[ExI] Substrate Dependance

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Thu Apr 27 11:51:18 UTC 2023

Yeah, redness 3-4-6-7-1, greeness 2-3-2-1-4.
Just different patterns.

On Thu, Apr 27, 2023 at 4:49 AM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> This is all fascinating stuff.  But it doesn't have anything to do with
> the fact that if subjective redness changes to subjective greenness, it is
> a different quality, so subjective experiences, which are composed of
> those, are dependent on the nature of those subjective qualities.  If they
> change, they are different.
> On Tue, Apr 25, 2023 at 10:17 PM Giovanni Santostasi via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>> Hi Stuart,
>> It is a very interesting idea that water would be needed for
>> consciousness. I have a friend of mine, a brilliant math master student
>> that is interested in astrobiology that created an entire exoworld based on
>> the properties of water. In her imaginary world, the moon is close to a
>> Jupiter-like planet and the interplay of gravity and internal heat made the
>> entire planet alive like a single giant organism. What you said makes me
>> think of that world.
>> Anyway here is a paper about neural net computing in water:
>> *Inspired by the brain, researchers have long been seeking to develop
>> ‘ionics’ in an aqueous solution. While ions in water move slower than
>> electrons in semiconductors, scientists think the diversity of ionic
>> species with different physical and chemical properties could be harnessed
>> for richer and more diverse information processing.*
>> https://seas.harvard.edu/news/2022/09/neural-net-computing-water
>> On Tue, Apr 25, 2023 at 9:05 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat <
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
>>> Quoting Giovanni Santostasi <gsantostasi at gmail.com>:
>>> > 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.
>>> Indeed. I have been studying synergy and emergent properties for over
>>> a decade and complexity is trait that all systems that exhibit
>>> emergence posses. If I were to claim a substrate-dependance for life
>>> and consciousness, then I would say it was water.  According to
>>> Leonardo da Vinci “Water is the driving force of all nature.”
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njWsfApthXc
>>> > 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.
>>> Yes, carbon has an atomic valence of 4 which allows it to make 4
>>> versatile covalent bonds. It is like the utility atom that allows for
>>> the existence of so much structure in the form of biopolymers. But the
>>> hydrocarbon components of life are only half of the story, well 25% of
>>> the story actually. The other 75% of life is water. And water is, by
>>> itself, one of the most complex substances on earth. It quite possibly
>>> the strangest liquid known to man as evidenced by the following
>>> special issue of Chemical Reviews with the title Water the Most
>>> Anomalous Liquid.
>>> https://pubs.acs.org/toc/chreay/116/13
>>> Much of the anomaly of water is that it is as much a network of
>>> molecules as it is a liquid. Each water molecule forms polar hydrogen
>>> bonds with up to 4 other molecules of water or even hydrocarbon making
>>> it what gives shape to every biomolecule like DNA, RNA, proteins,
>>> lipid bilayers, etc. Because, in biochemistry, structure equates to
>>> function, then by giving structure to biopolymers, water contributes
>>> to their function.
>>> Dissolved molecules or ions distort the geometry of water for quite a
>>> distance around themselves. Even on their own, water molecules can
>>> form bizarre structures like rings, chains, and cages and that is in
>>> its liquid form. There are 14 different phases of ice as a solid. Its
>>> thermodynamics are wacky and its information content is massive as
>>> attested to by the uniqueness of snowflakes.
>>> How much of free will and consciousness is bound up in the Brownian
>>> motion of lipid vesicles in the synaptic cleft? How much phenomenal
>>> experience is tied to jiggling of the gelatin?
>>> >
>>> > 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.
>>> The problem with water is that it serves too many functions. It is the
>>> medium of life and might be part of the message, as well.
>>> > 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.
>>> I am not sure how you would build an analogue of water. Like the
>>> scientific journal I posted above says, it is a unique substance.
>>> > 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.
>>> I have no doubt that artificial neural networks are intelligent. The
>>> question is, if they are conscious for all definitions of
>>> consciousness. I don't believe that water is necessary for
>>> consciousness, but as a hypothesis, I have yet to find a way to rule
>>> it out.
>>> >
>>> > 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.
>>> The problem is that if water is a truly necessary part of the
>>> functional substrate of life and consciousness, then we are still
>>> quite a ways from being able to compute consciousness. For example,
>>> the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee
>>> can, with the help of AI, simultaneously simulate about as many water
>>> molecules as there are in a single neuron, i.e. about 25 billion.
>>> https://www.newscientist.com/article/2303738-ai-makes-it-possible-to-simulate-25-billion-water-molecules-at-once/
>>> That being said, if classical computers and Turing machines cannot be
>>> made conscious, then quantum computers probably could. So it is still
>>> likely just a matter of time.
>>> Stuart LaForge
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