[ExI] My guesses about GPTs consciousness

Tara Maya tara at taramayastales.com
Mon Apr 17 15:12:24 UTC 2023

What is a cat aware of when it chases a bit of string? 

When my cat is busy doing anything else, except eating or mating, he can be easily distracted by a piece of string. He seems not only fascinated by it but almost compelled to pounce on it. 

I myself am not so compelled to pounce on wiggling string. However, I am fascinated, almost compelled to watch, if someone waves a video in front of me that shows an adorable kitten pouncing on wiggling string.

Sometimes I have thoughts (like this one) while watching cats play with string, but mostly, I think my brain temporarily does into a mode that is a thoughtless feeling of, "Awwww, how cute!" 

Is either of these states--pouncing cat or human in cute-overload--really conscious? Or do I become conscious only when I become aware of myself watching the cat and thinking how cute it is, consciously comparing my state of mine and trying to project myself into the cat's frame of mind?

It is easy to personify the cat and imagine that he is able to leap from one kind of (mindless) awareness to another kind of (thoughtful) awareness, but is that justified? 

I am able to ignore my own mindless state most of the time, except when I am trying consciously to recreate it, as during zazen. When you are trying not to have thoughts, it's almost impossible to not have thoughts. But when you are simply caught unaware by the adorable pouncing of a cat, it is easy to have no thought except, "CUTE!" (And not the word, but the feeling, which I can't even properly describe without many more words to circle around it--most of which would only point to examples of cuteness.)

Maybe cats are doing zazen when they sit like potatoes in the window sill. But I don't think they need to. I think they are naturally in a state of thoughtless but highly sensitive (ie sensory-based) awareness. I don't think awareness and self-consciousness are the same thing, but quite different things.

Tara Maya

> On Apr 16, 2023, at 10:55 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> This is one of the reasons why I do not subscribe to e.g. panpsychism and do not believe all behaving animals have consciousness. 
>> About where would you draw the line on the phylogenetic tree?
> ### About where you start having a global workspace in the brain. So, protozoans, corals, nematodes are out. Of all the animal phyla I would guess only Chordata, Mollusca and Arthropoda might possibly have some consciousness, and I am not so sure about the arthropods. Among chordates I would guess only the smartest fish, smartest amphibians, smartest reptiles but most if not all mammals and birds.
> Of course, consciousness is not an on-off quality: At the level of a goldfish, if it has any consciousness, it's a pale shadow of the human mind, even the mind of a newborn baby. You mentioned in another thread that there may be many levels of consciousness going beyond human, and I agree, most likely we are still at the low end of the spectrum of consciousness that can be implemented in our physical world.
> ------------------------------
>>> There is a whole lot of complicated information processing that can guide goal-oriented behavior that can happen without conscious experience.
>> I think we need to justify our assumption of cases where no consciousness is present. When things lack an ability to talk, or remember, it can easily be taken as a case where there is no consciousness present. But to me this isn't enough to reach any firm conclusion as to the presence or absence of a mind.
> ### Yes, absolutely. We can work backwards from the neural correlates of consciousness in humans, look for analogous structures in other entities (animals, AI) and if we see neither an analogue nor the kind of complex behavior that in humans is associated with conscious processing, then we are reasonably justified in believing the entity is not conscious in the way a human is.

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