Re: The Conscious Mind

Crosby_M (
Wed, 9 Oct 1996 15:40:00 -0400

On Monday, October 07, 1996 8:51AM Hara Ra wrote Re: The Conscious Mind.

Thanks, Hara, for a very stimulating post. I have a follow-up question.
But first, given all the recent discussion about noise & repetition on
the list, e.g.,

On Sunday, October 06, 1996 2:40PM Chris Hind wrote:
<I'm actually beginning to believe the ravings of Mark Plus that
extropians keep discussing the same topics without making any such
progress [toward *spreading* memes].>

and on Wednesday, October 09, 1996 8:59AM Greg Burch used this
<"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber." --Winston

and given that I've only been on the list since it became open in
August, I hope if my questions raise issues that have already been
discussed by the Old Ones (the 'eagles' who mostly seem to be silent
lately) they will be interpreted in the context of spreading memes to
newcomers, as opposed to being seen as a noisy repetitive loop.
Hara Ra wrote (and hopefully my snips maintain your context):
<recovery of feelings and emotion and "sense of experiencing" are all
memory based [snip] Information always requires context, the hardware
within which it is realised [snip] the notion of self awareness ... is a
loop stating that "I exist"... all experiences are encoded with the
presence of this loop.>

Hara goes on to provide some interesting discussion of "the universe as
a kind of giant Feynman diagram" and then concludes:
<Another point to notice is that preserving physical memory implies that
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 limits
the possibilities both ways. This creates outrageous conclusions, which
I use in my shamanic work>

My question is, has the following been discussed on the list, or does
anyone have any opinions about it?

In ch.4 of his book _Elemental Mind_, Nick Herbert describes the
little-known Spacetime Reductive Materialism (SRM) theories of
consciousness proposed by California PolyTechnic professor James
Culbertson (author of _The Minds Of Robot_, 1963, and _Consciousness:
Natural & Artificial_, 1984, which, as Herbert notes, "has been
generally dismissed by mainstream scientists as quirky and
impractical"). SRM models are based on reflection points, influence
trees and outlook trees described by 3 attributes: intensity, quality &

Superficially this sounds like it might be a useful model of
consciousness, but then Herbert goes on to add, "Culbertson's answer to
the evolutionary question [of why consciousness is advantageous] is that
because of their ability to store memories in spacetime. rather than in
space, conscious computers can perform the same job as unconscious
computers and require fewer parts to do so ... a conscious computer ...
can access events that have happened long ago, events that lie 'outside'
the computer's present state ... [having the advantage of] a kind of
invisible spacetime 'hard disk' - that could give conscousness a
competitive edge in the Darwinian struggle for existence." (p134).

Nick Herbert also quotes physicist Herman Weyl (known for his particle
physics 'gauge theory' efforts): "The objective world simply is; it does
not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along
the life line of my body, does a section of this world come to life as a
fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time." (p121)

All of this seems to imply that memories and experiences might somehow
be distributed in the environment through which we have passed, like
some kind of hypertext Web that we can link to in some apparently
non-local way (or, perhaps, by virtue of us being parallel processors in
a larger network we're only beginning to glimpse), rather than *just*
being hardcoded into our brains and central nervous systems. While I
agree that "information always requires context, the hardware within
which it is realised", this SRM theory still sounds appealing to my
naive, 'creole physics' understanding of things (the foundation of which
views reality as consisting of three 'tangled hierarchies': Content,
Context & Contest ). BUT, I have a hard time reconciling it with
traditional scientific theories and approaches to uploading.

Mark Crosby