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#159- Conscious A Conversation with Annaka Harris

 
nonverbal
 
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09 June 2019 08:37
 
Nhoj Morley - 08 June 2019 10:04 PM

That was off-beat and amusing though it often seemed like a strained re-enactment of conversations they have had before. I suspect she will be doing the rest of the promo circuit without a straight-man.

Pan-whachacallit is nothing to be ashamed of and there is no harm in being open to it. I was open to it. I like that there are so many ways to imagine it. Now I believe it is unnecessary because a simple non-zero-based physical-ist model can account for everything we experience without an in-draft of cosmic wakefulness. If one starts with an irreducible consciousness that can only play along with things we can never be conscious of, making it cover human experience is going to need some help or oomph from somewhere. It is natural to turn to the cosmic substrate’s side door for a cup of immaterial.

Maybe it takes a cosmic spark to make a nervous system feel what it is doing or maybe we feel the info processing go by. However that works, that first step is all that is needed to build the rest of the system without further ethereal interference consciousness and all.

I love the idea of an exorcism by The Boss and the Mrs. It would be FUN to see if they could drive trioon out of me like a bad spirit while I attempt to free them from the Cult of Zero. It is embarrassing how much I have strayed from the top management.

Maybe that’s why this forum has been stuffed in old trunk and buried deep in the forest.

You’re not the only one to have strayed, so don’t feel too badly. Some of the mildly verbal seem to be following things at the top, but forget about the nonverbal.

 
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10 June 2019 06:18
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 07 June 2019 05:32 PM

Our brains haven’t changed physically for a hundred thousand years, but look at how little progress was made for the first ninety thousand of them. Maybe that was because it took a long time to accumulate and build on knowledge. But maybe humans didn’t learn consciousness, at least not widely, until fairly recently.

Tangent from the main thread….
This view is beginning to change in science due to recent discoveries…  Gobekli Tepe is a monolithic site in turkey that has been dated back to 9000bc (confirmed), during the last ice age (Younger Dryas) which only lasted 1,300 years.  The dating on the Sphynx is now also being taken into question in a serious manner.  The Egyptian Archaeologists still refuse to accept any of these ideas, but the Geology that shows it to be much older is being reviewed and being accepted as more main stream that it is at least 3,000 to 5,000 years older.  The Clovis-First idea is being challenged, and, it has been in the past, but the findings were ignored because it didn’t fit the accepted narrative… but there have been several findings of much older evidence of civilization around the Americas. 

In any case… my point is that our social and civil development is probably not as “recent” as we have accepted.

 
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10 June 2019 06:42
 
nonverbal - 08 June 2019 12:57 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 07 June 2019 05:32 PM

Anaka explains why she resorts to panpsychism at about the 24:00 mark:

We also know that infants don’t become conscious right away. I think it takes something like six to eighteen months for them to exhibit signs of self awareness.

Last time I saw a newborn baby, it was conscious, but I’m probably misremembering.

This is kind of my point about defining concepts to be different.  I do not think that “consciousness” = “Self-awareness”.  Also, the 18-month mark is related to “Theory of Mind” which is different as well.

Here is how I see it…

Consciousness = Level One.  Currently undefined by science…  Personally, I think the minimum requirement is an input-output system in which the inputs are various factors of the environment in which the entity lives, some function of assessment to relate that data to a current state, and output a desired state based on that information.  This does not necessarily require a nervous system or a brain, but it does require more than what we identify as chemical reactions.

Self Awareness = Level Two.  Recognition of existence via information processing.  I think that this is a naturally emerging property of base level consciousness AFTER enough input-system have been included.

Theory of Mind = Level Three.  Recognition of Self Awareness in another individual.  I also think that this is a naturally emerging property for any self-aware entity that interacts with other self-aware beings.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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10 June 2019 14:22
 
RedJamaX - 10 June 2019 06:18 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 07 June 2019 05:32 PM

Our brains haven’t changed physically for a hundred thousand years, but look at how little progress was made for the first ninety thousand of them. Maybe that was because it took a long time to accumulate and build on knowledge. But maybe humans didn’t learn consciousness, at least not widely, until fairly recently.

Tangent from the main thread….
This view is beginning to change in science due to recent discoveries…  Gobekli Tepe is a monolithic site in turkey that has been dated back to 9000bc (confirmed), during the last ice age (Younger Dryas) which only lasted 1,300 years.  The dating on the Sphynx is now also being taken into question in a serious manner.  The Egyptian Archaeologists still refuse to accept any of these ideas, but the Geology that shows it to be much older is being reviewed and being accepted as more main stream that it is at least 3,000 to 5,000 years older.  The Clovis-First idea is being challenged, and, it has been in the past, but the findings were ignored because it didn’t fit the accepted narrative… but there have been several findings of much older evidence of civilization around the Americas. 

In any case… my point is that our social and civil development is probably not as “recent” as we have accepted.

Be that as it may, I think my point stands: humans existed for at least tens of thousands of years with the same brains we have today, but with almost no evidence of progress. I was listening to a podcast the other day (from After On, about ancient DNA), and they mentioned that cave art and other artistic/religious stuff like that first started appearing around 50,000 years ago. That might be a good indication of some kind of transition from one kind of mind to another. Presumably, painting a picture of something requires recall, which is a conscious act (as opposed to recognition, which is not).

 
 
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10 June 2019 14:27
 
Jb8989 - 09 June 2019 08:28 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 08 June 2019 07:45 AM
Jb8989 - 08 June 2019 06:02 AM

I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times. Like nested illusions with a tape delay.

Awareness of what?

First your surroundings. Later we develop an awareness of a distinction between us and our environment, but I think that’s more so an aspect of macro conscious activity, which merges awareness with a sense of self, emotions, focus and memories etc. I’m not sure whether this means that our initial ability to be aware of what we’re observing gets more accurate, or just more attentive to self awareness being the dominant pipeline of information.

But are we really aware of our “surroundings?” Or is what we’re aware of the model (constructed by the process I’m calling consciousness) of our surroundings? My point is that the model constitutes everything we’re aware of.

So from that standpoint, your earlier post puts the cart before the horse, in that it implies awareness precedes consciousness (“I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times”).

 
 
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10 June 2019 14:47
 
RedJamaX - 10 June 2019 06:42 AM

Consciousness = Level One.  Currently undefined by science…  Personally, I think the minimum requirement is an input-output system in which the inputs are various factors of the environment in which the entity lives, some function of assessment to relate that data to a current state, and output a desired state based on that information.  This does not necessarily require a nervous system or a brain, but it does require more than what we identify as chemical reactions.

Isn’t most of what happens in the brain “chemical reactions?” If not chemical, then electrical. What about electrical reactions? Did you intend to exclude them from the set of things that consciousness requires more than? Are computers conscious? It seems to me that a strict interpretation of your minimum requirement says they are.

You obviously have some idea of what you think conscious functions are even if you can’t define consciousness. I think that’s probably true of most people. So what are some examples of human behavior that you think are “conscious” versus some which are not?

Here’s one: recall is conscious; recognition is not. Recognition happens “automatically,” without any need to think about the thing being recognized. Recall requires creating a picture (or sound, smell, etc.) in the mind: the model constructed by the process of consciousness.

 
 
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10 June 2019 15:56
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 02:27 PM
Jb8989 - 09 June 2019 08:28 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 08 June 2019 07:45 AM
Jb8989 - 08 June 2019 06:02 AM

I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times. Like nested illusions with a tape delay.

Awareness of what?

First your surroundings. Later we develop an awareness of a distinction between us and our environment, but I think that’s more so an aspect of macro conscious activity, which merges awareness with a sense of self, emotions, focus and memories etc. I’m not sure whether this means that our initial ability to be aware of what we’re observing gets more accurate, or just more attentive to self awareness being the dominant pipeline of information.

But are we really aware of our “surroundings?” Or is what we’re aware of the model (constructed by the process I’m calling consciousness) of our surroundings? My point is that the model constitutes everything we’re aware of.

So from that standpoint, your earlier post puts the cart before the horse, in that it implies awareness precedes consciousness (“I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times”).

I do think that awareness preceeds consciousness. I think that down to the cellular level we’re subconsciously aware of whatever part of our environment we’re at. I think that the self awareness distinction is where the subcionscious becomes conscious, but that it also requires other executive level cognition to have developed in tandum.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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10 June 2019 16:11
 
Jb8989 - 10 June 2019 03:56 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 02:27 PM
Jb8989 - 09 June 2019 08:28 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 08 June 2019 07:45 AM
Jb8989 - 08 June 2019 06:02 AM

I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times. Like nested illusions with a tape delay.

Awareness of what?

First your surroundings. Later we develop an awareness of a distinction between us and our environment, but I think that’s more so an aspect of macro conscious activity, which merges awareness with a sense of self, emotions, focus and memories etc. I’m not sure whether this means that our initial ability to be aware of what we’re observing gets more accurate, or just more attentive to self awareness being the dominant pipeline of information.

But are we really aware of our “surroundings?” Or is what we’re aware of the model (constructed by the process I’m calling consciousness) of our surroundings? My point is that the model constitutes everything we’re aware of.

So from that standpoint, your earlier post puts the cart before the horse, in that it implies awareness precedes consciousness (“I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times”).

I do think that awareness preceeds consciousness. I think that down to the cellular level we’re subconsciously aware of whatever part of our environment we’re at. I think that the self awareness distinction is where the subcionscious becomes conscious, but that it also requires other executive level cognition to have developed in tandum.

We probably disagree about the meaning of “aware.” I have a drone equipped with obstacle avoidance that prevents it from flying into things. Would you characterize my drone as being “aware,” subconsciously or otherwise, of its environment?

Are you “aware” of your breathing, most of the time?

 
 
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10 June 2019 17:00
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 04:11 PM
Jb8989 - 10 June 2019 03:56 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 02:27 PM
Jb8989 - 09 June 2019 08:28 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 08 June 2019 07:45 AM
Jb8989 - 08 June 2019 06:02 AM

I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times. Like nested illusions with a tape delay.

Awareness of what?

First your surroundings. Later we develop an awareness of a distinction between us and our environment, but I think that’s more so an aspect of macro conscious activity, which merges awareness with a sense of self, emotions, focus and memories etc. I’m not sure whether this means that our initial ability to be aware of what we’re observing gets more accurate, or just more attentive to self awareness being the dominant pipeline of information.

But are we really aware of our “surroundings?” Or is what we’re aware of the model (constructed by the process I’m calling consciousness) of our surroundings? My point is that the model constitutes everything we’re aware of.

So from that standpoint, your earlier post puts the cart before the horse, in that it implies awareness precedes consciousness (“I think that awareness is responsible for the false sense of free will and consciousness is the minds way of making that sensation local to the body at all times”).

I do think that awareness preceeds consciousness. I think that down to the cellular level we’re subconsciously aware of whatever part of our environment we’re at. I think that the self awareness distinction is where the subcionscious becomes conscious, but that it also requires other executive level cognition to have developed in tandum.

We probably disagree about the meaning of “aware.”

Are you “aware” of your breathing, most of the time?

I agree that we disagree. I think that what you’re referring is attending to a conscious thought.

I think that some technically brain dead people can sense stimulation on a spectrum I’d categorize as subconscious awareness. The ability to attend to that activity forms in development after enough neuroses, memories and emotions coincide.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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10 June 2019 19:54
 

Would you agree that there is “something that it is like” to be aware? What is it like to be a technically brain dead person sensing stimulation?

Would you further agree that without awareness, there is “nothing that it is like?” Or is my drone “aware” of whatever part of its environment it’s at?

 
 
dhave
 
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11 June 2019 12:50
 

Hi all,

This podcast was a delight.  Sam’s belly laugh, Annaka and Sam trying to figure out how the other is using a word, reminds me of this group!  Thoroughly delightful and I’m sure I’d enjoy Annaka’s new book.  Go Annaka.  Now we can misquote you online.  Endlessly.  Congratulations.  wink

As Annaka requested an alternative for the smelly term “panpsychism,” I’m thinking it might be fun to take a closer look at words.  Many of these consciousness threads spin around the words.  Like “What is consciousness?” or “That is not consciousness!” etc.

“Seeing” is part of experience, part of consciousness, whatever those are.  Barring blindness, people “see.”  We say dogs and cats “see” too.  Do bats “see?”  Sort of—it might be confusing to say “the bat heard a loud cave wall and swerved”—but it gets fuzzier and you can see where this goes.  Going to the basement, atoms turn and follow electromagnetic gradients.  Do atoms “see?”  While we have no trouble understanding the metaphor, we don’t like the suggestion that atoms are tiny people.  (That’s not My suggestion. smile

The point is that the symbol or sign “see,” the sequence of squiggles S-E-E, have no necessary relationship to Anything except for the dozens of specific interpretations we’ve appended over generations of cultural and linquistic development.  “Seeing” can have different specific meanings relative to, or from the perspective of, a given context (people, dogs, bats, cells, atoms, what is it like).  It can also be used as a metaphor to describe an invariance among the many specific interpretations; for example, “see” might describe any system reacting to external stimuli and, again, we easily understand the meaning in that context.

So that’s the basic program.  Explain up front that when you say “experience” or “consciousness,” the reader could understand that your meaning depends on context.  That dispenses with the word problem and leaves the fun stuff, like how is it that free will, self, and consciousness Seem so real.  And if anyone questions whether you think atoms are tiny people, ask them how long they’ve held this view.

That could be one way to obsolete “panpsychism” without losing its potential benefit or adding any woo woo.  Just notice the full spectrum of “experience” (or other subjective terms).  See?

- - -

Speaking of AGI and terminators, I think engineers may have the last word.  Youtube has a video “The Ontology of Emotions” where some professor has drawn a large hierarchy of every possible feeling and I can just imagine a kid programming that into a system that identifies say “sadness” and we just sigh and say “And that, by definition, is sadness.”  In Stuart Russell’s “Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach,” he does just this as he defines Rationality:

“For each possible percept sequence (i.e., sequence of input samplings be it visual or otherwise), a rational agent should select an action that is expected to maximize its performance measure, given the evidence provided by the percept sequence and whatever built-in knowledge the agent has.”

So we already create enlightenment-level “beings” that “see” and behave “rationally,” by definition, we just never know if they have any subjectivity and, if they do, whether their “subjectivity” bears any resemblance to our personal experience.  Computers might live in the same category as bats or trees.  Making them ever smarter can even seem devious as in “How can we fool this system into believing that it has free will and a self thereby binding it to a life of suffering?”  How callous of us.

As Annaka illustrates in real-time with Sam, “consciousness” is a more loaded term than “experience.”  Why is this?  “Consciousness” seems to carry more human baggage, a subtle unspoken inference that it is “special” (like us).  Perhaps “consciousness” is the final flat Earth conspiracy, the last bastion of God.

Regards,
Dave.

 
 
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11 June 2019 14:06
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Would you agree that there is “something that it is like” to be aware?

Again, I think awareness exists on many levels. I think that there are very low levels of it where what it’s like to be that way is probably very difficult to ascertain.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

What is it like to be a technically brain dead person sensing stimulation?

I don’t know, ask your dad. Burned!

But seriously, I don’t know. It’s also like asking what’s it like to be an ant or whatever. Maybe one day, but not now.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Would you further agree that without awareness, there is “nothing that it is like?”

You mean conscious awareness? I think there’s a problem with that meme. I don’t think that we can say unequivocally that low levels of conscious activity or awareness strip an animal of registered experience. We just don’t know what it’s like, but I also imagine it’s much more complicated than that.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Or is my drone “aware” of whatever part of its environment it’s at?

No.

 

 
 
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11 June 2019 14:21
 
Jb8989 - 11 June 2019 02:06 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Would you agree that there is “something that it is like” to be aware?

Again, I think awareness exists on many levels. I think that there are very low levels of it where what it’s like to be that way is probably very difficult to ascertain.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

What is it like to be a technically brain dead person sensing stimulation?

I don’t know, ask your dad. Burned!

But seriously, I don’t know. It’s also like asking what’s it like to be an ant or whatever. Maybe one day, but not now.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Would you further agree that without awareness, there is “nothing that it is like?”

You mean conscious awareness? I think there’s a problem with that meme. I don’t think that we can say unequivocally that low levels of conscious activity or awareness strip an animal of registered experience. We just don’t know what it’s like, but I also imagine it’s much more complicated than that.

Antisocialdarwinist - 10 June 2019 07:54 PM

Or is my drone “aware” of whatever part of its environment it’s at?

No.

 

Why isn’t my drone “subconsciously aware” or aware at some “low level?” It certainly seems to be aware of the things it almost flies into. In fact, it seems more aware than a technically brain dead person. What leads you to claim the opposite?

More importantly, why define “awareness” in terms of things that you not only don’t know, but which are unknowable? Why not define it in terms of something you do know, like your own experience?

You accidentally touch a hot stove. You pull your hand away before you’re aware of the pain, or even of having pulled your hand away. Is this the proper use of the word, “aware,” according to your meaning of it?

 
 
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11 June 2019 15:43
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

Why isn’t my drone “subconsciously aware” or aware at some “low level?”

A couple reasons. It doesn’t have a mind, specific prompts aren’t intentional behaviors, it doesn’t have autonomous emotions etc. Therefore it also doesn’t have beliefs, desires or motivations etc.

Information processing that resembles cognition only looks like it has motives, but at closer look it’s just a weak analogy.

Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

More importantly, why define “awareness” in terms of things that you not only don’t know, but which are unknowable? Why not define it in terms of something you do know, like your own experience?

I never said unknowable, and I think that there’s important distinctions between subconscious awareness, conscious awareness, and self awareness - especially when taking into account observable perceptions.

Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

you accidentally touch a hot stove. You pull your hand away before you’re aware of the pain, or even of having pulled your hand away. Is this the proper use of the word, “aware,” according to your meaning of it?

Sort of. I would say that your body was aware of the pain before your mind. Your drone would just melt from the heat.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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11 June 2019 16:48
 
Jb8989 - 11 June 2019 03:43 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

Why isn’t my drone “subconsciously aware” or aware at some “low level?”

A couple reasons. It doesn’t have a mind, specific prompts aren’t intentional behaviors, it doesn’t have autonomous emotions etc. Therefore it also doesn’t have beliefs, desires or motivations etc.

Information processing that resembles cognition only looks like it has motives, but at closer look it’s just a weak analogy.

Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

More importantly, why define “awareness” in terms of things that you not only don’t know, but which are unknowable? Why not define it in terms of something you do know, like your own experience?

I never said unknowable, and I think that there’s important distinctions between subconscious awareness, conscious awareness, and self awareness - especially when taking into account observable perceptions.

Antisocialdarwinist - 11 June 2019 02:21 PM

you accidentally touch a hot stove. You pull your hand away before you’re aware of the pain, or even of having pulled your hand away. Is this the proper use of the word, “aware,” according to your meaning of it?

Sort of. I would say that your body was aware of the pain before your mind. Your drone would just melt from the heat.

Regarding my above boldface, here’s another one: it has no stress- or pain-avoidance concerns or even awareness of nature’s challenges. Nothing’s keeping it on its toes other than possible financial threats from whoever funds the project, which is completely under the surface.

 
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