ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 

Notices


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags consciousness

Reply
Old 25th January 2012, 02:49 AM   #361
Mr. Scott
Under the Amazing One's Wing
 
Mr. Scott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,566
Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
I believe you are using one, right now, to post to this very forum!
Yes, that thing on your lap or desktop is a Turing machine with many, many optimizations. Strip out all the optimizations, like word width and pipelining etc., and you can distill any computing machine into a one-bit Turing machine. Processor/memory -- they are functionally identical. That machine on you lap or desk just does it faster.
Mr. Scott is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 03:40 AM   #362
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
That it's physical.
Computation is physical. So your distinction arises from confusion, again.

Quote:
If that is the case, it is due to the physical processes involved.
Talk about hand-waving the problem !
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 03:40 AM   #363
Mr. Scott
Under the Amazing One's Wing
 
Mr. Scott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,566
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It should be noted that a machine that can control robot spiders (or indeed CG spiders that operate in real time) is not the same thing as a Turing machine. It's a control mechanism.
The brain IS a control mechanism. It's purpose, from the c. elagans to Einstein and everything in between, is to take input from the world, process it with past input, then tell the body what to do to survive(1).

Whether it's a computer program controlling a robot spider or an onscreen spider, or replaces the wet brain in a real spider, the argument is they are doing the same thing and it's unclear if a turing machine could never do this in c. elegans, spiders, or humans.

(1) More specifically, the brain is a collection of modules, each of which has the purpose of increasing the likelihood that the genes responsible for creating that module are replicated. Our first task then is to identify how the consciousness module helps pass on the genes that create it (I'm not eliminating the possibility it's a diffuse emergent module that's a characteristic of the brain as a whole).

For example, the module responsible for a strong red quale helps one grab a red fruit in green foliage before one with weaker red quale might. In an environment with a shortage of food, genes for a weak or missing red quale will not be passed on, and those for a strong one will.

Understanding of every feature of the brain and of consciousness can be helped by this model. Also, each feature seems to me computable.

This sense that consciousness and qualia are outside of what is computable doesn't logically follow from the idea that all the modules that make up C+Q are computable.

Why we feel that the subjective experience of redness requires some kind of immaterial magic is the remaining mystery.

Last edited by Mr. Scott; 25th January 2012 at 03:44 AM.
Mr. Scott is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 03:41 AM   #364
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
If and when we figure out how the sense of qualia emerges in our consciousness, we will probably know the steps that would lead to it.
I do believe we'd have to determine if qualia exist, first. Your post answers none of my questions.

Quote:
Proto-qualia would have some, but not all, of the stages of what we would figure out qualia to be. The answers will become more specific, once the details become more specific.
I'd like you to become more specific. You usually are.
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 06:55 AM   #365
Leumas
Master Poster
 
Leumas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,850
Originally Posted by Mr. Scott View Post
Why we feel that the subjective experience of redness requires some kind of immaterial magic is the remaining mystery.

When we encounter a puddle and sidestep it we are not aware of actually THINKING about all the processes that went into taking the action of sidestepping. We did not say
  • I am analyzing the image on my retina
  • I am comparing that to my long term memory
  • I am analyzing what it is
  • Aha it is a puddle
  • That means it is wet
  • That means my shoes are going to get wet
  • Getting wet shoes is not good
  • I better direct my muscles to move to the Left or right…which is better?
  • Let me look left and right and see which is a better course of action
  • Let me analyze the image on my retina
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Each of the above actions requires a similar process of a detailed sub-list of thinking. But we do not THINK all this….it is done by various parts of the brain automatically. We are not AWARE of thinking about each process.

Just moving an arm to grab an object on a table from among other objects and obstacles on the table requires a TREMENDOUS amount of processing and sub-processing and sub-sub-processing and the vast majority of it is done without a conscious deliberate willful process of doing them.

If you have ever tried to program a robot arm to autonomously perform the above task you would know what amazing accomplishment it is to do the action. If you ever watch a baby trying to learn how to do the same task you would gain an insight into how different a robot program is from the human learning process. The human brain never solves any Jacobians to move an arm around obstacles and grab an object. We never do any matrix inversion or solve forward kinematics and reverse kinematics matrixes in our brains.

Have you ever heard of Ivan Pavlov and his experiments about Conditioning?


In Pavlov's famous experiment he got dogs to drool saliva every time they heard a bell.

In other words there was a mental reaction in the brain of the dogs whenever they heard the bell. This mental reaction caused the dog to believe that there is food and thus start drooling as if there is real food.

All that was the result of CONDITIONING.

The experiment was done on Dogs but the very same principles are applied on humans to cure things such as phobias and addictions and other psychological problems. Even skills such as piloting a plane or fighting can be honed by conditioning methods.

Conditioning is nothing more than repetitively subjecting the person to something for the brain to eventually start thinking about it on a LOWER LEVEL of processing that higher levels become unnecessary in the actions carried out.

There are SCADS of things the brain carries out without the need for the higher levels of thinking.
  • A baby does not THINK about how to suckle whenever a teat is introduced in its mouth.
  • We do not DELIBERATELY raise the level of Adrenalin to help the muscles work faster and stronger whenever we are afraid.
  • We are not specifically aware of the actions of our digestive system. We do not THINK the stomach into secreting the enzymes and into pulsating the muscles to push the food to the intestines etc.
  • Once we learn how, we never think again about preventing our bladder action during sleep....despite the sleep condition of unawareness.
  • We cannot even control our heart.
  • An arachnophobe is not WILLINGLY activating the fright and fight mechanisms every time s/he sees a spider. All the hormones and chemical cocktails released that cause numerous other effects are all done even despite and against the aware wishes of the person.
  • Many many more such things.

So there is no mystery there. There are things that are done by sections of the brain with other parts of the brain being uninvolved in the process. Thus if the parts of the brain associated with being aware do not play part in the action then they are called subconscious actions and reactions and effects and thoughts.
__________________
"I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn't" - Jules Renard
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty" - Thomas Jefferson
"It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled" - Mark Twain

Last edited by Leumas; 25th January 2012 at 06:59 AM.
Leumas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:08 AM   #366
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Computation is physical. So your distinction arises from confusion, again.



Talk about hand-waving the problem !
The computational theories claim that consciousness is entirely independent of any possible physical substrate. Consciousness would be created by computation done with colliding asteroids or packs of cards in exactly the same way. There is nothing happening in the brain which creates consciousness which is inherent to it.

This is obviously entirely different to any other biological process, and is clearly not physical in the same sense as, say, respiration.

The alternative to this is to assume that consciousness is tied to some specific action of the brain, in the same way that respiration is tied to the passage of oxygen atoms through the lungs.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:12 AM   #367
AlBell
Philosopher
 
AlBell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6,362
Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
The pebbles wouldn't, but the system would. The pebbles alone are like the RAM without the CPU.
Would it be fair to say that the pebbles & sand system borrows, and exhibits to a lesser extent, the consciousness of whatever sentient entity is moving them?
AlBell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:21 AM   #368
Wowbagger
The Infinitely Prolonged
 
Wowbagger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Westchester County, NY (when not in space)
Posts: 14,705
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I do believe we'd have to determine if qualia exist, first. Your post answers none of my questions.
We know people have a "sense that qualia exists", whether it is real or not. That "sense" could be abbreviated as "qualia", and the word is still useful. This is, in fact, how a several contemporary writers are using it.

If it is not something that actually exists, we must figure out how and why humans feel like it does, and why anything should feel like anything, at all!
I don't think the dimissal of "qualia" as a phenomenon answers that question very well.

Explanations, such as Dennett's, that don't use the word "qualia" are more satisfactory, but ironically, what Dennett is describing IS how "qualia" might work. He just doesn't like using that word for it.

We do this with other words:

We know ghosts do not litterally exist. But, simply saying that won't explain why so many people see them all the time. Perhaps it might sound silly to define the word "ghost" as "the sense that there is a ghost in the room", whether it is real or not. But, you would be doing so when you say "The ghosts are all in your head".
(Or, more specificallly: "Several aspects of our mind cause ghosts to appear: agentism, essentialism, etc. have all been well studied", after which one can go into more details.)

Other writers use the word "homunculus" and "cartesian theatre" when talking about consciousnes, but some of them use those words to label empirical things that give us a "sense" of that "homunculus" or "theatre".


Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'd like you to become more specific. You usually are.
You run into the same problem when people ask "where does one species end and another begin" when examining a dense fossil record of ancestors between two very different looking entities.
Only worse, because we don't have as much information to examine, when it comes to qualia, yet.

But, what's so hard about being open to "proto-qualia"? We accept "proto"-everything-else, in biology. What is it about qualia that makes us assert that it must come in an all-or-nothing form?
__________________
WARNING: Phrases in this post may sound meaner than they were intended to be.

SkeptiCamp NYC: http://www.skepticampnyc.org/
An open conference on science and skepticism, where you could be a presenter!

By the way, my first name is NOT Bowerick!!!!

Last edited by Wowbagger; 25th January 2012 at 07:24 AM.
Wowbagger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:23 AM   #369
Leumas
Master Poster
 
Leumas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,850
Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Would it be fair to say that the pebbles & sand system borrows, and exhibits to a lesser extent, the consciousness of whatever sentient entity is moving them?

Pebbles are not BIOLOGICAL things and thus they require a motivator. Biological things move and grow and are ACTIVE PROCESSES in and of themselves (due to active chemical and electrical engines).

A human brain is a HUMONGOUS biological PROCESS that acts and reacts on its intertwined parts with side-effects and due to muscles there are also side-effects on the environment outside the brain bundle which in turn cause environmental changes that cause effects and side-effects on the brain bundle.

These POSITIVE and NEGATIVE FEEDBACK effects can cause cascading and diverging as well as stable and unstable loops and sub-loops and the whole thing becomes a mess of DYNAMIC CONSTRAINTS.

So the human brain does NOT require a MOTIVATOR let alone one with a consciousness for us to inherit from.
__________________
"I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn't" - Jules Renard
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty" - Thomas Jefferson
"It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled" - Mark Twain
Leumas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:27 AM   #370
yy2bggggs
Master Poster
 
yy2bggggs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,435
Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
There are SCADS of things the brain carries out without the need for the higher levels of thinking.
  • We cannot even control our heart.
Nitpick: I'm not sure which heart function you're talking about, but the beating of the heart is not controlled by the brain. The brain does serve a role in regulating heartbeat, but that is something we can actually control to some extent.
yy2bggggs is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:33 AM   #371
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
The computational theories claim that consciousness is entirely independent of any possible physical substrate.
I don't think that's quite right. It requires a physical substrate, and probably a certain amount of complexity, structure, loop, etc. But it's true that it's hard to see why biological substrates would work while non-biological ones wouldn't.
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:37 AM   #372
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
We know people have a "sense that qualia exists", whether it is real or not. That "sense" could be abbreviated as "qualia", and the word is still useful. This is, in fact, how a several contemporary writers are using it.
If we merely use it to mean "behaviour associated with certain stimuli", then sure. Unfortunately it's hard to use it that way since many, many people are using it in a near-dualistic sense.

Quote:
If it is not something that actually exists, we must figure out how and why humans feel like it does, and why anything should feel like anything, at all!
Indeed. However I'd like your take on two of my previous points:

1) Some people can learn to control their response to pain and thus have a much higher pain tolerance. How does that work within the "qualia" theory vs the behavioural theory ?

2) Since computers seeing "red" do not experience "redness", how do you define when "redness" is experienced ?

Quote:
You run into the same problem when people ask "where does one species end and another begin"
That's a tad different, though. Species are a theoretical construct.

Quote:
But, what's so hard about being open to "proto-qualia"?
2 things:

1) Do qualia exist at all ?
2) What's a proto-qualia, exactly ?
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 07:51 AM   #373
PixyMisa
Persnickety Insect
 
PixyMisa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Sunny Munuvia
Posts: 16,074
Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Would it be fair to say that the pebbles & sand system borrows, and exhibits to a lesser extent, the consciousness of whatever sentient entity is moving them?
No, that's not correct, and this is a very important point:



(XKCD by Randal Schwartz. Sharing and hotlinking expressly permitted under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.)
__________________
Free blogs for skeptics... And everyone else. mee.nu
What, in the Holy Name of Gzortch, are you people doing?!?!!? - TGHO
PixyMisa is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 08:06 AM   #374
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by Mr. Scott View Post
The brain IS a control mechanism. It's purpose, from the c. elagans to Einstein and everything in between, is to take input from the world, process it with past input, then tell the body what to do to survive(1).

Whether it's a computer program controlling a robot spider or an onscreen spider, or replaces the wet brain in a real spider, the argument is they are doing the same thing and it's unclear if a turing machine could never do this in c. elegans, spiders, or humans.
It's clear that the specification for a Turing machine does not involve any kind of control or monitoring system. If the brain is primarily a control mechanism, then reasoning about Turing machines does not apply.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 08:10 AM   #375
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Would it be fair to say that the pebbles & sand system borrows, and exhibits to a lesser extent, the consciousness of whatever sentient entity is moving them?
No, because a giant pebble sorting machine, working according to a predefined list, could produce the patterns.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 08:14 AM   #376
Leumas
Master Poster
 
Leumas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,850
Originally Posted by yy2bggggs View Post
Nitpick: I'm not sure which heart function you're talking about, but the beating of the heart is not controlled by the brain. The brain does serve a role in regulating heartbeat, but that is something we can actually control to some extent.

Yes.
__________________
"I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn't" - Jules Renard
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty" - Thomas Jefferson
"It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled" - Mark Twain
Leumas is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 08:23 AM   #377
PixyMisa
Persnickety Insect
 
PixyMisa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Sunny Munuvia
Posts: 16,074
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It's clear that the specification for a Turing machine does not involve any kind of control or monitoring system.
Quite right, it's the other way around.

Quote:
If the brain is primarily a control mechanism, then reasoning about Turing machines does not apply.
Could you show us the maths for that theorem, please?
__________________
Free blogs for skeptics... And everyone else. mee.nu
What, in the Holy Name of Gzortch, are you people doing?!?!!? - TGHO
PixyMisa is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 08:42 AM   #378
tsig
a carbon based life-form
 
tsig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 33,965
Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Would it be fair to say that the pebbles & sand system borrows, and exhibits to a lesser extent, the consciousness of whatever sentient entity is moving them?
No.
tsig is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:03 AM   #379
Mr. Scott
Under the Amazing One's Wing
 
Mr. Scott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,566
Leumas, I loved your response, but let me focus on this as a direct question:

Why do we by default assume that the subjective experience of redness requires some kind of immaterial substrate?
Mr. Scott is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:29 AM   #380
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If the description of Turing machines doesn't have real-life implications, then why are we talking about them at all?
The description of Turing machines does have real life implications.

However, the fact that Turing machines are imaginary does not imply that Turing equivalent processes have no relation to physical reality.

Which is the entire point -- your rejection of the notion of mental processes being based on computation relies entirely upon this fallacy you have constructed that the "physical" is somehow fundamentally different from the "computational."

That fallacy stems from nothing but blind ignorance of facts, as multiple people have pointed out to you. There is no such thing as "non-physical" computation. All computation must occur using a physical process. Period. No exceptions.

This is easy to see. First, you can't actually compute on a Turing machine because they do not exist in reality. Second, even if they did -- and they don't, remember -- they would be just as physical as your brain.

Saying "consciousness is physical, not computational" is not valid. That's like saying a gumdrop is sugar, not candy.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:31 AM   #381
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by Mr. Scott View Post
Yes, that thing on your lap or desktop is a Turing machine with many, many optimizations. Strip out all the optimizations, like word width and pipelining etc., and you can distill any computing machine into a one-bit Turing machine. Processor/memory -- they are functionally identical. That machine on you lap or desk just does it faster.
No, it isn't.

It is a machine that happens to be a Turing equivalent process.

It is not a Turing machine. Those are not real.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:36 AM   #382
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It's clear that the specification for a Turing machine does not involve any kind of control or monitoring system. If the brain is primarily a control mechanism, then reasoning about Turing machines does not apply.
The tape is the program input. Just like binary data is the program input to all modern computers.

If you think the input given to real world digital "control or monitoring systems" is anything other than ... digital input ... you have been lying this whole time about your past in computing.

Not that this would surprise me.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:38 AM   #383
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No, because a giant pebble sorting machine, working according to a predefined list, could produce the patterns.
I suppose you think the predefined list just popped into thin air.

Or I suppose you didn't even think about it at all, did you?

The person that programmed the Chinese room is the one that understands Chinese.

Last edited by rocketdodger; 25th January 2012 at 09:39 AM.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:43 AM   #384
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
For example, there aren't many chemical reactions happening in a computer.
You would fit right in at the U.S. GOP debates, westprog.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:43 AM   #385
Complexity
The Woo Whisperer
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 9,263
Turing machines, algorithms, problems, and the like may not be 'real' in the same way that my cats are real, but they have properties that can be proven (relative to an axiom set and proof mechanism) and they have real-world consequences. They are as real as the natural numbers - indeed, possibly more so.
__________________
"It is a great nuisance that knowledge can only be acquired by hard work."

- W. Somerset Maugham

"Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established intuititions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."

- Bertrand Russell
Complexity is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:49 AM   #386
AlBell
Philosopher
 
AlBell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6,362
Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
The same way the Theory of Relativity doesn't exist except in a fantasy?
GR exists as math models.

Earlier in the thread it was mentioned neural nets can be trained without math models existing, so you probably don't think a similar math model for consciousness needs definition.

My understanding of neural nets is that parameters need to be set, and I suspect digital coding is needed to direct that process, but I could be wrong. It's certainly the case if the neural net is a simulation running on a universal computing device.
AlBell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:49 AM   #387
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
The description of Turing machines does have real life implications.

However, the fact that Turing machines are imaginary does not imply that Turing equivalent processes have no relation to physical reality.

Which is the entire point -- your rejection of the notion of mental processes being based on computation relies entirely upon this fallacy you have constructed that the "physical" is somehow fundamentally different from the "computational."

That fallacy stems from nothing but blind ignorance of facts, as multiple people have pointed out to you. There is no such thing as "non-physical" computation. All computation must occur using a physical process. Period. No exceptions.

This is easy to see. First, you can't actually compute on a Turing machine because they do not exist in reality. Second, even if they did -- and they don't, remember -- they would be just as physical as your brain.

Saying "consciousness is physical, not computational" is not valid. That's like saying a gumdrop is sugar, not candy.
All the biological processes in the body are connected with specific physical processes.

Of course computation has to be done with some kind of physical activity. However, it is not linked with any specific physical process. If the generation of consciousness is indeed a matter of computation, then it is unique as a biological function in that it is not tied to anything specific. In particular, it is entirely unfocused in time and space. There is no location for the computation. There is no physical definition of what, precisely, is going on. There is no practical way to determine what in fact constitutes a computation, and physically, either computations are happening all the time, everywhere, or they aren't happening at all.

If we are dealing with a well-defined, well-understood phenomenon like respiration, we know where it happens, how it happens, and we can duplicate all the processes artificially. There is a physical theory of what happens.

To claim that because something is associated with a set of events that happen somewhere in the universe, that it constitutes a physical theory seems to me to stretch the concept beyond the point of usefulness.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:53 AM   #388
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
The tape is the program input. Just like binary data is the program input to all modern computers.

If you think the input given to real world digital "control or monitoring systems" is anything other than ... digital input ... you have been lying this whole time about your past in computing.

Not that this would surprise me.
And any digital system is equivalent to a Turing machine?*

Deliberate obfuscation, bluster, and an accusation of lying. SOP.

*The answer is no. But watch the wriggling.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:58 AM   #389
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by Complexity View Post
Turing machines, algorithms, problems, and the like may not be 'real' in the same way that my cats are real, but they have properties that can be proven (relative to an axiom set and proof mechanism) and they have real-world consequences. They are as real as the natural numbers - indeed, possibly more so.
Yes I know.

However, when one is dealing with a certain type of person in a debate, they have to be very careful to specify exactly what everything means. Otherwise, the opposition jumps on even the simplest of concepts and uses them dishonestly to sell snake oil to the spectators.

In this case, somehow the idea that the "specification" of the idealized Turing machine -- which is by definition abstract -- doesn't include any "physical" link to the rest of the world is being used to argue that the processes of real world computers ( "control mechanisms" for example ) are somehow beyond the capability of Turing machines and similarly whatever happens in our heads is beyond description by any theory of computation.

Of course this is bollocks, but what can you do? My approach is to simply harp on the fact that a Turing machine is not real, is abstract, and obviously does not include a "physical" link because they are ... not real.

Yet, discounting computation theory across the board because the abstract specifications of the Turing machine do not directly reference reality is as stupid as discounting all of biological science because the peer reviewed articles in Nature don't include actual microscope slides complete with cells you can culture.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 09:58 AM   #390
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Which is the entire point -- your rejection of the notion of mental processes being based on computation relies entirely upon this fallacy you have constructed that the "physical" is somehow fundamentally different from the "computational."
Which is interesting, coming from a poster who claims that the conclusion that consciousness is computational is circular.
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:00 AM   #391
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
You would fit right in at the U.S. GOP debates, westprog.
That's a reality show, right ?
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:01 AM   #392
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Of course computation has to be done with some kind of physical activity. However, it is not linked with any specific physical process. If the generation of consciousness is indeed a matter of computation, then it is unique as a biological function in that it is not tied to anything specific.
Assertion. Evidence, please.

Quote:
In particular, it is entirely unfocused in time and space. There is no location for the computation.
Same as above.
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:02 AM   #393
dlorde
Philosopher
 
dlorde's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 6,307
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It's clear that the specification for a Turing machine does not involve any kind of control or monitoring system. If the brain is primarily a control mechanism, then reasoning about Turing machines does not apply.
Huh? It's clear that the specification of a motor vehicle does not involve visiting my friend Ben in Surrey or taking junk to the council dump. If my car is primarily for visiting my friend Ben, then reasoning about motor vehicles does not apply...??
__________________
Simple probability tells us that we should expect coincidences, and simple psychology tells us that we'll remember the ones we notice...
dlorde is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:03 AM   #394
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
All the biological processes in the body are connected with specific physical processes.
Oh? I was not aware that *your* consciousness was connected with *my* neurons.

The fact that both of us can be conscious, yet we do not share neurons, immediately confirms that consciousness is independent of a specific physical substrate.

Now that we have established this, it is just a matter of specifying exactly what constraints apply to a physical substrate in order for consciousness to be present.

Care to start? A scientific proof would be nice, as opposed to "we have only observed consciousness in one substrate thus far."

Originally Posted by westprog View Post
To claim that because something is associated with a set of events that happen somewhere in the universe, that it constitutes a physical theory seems to me to stretch the concept beyond the point of usefulness.
Yes, beyond the point of usefulness for your arguments, I agree.

Last edited by rocketdodger; 25th January 2012 at 10:14 AM.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:12 AM   #395
rocketdodger
Philosopher
 
rocketdodger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6,926
Originally Posted by westprog View Post
And any digital system is equivalent to a Turing machine?*

Deliberate obfuscation, bluster, and an accusation of lying. SOP.

*The answer is no. But watch the wriggling.
Who are you telling to "watch the wriggling?" All of the spectators here that you are selling snake oil to?

How is this for wriggling: All known digital systems are limited to Turing equivalence, that is, they cannot perform any sequence of computations I.E. "algorithm" that an idealized Turing machine could not also perform, assuming an idealized Turing machine existed.

That is what "Turing equivalence" means. It does not mean you can take an idealized Turing machine and hook it up to a sewage tank to monitor the level of ****. Mainly, because idealized Turing machines are not real.

Last edited by rocketdodger; 25th January 2012 at 10:16 AM.
rocketdodger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:17 AM   #396
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Yes I know.

However, when one is dealing with a certain type of person in a debate, they have to be very careful to specify exactly what everything means. Otherwise, the opposition jumps on even the simplest of concepts and uses them dishonestly to sell snake oil to the spectators.

In this case, somehow the idea that the "specification" of the idealized Turing machine -- which is by definition abstract -- doesn't include any "physical" link to the rest of the world is being used to argue that the processes of real world computers ( "control mechanisms" for example ) are somehow beyond the capability of Turing machines and similarly whatever happens in our heads is beyond description by any theory of computation.

Of course this is bollocks, but what can you do? My approach is to simply harp on the fact that a Turing machine is not real, is abstract, and obviously does not include a "physical" link because they are ... not real.

Yet, discounting computation theory across the board because the abstract specifications of the Turing machine do not directly reference reality is as stupid as discounting all of biological science because the peer reviewed articles in Nature don't include actual microscope slides complete with cells you can culture.
Yes, I was wondering why the derail. The inability of the Turing model to deal with real world asynchronous event driven programs is a bit of a stumbling block. The best way round is to try to contrast the model with the implementations of the model.

Naturally, a real computer has to deal with considerations of timing and interaction. However, it can produce an environment in which Turing type processes run and perform computations. If, however, we wish to model the operation of the computer in terms of its interactions in real time, the Turing model is not applicable, and we can't draw conclusions on the behaviour of the real time systems by using the Turing model. It is possible to model the behaviour of real time systems, using different models.

Since the functionality of the brain is clearly very dependent on real time interactions with the environment, the Turing model does not and cannot reflect its activity successfully. The principle of equivalence by which the simulation of a computation will give the same results as the computation does not apply when the correct operation of the system requires it to respond to external events within a given timeframe.

One might hope that rational people might be able to discuss issues relating to the applicability of mathematical models without becoming hysterical and abusive, but Rocketdodger has never been able to manage this. He cannot discuss this issue politely, and exactly as I predicted at the start of the thread, he wants to make the argument about personalities and agendas. Well, I knew it would happen, so I'm not going to get upset about it. His speculations about the kind of person I am say more about him than me.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:29 AM   #397
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
Who are you telling to "watch the wriggling?" All of the spectators here that you are selling snake oil to?

How is this for wriggling: All known digital systems are limited to Turing equivalence, that is, they cannot perform any sequence of computations I.E. "algorithm" that an idealized Turing machine could not also perform, assuming an idealized Turing machine existed.

That is what "Turing equivalence" means. It does not mean you can take an idealized Turing machine and hook it up to a sewage tank to monitor the level of ****. Mainly, because idealized Turing machines are not real.
Of course if you are only interested in the computations that digital systems perform, then you can reason about those computations using the theory of an idealised Turing machine.

This leaves aside the issue of whether all digital systems are restricted to perorming calculations only. They aren't. Digital systems, and digital/analogue systems, and pure analogue systems are used for control and monitoring purposes. It's often possible to replace an analogue system with a digital system without any change in functionality.

No real time system performing monitoring and control can be modelled as a Turing machine. (That is not to say that it cannot be emulated as a computation - an entirely different matter). What is going on is not computation, and treating it as such is not useful or helpful. Many real time control systems have a negligible compuational element. Sometimes the response required is a simple as opening a valve when an indicator exceeds a particular value. Modelling such an interaction with a programming language - like PASCAL, say - which uses the Turing model is not possible. In order to perform such operations, languages need to add in features such as interrupts and pauses which are extraneous to that model. This also means - and this is the critical, essential element - that it is not possible to make assumptions about the behaviour of the realtime system based on reasoning using the Turing model.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:33 AM   #398
AlBell
Philosopher
 
AlBell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6,362
Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
A control mechanism can be emulated on a computing machine.

...
I'll join westprog in pointing out that emulation on a computer does not equal, or even imply, replication vis-a-vis consciousness or any IRL event.

It's also getting laughable that the claim any Turing machine can do it, then admitting Turing machines do not and cannot exist; yes, universal computing machines are an IRL implementation of a theoretical Turing machine.
AlBell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 10:59 AM   #399
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details...
Posts: 38,206
Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
I'll join westprog in pointing out that emulation on a computer does not equal, or even imply, replication vis-a-vis consciousness or any IRL event.
I'll join myself in pointing out that, if the thing you are emulating is computation, then in fact the emulation is the real thing.
__________________
"'Ought' statements are merely 'is' statements that beg the question." - PixyMisa

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force, my friends, is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived." - Starship Troopers
Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th January 2012, 11:01 AM   #400
westprog
Philosopher
 
westprog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,928
Originally Posted by rocketdodger View Post
A scientific proof would be nice
Is this a joke? I hope so, because if it's a serious demand, that's just sad.

You see, if A is putting forward a specific claim, and B is saying that it's not well founded, then it's not - really, really not - an option for A to demand that B provide a scientific proof of an alternative to that specific claim. At the very least, the burden of scientific proof lies with the person putting forward a specific claim, not the person saying that a particular claim is unproven, and presenting alternatives as possibilities.

I note, in passing, that there hasn't been the slightest indication of a scientific proof of the computational nature of consciousness.
__________________
Dreary whiner, who gradually outwore his welcome, before blowing it entirely.
westprog is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:13 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
2014, TribeTech AB. All Rights Reserved.
This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.