[ExI] Substrate Dependance

Brent Allsop brent.allsop at gmail.com
Thu Apr 27 12:10:27 UTC 2023

Oh.  OK.  That explains the subjective qualities of consciousness.
That tells us the true colors of things ( not just the colors they seem to
Once the world hears this, everyone will agree, it is now all easy problems.

On Thu, Apr 27, 2023 at 5:54 AM Giovanni Santostasi via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> 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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