>They are not trivial.  If they were, our brains would not require billions
>of neurons and quadrillions of connections.

Trivial in the technical sense of not being as real as the objective
mechanics which are associated with them. You are saying that it's
only the high quantity of neurons and connections between them that
makes them real rather than the other way around. To say that
subjective qualities are non-trivial would mean acknowledging that it
is the subjective qualities themselves which are driving cells,
neurons, organisms, and cultures rather than just mechanism. You are
saying that hydrogen is non-trivial but yellow is one of an infinite
number of possible colors. I'm saying that the visible spectrum is as
fundamental and irreducible as the periodic table, even though it may
require a more complex organic arrangement to realize subjectively.

>Yes, as you say below, it is a result of processing.
Processing isn't an independent thing, it's what things do. In the
context of input>processing>output, then processing stands for
everything in between input and output: processing by whatever
phenomenon is the processor.

>> quintillion wires tangled in knots and electrified don't see colors or
>> feel pain.

>I think they can

Based upon what? Can cartoons see feel pain? Why not?

>>it doesn't mean that the YouTube is conscious
>> just because someone won't be able to tell the difference.

>There is a difference between a recording of a computation or a description
>of a computation, and the computation itself.

Yellow is not a computation. Discerning whether something is a
different frequency of luminosity than another is a computation,
correlating that to a sensory experience is a computation, but the
experience itself is not a computation. I can give you coordinates for
a polygon and you can draw it on paper or in your mind but giving you
the wavelength for a shade of X-Ray will not help you see it's color
or create a color. It doesn't matter how complex my formula is. Color
cannot be described quantitatively. It's not a matter of waiting for
technology to get better, it's a matter of understanding the
limitations of the exterior topology of our universe.

>Right, a youtube video is not a person, but I think silicon, or any
>appropriate processing system can perceive.

I think that anything can perceive, whether it's a processing system
or not. Not human perception, but if it's matter, then it has
electromagnetic properties and corresponding sensorimotor coherence.
All matter makes sense. It's just that the sense the brain makes
recapitulates a specific layer cake of organic molecular, cellular
biochemical, somatic zoological, neuro anthropological, and
psychological semiotic protocols which are not separate from what they
physically are. You can't export the canon of microbiological wisdom
into a stone unless you make the stone live as a creature. It's not
third party translatable. If it were, then every rock and tree would
by now have learned to speak Portuguese and cook up a mean linguine
with clams.

>If red did not look very different from green, to you would fail to pick out
>the berries in the bush.

That's a fallacy. First you're reducing red or green to a mechanical
function of visual differentiation. Such a definition of color does
not require conscious experience or vision at all. The bush and the
berries could just look like what they taste like. Why create a
separate perceptual ontology? You're also reverse engineering color to
match the contemporary assumptions of evolutionary biology. We have no
reason to suspect that selection pressure would or could conjure a
color palette out of thin air. A longer beak, yes. Prehensile tail,
sure. You've already got the physical structure, it just gets
exaggerated through heredity. Where is the ancestor of red though?

>Yes information must be interpreted by a processing system to become
>meaningful, but it doesn't have to be a biological organism.

Systems don't interpret information, they just present it in different
ways. It makes no difference to a computer whether a text is stored as
natural language, hexadecimal bytes, or semiconductor states. There is
no signifying coherence on the computer level, it's just an array of
low level phenomena being used to simulate and reflect high level
organic sense. You might be able to build chemo-electronic inorganism
which feels and has meaning, but my sense is that it would end up
being no more controllable than biological entities. What we want out
of a processing system - reliability, obedience, precision, etc, is
precisely what is lost when we want to traffic in meaning beyond
digital certainties.

>> Constructed out of what?

>Information and the processing thereof.

You cannot construct a color out of information, any more than you can
construct dinner out of information. Color is concrete sensory
experience - ineffable, idiopathic, self-revealing. There is no
information there, no recipe, it's an ontological prerequisite of
biological visual sense.

>> Why can't we just imagine a color zlue if
>> it's not different than imaging a square sitting on top of a circle?

>Our imagination does not cause the organization of the color processing
>centers of the brain to rewire themselves.  If we could rewire our brains we
>could experience new colors.

If color is purely a mental phenomenon, then why should it require any
rewiring? We can only experience new colors if there are new colors to
experience. Color could just as easily be as finite and specific as
the periodic table and emerge at the subatomic level. We may well be
able to see new colors with gene patches or neurotherapies, but it
doesn't change the fact that those colors too must be either be part
of a larger fixed ontology of possible colors or part of a dynamic
color creation schema. Either way it's metaphysical unless you model
sense as a function of matter.

>You are making assumptions of a direct chemical-to-qualia relation built
>into the physics of the universe.

It's not an assumption, it's an intentional hypothesis.

>You never addressed the evidence I gave regarding how magenta is an invented

All colors are invented. Just not by us. Magenta, brown, beige, grey,
etc are further evidence that color is not simply visible
electromagnetism - it is the sensorimotor interior of
electromagnetism. It makes sense to us that black should be the
absence of light and white should be the presence of all wavelengths.
That sense runs through both sides of vision - the optical exterior
and the perceptual interior. It doesn't have to be that way. Black
could look like orange and White could like like red-orange and we'd
still be able to tell the difference. Black vs white though makes a
specific visual sense to us. To anything that can see it.

>See this video:

Ugh. Minsky is wrong. Just because there are more steps involved in
perception doesn't bring the mechanism of neural spikes or ion pumping
any closer to the experience of perception. He's using complexity as a
veil. "Your poor little minds just haven't figured it out yet." It's
not complex, it's just looking at the phenomenon from the wrong end.
He doesn't see that perception doesn't have to correlate to the
mechanics of the brain directly, they both can correlate to different
sided of an underlying noumenon. Watch David Chalmers instead. His
insights make much more sense to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmZaA_xoJiM

>We can perceive millions of different colors, but there are not millions of
>types of neurotransmitters, nor millions of types of neurons.  How does your
>theory address this?

I'm not suggesting a one to one correspondence of neurotransmitters to
colors. I'm saying that the sense of the visual spectrum as we know it
is an innate potential of human neurology at the brain level. It may
arise at a lower level - maybe at the level of photosynthesis or the
level atoms - perhaps at a higher level of astrophysical coherence;
nebula etc. Maybe it's woven into the story of the cosmos itself, in
the fabric of what separates literal fact from metaphorical meaning.

>What, aside from their parts, is different about them?

What's the difference between you reading this and being in a coma?
What if I could offer the chance for you to have a perfect body, which
will not age or die, which will have powerful extensions of physical
ability, but there is one catch. You will never be able to experience
a single moment that is not filled with blinding, shrieking pain. You
will perceive yourself to be terrifyingly ugly and your world will be
filled only with the most revolting odors and noises. You will find
that you are able to eat and reproduce quite successfully, only your
experience of it will be as gagging and writhing in interminable
nausea. All you would have to comfort you in your unending,
pleasureless misery will be the knowledge that to the outside world
you will appear to be a fantastic human being, successful in all
areas, even that thought however, will repulse you and fill you with
bottomless dread.

I'm assuming that you would agree that such a deal would not be worth
it, but can you explain why? Why privilege one set of patterns over
another? That's what consciousness gives us. Sensorimotive
participation. A way to perceive qualitative differences and feel like
we can choose to move toward or away from them. This is the basis of
life as much as ATP or DNA, but an entirely different topology:
forward and back, high/low, right and wrong, pain and pleasure,
presence and absence. See?

On Jul 11, 11:51 am, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 9:54 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:
> > Maybe I should try to condense this a bit. The primary disagreement we
> > have is rooted in how we view the relation between feeling, awareness,
> > qualia, and meaning, calculation, and complexity. I know from having
> > gone through dozens of these conversations that you are likely to
> > adhere to your position, which I would characterize as one which
> > treats subjective qualities as trivial,
> They are not trivial.  If they were, our brains would not require billions
> of neurons and quadrillions of connections.
> > automatic consequences which
> > arise unbidden from "from relations that are defined by
> > computations".
> Yes, as you say below, it is a result of processing.
> > My view is that your position adheres to a very useful and widely held
> > model the universe, and which is critically important for specialized
> > tasks of an engineering nature, but that it wildly undervalues the
> > chasm separating ordinary human experience from neurology. Further I
> > think that this philosophy is rooted in Enlightenment Era assumptions
> > which, although spectacularly successful during the 17th-20th
> > centuries, are no longer fully adequate to explain the realities of
> > the relation between psyche and cosmos.
> > What I'm giving you is a model which picks up where your model leaves
> > off. I'm very familiar with all of the examples you are working with -
> > color perception, etc. I have thought about all of these issues for
> > many years, so unless you are presenting something which is from a
> > source that is truly obscure, you can assume that I already have
> > considered it.
> > >I disagree with this.  Do you have an argument to help convince me to
> > change
> > >my opinion?
> > You have to give me reasons why you disagree with it.
> > >There is no change in the wiring (hardware) of the computer, only a
> > software
> > >change has occurred.
> > Right, that's what I'm saying. From the perspective of the wiring/
> > hardware/brain, there is no difference between consciousness and
> > unconsciousness. What you aren't seeing is that the unassailable fact
> > of our own consciousness is all the evidence that is required to
> > qualify it as a legitimate, causally efficacious phenomenology in the
> > cosmos rather than an epiphenomenology which magically appears
> > whenever it is convenient for physical mechanics. This is what I am
> > saying must be present as a potential within or through matter from
> > the beginning or not at all.
> I agree consciousness has effects, and is not an epiphenomenon.
> > The next think you would need to realize is that software is in the
> > eye of the beholder. Wires don't read books. They don't see colors. A
> > quintillion wires tangled in knots and electrified don't see colors or
> > feel pain.
> I think they can.
> > They're just wires. I can make a YouTube of myself sitting
> > still and smiling, and I can do a live video Skype and sit there and
> > so the same thing and it doesn't mean that the YouTube is conscious
> > just because someone won't be able to tell the difference.
> There is a difference between a recording of a computation or a description
> of a computation, and the computation itself.
> > It's not the computer that creates meaning, it's the person who is
> > using the computer. Not a cat, not a plant, not another computer, but
> > a person. If a cat could make a computer, we probably could not use it
> > either, although we might have a better shot at figuring it out.
> > >would it concern you if you learned you had been reconstructed by the
> > medical
> > >device's own internal store of matter, rather than use your original
> > atoms?
> > No, no, you don't understand who you're talking to. I'm not some bio-
> > sentimentalist. If I thought that I could be uploaded into a billion
> > tongued omnipotent robot I would be more than happy to shed this
> > crappy monkey body. I'm all over that. I want that. I'm just saying
> > that we're not going to get there by imitating the logic of out higher
> > cortical functions in silicon. It doesn't work that way. Thought is an
> > elaboration of emotion, emotion of feeling, feeling of sense, and
> > sense of detection. Electronically stimulated silicon never gets
> > beyond detection, so ontologically it's like one big molecule in the
> > sense that it can make. It can act as a vessel for us to push human
> > sense patterns through serially as long as you've got a conscious
> > human receiver, but the conduit itself has no taste for human sense
> > patterns, it just knows thermodynamic electromotive sense. Human
> > experience is not that. A YouTube of a person is not a person.
> Right, a youtube video is not a person, but I think silicon, or any
> appropriate processing system can perceive.
> > >Color is how nerve impulses from the optive nerve feel to us.
> > Why doesn't it just feel like a nerve impulse? Why invent a
> > phenomenology of color out of whole cloth to intervene upon one group
> > of nerve cells and another? Color doesn't have to exist. It provides
> > no functional advantage over detection of light wavelengths through a
> > linear continuum. Your eyes could work just like your gall bladder,
> > detecting conditions and responding to them without invoking any
> > holographic layer of gorgeous 3D technicolor perception. One computer
> > doesn't need to use a keyboard and screen to talk to another, so it
> > would make absolutely no sense for such a thing to need to exist for
> > the brain to understand something that way, unless such qualities were
> > already part of what the brain is made of.
> If red did not look very different from green, to you would fail to pick out
> the berries in the bush.
> > It's not nerve impulses we
> > are feeling, we are nerves and we are the impulses of the nerves.
> > Impulses are nerve cells feeling, seeing, tasting, choosing. They just
> > look like nerve cells from the point of view of our body and it's
> > technological extensions as it is reflected back to us through our own
> > perception of self-as-other.
> > >Data can be stored as magnetic poles on
> > >hard drives and tape, different levels of reflectivity on CDs...
> > Data is only meaningful when it is interpreted by a sentient organism.
> Yes information must be interpreted by a processing system to become
> meaningful, but it doesn't have to be a biological organism.
> > Our consciousness is what makes the pattern a meaningful pattern. Read
> > a book, put it on tape, CD, flash drive, etc. It means nothing to the
> > cockroaches and deer foraging for food after the humans are gone.
> > Again, data is in the eye of the beholder, it is an epiphenomon. We
> > are not data. We eat data but what we are is the sensorimotor topology
> > of a living human brain, body, lifetime, civilization, planet, solar
> > system, galaxy, universe. We have a name, but we are not a name.
> > >Nearly an infinite number could be constructed, and they are all
> > accessible
> > >within this universe.  (If you accept computationalism).
> > Constructed out of what?
> Information and the processing thereof.
> > Why can't we just imagine a color zlue if
> > it's not different than imaging a square sitting on top of a circle?
> Our imagination does not cause the organization of the color processing
> centers of the brain to rewire themselves.  If we could rewire our brains we
> could experience new colors.
> > You're trying to bend reality to fit your assumptions instead of
> > expanding your framework to accommodate the evidence.
> You are making assumptions of a direct chemical-to-qualia relation built
> into the physics of the universe.
> > >> >How does it know to stop at a red light if it is not aware of anything?
> > >> It doesn't stop at a red light. The car stops at an electronic signal
> > >> that fires when the photosensor and it's associated semiconductors
> > >> match certain quantitative thresholds which correspond to what we see
> > >> as a red light.
> > >Sounds very much like a description  one could make for why a person stops
> > >at a red light.  There are inputs, some processing, and some outputs.  The
> > >difference is you think the processing done by a computer is meaningless,
> > >while the processing done by a brain is not.
> > You are assuming that the inputs and outputs have any significance
> > independent of the processing. The processing is everything.
> Exactly, the processing is everything.  That is what I have been trying to
> say all this time. :-)
> > >> The word processor is just semiconductors which are activated and
> > >> control in a pattern we deem meaningful. There is no distinction for
> > >> the computer between correct or incorrect spelling, other than
> > >> different logic gates being held open or closed.
> > >If that is so, then point out where this logic fails: "There is no
> > >distinction for a human that is sad or happy, there are dist different
> > >collections of neurons either firing or not firing."
> > Right, you can't tell from the outside. If we discovered an alien word
> > processor in a crashed spaceship then we could not know whether or not
> > it is made out of something which understands what it's doing or
> > whether it's just an artifact which reflects the function of it's use
> > by something else that understands what it's doing. Since we know how
> > our own word processors are made however, I have no reason to infer
> > that electrified silicon cares whether a word is spelled correctly.
> > >Qualia aren't directly connected to sensory measurements from the
> > >environment though.  If I swapped all the red-preferring cones in your
> > eyes
> > >with the blue-preferring cones, then shone blue-colored light at your
> > eyes,
> > >you would report it as red.
> > Right, you don't even need eyes. I can imagine or dream red without
> > there being anything there for the senses to measure. What it is
> > directly connected to though is the internally consistent logic of
> > visual awareness. The universe doesn't pick yellow out of a hat, or if
> > it did, where is the hat and what else is in it?
> ...
> read more »

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