Posts Tagged ‘computationalism’

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! 🙂

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

Modality Independence

March 20, 2014 7 comments

A striking feature of language is that it is modality-independent. Should an impaired child be prevented from hearing or producing sound, its innate capacity to master a language may equally find expression in signing […]

This feature is extraordinary. Animal communication systems routinely combine visible with audible properties and effects, but not one is modality independent. No vocally impaired whale, dolphin or songbird, for example, could express its song repertoire equally in visual display. “

This would be hard to explain if consciousness were due to information processing, as we would expect all communication to share a common logical basis. The fact that only human language is modality invariant suggests that communication, as an expression of consciousness is local to aesthetic textures rather than information-theoretic configurations.

Since only humans have evolved to create an abstraction layer that cuts across aesthetic modalities, it would appear that between aesthetic modality and information content, aesthetic modality is the more fundamental and natural phenomenon. Information is derived from conscious presentation, not the other way around.

Attack and Redemption of Computational Theory of Mind

February 23, 2014 Leave a comment
It is my claim that CTM has overlooked the necessity to describe the method, mechanism, or arithmetic principle by which computations are encountered.My hypothesis, drawn from both direct human experience as well as experience with technological devices, is that “everything which is counted must first be encountered”. Extending this dictum, I propose that

  •     1. There is nothing at all which cannot be reduced to an encounter*, and that encounters can be presented directly (phenomenally) or re-presented indirectly (physically or semiotically).
  •     2. That the nature of encounters can be described as aesthetic re-acquaintance, nested sensory-motive participation, or simply sense.**
  •     3. In consideration of 1, sense is understood in all cases to be pre-mechanical, pre-arithmetic, and inescapably fundamental.

My challenge then, is for CTM to provide a functional account of how numbers encounter each other, and how they came to be separated from the whole of arithmetic truth in the first place. We know that an actual machine must encounter data through physical input to a hardware substrate, but how does an ideal machine (e.g. Turing machine, Universal Machine or program) encounter data? How does it insulate itself from data which is not relevant to the machine?

Failing a satisfactory explanation of the fundamental mechanism behind computation, I conclude that:

  • 4. The logic which compels us to seek a computational or mechanical theory of mind is rooted in an expectation of functional necessity.
  • 5. This logic is directly contradicted by the absence of critical inquiry to the mechanisms which provide arithmetic function.
  • 6. CTM should be understood to be compromised by petito principii fallacy, as it begs its own question by feigning to explain macro level mental phenomena through brute inflation of its own micro level mental phenomena which is overlooked entirely within CTM.
  • 7. In consideration of 1-6, it must be seen that CTM is invalid, and should possibly be replaced by an approach which addresses the fallacy directly.

The next three points have to do with my own hypothesis (Multisense Realism), submitted here only for those who might ne interested.

  • 8. PIP (Primordial Identity Pansensitivity) offers a trans-theoretical explanation in which the capacity for sense encounters is the sole axiom.

PIP is the conjecture that sensitivity is the sole capability that is required for all phenomena. If we wanted to conceptualize a ‘unit’ of this pansensitivity, I suggest the aforementioned terms ‘aesthetic encounter’, ‘sensory-motive participation’, ‘re-acquaintance’, etc, or any other neologism which suggests a pre-monadic generator of pre-self and self-like perspectives.

My conjecture is that self is a type of symmetry within sense. There is no self except for self vs not-self. What is distributed by pansensitivity is not solipsism, but opportunities to modulate self-like symmetries. Selfhood is a particular form of sense distribution in which the symmetry between the absolute and the conditional is recapitulated twice. From the absolute perspective, the self becomes a branch toward isolated locality, while from the conditioned perspective, the self (the condition) stands in for the absolute.

  • 9. CTM can be rehabilitated, and all of its mathematical science can be redeemed by translating into PIP terms, which amounts to reversing the foundations of number theory so that they are sense-subordinate.

Here I am talking about turning the assumptions of mathematical theory on its head. Platonic forms, for instance, would be conceived of as superficial emblems of sense rather than profound and perfect absolutes. Sacred geometry, while imbued with numinous meaning locally to a self (as it reflects the symmetry to which it owes its elaboration), but from the absolute perspective, sacred geometry is akin to a test pattern – crystallized reflections of aesthetic depth, but containing no depths themselves.

  • 10. This effectively renders CTM a theory of mind-like simulation, rather than simulating macro level minds, however, mind-simulation proceeds from PIP as a perfectly viable cosmological inquiry, albeit from an impersonal, theoretical platform of sense.

All that I mean here is that because CTM trades in symbols of reflected sense-making rather than sense encounters, it doesn’t ever have a chance of capturing the important features of consciousness. It can, however, capture important features of how consciousness is distributed.

EDIT: Details added for clarity –

*Encounter can be thought of as ‘stimuli’, but need not include any information. It can be thought of as ‘qualia’ but it need not include any subject or object. The intention here is to reduce all phenomena to its absolute minimum – an opportunity for modes and motives for discernment to arise.

**This sounds jargony, for sure, but I’m inventing a precise vocabulary here, so as to avoid being misconstrued as a standard argument for what might be called ‘pseudo-subtance idealism’ (everything is made of energy, love, vibration, fields, etc) or information panpsychism (conscious experiences are produced by complex systems, functional states, etc).

John Weldon’s “To Be”

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

If you say yes to the scientist, you are saying that originality is an illusion and simulation is absolute. Arithmetic can do so many things, but it can’t do something that can only be done once. Think of consciousness as not only that which can’t be done more than once, it is that which cannot even be fully completed one time. It doesn’t begin or end, and it is neither finite nor infinite, progressing or static, but instead it is the fundamental ability for beginnings and endings to seem to exist and to relate to each other sensibly. Consciousness is orthogonal to all process and form, but it reflects itself in different sensible ways through every appreciation of form.

The not-even-done-onceness of consciousness and the done-over-and-overness of its self reflection can be made to seem equivalent from any local perspective, since the very act of looking through a local perspective requires a comparison with prior perspectives, and therefore attention to the done-over-and-overness – the rigorously measured and recorded. In this way, the diagonalization of originality is preserved, but always behind our back. Paradoxically, it is only when we suspend our rigid attention and unexamine the forms presented within consciousness and the world that we can become the understanding that we expect.

So the followin…

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

So the following disjunctive conclusion is inevitable: Either mathematics is incompletable in this sense, that its evident axioms can never be comprised in a finite rule, that is to say, the human mind (even within the realm of pure mathematics) infinitely surpasses the powers of any finite machine, or else there exist absolutely unsolvable diophantine problems of the type specified . . . (Gödel 1995: 310)

Minds, Machines and Gödel, First published in Philosophy, XXXVI, 1961, pp.

The Lucas-Penrose Argument about Gödel’s Theorem, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

To me it’s clear from the above quote that Gödel understands incompleteness as revealing that mathematics is not completable in the sense that it is not enough to contain the reality of human consciousness. I disagree with those who use incompleteness to suggest the opposite position, that incompleteness demonstrates the incompleteness of the powers of human approximation to contain the grandeur of computable truth. Certainly human understanding is limited, but that our understanding of the limitations of arithmetic mechanism is part of what falls outside of that limit.

Proving that we cannot prove ourselves consistent assumes, erroneously, that doubt is not also a form of belief which depends on an expectation of consistency. The mistake that is often made, in the Western mind’s eye, is that since belief in belief is the ultimate bad, then belief in disbelief must be the ultimate good. This bit of Manichean simplicity is exacerbated when the skeptic no longer sees their own skepticism as a form of belief, and takes it for granted that absolute doubt is possible, reasonable, and independent of unscientific bias.

Even the term ‘belief’ is a second order logic which presumes a first order doubt beneath any given feeling, thought, understanding, intuition, etc. We can see that we should question our own authority, but we forget that authority includes the very authority to question itself, and that such an inescapable authority can only be more primitive than either fact or fiction. Before fact can be wrestled from fiction, or fiction can be confabulated from fact, there must be a capacity to discern one from the other, and that capacity cannot be fiction. Descartes, in my view, didn’t go far enough in saying “Je pense donc je suis”, because it doesn’t specify whether I exist in thought, whether thought exists in me, or whether, as I suggest, thought and I are distinctions of sense which are within the primordial pansensitivity that underlies both uni- and -verse.

Instead of seeing the limits of our human perspective as evidence that all privacy is solipsistic and isolated, I suggest that our perspective is imperfect only to the extent that it is human. When we compare human perceptions to the low level common behaviors of measured objects, then there is a lot that we can learn from physics which we could not learn from human introspection alone.

The fallacy is to conflate our human ignorance with the superiority of measurement to sensation and to overlook that the ontology of measurement supervenes on some form of sensation. Once we compare (absolute experiential) apples to (absolute measurable) apples, we find that the latter cannot be more complete than the former. Physics and math are more complete than human experience, but as they are only experiences in which other experiences are reduced and measured to a generic abstraction, they are less complete than experience itself. No map of France actually leads to Paris, no matter how precise the directions are. A map of France can only contain a map of Paris, and a map of Paris can’t be Paris itself, because it is only a pattern built from generic measurements which do not know anything about Paris itself.

Henry Markram: Supercomputing the brain’s secrets

February 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m very much in favor of this kind of research but I find it telling that the speaker mentions at the beginning one of the reasons why simulating brains is important. He says that we can’t keep testing on animals forever. A noble sentiment only if we presume that the computational simulation is in fact ‘less than’ an animal. Here is revealed the truth about computationalism, that it doesn’t take itself seriously. The pretense that life and feeling can be emulated mechanically is only possible when we think of consciousness in the terms of a toy model. This model sees consciousness as ‘what a brain does’ from the beginning, without any comprehension of the chasm between that set of neurological activities and the invisible world which is experienced through those activities.

If the brain simulation were capable of functioning as a living brain, any change in the program or manipulation of the simulation could result in loops of unimaginable suffering for the simulation. Studying the effects of torture on such a simulation of would logically be no better than torturing an animal, even worse, since the poor digital creature would never die or escape the captivity of it’s torturers.

Obviously this is not a serious consideration for AI. Nobody actually believes that what they are assembling out of coded symbols is literally alive or aware, despite how convincingly they claim to have proved it to themselves. It is a model.

When we seek to reverse engineer a conscious experience from the material mechanisms of neurology, we can rightfully expect to learn many important things about consciousness, but as the blurry images in the video might foreshadow, we can’t learn who it is that is conscious, how their world feels, etc.

It is hopeful to me that they are realizing that it is the electromagnetic patterns themselves which ‘contain’ consciousness, but they still miss completely the deeper implications of this. As it stands now, extraction of semi-coherent images from modeled electromagnetism represents hope for honing in on the formulas to translate EM coordinates into visual qualia (and other qualia by extension) but this hope fails to recognize the infinite regress of the homunculus fallacy. We see the rose, but the simulation does not. The simulation can be paused, copied and pasted, looped, edited, etc, but feeling doesn’t work that way. We have not modeled the sensorimotive experience at all. Instead we have created a dynamic CGI with which we can project our own interpretations about perception. Without those interpretations from our first hand subjective perceptions, there is still no sign of any experience within the model. It’s still only pixels and memory registers switching on and off. I suspect that the further this project progresses, the more we will have to resist the increasingly obvious failure of the model to behave meaningfully like a conscious living organism does. I think it will be fantastic, however, for neurology and for extending and improving our lives.

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