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Author Topic: What is the cause of self-awareness?  (Read 15272 times)
Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2007, 02:51:49 pm »

Why isn't, then, any physical process conscious?
Why is it that you believe they are not?
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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2007, 04:05:37 pm »

that consciousness is the path-selecting mechanism in a many-worlds quantum multiverse

You mean that consciousness could the path-selecting mechanism in the Copenhagen interpretation. In MW, there is no path-selecting mechanism. The whole idea is that it never makes up its mind.

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What DO THEY HAVE SO SPECIAL?!

Extremely elaborate feedback mechanisms. That's what they've got that's so special.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2007, 05:00:06 pm »

You mean that consciousness could the path-selecting mechanism in the Copenhagen interpretation. In MW, there is no path-selecting mechanism. The whole idea is that it never makes up its mind.
Let me rephrase that: In the many-worlds interpretation, you still perceive collapse to have occurred, because your consciousness is bound to one of these worlds. In the Copenhagen interpretation, an observer (a consciousness?) causes waveform collapse in the single universe.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2007, 08:21:02 pm »

Quote from: Valaggar
What DO THEY HAVE SO SPECIAL?!

Extremely elaborate feedback mechanisms. That's what they've got that's so special.
A self-organizing patterning system, no less.
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Zeep-Eeep
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2007, 09:00:30 pm »

In the debate between us having self-awareness or souls and objects
not having (or maybe having) awareness, I would recommend ya'll
read two Tom Robbins novels, if you haven't already:
Still Life With Woodpecker
Skinny Legs and All

I would also like to add that awareness can change based on
levels of consciencesness and chemical balance in the brain
(due to drugs, adrelaline, near death, etc). This leads me
to think that awareness is basd more on physical things
and chemical make-up, rather than a soul.

Also, it would appear most animals and, perhaps plants, are aware
to an extent. Do they have souls?

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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2007, 09:51:01 pm »

Or you could read Gödel, Escher, Bach - and Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter. That's a fun, if highly difficult, read. After wading through that, you'll look back on this conversation and go 'ah'. Maybe  'aaaaaaaah', even.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2007, 02:57:51 pm »

Science and Spirits, an Idiot's Summary:


Science Going Against Spirits:

The Brain with its many nerve cells, chemicals, and complicated structure, is still a very mysterious topic, allowing much of what could be called a "Spirit" or "Soul" to be explained away as the territory of the Brain.

There is no really great documented evidence that a Spirit exists at this point, it is pretty hit and miss. Things like Telepathy probably have a good deal more evidence around them, than does the Spirit issue.


Science Going For Spirits:

Science has many serious theories on things such as dark energy or dark matter, which cannot directly be observed or interacted with, from what little I understand. Only their influence on other things can be measured, supposedly. This is somewhat similar to the concept of a Spirit, in some ways, making it more of a possibility, as these other strange elements of the universe are made more clear or proven to exist (if such a thing is possible.)

If Matter and Energy cannot be destroyed, that also enhances the possibility that there could be somethings else which while changeable, cannot be removed from existance, ever.


So basically, it is an area that science is not even close to answering one way or the other. This will probably be the case for a very long time to come. What you really believe will have to come from what little facts are already out, your personal experience, and your personal intuition or gut on this.

And on a related note, let's say "Spirit" instead of "Soul" because it sounds much cooler and more importantly as a Spirit myself I am used to using the former term. If you don't agree with me on this, you are a self-hating house ghost and the world wants you to die and then live a million lives as an intestinal parasite.


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That's a fun, if highly difficult, read. After wading through that, you'll look back on this conversation and go 'ah'. Maybe  'aaaaaaaah', even.

Or perhaps even 'Thdok-Bryg-Ahhh'.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2007, 03:11:49 pm »

If you're looking for the soul, a new and 'better' kind of matter is not what you're looking for. Dark matter being the soul wouldn't solve anything. It would just push the issue back one more layer. Not an answer. It's in the pattern.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2007, 05:09:59 pm »

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If you're looking for the soul, a new and 'better' kind of matter is not what you're looking for.

I did not know that there was something "better" than normal Matter and I would be interested to know your definition of "better" on this subject. Tongue


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Dark matter being the soul wouldn't solve anything. It would just push the issue back one more layer.

First of all, whoever said I was trying to solve anything? You cannot at this point prove either to be the case, science does not yet have enough information.

Second, I never said DM was the stuff of spirits. What I meant was science is supposedly finding things that do not seem to follow natural laws as we previously understood them. If they turn out to exist, then that would expand what is considered possible in the natural universe. This makes it so that elements of the lore behind 'spirits' that were only considered 'supernatural' and thus ridiculous, could eventually be accepted as natural and real properties of some things. This does not prove that spirits exists or anything, it just makes the whole spirit thing a more likely possibility than it was before.

From what I understand a spirit is supposed to be something that cannot be destroyed or detected, you can only see how it influences other things. If other things in this universe turn out to have these traits than that boosts this idea as having a greater chance of being true. That is all I was trying to say.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2007, 06:11:08 pm »

What I meant was science is supposedly finding things that do not seem to follow natural laws as we previously understood them. If they turn out to exist, then that would expand what is considered possible in the natural universe. This makes it so that elements of the lore behind 'spirits' that were only considered 'supernatural' and thus ridiculous, could eventually be accepted as natural and real properties of some things.
If something affects something we can measure, the scientific process can be applied to it, experiments, measurements, theory formulation and all. The problem with the self-awareness thing is that we don't know what to measure, and the current hypotheses are a bit sketchy. Behaviour seems to rely pretty clearly on purely physical processes, though, but it's not clear whether that's relevant.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2007, 09:50:58 pm »

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If something affects something we can measure, the scientific process can be applied to it, experiments, measurements, theory formulation and all. The problem with the self-awareness thing is that we don't know what to measure, and the current hypotheses are a bit sketchy.

What you would be looking to measure would probably be somewhere in the brain, or in the whole thing maybe. Either way, I bet that if there was something going on there, it would be at a very small level.

That is unless you want to go ghost hunting or research supposed telekinesis or something crazy, but this is going out onto a limb that you do not need to do and could also prove irrelevant anyhow.


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Behaviour seems to rely pretty clearly on purely physical processes, though, but it's not clear whether that's relevant.

I am not sure what you mean or if that makes complete sense. It sounds like you are saying that if you have two clone individuals who have been raised in the exact same way, they will always make the same decisions, all the time, absolutely. You still have that weird free will thing where you can just decide to turn around on a whim and do something else.
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2007, 11:12:37 pm »

You still have that weird free will thing where you can just decide to turn around on a whim and do something else.
Actually, I'm not entirely convinced free will isn't an illusion. Sure, the universe doesn't seem to be entirely deterministic (depending on how you interpret quantum physics, I guess), so I guess there's still some wiggle room for free will there. Of course, to believe in strong AI, I have to believe we are essentially computers to start off with, but I could go either way on that (doesn't look promising, but breakthroughs hard to predict).

Summary: I freely admit that my only clue on this subject is that I don't have one.
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Death 999
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2007, 12:27:09 am »

Free will doesn't mean you could turn around and do something else. It is a term for how the choices are made.

Free will and determinism are not at odds. Consider the alternative: instead of your actions being determined by the smooth operation of a computing machine, your mind, they are random. Is a marionette free just because we hooked its strings up to the ultimate RNG? Of course not.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2007, 03:51:33 am »

Novus
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Of course, to believe in strong AI, I have to believe we are essentially computers to start off with, but I could go either way on that (doesn't look promising, but breakthroughs hard to predict).

If we were entirely just computers, then I think that it would be impossible to explain our emotions. Not how the emotions are triggered, but the feelings they provide you with. Even if it could experience these, a pure computer would not have a use for these, it would make an assessment as to what the best course of action was and then do it. There is something that just seems unnecessary about emotions when you look at complex intelligent life in this way.


Death_999
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Is a marionette free just because we hooked its strings up to the ultimate RNG? Of course not.

I do not think our choices are random or pre-determined based on various factors. I think it makes incredibly more sense that we make choices right at the moment we make them and that they are not picked at random, but helped along by emotional influences that are themselves influenced by the logical and 'intuitive' parts of the computer-like brain.
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Elvish Pillager
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Re: What is the cause of self-awareness?
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2007, 11:33:51 am »

Even if it could experience these, a pure computer would not have a use for these, it would make an assessment as to what the best course of action was and then do it. There is something that just seems unnecessary about emotions when you look at complex intelligent life in this way.
Emotions are, in a sense, the motivation that humans have to do anything; if they weren't motivated to move, they probably wouldn't develop into intelligent beings.

Computers have one motivation: "Been booted, work for human." A truly intelligent and adaptable computer would probably have more... and they would probably be a lot more like emotions.
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