2011/10/28 Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> > On Oct 28, 8:10 am, Stathis Papaioannou <stath...@gmail.com> wrote: > > On Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 6:13 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> > wrote: > > > Let's say that I watch a football game on TV and describe what I see. > > > Is there now a direct connection between my larynx and a football > > > field somewhere? What is this connection made of? Is this the kind of > > > purely semantic-philosophical 'connection' you are talking about being > > > what connects the retina and larynx? > > > > There is a causal connection between your larynx and the football field, > since what happens on the football field affects your larynx. > > Any such connection is one that is only inferred. What happens on the > football field only affects your larynx if you decide to talk about > it. > > If it did not, you could not describe what happened on the football > field. You cannot describe a football game if the light from it has > not reached you, for example, since information cannot get to you > faster than light. > > You could listen to it on the radio or read about it in the newspaper. > You could invent an imaginary game and describe it in intricate > detail. > > > > > >> How does "the necessity of neurons to respond to their environment" go > > >> against determinism? > > > > > Because living cells must confront unanticipated and novel > > > circumstances in their environment which cannot be determined, nor can > > > the responses be determined in advance. Inorganic molecules don't care > > > if they survive or not so their interactions are more deterministic > > > and passive. > > > > The environment can provide a rich variety of inputs to an entity but > that does not mean that the entity must be programmed to respond differently > to every input. > > Then that means that it isn't deterministic. > > It is. Every part of it is determined exactly from input + rules, what isn't (from the point of view of the model) is the environment, that has been said *from the beginning of the discussion*. We don't model the environment, and we don't have to, since what we want is connect the model to the environment, we don't want to model the universe *but a brain* (in the though experiment)
> For example, a neuron may see see a concentration of dopamine > molecules that varies over a trillionfold range, but it has only two > responses: depolarise its membrane if the concentration is above a > certain threshold, don't if it isn't. The neuron does not know what > the dopamine concentration is going to be ahead of time, but it looks > at what it is and responds according to this algorithm. > > It has to be able to tell the difference between dopamine and every > other molecule in the body first. It's outrageously simplistic to say > that the neuron can only respond to this binary algorithm It's like > saying that we can respond to our environment by living or dying. > You are beating around the bush... You do straw man arguments all the times. "A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based *on misrepresentation of an opponent's position*" > > > > >> I think this is again a very basic > > >> misunderstanding that you have. A lighting circuit behaves completely > > >> deterministically, ON when the switch is down and OFF when the switch > > >> is up. The circuit doesn't know when someone is going to come along > > >> and flick the switch, but modelling the circuit does not involve > > >> modelling the entire universe. > > > > > No, it's a very basic misunderstanding that you have that a living > > > organism is the same thing as a light switch. > > > > Does a lighting circuit have to be programmed to know exactly when > someone is going to walk into the room in a year's time and flick the > switch? That's the sort of requirement you seem to have for a model of a > neuron. > > If light switches were like neurons, they would turn on whenever the > person who owned the house felt like opening their eyes. They would > not need to be programmed because they would already be telepathic. > > > > > >> If the components are deterministic then the system is deterministic, > > >> although it may show complex, surprising or chaotic behaviour. > > > > > That would make sense if we were still in the 19th century. In the > > > last 150 years a lot has changed though. Heisenberg? Goedel? This is > > > not some fringe idea that I came up with. > > > > > "We have seen that extremely simple dynamical > > > systems can behave in ways very much at odds with our > > > intuition about the deterministic nature of classical > > > physics," -http://www.jhuapl.edu/techdigest/td/td1604/Sommerer.pdf > > > > There are two considerations here. One is classical chaotic, or > non-linear, systems. These are deterministic but unpredictable. The brain is > probably such a system. The other consideration is true randomness, which > occurs in quantum level systems. Radioactive decay is an example of this. > (Actually, quantum mechanics is still deterministic under the Many Worlds > Interpretation, but it is truly random from the point of view of any > observer since they cannot know which world they will end up in). Truly > random systems can still be very predictable: we can be pretty sure how much > of a radioisotope will decay after a certain time. > > Agency of living organisms is clearly neither random not deterministic > unless you twist those words as to be meaningless. > > > > > >> Everything is ultimately just a dumb conduit. It's the combination of > > >> many dumb conduits that makes you smart. > > > > > Interesting double standard. You say that deterministic components > > > cannot scale up to anything except deterministic wholes, yet you also > > > say that many dumb conduits make you smart. To me it's clearly the > > > opposite. Dumb conduits make nothing but dumb conduits. A quadrillion > > > ping pong balls can make... nothing but ping pong balls. This means to > > > me that atoms are smarter than ideal spheres, and that intelligence > > > scales up into more complex, indeterminate intelligence. > > > > It's the complexity of interacting components that scales up to > intelligence. > > No, it's not true. All of the grains of sand on a beach and their > interactions are complex but they do not scale up to intelligence. > > > > > >> The visual cortex has projections to the temporal and parietal lobes > > >> but you don't need to know the details to know that there *must* be a > > >> connection if a person can describe what they see. > > > > > No. There is no connection, unless you are talking about a > > > philosophical connection. There is no direct transfer of > > > electrochemical signalling between the visual cortex and the larynx > > > which bypasses the brain. > > > > Of course it doesn't bypass the brain - the connection consists of the > neural connections in the brain. > > Did you think that I was arguing that the eyes and larynx are not > connected to the brain? > > > > > >> The depolarisation of neurons occurs deterministically, and the result > > >> of that is that you decide to move your arm. > > > > > Depolarization occurs deterministically or voluntarily, depending on > > > the situation. It is false that depolarization results in the decision > > > to move your arm. Depolarization would result in a reflex muscle > > > contraction where you do *not* decide to move your arm. If I decide to > > > move my arm, the experience of that decision *is* the depolarization > > > of the region of the brain associated with that voluntary process (not > > > the involuntary process). > > > > >> If it were the other way > > >> around it would appear as magic. > > > > > You keep saying it would appear as magic, but it appears only as > > > ordinary voluntary movement. > > > > >> Indeed, there are the famous > > >> experiments of Benjamin Libet which showed that first you move your > > >> arm, then decide to move your arm. In other words, free will may not > > >> even be concurrent with action, but rather follow retrospectively. > > > > > The observations of those experiments are that subjects responding to > > > repeating stimulus show brain activity indicating which response they > > > will choose well before they report that they are deciding to make > > > that decision. The interpretation that the brain activity precedes the > > > decision is premature, and even they do not go so far as to suggest > > > that conclusion. Such an obviously nonsensical conclusion would be a > > > last resort when all other possibilities have been exhausted. > > > > > I think that all the experiment shows is that human consciousness is > > > not a monolithic entity, but rather an awareness of awarenesses. There > > > is nothing to say that the very earliest activity in the brain is not > > > a sentient decision making event. There is also nothing to say that > > > the subject is not anticipating the routine of responding to repeated > > > calls to choose. If I was sitting in a chair choosing A or B over and > > > over, I would pick up on the pattern and begin to subconsciously > > > anticipate my next choice, probably even before the next stimulus. > > > > > At best the experiment shows that it takes a while for the free will > > > of the 'sub-selves' which make up our conscious awareness to be > > > reflected in other areas of the brain which know that they know that > > > they have made a decision and still longer for the reporting/ > > > acknowledgement process to be initiated. > > > > Even if the experiments have been misinterpreted, the fact remains that > free will *could* work that way. There is nothing in our experience which > suggests that it could not. > > It could work that way theoretically, but why would it. How and why > could a completely superfluous feeling of something like that come > into being? There is no justification for it. It's would be like a cat > growing an imaginary banana tree to attract fish. > > > > > >> Where does this description of the mechanism of quorum sensing in > > >> bacteria from Wikipedia go wrong in your view: > > > > >> "Bacteria that use quorum sensing constantly produce and secrete > > >> certain signaling molecules (called autoinducers or pheromones). These > > >> bacteria also have a receptor that can specifically detect the > > >> signaling molecule (inducer). When the inducer binds the receptor, it > > >> activates transcription of certain genes, including those for inducer > > >> synthesis. There is a low likelihood of a bacterium detecting its own > > >> secreted inducer. Thus, in order for gene transcription to be > > >> activated, the cell must encounter signaling molecules secreted by > > >> other cells in its environment. When only a few other bacteria of the > > >> same kind are in the vicinity, diffusion reduces the concentration of > > >> the inducer in the surrounding medium to almost zero, so the bacteria > > >> produce little inducer. However, as the population grows, the > > >> concentration of the inducer passes a threshold, causing more inducer > > >> to be synthesized. This forms a positive feedback loop, and the > > >> receptor becomes fully activated. Activation of the receptor induces > > >> the up-regulation of other specific genes, causing all of the cells to > > >> begin transcription at approximately the same time. This coordinated > > >> behavior of bacterial cells can be useful in a variety of situations. > > >> For instance, the bioluminescent luciferase produced by V. fischeri > > >> would not be visible if it were produced by a single cell. By using > > >> quorum sensing to limit the production of luciferase to situations > > >> when cell populations are large, V. fischeri cells are able to avoid > > >> wasting energy on the production of useless product." > > > > > It seems ok to me as a third person description: > > > > > "These bacteria also have a receptor that can specifically detect the > > > signaling molecule (inducer)." > > > > > Sense. The bacteria secrete an 'odor' let's say. They can tell the > > > difference between their own odor and others, they can tell how > > > intense the odor is, and they know that when the odor gets intense > > > enough, then something is going to happen. > > > > > "Activation of the receptor induces the up-regulation of other > > > specific genes, causing all of the cells to begin transcription at > > > approximately the same time. This coordinated behavior of bacterial > > > cells can be useful in a variety of situations." > > > > > Motive. When the conditions are right, all of the cells feel it and > > > begin modifying their own genetic transcription together as a group. > > > > These are all mechanistic processes which can be easily modelled > computationally. If you don't agree then what sort of behaviour would count > as mechanistic from bacteria? > > The behavior which can be observed third person is mechanistic, but > not as mechanistic as that of more primitive inorganic structures. > With living organisms we can always be surprised by their behavior. > They mutate, they learn, they adapt. Bacteria didn't just appear with > quorum sensing abilities - they discovered it on their own, developed > it socially. If bacteria were truly mechanistic then there would only > be a handful of fixed species of bacterial, like elements on the > periodic table. > > > > > >> If high level non-computable, non-deterministic, non-physical > > >> processes act on matter then as I have said many times there should be > > >> direct laboratory evidence of this > > > > > There is. If you tell someone to imagine playing tennis, they can > > > induce specific behaviors in the brain if they choose to comply. > > > > Which is consistent with standard neuroscience theories, or they would > have been dropped long ago. > > I know. That's what I keep telling you. My view is consistent with > neurological observation. Your claim that high level processes cannot > act on matter is not supported by any observation at all. It's just > pseudoskepticism. > > > > > >> , such as a neuron depolarising its > > >> membrane contrary to the well-understood and deterministic factors > > >> known to be behind depolarisation. > > > > > You keep going back to this caricature of biology. There are ranges of > > > conditions within which depolarization can take place, but those > > > conditions are met with proper nutrition and comfortable operating > > > environment. Spontaneous neural activity is spontaneous > > > depolarization. There is no well-understood deterministic factor > > > involved, and more than an analysis of traffic can be reduced to > > > deterministic factors of traffic signals. No, voluntary choice does > > > not mean the cars are going against the light, it just means that the > > > voluntary choices are the lights themselves. You cannot deny that > > > neurons (and other cells and organisms) respond to their environment. > > > How does the environment cause changes to the well-understood and > > > deterministic factors that cite? How does a picture of a bunny rabbit > > > change polarization factors in the brain, but deciding to move your > > > arm does not? > > > > Just where do you get the idea that "spontaneous neural activity" means > spontaneous depolarisation? I have tried to explain several times how > depolarisation occurs and your answer on one occasion was that you can read > Wikipedia as well. Apparently, you cannot understand a basic account of how > neurons work, or you would not make these statements. > > I'm not interested in your accusations. If you want to correct me, > just show me some reasonably reliable information that explains that > spontaneous neural activity is not action potentials (caused by > depolarization, voltage change, etc). Otherwise I will assume that you > know you are bullying me and have no legitimate case. > > > > > >> If neurons always follow physical > > >> laws then they only behave deterministically, and hence the whole > > >> brain behaves deterministically, even if chaotically and > > >> unpredictably. > > > > > Logical fallacy. Neurons follow physical laws, but they also follow > > > biological agendas. Please explain to me how it is that salmon are > > > able to swim upstream to spawn? Are they magic? Do they defy gravity? > > > Do the laws of physics change when they spawn? How is it that one > > > species of fish does something different like that compared to other > > > fish if they are both made of the same deterministic physical > > > behaviors? In what way is the salmon's behavior deterministic? > > > > Which part of the salmon's behaviour do you not understand? Do you think > swimming upstream is impossible without a special vital spark or do you > think it would be impossible to program a computer with a motivation to swim > upstream? > > No, I'm asking you the question. You are the one who says everything > is determined by the laws of physics, so kindly tell me what special > license salmon have over flounder. The salmon's behavior makes perfect > sense to me. It understands it's environment and is part of a > tradition of sensory experience and motive strategy which is > idiosyncratic to the salmon's ancestors. > > > > > >> If you feel life is pointless because it is the way it is whose fault > is that? > > > > > Who said anything about life being pointless? Life has countless > > > meanings. Why won't you answer my question though? You claim that > > > everything is either determined or random. So I ask you again...are > > > your responses to this comment determined or are they random? > > > > For what it's worth I think that quantum level events in the brain add a > degree of randomness to what is otherwise a deterministic process. To what > extent the randomness is important is not clear. > > Why is it so hard to conceive that the very process you are using to > form words are something other than random or deterministic? What is > this terror of intentionality - it's blind superstition to me. "Will > *must* not exist!" > > What if it just does? Just as much as charge or spin or randomness or > causality. Some things in the universe do what they want. > > > > > >> A scientist will always try to come up with hypotheses which he tests > > >> by experiment. Have you ever studied science at University level or > > >> spent any time with scientists? > > > > > Sure I have. Psychology, Anthropology, Biology, Physics. I took a > > > class called Human Consciousness once actually. Actually I am > > > collaborating with a neuroscientist currently. His specialty is > > > perception and he seems quite supportive of my ideas. We are > > > definitely on the same page as far as perception is concerned. > > > > > How about you? Have you studied biology, neurology, psychology, and > > > consciousness in college? > > > > I have a medical degree and I have done some basic research in cell > biology and molecular biology, though that was long ago. Currently I only do > clinical work. > > I'm surprised, you seem more focused on physics and logic. Anyways, > gotta go. Might not be around here for a week or so. Vacation time. > Sorry if I get snarled up on your views. Good practice I guess. > > Craig > > -- > You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups > "Everything List" group. > To post to this group, send email to email@example.com. > To unsubscribe from this group, send email to > everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. > For more options, visit this group at > http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en. > > -- All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. -- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group. To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To unsubscribe from this group, send email to everything-list+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/everything-list?hl=en.