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Computation as Anti-Holos

July 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Here is a technical sketch of how all of nature could arise from a foundation which is ‘aesthetic’ rather than physical or informational. I conceive of the key difference between the aesthetic and the physical or informational (both anesthetic) is that an aesthetic phenomenon is intrinsically and irreducibly experiential. This is a semi-neologistic use of the term aesthetic, used only to designate the presence of phenomena which is not only detected but is identical to detection. A dream is uncontroversially aesthetic in this sense, however, because our waking experience is also predicated entirely upon sensory, perceptual, and cognitive conditioning, we can never personally encounter any phenomenon which is not aesthetic. Aesthetics here is being used in a universal way and should not be conflated with the common usage of the term in philosophy or art, since that usage is specific to human psychology and relates primarily to beauty. There is a connection between the special case of human aesthetic sense and the general sense of aesthetic used here, but that’s a topic for another time. For now, back to the notion of the ground of being as a universal phenomenon which is aesthetic rather than anesthetic-mechanical (physics or computation).

I have described this aesthetic foundation with various names including Primordial Identity Pansensitivity or Pansense. Some conceive of something like it called Nondual Fundamental Awareness. For this post I’ll call it HolosThe absolute totality of all sensation, perception, awareness, and consciousness in which even distinctions such as object and subject are transcended.

I propose that our universe is a product of a method by which Holos (which is sense beneath the emergent dichotomy of sensor-sensed) is perpetually modulating its own sensitivity into novel and contrasting aspects. In this way Holos can be understood as a universal spectrum of perceivability which nests or masks itself into sub-spectra, such as visibility, audibility, tangibility, emotion, cogitation, etc, as well into quantifiable metrics of magnitude.

The masking effect of sense modulation is, in this hypothesis the underlying phenomenon which has been measured as entropy. Thermodynamic entropy and information entropy alike are not possible without a sensory capacity for discernment between qualities of order/certainty/completeness (reflecting holos/wholeness) and the absence of those qualities (reflecting the masking of holos). Entropy can be understood as the masking of perceptual completeness within any given instance of perception (including measurement perceptions). Because entropy is the masking of the completeness of holos, it is a division which masks division. Think of how the borders of our visual field present an evanescent, invisible or contrast-less boundary to visibility of visual boundaries and contrasts. Because holos unites sense, entropy divides sense, including the sense of division, resulting in the stereotypical features of entropy – equilibrium or near equilibrium of insignificant fluctuations, uncertainty, morphological decay to generic forms and recursive functions, etc. Entropy can be understood as the universal sense of insensitivity. The idea of nothingness refers to an impossible state of permanent unperceivability, however just as absolute darkness is not the same as invisibility, even descriptors of perceptual absence such stillness, silence, vacuum are contingent upon a comparison with their opposites. Nothingness is still a concept within consciousness rather than a thing which can actually exist on its own.

Taking this idea further, it is proposed that the division of sense via entropy-insensitivity has a kind of dual effect. Where holos is suppressed, a black-hole like event-horizon of hyper-perceivability is also present. There is a conservation principle by which entropic masking must also residuate a hypertrophied entity-hood of sense experience: A sign, or semaphore, aka unit of information/negentropy.

In dialectic terms, Holos/sense is the universal, absolute thesis of unity, which contains its own antithesis of entropy-negentropy. The absolute essence of the negentropy-entropy dialectic would be expressed in aesthetic duals such as particle-void, foreground-background, signal-noise. The aesthetic-anesthetic dual amplifies the object-like qualities of the foregrounded sensation such that it is supersaturated with temporary super-completeness, making it a potential ‘signal’ or ‘sign’…a surface of condensed-but-collapsed semantics or ‘phoria’ into ‘semaphoria’, aka, syntactic elements. I call the progressive formalizing of unified holos toward graphic units ‘diffractivity’. The result of diffractivity is that the holos implements a graphic-morphic appearance protocol within itself, which we call space-time, and which is used to anchor and guide the interaction of the entropic, exterior of experience. The interior of complex experiences are guided by the opposite, transformal sense of hierarchy-by-significance’. Significance is another common term which I am partially hijacking for use in a more specific way as the saturation of aesthetic qualities, and the persistence of any given experience within a multitude of other experiences.

To recap, the conjecture is that all of nature arises by, through, for, and within an aesthetic foundation named ‘holos’. Through a redistribution of its own sensitivity, holos masks its unity property into self-masking/unmasking ‘units’ which we call ‘experiences’ or ‘events’. The ability recall multiple experiences and to imagine new experiences, and to understand the relation between them is what we call ‘time’.

Within more complex experiences, the entropic property which divides experience into temporal sections can reunite with other, parallel complex experiences in a ‘back to back’ topology. In this mode of tactile disconnection, the potential for re-connection of the disconnected ends of experiences is re-presented what we call ‘objects in space’ or ‘distance between points’, aka geometry. By marrying the graphed, geometric formality of entropy with the algebraic, re-collecting formality of sequence, we arrive at algorithm or computation. Computation is not a ‘real phenomenon’ but a projection of the sense of quantity (an aesthetic sense just like any other) onto a distanced ‘object’ of perception.

Physics in this view is understood to be the inverted reflection and echo of experience which has been ‘spaced and timed’. Computation is the inversion of physics – the anesthetic void as addressable container of anesthetic function-objects. Physics makes holos into a hologram, and computation inverts the natural relation into an artificial, ‘information theoretic’, hypergraphic anti-holos. In the anti-holos perspective, nature is uprooted and decomposed into dustless digital dust. Direct experience is seen as ‘simulation’ or ‘emergent’, non-essential properties which only ‘seem to exist’, while the invisible, intangible world of quantum-theoretical mechanisms and energy rich vacuums are elevated to the status of noumena.

Computationalists Repent! The apocalypse is nigh! 🙂

Notes on Philosophical Incorrigibility

March 25, 2015 3 comments

No, this is not about philosophers behaving like unruly children (although at times, they can). Incorrigibility is a term that refers to “a property of a philosophical proposition, which implies that it is necessarily true simply by virtue of being believed. A common example of such a proposition is René Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am).“

Symbolic reference cannot ‘break the fourth wall’ – meaning that whatever words or gestures that we use to communicate about something can only refer to things figuratively. This sentence, for example, can’t address you the reader in a literal sense. I can write “Hey you! Yes, you! Stand still laddie!” but it is not really possible for these words to address anyone literally. The same words could come out of a random letter generator, or they could have been written by someone who died before the reader was born. The entire premise that language is meaningful depends on an audience who is able to derive meaning from interpreting messages from that language.

Doxastic logic is a type of modal logic which uses the terms ‘belief’ and ‘proposition’ to formalize, and really digitize the possible relations of belief and truth, including beliefs about beliefs, possible beliefs about possible truths, etc.

Accurate reasoner: An accurate reasoner never believes any false proposition.

Bp→p

Normal reasoner: A normal reasoner is one who, while believing p, also believes he or she believes p.

Bp→BBp

My beef with modal logic is that while it gives us an informative language to talk about mental states, it cannot access the quality of the state itself, and therefore is misguided when applied to the deeper conditions of consciousness itself. There is no modal symbol for ‘wakes up’ or ‘loses consciousness’ because those conditions affect the entire phenomenon from which reason can arise rather than a function of reasoning.

When viewed from an ontological perspective, I think that we would have to consider a proposition to be a kind of belief, even if it is a belief that is assumed to be shared by everyone or every thing. The proposition that “Fire is relatively hot” is itself only a message which is communicated through language. Before we can agree that “p = fire is relatively hot“, we must first agree that

p is literally a sensation: p is seen as a group of adjacent graphic squiggles, or heard as a phonic utterance. p is actually s(’p’), since acoustic vibrations or optical contrasts can’t literally be propositions about fire.

s(’p’) is subconsciously identified as a message (rather than, say decorative art) within our cognitive sense. We think that our sense of ‘p’ means something that we can understand. p is promoted to i(s(’p’)).

i(s(’p’)) is consciously understood as a particular message with a particular meaning. This promotion of i(s(’p’)) to the executive level of sense, where we personally evaluate and act on the contents of messages would be the third nesting of sense u(i(s(’p’))). It is not only cognitive, but articulated on the personal level of cognition.

It should be noted that deconstructing the foundation of classical logic this way is intentional. Logic begins with a philosophical assumption of semantic realism. This is ironic really, especially in doxastic logic when we are concerned with the consistency of reasoning, to being with the assumption of a reasonable universe as a given. p is simply p. A proposition is given, and in that presentation of the proposition, truth is considered (wait for it…) incorrigible. If we want to say that p is false, we would just say ‘not p’. Truth and proposition are equivalent because we are assuming an unquestionable solidity to this fundamental logical unit – a unit which represents facts as they simply are, unconditioned, present without any dependence on ontology. Logic of this sort can be used to diagram systems which remind us of physics or of thinking and communicating, but they begin with the fact of coherence and sense already in place.

By inverting this previously unexamined axiom, I hope to reveal the myth of the logical ‘given’ and replace it with the more skeptical, honest view that logic is derived from sense. Just as a child depends on developing sensorimotor skills prior to developing abstract reasoning skills, all logic derives from deeper levels of sensory experience. Even computer logic relies on the sense of a physical mechanism…the capacity for some substance to detect and project some tangible role in a tangible chain reaction. Abstract logic is always an intangible map that is projected psychologically onto such a tangibly experienced territory. It is this tangibility, this concretely participatory aesthetic spectacle which is doing the work and which can appreciate the benefits of having accomplished it.

In my view, artificial intelligence has a problem, not because there is something special or magical about living creatures, or Homo sapiens, but because it seeks to impose an abstraction onto reality ‘feet first’ as it were. A computer program is a set of propositions which is further proposed to be imitated by a physical machine. Instead of an a sensation which is identified and understood u(i(s(’p’))), there is a ‘p’(’p’(u) (’p’(i) (’p’(s))… a mere proposition of a proposition of an understanding of a proposition of an identification of a proposition of a sensation. Those who have a grasp of why this is different from the natural u(i(s(’p’))) don’t really need an explanation. ‘The map is not the territory’, or ‘the menu is not the meal’ should be enough. Those who do not see the difference, or do not identify why the difference is so significant, or do not understand the specific meaning of the significance are probably approaching the entire question of consciousness from the classical logical orientation. For those people, if there is any possibility at all of their shifting to the new perspective that I am proposing, I think that they would have to begin from the incorrigibility of concrete sense rather than of abstract logic.

The Holo-solo-meta-sema-graphic Principle

February 21, 2015 1 comment

holographic

Think of the multisense continuum as a clarification of the holographic principle. What people often mean by holographic when ascribing it to the universe as a whole is something like ‘The Universe is not really real, but is a Matrix-like projection in which the totality is reflected in each part.’ If we ignore that theory for a moment and examine the linguistic origins of the word holographic instead, there are some worthwhile tie-ins to Multisense Realism. MSR is a way of stretching out this concept of holography, so that the extent to which it seems holographic is part of the hologram. Realism is not a fixed, absolute foundation, but an aesthetic quality of orientation. Realism is not a neutral designation of that which is factual versus that which is not, but also has a set of qualities, almost a personality which opposes the fantastic qualities of imagination, dreams, and psychosis. Where the aesthetics of fantasy are typically saturated, vivid, or florid, realism is relatively bland or rigid. Realism supports rigorous logic and causality. A graph can be thought of as the essence of realism in a way – not reality itself, but the mapping of the mappable aspects of reality…a realistic approach to realism.

Notice that holos and graph are polarized. They aren’t simple opposites where graph = parts and holos = whole, although graphing does break wholes into regular parts, but there is also a sense of a graph is of a static mental resource; an object or so called rigid body which we use to index information. A graph is a chart.* By contrast, holos is the uncharted and boundless context which does not respect strict divisions.

Holos means whole, but if you look up the etymology of hologram there is something interesting:

hologram (n.)1949, coined by Hungarian-born British scientist Dennis Gabor (Gábor Dénes), 1971 Nobel prize winner in physics for his work in holography; from Greek holos “whole” (in sense of three-dimensional; see safe (adj.)) + -gram.”

So holos doubles as a term that has something to do with feeling ‘safe’:

safe (adj.) c.1300, “unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;” from Old French sauf “protected, watched-over; assured of salvation,” from Latin salvus “uninjured, in good health, safe,” related to salus “good health,” saluber “healthful,” all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- “whole” (cognates: Latin solidus “solid,” Sanskrit sarvah “uninjured, intact, whole,” Avestan haurva- “uninjured, intact,” Old Persian haruva-, Greek holos “whole”). “

This root sense of wholeness as safety, solidity, health, healing, etc is the natural anchor of anchors…the foundational aesthetic (of the aesthetic foundation). All experiences in all possible universes must begin from this un-locused locus. Un-locused because it precedes its own definition or observation. The baby at the boob has no frame of reference, no learning process to understand the importance of nutrition or survival – there is only to appreciate the experience of being re-connected to the womb’s holos in a new and disorienting context…What is this context?

-graph modern word-forming element meaning “instrument for recording; that which marks or describes; something written,” from Greek -graphos “-writing, -writer” (as in autographos “written with one’s own hand”), from graphe “writing, the art of writing, a writing,” from graphein “to write, express by written characters,” earlier “to draw, represent by lines drawn” (see -graphy). Adopted widely (Dutch -graaf, German -graph, French -graphe, Spanish -grafo). Related: -grapher; -graphic; -graphical.”

Compared with holos, -graph is a very different kind of term. Where holos is a rich and profound metaphor, -graph is a relatively prosaic and literal term about something in the real world…writing or recording. Holos is an appreciation of primordial safety; an orientation to a frame of reference which is absolute and beyond thought. Once someone is born into a human life or an animal’s life, this holos is buried in a cocoon of defenses which face the anti-holos of spacetime and physics and the sense that was formerly whole is averaged out as

“sole (adj.) “single, alone, having no husband or wife; one and only, singular, unique,” late 14c., from Old French soul “only, alone, just,” from Latin solus “alone, only, single, sole; forsaken; extraordinary,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to se “oneself,” from PIE reflexive root *swo- (see so).”

As a sole individual in a physical world, we have developed ways to re-connect with each other. Some of them are ways of reconnecting to our shared history as mammals and primates, and some, like writing are more recent human inventions. The idea of writing is to inscribe a thin stream of thought into physics, into spacetime so that others can recreate it in their local experience. It’s a bridge, a trans-fer or meta-phor, which means carrying over of feeling or meanings. What is the carrier?

semaphore (n.)”apparatus for signaling,” 1816, probably via French sémaphore, literally “a bearer of signals,” ultimately from Greek sema “sign, signal” (see semantic) + phoros “bearer,” from pherein “to carry” (see infer). Related: Semaphoric (1808).”

The sema- or sign is a recontextualized piece of the world. We use it to passively bear our sharing of communication, as an insulator would bear a conducting wire, or a conducting wire would bear an electromagnetic flux. There are layers of nesting which span the continuum from holos to solus to meta to sema to graph.

Wholeness to self to likeness to sign to signed. The distance between our human self and the ‘signed’ or ‘graphed’ physical world is what gives that physical world its gravitas…its grave realism. Mortality adds a layer of biological gravity…the signs which threaten the self of the experience of life. The closer that a given phenomenon is to the whole, the more it is metaphorical and self-referential.

Once we grasp this continuum, we can see how subjective and objective phenomena are an elaboration of a theme of awareness and degrees of alienation from the whole. We can go into more advanced areas of understanding the continuum and see that while the graph end of sense reflects in micro the holos itself, it is only a reflection and has no generative power of its own. Even though we locally experience a tension between the holos and graph which seem equal, or even overpowered by physics, that is only because of how deeply our human experience is nested within billions of sensations, feelings, and thoughts since the beginning of spacetime.

In the absolute frame of reference, all is consumed by, with, and for holos. The graph appearance, and even the holographic principle is the local view of the self’s experience of being alienated. It’s a compromise between Descartes’ substance dualism and Eastern/perennial philosophy’s holism, but it is still fixed in the Cartesian graph of spacetime and Newton’s mechanics of mass and energy. We imagine that each physical particle is a packet containing a ghost of the whole, but I think that it now makes more sense to say that it is the particle itself which is, in the absolute frame or reference, more like the ghost. It’s relativistic, but all relation traces back to the orientation of the absolute. There is no orientation derived purely from disorientation, which is why we cannot build a sign or a self or a holos from a machine (graph).

*Descartes, whose family name means ‘of the charts’, and also can be associated with the French word charteus, meaning pertaining to papyrus/paper has an interesting connection to the role of Rene Descartes in developing the digital view of space in terms of Cartesian coordinates. Cards, charts and papers refer to objects which carry meaning – blank vehicles to be used either as a container for metaphor, or as the medium of choice for a stream of digital semaphores. The critical place that Descartes holds in the development of the Early Modern Period, cannot be overstated. In his 1641 Meditations, Descartes divided the cosmos, for better or worse, into mind and matter (res cogitans and res extensa), paving the way for Newton, Leibniz and others to see physics as an expression of precise mathematical truths. The Enlightenment Era marks the Western world’s separation from perennial, Eastern philosophy and the discovery of a new, Cartesian world of purely mechanical objects. The card, or graph aspect of the cosmos is seen as the new orientation, a counter-aesthetic to one which assumes theistic holos. The Western counter-aesthetic of modernism questions the beliefs of the past, asserting instead that the natural world is innocent of religious enchantment until proven otherwise.

How to Tell if Your p-Zombie has Blindsight, Falling in a Chinese Forest

January 26, 2015 Leave a comment

In order to make the question of philosophical zombiehood more palatable, it is a good idea to first reduce the scope of the question from consciousness in general to a particular kind of awareness, such as visual awareness or sight.

consciousness (general awareness)     |    particular awareness (sight)

Building on this analogy, we can now say that an equivalent of a philosophical zombie (p-Zombie) as far as sight is concerned might be a person who is blind, but uses a seeing eye dog to ‘see’.

As with blindsight, there seeing eye dog provides a case where a person is informed about optical conditions in the world, but without the benefit of first person phenomenal experience of seeing. The blind person sees no visual qualia – no colors, no shapes, no brightness or contrast, yet from all appearances they may be indistinguishable from a sighted person who is walking their dog.

Staying with the analogy to consciousness in general:

(a p-Zombie) is to (a Blind person w/ guide dog)
as a
(Conscious subject) is to (a person walking dog)

Some might object to this analogy, saying that because a p-Zombie is defined as appearing and behaving in every way like a conscious subject, and a sighted person walking their dog might not always act the same as a blind person with a guide dog. It’s true, in the dark, the sighted person would be at a disadvantage avoiding obstacles in their path, while the blind person might not be affected.

This, however, is a red herring that arises from the hasty definition of philosophical zombie as one who appears identical in every way to a conscious subject, rather than one who can appear identical in many ways. Realistically, there may not even be a way to know whether there is any such thing as a set of ways that a conscious being behaves. A conscious being can pretend to be unconscious, so right away this is a problem that may not resolvable.

Each conscious being is different at different times, so that presuming that consciousness in general has a unique signature that can be verified is begging the question. Even if two simple things seemed to be identical for some period of time, there might be a chance that their behavior will diverge eventually, either by itself, or in response to some condition that brings out a latent difference.

So let’s forget about the strong formulation of p-Zombie and look instead at the more sensible weak formulation of w-Zombie as an unconscious object which can be reliably mistaken for a conscious subject under some set of conditions, for some audience, for some period of time.

By this w-Zombie standard, the guide dog’s owner makes a good example of how one system (blind person + sighted dog) can be functionally identical to another (sighted person + sighted dog), without any phenomenal property (blind person gaining sight) emerging. As with the Chinese Room, the resulting output of the room does not reflect an internal experience, and the separate functions which produce the output do not transfer their experience to the ‘system’ as a whole.

From the guide dog analogy, we can think about bringing the functionality of the dog ‘in house’. The dog can be a robot dog, which can then be miniaturized as a brain implant. In this way a blind person could have the functionality of a guide dog’s sight without seeing anything. It would be interesting to see how the recipient of such an implant’s brain would integrate the input from it. From neuroscientific studies that have been conducted so far, which shows that in blind people’s brains, tactile stimulation such as reading Braille, shows up in the visual cortex. I would expect that the on-board seeing-eye dog would similarly show up, at least in part, in the regions of the brain normally associated with vision, so that we have a proof of concept of a w-Zombie. If we had separate digitized animals to handle each of our senses, we could theoretically create an object which behaves enough like a human subject, even within the brain, that it would qualify as a weak p-Zombie.

As a final note, we can apply this understanding to the oft misquoted philosophical saw ‘If a tree falls in a forest…’. Instead of asking whether a sound exists without anyone to hear it, we can reverse it and ask whether someone who is awakened from a dream of a tree falling in the forest which nobody else heard, was there a sound?

The answer has to be yes. The subjective experience of a sound was still experienced even though there is no other evidence of it.  In the same way, we can dream of seeing sunlight without our eyes receiving photons from the sun. We can say that seeing light or hearing sound does not require a concurrent physical stimulation but we cannot say that physics requires any such qualia as seeing light or hearing sound. To the contrary, we have shown above that there is no empirical support for the idea that physical functions could or would automatically generate qualia.Thus, the case for materialism and functionalism is proved in the negative, and the fallacy of the systems reply to Searle is revealed.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon. – Pink Floyd

Why Computers Can’t Lie and Don’t Know Your Name

September 12, 2013 12 comments

What do the Hangman Paradox, Epimenides Paradox, and the Chinese Room Argument have in common?

The underlying Symbol Grounding Problem common to all three is that from a purely quantitative perspective, a logical truth can only satisfy some explicitly defined condition. The expectation of truth itself being implicitly true, (i.e. that it is possible to doubt what is given) is not a condition of truth, it is a boundary condition beyond truth*. All computer malfunctions, we presume, are due to problems with the physical substrate, or the programmer’s code, and not incompetence or malice.  The computer, its program, or binary logic in general cannot be blamed for trying to mislead anyone. Computation, therefore, has no truth quality, no expectation of validity or discernment between technical accuracy and the accuracy of its technique. The whole of logic is contained within the assumption that logic is valid automatically. It is an inverted mirror image of naive realism. Where a person can be childish in their truth evaluation, overextending their private world into the public domain, a computer is robotic in its truth evaluation, undersignifying privacy until it is altogether absent.

Because computers can only report a local fact (the position of a switch or token), they cannot lie intentionally. Lying involves extending a local fiction to be taken as a remote fact. When we lie, we know what a computer cannot guess – that information may not be ‘real’.

When we say that a computer makes an error, it is only because of a malfunction on the physical or programmatic level, therefore it is not false, but a true representation of the problem in the system which we receive as an error. It is only incorrect in some sense that is not local to the machine, but rather local to the user, who makes the mistake of believing that the output of the program is supposed to be grounded in their expectations for its function. It is the user who is mistaken.

It is for this same reason that computers cannot intend to tell the truth either. Telling the truth depends on an understanding of the possibility of fiction and the power to intentionally choose the extent to which the truth is revealed. The symbolic communication expressed is grounded strongly in the privacy of the subject as well as the public context, and only weakly grounded in the logic represented by the symbolic abstraction. With a computer, the hierarchy is inverted. A Turing Machine is independent of private intention and public physics, so it is grounded absolutely in its own simulacra. In Searle’s (much despised) Chinese Room Argument – the conceit of the decomposed translator exposes how the output of a program is only known to the program in its own narrow sensibility. The result of the mechanism is simply a true report of a local process of the machine which has no implicit connection to any presented truths beyond the machine…except for one: Arithmetic truth.

Arithmetic truth is not local to the machine, but it is local to all machines and all experiences of correct logical thought. This is an interesting symmetry, as the logic of mechanism is both absolutely local and instantaneous and absolutely universal and eternal, but nothing in between. Every computed result is unique to the particular instantiation of the machine or program, and universal as a Turing emulable template. What digital analogs are not is true or real any sense which relates expressly to real, experienced events in space time. This is the insight expressed in Korzybski’s famous maxim ‘The map is not the territory.’ and in the Use-Mention distinction, where using a word intentionally is understood to be distinct from merely mentioning the word as an object to be discussed. For a computer, there is no map-territory distinction. It’s all one invisible, intangible mapitory of disconnected digital events.

By contrast, a person has many ways to voluntarily discern territories and maps. They can be grouped together, such as when the acoustic territory of sound is mapped to the emotional-lyric territory of music, or the optical territory of light is mapped as the visual territory of color and image. They can be flipped so that the physics is mapped to the phenomenal as well, which is how we control the voluntary muscles of our body. For us, authenticity is important. We would rather win the lottery than just have a dream that we won the lottery. A computer does not know the difference. The dream and the reality are identical information.

Realism, then, is characterized by its opposition to the quantitative. Instead of being pegged to the polar austerity which is autonomous local + explicitly universal, consciousness ripens into the tropical fecundity of middle range. Physically real experience is in direct contrast to digital abstraction. It is semi-unique, semi-private, semi-spatiotemporal, semi-local, semi-specific, semi-universal. Arithmetic truth lacks any non-functional qualities, so that using arithmetic to falsify functionalism is inherently tautological. It is like asking an armless man to raise his hand if he thinks he has no arms.

Here’s some background stuff that relates:

The Hangman Paradox has been described as follows:

A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week but that the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on his cell door at noon that day.Having reflected on his sentence, the prisoner draws the conclusion that he will escape from the hanging. His reasoning is in several parts. He begins by concluding that the “surprise hanging” can’t be on Friday, as if he hasn’t been hanged by Thursday, there is only one day left – and so it won’t be a surprise if he’s hanged on Friday. Since the judge’s sentence stipulated that the hanging would be a surprise to him, he concludes it cannot occur on Friday.He then reasons that the surprise hanging cannot be on Thursday either, because Friday has already been eliminated and if he hasn’t been hanged by Wednesday night, the hanging must occur on Thursday, making a Thursday hanging not a surprise either. By similar reasoning he concludes that the hanging can also not occur on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday. Joyfully he retires to his cell confident that the hanging will not occur at all.The next week, the executioner knocks on the prisoner’s door at noon on Wednesday — which, despite all the above, was an utter surprise to him. Everything the judge said came true.

Some thoughts on this:

1) The conclusion “I won’t be surprised to be hanged Friday if I am not hanged by Thursday” creates another proposition to be surprised about. By leaving the condition of ‘surprise’ open ended, it could include being surprised that the judge lied, or any number of other soft contingencies that could render an ‘unexpected’ outcome. The condition of expectation isn’t an objective phenomenon, it is a subjective inference. Objectively, there is no surprise since objects don’t anticipate anything.

2) If we want to close in tightly on the quantitative logic of whether deducibility can be deduced – given five coin flips and a certainty that one will be heads, each successive tails coin flip increases the odds that one the remaining flips will be heads. The fifth coin will either be 100% likely to be heads, or will prove that the certainty assumed was 100% wrong.

I think the paradox hinges on 1) the false inference of objectivity in the use of the word surprise and 2) the false assertion of omniscience by the judge. It’s like an Escher drawing. In real life, surprise cannot be predicted with certainty and the quality of unexpectedness it is not an objective thing, just as expectation is not an objective thing.

Connecting the dots, expectation, intention, realism, and truth are all rooted in the firmament of sensory-motive participation. To care about what happens cannot be divorced from our causally efficacious role in changing it. It’s not just a matter of being petulant or selfish. The ontological possibility of ‘caring’ requires letters that are not in the alphabet of determinism and computation. It is computation which acts as punctuation, spelling, and grammar, but not language itself. To a computer, every word or name is as generic as a number. They can store the string of characters that belong to what we call a name, but they have no way to really recognize who that name belongs to.

*I maintain that what is beyond truth is sense: direct phenomenological participation

Strong AI Position

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Strong AI Position

It may not be possible to imitate a human mind computationally, because awareness may be driven by aesthetic qualities rather than mathematical logic alone. The problem, which I call the Presentation Problem, is what several outstanding issues in science and philosophy have in common, namely the Explanatory Gap, the Hard Problem, the Symbol Grounding problem, the Binding problem, and the symmetries of mind-body dualism. Underlying all of these is the map-territory distinction; the need to recognize the difference between presentation and representation.

Because human minds are unusual phenomena in that they are presentations which specialize in representation, they have a blind spot when it comes to examining themselves. The mind is blind to the non-representational. It does not see that it feels, and does not know how it sees. Since its thinking is engineered to strip out most direct sensory presentation in favor of abstract sense-making representations, it fails to grasp the role of presence and aesthetics in what it does. It tends toward overconfidence in the theoretical.The mind takes worldly realism for granted on one hand, but conflates it with its own experiences as a logic processor on the other. It’s a case of the fallacy of the instrument, where the mind’s hammer of symbolism sees symbolic nails everywhere it looks. Through this intellectual filter, the notion of disembodied algorithms which somehow generate subjective experiences and objective bodies, (even though experiences or bodies would serve no plausible function for purely mathematical entities) becomes an almost unavoidably seductive solution.

So appealing is this quantitative underpinning for the Western mind’s cosmology, that many people (especially Strong AI enthusiasts) find it easy to ignore that the character of mathematics and computation reflect precisely the opposite qualities from those which characterize consciousness. To act like a machine, robot, or automaton, is not merely an alternative personal lifestyle, it is the common style of all unpersons and all that is evacuated of feeling. Mathematics is inherently amoral, unreal, and intractably self-interested – a windowless universality of representation.

A computer has no aesthetic preference. It makes no difference to a program whether its output is displayed on a monitor with millions of colors, or buzzing out of speaker, or streaming as electronic pulses over a wire. This is the primary utility of computation. This is why digital is not locked into physical constraints of location. Since programs don’t deal with aesthetics, we can only use the program to format values in such a way that corresponds with the expectations of our sense organs. That format of course, is alien and arbitrary to the program. It is semantically ungrounded data, fictional variables.

Something like the Mandelbrot set may look profoundly appealing to us when it is presented optically as plotted as colorful graphics, but the same data set has no interesting qualities when played as audio tones. The program generating the data has no desire to see it realized in one form or another, no curiosity to see it as pixels or voxels. The program is absolutely content with a purely quantitative functionality – with algorithms that correspond to nothing except themselves.

In order for the generic values of a program to be interpreted experientially, they must first be re-enacted through controllable physical functions. It must be perfectly clear that this re-enactment is not a ‘translation’ or a ‘porting’ of data to a machine, rather it is more like a theatrical adaptation from a script. The program works because the physical mechanisms have been carefully selected and manufactured to match the specifications of the program. The program itself is utterly impotent as far as manifesting itself in any physical or experiential way. The program is a menu, not a meal. Physics provides the restaurant and food, subjectivity provides the patrons, chef, and hunger. It is the physical interactions which are interpreted by the user of the machine, and it is the user alone who cares what it looks like, sounds like, tastes like etc. An algorithm can comment on what is defined as being liked, but it cannot like anything itself, nor can it understand what anything is like.

If I’m right, all natural phenomena have a public-facing mechanistic range and a private-facing animistic range. An algorithm bridges the gap between public-facing, space-time extended mechanisms, but it has no access to the private-facing aesthetic experiences which vary from subject to subject. By definition, an algorithm represents a process generically, but how that process is interpreted is inherently proprietary.

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