Re: The Conscious Mind

Hara Ra (
Mon, 07 Oct 1996 05:51:21 -0700

Crosby_M wrote:
> On Monday, September 30, 1996 10:40PM Hara Ra wrote:
> <I'vd been reading a book, "The Conscious Mind" by David Chalmers>
> Chalmers also has a Web essay summarizing some of the book that's called
> "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" and resides at

Quite a good summary, by the way....

> Hara adds:
> <Chalmers takes the notion that qualia, or our direct experience of
> phenomena as a indication that consciousness is irreducible and not
> explainable as part of other systems, such as materialism.>
> I had a hard time with this too. In the Web essay, Chalmers says:
> <When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing,
> *but there is also* a subjective aspect.> (My emphasis)
In physics, we have descriptions of experience, often abstracted through
the use of measuring instruments. Nobody knows what electromagnetism IS,
however we have very accurate descriptions of how to measure and predict
electromagnetic phenomena.

The point here is that all science ultimately derives from experience,
and of Chalmer's "easy questions" also ultimately derive from
experience. This rapidly degenerates into tautology, because if
conscious experience is irreducible, we get that all descriptions are

One can go another way, ie, all describable experience can be described
reductively, and now the paradox is saying that the experiences
themselves are irreducible and not so describable. So, tautology or

> I've never been convinced that subjective experience is somehow distinct
> from this "whir of information-processing", from the memory
> storage/retrieval effort and the associated emotional markers we've used
> to index those memories.
Yes, and Chalmers seems to forget that recovery of feelings and emotion
and "sense of experiencing" are all memory based.

> words from Reilly Jones (9/28/96), "epistemological models we impose on
> whatever is actually going on in there, most likely just bits of stuff
> bumping around in preferred directions", or do they have some utility?

I think that in terms of social communication and acting together for
mutual survival that these epistemological models have a lot of utility.
The notions of "I", "myself", "my experience" and the "you" counterparts
of same are at the essential core of our intercommunications.

> Can we usefully talk about patterns of thought being independent of the
> hardware/wetware on which they're processed (as Moravec has suggested?)

No! Information always requires context, the hardware within which it is
realised which can make use of same. However the illusion is pervasive
and here's why:

Start with the notion of self awareness. This is a loop stating
that "I exist". Once this forms (around age 3) all experiences are
encoded with the presence of this loop. That is, "I was there" comes
with all remembered experiences. (There are some exceptions, in
which one's sense of self vanishes, but I don't recall anyone being
able to relate these experiences beyond a statement of ecstatic flow
at the time, and nothing in terms of actual content. Good sex, for

Then, in reflection, the question of "what is common to ALL of my
experiences" come up. Given the variety of experiences, including
dreams, etc., there is only one thing common to all experiences,
the sense of "I exist".

Therefore, the sense of "I exist" is experienced as the essence of all
personal experience. The sense of "Experience Exists" is the essence
all remembered experiences inclusively.

At this point some striking resemblences to religious and mystical
experiences come forth:

- The sense of "I exist" is common to ALL personal experiences, ergo
Soul Exists - being another name for this common aspect to
all personal experiences.

- Ths sense of "Experience Exists" is common to all experience, ergo
Spirit Exists, God Exists - the Hindus call these Atman and
Brahman respectively.

Now, by some means, crank up the endorphin/hormonal/neuroexcitatory
system which indicates the subjective "This is REAL" to a really
high level, and Soul and Spirit become the Ultimate In Reality.
Combine this with one's desire to not die (for non cryonicists) and
the need for emotional assurance, and enjoy the rebirth of vitalism.
Socialize it and here's religion.

If Soul and Spirit are the Ultimate Reality, most of the spiritual
literature become obviously logical conclusions based on this

> Are our subjective experiences objective at some level as David Musick
> has suggested (9/27/96)?
Once I have the upload or neuro-interface, the bit patterns which
represent these experiences can now be moved out of my skull into other
media, and loaded into other's minds. (I gloss over the details, just
as nsnotechnologists do....) At the present moment, the various media
language, video, etc) do communicate some of this. The best
entertainment and arts do so quite well, sans verification.

If I have a sensor for each neuron (possibly only when uploaded) then my
state can be captured and examined at leisure. This data is data, just
as any objective scientific data is objective. So, yes.

> Hara Ra trails off with:
> <[Chalmers] discussion of quantum mechanics is also interesting, in
> particular his view toward Emmet's ideas which are often misstated as
> the "many worlds" interpretation of QM.>
> Please, tell us more!

Chalmers points out that the main problem with Quantum Mechanics is the
interpretation of events. The wave functions describe the liklihood of
events with great precision (the best known in some cases) but do not
state what happens when an Event is noticed. Yet we experience Events,
therefore our experience is somehow beyond QM...

I won't get into how Chalmers sees Emmet. However I will describe an
alternative point of view:

If we view the universe as a kind of giant Feynman diagram, (and
ignore the dilemmas of renormalization and virtual particles) and
assume that there are a finite number of particles, and a finite
number of possible interactions, then the state of the universe can
be described as an integer. (Said integer can be described as a list
of properties concatenated into a string of digits. (shades of Godel!)
Each property set describes a single particle. Each particle can be
described reasonable concisely, by a few thousand bits (particle
state, position, momentum)

Each quantum Event converts one of the numbers into another. Again
taking a leaf from Godel, said conversions consist of a series of
elementary arithmetic operations applied to one of these numbers.
(BTW, not all possible integers represent possible states of the
universe...) All QM rules of transition can be described as series
of elementary arithmetic operations. (This is easily envisioned by
creating short algorithms for such things as:

- derive the substring for an individual particle
- convert interacting particle substrings into other
particle substrings by QM rules
- replace the original particle substrings with the
new substrings )

Now, consider the set of all integers. Some of these will represent
Universe State Strings (USS's). By the rules of QM, each USS can be
converted to another USS. If we confine ourselves to one Feynman
interaction per conversion, then each USS can convert to a finite
number of other USS's, but no USS can convert in a single interaction
into all of the other USS's. One way to visualise this is to imagine
a line or grid of dots representing the integers (like a bingo card
at the back of a trade magazine). The integers which represent
possible USS's are marked in some way (say red dots). Each red dot
has lines running to other USS's, each line representing an allowed
QM interaction. Note that each red dot also has INCOMING lines,
representing the set of possible ancestor USS's.

Penrose describes some of this in his book the "Emperor's New Mind".

One point to notice here is that every state of the Universe comes
a large and finite number of possible past states, that there is NO
single past.

Another point to notice is that preserving physical memory implies
some of the particle states are not changed, which limits the number
of possible memory preserving transformations. Ie, we come from many
possible pasts and it is not possible to know which ones. Memory
the possibilities both ways. This creates outrageous conclusions,
which I use in my shamanic work:

Miracles require absolute forgetfulness.


Time is based entirely on memory.

A look at chaos theory brings up some conjectures re the set of all

- What do the attractors look like?
- Black Holes are powerful attractors, and Hawking is
wrong; Black Holes do absolutely destroy
- Are there completely connected and independent networks
of USS's?? Ie, many separated universes which have
no way to transform into one another?

And, to wrap this bit up, since consciousness IMHO is based on the self
remberance of experience, only a tiny subset of connected USS's will
have the property of consciousness....


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