[ExI] Substrate Dependance

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Thu Apr 27 12:39:49 UTC 2023

How can you still believe in "true color of things" when I showed you that
the brain can be tricked so easily in "seeing" (perceiving or whatever word
you want to use I don't care) colors that are not there?
I'm astounded.

On Thu, Apr 27, 2023 at 5:12 AM Brent Allsop via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Oh.  OK.  That explains the subjective qualities of consciousness.
> That tells us the true colors of things ( not just the colors they seem to
> be)
> 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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