[ExI] What is Consciousness?

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Mon Apr 3 14:28:51 UTC 2023

On Mon, Apr 3, 2023 at 2:42 AM Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Sun, Apr 2, 2023 at 4:55 PM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi Rafael,
>> I'm still failing to communicate the point.  Let me try this.  Physical
>> properties can be used as 'codes' to represent information, as long as you
>> have a dictionary defining those codes.  Redness is a physical property
>> which can represent, or be a code for 'red' information.  If you put a
>> red/green signal inverter between the retina and optic nerve, this changes
>> the dictionary so the code for 'red', becomes a greenness physical
>> property.  The question is, which of all our descriptions of stuff in the
>> brain is a description of that greenness quality, that is now a code for
>> red?
> ### I really do not understand this paragraph at all. "Red/green signal
> inverter" ? There isn't really a color signal extracted at the level of the
> retina or optic nerve, the color information is extracted at higher levels
> of the nervous system. Do you mean rewiring the retina so the L cones and
> the M cones swap their connections somehow? I guess it would give you a
> pretty psychedelic experience, possibly color blindness, until the higher
> levels of the brain rewired themselves to respond to the altered input.

OK, let's back up a bit, and do the same dictionary change in the chain of
perception, with a red/green signal inversion in the light, immediately
before it enters the eye, instead of immediately after the retina.  In
other words, you have glasses, or a cell phone camera app, which shows your
eye an image of the strawberry, with red light for green, and vice versa.
In other words, the strawberry would seem to be green, and the leaves would
seem to be red.  Regardless of where you do this in the perception stream,
between the target of perception, and the final resulting
composite qualitative experience of computationally bound elemental
intrinsic qualities like redness and greenness, (possibly by rewiring the L
cones and the M cones, swapping their connections) so that the 'code' for
redness information will be changed from a redness physical quality to a
greenness physical quality.

> If "The specificity of coding for colors comes from their location within
>> the neural net", what is it that makes one location have a physical redness
>> quality, and the other code for red location have a greenness quality?
>> This is what you are ignoring.
> ### Oh, not ignoring. Nobody knows why signal processing through these
> differing parts of the neural network feels as it feels, rather than
> feeling as something else. This is the hard problem of consciousness.
> Nobody has even the rudiments of the knowledge of ontology that is
> presumably needed to solve this problem.
> Since the problem is way beyond my (or anybody else's) capabilities, I
> defer further analysis until and if new pertinent information is available.
> I would advise all people to do the same.

We're working to build and track consensus around a message to the world
that says there IS no hard problem, it is just a color quality problem.
The "Physicists don't understand color
paper is the most recent publication with this message.  If there is a
pixel on the surface of the strawberry that is changing from red to green,
there must be something in the brain that is responsible for our conscious
knowledge of that one pixel changing from redness to greenness.  And for
every pixel of visual knowledge we have, there must be something that is
each of those pixels of colorness quality that make up our
composite conscious experience of the strawberry.  I'm sure what you are
describing plays a big part of this, but it must be more than that, to
accomplish phenomenal knowledge with lots of colorness quality pixels,
which make up our visual knowledge.

We've put together a set of socratic questions for people to ask
themselves, to see if their thinking is blind to physical qualities.  The list
of papers as examples of quality blind experiments
is just one of these questions.  Could I get you to answer each of these
questions <https://canonizer.com/topic/592-Are-You-Qualia-Blind/1-Agreement>,
and let me know if that helps communicate the issue the now 45+ people
supporting RQT
working to build and track consensus around, all saying there is no 'hard
problem' it is just a color quality problem.  All we need to do is observe
the brain in a non quality blind way, so we can discover which of all our
descriptions of stuff in the brain is a description of redness.  Only then
will we know the color qualities of things, instead of the color qualities
things seem to be.  And once we have that grounded dictionary for words
like "redness" there will no longer be any "explanatory gaps" and we'll be
able to eff the ineffable.
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