[ExI] Digital Consciousness .

Omar Rahman rahmans at me.com
Sun Apr 28 19:17:40 UTC 2013


You said:

> Hi Bryan,
> Given this, it sounds like you think most people believe in some kind of 
> substance dualistic soul?  I would agree that there is no evidence 
> supporting that and why I'm not in that minority camp. But while it is 
> true that a minority 6 of the 50 or so experts that have canonized their 
> views, are still in a substance dualism camp, there are 34 of 50, 
> including Dennett, Chalmers, Lehar, Hameroff, Smythies... and many 
> others not in this camp,

You seem to be saying that Dennett is not a Substance Dualist. I'm with you this far.
And you seem to be saying that Chalmers isn't a Substance Dualist. I think he would certainly call himself some sort of dualist.
I'm not really familiar with the others so I will forego comment. 

> that all agree with the substance dualist on at 
> least the point that qualia like redness are the most important part of 
> consciousness.

And half a sentence later Dennett has turned into into a Substance Dualist? I think not.

As far as qualia go if you go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia and go to "critics of qualia" section you will find Daniel Dennett mentioned extensively and first.

Brent you also said:

> We know that we have things like a redness quale, a greenness quale that 
> we experience, and we know, more surely than we know anything, the 
> qualitative difference between them.  The expert consensus nearly 
> unanimously (Notice that even Dennett's new camp now supports this 
> prediction: http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/88/21) agrees that these 
> qualities are qualities of something in our brain or qualities of the 
> final result of the perception process, not the initial cause.  These 
> qualities suffer from the quale interpretation problem, which is why 
> they are blind to any non grounded, abstracting or cause and effect 
> based observation. (see: http://canonizer.com/topic.asp/88/19 ).

You take the existence of qualia as a given. I have extreme doubts about their existence, yet how could I doubt them if they were the primary objects of my consciousness? Do I have an 'anti-qualia quale' in my head? 

You now suggest that "even Dennett's new camp now supports this prediction" and refer us to your "canonizer" website which reads as of April 28th 2013:

>> Dennett's Predictive Bayesian Coding Theory
>> In 2012, at the "Evolution and Function of Consciousness" conference, the distinguished philosopher Daniel Dennett presented a talk where he talked about "The phenomenal access consciousness distinction". (Talk on YouTube). In that talk, he proposes that consciousness can be explained by “predictive bayesian coding” or Bayes' theorem.
>> Of course, the human brain is not literally aware of Bayes or his theorem, but we believe that Dennett is essentially asserting that existing techniques for predictive modeling, such as Bayesian inference methods, are sufficient to form consciousness, and that human consciousness is composed of processes that may be considered an analog or approximation of the more precisely correct Bayesian inference. In this camp, we support this notion.
>> Although he acknowledges in that talk that there are compelling reasons that make people want dualism to be valid, he also asserts that he cannot really understand dualism. We also cannot understand dualism, and we assert that it is not possible to really understand and accept dualism. Dennett argues that Ned Block (a dualist) has inverted reasoning in that "he thinks ‘phenomenal’ consciousness is the causal bases of access consciousness while in fact it is an effect of access consciousness, not a cause!" (1:05:45). We also believe that 'phenomenal' things are emergent from consciousness, that nothing phenomenal is necessary to form consciousness, and that nothing phenomenal can exist outside of consciousness.

While I do not know who wrote this text (Was it Dennett?) and I cannot affirm it's accuracy in all respects, in at least one thing it seems correct in identifying Dennett as not a Dualist. What the above text does not do, whoever wrote it, is support the existence of qualia.
Brent, your 'cannonizer' website could be a wonderful thing if used as a map to follow to find thoughts and ideas. However, all you ever seem to use it for is as a club to bludgeon others into agreeing with you because of the 'expert consensus' behind some position. This is purely and simply: Appeal to Authority
> And you still haven't answered my question.  What, where, and how is a 
> redness quality, and what makes it different than a greenness quality?
> Brent Allsop

I can answer that: The redness quality/quale is nothing, it is nowhere, and it happens nohow. The greenness quality/quale is different in that you buy it in green from 'Bed, Bath and Beyond Belief'.

Qualia are basically the creatures of dualists like Chalmers who created his 'philosophical zombies' to try to prove dualism and the existence of qualia.

Chalmers zombie argument as summarised at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie

In the 'Responses' section you will find the page author's summarisation of Dennett's beliefs:

>> Another response is denial of the idea that qualia and related phenomenal notions of the mind are in the first place coherent concepts. Daniel Dennett and others argue that while consciousness and subjective experience exist in some sense, they are not as the zombie argument proponent claims. The experience of pain, for example, is not something that can be stripped off a person's mental life without bringing about any behavioral or physiological differences. Dennett believes that consciousness is a complex series of functions and ideas. If we all can have these experiences the idea of the p-zombie is meaningless.
>> Dennett argues that "when philosophers claim that zombies are conceivable, they invariably underestimate the task of conception (or imagination), and end up imagining something that violates their own definition".[9][10] He coined the term zimboes (p-zombies that have second-order beliefs) to argue that the idea of a p-zombie is incoherent;[11] "Zimboes thinkZ they are conscious, thinkZ they have qualia, thinkZ they suffer pains – they are just 'wrong' (according to this lamentable tradition), in ways that neither they nor we could ever discover!".[10] Under (reductive) physicalism, one is inclined to believe either that anyone including oneself might be a zombie, or that no one can be a zombie – following from the assertion that one's own conviction about being, or not being a zombie is (just) a product of the physical world and is therefore no different from anyone else's. P-zombies in an observed world would be indistinguishable from the observer, even hypothetically (when the observer makes no assumptions regarding the validity of their convictions). Furthermore, when concept of self is deemed to correspond to physical reality alone (reductive physicalism), philosophical zombies are denied by definition. When a distinction is made in one's mind between a hypothetical zombie and oneself (assumed not to be a zombie), the hypothetical zombie, being a subset of the concept of oneself, must entail a deficit in observables (cognitive systems), a "seductive error"[10] contradicting the original definition of a zombie.

Appeal to authority is an erroneous form of argument in the first place but, if you are citing authorities who, very convincingly and coherently in the case of Dennett, argue against your position you are compounding your error.

My own take on things is:		(a biologist could divide this up more elegantly but...)

Evolution means that those that survive are able to reproduce.
Reproduction is a form of stability, especially in single celled organisms, but genetic errors occur and changes are made by the external environment on the individual.
Phototropism and other reactions to the environment enabled some organisms to survive and reproduce.
Gradually our neurological systems increased in complexity through a great many steps as we (by we here I mean life in general) reacted to more and more stimuli.
Sexual reproduction, with it's inherent need for 'others', threw our 'reacting to others in the environment' thing into high gear.
Steps, steps, steps....
'Consciousness' (a much maligned term but I will use it...) 'Consciousness' is a perception system reacting to itself reacting to the environment. The evolutionary path that has led to us is clear in retrospect but we should acknowledge that it wasn't predestined, intelligence may or may not be the 'end goal' of the universe. 

A quotation from Dennett,

“The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore, so it eats it! It's rather like getting tenure.”  (source: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1387.Daniel_C_Dennett )

So many of us live 'up in our heads' that we almost disregard our physical reality, hence the fantasies of religion and dualism that offer some illusionary non-physical essence or survival.

If we survive long enough our 'next step or steps' will also seem clear in retrospect. We are probably at an evolutionary branching point of 1) biological immortals, 2) mechanical immortals, 3) hybrid immortals

For me the interesting question is: what is after intelligence? Are we as far from it as some phototropic organism is from us? Is it just around the corner? Is there a qualitative difference between phototropism, intelligence, and 'the after intelligence thing'?

I'll leave you with something about the two slit experiment with a provocative title: The Quantum Conspiracy: What Popularizers of QM Don't Want You to Know by Ron Garret http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEaecUuEqfc

It's an hour long or so with the interesting conclusions at about the 53 minute mark. My take away from it was, among other things, that quantum entanglement is observation and that observation on the quantum level changes wave behaviour to particle behaviour. I'd be interested to know if Mr. Garret's math holds up and what people think of his conclusions.

To those who made it this far you have my appreciation and sincere desire for comments, criticisms, and corrections.


Omar Rahman

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