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There is no “Hard Problem”

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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20 May 2016 15:19
 
LadyJane - 18 May 2016 02:53 PM

https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

Neat article. The part about memory, recall and recognition seems a little misleading to me, though. The implication seems to be that recognition doesn’t involve memory, while recall does. But how can we recognize something unless we have some memory of it?

Also, I think the hardest problem regarding consciousness is defining it. The definition I’ve come to prefer puts recall—but not recognition—within the bounds of consciousness. Recognition is a subconscious phenomenon. As is playing the piano or touch typing, once one has become proficient. I suspect that the reason it’s easier to remember the lyrics in the middle of a song by singing the song from the beginning has something to do with consciousness vs. subconsciousness. Maybe singing the song from the beginning somehow breaks down the barrier that normally exists between subconscious recognition and conscious recall.

What this says to me is that we probably have pretty accurate “memories” stored somehow in our subconscious, but that we lack conscious access to them. Maybe people with photographic memories (remember Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man memorizing all the license plates as Tom Cruise drives him through a parking lot?) somehow gain access to their subconscious, thereby recalling what most of us can only recognize. The fact that most people can’t do this seems to imply that maybe there’s some survival disadvantage to having this ability? It didn’t help Hoffman’s character. (Yeah, just a movie, but Hoffman reportedly spent quite a bit of time studying autistic savants in order to render a realistic performance.)

 
 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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20 May 2016 20:19
 

Some annoying scientific studies, almost three years old.

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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20 May 2016 23:34
 
MachineThought - 19 May 2016 08:52 AM

...

Language, Math, and Logic use also seem to be different from for example remembering how something looks or sounds. I don’t feel like I have to re-experience math classes I took to understand how to add, subtract, etc. It really seems stored to me. I mean obviously there is some storage mechanism in the brain or even the sketchy image of the dollar bill that the student draws would not be reproducible. This seems trivial to see. Also consider the autonomic nervous system which is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions. It doesn’t seem to need a memory storage at all (I could be wrong here) yet functions like an expert system in computing would. In fact I think it is exactly like an unconscious inference engine.

...

I think those capabilities involve some kind of re-experience. For example, language understanding is probably related to experiences of sounds, written words, and vocalizations, while understanding math symbols might be related to recognition of common visual forms of expressions and shapes. There are obviously some innate (evolved) facilities for spatial orientation and cheating detection, but these seem to progressively develop in early childhood, so experience is involved in maturing them. There is a theory that the human brain is capable of conceptual metaphor, which in neurological terms the activation of neurons in one subsystem as a result of a stimulus to another subsystem. The human capability to apply logic and geometry to many different conceptual schemes is cited as evidence for the theory. I tend to agree with the theory, because it may explain the off-the-wall way that I think.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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21 May 2016 06:42
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 May 2016 03:19 PM
LadyJane - 18 May 2016 02:53 PM

https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

Neat article. The part about memory, recall and recognition seems a little misleading to me, though. The implication seems to be that recognition doesn’t involve memory, while recall does. But how can we recognize something unless we have some memory of it?

Also, I think the hardest problem regarding consciousness is defining it. The definition I’ve come to prefer puts recall—but not recognition—within the bounds of consciousness. Recognition is a subconscious phenomenon. As is playing the piano or touch typing, once one has become proficient. I suspect that the reason it’s easier to remember the lyrics in the middle of a song by singing the song from the beginning has something to do with consciousness vs. subconsciousness. Maybe singing the song from the beginning somehow breaks down the barrier that normally exists between subconscious recognition and conscious recall.

What this says to me is that we probably have pretty accurate “memories” stored somehow in our subconscious, but that we lack conscious access to them. Maybe people with photographic memories (remember Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man memorizing all the license plates as Tom Cruise drives him through a parking lot?) somehow gain access to their subconscious, thereby recalling what most of us can only recognize. The fact that most people can’t do this seems to imply that maybe there’s some survival disadvantage to having this ability? It didn’t help Hoffman’s character. (Yeah, just a movie, but Hoffman reportedly spent quite a bit of time studying autistic savants in order to render a realistic performance.)

Consciousness is indeed difficult to define since it seems so obvious as it amounts to the totality of what we make of our existence.  I think deciphering between conscious and subconscious is key because it compels us to recognize how those states of awareness interact with each other, in each of us all the time, as we navigate the streams of human perception.  You make a good point about evolutionary advantage/disadvantage.  I imagine having an eidetic memory would drive a person insane.  Every moment would be immortalized forever and there’d be no escape.  All the thoughts rolling endlessly over and over again.  The positive experiences would pale in comparison to the negative ones and create a perpetual state of post traumatic stress.  Those people would likely have been eliminated from the gene pool early on for the most part.  These traits would seem to prevent hunting and gathering and create a pretty significant level of social awkwardness in real life.  Unfit for survival.  It seems to me the difference between recall and recognition is simply a matter of timing and proximity.  The cues we become aware of allow us to recognize what we observe and understand its meaning.  We can recall something from anywhere without the need for direct observation.  Am I catching your drift, sir?

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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21 May 2016 09:06
 

These days, two of the hottest topics in Silicon Valley are “machine learning” and “deep learning”, but first let’s back up a little. I know a LOT of computer scientists, and not a one of them would ever contend that brains work like computers, or vice versa. That’s a layman’s oversimplification.

But… computers have gotten immensely more powerful over time, and they’re now powerful enough to be able to start doing learning through pattern recognition. A few months ago a program called AlphaGo beat the human “world champion” Go player 4-1 in a five game match. (This was an extraordinarily terrifying event.) A large part of AlphaGo’s expertise was developed through “machine learning”, which these days means, roughly, learning patterns through massive exposure to examples. So AlphaGo has “experienced” millions of games of Go, and has “learned” winning patterns. There’s more to the program than that, but that’s an important and necessary part of the overall program.

I’d say that it’s more the case that machine learning and deep learning are new, cutting edge approaches that programmers are employing to attempt to start creating machines that work more like brains.
The theories have been around for a couple of decades, but the hardware is just now able to handle the software. For the most part, up to this point, 99% of all software ever written has NOT been an attempt to make computers work like brains.

A key point here is that largely, AlphaGo doesn’t have “Go rules”. For the most part, there is no place in the hardware’s memory that stores knowledge of Go. Instead, there is a large, richly connected network of connections that - working together - can do pattern matching. And this network-based, pattern matching is most likely a crude first step towards modeling how the brain actually works.

[ Edited: 21 May 2016 09:08 by icehorse]
 
 
sortof-jeffm
 
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sortof-jeffm
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22 May 2016 13:23
 

@icehourse

Did you catch this article?

http://www.wired.com/2016/05/google-alpha-go-ai/

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 May 2016 16:38
 
sortof-jeffm - 22 May 2016 01:23 PM

@icehourse

Did you catch this article?

http://www.wired.com/2016/05/google-alpha-go-ai/

That’s a great article, thanks!

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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23 May 2016 14:22
 
LadyJane - 21 May 2016 06:42 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 20 May 2016 03:19 PM
LadyJane - 18 May 2016 02:53 PM

https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

Neat article. The part about memory, recall and recognition seems a little misleading to me, though. The implication seems to be that recognition doesn’t involve memory, while recall does. But how can we recognize something unless we have some memory of it?

Also, I think the hardest problem regarding consciousness is defining it. The definition I’ve come to prefer puts recall—but not recognition—within the bounds of consciousness. Recognition is a subconscious phenomenon. As is playing the piano or touch typing, once one has become proficient. I suspect that the reason it’s easier to remember the lyrics in the middle of a song by singing the song from the beginning has something to do with consciousness vs. subconsciousness. Maybe singing the song from the beginning somehow breaks down the barrier that normally exists between subconscious recognition and conscious recall.

What this says to me is that we probably have pretty accurate “memories” stored somehow in our subconscious, but that we lack conscious access to them. Maybe people with photographic memories (remember Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man memorizing all the license plates as Tom Cruise drives him through a parking lot?) somehow gain access to their subconscious, thereby recalling what most of us can only recognize. The fact that most people can’t do this seems to imply that maybe there’s some survival disadvantage to having this ability? It didn’t help Hoffman’s character. (Yeah, just a movie, but Hoffman reportedly spent quite a bit of time studying autistic savants in order to render a realistic performance.)

Consciousness is indeed difficult to define since it seems so obvious as it amounts to the totality of what we make of our existence.  I think deciphering between conscious and subconscious is key because it compels us to recognize how those states of awareness interact with each other, in each of us all the time, as we navigate the streams of human perception.  You make a good point about evolutionary advantage/disadvantage.  I imagine having an eidetic memory would drive a person insane.  Every moment would be immortalized forever and there’d be no escape.  All the thoughts rolling endlessly over and over again.  The positive experiences would pale in comparison to the negative ones and create a perpetual state of post traumatic stress.  Those people would likely have been eliminated from the gene pool early on for the most part.  These traits would seem to prevent hunting and gathering and create a pretty significant level of social awkwardness in real life.  Unfit for survival.  It seems to me the difference between recall and recognition is simply a matter of timing and proximity.  The cues we become aware of allow us to recognize what we observe and understand its meaning.  We can recall something from anywhere without the need for direct observation.  Am I catching your drift, sir?

Yes, I think proximity and timing is a good way to describe what differentiates conscious from subconscious activity. Subconsciousness always operates on the here and now; consciousness rarely does.

 
 
MachineThought
 
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MachineThought
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24 May 2016 08:46
 
sortof-jeffm - 22 May 2016 01:23 PM

@icehourse

Did you catch this article?

http://www.wired.com/2016/05/google-alpha-go-ai/

Very interesting.

 
MachineThought
 
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MachineThought
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24 May 2016 08:47
 

Oh on the topic of our brains not processing information. Explain color.

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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24 May 2016 09:42
 
MachineThought - 24 May 2016 08:47 AM

Oh on the topic of our brains not processing information. Explain color.

I think the point is to avoid cartoony understandings of the terms processing and information. We remember and we learn and we forget. But there are no little storage jars of ideas and no assembly line of robotic idea-welders. That doesn’t quite describe our brains or our computers. Is the taste of chicken information processing?

I am learning, remembering and storing all kinds of musical parts these days. I hope wherever they ‘are’ inside, they ‘do something’ that will contribute to determining what the rest of the parts will be. I look forward to forgeting them all come October. There is some stuff from a few years ago that I can remember or my fingers can remember but also lots of forgotten stuff that I would have to re-glean as if it was someone else’s notes.

As for color, you might find this illuminating and or amusing. 

 
 
MachineThought
 
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24 May 2016 10:00
 
Nhoj Morley - 24 May 2016 09:42 AM
MachineThought - 24 May 2016 08:47 AM

Oh on the topic of our brains not processing information. Explain color.

I think the point is to avoid cartoony understandings of the terms processing and information. We remember and we learn and we forget. But there are no little storage jars of ideas and no assembly line of robotic idea-welders. That doesn’t quite describe our brains or our computers. Is the taste of chicken information processing?

I am learning, remembering and storing all kinds of musical parts these days. I hope wherever they ‘are’ inside, they ‘do something’ that will contribute to determining what the rest of the parts will be. I look forward to forgeting them all come October. There is some stuff from a few years ago that I can remember or my fingers can remember but also lots of forgotten stuff that I would have to re-glean as if it was someone else’s notes.

As for color, you might find this illuminating and or amusing. 

I looked over the link. Interesting, but I am talking about something else. I am talking about the phenomena of metamerism. The point being that color does not amount to wavelength and reflectancy yet our brains process wavelength and reflectancy “information” and give us the experience of color. This is inaccurate as ranges of wavelengths will read the same color to us. The color you experience as red is not the same as the color I experience. (I realize you take the opposite position in your article linked). I think saying we both have the same experience of “Redness” is a pretty difficult claim to prove Nhoj. It might be very similar however. There is tons of debate about this among philosophers and psychologists with the psychologists primarily defending the anti-realist position (as much as I hate psychology I am with them on this). There are no color particles. We get the experience of color because our brains process this data. I would say yes the taste of chicken is information processing. Just as the regulation of our autonomic nervous system is as well. And so is color in vision.

[ Edited: 24 May 2016 10:27 by MachineThought]
 
MachineThought
 
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MachineThought
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24 May 2016 10:19
 

I think defining what information is makes a difference in this discussion. Is a chemical reaction information processing? Photosynthesis for example?

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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24 May 2016 10:36
 
MachineThought - 24 May 2016 10:00 AM

] …color does not amount to wavelength and reflectancy yet our brains process wavelength and reflectancy “information” and give us the experience of color. This is inaccurate as ranges of wavelengths will read the same color to us. There are no color particles. …We get the experience of color because our brains process this data.

You missed the point as the article goes to great length to explain why that is so. But nevermind that… what about this?

The color you experience as red is not the same as the color I experience.

Why would that be? What difference would a difference make? Is your taste of chicken different? What about coldness? Sex? Fear? Just color?

 
 
MachineThought
 
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MachineThought
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24 May 2016 11:03
 
Nhoj Morley - 24 May 2016 10:36 AM
MachineThought - 24 May 2016 10:00 AM

] …color does not amount to wavelength and reflectancy yet our brains process wavelength and reflectancy “information” and give us the experience of color. This is inaccurate as ranges of wavelengths will read the same color to us. There are no color particles. …We get the experience of color because our brains process this data.

You missed the point as the article goes to great length to explain why that is so. But nevermind that… what about this?

The color you experience as red is not the same as the color I experience.

Why would that be? What difference would a difference make? Is your taste of chicken different? What about coldness? Sex? Fear? Just color?

Yes I did read it I just disagree on color realism because of the mind component but its clear you understand the topic in depth. Also I updated my response slightly.
Of the last questions you ask:
What difference would a difference make? Very little pragmatically but its the difference between objectivity and subjectivity for one. The difference making it subjective and the claim that we experience it the same being false. Similar is not equivalent to the same even if its a 1 to .99999999999 correlation its not 1 to 1.
On the rest of them. I’m with Nagel in that I think its hard to compare conscious experience. Obviously on things like taste its purely subjective. I hate asparagus. Some people love it. Perhaps due to differences in taste buds and also information processing. smile

By the way I love this question its a really good one. “Why would that be? What difference would a difference make? Is your taste of chicken different? What about coldness? Sex? Fear? Just color?”
What about emotions?: “Boo..yuck.. killing”, “Yay!!! Sex”,“I like cats!!” (I bring this up because you mention fear).

Maybe the difference would only matter if it changes how you act.

 

 

[ Edited: 24 May 2016 11:16 by MachineThought]
 
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