On Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 7:32 PM, Michael Rosefield
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Surely consciousness is both granular (much of what we are conscious of is
> pre-processed by the brain and body, and not part of our direct experience.
> This gives a huge amount of leeway for underlying ambiguity) and limiting
> (two people holding hands or talking do not become one conscious entity). If
> we say this is a strict equality then we dilute the meaning of consciousness
> beyond usefulness. Conscious-space being a subset of computational-space
> seems more reasonable.
I think in a certain sense two people holding hands and talking could
be considered one mind. The differentiation between minds is
certainly not black and white. Let's call the talking pair A and B.
The activity of A's neurons affect the conscious experience of A, do
you agree? If we stimulate a certain neuron in A's brain we might
cause A to recall a memory, or see a hallucination. Neuron
stimulation can directly effect the mind of A. Does not B through
touch, speech, and visual cues effect the neural activity of A's
brain? Consider that if a certain neuron in B's brain fires, it could
cause a signal to be sent down the nerve sells to the muscles that
control B's hand, causing B to squeeze A's hand. This results in the
continued propagation of the nerve signal up A's arm into A's brain.
I think what we typically consider to be independent minds are
actually _mostly_ closed loops of neural activity with a very high
degree of internal data transfer. Our minds are only partially
isolated, however. There are lower throughput channels of information
transfer that can link the state of two minds. My brain, by sending
nerve inputs through my fingers and typing messages into my computer
is injecting thoughts into your brain as you read this. Internal
communication with in a brain may be many Terabits per second, but the
computations that implement a brain in a universe like this cannot be
considered in isolation. An analogy might be a grid computing system
where powerful computers are connected via slow 14.4 Kbps modems. One
computer can send a computational task to another, data transfer is
slow and difficult, and to predict the future state of the system, all
computers must be considered part of a larger computational process.
Our brains themselves are much like this model, data is processed in
one area, and the result is sent to other parts, yet we consider a
brain to be a single mind. As Bruno often states, a mind is a
computational history, but if we follow that history backwards in time
it inevitably passes through and includes computations done by other
My point is that boundaries of where one mind might end and another
begins is fuzzy, and perhaps the only consistent way to define a
computational history of a mind is to consider all the computations
until we reach some point isolation.
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