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Author Topic: What is life and where did it come from?  (Read 21276 times)

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #25 on: 10/10/2014 18:39:29 »

Is consciousness a result of the physical processes taking place in the brain? Can consciousness be fully explained by what happens in brain?


Tell us what it is, and we'll find out how it works.
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #26 on: 10/10/2014 18:51:43 »
And yeah, a Turing machine of sorts. But if it evolved naturally, wouldn't that be intelligence?

There may be a fundamental difference between Turning machine and awareness.

A Turning machine can only solve problems that can be put in algorithm. Algorithm means automatic, i.e. a pre-established way to traverse a tree; like a robot.  A turning machine cannot solve by itself the halting problem, while our mind instantaneously can.

I believe Rodger Penrose got this right: there is something fundamentally non-computable in the way our mind works.

It seems to me that what evolved naturally it is more than a Turning machine. It is something that could sense that from a subjective 1st person view that something it is like to be in that particular state. Turning machines cannot do that: to sense that there is something it is like to be in that particular state.   

« Last Edit: 10/10/2014 18:55:41 by flr »
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #27 on: 10/10/2014 18:52:31 »
As for "Is consciousness a result of the physical processes taking place in the brain? Can consciousness be fully explained by what happens in brain?"

I like the idea of emergences myself. Seen it defined as what can not be back tracked to its constituents solely. The emergent new pattern have a complexity of its own. Defined so thoughts are an emergence. It makes the idea of 'consciousness' versus entropy really interesting.
=

It's not so that you can have one without the other. You need entropy, you need causality, you need a arrow to gain this new 'emergence' of thoughts. If we on the other hand speak of 'superpositions' I also understands it as we can assume a 'universal superposition', describing the whole universe, in all its states, before outcome(s)  (depending on how you see that/those later state(s)).

that can actually be thought of as a 'mind state' too, although then purely subjectively (non scientifically) described, the one in where you 'stop thinking', very popular in Zen meditation. It's not the same really, but to me it seem to have similarities.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2014 19:21:00 by yor_on »
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #28 on: 10/10/2014 18:57:27 »
I was thinking of the Turing test there actually.  the one where you can't decide if it is a machine or a human you talk too. If we know 'sci fi' :) would get to talk to a 'rock' of some sort, using this test to decide. would that make the rock more 'evolutionary intelligent' than the example in where we would code a computer artificially. It's a side track though.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #29 on: 10/10/2014 19:08:17 »
The point using emergences may be that you're correct in one way, as is Penrose. This consciousness, intelligence, etc is more than the sum of its parts. And it is just that that fascinates me :)

On the other tentacle, what an emergence seem to state is that it is a logical process from underlying causes, meaning that it can come from 'anywhere', if the right pre-combination existing. that's what i mean by wondering if it has to be carbon based.
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #30 on: 10/10/2014 19:26:15 »
If I understand correctly the emergencies could be understood (at least the weak one). For example we can deterministically explain/trace-back the wet-ability of water from only 2 water molecules. If the emergent property is the result of the collective motion of thousands/millions of molecules, that collective motion can be identified and therefore the emergence understood and no explanatory gap left.

In the case of consciousness the question is: how a circuit element (in brain) generate (say) redness and aware perception of redness? There still seems to be an explanatory gap between the flow of ions/e- on a certain path (in brain) and the aware perception of redness arising with/from that ion/e- flow.   


 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #31 on: 10/10/2014 19:30:00 »
Not really. "In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties." Sure, we know the constituents, but what they present us with emerging is new information.
 

Online Ethos_

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #32 on: 10/10/2014 19:32:31 »


It could also be a smart computer program, in which case does not need to be 'alive'.


-----
Depending upon the level of intelligence our friendly computer had, that statement could well be argued with.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #33 on: 10/10/2014 19:41:41 »
Most of the things you feel, touch, smell and taste should be results of emergences. Like sugar being a logical shape of molecules, fitting receptors in your mouth, your brain emerging with a taste of 'sweetness'. Just as you dip your hand in a glass of water, to find a wetness.
=

Sweetness and sugar is actually a very good description of a emergence, as an artificial sweetener only have to have a better geometric fit to my mouths receptors to make me find my coffee disgustingly 'sweet', all as I understands it.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2014 20:01:42 by yor_on »
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #34 on: 10/10/2014 20:01:07 »
Not really. "emergence is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, ... simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties."

Then it is possible to conceive the emergent properties from simpler elements that do not have it. The emergent property does not came as a mystery, instead it could be conceived. It does not came as a mystery out of nowhere, there has to be some logic connections with the parts that could be traced out.

Also, I would argue that in the case of weak emergencies conceived=deterministically understood.

Quote
Like sugar being a logical shape of molecules, fitting receptors in your mouth, you brain emerging with a taste of 'sweetness'

You skipped a step, the most important one. After tasting a candy the signal from receptors is transited to the brain. Then the neurons in brain will fire up in a certain pattern. The feel of sweetness is strongly correlated with this particular pattern of electric flow through axons in the brain (indeed, if this neuronal pattern is disrupted I may not feel any sweetness).
Why a feel of sweetness appears from a certain electrical pattern? How an electric pattern generate a subjective experience of sweetness? How could we conceive the feel of sweetness from an electric pattern?




 

 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #35 on: 10/10/2014 20:06:08 »
You could ask the same from the geometric shape it need to have. Because that is pure geometry as I get it, not chemistry as such. Defining it that way, 'thoughts' definitely belong there too.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #36 on: 10/10/2014 20:14:44 »
What you seem to wonder about is whether you could define some  emergence to a specific electrochemical stimulation of the brain though? And that I think should be possible, but I'm not sure? If we use the geometry as a pointer then it is the geometry, shouldn't matter what molecules that geometry consist of, to make the brain emerge with 'sweet!!!'. And it is also so that I think, although not a hundred percent sure, that this 'sweet' experience is more than a cultural, social experience, It's what I think 'hardwired' into the brain.
« Last Edit: 10/10/2014 20:32:04 by yor_on »
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #37 on: 11/10/2014 00:38:07 »
What you seem to wonder about is whether you could define some  emergence to a specific electrochemical stimulation of the brain though?
How and why a certain neuronal firing pattern generate the feel of sweetness?
How and why an electrochemical circuit in brain generates 1st person subjective feeling? Why not that neuronal firing pattern 'go dark' and no-one experiences nothing?

I guess I am just skeptic that the Identity Theory is sufficient.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #38 on: 11/10/2014 07:22:35 »
I have begun to wonder whether the Turing test is just a tautology.

Turing began with a need to define intelligent behaviour, and settled on "behaviour indistinguishable from a human being". Like it or not, this depends on two factors: the ability of the machine to behave, and the ability of a person to distinguish between two responses.

Consider a simple mechanical test. Switch on a light in a dark room. We sort of expect humans and indeed all animals and plants to be attracted towards the light, and we would distinguish a vampire or a zombie by its turning away from the light. Both are intelligent responses, inasmuch as they are voluntary (OK, the plant case is debatable, but sunflowers rotate anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere) actions associated with the survival of the subject, but we have prejudged one of them as being nonhuman, so it would fail the Turing test. 

Now walk into a starlit field and ask "where's the rabbit?" A human would say "I have no idea" and a dog would find it by smell and sound and bring it back to you. Widely different responses, but which one is the more intelligent? Turing foresaw some of this problem by limiting his test to text input and output, but surely the underlying criterion of intelligence here is "the ability to surprise the questioner".   

So what Turing comes down to is "two things are indistinguishable if you can't distinguish between them".
« Last Edit: 11/10/2014 11:23:46 by alancalverd »
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #39 on: 11/10/2014 18:00:14 »
Consciousness and awareness may just be illusions. I recently read an interesting op ed by the author of the book Consciousness and the Social Brain on the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/opinion/sunday/are-we-really-conscious.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article).

This professor of psychology and cognition at Princeton believes that our "self awareness" is just a mental construct, and that we don't actually perceive as much as we think we do. An interesting read.
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #40 on: 12/10/2014 17:46:05 »
Consciousness and awareness may just be illusions.
I am very sure that I have aware thought now as I am writing this post. Actually that is the most important quality that I posses: to became aware of the environment and of myself.
Another example: I am quite sure I was clearly aware of a hunger feeling before having my breakfast this morning.

Indeed, only objective aspects can be a study of science however that does not mean we should  deny the [1st person view] subjective aspect of consciousness. It is not even necessary....

The eliminitivists argue that other theories of consciousness are based on intuition and the intuition can be wrong therefore we shall not trust those theories.
 However eliminitivists' theory is also based on their own intuition (see the double standard here?) .

===
Finally, if the consciousness does not exist or it is just an illusion then that paper (the link you pointed) was not the result of the aware thoughts of a sentient being. Then why should I even care about it?

====
PS.
A lazy way to 'solve' a problem is to pretend the problem does not exists in the first place.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2014 17:49:40 by flr »
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #41 on: 14/10/2014 15:55:38 »
Consciousness and awareness may just be illusions.
I am very sure that I have aware thought now as I am writing this post. Actually that is the most important quality that I posses: to became aware of the environment and of myself.
Another example: I am quite sure I was clearly aware of a hunger feeling before having my breakfast this morning.

Indeed, only objective aspects can be a study of science however that does not mean we should  deny the [1st person view] subjective aspect of consciousness. It is not even necessary....

The eliminitivists argue that other theories of consciousness are based on intuition and the intuition can be wrong therefore we shall not trust those theories.
 However eliminitivists' theory is also based on their own intuition (see the double standard here?) .

===
Finally, if the consciousness does not exist or it is just an illusion then that paper (the link you pointed) was not the result of the aware thoughts of a sentient being. Then why should I even care about it?

====
PS.
A lazy way to 'solve' a problem is to pretend the problem does not exists in the first place.

I am not saying that it is certainly an illusion and doesn't require further study, but I do think that is a possibility that shouldn't be discounted off-hand. Our current understanding of consciousness may be akin to the 19th century's understanding of the Ether--something that must be there to allow light to propagate, but cannot be measured in any way--ultimately we learned that it was a problem with the model, and there was no Ether, not that it was impossible to observe/measure/study it.

I see three possibilities: consciousness is real and can be explained by (materialist) science; consciousness is real but cannot be measured in any way other than experiencing it; or consciousness is not actually real, or at least, is very different from what we think it is. At this point I don't think there is enough data to support any of these over the others.
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #42 on: 14/10/2014 19:20:07 »
Consciousness and awareness may just be illusions.
I am very sure that I have aware thought now as I am writing this post. Actually that is the most important quality that I posses: to became aware of the environment and of myself.
Another example: I am quite sure I was clearly aware of a hunger feeling before having my breakfast this morning.


Also, one must consider the malleability of awareness, both of self and of the surroundings. A common effect of psychedelics such as mescaline, psilocybin, DMT or LSD in high doses is "depersonalization," in which someone either loses their concept of self, or dissociates it from their bodies (they may identify as an object, their surroundings or the universe). This could be taken as evidence that our minds are separate from our bodies, or it could be taken as evidence of the limitations of our perceptions.
 

Offline flr

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #43 on: 14/10/2014 20:27:11 »
But the 'receiver' of the aware experience is still the same even if the aware experience is perceived as somewhat modified.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #44 on: 16/10/2014 17:56:34 »
Heard a guy pointing out that we only have a limited amount of different receptors when it comes to drugs. As I gathered it his point was that there are a lot of possible 'drugs' that have no effect at all on us as we lack the equipment to experience them. And what I think it knits to is your argument flr, that there always should be 'something' experiencing it.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #45 on: 17/10/2014 17:04:02 »
I'll make a argument now :)

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Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #46 on: 20/10/2014 22:58:17 »
We have departed from the original question, and settled on a debate about consciousness.

I think an important piece of this debate that has only tangentially been brought up, is which beings have consciousness and which do not?

Are only humans conscious? If so, at what point did the first human have its first conscious thought? Are humans conscious from conception on, or does it "turn on"? Can it turn off?

Are other animals conscious? If so, which? How can we tell? Perhaps plants are conscious... perhaps computers are conscious, we just can't know the answer to any of these questions if consciousness is only self detecting. How do I know you are conscious--do I take you at your word?
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #47 on: 20/10/2014 23:01:55 »
Are other animals conscious?

Tell us what the word means, and we'll come up with an answer.
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #48 on: 21/10/2014 03:48:09 »
Are other animals conscious?

Tell us what the word means, and we'll come up with an answer.

I think the responsibility of defining consciousness lies squarely on those positing that there is such a thing.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
« Reply #49 on: 21/10/2014 05:38:58 »
I'd say that anything which can be asleep can also be conscious.
 

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Re: What is life and where did it come from?
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