On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 4:47 PM, acw <a...@lavabit.com> wrote:
> On 2/24/2012 20:51, Terren Suydam wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 3:30 PM, Terren Suydam<terren.suy...@gmail.com>
>>  wrote:
>>> On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 2:27 PM, meekerdb<meeke...@verizon.net>  wrote:
>>>> On 2/24/2012 10:26 AM, Terren Suydam wrote:
>>>> I certainly will. In the meantime, do you have an example from Damasio
>>>> (or any other source) that could shed light on the pain/pleasure
>>>> phenomenon?
>>>> Terren
>>>> http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/damasioreview.html
>>> I think emotions represent something above and beyond the more
>>> fundamental feelings of pleasure and pain. Fear, for example, is
>>> explainable using Damasio's framework as such, and I can translate it
>>> to the way I am asking the question as above:
>>> Question: What kind of organization arose during the evolutionary
>>> process that led directly to the subjective experience of fear?
>>> Answer: A cognitive architecture in which internal body states are
>>> modeled and integrated using the same representational apparatus that
>>> models the external world, so that one's adaptive responses
>>> (fight/flight/freeze) to threatening stimuli become integrated into
>>> the organism's cognitive state of affairs.  In short, fear is what it
>>> feels like to have a fear response (as manifest in the body by various
>>> hormonal responses) to some real or imagined stimuli.
> Yes, that seems to be mostly it, but it's subtler than that. Those internal
> states that we have also include expectations and emotional memories - it
> can lead to the memory recall of various past sensations and experiences.
> Certain internal states will make certain behaviors more likely and certain
> thoughts (other internal states) more likely. We cannot communicate the
> exact nature of what internal states actually are - the qualia, but beyond a
> certain point we cannot say anything more than that we have them and us
> having them will usually correspond to some internal states in our instance
> of a cognitive architecture.
>>> You can substitute any emotion for fear, so long as you can identify
>>> the way that emotion manifests in the body/brain in terms of hormonal
>>> or other mechanisms. But when it comes to pain and pleasure, I don't
>>> think that it is necessary to have such an advanced cognitive
>>> architecture, I think. So on a more fundamental level, the question
>>> remains:
>>> What kind of organization arose during the evolutionary process that
>>> led directly to the subjective experience of pain and pleasure?
> That's a very interesting question. Pain and fear means aversion towards
> certain stimuli - that is, reducing the frequency that some stimuli will be
> experienced, which can lead to increased survivability. Pain is
> unfortunately a bit more complicated than that, it leads not only to future
> aversion, but involuntary action-taking - forcing an immediate quick
> response, which may not be backed by conscious thought. It can be seen as
> unpleasant, because it combines the memory of constantly being forced to
> have to take involuntary actions and the actions being aversive. Such
> involuntary actions can also be seen as a huge change in attention
> (allocation) - one becomes much less capable of consciously directing their
> attention.

All of that makes sense, but pain is more than unpleasant. Pain can be
blindingly horrible... ask any migraine sufferer. What accounts for
the intensity of such experiences? I'm asking this in terms of "how",
not "why". How does it get to be so intense.

> Pleasure is similar, but in reverse - it makes certain actions more likely
> to be performed, possibly even leading to some feedback loops. However, it
> seems that in humans, pleasure and compulsion have similar and almost
> parallel circuits, but are not identical. Pleasure may also have calming
> effects by reducing responses/actions instantly, the opposite of pain, while
> also making it more likely that actions that caused pleasure to be performed
> again - which is a bit similar to compulsion. In a nutshell, they correspond
> to mechanisms which lead to certain actions being more or less likely, and
> this eventually leads to complex goals and behavior - I'd say that's a huge
> reason for pain/pleasure responses to have evolved.

I have the same issue with this description of pleasure. What accounts
for the intensity of peak pleasure experiences?

>>> Or put another way, what kind of mechanism feels pleasurable or
>>> painful from the inside?
> The notion of feeling is more complicated because it involves memories and
> complex feedback loops.
>>> Presumably the answer to this question occurred earlier in the
>>> evolutionary process than the emergence of fear, surprise, hunger, and
>>> so on.
> I like these articles/videos on how AGIs may get emergent emotions from
> simple basic drives:
> http://agi-school.org/2009/dr-joscha-bach-understanding-motivation-emotion-and-mental-representation
> http://agi-school.org/2009/dr-joscha-bach-understanding-motivation-emotion-and-mental-representation-2
> http://agi-school.org/2009/dr-joscha-bach-the-micropsi-architecture
> http://www.cognitive-ai.com/

Thanks for the references, I hope for a little more time to read/watch
them some time. :-]

>>> Terren
>> To go a little further with this, take sexual orgasm. What is
>> happening during orgasm that makes it so pleasurable?
> My guess is that it's a fairly complex emotional and somatic response that
> could get broken down into simpler parts. You could ask the same question
> differently: what makes some music good? what makes some food delicious?
> what makes a picture beautiful? The answers to those questions depend
> heavily on the person and are probably not easy at all due to their sheer
> complexity.

I chose orgasm because of the simplicity of its conception in terms of
evolution and adaptation. In other words, it seems possible that any
animal that reproduces might experience pleasure in the act of doing
so... in some theory of mechanistic pleasure yet to be articulated.

> I wonder if we could one day develop implants or software which would let us
> break down our feelings/qualia into simpler parts so we could better
> understand what they're made of and what they're caused by. Greg Egan wrote
> a short SF novelette about this idea:
> http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/tap.htm
>> Presumably there are special circuits in the brain that get activated,
>> which correlate to the flush of orgasmic pleasure. But what is special
>> about those circuits?  From a 3p perspective, how is one brain circuit
>> differentiated from another?  It can't be as simple as the
>> neurotransmitters involved; what would make one neurotransmitter be
>> causative of pain and another of pleasure?  It's shape?  That seems
>> absurd.
> If we could represent our cognitive architecture abstractly and be able to
> decode our memories, responses, expectations, ... Such questions might be
> partially answerable. However, that would only be partially explainable -
> you won't be able to explain the color red appearing in your visual field
> except in relation to other colors and how they're recognized by your visual
> cortex - the non-communicable parts of what "red" is will likely remain
> forever incommunicable (except where images/data can be shared, but then how
> can you know my red is exactly the same as your red, besides its relative
> nature? I can't even know if my red doesn't change all the time and I'm
> incapable of knowing. )

I don't have an issue with neutral "content of qualia" experiences per
se. I mean, for qualia like color I am completely OK with mapping that
to the correlative 3p mechanism involved with processing retinal
input, broken down by differing wavelengths. There's a leap there, for
sure, but it's one that is easy to make - one you must make assuming

>> It seems that the consequence of that neural circuit firing would have
>> to achieve some kind of systemic effect that is characterized... how?
> There would likely be many changes throughout the entire cognitive
> architecture instance - changes in attention allocation, memories triggered
> and so on.

Those are after-the-fact effects... or are you saying that those are
the kinds of mechanisms you could point to that "feel pleasurable"
from the inside?

>> Pain is just as mysterious. It's not as simple as "what it feels like
>> for a system to become damaged". Phantom limbs, for example, are often
>> excruciatingly painful. Pain is clearly in the mind. What cognitive
>> mechanism could you characterize as feeling painful from the inside?
> Watch the videos I linked, the author goes into great detail about such
> emotions and how they emerge. Another interesting (and compatible) view is
> that of the neocortex as a pattern predictor, you can find it in Hawkins'
> "On Intelligence".

I think emotions are more complex than pain and pleasure. The real
question for me is what is the source of the "valence" of pain and
pleasure, and what accounts for it in mechanistic terms?

>> Failure to account for this in mechanistic terms, for me, is a direct
>> threat to the legitimacy of mechanism.
> You can account for all the behavior, but it will be hard to account for
> specific instances of qualia - those become indescribable past a certain
> point, so much that even we can't say more about them except that we have
> them and they are different and related in this and that way.

Again, I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible. For instance, do
you believe that there's a class of animals that do not have emotions
as we are discussing them, but still can perceive pain or pleasure?
This seems very likely to me that there is such a category of animal.
If so, how would you characterize it's cognitive architecture, as
distinct from the animals above it that can experience emotion, and
the animals below it, that can't feel pain/pleasure?


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