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Author Topic: A new theory of pain  (Read 312 times)
Zanthius
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A new theory of pain
« on: September 30, 2017, 01:07:40 pm »

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Death 999
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2017, 03:04:54 pm »

You describe yourself as a rationalist.

Apply that here. Why do you think this would be the case? What would be different about a world in which this is true from one in which it is false? Why do you think this might be true? What reasons can you see for its being false?
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2017, 03:56:31 pm »

Apply that here. Why do you think this would be the case?

Pain is a somewhat mysterious phenomena. We don't necessarily know how to generate pain in artificial neural networks.

What would be different about a world in which this is true from one in which it is false?

We might easily imagine a world without pain (or pleasure). Such a world could in theory have humans that behaved much in the same way,  but didn't experience any pain or pleasure. They avoided things we find painful, but not because they found it painful. Rather because they realized those things were harmful to themselves, and found it irrational to harm themselves.

Why do you think this might be true?

Since humans do indeed experience pain, there should be some way to explain it. We already know that pain receptors in the finger send pain signals to the brain, and that it furthermore generates neurogenic inflammation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenic_inflammation) in the brain. We also know that inflamed tissue has an overabundance of unstable compounds. When your skin is exposed to an overabundance of ultraviolet light, it causes molecules in your skin to become unstable, which furthermore makes your skin inflamed.

We often call highly reactive molecules unstable, but couldn't we just as well have said that they are in pain? If we modified our chemistry language, so that we rather said that highly reactive molecules are in pain, wouldn't we be able to explain everything maybe even better?

In particular, isn't the language I am using on this page, even better suited for explaining chemistry? http://www.archania.org/the_chemistry_of_halogens_and_alkali_metals.html

What reasons can you see for its being false?

There might be other theories of pain.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 04:18:56 pm by Zanthius » Logged
Julie.chan
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 04:54:01 pm »

Being mysterious is not a good reason to make things up about it out of thin air. Sleep is mysterious, but that doesn't make it valid to hypothesize that sleep is a way of contacting aliens in a galaxy far, far away to learn about the Force.
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Scalare
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 04:56:41 pm »

Being mysterious is not a good reason to make things up about it out of thin air. Sleep is mysterious, but that doesn't make it valid to hypothesize that sleep is a way of contacting aliens in a galaxy far, far away to learn about the Force.

Everyone can make a hyptothesis, but with these hypotheses there is a large burden of proof involved Smiley
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 06:17:46 pm »

Everyone can make a hyptothesis, but with these hypotheses there is a large burden of proof involved Smiley

But if pain really is related to the stability of molecules, then maybe the entire universe would become more happy if this happened?  Wink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijFm6DxNVyI

And the happiness hierarchy of our current universe would be like this:

Black holes -> most happy
Neutron stars -> second most happy
White dwarfs -> third most happy
Everything else -> less happy

Which would mean that we are occupying the "less happy" part of our universe...

And it would make no sense to be scared of black holes or vacuum decay. Going there would be the best that could happen to us.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 06:37:28 pm by Zanthius » Logged
Julie.chan
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2017, 06:45:17 pm »

Riiiiight. And if intelligence is linked to the presence of carbon dioxide, we could be getting smarter because of fossil fuels, and that would make pre-industrial people doofus blockheads. And it would make no sense to worry about global warming.
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2017, 06:48:28 pm »

Riiiiight. And if intelligence is linked to the presence of carbon dioxide, we could be getting smarter because of fossil fuels, and that would make pre-industrial people doofus blockheads. And it would make no sense to worry about global warming.

Intelligence is linked to the processing capacity of a neural network. Everybody knows that. Intelligence and pain/pleasure are very different phenomena. We would probably lose our intelligence if we were eaten by a black hole, or a decaying vacuum. That is a bit sad.

By the way. Prion disease is a bit like a vacuum decay in a neural network:



Quote
Prions may propagate by transmitting their misfolded protein state. When a prion enters a healthy organism, it induces existing, properly folded proteins to convert into the misfolded prion form. In this way, the prion acts as a template to guide the misfolding of more proteins into prion form.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prion

And about carbon dioxide. It does indeed have the lowest energy level (highest stability) in the combustion chain....

I have a horrible headache today.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 07:43:58 pm by Zanthius » Logged
Scalare
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2017, 08:19:15 pm »

Are prions like thetans?
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2017, 08:32:46 pm »

Are prions like thetans?

Prions are real proteins we have in our brains. I don't know about thetans.

By the way. Look at this horribly scary disease:

Quote
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) is an extremely rare autosomal dominant inherited prion disease of the brain. It is almost always caused by a mutation to the protein PrPC, but can also develop spontaneously in patients with a non-inherited mutation variant called sporadic fatal insomnia (sFI). FFI has no known cure and involves progressively worsening insomnia, which leads to hallucinations, delirium, confusional states like that of dementia, and eventually, death.[1] The average survival time for patients diagnosed with FFI after the onset of symptoms is 18 months.[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatal_familial_insomnia

I wouldn't be surprised if I have some kind of slowly developing prion disease.... Maybe that could explain all my crazy ramblings.

It also feels like there are some clusters in my brain, that are devoid of any neural processing (but with a sensation of happiness and contentment), that keeps growing bigger.

Sometimes, usually when I am tired, I can barely remember any names, and I struggle with spelling simple words. I have also more or less lost the ability to remember human faces, which can be embarrassing when I meet people.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 11:42:14 pm by Zanthius » Logged
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 03:09:42 am »

What would be different about a world in which this is true from one in which it is false?

We might easily imagine a world without pain (or pleasure). Such a world could in theory have humans that behaved much in the same way,  but didn't experience any pain or pleasure. They avoided things we find painful, but not because they found it painful. Rather because they realized those things were harmful to themselves, and found it irrational to harm themselves.

I didn't mean the theory that pain exists. Rather, that unstable molecules experience pain. I'm not even sure what it would mean for molecules to have experiences, really. The point was the challenge the most dramatic, unexpected part of the theory, not the least.
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 10:04:54 am »

I didn't mean the theory that pain exists. Rather, that unstable molecules experience pain. I'm not even sure what it would mean for molecules to have experiences, really. The point was the challenge the most dramatic, unexpected part of the theory, not the least.

Well, it wouldn't be anything remotely similar to the rich experiences humans have, that are organized by ginormous neural networks. You can't imagine yourself having no memories and no thoughts? Just pure experience? I sometimes dwell in this mental state where I have no memories and no thoughts, just pure experience. I imagine it must be somewhat similar to that.

Well, in science, when we observe chemicals from the outside, we often describe them as avoiding instability and seeking more stability.



However, when we talk about our own neural networks, we often describe them as avoiding pain and seeking more pleasure.



 If an alien species came here, which had no understanding of pain, how would they describe human pain?

Well, since neural networks are made of chemicals, they might think that the word pain means instability.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 10:08:39 am by Zanthius » Logged
Scalare
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2017, 08:49:35 pm »

About explaining to aliens:
I wonder about this often, and then I think about how we explain how various animals with better or different senses than us perceive the world around them. How a bat perceives the world by just his sonar vision. Or fish who live deep in the ocean how they get by with so little light. Or that awesome lobster that everyone talks about who has ultravision. Or how dogs are colorblind and some insects see colors entirely differently. But these are not intelligent species.
When you have achieved the level of sentience to reason and think about pain actively, it becomes a different concept altogether.
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Death 999
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2017, 03:06:58 am »

That's a pretty loose analogy, Zanthius.

Scalare, do you remember when I was doing the alien communication code thing?
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Zanthius
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Re: A new theory of pain
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2017, 08:28:32 pm »

That's a pretty loose analogy, Zanthius.

Ok, but at least the hypothesis has falsifiable hypotheses. It should of course be generated neurogenic inflammation in the cells in the sensory cortex that are connected to the nerve endings in the thumb. If this isn't the case, then that could possibly falsify this theory. Also, there should be a strong positive correlation between inflammation and the amount of unstable molecules. If this isn't the case, then that could possibly falsify this theory. If however both those things turn out to be true, we have at least some reason to investigate this theory more.



I think we are often over-complicating things with the brain. If you are a spokesperson for the thumb in your brain, and your thumb is experiencing pain, what would be the best way to effectively transmit your message to your drowsy co-neurons? Probably by releasing molecules which give them pain, which is probably what neurogenic inflammation is all about.

If you have a boss, but also subordinates working for you, what are you likely to do if your boss yells at you? Probably re-transmit the message to your subordinates by yelling at them....

« Last Edit: October 02, 2017, 08:34:03 pm by Zanthius » Logged
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