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Hard problem

  1. Jan 3, 2005 #1
    what exactly is the hard problem of consciousness? why is it hard?
     
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  3. Jan 3, 2005 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    A little research http://jamaica.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/index.html [Broken] will give you the answer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  4. Jan 3, 2005 #3

    Math Is Hard

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    ooh! he's cute! I knew there was a reason I went into Cog Sci! :rofl:
     
  5. Jan 6, 2005 #4

    loseyourname

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    Are you kidding me? He looks like Kate Winslet crossed with Jack Black.
     
  6. Jan 6, 2005 #5
    I doubt, no matter how sophisticated science becomes, we will never understand the true meaning of consciousness.

    ----- nwO ruoY evaH ,deeN oN <----?eeS I tahW eeS uoY oD
     
  7. Jan 8, 2005 #6
    Or rather we can't with our level of technology.

    One step would be to map out the brain mathematically. This would be equivalent to the complexity a 19th century scientist would find attempting to decipher a cpu it were freshly plonked under his microscope multiplied by 100 or however much more computing power our brains have to a pentium 4. If we could, inside the neo-cortex we might find a complex set of brains which chooses what we think, weighs decisions etc. Or something else.

    I think therefore I am?
     
  8. Jan 8, 2005 #7

    Math Is Hard

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    LOL! :rofl: :rofl:
     
  9. Jan 8, 2005 #8

    FZ+

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    Nah. The hard problem, as to where the feeling of experience comes from, is constructed so that it is absolutely insoluble by any objective method. Because we don't even know what we mean by experience, nor can we assume we know everything there is to know about the nature of physical law. Technology, and our perceptions extend only to the effects of laws and rules, and going beyond leaves only speculation and belief.
     
  10. Jan 8, 2005 #9
    Good point. Computers cant do any math without instructions, which comes from humans

    ----- nwO ruoY evaH ,deeN oN <----?eeS I tahW eeS uoY oD.
     
  11. Jan 8, 2005 #10
    Some interesting reading, but my headache got a lot worse.
    I think we can get the basic idea if we want to, so I agree with TheTruth in that it's like a computer and we are machines of a biological sort but with so many cogs spinning around that to try and pin down how it all fits together to create what we call "consciousness" and can agree on would probably take awhile, I mean if you really want the detailed and scientifically tested and predictable version of this knowledge which is kind of a hard problem I suppose is what is meant by that.
    For instance a child of a certain age will often recognize an ink dot put on it's forehead in a mirror and point to the dot showing that they are aware of their self and something has changed, a monkey sometimes does the same, but does this prove self-awareness or do they just not respond to the dot in the same way?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2005
  12. Jan 9, 2005 #11
    sleeth, i've read his book. it was rather diffucult to follow what he was saying.i'm not convinced that the hard problem exists. seems like a red herring. what exactly do we mean by qualia or subjective experiance? the question where the vividness of colours come from seem absurd. red is different from green because of its different frequency and wavelength and that difference is detected by our eyes. hence the brain perceives them to be different, what is so 'hard' to explain about that?i just do not get it.
     
  13. Jan 9, 2005 #12

    FZ+

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    Neither can humans without education, instincts encoded in our genetics, and the appearance of problems and stimuli from the natural world. Which are instructions, of a sort.
     
  14. Jan 10, 2005 #13

    hypnagogue

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    It's not hard to look at the optic nerve and deduce that we perceive light along three distinct channels. The hard part comes in when we try to figure out why information processed along those channels looks like anything at all. Why does the color we call red look like this instead of this? If the visual quality of redness and blueness were reversed, we would still meet the criterion of sets of information that are treated distinctly, so that alone is not sufficient to answer the question. The hard problem claims that no combination of relational properties of this sort, no matter how complex, will get us closer to an answer than our initial, humble observation of the three distinct processing channels in the optic nerve.

    For that matter, why does information processing in the brain result in qualitative experience at all? Why isn't it that I do not merely detect two distinct light inputs and act upon them without experiencing anything (e.g., as if I were in a deep, dreamless sleep)? If we assume for a moment that computers are not conscious, why is it that I don't just process information like a computer? What accounts for the difference between what my brain does and what the computer does? Assuming we can isolate this causal mechanism, how is it that it somehow 'creates' subjective experience? Those are the types of questions posed by the hard problem. Chalmers argues that the types of causal mechanisms given to us by physics are not sufficient to do the job. I won't go into an extended discussion of the argument here, but you can find some discussion about it in the Metaphysics & Epistemology forum, for instance this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2005
  15. Jan 29, 2005 #14

    saltydog

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    Marbles

    Consciousness is in the dynamics. It's nothing more than neural dynamics. Get a bunch of marbles behaving in the same non-linear fashion as neural assemblies and marble mind will emerge.

    SD
     
  16. Jan 29, 2005 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    Really? Would you care to demonstrate mind emerging from any sort of assembly or dynamics you choose to set up? :cool:
     
  17. Jan 29, 2005 #16

    Math Is Hard

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    I am reading a piece called "Quining Qualia" by Daniel Dennett at the moment. He seems intent on proving that there "simply are no qualia at all" at least none that fit the definition he has set up (ineffable, intrinsic, private, directly apprehensible properties of experience). If a materialist should somehow be able to prove that qualia do not exist, does that solve the "hard problem"? Or is there more to be challenged?
     
  18. Jan 29, 2005 #17

    Les Sleeth

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    Absolutely! And guess what, that is exactly why Dennett wants to find a way to "dismiss" qualia . . . because he can't account for it with physical principles. It's in the way of his functionalist theory, so he'll just pretend it doesn't exist. Amazingly clever little bit of intellectual dishonesty there if you ask me.

    That's same thing physicalists have done with life. They've "dismissed" any sort of vital force because they can explain most of the chemistry of life. Of course, they can't explain how all that chemistry got so effectively organized . . . but who cares. Find an excuse to "dismiss" and then you can get around those damn pesky facts which are making your theory come up short.
     
  19. Jan 29, 2005 #18

    Math Is Hard

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    Thanks, Les. I might have to PM you some questions later. I am almost done with the Dennett reading, but I am moving on to Owen Flanagan now.
     
  20. Jan 29, 2005 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    To give a nod to humility, I should add that the "dismissing conspiracy theory" is just my opinion. I have been willing, however, to debate anyone who claims to be able to make the case that dismissing vitalism is justified with the evidence we now have. As far as I can tell, physicalist arguments are as "holey" as the creationism story of Genesis. Same with functionalists.
     
  21. Jan 29, 2005 #20
    Good point Sleeth.... You go, put those theorist in their place...

    ----- nwO ruoY evaH ,deeN oN <----?eeS I tahW eeS uoY oD
     
  22. Jan 29, 2005 #21

    saltydog

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    Ok, the marbles was a stretch but in principle but I still hold to the concept.

    Walter Freeman at Berkeley modeled the central olfactory system of cats with a beautiful set of coupled delayed ODEs. The output did share some characteristics with the . . . well how do I say this without bringing up unpleasant images . . . output of the cat. It's not mind I agree.

    I must admit, his results were not extremely impressive but we are in a sort of second dark ages for this. Recall purkinje nerves. On average, they have 20,000 connections! Freeman (the reference I have) worked with 15 equations.

    Neural networks, which employ non-linear functions, have the ability to "learn". For example, the Post Office uses neural network software to interpret hand-written zip codes. The software "learns" the concept of "2-ness" from the dynamics of the network and can even pick out messy numbers.

    Some brain scientists suspect memory recall is dependent on "attractors" in the non-linear sense. These and other works I've studied, pretty much convince me that non-linear dynamics is the best approach to successful AI. It's my extrapolation to suspect the mind is "all" dynamics.

    SD
     
  23. Jan 29, 2005 #22

    selfAdjoint

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    salty, have you any books journals or online papers to give us to let us research this? I certainly think your nonlinear dynamics idea is a good one (if not the final answer in itself). There's a lot of stuff in this general direction on the arxiv, but my experience with those papers has been, the bigger the claim, the smellier the derivation.
     
  24. Jan 30, 2005 #23

    Les Sleeth

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    Thanks for the info, it is interesting work. Of course, I was simply challenging the way you made your original statement "Consciousness is . . . nothing more than neural dynamics . . . mind will emerge." You stated it as a fact, not as an unproven theory. I do not think mind will emerge from that complexity, but you do. So to see who is right, first it has to be done.

    What I think you will get from complexity is nothing but complex programming, and never the independent "self." It will be a zombie, but by that time Dennett will be able to claim it is consciousness anyway because qualia will have been dismissed an illusion! :wink:
     
  25. Jan 30, 2005 #24

    saltydog

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    Yea, I look to Semmelweiss for strengh. Know the story?

    It's all embodied in Complexity Theory, Emergence, and Non-Linear Dynamics. My concept of mind in such regards is itself an "emergence" through synthesis of many threads. Here's some:

    1. Rene Thom's Catastrophe Theory (it's a well-defined math concept and nothing to do with Noah and the Ark). The theory deals with non-linearity and "phase-transitions" (catastrophies). Abrubt changes are common in our world. Ever heard, "what made him crack"?

    2. Non-linear dynamics: The concept of "attractors" just seems to fit with the brain. T. Sejnowski ("The Computational Brain") suggests attractors may well be involved in memory recall (not in the book, he just told me so).

    3. Self-organization: Camazine and others wrote "Self-Orgainzation in Biological Systems" which begin to show how properties "emerge" from interactions between simple parts (like neurons?) such that the emergent property cannot be deduced from analysis of the simple parts. "Signs of Life" is another book which explores this thesis (not emergence of mind though).

    4. I find it amazing how a neural network (just computer programs consisting of simple networks which resemble neural assemblies) can learn in a way that if you show it (a graphics image) many forms of "4", it can learn to pick out a messy-written "4" it has never seen before. Neural networks often, if not always, involve non-linear functions.

    5. When I look out of my window I see very much a non-linear world. The brain evolved as a successful survival strategy in this non-linear world (when in New York, act like a New Yorker). The brain is non-linear and thus is accessible through non-linear dynamics.

    SD
     
  26. Jan 30, 2005 #25

    selfAdjoint

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    Okay, thanks. I think I'll look up Sejnowski's book, and I am about where you are on the other stuff. I do encourage you to look at the arxiv (http://arxiv.org), especially the computer science and nonlinear sciences sections. Lots of papers there are less into "higher math" than the pure physics ones. New ideas come along every week.
     
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