On Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 5:04 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> I find it difficult to understand how you could be thinking about
>> these things. If I put atoms in the configuration of a duck but as you
>> claim I don't get a duck, I must have missed something out.
> Because a duck's life is made of the lives of billions of duck cells, and it
> is a fragment of the lives of all ducks. You are looking along the wrong
> axis if you want to understand consciousness and feeling - it longitudinal
> through time, not latitudinal across space. You are expecting any set of
> atoms to have access to the emergent properties of all of biology, but that
> is not necessarily the case at all. An experience can't be built out of
> unconscious Legos, even if they are moving in some complex configuration. If
> they could, don't you think that we might see some organism evolved to
> exploit that? Wouldn't it be an obvious survival advantage for an organism
> to carve it's genetic instructions into the sea floor where any future
> creature could be impregnated just be scanning a their gastropod over a
> rock?

Organisms do exploit the ability to repair and build parts, including
brain parts, from inanimate components, since that is a large part of
what metabolism involves. It took billions of years to evolve this
mechanism. Other mechanisms that might have been useful, such as
rifles to kill predators or prey from a distance, did not evolve.
However, intelligent creatures evolved with the ability to make tools
to do this. Intelligent creatures have also recently started making
tools that synthesise the components of life, such as an arbitrary
nucleotide or peptide sequence.

> It doesn't work that way at all though, does it? Biology only ever uses
> biological vehicles to carry its instruction set - literal pieces of itself
> as a physically present zygote - no 'information', 'configurations', of
> generic atoms seem to be capable of coming to life or gaining consciousness
> ab initio.

Biological vehicles are machines that create replacement parts and
copies of themselves. You are begging the question if you say they are

>> For if I
>> didn't miss anything anything out it would be a duck, right?
> No, I don't think it would in reality. I understand exactly why in theory
> most people think that it obviously would, but if I'm right about the
> relation of life, consciousness, and matter, trying to build a living
> organism from scratch with atoms will likely fail. The molecules need to
> have been parts of a living cell, in the same way that you can't turn an
> Amazon tribesman into a civil engineer without having some contact with
> someone who has participated in Western civilization. There has to be a
> willing integration of sense and motive.

If you tell an Amazon tribesman that you are going to put matter
together in the exact form of a jaguar he may well say that you will
get a jaguar, but a tribesman from a neighbouring tribe may say no,
because it will lack the jaguar spirit. You would go with the second

>> So
>> perhaps the atoms in the duck I made lack the capacity of awareness.
> No, all atoms have the capacity for awareness...they *are* the capacity of
> awareness on the atomic scale. On the human level they appear atomic but
> natively there is only experience. The question if not whether atoms have
> awareness or not is a Red Herring and a straw man. The better question is
> why can't all atoms generate animal quality experiences. The answer to that,
> I think, is that it is the quality of the experience which drives the
> appropriate reflection as a public form. The cell is the footprint of the
> cellular experience through time. The animal body is the corresponding home
> for the animal experience.

Didn't you agree at one point that all atoms of a certain kind are identical?

> Just as these words are the home of my intent to communicate, their
> arrangement is composed directly by my intention (filtered through the
> typos, errors, and constraints of language, grammar, keyboards and fingers,
> brain, etc). These words are not appearing as letters on the screen as a
> result of some biochemical process that happens to enjoy generating letters.
> There is a whole elaborate network and history of inventions which have been
> intentionally designed by people for this very purpose of expressing ideas.
> The words and letters aren't just inert vehicles, they reflect sense back to
> us in a different way - as the other..and that's what you are mistaking for
> consciousness, IMO.

You're answering a different question to the one I posed. Not only is
it common sense, it is also an empirical fact in biology that if you
put the same matter in the same configuration you get something that
functions identically, regardless of the history of the matter, and
regardless of how it is put together. For example, artificial peptides
function the same as natural peptides. Given that their synthesis is
completely different, wouldn't you expect a difference in function?

>> How could I tell
>> the difference between life-affirming atoms and other atoms? Why is
>> there no difference in activity between natural and synthetic peptides
>> such as insulin when used medically if the synthetic one lacks
>> something?
> An organism can make use of substances which are not organisms. That doesn't
> mean that an organism will emerge from synthetic substances alone. What
> about viruses which are weakened or inactivated for vaccines? How can our
> immune systems create antibodies for one configuration of molecular machine
> which is harmless that are effective for the full strength live virus?

The dead virus has the same surface proteins, and it is to these that
the immune response is directed. You can also create an immune
response using artificial vaccines that had nothing to do with the
actual virus but were derived from analysing the amino acid sequence
of the virus. Thus, an immune response against a virus the organism
has never seen in either live or dead form can be created using just
the information from the virus.

>> You make detailed pronouncements about "sense"  and "intention" but
>> you fail to propose obvious experimental tests for your ideas. A
>> scientist tries to test his hypothesis by thinking of ways to falsify
>> it.
> I came to the notion of sense and intention by familiarity with science to
> begin with. I put together the idea of afferent and efferent nerves with the
> physiology of the brain stem. As Damasio points out this video
> (http://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_damasio_the_quest_to_understand_consciousness.html)
> damage to the upper part of the brain stem results in a coma, where no sense
> is consciously received, but damage to the lower part of the brain stem
> results in fully conscious paralysis - sense is present but motor effects
> are absent.
> As far as falsifying it, I wouldn't know where to begin. The reason why I'm
> suggesting a completely new understanding of the universe in the first place
> is because I can't find anything wrong with it. The more that I have talked
> to other, the more that I see that they can't find anything wrong with it
> either, but that they would never admit it if their life depended on it.

Falsifiability does not mean that a theory is wrong, it means that it
is a valid scientific theory rather than religious faith. The theory
makes predictions, the predictions are tested, if they are right this
strengthens the theory, if not this weakens the theory. A prediction
you might make, for example, is that an animal will not produce an
appropriate immune response to an artificial protein since the
artificial protein is not the same as the protein on the live or once
live virus. But experiment shows this to be false. What does this
indicate to you? It's consistent with the idea that organisms are just
machines, but you may have to adjust your theory to account for it.
Too many failed predictions and adjustments and you have to consider
dropping the theory.

>> A zombie is an entity that passes the Turing test but is not
>> conscious. So I ask you again, how can you be sure that people other
>> than you are not zombies?
> In my example of the interactive video + human conspirators, I have shown
> exactly how an audience can be finessed to give an inanimate object the
> benefit of the doubt on par with a high Turing score.

So you *do* believe in zombies. So I ask you again, how do you know
that other people are not inanimate objects which are fooling their

>> Which means you must have left something out in making the cell the
>> way you did, which brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to
>> verify this.
> No, you assume an ingredient where there is none. If someone goes to France
> for a month and their identical twin does not, there is no Franceness which
> could be transplanted from the first twin to the second twin. The first
> twin's clothes would undoubtedly contain fibers and dust which could be
> forensically identified as being from that part of the world, but spraying
> the second twin's clothes with that same dust, or meticulously placing it in
> the same places on an identical jacket would not cause the second twin to
> have spontaneously visited France.

What you have left out when you make the cell, obviously, is the
history of the biological cell. But this is the question being asked:
does the history have any effect on the cell, so that the artificial
cell does not work the same as the natural cell? If so, then the
history must impart some essential ingredient which the artificial
cell lacks. If not, then despite their different histories the cells
will behave identically.

> Let's say you could know everything about a brain and do anything to a brain
> that you wanted to. You take all of the changes in Twin One's brain and
> adapt them to find an equivalent expression in Twin Two's brain... Does Twin
> Two now have a memory of being Twin One in France, or of being themselves in
> France. What about the memories which took place during that month and all
> of the memories of memories, associations, and repercussions of what
> happened during that time?

If you put Twin Two's brain in the configuration of Twin One's brain
then Twin Two will have exactly the same memories as Twin One. In a
sense this happens to Twin One naturally. Over the course of months
the matter in his body is replaced so that you could say Twin One did
not really go to France. However, the information is still encoded in
his brain (since information is not dependent on a particular lump of
matter) so that he has the memories of going to France and honestly
believes he has gone to France.

>> But you're not saying the cell won't work because an error has been
>> made, you're saying it won't work because it's artificial. Which
>> brings to mind a whole lot of experimental tests to verify this.
> No, I'm saying it won't work because it doesn't represent the right quality
> of experience. Tofu isn't turkey. Not because tofu is artificial turkey, but
> because one a cake of fermented soy and the other is a cooked bird.

But carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen etc. atoms configured as a
roast turkey will be indistinguishable from the traditional form of
roast turkey. If you found a cheap way to do this you could put turkey
farmers out of business.

> What I am saying is that atoms have no capacity to make living cells on
> their own. It is the intentions of higher quality experiences which are
> represented as living cells. Molecules make atoms as much as atoms make
> molecules, and cells make molecules as much as molecules make cells. The
> universe is multivalent, multi-level, and mutli-directional, but the
> unexpected part is that if you choose any particular level or direction to
> base your model of it from, it will appear to disqualify the others...that's
> because we are not a voyeur looking at the universe from a distance, but
> rather embedded participants whose sanity itself supervenes on expectations
> and bias.

What I am saying is that living cells are just a mechanism to put the
right atoms in the right configuration. If it can be done differently
the end result will be the same. This is consistent with all the
empirical evidence.

>> If you disagree
>> with this a whole lot of experiments come to mind to verify your
>> hypothesis, so perhaps you could suggest some.
> If you can think of an experiment which doesn't inherently validate the
> prejudice of the experimenter, I'm all ears.

A simple experiment is to introduce an artificial substance into an
organism, a protein or other large molecule, and see what happens.
Your prediction could be that there would be some change or deficit in
function, and this should be observable.

>> No, my consciousness is not obvious. An alien scientist could give a
>> complete account of why my arm moved in mechanistic terms without
>> having a clue as to whether I am conscious or not.
> Why are you asking the alien what is obvious about your own experience of
> yourself? You really cannot seem to conceive of the universe other than a
> collection of objects. What if you lost the ability to see or feel your body
> for the rest of your life? What would the universe be for you?

Because I know I am conscious. I am arguing that this consciousness
does not directly impinge on the physics of my body. If it did, then
the alien scientist would be able to find evidence of it.
Consciousness would not be private, and we could examine any object or
system to determine empirically if it is conscious, rather than guess
by analogy with our own experience, which is currently what we have to
go on. You could apply this test to machines and everyone would have
to concede that you are right.

>> If I jump up and
>> down and insist I am conscious he will be able to explain that also in
>> mechanistic terms. Just as you say the computer passing the Turing
>> test is no indication it is conscious, so the alien scientist can say
>> of you passing the Turing test he puts you through.
> Of course, but why is your own authority not sufficient to validate your own
> consciousness in your own estimation?

It is of course enough to validate my own consciousness in my own
estimation, but the question is how to convince the alien; or how the
alien could convince me that it is conscious.

>> The bear causes visual, auditory, perhaps olfactory stimuli which then
>> result in a series of neural events. How else could it possibly
>> happen?
> How does that jibe with "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."?
> If the sound of my voice can cause a neurological response just like the
> sound of a bear does, then why wouldn't the sound of my voice cause
> neurological responses in myself? If the sound can do that, then why can't
> the electrical activity which causes my larynx to make that sound also make
> some part of my brain secrete a hormone? Voila, the speaker of words which
> cause neural reactions in others has become the thinker of thoughts which
> cause neural reactions in herself.

I'm not sure what exactly you're saying but if you make a bear sound
to yourself it's not the same as convincingly pretending to be a bear
to someone else, since you know you are pretending. But if you were
badly demented, perhaps you could scare yourself with a bear sound.
That is "causing a neural reaction in yourself" but this does not mean
what you seem to think it means. A self-driving car primed to stop
when it sees a red light could be confused if it sees a reflection of
its own braking lights; is that evidence that the car "causes an
electromechanical reaction in itself"? Yes, you could say it is - but
I doubt that you think that is anything special.

>> So please explain limiting yourself for clarity to a single protein in
>> the brain: how does it change its shape without being pushed by the
>> mechanistic stimuli painstakingly worked out by biochemists?
> The same way we move our bodies. They twist themselves in response to their
> environment. Or it could be that it is the cell which is orchestrating the
> entire movement from above, like a cymatic resonator. Probably a bit of
> both.

The protein will twist itself in response to its environment.
Environmental stimuli include temperature, pH, ionic concentration,
electric fields due to transmembrane voltage differences, and binding
of ligands. If there are other factors they will be discoverable by
experiment, even if currently unknown. Each of these causal factors in
turn will have other physical factors causing them.

>> No papers rule it out - it is in fact possible, as I have taken pains
>> to explain. It's just that there is no evidence for it. The papers you
>> cite do not show what you think they show.
> I think that the papers I cite show what you think they don't show. Beyond
> that it's just not plausible to me that even though all of civilization has
> been an intentional struggle against entropy and nature, somehow we have
> been simply floating passively in the breeze of biochemistry the whole time.

You haven't explained why this is incredible to you. It is consistent
with all the known facts, so you have to find some very strong
counterevidence against it.

>> What exactly do you mean by "spontaneously"? Do you mean that a sodium
>> ion will suddenly appear out of nowhere?
> No, I mean that the excitement of a some experience will be reflected in
> many ways on many levels - molecular, cellular, somatic. Nothing appear out
> of nowhere except the excitement which insists on these many levels
> simultaneously - mechanically, organically, semantically.

So how does the sodium ion get anywhere if not pushed or pulled by
something? How is the sodium ion in the cell fundamentally different
from a sodium ion in a beaker of water?

>> > Here's a chart I put together last night on the difference between the
>> > conventional perception model and mine:
>> > http://s33light.org/post/46304056007
>> It doesn't explain how doors or ion channels open "spontaneously" in
>> response to will.
> The same way they open in response to a bear's photons and acoustic
> compressions. You have amputated your self from the brain to begin with, so
> you can't see that obviously our will directly controls the chemistry of our
> own nervous system. You can't amputate the bear so you just allow it all of
> the causal efficacy in physics which you deny to intention, emotion, and
> thought. Somehow you aren't seeing proprietary presence as possible in the
> universe even though it is impossible to deny since you are nothing but
> proprietary presence itself.

Whatever you say about "proprietary essence", it is of no scientific
consequence unless you can show evidence that it causes even one
sodium ion to go where it wouldn't have gone following blind physical

>> If I have
>> absolutely, definitely made up my mind, bought the airline tickets,
>> and have absolutely no doubt that I will go to China I can still look
>> forward to going there, and I don't know what it will be like there.
>> That something is determined and that I know it is determined does not
>> mean that it doesn't matter.
> You're smuggling in this universe of intentionality into the thought
> experiment which has none. It's like you are telling me that a hat is still
> useful if you don't have head because you still wouldn't want to get your
> hair wet. If you truly lived in a universe where all was determined or
> random (aka unintentional), then there is no coherent concept of something
> being determined or not. There are only events witnessed passively by
> epiphenomenal spectators. Without any history of participation in the
> environment, there could be no learning or orientation to your sense - you
> would be watching a movie produced by mollusks.

I'm pointing out that your argument that nothing would matter if it
were determined is false. Things matter greatly to us even when we
(and even you) believe them to be determined.

Stathis Papaioannou

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