[] On Behalf Of Stathis Papaioannou
Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 8:04 AM
Subject: Losing Control


On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 3:51 AM, Craig Weinberg <
<javascript:;> > wrote:

>> If a person is put through a mincer the atoms are all still there, but
>> in a different arrangement. The way the atoms are arranged is
>> important for life and consciousness.
> Sure. If the wrong atoms were replaced in the right arrangement the person
> could still have the same shaped body but they would be dead. That's
> the point though. The composition and arrangement of atoms are both
> important for life and consciousness, but nowhere near as important as the
> priori possibility of life and consciousness in the universe. Yes,
> particular private experiences correspond to particular public machines,
> that does not mean that public machines are themselves anything more than
> experience. Unexperienced machines however, are indistinguishable from
> nothingness so that does not seem like a plausible source for experience.


That an environment supports living systems is certainly more important that

living systems that occur; without the former the latter does not exist.


So, what are the necessary and sufficient characters of an environment that

should consequently support living systems?


If the right atoms are placed in the right configuration then life or
consciousness occurs. Your theory does not really add anything: what would
it look like if the atoms or the configuration or the universe lack the
essential ingredient you claim but had every other physical property
unchanged? The person would function identically by any test but you would
claim he is not only not conscious but also not living? How would you decide
this and how do you know that the people around you haven't been replaced
with these unfortunate creatures?

>> Do you think that it is possible to organise the same matter in the
>> same configuration as an X and not get something that behaves as an X?
>> Could you give an example of such an experiment to make this clear?
> Until we create a living organism from scratch, we have no reason to
> that any cell can be created externally just by expected chemical means.
> may not work that way.

I'm not proposing a technology, I'm proposing that as a thought experiment
the atoms are configured in the form of a cell. You have said that atoms in
cells follow the laws of physics, so the atoms in this artificial cell,
being the same type in the same configuration, would follow the same laws of
physics and behave in a similar manner. Unless there is some essential
non-physical ingredient which is missing how could it be otherwise?

> If you built a city that is materially identical to Rome of 100AD, it will
> not behave as Rome of 400AD. If you put modern people who are genetically
> identical to the population of Rome in 100AD, that city will not replay
> role in the history of the world.

Rome itself would not have played the same role if a dust mote had got into
Julius Caesar's eye, so obviously a copy of Rome would not play out the same
role. You can't hold the copy to higher standards than the original.

> Two identical cars come off the assembly line, yet they cannot drive to
> same exact places at the same exact time.
> If you start seeing the universe as a directly experienced process rather
> than fixed bodies in space, you might begin to see how forms and functions
> can only be subordinate to that which appreciates them.

But if I buy a particular model of car I don't want it to drive to the same
place as the prototype, I want it to have the same power, fuel efficiency,
steering etc. as the prototype. That is also what would be required of a
copy of a person: not that he live out exactly the same life, but that he
respond to similar situations in the same way as the original. As with the
car, you don't need an exhaustive list of all the situations the person will
encounter in order to program this in.

>> We are tied to a particular type of matter but all the matter is all
>> made of the same subatomic particles and it doesn't matter which
>> supernova the atoms were formed in. That is, the matter's history is
>> of no significance whatsoever. The only thing of significance is the
>> matter's type and configuration.
> Yet we are all made of the same nucleic acids, proteins, etc but our
> personal history is of tremendous significance. How do you explain this
> discrepancy?

It's not a discrepancy. Even people who are genetically identical, or
machines which are physically identical from the factory, end up different
due to different personal histories. What is of no significance whatsoever
is the history of the matter that went into the construction of the person
or machine.

>> Consciousness is not detectable, only the physical processes
>> associated with consciousness are detectable.
> If I say move your arm, and you move it, then consciousness has been
> detected every bit as much as the arm's movement has been detected.

No it hasn't, because you can be sure I've moved my arm but you can't see
the associated consciousness no matter how much you examine me. If a machine
moves its arm when you ask it to you assume it isn't conscious but in this
case also you can't be sure.

>> If the door opens due to
>> the physical processes associated with consciousness no-one is
>> surprised, because the normal causal chain is obvious. But if the door
>> opens due to consciousness directly, that appears as magic, since
>> consciousness is not directly detectable.
> The door isn't part of what you can directly control, but so what? You can
> directly control your own brain to control your efferent nerves to control
> your muscles to control your hand to control the door.

But the brain is full of little doors, none of which open without being
pushed. Can you point to the specific brain component that does move without
being pushed or following its own mindless internal dynamics?

>> Psychedelics directly affect neurotransmission and glial cells affect
>> multiple aspects of neural function. How are these indicators of
>> "absent physical activity"? And the NDE is not reported while the
>> brain is dormant but only when it has woken up.
> It isn't the fact that psychedelics affect the brain that is odd, it is
> the effect is the opposite one of what we should expect from a substance
> associated with floridly saturated conscious experiences. There is an
> overall inversely proportionate level of brain activity relative to the
> intensity of the experience. Tripping Out seems to be an appropriate
> metaphor to describe the experience of conscious activity withdrawing from
> the central regions of the brain.

The most intense level of brain activity occurs with epileptic fits, which
are associated with unconsciousness.

> Glial cells too are electromagnetically quiet compared to neurons. When
> increased the intelligence of mouse brains it was not because they were
> firing any kind of sophisticated coded patterns.

Glial cells modify the microenvironment of neurons and therefore affect

>> It's easy to imagine a person constructed by a computer if very
>> advanced scanning and molecular assembly technology were available.
> It's easy to imagine that being a complete failure also. Like
> there may be more to an organism's life than the right ingredients in the
> right configuration.


If there's something more to it than the right ingredients on the right
configuration then what is it? Why has no-one seen any evidence of it?

>> The computer would not even need to be very intelligent since it would
>> just be doing a repetitive task. I don't know if such a computer would
>> have a mind, but the person who was constructed would. Whether you
>> have a mind or not depends on your structure and function, not on who
>> made you.
> Aside from inferences by 20/20 hindsight, what makes you think that
> structure and function could make a mind? I can see how a structure would
> imply functions - ie the threads of a screw make sense in terms of the
> effect of the screw on a plank of wood. I can see also how a function
> apply to many forms - the screw principle could be found not just in steel
> parts but in everything from pig tails to the chirality of enzymes. What
> *nobody* can see however, is why any form, function, or combination
> should be accompanied by any kind of 'experience', nor why any form or
> function should generate each other ab initio. To me the only plausible
> answer is that experience is fundamental from which form and function are
> derived non-experience-like experiences.

You can call experience fundamental, but the fact remains that if you made
something with identical form and function this experience would also be
duplicated. You need to show some experimental evidence to the contrary if
you don't accept this.

>> >> No, the parts of the brain do not move unless pushed in a causal
>> >> chain.
>> >
>> >
>> > Semantic experience and voluntary will are part of the causal chain.
>> > They
>> > push the brain.
>> But semantic experience and voluntary will cannot be directly
>> detected.
> Sure they can. You mistake the use of the body's public interaction with
> material instruments for direct detection. That detection is indirect
> steps removed. The only direct detection that will ever be possible for us
> is that of our own experience and voluntary will. We are the detectors.
> Everything else is too stupid and clumsy to detect us - at least, our
> reduced view of everything else. From an absolute perspective, everything
> detects on some level.

You can't detect whether a machine has consciousness.

>> What can be detected is the neural correlates of these,
>> which are physical, and which cause other physical changes.
> I think you will see this view of physics vanish from the face of Earth
> eventually. There is nothing which is not physical. How could there be?

The fact remains that you have no test to determine if something is
conscious, or what sort of consciousness it has. You only know this about

>> and there would be
>> no point in scientific endeavour in that field. How does this threaten
>> the quality of human life?
> The quality of human life is threatened because faulty assumptions about
> consciousness and matter have inverted the priorities of our civilization.
> wrote about it a little in here:

I have to say, your writing style comes across better in social commentary.

> Physics is already nothing but a part of consciousness. Not human
> consciousness, but every low level kind of consciousness. Causality itself
> is not causally closed.
>> But in order to claim this you have to point to
>> some sort of anomalous experimental result, such as ion gates opening
>> and closing contrary to the known physical laws.
> This is the fallacy where you take the straw man you have made and make it
> guard the locked door which you have hung a sign on saying "your view can
> only be true if this straw man can open this door." Ion gates are
> consciousness. Opening and closing are consciousness. Physical laws are
> nested habits and agreements of consciousness.

But an ion gate can never, ever open unless in response to an appropriate
physical stimulus, such as a particular neurotransmitter or voltage. A
voltage difference can never, ever appear across a cell membrane unless
there is a difference between the anion and the cation concentration. There
can never, ever be a difference between the anion and cation concentration
unless the different entities move there through simple diffusion or through
selective ion channels. And so on for everything in the brain: a physical
explanation for how everything gets to where it gets. Do you agree with

>> You can then
>> speculate: maybe the neurons contain dark matter, and maybe this dark
>> matter has a previously unrecognised effect on normal matter, and
>> maybe if we observe these ion gates we will be able to deduce some of
>> the laws governing the behaviour of the dark matter... But the problem
>> is that no-one has ever observed anything in a neuron or any other
>> biological system doing something contrary to the chemistry which has
>> been mostly well-understood for a century.
> This has to be the 50th time that you have tried to put this toilet seat
> around my neck.  This page provides the answer to your misguided
> and I will refer you to it from now on.

I've read that and it doesn't address the problem. You claim that
consciousness or free will can cause "spontaneous" voltage changes and
depolarisation of cell membranes. This claim is NOT consistent with physics,
and the evidence you cite such as fMRI studies does NOT mean what you think
it means. Contact the authors of the papers if you don't believe me.

>> IF my brain were the same THEN my mental state would be the same.
> But your brain can't be the same. Nothing can every be "the same" as
> anything else.

Logically, it can. You need to understand the difference between logically
possible and physically possible. Travelling faster than the speed of light
is logically but not physically possible. Building a planet is both
logically and physically possible, though difficult. Building a round square
is neither physically nor logically possible.

>> The
>> validity of this statement in a philosophical discussion is not
>> diminished by the fact that it would be very difficult or impossible
>> (though it is not impossible) for my brain state to be the same.
> It is though, because I am stating specifically that it IS IMPOSSIBLE for
> anything in the universe to be "the same" as anything else, or even as
> itself at a different time. Time does not repeat, and all forms and
> functions supervene on time. Experience does not supervene on time, so it
> can generate equivalences which can be considered "the same".


I don't see why you say it is impossible. In an infinite universe it is not
only possible but certain that any subset of the universe will ecactly


>> So you're admitting that your claim that the brain can change without
>> any physical cause is false?
> That was never my claim.

Then you should state that every brain process happens due to a physical
cause, and list some of the physical causes to make it clear that this is
what you mean.

>> But I'm not saying it is *necessarily* the case that the
>> universe is causally closed. If the joke directly causes the brain to
>> change then the universe would not be causally closed, and we would
>> find evidence for this. But we do not.
> If you only look through a microscope, you are only going to find
> microscopic evidence. My view iis that half of the physics in the universe
> can only be detected privately. You really don't see, to be getting this
> even 1%, no matter how many times I explain it. Maybe that's not your
> but I can tell you that you are wasting your time if you are trying to get
> me to somehow forget that I have heard your argument hundreds of times
> already and understood it completely.

So physics is missing something, but this something is not evident in any

>> And if the hardware is complex enough as in the case of the brain it
>> creates its own user who sees meaning in it.
> That's begging the question, and it really makes no sense. You are
> suggesting that a program turns itself into a TV screen and a camera to
> at the data it already has in a form that it cannot possibly invent. Try
> you might, there is no plausible mechanism or justification for any
> 'complexity' to create any kind of experience or sensed form.

And when you argue including the assumption a computer can't have
consciousness that isn't begging the question?

> This is why the computer can't be alive. We do directly cause changes in
> charge of our own neurons. 


Not unless you mean that the causal chain responsible for the charge shifts
in neurons is "us".


> Supervene only in a physical way. A bullet can stop someone from thinking,
> but a thought can stop a bullet from being fired. If you understand that
> your view of the universe is not the same as the universes view of your
> universe, then you might see that this presumption of total subservience
> false. If you shut your eyes to the evidence of your own experience, then
> is no surprise that you can't find yourself in the universe that remains.

A thought can stop a bullet from being fired but this does not mean what you
seem to think it means. A thought is the product of the brain following
absolutely rigid physical rules.

>> A voluntary action is an action that you decide to do and an
>> involuntary action is one that you do not decide to do.
> Circular definition. Deciding is already a voluntary action.

The essential thing is that you have the experience of making a decision if
the action is voluntary. If you don't have this experience it isn't

>> The decision
>> to do something is due to brain processes which are either determined
>> or random.
> Then how does your "you decide to do" take place? It makes much more sense
> to say that brain processes can be intentional as well.

Intentional is consistent with determined or random. It is not consistent
with neither determined nor random, since that is logically impossible.

>> If determined then I was always going to make that decision
>> even though I was unaware of what the decision was going to be until I
>> made it,
> Why would making the decision entail any awareness of it if it was
> determined already?

Because even though it was determined already the decision wasn't made until
it was made. If I'm definitely going to go to China I still have to actually
get there in order to see China.

Stathis Papaioannou

Stathis Papaioannou

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