On 8/3/2011 12:18 AM, meekerdb wrote:
On 8/2/2011 4:00 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 8/2/2011 6:08 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 8/2/2011 2:44 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 8/2/2011 5:26 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 8/2/2011 2:08 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
On 8/2/2011 4:04 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 8/2/2011 12:43 PM, Craig Weinberg wrote:
On Aug 2, 2:06 pm, "Stephen P. King"<stephe...@charter.net> wrote:

The point is that there is a point where the best possible model or computational simulation of a system is the system itself. The fact that it is impossible to create a model of a weather system that can predict *all* of its future behavior does not equal to a proof that one cannot create an approximately accurate model of a weather system. One has to
trade off accuracy for feasibility.
I agree that's true, and by that definition, we can certainly make
cybernetic systems which can approximate the appearance of
consciousness in the eyes of most human clients of those systems for
the scope of their intended purpose. To get beyond that level of
accuracy, you may need to get down to the cellular, genetic, or
molecular level, in which case it's not really worth the trouble of re-
inventing life just to get a friendlier sounding voicemail.


So now you agree that a simulation of a brain at the molecular level would suffice to produce consciousness (although of course it would be much more efficient to actually use molecules instead of computationally simulating them). This would be a good reason to say 'no' to the doctor, since even though you could simulate the molecules and their interactions, quantum randomness would prevent you from controlling their interactions with the molecules in the rest of your brain. Bruno's argument would still go through, but the 'doctor' might have to replace not only your brain but a big chunk of the universe with which it interacts. However, most people who have read Tegmark's paper understand that the brain must be essentially classical as a computer and so a simulation, even one of molecules, could be quasi-classical, i.e. local.


Hi Brent,

I wonder if you would make a friendly wager with me about the veracity of Tegmark's claims about the brain being "essentially classical"? I bet $1 US (payable via Paypal) that he is dead wrong *and* that the proof that the brain actively involves quantum phenomena that are discounted by Tegmark will emerge within two years. We already have evidence that the photosynthesis process in plants involves quantum coherence, there is an experiment being designed now to test the coherence in the retina of the human eye.


Those are not really to the point. Of course the brain involves quantum processes and some of these involve coherence for short times. But Tegmark argues that the times are too short to be relevant to neural signaling and information processing. There's an implicit assumption that neural activity is responsible for thought - that the 'doctor' could substitute at the neuron level. I think this is right and it is supported by evolutionary considerations. We wouldn't want an intelligent Mars Rover to make decisions based on quantum randomness except in rare circumstance (like Buridan's ass) and it wouldn't be evolutionarily advantageous for an organism on Earth. I'm glad to accept your bet; except that I'm not sure how to resolve it. It don't think finding something like the energy transfer involving coherence in photosynthesis or photon detection is relevant.

No, my thought is that quantum coherence accounts for, among other things, the way that sense data is continuously integrated into a whole.

What integrated whole do you refer to? Our memory of a life? How does it account for it?

This is not rocket surgery, come on! Think! Did you ever happen to notice that, modulo variations in distance, the sounds you hear, the things you see, feels, taste, etc. are all integrated together? How is it that, modulo deya vu and similar synesthesias and dislexia, the brain generates a vritual reality version of the world around you that is amazingly free of latency? While there are visual effects that replicate aliasing effects, such as when we see the spokes of a wheel turning backwards, the ability of the brain to turn all those signals into a single and integrated virtual world is amazing, but more amazing still is the fact that there is something in the brain that acts like an observer, something that lead many in the past to speculate about a homunculus...

This world view is not necessarily so integrated. If you've ever been in a car crash you'll know that you hear the sound before the sights that go with it. This comports with Dennett's point that the brain puts things together with time stamps. But what does quantum coherence have to do with this - it's something you would do with a classical computer that had modules for different perceptions with different processing times.

pfft, I wish I could but I cannot explain my reasoning because it is based on unpublished work. I will concede the point for now.

This leads to a situation that Daniel C. Dennett calls the "Cartesian Theater". Dennett's proof that it cannot exist because it generates infinite regress of homunculi inside humonculi is flawed because such infinities can only occur if each of the humonculi has access to sufficient computational resources to generate the rest of them. When we understand that computations require the utilization of resources and do not occur 'for free' we see that the entire case against situations that imply the possibility of infinite regress fails.

I don't understand that. Are you agreeing with Dennett that an infinite regress cannot occur or are you arguing that the need to pay for resources makes them possible?

Dennet'ts argument in Consciousness Explained centers around building up and then knocking down the "Cartesian Theater", based on the supposed fact that it generates an infinite regress. My claim is that his argument loses it motivation since the brain does not have the computational resources to generate a regress of arbitrary depth. It needs only to only generate a regress that is 3 or 4 levels deep. Marius Buliga has an interesting blog post about some of Dennett's issues here: http://chorasimilarity.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/the-cartesian-theater-philosophy-of-mind-versus-aerography/ The idea is that we can in fact have simulations withing simulations within simulations without the problematic infinite regress. A model of Self within a model of self + world is not a problem, pace Dennett.

Quantum phenomena is NOT all about randomness. Frankly I would really like to understand how that rubbish of an idea still is held in seriously thinking people! There is not randomness in QM, there in only the physical inability to predict exactly when some quantum event will occur in advance. It is because QM system cannot be copied that makes it impossible to predict their behavior in advance, not because of some inherent randomness!

Sounds like a distinction without a difference. It's still a good reason for evolution to favor a quasi-classical brain.

There are effects within QM that do not exist in the classical regime, effects that can be used to do things that classical systems cannot do. I am drawing from unpublished work by a friend of mine so I cannot give more details on this unfortunately. :-(

Take the infamous radioactive atom in the Schrodinger Cat box. Is its decay strictly a "random" phenomena? Not really! QM says not one word about randomness,

See Born's projection postulate.

Note the word "postulate". The Born postulate is added to the QM formalism as a means to explain probabilities.

Not exactly. It provided a probabilistic interpretation Schrodinger's wave function - without which wave mechanics would have been unusable.

So what does that have to do with "randomness"? Unless I am mistaken, the evolution fo the wave fuction is strictly deterministic. We where considering randomness and I pointed out that there is no such thing as "quantum randomness".

Its status is controversial and not settled at all even today!

Indeed. There have been many attempts to derive, rather than postulate, it. But they all seem to make some equally questionable postulate. Nevertheless its use is fundamental in all applications.

How many texts books on QM have you read? I recommend Bohm's.

A few. I recommend Asher Peres or Ballentine. Zee or Wald for QFT. Bohm's version of QM cannot be extended to a relativistic theory since it includes a non-local "guidance" field.

In case you do not know, Bohm wrote one of the best textbooks on QM that had nothing at all about his guide-wave theory in it... I do like the Peres text and Zee's on QFT. I prefer Sunny Auyang's book on QFT for philosophical reasons...

it only allows us to calculate the half-life of said atom and that calculation is as good as is possible given the fact that we cannot generate a simulation of that atom and its environment and all of the interactions thereof in a way that we can get predictions about its behavior in advance.

As to your post here. Craig's point is that the simulated brain, even if simulated down to the molecular level, will only be a simulation and 'think simulate thoughts'. If said simulated brain has a consiousness it will be its own, not that some other brain.

Craig's position seems to be more a blur than a point. He has said that only biological neurons can instantiate consciousness and only a conscious being can act like a conscious being. That would imply that a being with an artificial, e.g. silicon chip based, brain cannot act like a conscious being.

You care completely failing to understand that Craig is not stuck in the box of canned answers to questions about the kinds of things that we discuss in this List. While I will quibble with the claim that "biological neurons can instantiate consciousness" as I believe that consciousness is not just a 'phenomena of carbon based chemistry', it is obvious that 'only a conscious being can act like a conscious being", that follows from the basic principle of Identity. A thing is itself and it behaves as itself would. A trivial fact but one that gets ignored too often.

A consciousness can no more be copied than the state of a QM system.

That's the point in question.  If Tegmark is right, it can.

    Tegmark is wrong.

But you have not proposed any way to resolve the bet.

Pfft, whatever. Re-read what I wrote. Are you just trying to demonstrate that you are the smartest guy in the room or are you genuinely interested in figuring out how Everything works?

I'm just interested in how we would decide who won? If there is some test you can suggest or some theoretical development you anticipate it would be very relevant to the question of the philosophical zombie.
Whatever, this conversation is going nowhere. I am over it. You want your dollar? Will that make you happy?

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