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

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology
 


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 physics

Reply
Old 16th February 2019, 08:51 PM   #1
Red Baron Farms
Illuminator
 
Red Baron Farms's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,493
proto-consciousness field theory

The universe may be conscious, say prominent scientists

Is this real?
__________________
Scott
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." Bill Mollison
Biome Carbon Cycle Management
Red Baron Farms 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 16th February 2019, 08:59 PM   #2
Darat
Lackey
Administrator
 
Darat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: South East, UK
Posts: 85,057
As far as I can tell that article is real. Probably originated in a black hole that decided it wanted to break into pop science articles.
__________________
I wish I knew how to quit you
Darat 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 16th February 2019, 09:18 PM   #3
Red Baron Farms
Illuminator
 
Red Baron Farms's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,493
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
As far as I can tell that article is real. Probably originated in a black hole that decided it wanted to break into pop science articles.
I am not a physicist, so I am limited to science journalism when it comes to physics. I cant understand many of the new things like quantum physics unless it is simplified for me.

But this one got my woo sensors activated, so I am asking for a serious answer.
__________________
Scott
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." Bill Mollison
Biome Carbon Cycle Management
Red Baron Farms 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 16th February 2019, 09:40 PM   #4
Matthew Ellard
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,780
Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
But this one got my woo sensors activated, so I am asking for a serious answer.
I think it is probably rubbish. The article concerns two religious belief systems, firstly that things only exist because people are observing them. (Dualism). The second is "Panpsychism".

However Panpsychism also doesn't make any sense. It claims stars have choice or volition, rather than follow rules of physics. It had been claimed that panpsychism could replace dark matter to explain why stars behaved in a way not known to physics. But that doesn't make any sense. Why would stars all at equal distance to Earth, all still behave in the same way if it was by "individual star choice", rather than unknown rules of physics?


I suggest you read this abstract on the question you asked. This abstract doesn't really make any sense and seems to be religion dressed up as science.

Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?
https://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/article/view/579
Matthew Ellard 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 16th February 2019, 09:48 PM   #5
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 10,725
It's probably not true/real, but I've loved the theory for quite a while now. It's unproven, but it's not exactly woo, per say. It's (probably) falsifiable one way or the other.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb 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 16th February 2019, 09:54 PM   #6
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 10,725
Here's a better article:
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science...ous-ncna772956
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb 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 16th February 2019, 10:02 PM   #7
Wowbagger
The Infinitely Prolonged
 
Wowbagger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Westchester County, NY (when not in space)
Posts: 15,029
Everything we empirically know about consciousness stems from it emerging from the physiology of our brain, and we are slowly but surely ironing MORE details about out HOW it emerges, by investigating in that direction; even if there are still some mysteries left. See Susan Blackmore's books or Antonio Damasio's "Self Comes to Mind" for examples.

Any claim that consciousness is "fundamental to the Universe" is missing that vital element of empirically driven progress towards a reliable explanation of anything, at all.
__________________
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!!!!
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 17th February 2019, 03:49 AM   #8
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
That's been my belief system for a long time.
baron 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 17th February 2019, 04:32 AM   #9
Myriad
Hyperthetical
 
Myriad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: A pocket paradise between the sewage treatment plant and the railroad
Posts: 14,595
There are two ways to think about panpsychism. (Or rather, two extremes of a continuum, which are helpful to point out.) One extreme is, everything is conscious because consciousness is something very mysterious and wonderful that pervades the universe. That's the view in which stars move volitionally, ocean waves are like brain waves, and even rocks sit there quietly contemplating. The other extreme is, everything is conscious because consciousness is nothing special. Rocks don't do anything we don't observe them doing; they don't think or remember, but they are conscious nonetheless. "Consciousness and change are the same thing" is an example of a viewpoint near the latter extreme.

One problem with the first extreme is addressing this assertion: "Everything in the universe is conscious, except an anesthetized human brain." If an anesthetized human, who we'd normally describe as unconscious, is at least as conscious as a rock, then haven't we just re-defined "conscious" to mean "unconscious?" And if an anesthetized human is less conscious than a rock, what magical property of anesthetic drugs makes that possible?
__________________
A zømbie once bit my sister...

Last edited by Myriad; 17th February 2019 at 04:34 AM.
Myriad 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 17th February 2019, 05:02 AM   #10
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
There are two ways to think about panpsychism. (Or rather, two extremes of a continuum, which are helpful to point out.) One extreme is, everything is conscious because consciousness is something very mysterious and wonderful that pervades the universe. That's the view in which stars move volitionally, ocean waves are like brain waves, and even rocks sit there quietly contemplating. The other extreme is, everything is conscious because consciousness is nothing special. Rocks don't do anything we don't observe them doing; they don't think or remember, but they are conscious nonetheless. "Consciousness and change are the same thing" is an example of a viewpoint near the latter extreme.

One problem with the first extreme is addressing this assertion: "Everything in the universe is conscious, except an anesthetized human brain." If an anesthetized human, who we'd normally describe as unconscious, is at least as conscious as a rock, then haven't we just re-defined "conscious" to mean "unconscious?" And if an anesthetized human is less conscious than a rock, what magical property of anesthetic drugs makes that possible?
The way I look at it, consciousness is a result of information processing. The more information processing in a locale, the stronger the consciousness. Very little information processing goes on in a rock, vast more in an amoeba and vasty, vastly more in a human brain. And if that human brain is anaesthetised, or dead, then that level of consciousness is reduced accordingly.
baron 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 17th February 2019, 05:25 AM   #11
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,401
Scptt Aronson's slightly unkind take on the new-panpsychism:

https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1823

Quote:
Personally, I give Giulio enormous credit for having the intellectual courage to follow his theory wherever it leads. When the critics point out, “if your theory were true, then the Moon would be made of peanut butter,” he doesn’t try to wiggle out of the prediction, but proudly replies, “yes, chunky peanut butter—and you forgot to add that the Earth is made of Nutella!”

Yet even as we admire Giulio’s honesty and consistency, his stance might also prompt us, gently, to take another look at this peanut-butter-moon theory, and at what grounds we had for believing it in the first place.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin 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 17th February 2019, 05:46 AM   #12
Squeegee Beckenheim
Penultimate Amazing
 
Squeegee Beckenheim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 23,576
Quote:
One must come to the realization that everything we experience is filtered through and interpreted by our mind. Without it, the universe doesn't exist at all or at least, not without some sort of consciousness observing it
The second sentence does not follow from the first. It's like saying that because I've only ever seen Scarlet Johansson on a screen that if screens didn't exist Scarlet Johansson would cease to exist.

I think the more parsimonious explanation is that Johansson exists regardless of whether or not I'm aware she exists.

As for the rest of the article, I see nothing compelling there. I see no argument why human consciousness is necessary for the universe to exist.

I have read some good sci-fi stories by Greg Egan, which approach the idea that human consciousness creates the universe. The most notable are Quarantine and Distress. Permutation City also has a premise that touches on similar ideas. I'll spoiler them for length, and because it discusses things which aren't revealed until a third or half-way through the novel:

The novel begins by following a series of experiments being done on a virtual simulation of a person (it's commonplace for people to be simulated in this way, as a kind of afterlife) to see whether the virtual person can experience changes to the way their consciousness is computed. As their behaviour is deterministic within the virtual environment, it's possible to take a starting point and from that to extrapolate what state the mind will be in at a future point in time. So one experiment is to have the person count to ten, but to have each numeral being spoken processed in different computers in different locations all over the world at different times and then re-compiled into one coherent memory.

As it's discovered that the virtual person can't perceive this at all it's reasoned that it's possible to create a virtual computer/virtual environment/virtual people by seeing the dust that's scattered throughout the universe as bits of information. If you take all the bits of dust in throughout the whole of time and space and pick and choose different particles from that whole range, there will be an arrangement that "compute" the environment you want to create with the people you want to create at time t, and an arrangement that does the same at time t1, etc. and so you can "run" this computer programme and thereby create an infinite, unlimited computer simulation of whatever you want.


It seems to me that some of the arguments for consciousness existing in the universe due to being an emergent property of data processing share some premises with this idea. One key difference, it seems to me, is that Egan has a Q & A on his website where he explains why the "dust theory" is nonsense, whereas it seems that some people take seriously the idea that the sun is conscious and acts with volition with no real argument for it.

Besides, I don't think we yet have an adequate explanation of what consciousness is. Certainly not a universally-accepted one. It's so lacking in definition that we also can't define what it means to lose consciousness, and so there is no scientific consensus even on how anaesthetics work.

It seems to me that that's a question that needs answering before we can determine whether or not rocks are conscious.
__________________
I don't trust atoms. They make up everything.

Last edited by Agatha; 18th February 2019 at 03:46 PM. Reason: correct tags
Squeegee Beckenheim 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 17th February 2019, 06:29 AM   #13
Bikewer
Penultimate Amazing
 
Bikewer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Posts: 12,412
I answer questions on Quora all the time, and we get a lot of these sorts of things.

I do a lot of layman-level reading in neuroscience, and I think it’s safe to say that most folks have little idea of just how complex the human brain is. That what we think of as consciousness is an “emergent property” of this vastly-complex activity does not seem open to dispute.

Much of the “we create the universe with our minds” nonsense is just Solipsism carried to the utter level of absurdity. As one biologist said.... “If we generate reality with our minds, what did the universe look like when there was nothing more evolved than a sea-slug?

Many people seem to have little idea that the universe had to have existed for some billions of years before it was even possible for something to be alive.... Much less conscious....
For a long time there wasn’t much more complex than a hydrogen atom.
Bikewer 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 17th February 2019, 08:14 AM   #14
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I answer questions on Quora all the time, and we get a lot of these sorts of things.

I do a lot of layman-level reading in neuroscience, and I think it’s safe to say that most folks have little idea of just how complex the human brain is. That what we think of as consciousness is an “emergent property” of this vastly-complex activity does not seem open to dispute.

Much of the “we create the universe with our minds” nonsense is just Solipsism carried to the utter level of absurdity. As one biologist said.... “If we generate reality with our minds, what did the universe look like when there was nothing more evolved than a sea-slug?

Many people seem to have little idea that the universe had to have existed for some billions of years before it was even possible for something to be alive.... Much less conscious....
For a long time there wasn’t much more complex than a hydrogen atom.
That's a somewhat disingenuous interpretation of the notion that 'consciousness creates reality'. It doesn't mean that there is nothing until consciousness thinks it up, then it appears, it refers more to the notion that reality is pure potential until acted on by consciousness, at which point it gains all the attributes we normally associate with materialist observations. Right or wrong, there is no conflict between this idea and that of a universe devoid of life.
baron 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 17th February 2019, 08:15 AM   #15
RecoveringYuppy
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 8,442
Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
One extreme is, everything is conscious because consciousness is something very mysterious and wonderful that pervades the universe.
I immediately run in to a problem with that. Is my kidney conscious and, if so, where is that consciousness perceived?
__________________
REJ (Robert E Jones) posting anonymously under my real name for 30 years.

Make a fire for a man and you keep him warm for a day. Set him on fire and you keep him warm for the rest of his life.
RecoveringYuppy 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 17th February 2019, 10:10 AM   #16
casebro
Penultimate Amazing
 
casebro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,366
Originally Posted by Matthew Ellard View Post
I think it is probably rubbish. The article concerns two religious belief systems, firstly that things only exist because people are observing them. (Dualism). The second is "Panpsychism".

However Panpsychism also doesn't make any sense. It claims stars have choice or volition, rather than follow rules of physics. It had been claimed that panpsychism could replace dark matter to explain why stars behaved in a way not known to physics. But that doesn't make any sense. Why would stars all at equal distance to Earth, all still behave in the same way if it was by "individual star choice", rather than unknown rules of physics?


I suggest you read this abstract on the question you asked. This abstract doesn't really make any sense and seems to be religion dressed up as science.

Can Panpsychism Become an Observational Science?
https://jcer.com/index.php/jcj/article/view/579
But a gathering of stars is called a Clique- they all start acting alike. Because ummm, the consciousness of the one acts on the others too.... and umm, and ummm, billions of people, billions of stars, and ummm.... Bengazi!!!!!
__________________
Great minds discuss ideas.
Medium minds discuss events.
Small minds spend all their time on U-Tube and Facebook.
casebro 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 17th February 2019, 12:20 PM   #17
Myriad
Hyperthetical
 
Myriad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: A pocket paradise between the sewage treatment plant and the railroad
Posts: 14,595
Originally Posted by baron View Post
The way I look at it, consciousness is a result of information processing. The more information processing in a locale, the stronger the consciousness. Very little information processing goes on in a rock, vast more in an amoeba and vasty, vastly more in a human brain. And if that human brain is anaesthetised, or dead, then that level of consciousness is reduced accordingly.

I think generally the same. But I think the kind of processing matters too.

Back in the early 1970s when the number of switches in the world's automated telephone exchanges first exceeded the number of neurons in a human brain, several science fiction authors wrote stories about the telephone system spontaneously becoming sentient as a result. That idea seems really naive today, after decades of experience with far more powerful information processing systems. Lots of repetitive computation by systems designed to perform a specific task predictably doesn't meet our intuitive notions of how conscious systems should emerge.

That specificity, the idea that only certain kinds of computations result in consciousness, opposes panpsychism (no matter where on the spectrum I mentioned). But it does still allow for certain things other than human brains to be conscious. In principle, biological evolution could be the neurology of a conscious biosphere, for instance. And strong AI would be possible.
__________________
A zømbie once bit my sister...
Myriad 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 17th February 2019, 12:22 PM   #18
Myriad
Hyperthetical
 
Myriad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: A pocket paradise between the sewage treatment plant and the railroad
Posts: 14,595
Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I immediately run in to a problem with that. Is my kidney conscious and, if so, where is that consciousness perceived?

Ask your kidney. (No, I don't know the answer. It's your kidney after all.)
__________________
A zømbie once bit my sister...
Myriad 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 17th February 2019, 02:39 PM   #19
Minoosh
Philosopher
 
Minoosh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 8,704
Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
I am not a physicist, so I am limited to science journalism when it comes to physics. I cant understand many of the new things like quantum physics unless it is simplified for me.

But this one got my woo sensors activated, so I am asking for a serious answer.
Kudos for admitting you don't know enough to tell if any of this is credible. Millions of New Age believers have no such perception of their own limitations. The currency these ideas have, IMO, rests mostly on respect for Roger Penrose. But for every Penrose there are probably easily 100,000 people who don't what he's talking about but think it sounds cool.

If someone tries to "simplify" quantum physics for you there's a pretty good chance you're not getting an accurate view.

These ideas are popular, I think, because they seem to justify the feeling that "something" exists beyond strict materialism. I find that appealing myself. But I don't think I will ever personally be able to assess these arguments.

Anyway, these ideas are not new, they've been kicked around for decades, mostly among people who don't have the background in math and physics to understand what's being said.
Minoosh 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 17th February 2019, 02:43 PM   #20
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Anyway, these ideas are not new, they've been kicked around for decades, mostly among people who don't have the background in math and physics to understand what's being said.
More like approaching three thousand years as opposed to decades.
baron 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 17th February 2019, 03:08 PM   #21
Dr.Sid
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic
Posts: 1,765
I like it. If anything it will delay onset of true AI, and we need that. I mean it will be fun to watch, but I still have some plans for the future.
Dr.Sid 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 17th February 2019, 04:32 PM   #22
Minoosh
Philosopher
 
Minoosh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 8,704
Originally Posted by baron View Post
More like approaching three thousand years as opposed to decades.
But 3,000 years ago nobody brought quantum physics into the mix, did they?

I've seen "reasoning" along the lines of, "consciousness is weird, QM is weird, therefore consciousness must have something to do with QM." A few of these folks know what they are talking about, but a lot more just think it's kinda groovy.

Was anyone 3,000 years ago saying that consciousness was built into space-time? Maybe they were.
Minoosh 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 17th February 2019, 09:40 PM   #23
Minoosh
Philosopher
 
Minoosh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 8,704
This topic led me to look up someone closely associated with these theories, and I found out he still doesn't have a clue about personal relationships.

That kind of made my day but it has little to do with the actual merits of the theory.

ETA: Having spent time around this crowd, I'm still pretty sure that many spout feel-good nonsense that does not really hold up to further examination. But, I could easily be wrong.

Last edited by Minoosh; 17th February 2019 at 09:44 PM.
Minoosh 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 18th February 2019, 03:35 AM   #24
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
But 3,000 years ago nobody brought quantum physics into the mix, did they?

I've seen "reasoning" along the lines of, "consciousness is weird, QM is weird, therefore consciousness must have something to do with QM." A few of these folks know what they are talking about, but a lot more just think it's kinda groovy.

Was anyone 3,000 years ago saying that consciousness was built into space-time? Maybe they were.
They were indeed.

https://www.lionsroar.com/christof-k...l-nature-mind/
baron 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 18th February 2019, 03:51 AM   #25
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,026
It's easier to think of consciousness to exist on a spectrum, instead of having to draw an clear line linked to specific attributes.
But the obvious consequences is that you can't draw the line anywhere, which means that even inanimate matter must some have some "consciousness" quality to it.

It sounds a lot extrapolation from spotting knowledge.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isn’t.
The Great Zaganza 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 18th February 2019, 04:19 AM   #26
Squeegee Beckenheim
Penultimate Amazing
 
Squeegee Beckenheim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 23,576
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
It's easier to think of consciousness to exist on a spectrum, instead of having to draw an clear line linked to specific attributes.
But the obvious consequences is that you can't draw the line anywhere, which means that even inanimate matter must some have some "consciousness" quality to it.
I'm not sure how true that is. There's a lot of fuzzy edges in science, and yet lines are still drawn. The fact that ring species exist doesn't mean that lines aren't drawn between species. The fact that viruses exist doesn't mean that a line isn't drawn between "living" and "non-living". The fact that slime moulds exist doesn't mean that a line isn't drawn between "single-cellular" and "multi-cellular".

The fact there are degrees of consciousness (if that is, in fact, true) needn't imply that a line cannot be drawn between "sentient" and "non-sentient" or "conscious" and "lacking in consciousness". Just like the examples I mentioned (as well as similarly fuzzy non-scientific terms like "tall", "young", and "fat"), how they are defined will depend on the context in which they're used and what utility the words are intended to have.
__________________
I don't trust atoms. They make up everything.
Squeegee Beckenheim 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 18th February 2019, 05:14 AM   #27
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,026
Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
The fact there are degrees of consciousness (if that is, in fact, true) needn't imply that a line cannot be drawn between "sentient" and "non-sentient" or "conscious" and "lacking in consciousness". Just like the examples I mentioned (as well as similarly fuzzy non-scientific terms like "tall", "young", and "fat"), how they are defined will depend on the context in which they're used and what utility the words are intended to have.
I agree that, in principle, they probably can be drawn, given enough data - but we aren't there yet.
Just because we can't yet doesn't mean that we have to assume that minuscule amounts of consciousnesses must extend to the fabric of space itself.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isn’t.
The Great Zaganza 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 18th February 2019, 05:39 AM   #28
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 79,580
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
As far as I can tell that article is real. Probably originated in a black hole that decided it wanted to break into pop science articles.
Ugh. I hate black holes. They suck the air right out of the room.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


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 18th February 2019, 05:42 AM   #29
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 79,580
Originally Posted by baron View Post
The way I look at it, consciousness is a result of information processing. The more information processing in a locale, the stronger the consciousness. Very little information processing goes on in a rock, vast more in an amoeba and vasty, vastly more in a human brain. And if that human brain is anaesthetised, or dead, then that level of consciousness is reduced accordingly.
Yeah but isn't consciousness more than just mere information processing? Otherwise the word doesn't mean anything, since pretty much everything processes information, in a way.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


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 18th February 2019, 05:46 AM   #30
Squeegee Beckenheim
Penultimate Amazing
 
Squeegee Beckenheim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 23,576
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Just because we can't yet doesn't mean that we have to assume that minuscule amounts of consciousnesses must extend to the fabric of space itself.
That's really going to come down to how we defined "consciousness". If it's just as "an emergent property of data processing", and if we define "data processing" to include, say, particles appearing and disappearing within the quantum foam, then empty space would have consciousness by definition. It'll come down to what people are trying to communicate and what utility that idea has.

I mean let's say, for example, that we determine that empty space has a minute amount of consciousness. The question then is "so what?" What useful does that tell us about space? What useful does that tell us about consciousness? How will that affect our understanding of cosmic physics? How will that affect our understanding of neurophysics? How will that affect our understanding of anaesthesiology? How will that affect our understanding of psychology?

At the moment, it seems to me that the answers are "nothing" and "not at all". Perhaps that's because I don't yet have a deep enough understanding of the subject. Perhaps that's because the field is relatively new. Or perhaps it's because it does tell us nothing useful.

If it does tell us something useful, then it'll become mainstream. If it doesn't, then it'll go the way of aether.

But the point is that it will come to be defined in science to mean whatever is the most useful way for people within relevant fields to define it. The fuzzy edges will be worked around in the same way they are with other sciences.
__________________
I don't trust atoms. They make up everything.
Squeegee Beckenheim 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 18th February 2019, 06:42 AM   #31
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 981
WTF is a consciousness "field" anyway?

Even if the universe were conscious -- which is a colossal enough assumption -- what exactly would a "field" like this entail?

After all, we are conscious. Suppose the bacteria living in our bodies, or perhaps teeny tiny beings living within teeny tiny worlds within the molecules within our bodies, were conscious, and we their universe -- well, those conscious beings would have a conscious universe (in as much we were alive and ticking). Even granted all of that, what on earth would be a "consciousness field" for those tiny creatures? How might that work?
Chanakya 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 18th February 2019, 08:10 AM   #32
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Yeah but isn't consciousness more than just mere information processing? Otherwise the word doesn't mean anything, since pretty much everything processes information, in a way.
Here's where my thinking diverges from most people's on this forum (and indeed most people full stop).

I see there being a ubiquitous field of conscious potential, just like there's a ubiquitous field of quantum potential throughout the universe. It isn't conscious in itself, just potential. Now, in the same way mass warps space-time to form gravity, I believe information exchange warps the conscious field to form consciousness. The more intense and complex the information processing, the stronger the response in the conscious field - the more aware it becomes in and around that specific locale.

Some accept that information processing produces consciousness but they deny the existence of consciousness as an external force. I don't understand what they're talking about. Doing this reduces consciousness to an emergent property, which effectively means it doesn't exist. So that's fine if, like Daniel Dennett and others, you don't believe in the reality of consciousness, but if you do accept that it's an independent entity / force / field / whatever, this approach makes little sense.
baron 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 18th February 2019, 09:07 AM   #33
Squeegee Beckenheim
Penultimate Amazing
 
Squeegee Beckenheim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 23,576
Originally Posted by baron View Post
I see there being a ubiquitous field of conscious potential, just like there's a ubiquitous field of quantum potential throughout the universe. It isn't conscious in itself, just potential. Now, in the same way mass warps space-time to form gravity, I believe information exchange warps the conscious field to form consciousness. The more intense and complex the information processing, the stronger the response in the conscious field - the more aware it becomes in and around that specific locale.
On what empirical evidence do you base this conclusion, and what do you believe the mechanism to be?

Quote:
Some accept that information processing produces consciousness but they deny the existence of consciousness as an external force. I don't understand what they're talking about. Doing this reduces consciousness to an emergent property, which effectively means it doesn't exist.
Why does something being an emergent property of something else imply that it doesn't exist? Humans are emergent from single-celled organisms, natural selection, and time. I'm pretty sure humans exist.
__________________
I don't trust atoms. They make up everything.
Squeegee Beckenheim 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 18th February 2019, 09:11 AM   #34
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
On what empirical evidence do you base this conclusion, and what do you believe the mechanism to be?
None whatsoever, just like there is no empirical evidence that consciousness exists.

Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Why does something being an emergent property of something else imply that it doesn't exist? Humans are emergent from single-celled organisms, natural selection, and time. I'm pretty sure humans exist.
You are misunderstand what an emergent property is. Emergent properties are not things.
baron 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 18th February 2019, 09:34 AM   #35
Squeegee Beckenheim
Penultimate Amazing
 
Squeegee Beckenheim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 23,576
Originally Posted by baron View Post
None whatsoever, just like there is no empirical evidence that consciousness exists.
Sure there is. The fact that the brain is in one state when it is conscious and another when it is unconscious is evidence that consciousness exists. The career of an anaesthesiologist is testament to this fact, and provides ample empirical evidence that one state can be induced from the other.

Quote:
You are misunderstand what an emergent property is. Emergent properties are not things.
I really don't think I am misunderstanding emergence. And it seems like you're being tautologous.

However, it's easy to name other examples, if you like. The organisation of an ant colony is emergent. The flight of a flock of birds is emergent. Slime moulds becoming a single entity is emergent. A hurricane is emergent. The behaviour of the stock market is emergent.

These are all things that exist.
__________________
I don't trust atoms. They make up everything.
Squeegee Beckenheim 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 18th February 2019, 09:58 AM   #36
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 79,580
Originally Posted by baron View Post
Here's where my thinking diverges from most people's on this forum (and indeed most people full stop).

I see there being a ubiquitous field of conscious potential, just like there's a ubiquitous field of quantum potential throughout the universe. It isn't conscious in itself, just potential. Now, in the same way mass warps space-time to form gravity, I believe information exchange warps the conscious field to form consciousness. The more intense and complex the information processing, the stronger the response in the conscious field - the more aware it becomes in and around that specific locale.

Some accept that information processing produces consciousness but they deny the existence of consciousness as an external force. I don't understand what they're talking about. Doing this reduces consciousness to an emergent property, which effectively means it doesn't exist. So that's fine if, like Daniel Dennett and others, you don't believe in the reality of consciousness, but if you do accept that it's an independent entity / force / field / whatever, this approach makes little sense.
Ok that's fair enough, but how does it gel with the fact that only brains are known to be conscious? How is one to tell the difference between "everything is conscious but only brains exhibit it" and "only brains are conscious"? And, if one can't, why believe this at all?
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


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 18th February 2019, 09:59 AM   #37
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 79,580
Originally Posted by baron View Post
None whatsoever, just like there is no empirical evidence that consciousness exists.
Woah, there. Of course there's evidence that consciousness exists, as it's defined as something that we observe in the real world. We've even managed to test when and how the 'conscious' part is updated by the non-conscious one.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


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 18th February 2019, 09:59 AM   #38
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
Sure there is. The fact that the brain is in one state when it is conscious and another when it is unconscious is evidence that consciousness exists.
That's begging the question. Furthermore, it's not evidence of anything aside from a change in brain state. The conscious response is based entirely on subjective observation, and is therefore not empirical evidence.

Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
I really don't think I am misunderstanding emergence. And it seems like you're being tautologous.

However, it's easy to name other examples, if you like. The organisation of an ant colony is emergent. The flight of a flock of birds is emergent. Slime moulds becoming a single entity is emergent. A hurricane is emergent. The behaviour of the stock market is emergent.

These are all things that exist.
They are not things, they are attributes. The flight of a flock of birds has no independent reality, nothing additional has been created other than a new way of describing what's already present.
baron 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 18th February 2019, 10:01 AM   #39
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Woah, there. Of course there's evidence that consciousness exists, as it's defined as something that we observe in the real world. We've even managed to test when and how the 'conscious' part is updated by the non-conscious one.
As I said, this is based entirely on subjective reporting. If you doubt me, describe an experiment to measure consciousness that does not rely on any reference to observations made by conscious subjects (and I mean reference made at any point in time, not just during the experiment).
baron 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 18th February 2019, 10:02 AM   #40
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 79,580
Originally Posted by baron View Post
The conscious response is based entirely on subjective observation, and is therefore not empirical evidence.
Well, that's not entirely true.

Not only can we observe evidence of consciousness in other people, which makes it an objective observation, but we can also observe subjectively that we are aware of something and not others, even within our own brain processes.

That's consciousness: a sort of looped self-awareness.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


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
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology

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 10:56 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

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.