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is science on the brink of disproving free will?

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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25 February 2015 00:50
 
jb8989 - 24 February 2015 10:52 PM
gsmonks - 24 February 2015 08:47 PM
jb8989 - 24 February 2015 07:34 PM
gsmonks - 24 February 2015 06:08 AM
jb8989 - 23 February 2015 09:40 PM

I’m sure someone has already said this, but I think that science has been “on the brink” of disproving free will for quite some time. But politically I don’t think there is much incentive (e.g. money, funding) to disprove it. There’s probably more likely a heavy disincentification since society relies so heavily on the fact that a person’s will can be taken away for purposes of criminal prosecution or interrogation. Imagine the implication if people actually knew and understood that that will we were caging was never free in the first place? “Judge, um, Ah, well… isn’t deterrence illusory, anyway?” hahaha.

The problem is that free will is a philosophical idea, not a scientific one. There’s no “free will” to be found in the human brain, any more than there’s a thingy in the brain that can be identified as a conscience, or an id, or an ego, or any of that other stuff people love to bloviate about.

The closest anyone can come to science where free will is concerned is indirect inference. Even is you directly observe a person exhibiting what you might think is an act of free will, it remains an act of interpretation that might be attributable to something else entirely.

 

Every idea started off as a philosophical musing, then hypothesis, concept, operation/idea, conclusion, theory/fact yada yada yada. That how science works, it gets to the how’s and why’s of shit that’s otherwise not “fact” yet, to the extent of our capacity to perceive “objectivism.”

If the brain and nervous system control our actions, thoughts, emotions, memories and perceptions, Science can study to what extent causation controls this process before, during and after the past goes through the trouble of happening through our mind, which is simply the brain’s do-thing, if in fact, the brain has the capacity to “do” anything (or if it just does shit mirroring its environment). Regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, I think that distinguishing the objective brain and subjective experience is important to this regard and that’s where we get ideas about consciousness, the id, ego and what not.

That’s still putting the cart full of bunny-wunnies before the pony.

The brain doesn’t do a very good job of studying itself, because it’s built to work a certain way, and that certain way is made up of useful illusions. So the brain’s thinkifying is skewed from the get-go in ways that are very difficult to work around, assuming we’re not fooling ourselves in the bar-goon.

No doubt. It is. But at the end of the day we have some tools and epistemology is a thing so I’m compelled with a desire to know shit. For instance, you want to know where I found my vape? Fucking in my toiletry bag. What the hell was it doing there? I never travel with that thing!

I think you two are fencing at each others’ shadows, so to speak.

Free will is a philosophical idea, but so is determinism in some of its definitions. The notion that “everything a has a cause” is certainly philosophical, and long predates modern science. I see it as a statement of the psychological motivation behind science. Determinism doesn’t become scientifically framed until it becomes quantified as a measurable probability in a hypothesized cause-effect relationship.

For the purposes of science, we cannot directly study free will (right now, anyway), because we don’t know how to frame the question. To reiterate, the best I think we can do is quantify the extent to which a particular cause contributes to a particular effect. If there is any free will that can be quantified, it is in the error bands of deterministic measures of causality. Perhaps there is a way to control “free range” experimentation or observation well enough to catch a glimmer, but that is going to be very hard to do. Psychology experiments are very difficult to control in the first place, even when framing simple deterministic questions.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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01 March 2015 15:24
 
Poldano - 24 February 2015 11:50 PM
jb8989 - 24 February 2015 10:52 PM
gsmonks - 24 February 2015 08:47 PM
jb8989 - 24 February 2015 07:34 PM
gsmonks - 24 February 2015 06:08 AM
jb8989 - 23 February 2015 09:40 PM

I’m sure someone has already said this, but I think that science has been “on the brink” of disproving free will for quite some time. But politically I don’t think there is much incentive (e.g. money, funding) to disprove it. There’s probably more likely a heavy disincentification since society relies so heavily on the fact that a person’s will can be taken away for purposes of criminal prosecution or interrogation. Imagine the implication if people actually knew and understood that that will we were caging was never free in the first place? “Judge, um, Ah, well… isn’t deterrence illusory, anyway?” hahaha.

The problem is that free will is a philosophical idea, not a scientific one. There’s no “free will” to be found in the human brain, any more than there’s a thingy in the brain that can be identified as a conscience, or an id, or an ego, or any of that other stuff people love to bloviate about.

The closest anyone can come to science where free will is concerned is indirect inference. Even is you directly observe a person exhibiting what you might think is an act of free will, it remains an act of interpretation that might be attributable to something else entirely.

 

Every idea started off as a philosophical musing, then hypothesis, concept, operation/idea, conclusion, theory/fact yada yada yada. That how science works, it gets to the how’s and why’s of shit that’s otherwise not “fact” yet, to the extent of our capacity to perceive “objectivism.”

If the brain and nervous system control our actions, thoughts, emotions, memories and perceptions, Science can study to what extent causation controls this process before, during and after the past goes through the trouble of happening through our mind, which is simply the brain’s do-thing, if in fact, the brain has the capacity to “do” anything (or if it just does shit mirroring its environment). Regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, I think that distinguishing the objective brain and subjective experience is important to this regard and that’s where we get ideas about consciousness, the id, ego and what not.

That’s still putting the cart full of bunny-wunnies before the pony.

The brain doesn’t do a very good job of studying itself, because it’s built to work a certain way, and that certain way is made up of useful illusions. So the brain’s thinkifying is skewed from the get-go in ways that are very difficult to work around, assuming we’re not fooling ourselves in the bar-goon.

No doubt. It is. But at the end of the day we have some tools and epistemology is a thing so I’m compelled with a desire to know shit. For instance, you want to know where I found my vape? Fucking in my toiletry bag. What the hell was it doing there? I never travel with that thing!

I think you two are fencing at each others’ shadows, so to speak.

Free will is a philosophical idea, but so is determinism in some of its definitions. The notion that “everything a has a cause” is certainly philosophical, and long predates modern science. I see it as a statement of the psychological motivation behind science. Determinism doesn’t become scientifically framed until it becomes quantified as a measurable probability in a hypothesized cause-effect relationship.

For the purposes of science, we cannot directly study free will (right now, anyway), because we don’t know how to frame the question. To reiterate, the best I think we can do is quantify the extent to which a particular cause contributes to a particular effect. If there is any free will that can be quantified, it is in the error bands of deterministic measures of causality. Perhaps there is a way to control “free range” experimentation or observation well enough to catch a glimmer, but that is going to be very hard to do. Psychology experiments are very difficult to control in the first place, even when framing simple deterministic questions.

And here I thought I was agreeing with that loony bastard. Anyway, the fact that causation and free will began as philosophical ideas is irrelevant. That doesn’t remove them from the scientific method simply because they predate science itself. The universe and people also predate science. We can and in fact do study philosophies all the time. While framing the question of whether free will exists hinges on oft-ambiguous definitions, it can still be simplified into measurable hypotheses. That too is the type of simplification that science attempts to do sciencey stuff to. Also, The (1) brain studying itself, and (2) the idea of consciousness does not negate the fact that physical rules determine how the universe transitions from one state to another. If our brain cannot affect either the universe’s previous state or the laws that govern the transition to subsequent states, conscious perception make us no more than observers who narrate events, despite our compelling feelings of control to the contrary. The question then remains whether we have the biological capacity to gain control over the universe for the time necessary to have a genuine effect, rather than standard physical input that emotional beings misinterpret as control? There’s answers to these questions, we just don’t have them yet.

[ Edited: 01 March 2015 17:04 by Jb8989]
 
 
Gregoryhhh
 
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01 March 2015 20:02
 
jb8989 - 01 March 2015 02:24 PM

The problem is that free will is a philosophical idea, not a scientific one. There’s no “free will” to be found in the human brain, any more than there’s a thingy in the brain that can be identified as a conscience, or an id, or an ego, or any of that other stuff people love to bloviate about.

The closest anyone can come to science where free will is concerned is indirect inference. Even is you directly observe a person exhibiting what you might think is an act of free will, it remains an act of interpretation that might be attributable to something else entirely.

 

It’s the Principle of Relativity all over again - nothing it what it looks like, and what it looks like can be seen as something else, for everything, just like rainbow,,depends on where, and when, you are when, you look at it.
gregory

[ Edited: 01 March 2015 20:05 by Gregoryhhh]
 
 
Jb8989
 
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02 March 2015 16:09
 
Gregoryhhh - 01 March 2015 07:02 PM
jb8989 - 01 March 2015 02:24 PM

The problem is that free will is a philosophical idea, not a scientific one. There’s no “free will” to be found in the human brain, any more than there’s a thingy in the brain that can be identified as a conscience, or an id, or an ego, or any of that other stuff people love to bloviate about.

The closest anyone can come to science where free will is concerned is indirect inference. Even is you directly observe a person exhibiting what you might think is an act of free will, it remains an act of interpretation that might be attributable to something else entirely.

 

It’s the Principle of Relativity all over again - nothing it what it looks like, and what it looks like can be seen as something else, for everything, just like rainbow,,depends on where, and when, you are when, you look at it.
gregory

You’re addressing gsmonks but quoting me. NEVER MISQOUTE ME AGAIN OR I SWEAR TO…jk I don’t care.

 
 
Poldano
 
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03 March 2015 03:23
 
jb8989 - 01 March 2015 02:24 PM

...
And here I thought I was agreeing with that loony bastard. Anyway, the fact that causation and free will began as philosophical ideas is irrelevant. That doesn’t remove them from the scientific method simply because they predate science itself. The universe and people also predate science. We can and in fact do study philosophies all the time. While framing the question of whether free will exists hinges on oft-ambiguous definitions, it can still be simplified into measurable hypotheses. That too is the type of simplification that science attempts to do sciencey stuff to. Also, The (1) brain studying itself, and (2) the idea of consciousness does not negate the fact that physical rules determine how the universe transitions from one state to another. If our brain cannot affect either the universe’s previous state or the laws that govern the transition to subsequent states, conscious perception make us no more than observers who narrate events, despite our compelling feelings of control to the contrary. The question then remains whether we have the biological capacity to gain control over the universe for the time necessary to have a genuine effect, rather than standard physical input that emotional beings misinterpret as control? There’s answers to these questions, we just don’t have them yet.

You probably were agreeing with that loony bastard, but the loony bastard always finds a way to disagree.

Some of your comments show some other theoretical assumptions that you may not realize are theoretical assumptions. It’s impossible to avoid them, really. For example, the notion of the universe transitioning from one state to another is a theoretical assumption. We use the overall formal framework of “state” to perform calculations that are effective at description and prediction. The notion of “state” is a formalism deriving from axioms; its truth or falsehood with respect to ostensible reality is the degree to which the specific calculations within a specific state-based model agree with ostensible reality. The notion of “state” itself is not what is being proved or disproved. There are limitations on the use of the notion, but those limitations depend on our ability to frame state-based models with what we know.

We know our self-models, traced to “consciousness” neurologically, actually follow in time the actual phenomena that “consciousness” is supposed to control. This makes consciousness something like a public relations executive, who takes public responsibility on behalf of the company he works for, for some action of the company. The PR function in no way negates the notion that the company as a whole is responsible. There might be some CEO behind the scenes who actually makes the major decisions, and is legally responsible, but in most companies a good deal of the decisions are decentralized as a matter of policy, with the CEO responsible mainly for making and enforcing policy.

The same kind of thing is probably happening in people’s brains. As soon as we start picking apart the distinct agencies within an individual’s neurology that perform certain functions, we lose the ability to trace whole-person notions like responsibility, authorship, and free will farther back into neural functioning. We can analyze in excruciating detail how the various parts of a system contribute to a system-wide function, but we cannot point to any one of them and say that it “is” the system, or that it “possesses” some attribute that can only be applied to the whole system with its various parts working together. To do so is to repeat the error of the Cartesian Theater. That often-inappropriate metaphor tends to crop up again and again, because we see ourselves as whole and entire in our own self-models, and are highly prejudiced to regard that opinion as being relevant no matter what material level of explanation are talking about.

 
 
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03 March 2015 22:21
 
Poldano - 03 March 2015 02:23 AM
jb8989 - 01 March 2015 02:24 PM

...
And here I thought I was agreeing with that loony bastard. Anyway, the fact that causation and free will began as philosophical ideas is irrelevant. That doesn’t remove them from the scientific method simply because they predate science itself. The universe and people also predate science. We can and in fact do study philosophies all the time. While framing the question of whether free will exists hinges on oft-ambiguous definitions, it can still be simplified into measurable hypotheses. That too is the type of simplification that science attempts to do sciencey stuff to. Also, The (1) brain studying itself, and (2) the idea of consciousness does not negate the fact that physical rules determine how the universe transitions from one state to another. If our brain cannot affect either the universe’s previous state or the laws that govern the transition to subsequent states, conscious perception make us no more than observers who narrate events, despite our compelling feelings of control to the contrary. The question then remains whether we have the biological capacity to gain control over the universe for the time necessary to have a genuine effect, rather than standard physical input that emotional beings misinterpret as control? There’s answers to these questions, we just don’t have them yet.

You probably were agreeing with that loony bastard, but the loony bastard always finds a way to disagree.

Some of your comments show some other theoretical assumptions that you may not realize are theoretical assumptions. It’s impossible to avoid them, really. For example, the notion of the universe transitioning from one state to another is a theoretical assumption. We use the overall formal framework of “state” to perform calculations that are effective at description and prediction. The notion of “state” is a formalism deriving from axioms; its truth or falsehood with respect to ostensible reality is the degree to which the specific calculations within a specific state-based model agree with ostensible reality. The notion of “state” itself is not what is being proved or disproved. There are limitations on the use of the notion, but those limitations depend on our ability to frame state-based models with what we know.

We know our self-models, traced to “consciousness” neurologically, actually follow in time the actual phenomena that “consciousness” is supposed to control. This makes consciousness something like a public relations executive, who takes public responsibility on behalf of the company he works for, for some action of the company. The PR function in no way negates the notion that the company as a whole is responsible. There might be some CEO behind the scenes who actually makes the major decisions, and is legally responsible, but in most companies a good deal of the decisions are decentralized as a matter of policy, with the CEO responsible mainly for making and enforcing policy.

The same kind of thing is probably happening in people’s brains. As soon as we start picking apart the distinct agencies within an individual’s neurology that perform certain functions, we lose the ability to trace whole-person notions like responsibility, authorship, and free will farther back into neural functioning. We can analyze in excruciating detail how the various parts of a system contribute to a system-wide function, but we cannot point to any one of them and say that it “is” the system, or that it “possesses” some attribute that can only be applied to the whole system with its various parts working together. To do so is to repeat the error of the Cartesian Theater. That often-inappropriate metaphor tends to crop up again and again, because we see ourselves as whole and entire in our own self-models, and are highly prejudiced to regard that opinion as being relevant no matter what material level of explanation are talking about.

If I’m honest, while reading your post, the entire subject matter of it seemed like multiple different ways you’ve attempted to convey the problem with consciousness. You actually fell a little short of the idea that it’s impossible to disprove that the universe is made of minds. I suggest that that’s likely the agnostic’s nuclear option, currently at least. Regardless, I agree that there is a legitimate question about whether the human brain suffers from a “cognitive gap” in understanding its own consciousness. However, if this gap is significant enough to mean that finding satisfactory answers about the influence of what we understand as our natural laws over the millions of neurons in our brain that we know communicate to each other, resulting in the experience of conscious awareness, then I imagine that this is the self’s agency-axiom impliedly agreed to in human life, however unconscious.  And keep In mind that it’s philosophy that’s interested in the inherent unknowable nature of things, while at the same time grossly inferior to science at finding satisfactory answers to these questions, so far as we know using language, math and sets.

[ Edited: 04 March 2015 00:05 by Jb8989]
 
 
Poldano
 
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15 March 2015 21:41
 
jb8989 - 03 March 2015 09:21 PM

...

If I’m honest, while reading your post, the entire subject matter of it seemed like multiple different ways you’ve attempted to convey the problem with consciousness. You actually fell a little short of the idea that it’s impossible to disprove that the universe is made of minds. I suggest that that’s likely the agnostic’s nuclear option, currently at least. Regardless, I agree that there is a legitimate question about whether the human brain suffers from a “cognitive gap” in understanding its own consciousness. However, if this gap is significant enough to mean that finding satisfactory answers about the influence of what we understand as our natural laws over the millions of neurons in our brain that we know communicate to each other, resulting in the experience of conscious awareness, then I imagine that this is the self’s agency-axiom impliedly agreed to in human life, however unconscious.  And keep In mind that it’s philosophy that’s interested in the inherent unknowable nature of things, while at the same time grossly inferior to science at finding satisfactory answers to these questions, so far as we know using language, math and sets.

I wasn’t attempting to demonstrate the impossibility of disproving that the universe is made of minds. It’s kind of an unanswerable question, but perhaps useful as an exercise. To whit: if the universe is indeed made entirely of minds, then every artifact we experience in the world is an artifact of mind, including those things that seem not to be constituents of any entities with minds, like rocks and space dust.

We don’t understand our own consciousnesses, in my opinion, because we don’t need to in order for consciousness to do its job for us. Nonetheless, we will be able to achieve a better understanding of consciousness than we currently have, in a scientific sense, even if most of us humans will be unaware of that understanding. As with all scientific understanding, we won’t know for sure if we’ve left out some key bit of the puzzle that will make things ever so much clearer, because we did not think to ask some question that is unlikely ever to occur to us.

Philosophy is really about posing questions, in my book. Without being able to pose gnarly questions, we don’t advance our real understanding. Without gnarly questions, science becomes perpetual refinement of measurement under existing paradigms. Paradigms are scaffolding for understanding reality, not the understanding itself, much less reality itself.

 
 
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15 March 2015 21:48
 
gsmonks - 04 March 2015 09:25 AM

...
A question: If the human mind turns out to be far more complicated than we are (this is in addition to getting past all the useful illusions it generates for our primitive survival benefit), how do you think we might get around this?

If we were to get AI sorted and created an AI able to comprehend us, do you think we would be able to understand the answers it provided?

This dilemma is why I personally think that we and our technology will merge, as the next stage of our evolution. Or not.

I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around your first question. The only way it makes sense to me is if our minds are not parts of us individuals. Mind is either coextensive with an individual, or a part of an individual that consists of both mind and non-mind parts. If we were to find some portion of mind to exceed the boundary of individual, it would beg the question of whether we had correctly deliminated the individual. I would say that if we did find that some portion of mind transcended individuality as we had defined it, then individuality itself would need to be redefined.

 
 
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16 March 2015 12:03
 
gsmonks - 04 March 2015 09:25 AM
jb8989 - 03 March 2015 09:21 PM
Poldano - 03 March 2015 02:23 AM
jb8989 - 01 March 2015 02:24 PM

...
And here I thought I was agreeing with that loony bastard. Anyway, the fact that causation and free will began as philosophical ideas is irrelevant. That doesn’t remove them from the scientific method simply because they predate science itself. The universe and people also predate science. We can and in fact do study philosophies all the time. While framing the question of whether free will exists hinges on oft-ambiguous definitions, it can still be simplified into measurable hypotheses. That too is the type of simplification that science attempts to do sciencey stuff to. Also, The (1) brain studying itself, and (2) the idea of consciousness does not negate the fact that physical rules determine how the universe transitions from one state to another. If our brain cannot affect either the universe’s previous state or the laws that govern the transition to subsequent states, conscious perception make us no more than observers who narrate events, despite our compelling feelings of control to the contrary. The question then remains whether we have the biological capacity to gain control over the universe for the time necessary to have a genuine effect, rather than standard physical input that emotional beings misinterpret as control? There’s answers to these questions, we just don’t have them yet.

You probably were agreeing with that loony bastard, but the loony bastard always finds a way to disagree.

Some of your comments show some other theoretical assumptions that you may not realize are theoretical assumptions. It’s impossible to avoid them, really. For example, the notion of the universe transitioning from one state to another is a theoretical assumption. We use the overall formal framework of “state” to perform calculations that are effective at description and prediction. The notion of “state” is a formalism deriving from axioms; its truth or falsehood with respect to ostensible reality is the degree to which the specific calculations within a specific state-based model agree with ostensible reality. The notion of “state” itself is not what is being proved or disproved. There are limitations on the use of the notion, but those limitations depend on our ability to frame state-based models with what we know.

We know our self-models, traced to “consciousness” neurologically, actually follow in time the actual phenomena that “consciousness” is supposed to control. This makes consciousness something like a public relations executive, who takes public responsibility on behalf of the company he works for, for some action of the company. The PR function in no way negates the notion that the company as a whole is responsible. There might be some CEO behind the scenes who actually makes the major decisions, and is legally responsible, but in most companies a good deal of the decisions are decentralized as a matter of policy, with the CEO responsible mainly for making and enforcing policy.

The same kind of thing is probably happening in people’s brains. As soon as we start picking apart the distinct agencies within an individual’s neurology that perform certain functions, we lose the ability to trace whole-person notions like responsibility, authorship, and free will farther back into neural functioning. We can analyze in excruciating detail how the various parts of a system contribute to a system-wide function, but we cannot point to any one of them and say that it “is” the system, or that it “possesses” some attribute that can only be applied to the whole system with its various parts working together. To do so is to repeat the error of the Cartesian Theater. That often-inappropriate metaphor tends to crop up again and again, because we see ourselves as whole and entire in our own self-models, and are highly prejudiced to regard that opinion as being relevant no matter what material level of explanation are talking about.

If I’m honest, while reading your post, the entire subject matter of it seemed like multiple different ways you’ve attempted to convey the problem with consciousness. You actually fell a little short of the idea that it’s impossible to disprove that the universe is made of minds. I suggest that that’s likely the agnostic’s nuclear option, currently at least. Regardless, I agree that there is a legitimate question about whether the human brain suffers from a “cognitive gap” in understanding its own consciousness. However, if this gap is significant enough to mean that finding satisfactory answers about the influence of what we understand as our natural laws over the millions of neurons in our brain that we know communicate to each other, resulting in the experience of conscious awareness, then I imagine that this is the self’s agency-axiom impliedly agreed to in human life, however unconscious.  And keep In mind that it’s philosophy that’s interested in the inherent unknowable nature of things, while at the same time grossly inferior to science at finding satisfactory answers to these questions, so far as we know using language, math and sets.

A question: If the human mind turns out to be far more complicated than we are (this is in addition to getting past all the useful illusions it generates for our primitive survival benefit), how do you think we might get around this?

If we were to get AI sorted and created an AI able to comprehend us, do you think we would be able to understand the answers it provided?

This dilemma is why I personally think that we and our technology will merge, as the next stage of our evolution. Or not.

Does the brain not having the capacity to understand itself given our intellectual capacity EQAUL the brain being more complicated than us? I don’t think so. The brain in a lot of ways is us, regardless of whether we possess the capacity to truly and comprehensively understand it. Also, I can’t comprehend the AI question. I always thought AI would mean a machine would simply think “Yum” and “ouch” and “ew that feels good.”

[ Edited: 16 March 2015 12:06 by Jb8989]
 
 
Twissel
 
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16 March 2015 12:42
 

The postulate that something less complicated can not understand something more complicated than itself is far from proven and most likely not true: people understand things in terms of metaphors, not in all their tiny minutia. We have tools to make things simpler for us: we measure pressure not by counting the atoms in volume, either.
High-school physics teaches us about gravity, magnetism, and light with simple equations, no need for the quantum mess. This is not the entire picture, but it is enough to build most devices.
A working model of the brain would not bother with how many dopanimine molecules are released by a single neuron, but work on a much more coarse-grain level. And we could come up with simulations the result of which we can actually understand - A.I.s might help us with that.

 
 
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16 March 2015 14:06
 
Twissell - 16 March 2015 11:42 AM

The postulate that something less complicated can not understand something more complicated than itself is far from proven and most likely not true: people understand things in terms of metaphors, not in all their tiny minutia. We have tools to make things simpler for us: we measure pressure not by counting the atoms in volume, either.
High-school physics teaches us about gravity, magnetism, and light with simple equations, no need for the quantum mess. This is not the entire picture, but it is enough to build most devices.
A working model of the brain would not bother with how many dopanimine molecules are released by a single neuron, but work on a much more coarse-grain level. And we could come up with simulations the result of which we can actually understand - A.I.s might help us with that.

I’ve heard some people say something along the lines that because (1) knowing how and why consciousness is equals to many (2) knowing how life began, the epistemological standard for literally knowing consciousness almost always included a philosophical understanding of it when infinitely regressed all the way down to its causation. That if we had a changeless, universal, necessary, and therefore certain understanding of where consciousness came from then we would be able to see what life is absent sensory experience bias. No short feat indeed! haha

Anyway, yeah you’re totally right about the less complicated, more complicated thing though IMO. Good post.

 
 
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16 March 2015 14:16
 
Twissell - 16 March 2015 11:42 AM

High-school physics teaches us about gravity, magnetism, and light with simple equations, no need for the quantum mess. This is not the entire picture, but it is enough to build most devices.

The machine you’re using to make this very incomplete postulation depends on “the quantum mess” to operate.  Many of the hops your post has made through the internet to arrive on this forum have been through machines using Solid State Drives for storage, which drives work only because of quantum tunneling.  If you own a cell phone, thank “the quantum mess” for making it possible.  The PLC’s (programmable logic controller) that make large and complex industrial manufacturing so efficient are also dependent on “the quantum mess”.

“The quantum mess” cannot be so easily dismissed; in fact, it cannot be dismissed to any meaningful degree.

 
 
Twissel
 
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16 March 2015 14:29
 

@bb totally true - but not necessary to understand how they work at a more functional level. you can understand when and why a computer stores and retrieves bytes without being fully aware of the underlying complexities: functionally there is no difference whether a machine stores data on a SSD or a ticker-tape.

I doubt that the brain makes use of QM properties of its components: effects like decoherence and tunneling do not play a significant role of cells and signal cascades. So far we have not found any process in the brain which requires QT to describe it.

The problem of brain research is the complexity brought about by the huge interconnectedness - but once we can describe packs of neurons as functional ‘cassettes’ with feedback loops, we can understand the basic function without having to deal with each individual axon and dendrite.

This does not mean that we will make a copy in the brain this way - but we can understand how a steam engine works without being able to build one ourselves.

 
 
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bbearren
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16 March 2015 18:29
 
Twissell - 16 March 2015 01:29 PM

we can understand how a steam engine works without being able to build one ourselves.

I could be mistaken, but it seems that the human brain is a bit more complicated than a steam engine.  Using that analogy, we already know how the steam engine of the brain works—neurotransmitters are the steam, firing of the postsynaptic neuron is the movement of the piston.  There’s a few of those steam engines working together in complex harmony in the brain

bbearren - 14 March 2015 01:55 PM

(Is there a place for a Christian in Project Reason?)As for psychology, neuroscience and the whole shootin’ match, I visualize a balance sitting on a table, one pan holding all that is currently known about the human brain and its functions, the other pan holding all that is currently unknown about the human brain and its functions.  The pan holding the unknown is still resting firmly on the table, the balance remains undisturbed.

 
 
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bbearren
Total Posts:  3929
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17 March 2015 00:52
 
Twissell - 16 March 2015 01:29 PM

The problem of brain research is the complexity brought about by the huge interconnectedness - but once we can describe packs of neurons as functional ‘cassettes’ with feedback loops, we can understand the basic function without having to deal with each individual axon and dendrite.

You might be a little off on your direction . . . “We’re not interested anymore in the classical classification of ‘this is this name, this is that name,’” said Annese. Now, he explained, researchers are “really trying to understand how this flesh and blood works to make the behaviors.”

It’s a pretty good read.

 
 
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