Hi Russell,

From: Russell Standish 
Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 7:25 PM
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com 
Subject: Re: Max Substitution level = Min Observer Moment?
Stephen King wrote:

> >>PS, to Russell: I think that you are conflating consciousness
> >>with self-awareness in section 9.5 of your book. <wlEmoticon-
> >>sadsmile[1].png> The two are not the same thing. Consciousness
> >>is purely passive. Self-awareness is active in that is involves
> >>the continuous modeling (passive consciousness) with the
> >>continuous act of choosing between alternatives (free will).

I missed this comment earlier. It surprised me, as I do not conflate
the two (self awareness requires consciousness, but consciousness
without self-awareness is at least conceivable). 

Section 9.5 is about evolutionary explanations of self-awareness and
free will, so is not about the more general phenomenon of
consciousness at all. However, maybe you thought I was conflating the two
in the very last sentence: "I can conclude in agreement with Dennett that
consciousness is an extremely rare property ion the animal
kingdom". If this were only based on section 9.5, then this would be
overreaching conclusions from the mirror test and Macchiavellian
theory. But I also base the comment on the anthropic "ants are not
conscious argument" (section 5.4), which is about the more general
concept of consciousness, not just self-awareness, and also the Occam
catastrophe argument (page 84) leads to a (tentative) conclusion that
self-awareness is actually required for consciousness after all. It is
one of the more contentious conclusions of the book, so I'm happy for
that to be pulled apart and debated,


-- 

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Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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   Umm, no. It was not just the last sentence. I would like to expand on your 
thought process that lead to the conclusion. AFAIK, my idea of bare 
consciousness does not involve any form of selection (other than the 1p 
appearance of collapse of superpositions) and should apply to even a quark! I 
am taking an idea from Chalmers and pushing it to see where and if it breaks 
down; “that consciousness is a fundamental property ontologically autonomous of 
any known (or even possible) physical properties, and that there may be lawlike 
rules which he terms "psychophysical laws" that determine which physical 
systems are associated with which types of qualia.” 

    As I see it any entity that has continuation in time has consciousness. I 
know that I run the risk of crack-pottery, but let’s go back over the Ant’s are 
not Conscious” argument. Your argument follows the form of the Doomsday 
argument, which I have serious doubts about per QTI, but setting that aside, 
why does not the complexity of the organism not factor into the consideration 
about the presence or absence of qualia in ants? AFAIK, Bruno has argued 
effectively that amoeba are conscious... The factor that I think that the 
argument ignores (as does the Doomsday argument) is the ability to communicate 
and the level of complexity that can be communicated.  
    When we consider the question “what is our expected body mass if we are 
randomly sampled from the reference class of conscious beings?” are we covertly 
selecting only that subsample of entities that we would consider as conscious, 
say per a Turing test, like ourselves? What would be an appropriate Turing test 
for an ant? How does body mass inform us of the possession of qualia? Surely 
very small body mass limits the number of brain states that we can claim 
supervene mentality, but what is that considering? Are we missing something 
perhaps in thinking that only a certain size brain or number of interconnected 
neurons supervenes consciousness? I think we might be making the inverse of 
Searle’s mistake of the Chinese room! 
    I think that we need to nail down exactly what we mean by “consciousness”. 
The definition of “possesses qualia” is only the first step. I need to read 
Nagel's papers some more ... 

Onward!

Stephen
    

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