George Levy wrote:
> Hi Stephen
> Stephen Paul King wrote:
>>Dear George,
>>    Could it be that Consciousness is more related and identifiable 
>>with the "processing" of Information than with Information itself?
> I agree that consciousness is not just information. As you say, 
> consciousness seems to be associated with processing of information. 
> However, even "processing of information" is not sufficient. For example 
> a computer processes information but is not conscious. There is also a 
> need for self referentiality.

Being self-aware is presumably a high state of consciousness - one that even 
humans only visit 
occasionally.  I think there are different levels of consciousness.  For 
example, there is awareness 
of being a physical being in a certain place and time and with certain 
surrondings and having 
certain desires, values, emotions. I think animals like dogs have this degree 
of consciousness and 
one could argue that a Mars rover does too.  In addition a dog recognizes that 
there are other dogs 
and people and cooperates with those of his pack and competes against others.  
Humans go to another 
level of self-awareness that I think largely depends on language - they produce 
a narrative account 
of what they consider important in their thoughts.  I think this is a way of 
feeding memory with 
what it is useful to keep.  There is clearly far too little memory capacity in 
the brain to store 
anything like "a movie of one's life" - so the narrative voice is an inner 
"importance filter".

John McCarthy (author of LISP) has several nice essays discussing what it means 
to make a conscious 
robot on his website.

>>Consider the example often raised (I do not know the original source) 
>>of a Book that contained a "complete description" of Einstein's Brain. 
>>It was claimed that this book was in fact equivalent to Einstein 
>>himself even to the degree that one could "have a conversation with 
>>Einstein" by referencing the book. (Never mind the fact that QM's 
>>non-cummutativity of canonical conjugate observables make it 
>>impossible for *any* classical object to be completely specified in a 
>>way that is independent of observational frame, but I digress...)
> I am questioning the idea that there can be a book containing a 
> "complete description" of Einstein's Brain that can be "read" 
> independently of your frame of reference. Is the book containing a 
> snapshot of the brain at a particular microsecond in Einstein's life? In 
> this case I doubt whether this book can be called conscious.
> Or is it a video book containing the whole life history of Einstein's 
> brain? In which case,  you'll have trouble "reading" the book unless you 
> change your frame of reference. If you push the "play" button on the 
> video player all you will see is a movie of Einstein brain INTERACTING 
> WITH ITS ENVIRONMENT  - NOT YOUR ENVIRONMENT. (This is like a hologram. 
> Did you know that an object seen in a hologram casts a shadow in the 
> environment where the hologram is created but not in the viewing 
> environment?)  Changing your frame of reference to Einstein's 
> environment would be extremely difficult - you'll need a time machine.
> The only "practical?" way to get a good rendition of Einstein's brain 
> THAT INTERACTS WITH YOUR ENVIRONMENT  is to simulate it on a computer. 
> Then you can call it conscious.
>>    Could it be that the "hard Problem" of consciousness follows 
>>inevitably from our hard-headed insistence that the Universe is 
>>Classical ("object have definite properties in themselves") in spite 
>>of the massive pile of unassailable evidence otherwise? If we treat 
>>Consciousness as "what a quantum computer (brain!) does", i.e. process 
>>qubits, instead of a classical object, maybe, just maybe we might find 
>>the "problem" not to be so intractably "hard" after all! ;-)
> You remind me of Penrose with whom I disagree. Using the quantum 
> computer paradigm is like shoving the mind-body and consciousness 
> problem under the quantum carpet. 

I agree.

Brent Meeker
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled,
but a fire to be ignited."
        --- Plutarch

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