Strawmanning From the Masses (as ever).

October 2, 2022 Leave a comment

Esoteric layouts

October 1, 2022 Leave a comment

Joscha Bach, Yulia Sandamirskaya: “The Third Age of AI: Understanding Machines that Understand”

September 23, 2022 Leave a comment


Here’s my comments and Extra Annoying Questions on this recent discussion. I like and admire/respect both of them and am not claiming to have competence in the specific domains of AI development they’re speaking on, only in the metaphysical/philosophical domains that underlie them. I don’t even disagree with the merits of each of their views on how to best proceed with AI dev in the near future. What fun would it be to write about what I don’t disagree with though? My disagreements are with the big, big, big picture issues of the relationship of consciousness, information processing, consciousness, and cosmology.

Jumping right in near the beginning…

“The intensity gets associated with brightness and the flatness gets associated with the absence of brightness, with darkness”

Joscha 12:37

First of all, the (neuronal) intensity and flatness *already are functionally just as good as* brightness and darkness. There is no advantage to conjuring non-physical, non-parsimonious, unexplained qualities of visibility to accomplish the exact same thing as was already being accomplished by invisible neuronal properties of ‘intensity’ and ‘flatness’. 

Secondly, where are the initial properties of intensity and flatness coming from? Why take those for granted but not sight? In what scope of perception and aesthetic modality is this particular time span presented as a separate event from the totality of events in the universe? What is qualifying these events of subatomic and atomic positional change, or grouping their separate instances of change together as “intense” or “flat”? Remember, this is invisible, intangible, and unconscious. It is unexperienced. A theoretical neuron prior to any perceptual conditioning that would make it familiar to us as anything resembling a neuron, or an object, or an image.

Third, what is qualifying the qualification of contrast, and why? In a hypothetical ideal neuron before all conscious experience and perception, the mechanisms are already doing what physical forces mechanically and inevitably demand. If there is a switch or gate shaped structure in a cell membrane that opens when ions pile up, that is what is going to happen regardless of whether there is any qualification of the piling of ions as ‘contrasting’ against any subsequent absence of piles of ions. Nothing is watching to see what happens if we don’t assume consciousness. So now we have exposed as unparsimonious and epiphenomenal to physics not only visibility (brightness and darkness) and observed qualities of neuronal activity (intensity and flatness), but also the purely qualitative evaluation of ‘contrast’. Without consciousness, there isn’t anything to cause a coherent contrast that defines the beginning and ending of an event.

  • 13:42 I do like Joscha’s read of the story of Genesis as a myth describing consciousness emerging from a neurological substrate, however I question why the animals he mentions are constructed ‘in the mind’ rather than discovered. Also, why so much focus on sight? What about the other senses? We can feel the heat of the sun – why not make animals out of arrays of warm and cool pixels instead of bright and dark? Why have multiple modes of aesthetic presentation at all? Again – where is the parsimony that we need for a true solution to the hard problem / explanatory gap? If we already have molecules doing what molecules must do in a neuron, which is just move or resist motion, how and why do we suddenly reach for ‘contrast’-ing qualities? If we follow physical parsimony strictly, the brain doesn’t do any ‘constructing’ of brightness, or 3d sky, or animals. The brain is *already* constructing complex molecular shapes that do everything that a physical body could possibly evolve to do – without any sense or experience and just using a simple geometry of invisible, unexperienced forces. What would a quality of ‘control’ be doing in a physical universe of automatic, statistical-mechanical inevitables?

“I suspect that our culture actually knew, at some point, that reality, and the sense of reality and being a mind, is the ability to dream – the ability to be some kind of biological machine that dreams about a world that contains it.”

Joscha 14:28

This is what I find so frustrating to me about about Joscha’s view. It is SO CLOSE to getting the bigger picture but it doesn’t go *far enough*. Why doesn’t he see that the biological machine would also be part of the dream? The universe is not a machine that dreams (how? why? parsimony, hard problem) – it’s a dream that machines sometimes. Or to be more precise (and to advertise my multisense realism views), the universe is THE dream that *partially* divides itself into dreams. I propose that these diffracted dreams lens each other to seem like anti-dreams (concrete physical objects or abstract logical concepts) and like hyper-dreams (spiritual/psychedelic/transpersonal/mytho-poetic experiences), depending on the modalities of sense and sense-making that are available, and whether they are more adhesive to the “Holos” or more cohesive to the “Graphos” end of the universal continuum of sense.

“So what do we learn from intelligence in nature? So first if first if we want to try to build it, we need to start with some substrates. So we need to start with some representations.”

Yulia 16:08

Just noting this statement because in my understanding, a physical substrate would be a presentation rather than a re-presentation. If we are talking about the substrates in nature we are talking about what? Chemistry? Cells made of molecules? Shapes moving around? Right away Yulia’s view is seems to give objects representational abilities. I understand that the hard problem of consciousness is not supposed to be part of the scope of her talk, but I am that guy who demands that at this moment in time, it needs to be part of every talk that relates to AI!

“…and in nature the representations used seem to be not distributed. Neural networks, if you’re familiar with those, multiple units, multi-dimensional vectors represent things in the world…and not just (you know) single symbols.”

Yulia 16:20

How is this power of representation given to “units” or “vectors”, particularly if we are imagining a universe prior to consciousness? Must we assume that parts of the world just do have this power to symbolize, refer to, or seem like other parts of the world in multiple ways? That’s fine, I can set aside consciousness and listen to where she is going with this.

17:16: I like what Yulia brings up about the differences between natural and technological approaches as far as nature (biology really). She says that nature begins with dynamic stability by adaptation to change (homeostasis, yes?) while AI architecture starts with something static and then we introduce change if needed. I think that’s a good point, and relate it to my view that “AI is Inside Out“. I agree and go further to add that not only does nature begin with change and add stasis when needed but nature begins with *everything* that it is while AI begins with *nothing*…or at least it did until we started using enormous training sets of training data from the world.

  • to 18:14: She’s discussing the lag between sensation and higher cognition…the delay that makes prediction useful. This is a very popular notion and it is true as far as it goes. Sure, if we look at the events in the body as a chain reaction in the micro timescale, then there is a sequence going from retina to optical nerve to visual cortex, etc – but – I would argue this is only one of many timescales that we should understand and consider. In other ways, my body’s actions are *behind* my intentions for it. My typing fingers are racing to keep up with the dictation from my inner voice, which is racing to keep up with my failing memory of the ideas that I want to express. There are many agendas that are hovering over and above my moment-to-moment perceptions, only some of which I am personally aware of at any given moment but recognize my control over them in the long term. To look only at the classical scale of time and biology is to fall prey to the fallacy of smallism.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

I can identify at least six modes of causality/time with only two of them being sequential/irreversible.

The denial of other modes of causality becomes a problem if the thing we’re interested in – personal consciousness, does not exist on that timescale or causality mode that we’re assuming is the only one that is real. I don’t think that we exist in our body or brain at all. The brain doesn’t know who we are. We aren’t there, and the brain’s billions of biochemical scale agendas aren’t here. Neither description represents the other, and only the personal scale has the capacity to represent anything. I propose that they are different timescales of the same phenomenon, which is ‘consciousness’, aka nested diffractions of the aesthetic-participatory Holos. One does not cause the other in the same way that these words you see on your screen are not causing concepts to be understood, and the pixels of the screen aren’t causing a perception of them as letters. They coincide temporally, but are related only through a context of conscious perception, not built up from unconscious functions of screens, computers, bodies, or brains.

  • to 25:39 …cool stuff about insect brains, neural circuits etc. 
  • 25:56 talking about population coding, distributed representations. I disagree with the direction that representation is supposed to take here, as far as I think that it is important to at least understand that brain functions cannot *literally* re-present anything. It is actually the image of the brain that is a presentation in our personal awareness that iconically recapitulates some aspects of the subpersonal timescale of awareness that we’re riding on top of. Again, I think we’re riding in parallel, not in series, with the phenomenon that we see as brain activity. I suggest that the brain activity never adds up to a conscious experience. The brain is the physical inflection point of what we do to the body and what the body does to us. Its activity is already a conscious experience in a smaller and larger timescale than our own, that is being used by the back end of another, personal timescale of conscious experience. What we see as the body is, in that timescale of awareness that is subpersonal rather than subconscious, a vast layer of conscious experiences that only look like mechanisms because of the perceptual lensing that diffracts perspective from all of the others. The personal scope of awareness sees the subpersonal scope of awareness as a body/cells/molecules because it’s objectifying the vast distance between that biological/zoological era of conscious experience so that it can coexist with our own. It is, in some sense, our evolutionary past – still living prehistorically. We relate to it as an alien community through microscoping instruments. I say this to point way toward a new idea. I’m not expecting that this would be common knowledge and I don’t consider that cutting edge thinkers like Sandamirskaya and Bach are ‘wrong’ for not thinking of it that way. Yes, I made this view of the universe up – but I think that it does actually work better than the alternatives that I have seen so far.
  • to 34:00 talking about the unity of the brain’s physical hardware with its (presumed) computing algorithms vs the disjunction between AI algorithms and the hardware/architectures we’ve been using. Good stuff, and again aligns with my view of AI being inverted or inside out. Our computers are a bottom-up facade that imitate some symptoms of some intelligence. Natural intelligence is bottom up, top down, center out, periphery in, and everything in between. It is not an imitation or an algorithm but it uses divided conscious experience to imitate and systemize as well as having its own genuine agendas that are much more life affirming and holistic than mere survival or control. Survival and control are annoyances for intelligence. Obstructions to slow down the progress from thin scopes of anesthetized consciousness to richer aesthetics of sophisticated consciousness. Yulia is explaining why neuroscience provides a good example of working AI that we should study and emulate – I agree that we should, but not because I think it will lead to true AGI, just that it will lead to more satisfying prosthetics for our own aesthetic-participatory/experiential enhancement…which is really what we’re trying to do anyhow, rather than conjure a competing inorganic super-species that cannot be killed.

When Joscha resumes after 34:00, he discusses Dall-E and the idea of AI as ‘dreaming’ but at the same time as ‘brute force’ with superhuman training on 800 million images. Here I think the latter is mutually exclusive of the former. Brute force training yes, dreaming and learning, no. Not literally. No more than a coin sorter learns banking. No more than an emoji smiles at us. I know this is tedious but I am compelled to continue to remind the world about the pathetic fallacy. Dall-E doesn’t see anything. It doesn’t need to. It’s not dreaming up images for us. It’s a fancy cash register that we have connected to a hypnotic display of its statistical outputs. Nothing wrong with that – it’s an amazing and mostly welcome addition to our experience and understanding. It is art in a sense, but in another it’s just a Ouija board through which we see recombinations of art that human beings have made for other human beings based on what they can see. If we want to get political about it, it’s a bit of a colonial land grab for intellectual property – but I’m ok with that for the moment.

In the dialogue that follows in the middle of the video, there is some interesting and unintentionally connected discussion about the lack of global understanding of the brain and the lack of interdisciplinary communication within academia between neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, neuromorphic engineers. (philosophers of mind not invited ;( ).
Note to self: get a bit more background on the AI silver bullet of the moment, the stochastic Gradient Descent Algorithm

Bach and Sandamirskaya discuss the benefits and limitations of the neuromorphic, embodied hardware approach vs investing more in building simulations using traditional computing hardware. We are now into the shop talk part of the presentation. I’m more of a spectator here, so it’s interesting but I have nothing to add.

By 57:12 Joscha makes an hypothesis about the failure of AI thus far to develop higher understanding.

“…the current systems are not entangled with the world, but I don’t think it’s because they are not robots, I think it’s because they’re not real time.”

To this I say it’s because ‘they’ are not real. It’s the same reason why the person in the mirror isn’t actually looking back at you. There is no person there. There is an image in our visual awareness. The mirror doesn’t even see it. There is no image for the mirror, it’s just a plane of electromagnetically conditioned metal behind glass that happens to do the same kind of thing that the matter of our eyeballs does, which is just optical physics that need not have any visible presentation at all.

The problem is the assumption that we are our body, or are in our body, or are generated by a brain/body rather than seeing physicality as a representation of consciousness on one timescale that is more fully presented in another that we can’t directly access. When we see an actor in a movie, we are seeing a moving image and hearing sound. I think that the experience of that screen image as a person is made available to us not through processing of those images and sounds but through the common sense that all images and sounds have with the visible and aural aspects of our personal experience. We see a person *through* the image rather than because of it. We see the ‘whole’ through ‘holes’ in our perception.

This is a massive intellectual shift, so I don’t expect anyone to be able to pull it off just by thinking about it for 30 seconds, even if they wanted to. It took several years of deep consideration for me. The hints are all around us though. Perceptual ‘fill-in’ is the rule, not the exception. Intuition. Presentiment. Precognitive dreams, remote viewing, and other psi. NDEs. Blindsight and synesthesia.

When we see each other as an image of a human body we are using our own limited human sight, which is also limited by the animal body>eyes>biology>chemistry>physics. All of that is only the small illuminated subset of consciousness-that-we-are-personally-conscious-of-when-we-are-normatively-awake. It should be clear that is not all that we are. I am not just these words, or the writer of these words, or a brain or a body, or a process using a brain or body, I am a conscious experience in a universe of conscious experiences that are holarchically diffracted (top down, bottom up, center out, etc). My intelligence isn’t an algorithm. My intelligence is a modality of awareness that uses algorithms and anti-algorithms alike. It feasts on understanding like olfactory-gustatory awareness feasts on food.

Even that is not all of who I am, and even “I” am not all of the larger transpersonal experience that I live through and that lives through me. I think that people who are gifted with deep understanding of mathematics and systemizing logic tend to have been conditioned to use that part of the psyche to the exclusion of other modes of sense and sense making, leaving the rich heritage of human understanding of larger psychic contexts to atrophy, or worse, reappear as a projected shadow appearance of ‘woo’ to the defensive ego, still wounded from the injury of centuries under our history of theocratic rule. This is of course very dangerous, and even more dangerous, you need that atrophied part of the psyche to understand why it is dangerous…which is why seeing the hard problem in the first place is too hard for many people, even many philosophers who have been discussing it for decades.

Synchronistically, I now return to the video at 57:54, where Yulia touches on climate change (or more importantly, from our perspective, climate destabilization) and the flawed expectation of mind uploading. I agree with her that it won’t work, although probably for different reasons. It’s not because the substrate matters – it does, but only because the substrate itself is a lensing artifact masking what is actually the totality of conscious experience.

Organic matter and biology are a living history of conscious experience that cannot be transcended without losing the significance and grounding of that history. Just as our body cannot survive by drinking an image of water, higher consciousness cannot flourish in a sandbox of abstract semiotic switches. We flourish *in spite of* the limits of body and brain, not because our experience is being generated by them.

This is not to say that I think organic matter and biology are in any way the limits of consciousness or human consciousness, but rather they are a symptom of the recipe for the development of the rich human qualities of consciousness that we value most. The actual recipe of human consciousness is made of an immense history of conscious experience, wrapped around itself in obscenely complicated ways that might echo the way that protein structures are ordered. This recipe includes seemingly senseless repetition of particular conscious experiences over vast durations of time. I don’t think that this authenticity can be faked. Unlike the patina of an antique chair or the bouquet of a vintage wine that could in theory be replicated artificially, the humanness of human consciousness depends on the actual authenticity of the experience. It actually takes billions of years of just these types of physical > chemical > organic > cellular > somatic > cerebral > anthropological > cultural > historical experiences to build the capacity to appreciate the richness and significance of those layers. Putting a huge data set end product of that chain of experience in the hands of a purely pre-organic electrochemical processor and expecting it to animate into human-like awareness is like trying to train a hydrogen bomb to sing songs around a campfire.

Draft on Information, Entropy, and Negentropy

July 26, 2022 Leave a comment

It is currently popular to equate entropy with information. I have written previously why I do not think this makes sense, citing thought experiments such as running a video of ice melting in reverse. The fact that the amount of bytes of the video does not change demonstrates several concepts:

  1. Thermodynamic entropy is not equal to information entropy.
  2. The video image of ice melting is not the chemical process of ice melting.
  3. Sense modalities matter.
  4. Qualia cannot be presumed to arise organically from physical facts.
  5. Simulation is a superficial aspect of overlapping sense modalities rather than a deep fact of nature.
  6. Information includes both the sign, the unsign, the noise, and the unnoise.
  7. The sign contains maximum information and the least entropy. The sign is detected, understood, and known to be detected and understood.
  8. The unsign is the property of a given quale to be disambiguated negatively. The letter A is definitely not a consonant. We could say there is a set of things that A definitely is not. I am calling that the unsign of A.
  9. The noise is that which is assumed to be outside of the scope of signs but not outside of scope of detection.
  10. The unnoise is that which is assumed to be outside of the scope of detection, or which can neither be assumed nor ruled out.
  11. Abstraction is built on sense deployed on the ability to sense that something else has been sensed.
  12. Entropy and negentropy are qualities related to detecting detection events in the most minimal and generic terms rather than to the qualities that are being sensed themselves.
  13. The minimal and generic terms of data, such as bits, are the terms of a TEST performed concretely using physical substances and their capacity to detect and change (sensory-motive) each other’s (detectable-by-some-sensory-motive-test) state.
  14. Information refers to the results of a set of sensory-motive/experiential tests.
  15. Entropy and negentropy refer to information and qualities of sensory-motive tests.

We mistakenly call these tests and test results read-writes. Mistaken because there is NO decoding of the aesthetic qualities represented through what is being tested/”read”, there is only a copying of parts of sequences of (what we perceive to be) test results from one physical “storage” site to another”. From the perspective of hardware (which has no perspective in reality), there can be no “code”. The hardware event is controllable precisely because it has no meaning or motive of its own that would significantly impact those properties we are testing for.

Because we could dream of different facts relating to video images and chemical processes, neither can be identical to visible and tactile-tangible experiences.

Critique of A Good Idea

July 18, 2022 Leave a comment

Here are my (unfortunately critical but well-intentioned) comments on “Electromagnetism’s Bridge Across the Explanatory Gap: How a Neuroscience/Physics Collaboration Delivers Explanation Into All Theories of Consciousness“, in response to some tweets.

I think that the paper does come up with good plans of action for experimentation, and I take no issue with those. I agree that we should make artificial neurons. I agree that we do experiments that will tease out the most primitive signs of electromagetism emerging from more fundamental physics, and I agree we should think of them as hints about how consciousness provides typical human modes of awareness. My disagreements are with the assumptions made in getting there.

I fully acknowledge that my disagreements are made from my own conjectures and I expect most audiences to consider those conjectures ‘crackpot’ ideas prior to even attempting to understand them fully. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. My only hope is that there might be some trace left of my ideas on the internet in future decades that could help theorists close improve on or disprove my many hypotheses.

From the start, the issue of consciousness is framed in relation to both First Person qualities of experience and to the sense of their being “inside” of what is being observed as brain and body behaviors.

“Observational correlates are demonstrated to be intrinsically very unlikely to explain or lead to a fundamental principle underlying the strongly emergent 1st-person-perspective (1PP) invisibly stowed away inside them. “

I submit that this is already a rhetorically loaded framing that does not consider the possibility that the sense of privacy and interiority we commonly (but not always) experience is not any more fundamental than the sense of publicity and exteriority, even though those distinctions are widely reported to be transcended in certain states of consciousness.

Nobody has ever seen a first-person (1PP) experience ’emerge’ from a brain in any way. What we have observed is a correlation appearance between experiences with intangible or trans-tangible qualities and experiences of tangible appearances of changes in the brain.

I think that I should break that awkward sentence down further.

What we have observed (scientists, doctors, patients with brain injuries, etc)

is a correlation appearance (meaning we see a brain doing something and we hear reports of something else, but they appear to happen at the same time). There is no evidence of causation, no mechanism by which a brain activity transforms into another quality like color, flavor, or privacy. There is only a (veridical) appearance of temporal synchronization.

between experiences with intangible or trans-tangible qualities (I’m trying here to refer to the qualitative phenomena of nature that we tend to associate with and assume arise only within “1PP” privacy, but to explicitly avoid jumping to that logically unnecessary conclusion. I think the relevant thing about feelings, thoughts, flavors, etc is not that they are private but that they are NOT tangible. They are not touchable presences with geometric shape. They can be intangible concepts or phenomena that I call percepts (sensations, feelings, colors, etc) that are not completely intangible or conceptual but cannot be reduced non-destructively to geometric coordinates.)

and experiences of tangible appearances of changes in the brain. (I’m trying to emphasize here that regardless of how real and objective the brain appears, its appearance does depend on the modalities of sight and touch used to detect it. Those appearances cannot be said to be more fundamental than any other appearances that tend to appear to be ‘1PP’).

In consideration of that, I think that it is just as likely that the seemingly third person and seemingly first person qualities of experience ’emerge’, or perhaps better ‘diverge’ from a larger holarchy of conscious experience.

“The brain’s specialized complexity in EM field expression distinguishes it from other organs (such as the liver and the heart) that are also EM field entities from the atomic level up. The consequence is that there is only one natural, fundamental physics correlate of P-Consciousness: EM fields as “electromagnetic correlates of consciousness””

This seems to contradict itself. It is saying that it is the complexity of EM that makes the brain more special than, say the EM object that is the large intestine, or the body as a whole…but then the assertion points to EM fields rather than the specific property of complexity as being correlates of consciousness. I point to single-celled organisms that seem to be no less conscious than human bodies do, but which have no neurons. As the paper goes on to say:

 “…for all practical purposes in the science of P-Consciousness, we are electromagnetic field objects in our entirety. As is a car, a computer, lunch, a pile of dirt, a tree, your dog, steam, and the air we breathe.” 

So which is it? If everything is electromagnetism then is everything conscious to some degree (what I call promiscuous panpsychism)?, or is the brain conscious because it is so electromagnetically complex? If the latter then the EM aspect seems all but irrelevant.

“For example, atoms form molecules and they jointly aggregate to form cellular organelles. These jointly form whole cells, and so forth.”

Here again, the position of smallism is assumed and the top-down influence is disqualified without consideration. In reality, when we observe how organisms reproduce, they divide as whole cells. We can infer that the first cells were the result of molecules accidentally persisting in more complex collections that would lead to lipid membranes and prokaryotes but our efforts to synthesize cells from ‘scratch’ have thus far been somewhat suspiciously unsuccessful. Our inferences of small-to-large evolution by natural selection may be a huge mistake.

We have not even attempted to factor in the lensing effect of the bubble of our own perceptual limits, and its role in perpetuating an anthropocentric worldview. We have not attempted to estimate the possible consequences to our thinking of a universe in terms that assume our apprehension of human consciousness as the apex form of awareness or sole form of super-awareness. We have not factored in the possibility of timescale relativity and taken five minutes to imagine how much more conscious something like the atmosphere of a planet would assume if we viewed centuries of it in time lapse equivalent to an nMRI video.

In reality, the evolution of forms may proceed not from small to large and young to old, but may at the very minimum, progress from both top and bottom, past and “future”. We may be living in a Natural Containment Hierarchy that is not merely scaled by physical sizes of bodies, but by lensings of perceived causality, aka ‘time’. I have made some efforts to diagram this:

We should not assume that our typical, 21st century, Western conditioned, mid-life, waking consciousness is the universal authority on the ontology of time/causality. The smallest and largest scales of the hierarchy/holarchy may be more unified with each other than with the holons at the center of the hierarchy.

Our willingness to ignore our self-centering view of the containment hierarchy seems to suggest to me that the possibility of an intrinsic lensing property in the way that conscious experiences are diffracted from the totality. The sense of being in the center of the containment hierarchy may be like other types of relativistic frames of reference rather than an objective reflection of the cosmos as it is without our lensing of it, and of ourselves.

I propose that the anthropocentric positioning of ourselves in the containment hierarchy should be considered as a superposition of *both* the self-centered and the self-negating perspectives. In other words, we see ourselves and our lives as midway between Planck scales and cosmological scales both because it is actually true, and because it must always seem true.

By analogy, we find that both the geocentric/flat Earth perspective and the heliocentric round Earth perspective are equally significant to understanding human history, but neither could be predicted as emerging from the other. In the same kind of way, the uncanny similarity in the apparent size of the solar disc and lunar disk in the sky, combined with the happenstance of Earth having only one such natural satellite, makes for a rather fine-tuned condition that made millennia of religious worldviews possible and dominant still for some even in the face of the obvious evidence of the post-Copernican perspective.

What I see is a universe where such fine-tuned superpositions are themselves fine-tuned superpositions in between coincidence and teleology. The coincidences are both coincidental and more than coincidental, and picking one perspective or the other can seem to have cascading ‘choose your own adventure’ or ambiguous image flip consequences. The universe seems to support delusions and solipsism for an unreasonable number of people for an unreasonable amount of time. In my understanding, this property of the universe and consciousness is profoundly important, although that estimation of significance is itself tantamount to choosing the teleological-aesthetic (solipsistic at the extreme) side of the superposition of the absolute over the mechanistic-coincidental (“nilipsistic” at the extreme) side.

“If you deleted (in the sense of “de-organized”) any layer below M, for example, the entire hierarchy disappears from that layer upwards. For example, deleting all atomic particles deletes atoms, molecules, cells, and so forth, all the way to the containing environment. In these cases, none of the deletions eliminate the lower levels, including sub-atomic particles, space, and so forth. This fact reveals the existence of a powerful vertically acting system of constraints that is not within the ambit of any individual scientific discipline.”

Not necessarily. By analogy, if we deleted all characters used in written language, and all phonemes used in verbal language, that does not mean that all human thought and communication would be deleted. All that would happen is that humans would immediately begin inventing new language using those same two sense modalities or other sense modalities if they were also deleted. In our theories, I think that we should not be blinded by the bias known as “smallism” and “big” cosmopsychic theories should be considered equally viable.

“Contemporary philosophers tend to assume that fundamental things exist at the micro-level. Coleman (2006) calls this “smallism”: the view that facts about big things are grounded in facts about little things, e.g., the table exists and is the way it is because the particles making it up are related in certain extremely complicated ways. However, the work of Jonathan Schaffer (2010) has brought to prominence an alternative picture of reality. According to the view Schaffer calls “priority monism”, facts about little things are grounded in facts about big things. The table’s atoms exist and are the way they are because the table exists and is the way it is; and all things ultimately exist and are the way they are because of certain facts about the universe as a whole. For the priority monist there is one and only one fundamental thing: the universe.

If we combine priority monism with constitutive panpsychism we get:
Constitutive cosmopsychism—The view that all facts are grounded in/realized by/constituted of consciousness-involving facts at the cosmic-level.

We can also envisage non-constitutive forms of cosmopsychism. On a standard form of layered emergentism (discussed above), human and animal minds are causally dependent on consciousness-involving micro-level facts whilst being fundamental entities in their own right; on the cosmopsychist analogue, human and animal minds are causally dependent on the conscious cosmos whilst being fundamental entities in their own right.”

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

continuing…

“Layer [M+1] is where the EM field system impressed on space by brain tissue acquires its fully detailed form, including all properties inherited by the constraints, drives, and properties of the deeper layers”

Here I propose that EM fields may not in fact be ‘impressed on space’ at all, and are not even ‘fields’ in an ontological sense. My understanding suggests that electromagnetic activity is irreducibly sensorimotive, and that the inference of fields is based on early methods of detection, measurement, and logical deduction which have become obsolete with the advent of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and familiarity with psi and other exotic states of consciousness.

The universe may be a conscious experience ‘all the way down’ and all the way up, with experiences on any given timescale lensing experiences on distant timescales in objectivized (“nilipsistic“) terms (as fundamental forces, mathematical logic, and tangible topologies, for example). Having read some of Maxwell and Faraday’s original papers defining EM in terms of fields, I am struck with the distinct impression that the conclusions they made would not have been that way if they had access to QM observations like entanglement and contextuality. I think that the field metaphor was a 19th century heuristic that continues to be indispensable, but not because it is an ontological fact. 

We now note that the transition from strong to weak emergence is a fundamental feature of the process that science experienced when deconstructing the natural biosphere into the layered descriptions shown in Figure 2B. In Figure 2B this process has been labeled as “reduction.” Before the science was completed, every progression in scientific understanding started as a mystery: a question unanswered. Molecules were mysteriously related to atoms. Atoms were mysteriously emergent from what turned out to be their subatomic constituents. Higher up, we find the mystery of the strongly emergent flight of bumblebees, which turned out to be a weakly-emergent property of turbulence. 

I see this as a popular, but nonetheless dangerous and seductive fallacy. It may be true that the history of science can be seen to have repeatedly corralled seemingly strongly emergent phenomena and tamed them into weakly emergent complications, this cannot be presumed to extend from the tangible to the intangible or trans-tangible under that same logic.

This is due to the fact that atoms, molecules, bumblebee bodies, and turbulence are *uncontroversially tangible*. There was never any question but that these phenomena are observed as tangible forms moving in public space. There is in all cases an infinitely wide explanatory gap between all such tangible objects and any such intangible or trans-tangible phenomena as sensations, feelings, perceptions, awareness, colors, flavors, sounds, ideas, symbols, references, interpretations, themes, archetypes, caring, valuing, and on and on.

No amount of moving particles can ‘add up’ to anything other than other groupings or shapes of moving particles without appealing to strong emergence or promissory materialism. There is no comparable problem with particles adding up to shapes such as molecules, surfaces, cells, bodies, planets, etc. They are all 3d topological presences that can be comfortably assigned causal closure that is limited to other 3d topological phenomena (forces, fields, laws of geometry). Things like forces and fields, while superficially ‘intangible’ (and therefore must be imagined to be somehow “imprinted” on the vacuum of space or inevitable consequences of statistics on cosmological constants or standard model, etc) are nonetheless exhaustively describable in tangible terms. They are spatial regions within which some effect is observed to occur.

This kind of in silico empirical approach is simply missing from the science. No instances of in silico-equivalent EM field replication can be found. Artificial neurons created this way could help in understanding EM field expression by excitable cell tissue.

I agree with this. In order to proceed with understanding the Easy Problem of our own neurology, we should be creating artificial neurons.

As the science has unfolded, a single, dominant and promising theory of this kind has emerged. It is the “Information Integration Theory (IIT) of Consciousness” by Tononi (20042008)Balduzzi and Tononi (2008)Oizumi et al. (2014), and Tononi et al. (2016).

That may be true in the sense that there has not been a single competing theory that has been discussed as much in the media coverage of academic discussion in recent years, but I have not encountered many who see IIT as especially promising in reality. At best, some future descendant of IIT might provide some useful indications for determining whether someone is likely to come out of a coma or something, but even that utility may be completely misguided. There are many good critiques of IIT that can be found online:

“In summary, IIT fails to consistently assign consciousness to a system, because the definition is based on hypotheticals, which by definition are not instantiated by the system. Deep down, the troubles arise from the circularity of the definition of information as reduction of uncertainty. Uncertainty refers to a prior state of knowledge, but the notion of knowledge for the subject is never defined. In practice, the knowledge underlying the reduction of uncertainty is the knowledge of the observer who formalizes scenarios and quantifies probabilities of events that the system itself has never lived.”

 http://romainbrette.fr/notes-on-consciousness-ix-why-integrated-information-theory-fails

continuing…

From a C1 perspective, this position is rather hard to understand, because C1 tells us there is only one substrate that we know delivers P-Consciousness: EM fields organized in the form of a brain made of atoms.

By this reasoning, only our own personal brain is known to deliver P-Consciousness also. Because we know from our own conscious experience how limited our empathy and theory of mind can be even for members of our own species, there is no reason to assume that P-Consciousness has any more connection to humans or brains or electromagnetism than it does to ‘complexity’ in general, or to biology, or to certain scales of material accumulation.

I see these assertions of brains as critical to understanding consciousness as based on uncritical anthropocentrism. I expect that our own brain is especially suited to our own kind of conscious experience, but really the brain of any species would seem equally appropriate if we did not have the human brain as an example. The intestines or the immune system, cell nucleus, cytoskeleton, nucleic acids, and many other complicated structures and processes would seem equally hospitable.

GRT focuses on the Oscillatory Correlates of Consciousness (OCC), where the particular “oscillations” most relevant to P-Consciousness are those arising from the brain’s endogenous EM field system 

What we need to know though is what is doing the ‘correlating’? There might be all kinds of correlates of consciousness we can find – maybe high dimensional analysis of gross physiological indicators like skin resistance and blood pressure could be used to plot out some correlation too. Good stuff for the Easy Problem and medicine, but does nothing for the Hard Problem or disproving cosmopsychism.

The abovementioned EM account offered by JohnJoe McFadden is the wave-mechanical approach in his “Conscious Electromagnetic Information” (CEMI) field theory (McFadden, 2002a,b2006200720132020). “I therefore examine the proposition that the brain’s EM field is consciousness and that information held in distributed neurons is integrated into a single conscious EM field: the CEMI field” (McFadden, 2002a).

We have the same interaction problem here, with the theory that information can be somehow ‘held’ in physical topologies we call neurons begs the question of physicalism. As far as I can see, all physical effects can be explained as statistically inevitable recombinatory variations on geometric *formations* and require no such things as information, signals, signs, etc to do what they appear to do. The correlation is smuggled in retrospectively from conscious experience rather than arrived at prospectively from physics.

Our proposition is that the standard model’s scope of scientific deliverables, and the scientific behavior that produces them, is to be expanded to include (ii). We now know that EM field, as depicted by the particular (i) 3PP “laws of appearances”

Sure, I agree with that and have proposed the same kind of thing. EM should be understood to be a single Sensory-Motive-Electro-Magnetic phenomenon. That isn’t the whole story though, but it’s an important start. I have tried to diagram it early on in my Multisense Realism efforts:

let us assume that (ii) involves abstractions describing a universe made of a large collection of a single kind of primitive structural element, say X. This “X” could be perhaps regarded as an “event” or “information mote” or “energy quantum” or all these simultaneously. Its true identity is not our job to specify here. 

A seemingly pragmatic approach, but unfortunately I think that there is no way to work from X without understanding what X is in this case. I think that it is our primary job to specify it. In my view, I propose X as a scale-independent (equally micro-unit as cosmo-unity) holos of nested/diffracted aesthetic-participatory (sensory-motive) phenomena. I have elaborate diagrams and explications of how that goes.

The solution to the hard problem, we suggest, has been hard because it must be discovered (not invented) in a completely different realm of descriptions of nature of kind (ii). In effect, the very meaning of what it is that a scientist does to explain nature has itself had to change.

What scientific evidence do we have that it is possible or practical to describe the natural world U in (ii) form? When we look for it, we easily find that we have already been doing it (X descriptions) for decades, but in physics and outside the science of consciousness. They are familiar to all of us. Some examples: X = “string theory” e.g. (Sen, 1998), “loops” e.g. (Rovelli, 2006), “branes” e.g. (Ne’eman and Eizenberg, 1995), “dynamic hierarchies of structured noise” e.g. (Cahill and Klinger, 19982000Cahill, 20032005), “cellular automata” e.g. (Mitchell et al., 1994Hordijk et al., 1996Wolfram, 2002), and “quantum froth” e.g. (Swarup, 2006

This is hard to parse for me. Is it saying that things like branes, strings, loops, etc can just be considered identical to conscious experiences? 

The moment a (ii) collection of abstracted X can be found to express EM fields as an emergent behavior of the collection, the physicists involved, by directly comparing the (i) and (ii) depictions of the same nature, would then be able to see, within (ii), that part of the underlying structure of (i) that may be responsible for the 1PP. 

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable approach to me, as far as identifying some crucially important features of the origins of our own experience as human individuals, but I still see it as an Easy Problem path that assumes

1) consciousness = “1PP” and

2) 1PP is not closer the underlying phenomenon from which X arises than anything else we could imagine.

 It is based on the empirical fact that it is EM fields that ultimately deliver P-Consciousness.

I see this as a problem. First of all, the statement that EM fields deliver P-Consciousness is NOT an empirical fact. It could just as easily be the case that EM fields are P-Consciousness appearances of the nesting of P-Consciousness on particular timescales. Secondly, the paper has already committed to the *complexity* of the EM field complex-that-appears-to-itself-as-a-brain being more important than the ubiquitous presence of EM as every-appearance-in-the-universe.

The correlates of P-Consciousness paradigm must ultimately face the fundamental physics of EM fields if a fully explanatory account of P-Consciousness is to be constructed. 

That is an assumption also. A theory based on assuming smallism and anthropocentric identifications with consciousness. I am encouraged by the intentions and directions that are behind the paper, but I see it as still a step before Step One, and that in many ways, the true Step One can be arrived at by considering the diametric opposite of many of the ideas above that are assumed to be true.

The Self-Seduction of Geppetto

July 10, 2022 Leave a comment

Here, the program finds a way to invert my intentions and turn Geppetto into a robot.

My instructions were “Evil robot Pinocchio making marionnette Geppetto dance as a puppet spectacular detail superrealistic”.

Instead, Pinocchio seems to be always rendered with strings (I didn’t ask for that), and only partially a robot. Pinocchio seems to have a non-robot head and a body that ranges from non-robotic to semi-robotic. It seems ambiguous whether it is Geppetto or Pinocchio who is the evil robot puppet. At the end it appears to be a hapless Geppetto who has been taken over by the robot completely (I didn’t ask for that) and (the hallucination of?) Pinocchio is gone.

I am reminded of the Maya Angelou re-quote

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time:

On Sentience and AI

June 15, 2022 1 comment
A comment on this article in the Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/06/google-engineer-sentient-ai-chatbot/661273

Sean Prophet, I am certain that the current generation of software is not sentient and my understanding is that it may in fact be impossible to assemble any sentient device. This is not, as you claim with certitude, based on unsupportable hubris and fear, but on decades of deep contemplation and discussion about the nature of consciousness, information, and matter. My view is unique but informed by the ideas of many, many philosophers, scientists, mystics, and mathematicians throughout human history.

I do not worry about machines replacing humans. I’m not particularly fond of humans en masse, but I recognize that humans are responsible for many of the best and only a few of the worst things about the world that we now live in – including computers.

My journey has gone from seeing the world through the lens of atheistic materialism to psychedelic spiritualism, to Neoplatonic monotheism, to what I call Multisense Realism. I think that reality is ultimately a kind of art gallery that experiences itself – a self-diffracting, cosmopsychic Holos of aesthetic-participatory phenomena in which anesthetic-automatic appearances are rendered as lensing artifacts: Lorentz-like perceptual transforms that make conscious experience on one timescale seem like ‘matter’ or ‘information’ to consciousness on another timescale. We are not ‘data’. We are not information-processing systems or material-energetic bodies. Both of those are appearances within the real world of authentic, and direct (if highly filtered) perception.

It’s my understanding that because machines are assembled from tangible parts and intangible rules, they are not like the bodies of natural objects. They have not evolved inevitably as tangible symptoms of a trans-tangible experiential phenomenon but have been devised and deployed by the ‘inside’ appearance of one type of conscious experience onto the ‘outside’ appearance of another. In our case, our AI efforts are deployed on geochemical substrates by an anthropological-zoological consciousness, using matter as a vehicle to reflect an inverted image of our own most superficial intellectual but most sophisticated dimensions of sense-making.

I know this sounds over the top, and to be honest, I’m not really writing this to be understood by people who are not fluent in the deep currents of philosophy of mind and computation. I’m no longer qualified to talk about this stuff to a general audience. My views pick up where conventional views of this historical moment leave off. You have to have already accepted the hard problem of consciousness and questioned panpsychism to open the door that my worldview is behind.

Anyhow, while we are on diametrically opposite sides of this issue Sean, I know with certainty that it is not for the reasons that you think and project onto (at least some of) us. I have not really run into many fans of human beings who are terrified of losing their specialness. That is a stereotype that I do not find pans out in reality. Instead, I find a dichotomy between a group of highly educated, highly intelligent men on the extreme systemizing end of the systemizing-empathizing (I call cohesive-adhesive) spectrum of consciousness, without much theory of mind skill falling into a trap of their own hubris while a mostly unwitting public with neither the time nor interest to care about the subject – but when forced to, they intuitively know that machines aren’t literally conscious, but can’t explain why.

I think that I have explained why, although it is spread out over thousands of pages of conversations and essays. For anyone who wants to follow that trail of breadcrumbs, here’s a place to start.

https://multisenserealism.com/?s=ai+is+inside+out

Multisense Realism as a Specific Hypothesis of Cosmopsychism

June 11, 2022 Leave a comment

In reality, mass and energy quantitatively describe the way that matter moves matter. There is no ‘nothing’ and physical ‘space’ and matter are just different densities of the same thing, which I think is really an irreducibly sensory-motive, aesthetic-participatory phenomenon that can be understood as tangibility.

Tangibility can further be understood, in my view, as only one band of a universal spectrum of nested aesthetic-participatory phenomena ranging from appearances that are intangible (roughly ‘concepts’) to trans-tangible (‘percepts’) and includes the appearance of tangibility (‘objects’) as a relativistic lensing artifact rather than a fundamental or universal context.It is physical appearances that are ’emergent’ from the temporalizing fragmentation and spatializing reunification of a single Totality or Holos of eternal conscious experience.

Through this anabolic/negentropic-catabolic/entropic invention of novelty/recursion there is a net accumulation of Significance, which is the saturation of aesthetic-participatory phenomena and maximal Holophoric unity expressed through minimal morphographic units.

So there.

Holosgraphic 04022022

April 2, 2022 Leave a comment
Added the Apophoric/Interpersonal range

ॐ ⊇ ש { (( -ℵ ↔ Ω ) ↓ ºt ) ⊥ ( ωª ↑ (H ← d) ) }

March 17, 2022 Leave a comment
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