[ExI] Fwd: Is Artificial Life Conscious?

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 07:02:34 UTC 2022

On Mon, Apr 25, 2022 at 11:53 PM Colin Hales <col.hales at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1113/JP276904
> ### Ephaptic transmission is nothing new. We know that electric fields can
influence neural tissue functioning under pathological conditions, for
example during seizures. This is the basis of ECT and it's simple physics.
However, there is no evidence that global EM fields generated by the brain
have any computational role in the brain.

Before I go on about EM fields and the brain let me differentiate between
the computational and the physical aspects of the brain. Computational
aspects pertain to the structures and processes that are directly involved
in the processing of information on a fine scale. For example, the impact
of a photon on a retinal receptor creates chemical reactions and electric
potentials in a small number of connected cells, is propagated up the
network into the brain and eventually is interpreted as information about
the source of the photon, similar to the computations that happen when a
photon enters a camera and eventually is used by an AI app on your computer
to recognize your face. On the other hand, the heat and the spent chemical
energy carriers created during the computational processes in the brain are
not directly computational and are merely physical aspects, just like the
heat generated by your laptop.

There is a reason why some aspects of the brain, or a computer, are
computational while others are merely physical. Interesting information
processing consists of many moving parts. You need trillions of processing
steps to extract information about a face from a stream of photons, which
is why you need billions of fine-grained entities working in parallel on
millions of streams of bits to do this job. You need synapses that are not
globally connected to all synapses but rather synapses that form particular
patterns of connections suited to face recognition, working on input
streams that are highly structured. These synapses cannot be just globally
synchronized, because a million synapses doing exactly the same thing are
not processing a million pieces of information, they are just repeating one
process. Highly synchronized firing of multiple synapses is what happens
during a seizure, and a seizure does not process information. Physical
processes and structures that are not fine-grained cannot be the medium for
complex (e.g. visual) information processing because they do not contain
the necessary independent parts that could model the millions of bits in
the images. This is why the brain does not use heat or sound transfer for
information processing - heat and sound tend to spread indiscriminately and
are hard to channel in independent streams, while electric currents and
specific chemical reactions are easy to channel in wires and to contain in
synaptic vesicles. EM fields, just like heat and sound, spread
omnidirectionally, and thus they cannot transfer large amounts of
information between computational elements.

Globally spreading EM fields cannot encode enough information to sustain
complex information processing (i.e. they do not have sufficient
bandwidth). A wifi connection can broadcast only a small fraction of what
can be delivered by a multi fiber optic interconnect to specific targets.
The global EM field in the brain cannot encode anything but an
infinitesimal fraction of the bandwidth carried by the billions of axons
and dendrites. This is why I know, from first principles, that EEG is the
noise generated by neurons, and not the carrier wave for neural information


> 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.

### They cut up the brain and created waves of synchronized firing of
neurons, under pathological conditions (cut up brain pieces), similar to a
seizure. This has nothing to do with information processing in the intact


> 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.

### No, EEG is not complex. Have you ever looked at an EEG? I did, and even
used to read EEGs. The EEG encodes less than a trillionth of the
information processed in the brain, so yes, it's just surface electric
noise. It doesn't matter that it originates at the nanometer scale. The
heat produced in the brain also originates as the nanometer scale, so what.


> 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.

### The bulk electric fields do not have atomic level resolution. The whole
idea of having nerve fibers and synapses is to have structures that are
ionically or chemically isolated from neighbors is to allow for billions of
physical objects to model billions of pieces of information. A neuron's EM
field is not isolated from neighbors, it is indiscriminately affected by
all neighboring EM sources, so it cannot contribute to independent

Try to imagine a neuron trying to do an AND function on two other
neighboring neurons. Let's say that the input neurons create an on-off EM
field and the integrating neuron can detect it. If there are only two
neighboring neurons it could read the EM fields and correctly call the
function. But if there are three neighbors, or a hundred neighbors, the EM
signal from those particular two input neurons is swamped by signals from
other neighbors, and the integrating neuron will not be able to call the
function. On the other hand, if the neuron has the correct synaptic
connections to the two input neurons it will be able to call the function
from the synaptic input, even in the presence of thousands of neighbors,
since synaptic signals do not interfere with neighboring synapses.

Once you go through the mechanics of how logic operations are implemented
in the brain, you will realize that EM fields cannot be a significant
contributor to logic operations in the brain.

> 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.

### TMS temporarily switches off parts of the brain. It does not create new
information processing capabilities, just turns off parts and lets you see
what the remaining parts can do. Nothing exciting.

> 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 process.


> 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.

### How about you give me a mechanistic explanation for how an "EM field
process" can process a few hundred million streams of bits that it takes to
create the conscious experience of hearing a sound? No hand waving about
Lorentz force, lol.


> 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.

### Complete woo-woo.

One more reason I know that it's woo-woo is because I know that the brain
is not perturbed by externally applied electric fields of similar or higher
intensity than EEG. If you clench your teeth, the whole brain is bathed in
the chaotic EM fields generated by your masticatory muscles. These muscle
artifacts are something you can see on EEG and they completely swamp the
much weaker EM signals in the brain. If the brain's consciousness was
encoded in its bulk EM field, every time you chewed an apple you would pass
out, because your brain EM field would be completely altered by the muscle
artifact. Since I don't pass out from chewing, I know the bulk EM field of
the brain does not carry my consciousness.

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