• RogueAI
    99
    For the sake of argument, assume we're dealing with simulations being run on classical computers.

    Let's assume we have the computing power to simulate a working human brain. If the simulation isn't conscious, then that's a problem: what did we fail to simulate correctly? Because working brains are conscious (I guess sleep might be an exception to this). If we are convinced we're simulating a working brain perfectly, and it's still not conscious, then we have a mystery on our hands.

    But let's say our simulation is conscious. Any simulation is essentially a combination of switches turning on/off in a certain pattern. So for our working brain simulation, when switches X,Y,...Z are turning off and on in pattern A,B,...C there's a conscious experience. That raises some interesting questions:
    1. What is it about turning enough switches on and off in a certain way that gives rise to consciousness?
    2. Why is the pattern of switching operations important? Why does pattern A,B,...C give rise to consciousness, while pattern D,E,...F doesn't?
    3. If consciousness can arise from substrates like collections of mechanical switches, can it arise in other substrates where particles interact with each other? Say, a rain cloud? Swarm of comets? Sand dune?
    4. Is electricity a necessary condition for consciousness? Or can you have consciousness arise from really strange collections of things? Say, for example, a bunch of ropes and pulleys?

    *Much (maybe all) of the above are things I've read over the years. I don't claim originality over any of the above. I'm using it to jump start a discussion.
  • NOS4A2
    2.5k


    I would think consciousness also requires a body. Much current AI research seems to be brain focused and disembodied, which really isn’t the case with human consciousness.
  • bert1
    343
    I think any account of consciousness arising from severally non-conscious stuff is conceptually doomed. And we don't need such an account, there are other, more fruitful ways to think about consciousness, namely panpsychism. But by all means carry on and see if you can figure something out. I remain interested in the project.
  • RogueAI
    99


    I would think consciousness also requires a body. Much current AI research seems to be brain focused and disembodied, which really isn’t the case with human consciousness.

    It certainly seems to require SOME kind of substrate, in the materialist model of reality. Although I remember reading some scientist postulate a consciousness field that permeates the universe.
  • RogueAI
    99
    I think any account of consciousness arising from severally non-conscious stuff is conceptually doomed.

    Yes, I think you're right about that.

    And we don't need such an account, there are other, more fruitful ways to think about consciousness, namely panpsychism. But by all means carry on and see if you can figure something out. I remain interested in the project.

    Panpsychism has been en vogue lately. Max Tegmark thinks the universe might be made of math, and that sounds very idealistic. I think materialism's days are numbered.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Let's assume we have the computing power to simulate a working human brain. If the simulation isn't conscious, then that's a problem: what did we fail to simulate correctly? Because working brains are conscious (I guess sleep might be an exception to this). If we are convinced we're simulating a working brain perfectly, and it's still not conscious, then we have a mystery on our hands.RogueAI

    It's not really a brain that's conscious. It's the whole body. Of course the mind is an important, the most important, element, but the rest of the nervous system participates along with many other systems, e.g. the endocrine system has a large part. So, you'd have to simulate the whole body. You'd also have to simulate some sort of environment - the input to your simulation. You'd also have to simulate history - minds aren't made, their grown. Who knows what get's loaded into us during development from the sperm and egg to the baby being born? There's a structure of knowledge that already exists in an operating brain.

    1. What is it about turning enough switches on and off in a certain way that gives rise to consciousness?RogueAI

    I think this is what is known as "the hard problem of consciousness," which was discussed, is still being discussed, in the "Emphasizing the Connection Perspective," thread. I've come to the conclusion that this may be unresolvable, not because it's really hard, but because people on both sides come up against a brick wall when asked to understand the other groups position. As I've said a number of times "I just don't get it."

    2. Why is the pattern of switching operations important? Why does pattern A,B,...C give rise to consciousness, while pattern D,E,...F doesn't?RogueAI

    Well, the pattern is the consciousness, isn't it?

    3. If consciousness can arise from substrates like collections of mechanical switches, can it arise in other substrates where particles interact with each other? Say, a rain cloud? Swarm of comets? Sand dune?RogueAI

    Seems to me a certain minimum level of complexity would be required for mental processes. I don't think the systems you describe are anywhere close to that level. Orders of magnitude. One source on the web says there are at least 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses in the brain. That means the number of possible brain states is at least 2^100 trillion assuming each connection can be in each of two states. Is that right?

    4. Is electricity a necessary condition for consciousness? Or can you have consciousness arise from really strange collections of things? Say, for example, a bunch of ropes and pulleys?RogueAI

    I remember reading about a hypothetical computer made with people passing notes back and forth. There's have to be a lot of people. I guess 100 billion, which is about the number of people who are living or have ever lived. It would also be very slow.
  • Echarmion
    1k
    1. What is it about turning enough switches on and off in a certain way that gives rise to consciousness?
    2. Why is the pattern of switching operations important? Why does pattern A,B,...C give rise to consciousness, while pattern D,E,...F doesn't?
    RogueAI

    I think the problem here stems from treating physical reality as fundamental. What looks to humans like to very similar patterns of switches might, to some some other observer, look extremely, that is to say qualitatively, different. Physical reality represents some underlying principles of the overall reality, but we cannot know to what extent it does so. It's entirely possible that whatever "consciousness" actually is simply isn't very well represented by physical reality.

    3. If consciousness can arise from substrates like collections of mechanical switches, can it arise in other substrates where particles interact with each other? Say, a rain cloud? Swarm of comets? Sand dune?
    4. Is electricity a necessary condition for consciousness? Or can you have consciousness arise from really strange collections of things? Say, for example, a bunch of ropes and pulleys?
    RogueAI

    Presumably, a conscious entity could appear to us in all number of ways. Since there is, so far, no evidence that the consciousness of the observed can be experienced by the observer in some way, there is currently no reason to suspect we can identify consciousness as such.
  • RogueAI
    99


    I remember reading about a hypothetical computer made with people passing notes back and forth. There's have to be a lot of people. I guess 100 billion, which is about the number of people who are living or have ever lived. It would also be very slow.

    People passing notes back and forth aren't going to create an instantiation of consciousness.
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    People passing notes back and forth aren't going to create an instantiation of consciousness.RogueAI

    He said with no justification.

    Anyway, how is that different from pulleys and ropes?
  • RogueAI
    99
    He said with no justification.T Clark


    Well, let me put it this way: if you claim that people passing notes back and forth (in a certain way, I assume) will give rise to a conscious moment, you're going to have to have an explanation for it. I think you're also committed to panpsychism, because if people passing notes can instantiate consciousness, then other things can as well. A falling abacus, if it's large enough, and the air moves the beads in just the right way?

    If you're claiming that people passing notes back and forth CAN give rise to a conscious moment, I need an explanation for why I should consider that a plausible possibility, instead of something that is near impossible.

    Anyway, how is that different from pulleys and ropes?

    It's not. I think a conscious system of pulleys and ropes is as absurd (and is based upon as much logic and evidence) as transubstantiation.
  • BrianW
    949
    Aren't animations (cartoons) simulations of consciousness? I mean, life-like robots (and AI) would be better simulations but that's a matter of degree not identity.
    Anyone else think consciousness might be the faculty (or capacity/ability) for expressing intelligence? (hypothesis in the making)
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    If you're claiming that people passing notes back and forth CAN give rise to a conscious moment, I need an explanation for why I should consider that a plausible possibility, instead of something that is near impossible.RogueAI

    You've already stipulated that an electronic device, a computer, can simulate mental processes. What is a computer? It is a device with many connections. If I may be allowed to drastically oversimplify, the action of the computer is to pass signals back and forth through those connections. Those signals transmit information. How is that different than passing notes, i.e. signals containing information, back and forth. I recognize that the computer will be much faster. For logistical reasons, there is no possibility that any but the simplest computer consisting of people passing notes can ever be implemented, but we are in the world of hypotheticals, so we can ignore practical considerations.
  • Shamshir
    856
    Simulations of Consciousness - otherwise known as NPCs.
  • RogueAI
    99


    You've already stipulated that an electronic device, a computer, can simulate mental processes. What is a computer? It is a device with many connections. If I may be allowed to drastically oversimplify, the action of the computer is to pass signals back and forth through those connections. Those signals transmit information. How is that different than passing notes, i.e. signals containing information, back and forth. I recognize that the computer will be much faster. For logistical reasons, there is no possibility that any but the simplest computer consisting of people passing notes can ever be implemented, but we are in the world of hypotheticals, so we can ignore practical considerations.

    This chain of logic is one of the reasons I'm not a materialist. Materialism leads to absurdities like:
    Pushing rocks around on an endless plain in some "special" way can simulate a universe of conscious beings.
    https://xkcd.com/505/
  • ZqC
    2
    There is possibly a distinction between 'thought' and 'consciousness'.

    Maybe 'thought' enables us to perceive higher 'consciousness'.

    Perhaps 'consciousness' exists in all natural phenomena, and “as a consicious field that permetates the universe." (Rogue AI). (I really like this idea you have mentioned).

    Can space / the universe be the substrate which allows higher 'consciousness' to exist? Or, alternatively, does 'consciousness' exist anyway, on a higher plane, even without space / the universe?

    Is space/ the universe really a neccessary condition for 'consciousness' to occur and exist? Or, is space / the universe the medium through which our 'thoughts' perceive higher 'consciousness'?

    Can we simulate 'consciousness' ? ..... I would say 'no' , but we may be able to access 'consciousness' through 'thinking'. And, if we can access 'consciousness' through 'thinking' - then why can't a machine, compurter, or A.I ?

    Another question arises : Does a machine / computer or A.I actively 'think' or does it merely follow the instructions of its' programmer ? A kind of involuntary thought / action ?

    It is very hard to arrive at a definition of 'consciousness' that all sides would agreee on.

    Lots to consider! Thanks for starting this topic. :-)
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    This chain of logic is one of the reasons I'm not a materialist. Materialism leads to absurdities like:
    Pushing rocks around on an endless plain in some "special" way can simulate a universe of conscious beings.
    RogueAI

    I'm not a materialist either, and I know enough about the ole "hard problem of consciousness" schtick to know we can't come to any agreement. And, yes, I really loved the comic you linked to.
  • RogueAI
    99


    I'm not a materialist either, and I know enough about the ole "hard problem of consciousness" schtick to know we can't come to any agreement. And, yes, I really loved the comic you linked to.

    Schtick?
  • T Clark
    4.2k
    Schtick?RogueAI

    Mild rhetorical jibe. Maybe I should be ashamed of myself.... Nah, I've done much worse.
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    and on in pattern A,B,...C there's a conscious experience. That raises some interesting questions:RogueAI

    or 5. consciousness has nothing to do with switching switches.

    Your switch architecture of bran is wrong so your premise/question is malformed.
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    Anyone else think consciousness might be the faculty (or capacity/ability) for expressing intelligence? (hypothesis in the making)BrianW

    I doubt it. there are so many counter examples of entities that behave quite intelligently but show little/no signed so consciousness. e.g., in an extreme case, a virus exhibits a high degree of expressed intelligence in its attack and survival against all human/plant/animal efforts to eradicate it, yet in no way would we say it has consciousness. Its expressed intelligence comes from its genetic coding/program.
  • Pop
    113
    I think the minimum you need for consciousness is intelligence and memory. Or CPU and RAM, and algorithm. The latest AI is self learning and programming – so that is a consciousness.

    All living creatures are self learning and programming.
  • Zelebg
    459
    Can Consciousness be Simulated?

    Not only it can be simulated, there is no other substrate in which consciousnes can exist but virtual.
  • Zelebg
    459
    What is it about turning enough switches on and off in a certain way that gives rise to consciousness?

    It’s not about switches, it’s about interaction between virtual entities.


    Or can you have consciousness arise from really strange collections of things? Say, for example, a bunch of ropes and pulleys?

    Possibly, unless speed / synchronicity is at issue, in which case serial computation or too slow execution might be inadequate for the simulation of conscious experience.
  • Zelebg
    459
    ..more fruitful ways to think about consciousness, namely panpsychism.

    Panpsychism is vague, ambiguous, untestable, without even possibility of ever giving any prediction, confirmation or explanation.

    Panpsychism is as useful as religion, and it is worse mysterianism than mysterianism itself. It’s not even a potential solution, it’s saying I give up and I’m gone fishing, because replacing one mystery with another is not a logical proposition to begin with.

    What do you find fruitful about it?
  • Zelebg
    459
    I think any account of consciousness arising from severally non-conscious stuff is conceptually doomed.

    Yes, I think you're right about that.

    That logic is shown to be wrong by non-living things giving rise to living things, or non liquid things giving rise to liquid things, for example.
  • Pop
    113
    Not only it can be simulated, but there is no other substrate in which consciousnes can exist but virtual.Zelebg

    This is very insightful, is this your idea?
  • BrianW
    949


    So, from your perspective, what is consciousness? Or, what does it entail?
  • Zelebg
    459
    This is very insightful, is this your idea?

    Generally no, but I do think I found some ways to explain it better, at least to myself. For example, I came up with the following statement with which I converted myself from being agnostic to finally deciding: the only explanation we know of, for the existence of things that do not actually exist (such as unicorns or qualia), is virtual existence.

    Anyway, here is this guy, Joshua Fields, for example:


    Also, when Giulio Tononi speaks of ‘integrated information’, what else can it be than a kind of program? When Terrence Deacon speaks of interaction between ‘constraints’ defining biological and mental “self”, what are the constraints if not a kind of program? When Max Tegmark speaks of ‘mathematical patterns’, what else can it be than a kind of algorithm? When dualists say soul is not material, they are kind of right, it’s virtual. Panpsychism is kind of right too, Earth or Universe could indeed be conscious if we are all “computer hardware” for the simulation of some higher virtual reality…

    Virtual consciousness kind of "unites", or makes more sense of other theories than they can do for themselves, and has more to say where they remain mute. It does not mean it's true, but it is the only path to at least somewhat satisfying explanation.
  • Sir Philo Sophia
    189
    So, from your perspective, what is consciousness? Or, what does it entail?BrianW

    do you mean access or qualia types? I assume you mean qualia kind.

    I am modeling the qualia/experience consciousness as a resonant condition that does not actually exist on its own but only emerges as the waves in the container sense the boundary conditions and propagation media landscape to form something you can think of like a standing wave which represents the wave states of the whole system. You can think of the boundary conditions as an internal cognitive boundary/shapes on one side and sensory/motor boundary/shapes on the other side and when tuned to a particular ‘meaning’ waves that pulse the system a resonance condition may form that captures the character of the system as whole in one standing wave, which could be read out with connectionist networks recognizing the various interference patterns. In short, I’m hypothesizing that qualia/experience consciousness is the resonant sound you here when you thump a container, which resonant sound (e.g., holographic phased standing wave patterns) richly characterizes not only the shape of the container but its material parameters, this resonant sound waves is effectively coherently ‘aware’ of its whole system in a way that you never could be if you separately analyzed all the causal molecules and connections that form the container and the propagation medium the way that Integrated Information Theory suggests is consciousness; thus, at least one reason why (IMHO) their model is devoid of the qualia/experience.

    In this way, I’d say that consciousness can never be self-assess as a snapshot in time, but has to be part of a self-consistent path history (like a story/narrative) that all points to the same resonant focal point/pattern that you call you. Mess with that, and your sense of self consciousness/identity should degrade and vanish into a chaos ideas, facts, memories but without any form, function, or purpose, which I would not call that ‘thought’ or ‘thinking’, so a problem to the Descartes way of evidencing oneself.

    Furthermore, under my framework, to establish one’s self-consciousness we have to be able to explore all our boundary conditions that ware resonating within and their nature must be accessible/determinable wrt their form, function, or purpose in influencing the landscape that the consciousness agent in question is resonating with and within. Then, the consciousness agent in question would have to observe a time-evolution history path where their ‘thought’ could in-fact modify those boundary conditions and that had a correlated, esp. if *expected*, effect on their conscious state of being to ‘feel’ they are alive and the executive center of the (resonating) system. Then, the consciousness agent in question would have to learn and use those associations as tools to manipulate itself (the best it can) to achieve goal states of being. Towards a definition qualia consciousness, I’m thinking that the degree that the consciousness agent in question can do the above, it has ever higher orders of qualia consciousness.
  • Invisibilis
    29
    Can consciousness be simulated?
    Not if it cannot feel what is right, regardless if its unreasonable and illogical.
  • Zelebg
    459
    I am modeling the qualia/experience consciousness as a resonant condition that does not actually exist on its own but only emerges as the waves in the container sense the boundary conditions and propagation media landscape to form something you can think of like a standing wave which represents the wave states of the whole system.

    Resonant condition, waves in the container, boundary conditions, propagation media landscape, standing wave, wave states. There is no explanation in those words, you might as well call it 'quantum collapse', 'magnetic field density distribution', 'holographic diffraction interaction', 'self-looping attractor constraints', 'integrated information', 'mathematical pattern’, or whatever, but it can only make sense if you call it by its true name: “program”, because while all the other words above have reached the bottom of reductionism, computation alone stands at the door to a realm of increasing complexities and almost unlimited possibilities. Look, it sounds true, it smells true, you know it’s true, admit it!!
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