
up. The EEG/MEG is just the coarse/bulk behaviour measured outside its
generating brain tissue. The field system is impressed on space with atomic
level resolution and becomes functional at the nanometer-micrometer scale
down underneath LFP measurements. Transcranial Electric Stimulation
(Electric field) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are very blunt
instruments, but the effects are obvious and have clinical impact
and do affect cognition and behaviour, mood and many other things. The
reasons these things do anything is because of the EM basis of everything
that is a brain. Even ultrasonic stimulation is an EM phenomenon.
Mechanical motion is an EM field phenomenon. Hearing sound is an EM field

Just like in computers, there is only 1 source of ultimate causality in the
brain: The Lorentz force, which is entirely an EM field process.

> The hardware of the brain is a bit different from the hardware that we
> currently use in computers - the brain makes extensive use of chemical
> reactions as a substrate of computation and even in long-distance
> conduction of information, which make it less prone to EM interference,
> while computers rely almost exclusively on the movements of electrons in
> conducting and semiconducting media, which makes it more susceptible to EM
> fields that can push electrons around. TMS does disrupt brain function but
> you need to use pretty strong magnetic fields.

The 'hardware' of the brain and the computer is based on atoms. Both are
100% EM from the scale of atoms up. A rock is an EM object. Chemical is EM.
All 'information' in the brain is encoded in, literally IS,  EM phenomena.
There is nothing else there in space but EM. 'Long-distance communication'
is an EM phenomenon. 'Electric current' is a transit of an EM field through
space. The difference between the brain and a computer/heart/liver is in
how the EM is organized. All these things are 100% EM from the atoms up.
The gigantic amount of information encoded in the literal structure of the
brain's EM field system (that pervades the tissue) has no analogue in any
general-purpose computer and has no role in any models of brain function
(yet) that exist in computer models.. "To 'be' the EM field system
impressed on space by a brain is to be conscious" is almost trivially true
because there is nothing else to choose from.

To 'be' the EM field system impressed on space by a computer, no matter
what it is doing, and think it is conscious is to impose a system of
unproved assumptions that nobody ever challenges. I am here to challenge it.

The conversation has to be reset along the lines of fundamental physics.
When you do this everything changes. The whole thing becomes centered on EM.

>> 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.
> ### I would be very surprised if the functional capabilities of brains
> turned out to be impossible to replicate in digital, Turing-equivalent
> computers.
> Rafal

Wouldn't it be great to actually do some empirical science to find out?
Like start acting as if it was true (impossible) and start building
artificial inorganic brain  tissue that is NOT a general-purpose computer
(that artificial tissue would also have functionally relevant EEG and MEG),
and then comparing its behaviour with the general-purpose computer's model
of of the same tissue?

That is the empirical science of consciousness that  is missing. That's
what I am surprised about: nobody has any clue (if it's Turing computable
or not)  and the science that tests it one way or another never gets done.
It's the most spectacular science blind-spot ever.

The science of consciousness and its empirical cousin, AGI, is about to be
recentered on a physics/neuroscience collaboration, specifically the EM
quadrant of the standard model of particle physics. The 'where to look'
part of a science of consciousness is solved.

Things have changed.

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