[ExI] Symbol Grounding

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Tue Apr 25 04:51:28 UTC 2023

Hi Stuart,
I would be interested in knowing your substrate-dependency arguments
because I'm sure they are more sophisticated and interesting than the ones
Brent has presented. It seems at least you say that we need also a complex
system and interactions to take advantage of the substratum to actually
achieve consciousness. I may agree that this is how our brain works because
it had to find through the process of evolution biological viable materials
to achieve certain goals. This is also an interesting question for
astrobiology for example. There are reasons why carbon is the base of life.

My problem with any substrate-dependent argument used to claim a particular
substratum is necessary (even if not sufficient) for consciousness is
that the particular chosen substratum by nature serves some function. If
fatty tissues were used to insulate a nerve then it was an ingenious
solution by natural selection but there is nothing so unique about fatty
tissues that cannot be reproduced by an equivalent substance like plastic
for example.

I can build better insulation of a wire without using fat. This reasoning
can be applied to absolutely any component of biology I can think of. I
don't see why a biological substratum would be better than a non-biological
one with an equivalent function. The question is how equivalent but it
cannot be to the point it is 1 to 1. For sure there are things that are not
necessary for the biological substratum or even nonoptimal.

Now if we go to a more abstract environment like a neural network
represented by weights in a matrix things become more complicated of
course. For example, I don't believe we live in a simulation even if the
laws of physics are maybe a sort of code. I don't believe it is a
simulation because there is strong evidence the universe self-manifested
from something very simple as nothing itself and complexity emerged from
it. But that is another topic.

About abstract neural nets, one could argue that they cannot give rise to
consciousness because they miss the actuation part. It is not just the
information processing that matters but how this information processing
expresses itself, let's say for example in creating certain chemical
activity in the brain that can sustain certain patterns of activity that
the brain then self-recognizes as awareness.

But we know how to simulate complex chemical reactions and again in the end
if these happen and are essential to consciousness is because they do
something, they have some kind of function and desired effect, and their
equivalent can be found and simulated in how the neural network works.
Maybe this would make us change the architecture of the network but not
make us abandon the idea that function is all that matters.
But please tell me where I'm wrong.


On Mon, Apr 24, 2023 at 6:39 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Quoting Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>:
> > On Sun, Apr 23, 2023 at 4:43 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat <
> > extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >
> >>
> >> Quoting Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>:
> >>
> >> > This is so frustrating.  I'm asking a simple, elementary school level
> >> > question.
> >>
> >> So you think that the Hard Problem of Consciousness reframed as a your
> >> so-called "Colorness Problem" is an elementary school level question?
> >> Then maybe you should quit bugging us about it and seek the advice of
> >> elementary school children.
> >>
> >
> > I am working with those people that do get it.  Now, more than 40 of
> them,
> > including leaders in the field like Steven Lehar
> > <https://canonizer.com/topic/81-Mind-Experts/4-Steven-Lehar>, are
> > supporting the camp that says so.  Even Dennett's Predictive Bayesian
> > coding Theory
> > <
> https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/21-Dennett-s-PBC-Theory
> >
> > is a supporting sub camp, demonstrating the progress we are making.
> > Gordon, would you be willing to support RQT.
> What in one sentence or less do you ALL agree on? Is it the
> substrate-dependance of consciousness? To the literal point that you
> believe the quality of redness itself has a substrate?
> > <
> https://canonizer.com/topic/88-Theories-of-Consciousness/6-Representational-Qualia
> >?
> > The elementary school kids are telling us, plug things into the brain,
> till
> > you find what it is that has a redness quality.  So, we are collecting
> the
> > signature, and once we get enough, experimentalists will finally get the
> > message and then start doing this, and eventually be able to demonstrate
> to
> > everyone what it is that has a  [image: red_border.png] property.  To my
> > understanding, that is how science works.
> Plug things into the brain? Into whose brain? Yours? If you signed a
> waiver or other contract to limit their liability and indemnity, then
> maybe one of the medical doctors we know on the list might be
> persuaded to plug or inject stuff into your brain, maybe on a boat in
> international waters, or something. You could pay them to start at
> glutamate and gradually work their way up through LSD to DMT. A
> serious research paper could be written from something like that.
> > The reason I am bugging you functionalists is because I desperately want
> to
> > understand how everyone thinks about consciousness, especially the
> leading
> > popular consensus functionalism camps. Giovani seems to be saying that in
> > this functionalists. To say there is no color in the world is just
> insane.
> Why do you keep lumping me in with functionalists? I have arguments
> for substrate-dependance that you can scarcely imagine, yet you think
> you know so much about me as to dare pigeon-hole me as a
> functionalist. Who are you who know so much about biology and medicine
> that you are able to gainsay Mds, PhDs, and MD/PhDs? Your argument is
> weak compared to that of the functionalists on this list and you feign
> that it is people with IQs 2 or more standard deviations above the
> mean that don't understand YOU and your weak argument?
> > You seem to be
> > at least saying something better than that, but as far as I can see, your
> > answers are just more interpretations of interpretations, no place is
> there
> > any grounding. You did get close to a grounded answer when I asked how
> > the word 'red' can be associated with [image: green_border.png].Your
> > reply was  "at some point during the chatbot's training the English word
> > red was associated with *the picture in question*."   But "*the picture
> in
> > question*" could be referring to at least 4 different things.  It could
> be
> > associated with the LEDs emitting the 500 nm light.  It could be the 500
> nm
> > light, which "the picture" is emitting, or it could be associated with
> your
> > knowledge of   [image: green_border.png]. in which case it would have the
> > same quality as your knowledge of that, or it could be associated with
> > someone that was engineered to be your inverted knowledge (has a red /
> > green signal inverter between its retina and optic nerve), in which case,
> > it would be like your knowledge of [image: red_border.png].  So, if that
> is
> > indeed your answer, which one of these 4 things are you referring to?  Is
> > it something else?
> If you are the one training the AI, then it is up to you which
> "picture" of red you train it on and that will be its quality of red
> thereafter. Sort of like human children and religion in that regard.
> Also, why do you assume I am a functionalist? Don't get me wrong, the
> functionalists on the list have a superior argument to yours.
> >
> > You guys accuse me of being non scientific.  But all I want to know is
> how
> > would a functionalist demonstrate, or falsify functionalist claims about
> > color qualities, precisely because I want to be scientific.  Do you
> believe
> > you have explained how functionalism predictions about color qualities
> > could be falsified or demonstrated, within functionalist doctrines?
> Yes, absolutely. Here is a thought experiment that could, but probably
> shouldn't, be conducted in reality. It demonstrates clearly that
> functionalism is necessary regardless of if there is
> substrate-dependance for consciousness.
> Quite simply, if glutamate and all the "stuff" in your brain was what
> carried the quality of redness, greeness, coldness, sourness, etc.
> then we should be able to surgically excise your cerebrum and
> cerebellum from your brainstem and put them into a blender. Your heart
> will never have stopped beating and you should have been able to
> breath on your own throughout. Then we could pour the resultant
> brain-smoothie back into your skull, suture you up, and wait for you
> to regain consciousness. You would still register a pulse, but you
> would no longer know redness, sweetness, dampness, or Brentness
> despite the fact that your skull contains all the same "stuff" it
> originally did. That means even IF substrate-dependance is true, it
> nonetheless requires the organized structures of functionalism to be
> at all useful.
> > If
> > so, I haven't seen it yet.  So please help, as all I see is you guys
> > saying, over and over again, that you don't need to provide an
> unambiguous
> > way to demonstrate what it is that has this quality: [image:
> red_border.png],
> > or even worse functionalism is predicting that color doesn't exist.  As
> if
> > saying things like that, over and over again, makes them true?
> Think about my thought experiment. Think about how it proves that
> functionalism is true regardless of substrate-dependance which is AT
> BEST necessary-but-not-sufficient. And don't presume to know what I
> think.
> Stuart LaForge
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