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Would an AI unit, with a quantum brain, be more conscious than a Human if

  1. Apr 13, 2004 #1
    "Would an AI unit, with a quantum brain, be more conscious than a Human if"

    Would an AI unit, with a quantum brain, be more conscious than a Human, if it had adquired, the ability to sence all wavelenghts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2004 #2
    It would certainly be more conscious of colour.

    These kinds of things reveal how confusing the concept of consciousness is. You can't be conscious without being conscious of something. There is no such thing as "pure consciousness"; consciousness is an attribute of our perceptions, not an entity to be perceived.
  4. Apr 13, 2004 #3


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    I agree, but a wider spectrum of perceived radiation doesn't equal more consciousness. Helen Keller was conscious.
  5. Apr 13, 2004 #4
    I think a key attribute of consciousness is self-awareness. In order for your statement to be accurate, one has to assume that the self is something other than consciousness itself. Is that right?
  6. Apr 13, 2004 #5
    Yea, self-awareness is the biggy. I thought your self is your consciousness and the consciousness is your self both intertwined to form one medium?
  7. Apr 13, 2004 #6
    Can't person A perceive person B being conscious and vice versa?

    If consciousness is of our perceptions (I agree with this) that doesn't mean that we can't perceive it, does it? I thought it just meant it can't be 'seen' as an entity, but an abstraction. You can know yourself being conscious without perceiving yourself to be conscious; but essentially, that doesn't require perception to know you're conscious.
  8. Apr 13, 2004 #7
    You mean you wouldn't be more conscious if you could perceive all the infrared and ultraviolet radiation around you? I don't understand that.

    Conscious of what?

    It is absolutely right. What your self-conscious mind contains is not the self, but an image of it. The image is not the thing. Just as with the real world, the real self is not what you perceive it to be.
  9. Apr 13, 2004 #8
    Only if person B acts in a way that implies they are conscious.

    It does. You can't perceive the fact that you are conscious without being conscious of something else. You can put a picture of something inside a picture of something else, but you can't put a blank picture inside another blank picture.

    Abstractions can be entities too - abstract entities. A unicorn is a good example. You can be conscious of a unicorn without perceiving one, and you can be conscious of being conscious of a unicorn without perceiving one, but you can't be conscious of being conscious of not perceiving anything.

    Too complicated?
  10. Apr 13, 2004 #9
    Depends how one defines a conscious experience. I propose person B could be unconscious and person A could still perceive person B to still be in a semi-state of consciousness.

    Very true, good point.

    No, I got it. Good example.

    One question though. If you perceive through your conscious perception a unicorn, but you have no sensory perception of the physical actions a unicorn does; does that still mean you can imply what kind of conscious experience that unicorn is taking part in?
  11. Apr 13, 2004 #10
    So would not the addition of X rays, due to the perception of them, change the level of its conscious awareness. The AI would see much more information than we observe. Assuming that the human brain like the AI is quantum in nature, a higher imput of perception would increase potentiality of higher conscious levels. We observe this in lower life forms and asume it is viable. Certain lower life forms have adapted, certain peculiar ways of perceiving, and we through observation of them, perceive that they are conscious of what they are doing, by the actions they perform. An example:
    An eastern rattlenake, seeks its prey by heat sensors, finds the rabbit, bites its victum, the rabbit flees and is digested internally by the same venom, by the time the snake finds the rabbit again, it is dead and ready for dinner. We know we are conscious, was the snake not conscious of what it was doing. We do not observe caos but order in the conscious actions of other life forms.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2004
  12. Apr 13, 2004 #11
    A friend of mine sometimes has epileptic seizures. After all the shaking and foaming is over, he starts wandering around the house and having arguments with his wife. Ten or twenty minutes later, he has no recollection of anything, so his wife argues that he was conscious while he argues that he wasn't. An interesting phenomenon, I think.

    I don't think it's correct to talk about "conscious experience", as there is no such thing as unconscious experience. So the issue is, is consciousness synonymous with experience, or is it somehow independent of it? I have been arguing, on other threads, that what we call "consciousness" must necessarily refer to behaviour. Experience is something entirely different and of no consequence to our understanding of consciousness.

    My friend and his wife would never argue as to his post-seizure state of consciousness if they saw consciousness that way. The wife would tell him "you were conscious", and he would reply "really? I don't remember it". No argument.
  13. Apr 13, 2004 #12
    I agree with your point of view. That's why I say we should think of consciousness as behaviour. Snakes are conscious to the extent that they behave in a conscious way. Whether snakes have subjective experience is an entirely different issue.

    I think what people don't like about the idea is that it seems to imply anything, including inanimate objects and machines, can be conscious as well. I think the issue is nothing but a silly debate of semantics. We have no problem with computers that think, talk, see, walk, play Chopin, so why should the idea that a mechanical device may be conscious bother us? Especially if it doesn't mean it has any kind of subjective experience.
  14. Apr 13, 2004 #13
    OK, then what is it? Feel free to reveal all the secrets of reality that you have. I promise I don't mind.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2004
  15. Apr 13, 2004 #14
    This is a distortion of the definition of consciousness. Consciousness is all about subjective experiences. This is the definition that is being used by most people in this forum anyway. If you want to re-define it then you'll need to be explicit with that or else you'll cause alot of confusion. (Already have in some threads) Either re-define it or pick another word for the "thing" that you are talking about because when you say consciousness I'm thinking of something else and we aren't communicating.
  16. Apr 14, 2004 #15
    Is not behavior a result of perception and awarness of what is at hand? We know that when a man is hunting, his perception and awarness are at heightned state. He is self aware of the conscious subjuntive experience. Why would we assume that this is not possible on other evolutionary levels either higher or lower? While an AI, is today theoretical, to sense all wavelenghs, we can imagine, what it might be like. Yesterday, I saw a documentary of dolphins, looking into a mirror and doing exactly what we humans would do. It ran shivers up my spine. What was that dolphin experiencing? If conscious experience can be had on other evolutionary levels, what is consciousness then?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2004
  17. Apr 14, 2004 #16
    There is no secret, only commonsense. You are now looking at a computer monitor. You see an image, but the image is not the real monitor, it's just an experience in your conscious mind. The proof of that comes from the fact that when you close your eyes the image disappears, but the monitor remains exactly where it is.

    The self is no different. What you perceive the self to be is not the same thing as the real self. If that were true the real self would disappear when you stopped perceiving it. You don't believe that happens, do you?

    Why do we have two words then? I mean, if consciousness and subjective experience are the same thing, why give the same thing two different names?

    If consciousness and experience are the same thing, then I'll maintain that one of the words is superfluous and only serves to create confusion. If they are not the same thing, then there's either more or less about consciousness than subjective experience.

    Why is that so difficult to understand?

    Most people in this forum do not know what consciousness is. That can be proved by the fact that they seldom agree with each other.

    I also disagree. That's my point. I can disagree and no one can prove me wrong. That's because no one knows the truth.

    That's hillarious. You mean, there was no confusion before I came?

    Who are you communicating with? Among all the posters here, who are the people whose notion of consciousness is exactly the same as yours?

    Let's face it, no one knows what they are talking about when they talk about consciousness. And that is because the concept is defined in a way that creates confusion. I'm proposing a different definition that doesn't create confusion, but then you say "that's not what I'm talking about". Of course not, how could it be?
  18. Apr 14, 2004 #17
    That really depends on what you mean by perception and awareness. If you state that all behaviour is a result of perception, then you are asserting that perception is what causes behaviour. If that is the case, whenever you observe behaviour, perception must necessarily be implied.

    That happens to be exactly what I think.

    Now I'm not sure I agree. From my personal experience, my performance at any task is inversely proportional to the attention I devoted to my thoughts about the task. Ask any sportsman, musician, performer, and they will tell you exactly that. In order to perform well, you have to stop thinking about yourself.

    You don't need to look at dolphins. Even pets behave in ways that are extremely "human". I find it hard to believe a dog is not somehow self-aware when he jumps for joy upon seeing people he loves.

    Those are the questions I wish were asked more often. But I've been charged with being the only one around who doesn't know what consciousness is.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more of your ideas.
  19. Apr 14, 2004 #18
    This is true because we are observing something outside of the self. It is a perception of an external thing and the mechanics of that require that we perceive an image.

    So it follows that the self is different. I'm not talking about a perception of self by looking into a mirror or whatever external thing you might be referring to. I am talking about self awareness. And that never goes away. I cannot stop "perceiving it" as you say, because that is part of what consciousness is.

    I didn't say they were the same thing. I said "consciousness is all about subjective experience". That does not mean they are the same thing. A car and driving aren't the same thing but "a car has everything to do with driving". Now if someone comes in and tries to tell people that an AI robot can eat a car because a car has nothing to do with driving and everything to do with food, then I'm confused.

    There is no truth in a definition. Words are for communication purposes only. Attempting to speak the same language is a matter of practicality. Not truth.

    There was a lot less confusion for me. The confusion that you create is on an entirely different level from the confusion you are attempting to point out. The confusion you speak of really doesn't exists. There are differing philosophical opinions on the subject of exactly how one can define consciousness. This is fueled by the fact that consciousness cannot be studied by science and materialists cannot have something with a legitimate existence(they personally know it exists) not be subject to the microscope. The whole paradigm comes crashing down if they accept this. So they attempt to redefine the term to make it explanable scientifically. These debates work because they are about the definition of consciousness. It would be a different thing if the debate was about "The effects of consciousness on evolution". It would be nonsense for us to have such a discussion when we have different definitions of consciousness. That would be confusion. But a debate on the definition itself is worth having. You skip that definition part of the debate and just make all sorts of claims about consciousness without addressing the fact that no one knows what you are talking about. It is very confusing.

    Confusion is not created because we have differing opinions on the definition. Confusion is created when we don't know we have different definitions.

    But I do know what consciousness is. What I'm trying to explain is that even if you change the meaning of the word "consciousness", we will then need another word to refer to the thing that I'm talking about when I say the word consciousness.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2004
  20. Apr 15, 2004 #19
    It isn't. The whole confusion has to do with ambiguous definitions. I'm offering a definition of consciousness that removes the ambiguity by focussing on observable aspects only. You are not confused, you just don't like the definition.

    That's an enormously distorted account of the situation. You think materialists are desperately trying to hang on to a paradigm they already perceive as flawed. You think a denial of materialism is obvious to anyone who has subjective experiences, since materialism cannot account for it. All I can say about your perspective is that it is wrong.

    But a debate on "the effects of consciousness on subjective experience" is not confusion? What difference does it make? If you don't have a clear definition you can't talk about it, period.

    And that's exactly what I'm trying to have. I'm saying, let's define consciousness on the basis of observation, and call the non-observables something else. You don't like it, but you still haven't explained why.

    Confusion is created when one doesn't think clearly. Nobody can confuse you, only you can confuse yourself.

    You don't know what consciousness is. Nobody knows. Your claim that consciousness is well-defined is bogus. If consciousness is not well-defined, how can anyone know what it is?

    Take a look here:

  21. Apr 15, 2004 #20
    It is confusing when you answer a question about consciousness using your definition of it without explicitly telling the other person that you're definition is different.

    And I don't like the definition because it is confusing. What you say is simple to understand. How this view offers anything worthwhile to the solution of the problems of consciousness is the connection I cannot make.

    I do not necessaily believe that materialists think their view is flawed. They might honestly believe their view to be correct. My only point is that they logically have no other choice but to believe that. So the fact that they hold such a specific view of consciousness may have less to do with the view's individual merits and more to do with it's consistency with how everything else works.

    I think the following from your response is correct, however:

    "You think a denial of materialism is obvious to anyone who has subjective experiences, since materialism cannot account for it."

    Who wouldn't think this? If materialism cannot account for it, then why wouldn't a denial of materialism be the result?

    And thanks for telling me that I'm wrong with no explanation. I love it. I love it. I love it. Can't get enough of that. More please.

    I agree. I've said to you before that I'm usually the first person to jump into a thread and break the news that the discussion going on is sloppy because everyone is talking about something different. This thread is similar, I agree. But you have to be explicit about your views on the definitional problems and how it impacts the discussion. I think it is counter-productive to enter into a discussion using your own unique definition to see how confusing you can make the discussion and 8 pages later use the confusion you created to prove your point. It's also a bit frustrating.

    Ok that's fair. But the title of this thread confused me. Perhaps it would be clearer to start a thread to do this?

    Also, It would be more proper to discuss this in that new thread but I have explained over and over and even pointed you directly to other threads where the problems with your proposal have been explained in detail.

    This is nonsense.

    But now I don't understand. Your very first posts says this:

    "You can't be conscious without being conscious of something. There is no such thing as "pure consciousness"; consciousness is an attribute of our perceptions, not an entity to be perceived."

    How could you possibly say these things if you don't know what it is? This illustrates the confusion I referred to earlier. You want to claim no one knows what it is but yet you only do this after I take issue with your statement describing to us "what it really is".

    And I DO know what consciousness is. The fact that you think it means something different has nothing whatsoever to do with my knowledge of what the word means to me and those that I communicate with. The definitional issues around this word are due to the "hard problem". The hard problem is the very reason we don't have a scientific definition(which is what you are trying to exploit I assume). Not the other way around as you seem to propose. So a simple re-definition isn't going to make the hard problem go away as many have already discussed with you.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2004
  22. Apr 16, 2004 #21
    My ideas are superfulous, it will be intereting to see what comes out of Tucson this year.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2004
  23. Apr 16, 2004 #22
    Well, the first thing you must accept is that most of the problems of consciousness cannot be solved. And the second thing you have to accept is that most problems cannot be solved. There's nothing particularly special about consciousness in that regard. It may be a hard problem, but it isn't harder than most other problems.

    I don't think that's how they see it. They seem fully aware of the inconsistencies in their views. The problem if of a different order, but I'm not sure how to explain it without writing a long, boring essay.

    The simple answer is that denying materialism raises the problem of what to replace it with.

    I'm write that long, boring essay when I find the time.

    I apologize for all that, but you must realize I'm writing this stuff as a break from work, and as such I have no time for in-depth elaboration. Besides, I don't think my ideas are so great as to deserve much attention, by myself or anyone else. I think of this as a chat you would have with friends over a good glass of beer, except we don't have the beer. I realize some people come here searching for revelation, I just hope you're not one of them. I don't think you are.

    Is the beer getting warm yet?

    Ah, one of my favourite philosophical subjects... read this:

    "The best example of decay of free polarized top quarks is the energy-angular distribution of charged leptons l+ in the semi-leptonic decay of the top quark. At leading order, the l+ distribution has a form where the energy and angular dependences are factorized according to a mathematical formula"

    Do you really think you need to know what something is before you can talk about it?

    I don't think it means something different, I just think the meaning is not clear enough to allow rational discussion on the subject.

    Here you are wrong and I will show you why. You say consciousness can't be defined because of the "hard problem". I say, if that is the case, then let us define consciousness as "one hard problem", or "one heck of a hard problem", or "the hardest problem around". Definitions are a matter of language, and to say that a concept can't be defined is nonsense. There's nothing to a scientific definition of consciousness other than a linguistic statement of what consciousness is in a scientific language.

    What irks me about this "hard problem" nonsense is that, if the problem can't be solved, why waste time trying to solve it? Why can't it simply be ignored, since the solution to any "non-hard problem" can't possibly depend on the solution of a problem that has no solution.

    Notice I said "ignored", as opposed to "denied", which is what irks me about Dennett's line of thinking. If my ideas are unusual, it's probably because I think the two main competing philosophies of our time are simply saying the same thing with different words, without realizing it.
  24. Apr 16, 2004 #23
    The problem of consciousness is "different" from other problems. Regardless of whether it is harder or not. It is a feature of our existence that cannot be explained under the current paradigm upon which our knowledge is based. Can you give an example of what other problem there is like this?

    I know for certain that there are materialists in this forum who do not see these inconsistencies. Of course they have to pretend to be zombies to make it stick but they do it. It is possible my view of materialists is scewed by these people.

    I don't think it's a matter of replacing one theory with another. At this point it is a matter of tweaking the existing theory.

    That is my favorite thing to do....discussing these types of things with a beer in my hand. Of course, most things are inproved when I have a beer in my hand :biggrin: .

    I am not here for revelations per se. I am interested in how things work though. I am here to learn. Because I do learn from these discussions, over time my views evolve.

    It is preferable to me, yes. I realize that many others here like to talk about things they know nothing about :wink:. But that's not me.

    Of course that is what a scientific definition is. But it cannot be done for consciousness. It is not such a trivial thing. A scientific definition is not just a useless bunch of scientific terms. It has to provide something practical for science to study. Science can't even prove consciousness exists so how are they going to build a description of it from the tools in the materialists toolbox i.e. matter, energy etc?

    Consciousness is defined as "what it is like to be". I know what this means because I experience it. But this means nothing to a scientists(from a scientific point of view; personally it should mean alot). There is no connection from this statement to the reductive parts that scientists need to build a theory. When you attempt to convert "what it is like to be" into scientific terms, the resulting definition always leaves something out. This is why the suggestion has been made that we need more tools in the toolbox to explain it.

    Why would we ignore an inconsistency in our theory? We don't do this for anything else. We tweak the theory. If people started floating in the air tomorrow we would change our views of gravity. Consciousness can't be solved with materialism. This doesn't mean it cannot be understood with some different assumptions about reality. Whether we need some additional assumptions is the debate that has been taking place in several threads here.

    I disagree. I think the two sides differ completely on what they think should be done to handle the problem of consciousness. Dennett wants to convert "what it is like to be" into a scientific definition and anything that gets dropped off doesn't really exists. (Of course, he is now a zombie as a result) The other side wants to take the piece that is missing from such a definition and study it from the position that it may be a fundamental element of reality and therefore not reducable or explanable in terms of other more fundamental things.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2004
  25. Apr 16, 2004 #24
    Let me try a different approach. Do you believe that all the movements you make with your limbs can be explained in terms of mechanics, electricity, and chemistry? What about the observable behaviour of your neurons? Do you think scientists will ever find a place inside the brain where the laws of physics are violated?

    If everything we can observe about your body can be accounted for in scientific terms, what are the aspects which remain beyond the reach of science? Well, those would be the aspects only you know about. Let's give a name to those aspects then. What do you want to call it?

    If you want to call it 'consciousness', I have an objection. My objection is based on the fact that the word already exists, and even though its meaning is not entirely clear, I know enough about it to tell you you cannot use that word to describe those aspects about yourself only you know about. Let me show you why.

    Grab an object, say your computer's mouse. Look at your hand as you hold the mouse. When you do that, are there any aspects to your experience only you know about? I'm quite sure there are. You may be thinking about how your skin reacts to touch with plastic, how oddly shaped the object is, how soft those buttons feel. You may be thinking you should buy a new optical wireless mouse to get rid of those annoying jerky cursor movements. You may be thinking how odd that an electronic device should be named after an animal. And so on and on.

    Those thoughts enter and leave your mind constantly, and nobody ever gets to know about them, unless you decide to communicate them. But is the whole of your experience of holding the mouse entirely subjective, entirely hidden from anybody else unless you speak about it? No! Anyone who's beside you can know, to some limited extent, what you are experiencing, simply by looking at your hand. Your body exposes a good portion of the contents of your conscious mind. Therefore, it's not correct to use the word 'consciousness' to refer to aspects of yourself which only you know about, at least as far as a thought such as "I know that I'm now holding a mouse" is as much a part of your conscious experience as all other thoughts that come with it. For anyone who's looking at you also know that you are now holding a mouse.

    Do you see my point? Consciousness can't be defined in terms of knowledge or awareness and still be considered something completely private to the individual. There are things that are private, but we can't use the word 'consciousness' to refer to those things without also using the same word to refer to things that are not private at all. In other words, you can't define 'consciousness' that way without contradicting yourself from time to time.

    That's all I'm trying to say, and I can't make it any simpler than that.
  26. Apr 16, 2004 #25

    I have read most of these threads and posts and do not understand this hard problem deal. It sounds more like a problem that, if concsousness was accepted as existing, it would change the very paradigm, of existence, to what most would not want to hear. I thought that was changed when QM was introduced, the problem is that they want to treat consciousness as if it was only part of classical physcis. Classical physics describes the macro world and QM the micro world. We already know where everything comes from, so what is the problem.

    Why is studying consciousness any different than gravity. Both can be experienced and measured, we do not fully understand what they are, but they both exist?

    Science does study the effects of experience in the brain. When they do studies on what the perception of beauty is. There is physical, observable, measurable data, when certain parts of the brain light up. The conscious mind, imagines, what beauty is, and there is physcial change in the brain wave pattern in certain areas. The painting is shown, the patient imagines and physical new brain wave patterns show up. Whats the deal, the patterns show up, they are different in person to person but they do exist. Are not thoughts part of consciousness? We are conscious of our thoughts.

    Flipton with all do respect, i think your wrong on the motives of scientists.
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