Analogue, Brain Simulation Thread

February 3, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tell the difference between a set of algorithm’s in code that can mimic all the known processes for the input and output of a guitar into analogue equipment. The answer is no, because pros cant tell the difference. The entire analogue process has been sufficiently well modeled and encapsulated in the algorithmns. The inputs and outputs are physically realistic where the input and output are important. That is what substrate modelling of brain processes in computational neuroscience is about. i.e. Brain simulations.

Just because our analysis of what is going on in the brain reminds is of information processing does not mean that the brain is only an information processor, or that consciousness is conjured into existence as a kind of information-theoretic exhaust from the manipulation of bits.

What you are not considering is that beneath any mechanical or theoretical process (which is all that computation is as far as we know) is an intrinsic sensible-physical context which allows switches to load, store, and compare – allows recursive enumeration, digital identities,…a whole slew of rules about how generic functions work. This is already a low level kind of consciousness. That could still support Strong AI in theory, because bits being the tips of an iceberg of arithmetic awareness would make it natural to presume that low level awareness scales up neatly to high level awareness.

In practice, however, this does not have to be the case, and in fact what we see thus far is the opposite. The universally impersonal and uncanny nature of all artificial systems suggests the complete lack of personal presence. Regardless of how sophisticated the simulation, all imitations have some level at which some detector cannot be fooled. Consciousness itself however, like the wetness of water, cannot be fooled. No doll, puppet, or machine which is constructed from the outside in has any claim on sentience at the level which we have projected onto it. This is not about a substitution level, it is about the specific nature of sense being grounded in the unprecedented, genuine, simple, proprietary, and absolute rather than the opposite (probabilistic, reproducible, complex, generic, and local). From the low level to a high is not a difference in degree, but a difference in kind, even though the difference between the high level and low level is a difference in degree.

What I mean by that is that anything can be counted, but numbers cannot be reconstructed into what has been counted. I count my fingers…1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We have now destructively compressed the “information” of my hand, each unique finger and the thumb, into a figure. Five. Five can apply generically to anything, so we cannot imagine that five contains the recipe for fingers. This is obviously a reductio ad absurdum, but I introduce it not as a straw man but as a clear, simple illustration of the difference between sensory-motive realism and information-theoretic abstractions. You can map a territory, but you can’t make a territory out of a map regardless of how much the map reminds you of the territory.

So yes, digital representations can seem exactly like analog representations to us, but they are both representations within a sensory context rather than a sensory-motive presentation of their own. All forms of representation exist to communicate across space and time, bridging or eliding the entropic gaps in direct experience. It’s not a bad thing that modeling a brain will not result in a human consciousness, its a great thing. If it were not, it would be criminal to subject living beings to the horrors of being developed and enslaved in a lab. Fortunately, by modeling these beautiful 4-D dynamic sculptures of the recordings of our consciousness, we can tap into something very new and different from ourselves, but without being a threat to us (unless we take it for granted that they have true understanding, then we’re screwed).

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  1. February 4, 2014 at 3:56 am

    I’m not sure that I quite understand what you’re getting at. Using numbers a region of land can be replicated but that is pointless. I get a sense that you’re saying that simple number crunching ability does not make consciousness. There is a lot of that going around yet there is no other viable explanation for consciousness available which does not rely on the computing capability of the brain structure. I don’t see valid reason to believe that magic (soul) should be the cause of it.

    The idea being that we humans are analog representations (in persona) of the digital information in our brains. As I see it, what most are missing is the explanation for how the brain percieves a color – once it has met the retina it becomes data. Sound turns to data through the ear. All of the sensory data (including that of our nerves) is passed to the brain where it is processed and collated to a simulation which we see as the world around us. The simulation is not what we watch, we are the simulation. That is where the focus of AI should be but it is currently bogged down in the mechanics of creating digital data for the simulation. Consciousness is in the simulation of the world around us in the digital realm of our brains. Yes, that brain in a jar could control vast domains if it were trained with them attached in the first place. A brain in a jar might be living tissue but it will not be conscious, not in any way that we understand it currently. It cannot move or sense so has nothing on which to simulate anything else. It might even have fMRI activity but there would be no inputs or outputs… completely untrained like a 16 week old foetus. It is nothing beyond tissue.

    • February 4, 2014 at 4:18 am

      “Using numbers a region of land can be replicated but that is pointless.”

      What aspect of the land can be replicated with numbers? Can number regions grow crops? Can real people live there?

      “…there is no other viable explanation for consciousness available which does not rely on the computing capability of the brain structure.”

      This website is all about presenting an explanation for consciousness which does not rely on the brain or computing. It’s not consciousness that needs to be explained, it is our failure to recognize all phenomena as aspects of consciousness which must be explained, and can be.

      “I don’t see valid reason to believe that magic (soul) should be the cause of it.”

      If you assume that computation is the fundamental explanation for consciousness, then you are believing in the magic of brute emergence. The idea that a complex set of number relations logically begins to itch or turn blue requires Santa Claus to bridge the gap.

      “once it has met the retina it becomes data.”

      Nothing ever “becomes data”. Data is an abstraction. When we talk about data, we take a concretely aesthetic experience and discard it in favor of a generic label. Good for orchestrating unconscious mechanisms, but catastrophic for understanding consciousness.

      “All of the sensory data (including that of our nerves) is passed to the brain where it is processed and collated to a simulation which we see as the world around us.”

      That is the mythology of our legacy science, but I now see it as some kind of ridiculous notion from the 14th century. Simulation is meaningless when it comes to consciousness. Simulation, like data, is an expectation that arises from comparing abstract categories of sensation. Sensation itself cannot be simulated.

      “The simulation is not what we watch, we are the simulation. ”

      Just the opposite. Physics and computation are the simulation. We are closer to what the universe is made of than physics. The universe is perception. Physics and relativity are sensation.

      “Consciousness is in the simulation of the world around us in the digital realm of our brains.”

      Why would the digital realm of our brains need to be simulated? It would be like installing a video screen inside your computer so it could see its own data processing. That would create an infinite regress of additional processing, and it yields nothing in the way of plausible function. It’s a non-starter. The idea cannot work.

      ” A brain in a jar might be living tissue but it will not be conscious, not in any way that we understand it currently”

      I might agree with you there in a way, but I don’t see how it follows from what you have been saying. If consciousness is just a simulation, then why wouldn’t the part which produces the simulation (brain) work in a jar? I’m sympathetic to Embodied cognition, but it doesn’t seem like you are talking about that.

  2. February 4, 2014 at 4:57 am

    The brain in a jar consciousness has no point. That is to say that without sensory data there is no point to consciousness and no reason to assume it will arise from computation alone.

    We disagree on some fundamental points but if you are willing I’d like to continue dialog on various posts.

    The screen inside your computer is not an ideal analogy but close. Your brain doesn’t need a screen. The data it ‘sees’ might be not much different than the stream of characters in the movie the Matrix. When you know how to look at the data, you see the world around you and no screen is necessary. A screen implies someone to watch it. This is where computation moves into emergent consciousness. Awareness of the data and what implications it has gives us a view of the world around us. We see colors everywhere yet the objects are not colored as such. The world we know is created for us in the simulation of it in our heads – a simulation created by collation and interpretation of the incoming data mixed with other data we already have stored that is available in the format of the incoming data so that with a kind of math we can percieve the world and think about it.

    Yes, we live in a simulation – the one inside our heads. We are the simulation. All that we know or can know is based on objects that we can model in that simulation. No person alive has seen the god of Abraham (doubtful than anyone ever has) so it is not possible for any of us to actually conceive of what god looks like or how that god acts except through the understanding of what we are told about that god in a book. Now, imagine this about anything else and you’ll get four blind men and an elephant … think of an original thought, one that is not derived from or based on anything else that humans have ever seen or talked about etc. Something completely new. Now that you have that (and I’m near certain that you don’t) describe it to me….

    Think about it and tell me why you can’t describe it to me. That might seem like a cheap stunt, but if consciousness is more than experience and memory in a computer between our ears why is it not more casually capable of unique thought?

    Hint: to describe something unique in the ways I requested you will have to use language to allow me to model that ‘something’ in my simulator before I can understand what you have experienced or thought. The fact that your language has to enable me to model it inside my simulation should be a big clue as to what is going on. This exchange is the egress of data to the simulator sans actual sensory data. This information cannot be garnered by sense… yet it is possible to do this. What makes it possible is the simulator that we call consciousness.

    • February 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      What if you just stimulate the brain in the jar electromagnetically?

      “Your brain doesn’t need a screen. ”

      Doesn’t that contradict

      “without sensory data there is no point to consciousness”

      “When you know how to look at the data, you see the world around you and no screen is necessary.”

      Just the opposite. If you have the data, no seeing is necessary. It’s a contradiction to say that you see something but that there is no screen. You don’t realize it though. I’m using screen as a metaphor for all seeing or aesthetic acquaintance.

      “We see colors everywhere yet the objects are not colored as such. ”

      That’s a good start, but if you take it further, you will find that we see objects everywhere, yet objects are not objective as such. You are taking objective qualities of awareness for granted while abstracting awareness itself in an unexplained manner (which is what most people do, so nothing against you personally).

      “The world we know is created for us in the simulation of it in our heads”

      Logically that could be true, and it is of course the most popular interpretation among Western educated, intelligent minds, but in my understanding it happens not to be true because of the nature of sense. There is no such thing as a simulation in our heads because our heads are a simulation also, as is any idea of simulation. It doesn’t solve the mind body problem, it just miniaturizes it to the mind neuron problem or the mind byte problem. Ultimately you still have the same problem that you started with:

      “a simulation created by collation and interpretation of the incoming data mixed with other data we already have stored that is available in the format of the incoming data so that with a kind of math we can percieve the world and think about it. ”

      That can all be accomplished without any aesthetic experience. Just as a CPU can process geometric information arithmetically without having to draw lines and shapes, there is no plausible way to conjure flavors and feelings from a need for data compression. Volume of collation or complexity of interpretation cannot invent non-computable qualities of sound and feeling out of thin air just because it is convenient in theory (which it wouldn’t be). If we look at it the other way however, feelings and aesthetic contrasts can easily be flattened into simpler and more rigid forms…forms that seem like objects or abstractions of objects called “digits” or “data”.

      “Yes, we live in a simulation – the one inside our heads.”

      No, we live in a customized perceptual history that goes back to the beginning of biology or beyond and contains all experience. Simulation is a concept, not a physical possibility. It is the idea of one conscious experience fulfill the expectations of another conscious experience. Eventually there has to be some genuine experience. Eventually something has to sense something directly. Once you can accept that, then we can further understand that since the very fabric of the universe is sense, every perceptual customization is legitimate and irreducible in its own context. There can be no simulation, only aesthetic variation.

      “All that we know or can know is based on objects that we can model in that simulation. ”

      We can’t even know that, but through sense we can guess correctly about truths far beyond objects, models, and simulations.

      If you like the elephant metaphor, here is my version:

      https://multisenserealism.com/about/introduction/the-elephant-metaphor/

      “if consciousness is more than experience and memory in a computer between our ears why is it not more casually capable of unique thought?”

      Because there is already so much that has been set into motion already, that creativity is very limited within any particular frame of reference. Sense makes rules for itself, and creativity on demand is not consistent with the coherence of the human experience. A lot has gone into making the human experience into a wonderful, awful laboratory of realism and fiction. Opening the floodgates into wishcraft on tap is not what it is about.

      “What makes it possible is the simulator that we call consciousness.”

      What is the simulator made of, and if it is unconscious, why and how does it simulate?

      • February 5, 2014 at 5:01 am

        Wow, work was a huge battle today _and_ the Nye vs Ham debate was on. Please pardon my day or so extra to unpack this and reply

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