[ExI] GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Mon Apr 10 22:11:50 UTC 2023

It is obvious that there are several levels of consciousness. Tononi (I
actually worked in his lab for some time) and Kock have a theory of
consciousness that can actually attribute a number to how much
consciousness there is in a system (of course if you agree on their
definition of consciousness). I think it is one of the best (even if not
complete) approaches to understand scientifically what consciousness is.
According to this theory, consciousness is present in everything even a
rock. It is just the amount of consciousness that matters. By the way, what
they try to calculate is something called Integrated Information which is a
quantity that measures the level of information present and how it is
connected between the parts of the system. Too much connectivity doesn't
seem good for consciousness and too little is also not good. It seems there
is a perfect spot in between that creates the highest level of
consciousness (that the authors equate to this quantity). I don't think a
scalar (a single number) can capture what consciousness means but maybe it
is a good proxy for it and gives us some interesting insights. The beauty
of it is that you can use it to calculate the Integrated Information
indirectly (because it is very complicated to calculate all the connections
in a brain both theoretically and from an experimental point of view). But
you can use proxies like blood flow or EEG activity to measure Integrated
Information indirectly. This quantity is low when measured during sleep as
you would expect, in different states of coma. It has been used to measure
the awareness in patients with locked-in syndrome and establish some
subjects were still aware and then they tried to communicate with them with
Instead of prolonged philosophical discussion this type of research is what
is needed to understand what consciousness is all about.
By the way, I do have a common position with Gordon.
I think there is something special in human-level consciousness. I don't
think consciousness is a continuum. Yes, in theory, we could associate a
value of consciousness to anything but the true consciousness that we
usually refer to is something relatively unique. It is probably something
akin to phase transitions. I'm not sure Integrated Information behaves in
that way where there is room for phase transitions, I need to look into it.
Also, I would like a theory of consciousness that was
multi-dimensional, and maybe a tensor would be a better way to represent it
There are many clues that consciousness comes both as a gradation (think
about what happens when you drink alcohol to the point to passing out) but
also it is phase shift (for example when we go from slow wave sleep and
wake up all of the sudden). Slow wave sleep is an interesting state of the
brain where a lot of things are happening in the brain (making memory long
term, deleting memories we don't need anymore, like my exes) but we are not
aware, in fact, it is very similar to a coma. It turns out that the same
type of brain waves we see in human slow-wave sleep is the type of waves
(in terms of frequencies) in reptiles. Lower forms of animals have lower
brain frequencies and humans have higher gamma frequencies that are not
present in many other animals. There is a lot of evidence that indicates
consciousness is supported by these higher frequencies. I like to think
that a lizard is basically in a slow-wave sleep state even when it is
awake. It is not really conscious and its actions, like responding to the
presence of a mate, running away from danger, and so on are basically
automatic actions that do not require a higher level of consciousness. It
is some form of awareness but I agree with Gordon here, that if we could
find ourself in a lizard brain even for a few seconds we would not
recognize it as consciousness (basically it would feel like we are in deep
Not sure what level of consciousness these AI have but I agree it is not
quite yet human level, maybe they are more in a REM state, they are kind of

On Mon, Apr 10, 2023 at 2:46 PM Giovanni Santostasi <gsantostasi at gmail.com>

> Jason,
> I'm going to look for the experiment about the rat memory chip. I may have
> conflagrated two memories in one (slow wave reactivation of memories in a
> maze and Berger's work on memory on a chip).
> But really the details of what was remembered and reproduced by a model
> are not that important (even if I admit remembering the layout of a maze is
> more impressive).
> Even if it was just a memory associated with pushing a lever is still
> incredible that we have a model for memory and by reproducing this model on
> a digital chip we can reproduce the memory.
> Again, this example alone shows that brain stuff is in the pattern of
> information and that information doesn't care about the physical medium,
> just the functional connections between the parts. From what I remember
> Berger calls it spatiotemporal code. Memory seems to be a code in space and
> time (what I call an activation pattern). This is it. I think everything
> else that is important in the brain, including consciousness, is written in
> the same code.
> Giovanni
> On Mon, Apr 10, 2023 at 12:53 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> On Sun, Apr 9, 2023 at 10:50 PM Gordon Swobe <gordon.swobe at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>>> On Sat, Apr 8, 2023 at 10:13 PM Jason Resch via extropy-chat <
>>>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>>>> Using the phrase "only software" suggests to me you are not familiar
>>>>> with the implications of the Church-Turing thesis.
>>> I am quite familiar with the thesis. I differ with some people,
>>> especially here, about the implications.
>>> I have shown the converse, denying their awareness , leads to a logical
>>>>> contradiction.
>>> I think you have only mangled the language. My smarthome doorbell does
>>> no more than mindlessly detect motion, yet you call that "awareness." Even
>>> if I allow for that generous use of the term "aware," you take it a
>>> step further and equate this mindless process to consciousness. That is not
>>> what I or think most people mean by either awareness or consciousness.
>>> It looks to me that you are merely anthropomorphizing the machine I call
>>> my doorbell. You would probably say that my thermostat in the hallway of my
>>> home is also "aware" and "conscious."  But as with my doorbell, I doubt my
>>> thermostat has any private first person subjective experience of its
>>> existence or surroundings, which is what I mean by alive and aware and
>>> conscious.
>> What is the simplest possible conscious state that you can imagine? What
>> are its contents?
>> Jason
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