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2015-11-23
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
I'm a student learning about both Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence. A lot of theories about the cognitive processing of the mind are used as inspiration for models in AI. This got me thinking: is the scenario of AI taking over the world possible? Our intelligence is very complex, and I believe it has co-evolved with ethics and self-consciousness, leading me to believe these too would be characteristics if AI were ever created. This is a rudimentary blog I've written, but I'd definitely like feedback on what you guys think. This will help me evolve my argument and learn as well!
Link to blog: https://jonjuringcain.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/implausibility-of-rogue-ai/

2015-12-07
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
In some sense, it is possible, as some of us AI researchers will be very rich, possibly dominating large segments of world economy after we fully solve the problem in practice. Theory is almost there.

2015-12-07
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Relevant to AI and the like, is consideration of mapping.  AI programming is necessarily either linear or parallel.  Parallel appears more like mapping human thinking, but like linear programming, remains inescapably limited, only less so.  Broadly, mapping options are laid out by Newton and Leibniz.  Newton presents an unbroken continuum within which according to Newton's First Law, "Every body perseveres in ... uniform motion in a right line".  Problem here is if space is uniform, then how are particulars distinguishable?  Leibniz provides, in L. E. J. Brouwer's language, a topological space composed of "neighborhoods" of "close" points--viz., elements exhibiting a common property.  Incorporating modal possibilities, the number of "close" points in any topological "neighborhood" is infinite.  Although so, however, insofar as all "close" points share the same property, there is no more reason to analogically extend one point within a topological "neighborhood" to another point, except by a Hausdorff space limiting extension by definition.  This latter is the character of computer programming.  Alternative paths can be introduced in parallel computer architecture, but the options are still vastly limited in comparison to the options exhibited in human thought.  Thus, following Robert Frost, relevant to human but not artificial intelligence,

     Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—      I took the one less traveled by.

2015-12-07
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain

Hello Pratik
As you compare humans to animals perhaps you are implicitly addressing an evolutionary approach to human intelligence in order to relatively position AI . This brings the focus on self-consciousness which is about representing oneself as an existing entity like conspecifics are represented. Only humans can do that. Concepts and ethics come after. Humans can manage concepts because they control their mental states and can produce  highly elaborated ones. And  ethics can be looked at as an "offspring of self-consciousness and human social behavior" as you say.
Now, regarding AI vs human intelligence, an evolutionary approach to meaning generation can make available a usable framework where ethics finds a place( see http://philpapers.org/rec/MENTTC-2 )
Hope this helps.


2015-12-07
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Do Computers think?

You can do computer modeling of human digestion system too, will this mean the computer will digest a hamburger if you provide it one? It is same as asking "do clocks know what time it is?". The computations and programs are more complex but the essence remains the same.

Soft AI, as it is sometimes called is a method of understanding computational systems of human intelligence (the aspects of the mind-brain that to some extend use formal computational systems), This is normal science, similar analogs can be found in study of physics, physiology or in study of insect navigation system.

Second use of the term is generally in engineering: developing robots to carry out various tasks, which uses knowledge from the inquiry above stated. We can program programs to do some mechanical aspects of human behavior, like playing chess or computers that might conduct surgeries and so on but again it is as mechanical as a complex clockwork. We can chose to call these phenomenon "playing chess" or "knowing time" or not, these notions have no scientific relevance as of now.

Claims that computers/programs/robots will become "self-conscious", from my understanding, vastly exaggerates what is currently understood and what can even be hoped to be a possibility.


2015-12-07
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Computers are incapable of analogical thinking, the most important for creative endeavors and problem solving. A good book to read debunking the scenario of strong AI and computers taking over the world is Stephen E. Robbins' Time and Memory.


2015-12-08
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

RE: “self-consciousness which is about representing oneself as an existing entity like conspecifics are represented.

Odd, I can never recall “representing myself as an existing entity like conspecifics are represented.” How does one do that exactly?

DA


2015-12-08
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan

"Representing oneself as an existing entity like conspecifics are represented" is a step of an evolutionary approach to self-consciousness.
In a few words:
Our pre-human ancestors were capable of intersubjectivity and had a very limited representation of themselves made of representations of parts of their bodies and of interactions with elements (seen feet&hands, heard shoutings, felt grabbed objects,...). Let's call it an "auto-representation" (to avoid the word "self").
Conspecifics were represented as entities existing in the environment.
Evolution of intersubjectivity toward identification with conspecifics produced a merger of the auto-representation with the representation of conspecifics.
By this merger the auto-representation acquired a characteristic of the representation of conspecifics: be a representation of an entity existing in the environment.
So the auto-representation slowly became about an entity existing in the environment like was the representation of conspecifics. Our ancestors became progressively conscious of themselves as existing entities like conspecifics were represented as existing. This was for our ancestors an elementary version of self-consciousness that can be called "ancestral self-consciousnes" 
You will find a description of that process in a paper (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3) and in a TSC 2014 poster (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENCOO)  


2015-12-08
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Keith Stokke
The programs written for "strong AI" that can solve problems and analogize are based on probability theory. They are also quite advanced applications of probability/information theory (it's what I am working on). It's called "inductive inference" (something creationist philosophers think is impossible).

I would like to counter your proposition by saying that most philosophers are apparently and unfortunately incapable of understanding probability theory. Then, to them, the theory must look like random strings of letters. I fully understand where you are coming from, before I studied computer science, I probably would have felt the same. Current experiments in AI, a long list of them, including mine, already refute your claim I think. You just don't know/don't understand the experiments.

Cheers,

2015-12-08
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
It is not only "creationist philosopher" who object to the possibility of inductive inference, great many others do as well, and from my understanding, correctly so. Inductive inferences are not drawn from syntactic structures and even algorithms utilizing probability theories and such only draw "inferences" formally.

I think it is not the case that Kieth does not understand enough mathematics or computer science, it probably that you are confusing and failing to understand what mind-brain, human intelligence etc actually are.      

2015-12-08
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

“Our pre-human ancestors were capable of etc..

And this claim is based on what evidence exactly?

As for the rest, none of it answers, or even addresses, my question.  Do you happen to know, by the way, how problematic the word “self” is in philosophy? Have a read of Hume on the self sometime.

I’ll leave aside other question-begging terms like: “intersubjectivity”, “auto-representation”, “conscious” etc. Do you have any idea how contested the idea of consciousness is in philosophy? And how far away we are from any sign of consensus? 

DA


2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan
The fact that our pre-human ancestors were capable of intersubjectivity is supported by anthropologists (see Bednarik 2003 referenced in http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3)
Regarding the word "self", Hume position is indeed still valid. This is why the word is used as late as possible in the evolutionary scenario. The wording "auto-representation" is introduced precisely to avoid using "self-representation" which would bring in questions about the "self" that can be avoided in the first part of the scenario (see note 3).
The idea of consciousness looks to me as more challenged than contested. Many types of consciousness are made available in the today philosophical literature. But there is very little referring to a possible evolutionary approach. So my interest for that subject.
The challenging point is that the progressive coming in of self-consciousness in evolution brings to introduce intermediate steps between non self-conscious animals and self-conscious humans. Existing definitions for self-consciousness are not usable for such intermediate steps as they refer more or less directly to our human full fledged self-consciousness like "the possession of the concept of the self and the ability to use this concept in thinking about oneself." (Block, 1995).
The need comes in to introduce a definition that can avoid the concept of self and can address the result of an identification with conspecifics (consciousness of oneself as an existing entity rather than the consciousness of a self). And with that also comes in the need to introduce an "ancestral self-consciousness" as an intermediate step.
Now, regarding your question about representing oneself as an existing entity, I feel we all do so, more or less explicitly. And doing it "like conspecifics are represented" is from the merger of representations in the proposed scenario. But I would agree that it is not a dominant component in our today ful fledged self-consciousness which is mostly interwoven with anxiety management processes as the evolutionary approach tries to show.


2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Dear Christophe

I find no reference to “Bednarik” on the page you give me. But in any case why not explain the point in your own words rather than fall back on claims by someone else?  The very term “intersubjectivity” is question-begging.  What do you mean by it? What is your definition? Do animals have ”intersubjectivity”? Say, cockroaches? Slugs? Amoebae in a pond?  Why? Why not? As you may know, some philosophers claim that atoms, molecules and various other tiny bits and pieces are conscious. How do you feel about that? If they are conscious, perhaps they have “intersubjectivity” as well? Perhaps the universe is buzzing with your “intersubjectivity”?

And how on earth would anyone – “anthropologist” or not – know anything remotely reliable about the psychological life of our pre-human ancestors – of which all we have, and will ever have, are a few bones? For example, are you claiming (and on what basis?) that said ancestors were capable of language? If not, would this affect their ability for “intersubjectivity”? Why? Why not? The questions begged here are endless! (I assume you are aware that we have no accurate idea even of when human language and consciousness emerged?)

RE: “The idea of consciousness looks to me as more challenged than contested’”

Use whatever word you like. The simple fact is that there is no agreement – none – on what the term even means. And as I say, some leading philosophers in the area think that atoms etc are conscious - though other more sober souls think that’s just batty. You see what kinds of “challenges”, to use your term, this field of study contains? Nothing – just nothing – is agreed on, and opinions vary wildly. Yet you're happy to make confident pronouncements about the psychological life of our pre-human ancestors! (Which ones, by the way? It’s a complicated genealogy, there are big gaps, and paleoanthropologists are still not sure how it works.)

There are oceans of other questions begged by your post but, really, it’s just too much to deal with. And your statement re Hume is, I'm sorry, just bizarre.

DA


2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan

Dear Derek,

Bednarik is referenced in http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3 (text to be downloaded from Philpaper archive, after the abstract).
Paper is about an evolutionary scenario for self-consciousness beginning with our pre-human ancestors, not with slugs.
Please read the paper. It will answer some of your questions and reposition others.
Christophe

2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Sarthak Tomar
I disagree. The objections to inductive inference are usually based on bad philosophy like Popper's quixotic attack on science that disguises itself as "philosophy or science", all of which are in fact formally equivalent to creationism.
In many peer reviewed theoetical articles, Marcus Hutter and I separately  explained why these pseudo-philosophical objections dissolve under the lens of the rigorous mathematical theory of inductive inference. In particular, I recently proved that the theory is physically complete, closing any possible gaps in theory. From my perspective, then such objections may only be attributed to colossal ignorance of physics, as well as mathematics.

Some examples of such ignorance would be property dualism (physics denial), strong emergentism (neuroscience denial), non-reductionism (information theory denial), Popperian agnosticism (evolution denial), but I have argued elsewhere that these are the same basic kind of denial of well-established scientific facts/consensus. In the context of the mind, an ignorance of the basic facts of neurophysiology seems to be the culprit. Dualists may keep thinking that intelligence is magical; in an age where computers have super-human performance in image recognition and function induction benchmarks, this is a highly absurd stance I believe. Human brain project is making inroads to full simulation of the human brain and I still hear that the brain must be magical because an armchair philosopher claims so. Beware, they might end up like the flat earth society. In the end, empiricism of a rigorous and non-superstitious kind, did prevail.

Popper's assumption was wrong, and he never had any evidence against induction anyway. In retrospect, I think he just wanted to save most of social sciences that was not based on any real evidence, including his strange metaphysical views (three worlds, etc.) that had nothing to do with a scientific world-view and may only be attributed to Platonism/creationism. He was agnostic and dualist himself, which explains the cognitive bias and dismissal of the need of concrete evidence to advance a scientific theory. There was no divine breath or magical, non-physical mind behind Popper's views about science, but rather the fact that he had not done or understood any serious, physical science. Regretfully so.

The modern scientific view of the brain is evolutionary, and Bayesian. Not magical, dualistic, and based on pre-scientific notions of free will or Platonist theory of learning (which is not learning at all). In theoretical neuroscience, there are sensory, internal and active states. Just like in empiricism. The brain necessarily has to perform Bayesian inference to decide any action.

2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Christophe, 
Would you be kind enough to define:- intersubjectivity
- representation
- evolution
- entity
- self
- consciousness
- self consciousness

Unfortunately your post does not say much, many concepts but not much substance. Are your talking about awareness, phenomenal consciousness, is your approach of consciousness scientific etc... In order to follow you better, you would need to clarify many concepts. Could you please do it?

Thanks.

Luc

2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
Interesting thing about probability theory: presupposed is identity of each claimed re-occurrence as an instance of the same thing or kind.  Insofar as an identity gap exists intervening each instance of identity, and each instance is different from every other instance if it is to be a different instance of occurrence, which probability theory requires, then some autonomous criterion of identity is requisite.  Requisite here is memory, when memory cannot be verified insofar as it cannot be re-experienced.  Putting the issue of memory aside, however, since different instances cannot be the same if they are to be different instances, then they need be identified by analogy.  Insofar as each instance presumably has infinite properties, then analogy requires an a priori finite identity of "relevant" properties.  Necessarily arbitrary insofar as elemental properties are infinite, then there is no objective necessity to probability.  Neither can a rule resolve this difficulty.  Insofar as the properties of an object are infinite, they cannot be encompassed by a rule, for the rule need be limitless.  Analogy with an immediately available archetype is possible, but the problem of identity reoccurs insofar as different individuals can focus on different properties of archetype and autotype.  Matters worsen considering identity according to a rule or archetype are both constituent of consciousness, and consciousness is privileged, so the conscious identity of another is unknowable.  But, let us put this latter aside as well, and return to the issue of identity in itself.  Simply enough, because of the problem of infinity, an a priori rule of identity is impossible.  Identity is possible only a posteriori by individual subjective judgments.  Thus, whether a particular probability calculation is correct or not is empirically relative to the observer.  It is necessary only insofar as assumed a priori, independently of empirical observation.  Of course, a divergent observer can be dismissed a priori, but this is necessarily ad hominem, logically fallacious as such.  Illustrated, however, is how the very nature of probability rests upon nominal definition, when as exhibited by some commenters here, it is presumed to rest upon "reality".  Here "reality" is an odd notion indeed, insofar as it is assumed independent of human consciousness, yet only knowable by observation, when observation is a state of human consciousness.  Unable to be experienced in itself, like other unexperienced suppositions, it need be categorized as imaginary, when imagination is dismissed as "unreal". Confusion abounds.

2015-12-09
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Luc Delannoy
These are standard concepts in philosophy, so reference to a philosophy textbook or two might resolve your unfamiliarity. That you are unfamiliar with the concepts is not untypical across disciplines, but although so, likely as well is illustrated the diminution of awareness of philosophical concepts in contemporary American education.  Effectively, your questioning is like asking a physicist to define quark, or strong or weak force, or neutron, proton, electron, etc., or a biologist to define DNA or RNA or stem cell.  Sadly, it is my suspicion a post utilizing the terms from physics or biology would not elicit the same kind of response elicited to you.  Supposing this, a greater burden is placed upon the philosopher, and likely other humanists, than placed on the natural scientist.  In itself, this is telling in respect to the state of education in the United States today.

2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Christophe

Again, I don’t see the paper. But in any case I want to hear what you have to say. On a discussion thread like this, simply referring people to books, papers etc strikes me as a bit if a cop-out. If you have answers to the questions I raised – and you haven’t so far provided any – let's hear them in your own words.    

To be perfectly honest with you, I have found myself half-wondering if your comments on these issues are not perhaps a kind of spoof. You could reassure me this is not the case by addressing the questions I have asked you in lucid prose, free of undefined jargon.

DA


2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Donald

Excuse me for intervening.

You write “These are standard concepts in philosophy,”.

Indeed, most of the words Luc listed are “standard”, even in everyday life.

What is not standard in philosophy (hence Luc’s question) is the meanings of these words. If you are at all familiar with the relevant philosophical literature, you will know that many volumes have been written on these concepts by many writers, past and present, and that opinions often differ widely. To suggest, as you seem to be doing, that there is somehow a consensus in the philosophical literature would, as I'm sure you must be aware, be simply naïve.

Luc’s questions were, in other words. perfectly reasonable. Like him, I await a response.

You also write: “Effectively, your questioning is like asking a physicist to define quark, or strong or weak force, or neutron, proton, electron, etc., or a biologist to define DNA or RNA or stem cell.:

This is a highly dubious claim. The physicist would be defining a physical object in scientific terms. Any suggestion that the self and consciousness (for example) are purely physical objects would be extremely questionable, and large numbers of philosophers would not support that view. Though perhaps you are a die-hard physicalist in this field? (Oddly, there are a few around in philosophy.)  If so, I would be interested in your defence of the view that the self and human consciousness are definable and explicable in purely physical terms. If nothing else, it should raise the level of discussion on this thread a little…

As for your remarks on the US education system, I for one couldn't possibly comment. Strangely, not everyone is educated in the US…

DA


2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Luc Delannoy
Luc,
The post is only about a paper presenting an evolutionary scenario for self-consciousness. The paper introduces these rather complex concepts in context. They can be defined in different ways. Trying to do it here on a general basis and out of context would be long and probably misleading relatively to their usage in the paper. I feel that it would be more profitable to ask questions after having read the paper.
Can you access the paper at http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3 ? it can be found also at  http://crmenant.free.fr/Self-Consciousness/Feb.8.2014.pdf or in my home page  (http://crmenant.free.fr/Home-Page/index.HTM)
Christophe



2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Nice dodge, Christophe. 

Think about it:  Luc or I could refer you to any number of books or papers pointing out how much more complex the issues are than you (and others here) are implying. But we don’t do so because it would defeat the purpose of a discussion thread which, as the name suggests, is a thread for discussion.

So if you actually have an argument to put, and answers to the quite specific questions we have asked you, now might be a good time to put your head up above the “read-the-paper” parapet and show you actually have something to say. Otherwise, we can draw our own conclusions...

DA

PS  I am still not entirely convinced that you are not engaging in a spoof. Take for example your statement: "Our pre-human ancestors ... had a very limited representation of themselves made of representations of parts of their bodies and of interactions with elements (seen feet&hands, heard shoutings, felt grabbed objects,..." (This statement verges on the unintelligible. But as if there is even the slightest modicum of evidence for it!)  Or how about this one: "Evolution of intersubjectivity toward identification with conspecifics produced a merger of the auto-representation with the representation of conspecifics." Good to know. Or try this one (again barely intelligible): "Our ancestors became progressively conscious of themselves as existing entities like conspecifics were represented as existing. "

Really, the more I look at this stuff, the more I think it has got to be a a spoof!


2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan

Hi Derek,
Real sorry that you cannot access the paper (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3) because it is precisely there that you could read what I have to say.
The post where you highlight the difficulty to define concepts on a general basis is pertinent.
Take for instance the concept of consciousness. In the paper you could read:
"Human consciousness is a product of evolution. Few people would today disagree with an evolutionary history of human mind. But human consciousness is a complex and still mysterious performance. Different perspectives have been developed to try to understand it. Among the key ones: as concepts of consciousness like phenomenal consciousness, access consciousness, monitoring consciousness and self-consciousness (Block, 1995); as functions of consciousness like adaptation and learning (Baars, 1993); as levels of consciousness like core consciousness and extended consciousness (Damasio, 1999); as self-representational theory of consciousness where a mental state is phenomenally conscious iff it represents itself in the right way (Kriegel, 2012).
The choice made here is to focus on self-consciousness following an evolutionary approach. We define self-consciousness as being "the representation of oneself as an existing entity like others humans are represented as existing" (representations are here understood as being meaningful representations2). Such a definition of self-consciousness refers to the representations of conspecifics and does not use the concept of self. It is different from defining self-consciousness as "the possession of the concept of the self and the ability to use this concept in thinking about oneself" (Block, 1995). In the proposed evolutionary approach self-consciousness is the consciousness of oneself as an existing entity rather than the consciousness of a self3."
And much more could be said (other types of consciousness like pre-reflexive self-consciousness and primitive consciousness are addressed elsewhere in the paper).

Now regarding the identification with conspecifics producing a merger of representations that brought the auto-representation to become about an entity existing in the environment.
The wording of the process is not that easy indeed. If you prefer drawings to sentences you can have a look at the TSC 2014 poster which shows all that in a graphic way.(http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPOS). 
The idea about an evolution of inter-subjectivity leading to identification with conspecifics and then to an initial and limited form of self-consciousness is a new one. As far as I know it has not been addresed by other authors. And I agree that it may not be that easy to grasp.

Finaly, regarding the spoof option, please understand that I have been looking at this subject for more than ten years. You will find at (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENEAM) a TSC 2005 presentation introducing it.


2015-12-10
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Christophe

I’m glad to hear you’re not subjecting us to a spoof.

You seem to have made some effort to clarify your thinking. But all sorts of questions are begged.

For example, you say: “Human consciousness is a product of evolution. Few people would today disagree with an evolutionary history of human mind.”

Now, in one sense this is simply a statement of the bleeding obvious. Everything that took place in the emergence of species in “a product of evolution” – fins, wings, claws, etc., etc., etc.  So in some general sense, presumably – or, rather, obviously – human consciousness must be a “product of evolution”. But that tells us precisely nothing about (a) what human consciousness is, and (b) how precisely it emerged. It is about as informative as saying “human consciousness happened”.

Moreover, you appear to be implying (are you?) that once having emerged (and who knows how?) human consciousness “evolved” in some way – i.e. continued to evolve.

Now, first, there is absolutely no paleoanthropological evidence to support a claim of this nature. (Your own statement about our “pre-human ancestors” being only capable of “very limited representation of themselves made of representations of parts of their bodies and of interactions with elements (seen feet&hands, heard shoutings, representations of parts of their bodies)” is, and can only be, mere speculation.) It is perfectly possible – though we have no way of knowing – that human consciousness as it first emerged in the homo sapiens line is the only form of human consciousness homo sapiens has ever known. If you think you have evidence – actual evidence – to demonstrate that is not the case, please feel free to tell me what it is (though please don’t just refer me to an article, or cite “Bloggs 20XX”, etc. I see those as cop-outs). 

Second, a claim of this kind implies that you not only have a satisfactory definition of human consciousness (and as far as I am aware no such definition exists – and the various definitions proposed by the different names you cite so blandly and confidently are all open to major challenge) but it also implies that you have satisfactory definitions of different prehistorical levels of human consciousness. Are you serious?  

There are many more questions begged by your post but this is getting long, and presumably gives you enough to deal with anyway. So I’ll leave it there for now.

DA


2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Donald!
You are very kind to send me to textbooks but I believe 40 years in philosophy are somehow enough for me to grasp some concepts. Thank you anyways.
It seems you misunderstand me; I want to know how Christophe does interpret those concepts since the post does not seem to say much about them.  It is not enough to write a paper aligning names and concepts. I am not asking a physicist to define quark; I am not a physicist but I guess 
it is easier to define quark than consciousness - I am asking the author of the post to give HIS definition of many concepts he is using; quite frankly I must say many philolosophers (and non-philosophers alike) are using the terms consciousness, awareness and self without even knowing what they mean (does anyone knows?), and assuming everybody has the same interpretation of those terms. 

If, as you wrote, "those are standard concepts in philosophy", I would very much like to know what is the "standard" concept of consciousness and of self - according to you. Are you telling me phenomenology shares a "standard" concept of consciousness with eliminativism, or pan-psychism, or Fichte idealism, or with the physicalists for example?  I believe Derek also pointed in the same direction. May I also say that this conversation goes beyond the scope of the state of the education in the United States - one should be careful with  assumptions. Asking questions does not imply one is unfamiliar with the topics of the questions, nor that everyone in PhilPapers.org is a part of the contemporary American education system :)

Cheers

Luc



2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
I think what matters is that probability theory works, as evidenced by myriad experiments, whereas not so scientific philosophical ideas like non-reductionism or property dualism do not work at all.

2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
Dualism was not a "pre-scientific" notion, Descartes and his contemporaries were working within framework of substance philosophy and Cartesian mechanics, standard science of the time. And from that few dividing nature into two distinct substances was a pretty scientific thing to do. That is a historical matter, one can chose to read it in almost any way they intend.

From my understanding what studies of past few decades have shown is actually a return to Platonic view of knowledge: we are born predisposed with a lot of knowledge (and endowments for attaining certain kinds of knowledge). Chomsky's work in linguistic, Richard L. Gregory's work in perception, John Michail in moral cognition, and a great many others. Of course we do not call this Theory of Remembrance, but this is standard biology now.

Also, in response to "Just like in empiricism.", I would suggest you read this: http://chomsky.info/responsibility02/

A program is a theory written in a specific language. Our current understanding of mind-brain does not tell us how a neuron of a Squid distinguishes between food or danger or, how does a visual signal translates into a line or a dot, these are extremely hard questions, out of purview of current neurosciences (C. R. Gallistel and few other are suggesting that our current framework of neurosciences is fundamentally flawed and I think they are right in many respects). Without this kind of knowledge and theories about them, believe in a program that could reach "singularity" or such are science fiction.      
 
We can map all neurons (or whatever level abstraction one chooses) and create useful tools with this modeling - or from certain extract of it. Just like we can do with a model of our digestion system. But this is not "thinking" or "digestion" in any meaningful way. Collecting a lot of data and algorithms of quick search procedures could or could not be useful for making tools, but they do not tell us anything about mind works, about nature of thought or organization of action.   

2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Christophe, 
It seems I will not have answers to my questions. So, let me try the following ones:

- by evolution, do you mean trans-speciation?

- is consciousness an object of knowledge, the result of a research, or is it an originary fact?

- how would you define entity? Are entities pre-existing? From the Greek: to on - that which is.

- are you a representationalist?

- how is consciousness an evolutionary advantage? I should ask, which consciousness is considered an evolutionary advantage and why?

Thank you for answering.

Cheers

Luc


2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,

Concerning, "Any suggestion that the self and consciousness (for example) are purely physical objects would be extremely questionable, and large numbers of philosophers would not support that view," indeed this perspective has become common among philosophers of mind, under such rubrics as "Cognitive Science".  That you are unaware of this presumably indicates you are not a philosopher.  More recently, the Many Minds Variation is moving away from the Cognitive Science perspective, but matters are quite diverse among philosophers of mind.

As for my comment on the lack of demand for clarity of concepts in physics, even in a commentary string like this, in comparison for demand for clarity of concepts in philosophy, I reaffirm it.  Operant is popularity of disciplines.  Perhaps since the moon-landing in the early 1970s, natural science has been popular, in the general public and academia alike.  Prior to that in the 1960s, the social sciences, as well as literary studies and history, were popular during the racial and anti-war movements.  Since Ronald Reagan, applied science has been popular, with theoretical science less so.

Philosophy has not done well in the public or academic communities since perhaps the first third of the Twentieth Century.  In the mid-1960s TIME magazine published a "Time Essay" in which lamented was the irrelevance of philosophy, placing the blame firmly on philosophers.  My suspicion is underlying the essay was failure of philosophers to provide a popular philosophical perspective like pragmatism, which the general public could accept as a practical conception for understanding and dealing with contemporary events.

Post-modernism provided something of such a perspective in the 1970s, but this arose in literary studies.  It failed, however, insofar as not providing a communal perspective on shared problems.  Sweeping all away beginning in the 1980s was economic recovery of Germany and Japan from the devastation of World War II.  Presenting an economic competitor to the US, they and subsequently China and India, the BRICs nations, etc, have become the focus of attention.  Manifestation is in public and academic focus on STEM disciplines, as well as economics and business administration, assuming graduates will provide for the economic competition necessary in the current world business environment.

Indicative is the cultural environment affecting status, popularity, and public familiarity of academic disciplinary areas.  Interestingly, Tea Partiers are bringing some aspects of natural science, such as evolution, under siege.  Perhaps the next phase in this cultural/educational evolution will be a 1960s-like elevation of the social sciences, literature, and history, this in response to extreme economic separation and minority assertion, as with Black Lives Matter.  Indicative is what is often missing in this thread is the significance of popular attitudes among the general public in identifying the status of academic disciplines.

As for philosophy, I've concluded it is the ashcan of academia.  As denizens of any other academic discipline reach the defining limit of their discipline, expressed is almost invariably, "That's a philosophical question".  Subsequently, however, what philosophers say about the issue is ignored, as retreat is made away from the ambiguous defining disciplinary limit.  Raising a question in respect to mathematics to a colleague in mathematics, the response without hesitancy was, "That is not a question of concern to a mathematician.  That is a question of concern to a philosopher of mathematics".


2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan

Hi Derek,

If I read you correctly you are looking for the following as related to the evolutionary scenario:

1) what is human consciousness ?
2) what could have been prehistorical levels of human consciousness ?
3) how did human consciousness precisely emerge?
4) how did human consciousness evolve after that emergence ?
5) Is human consciousness still evolving and how ?
6) what could have been a representation in the mind of our pre-human ancestors ?

1) what is human consciousness ?
Using the N. Block definitions, the focus of the evolutionary scenario is on self-consciousness. Phenomenal consciousness is to be taken into account after, linked to self-consciousness as subject (see poster http://philpapers.org/rec/MENCOO). But, as already said, such definition of self-consciousness applies to us humans with our full fledged self-consciousness. It includes performances that our pre-human ancestors did not carry. The evolutionary approach brings the need to introduce intermediate steps with corresponding definitions.
2) what could have been prehistorical levels of human consciousness ?
As said, a first step could have been an ancestral self-consciousness defined as a limited representation of oneself as an entity existing in the environment, like conspecifics were represented as existing. Other intermediate steps have probably existed before reaching our today level of human self-consciousness. This is to be investigated based on the evolutionary engine (see paper http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3).
3) how did human consciousness precisely emerge?
As already said, the evolutionary scenario uses an identification with conspecifics resulting from an evolution of pre-human primate intersubjectivity. It produced a merger of representations that brought the auto-representation to become about an entity existing in the environment. (see previous post).
4) how did human consciousness evolve after that emergence ?
A hypothesis of the evolutionary scenario is that identification with conspecifics was also about identification with suffering or endangered conspecifics which produced a huge anxiety increase. To limit that anxiety our ancestors have developed behaviors and mental performances like caring, scenarios simulation, communication, imitation, ... which brought obvious evolutionary advantages. But they also generated new anxieties that had in turn to be limited (exclusion from group,...). Overall, an evolutionary engine based on anxiety management was built up in the minds of our ancestors. That engine has driven ancestral self-consciousness to our today self-consciousness. The evolution from ancestral self-consciousness to our today human self-consciousness has not really been analyzed in the scenario. Only some key points have been introduced (see paper). More work is needed on that subject.
5) Is human consciousness still evolving and how ?
The evolution of human consciousness is only a very short segment in the billions of years of life evolution which has no reason to stop. So it looks reasonable to consider that human consciousness is to evolve beyond its today status. The evolutionary engine should also be active in that future process. This domain (psychology ? anthropology ?) deserves more work with a focus on anxiety management processes in humans, spreading from life drive to death drive. Good and evil then being looked at as different aspects of a "Pascalian entertainment". Such a perspective will somehow introduce an anxiety limitation drive coming in addition to the Freudian life and death ones. Again, more work is needed in these areas.
6) what could have been a representation in the mind of our pre-human ancestors ?
In the evolutionary scenario all representations are meaningful as being networks of meanings. Meaningful information has been formalized by the modeling of a Meaning Generator System (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENIAM-2). A system submitted to an internal constraint (ex: stay alive for animals) generates a meaning when receiving information that has a connection with the constraint. The generated meaning is precisely that connection. The meaning is to be used for the implemention of an action that will satisfy the constraint.
Meaningful representations are constraint satisfaction driven. (more on this in  http://philpapers.org/rec/MENCOI
Our pre-human ancestors were submitted to animal type constraints (stay alive, live group life) and also to new constraints coming from the need to limit the anxiety increase. 
The anxiety limitation constraint has been (and still is) powering the evolutionay engine. Anxiety limitation as a new constraint has been feeding many MGSs and by this generating a huge quantity of new anxious meanings since the dawn of humanity. The evolutionary scenario shows that self-consciousnes is interwoven with anxiety. As many of today mental disorders are related to anxiety problems, formalizing an evolutionary link between self consciousness and anxiety may bring new perspectives on that subject. More work is needed here also


2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Luc Delannoy
Luc,
Sorry for not having answered your first questions.
The two previous posts to Derek should answer your questions about how I (or others) define representation, consciousness and self consciousness.

Regarding you last questions

- by evolution, do you mean trans-speciation?
The evolution slot I'm interested with began around 6millions years ago. The Homo species began about 2.5 million years ago. So the slot covers more than one species. But can we speak about "trans-speciation" in that case?

- is consciousness an object of knowledge, the result of a research, or is it an originary fact?
Consciousness looks to me as complex and open enough a subject to be at the same time object of knowledge and result of research. But what do you mean by "originary fact" ?

- how would you define entity? Are entities pre-existing? From the Greek: to on - that which is.
An entity is for me just a thing's existence.But eventualy pre-existing to what? to my perception of it? to its own being?

- are you a representationalist?
If a representationalist is the one believing in meaningful representations as described in my previous post, yes I am.

- how is consciousness an evolutionary advantage? I should ask, which consciousness is considered an evolutionary advantage and why?
As described in the previous post to Derek, an evolutionary nature of self-consciousness can be associated to the evolutionary advantages developed to limit the anxiety increase that came in with the identification with suffering or endangered conspecifics.
For the other types of consciousness, I just don't know. , 




2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Christophe

Just when I thought you were showing signs of coming out from behind the underbrush, you’ve gone back to hiding behind “authorities” and undefined jargon. Your post reminds me of someone reciting a catechism.

I’m not going to go through your whole post. It really would be too much of a chore. But here are a few rather random comments:

RE: “Using the N. Block definitions..” So why is Block the law and the prophets? There are hundreds of versions of consciousness and evolution out there, all different in some way or another, often radically. (Personally, I think Block's account of consciousness is feeble.)

RE: “As said, a first step could have been an ancestral self-consciousness defined as a limited representation of oneself as an entity existing in the environments etc..” Actually that’s not what you said. You claimed to know what our “pre-human ancestors” were capable of. Guesses about what “could have been” are a dime a dozen in this area. Perhaps they “could have” spent their time chanting primitive versions of the Iliad. Or having counselling sessions about problems with their “conspecifics” in the next tree.

Your response to my question “how precisely did consciousness emerge?” is just a welter of undefined jargon. And you have clearly missed the point I was making.

RE: A hypothesis of the evolutionary scenario is that identification with conspecifics was also about identification with suffering or endangered conspecifics which produced a huge anxiety increase. To limit that anxiety our ancestors have developed behaviors and mental performances like caring, scenarios simulation, communication, imitation, ... which brought obvious evolutionary advantages.”

So (a) it is all just a “hypothesis” and (b) it all comes down to “huge anxiety”! Seriously? (Perhaps counselling sessions were held after all!) And then, as a result, we became all caring and sharing? (The extermination camps must be a myth then?) This is simply wild speculation. Show me one shred of convincing evidence.

RE: Good and evil then being looked at as different aspects of a "Pascalian entertainment"

Pascal would simply turn in his grave at this!

Enough! I can’t bear any more…

DA


2015-12-11
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Hi Donald

I couldn't see that your reply had much relevance to what I said.

But I was a little amused by your comment near the end: “As for philosophy, I've concluded it is the ashcan of academia”. Some scientists – e.g. Dawkins et al – seem to think that’s exactly where philosophy should be. How disobliging of them to say so after so many “analytic” philosophers had spent so much time trying to sound like scientists!

DA

2015-12-12
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan

Hi Derek,
It is becoming a bit difficult to discuss these new ideas with you. So I'll stop here about the proposed evolutionary approach to self-consciousness.
Also, as I like Malraux as you do, I was looking at addressing with you some elements of his metamorphosis of art with anxiety limitation as a human constraint in the background. But your comments on self-consciousness bring me to feel that it may not be a good thing to do.
Sorry about that.
Regarding Pascal, please read 136 (139) of the Pensees.
Christophe


2015-12-13
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

New ideas” Christophe? Speculation about human consciousness “evolving” has been a la mode for quite a while now.  What it always lacks, however – as your claims do – is the slightest shred of evidence.  I’m not at all surprised that although I invited you to provide some, nothing has eventuated. All you’ve done is retreated from were capable of” tocould have been”. I seem to recall Von Daniken was very good at “could have beens”…

My invitation to provide some evidence – even the tiniest modicum – remains open however. (And of course this applies to anyone on the thread.)

I don’t think I introduced Malraux into the discussion, did I? I would of course be very happy to discuss his fascinating concept of metamorphosis but it relates primarily to art, which makes it rather off-topic here. And I can assure you it has nothing whatsoever to do with “anxiety limitation”.

Re Pascal, I am quite familiar with the Pensées and the notion of divertissement. Your proposition, however, that “good and evil” could be “looked at as different aspects of a ‘Pascalian entertainment’” strikes me as about as far from the spirit of the Pensées as one could get. Hence my “turning in his grave” remark.

DA


2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
There are very good philosophers. Carnap, for instance. And there are many terrible philosophers, such as dualists and platonists. I think the people who opposed Carnap weren't able to understand him, it's like impedence mismatch. They'd need to have high scientific intelligence which they apparenty lacked. Popper was a joke, as other "critics" of positivism. Even Godel was completely unqualified when it came to philosophy, like all creationists he had schizophrenia, that is why.

We really must dispose of superstition in philosophy departments, it's a pandemic. Philosophy shouldn't be a refuge for superstitious science denialists like creationists, dualists, and platonists. Philosophy is tasked with dispelling superstition, not nurturing it.

There is no magic. Science shows us that. There is no room for doubt, even. Philosophy isn't about writing fantastical, just-so, magical stories.

2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Christophe, hi!

Your quote:
Consciousness looks to me as complex and open enough a subject to be at the same time object of knowledge and result of research. But what do you mean by "originary fact" ?

1. Fait originaire. Originary fact.

How do make your consciousness an object of research? Can you escape from your own consciousness?  Questioning consciousness is a conscious act, I am conscious that I am questioning. Can you set your consciousness aside to research it as an object? Can you research consciousness without living the conscious experience of researching?

And why would you start with the end result of your research - consciousness - in order to explain the beginning - your consciousness?

2. If you make consciousness an object (would that be a brain?) is it so you can offer the emergence hypothesis? At the end of the day emergence is another form of dualism, and it is the explanation physicalists prefer when their boat is sinking. In virtue of what consciousness as a high level property would emerge from a material basis? What in this basis makes emergence possible? Have a look at Galen Strawson's chapter Why physicalism entails panpsychism in Consciousness and its Place in Nature (A. Freeman editor) Imprint Academic, 2007. He rose the same questions.

Do you actually believe you will explain consciousness by explaining its hypothetical cognitive functions?

3. I am not sure I understand this anxiety business. Wondering what our friend Joseph LeDoux would say about your explanation. Are you saying consciousness emerged and evolved so we could master our anxiety? Consciousness "emerged" so we could master pain, pleasure, emotions?

So you follow Ned Block, fine. Would you agree that anxiety, pain, pleasure and emotions are intimately connected with lived conscious experiences (phenomenal consciousness)?

But wait! Didn't Block's access consciousness got rid of phenomenal consciousness in the first place? No place there for lived conscious experience - anxiety, pain, pleasure, emotions. How could you reconcile functions of access and the conscious lived experience of anxiety? Don't we have a problem here?

Cheers,

Luc

PS. Not sure why exactly but your posts remind me of this theory that consciousness "emerged" in clade of amniotes...

2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Philosophy is merely general science. That is what I advocate as a pure positivist. Please forget all that metaphysical stuff, they are prescientific superstitions. Philosophy papers have to be compatible with scientific findings or they are invalid. That would restore the respectability of philosophy.

2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
I have taken an interest in human thinking and especially consciousness. Some say that consciousness can be an independent part of us and has a life of its own. It may even live on after we die. Some scientists use quantum physics as a way to support that the conscious state can create reality and therefore exist independently. There is some research that is investigating this.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150527103110.htm

Other research shows that we may be born with a sense of divine concepts. So we naturally look for meaning in the things around us beyond what we see. So I am not sure its an evolutionary trait or it is something in us that makes us human just like the need to belong or to be loved. But it seems its something we dont need to be taught and its a normal cognitive aspect of being human.

Together, these studies consistently emphasize and support the notion that the cultural phenomena typically labeled as 'religion' may be understood as the product of aggregated ordinary cognition.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10637620?dopt=Abstract

2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Luc Delannoy

Hi Luc,
Using your numbering: 

1. Self- consciousness is not for me an object. It is a high level performance of a living entity (self-consciousness as object is understood as being the consciousness of onself as an object, not about positioning self-consciousness as an object).  

A mental performance can be analyzed, thought about, without being experienced in real time.
As a high level performance of a living entity, self-consciousnes can be described by simpler (better understandable) performances like meaningful representations. But intersubjectivity (key also in the evolutionary scenario) is not a simple performance we can just rely on and use as is. We cannot model it as we do for meaning generation. A lot is still to be done to understand intersubjectivity. Mirror neurons may be a  good entry point.  
So the starting point is analysis and usage of the perfromances of life. And the result could be self-consciousness. 

2. The proposed scenario is about self-consciousness resulting from an evolution of life, not of matter. The "matter-mind problem" is a tricky wording as it mplicitly adds a layer of complexity by bringing in the "matter-life problem". We do not know the nature of life. Adding an mysterious component makes the story more complicated.
The proposed scenario on self-consciousness addresses the "life-mind problem" (focusing on self-consciousness). Life is the starting point, not matter. A possible evolutionary scenario about a nature of life taking matter as a sartring point is another story. 

3.The proposed scenario is not about consciousness emerging so anxiety could be mastered.
Let me try to word it again (more details in http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3)  
The first step in the emergence of self- consciousness came from identification with conspecifics which also produced an increase in anxiety resulting from identification with suffering or endangered conspecifics. To limit that anxiety our ancetors have developed performances like imitation, caring, simulation,  communication, .... In addition to anxiety lilmitation, these performances have procured evolutionary advantages that have accelerated the evolutionary process. But these performances have also generated new anxieties that had to be limited, like anxiety of rejection from group. So overall an "evolutionary engine" was created which tightly interwoved  the evolutionary nature of self-consciousness with anxiety management. (Joseph Ledoux has been informed  of that approach). 

For me anxiety, pain, pleasure and emotions are indeed intimately connected with lived conscious experiences (phenomenal consciousness)
My focus is on self-consciousness. A lot has been written about the relations between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. I would like not to get too much in theses complex discussions as they do not interfere with the proposed evolutionary approach. 

Christophe




2015-12-14
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
Hi Eray

RE: Philosophy is merely general science. That is what I advocate as a pure positivist. Please forget all that metaphysical stuff, they are prescientific superstitions.

"Philosophy is merely general science". This is not a bad description of a lot of analytic philosophy. Alas!

Don’t you ever wonder what it is all about – human life and your own? Does science answer those questions for you?

DA

2015-12-15
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
You mean this one: Bednarik, R.G. (2003) A figurine from the African Acheulian’, Current Anthropology, 44 (3), pp. 405-413 ?

2015-12-15
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Derek,  I've enjoyed reading your comments.  I appreciate your attempts to elevate the level of discussion.  It is obvious from the content of your posts that you are a philosopher.  Your philpapers page confirms this, but that was really superfluous.  Often when people talk about consciousness they think that what they are saying is clear and intelligible to others when in fact it is not.  It takes someone like you to point it out even if the people to whom you are speaking don't follow what you are saying.  I haven't had the time or the patience to engage in the kind of dialogue that you just did on these boards and if I were to I wouldn't have done quite as good a job of it, which is part of why I enjoyed reading your posts.  I have spent a huge amount of time and energy figuring how to make meaningful claims about the mind without begging too many questions or assuming that the definition of "consciousness" is well understood or well defined.  You are 100% correct that we cannot presuppose a shared understanding of these terms.  Indeed, we cannot even assume that the expression "consciousness" is a meaningful expression.  I hope that it is, but this cannot be taken for granted.  I am bothered by the fact that philosophers of mind have been, in my view, woefully unwilling to show the kind of tenacious criticism of outsiders that you have shown.  For the most part those whose views lie outside the mainstream, such as myself, get ignored.  I have published an argument on the inverted spectrum in which I argue that in principle someone in the actual world (not in some weird counterfactual world) can be physically identical on two occasions but their perceptions of color are inverted.  Furthermore, I can give this argument without ever using the term "conscious" or "qualia" or "the feeling of what it's like" or anything like that.  I avoid such terms for precisely the reasons that you bring out in your discussion above.  I thought that once I had done this finally people would respond to me and I could engage in serious philosophical dialogue about the mind.  No such luck (with the partial exception of David Chalmers, who has been very encouraging).  I can't seem to get a serious response to my paper, except that both Chalmers and Dennett admit that the argument is tight, possibly even sound.  Dennett granted that the conclusion is true.  (That's right Dennett grants that someone can be physically the same on two occasions but perceive color differently.  I'm happy to provide the e-mail exchange in which he granted this.  You'd think that would warrant a serious exchange but "no".  He probably sent me about 7 or 8 sentences total in our exchange and I am a former student of his and I specifically targeted him in my paper hoping that he would respond.)  Block couldn't stand my paper, but for the life of me I couldn't get an argument out of him or even a clear statement of where it went wrong.  (Is the argument invalid?  Is one of the premises wrong?  I've no idea.)  Chalmers was really helpful and he is the one exception, though I couldn't get him to publish anything in response and he is super busy.  He agreed with the conclusion with serious (and rather startling) qualifications.  Why, oh why, can't I get a critic like you?  Criticism is fine.  Silence from everyone is not.  Your tenacity is exactly what philosophy needs more of.  By the way, the fact that Dennett now grants that someone can be physically the same on two occasions but have their spectrum inverted confirms your point that shows that there is very little agreement on how to think about the mind.  That is an understatement.  The problem is much worse than it appears to be.  The trick is to explain why and to do so with clear, non-question begging language.

2015-12-15
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Richard Baker
Yes, this is the paper I was referring to: "around six million years ago, our pre-human ancestors might have had such capacities that broadly resembled those of some modern apes" (Bednarik, 2003). As modern apes are non self-conscious primates capable of inter-subjectivity, we can compare them to our pre-human ancestors and position the starting point of our evolutionary scenario at around six millions years ago. This comparison from primatology positions the behaviour of modern apes as close to the ones of these pre-human ancestors. It allows us to refer to what we know about the behaviour and characteristics of the former to address the ones of the later.


2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Christophe, hi !

Repeating confused ideas will not make them less confused. I formulated several questions, instead of attending them you keep repeating the same ideas. I understand you wish to push your point, and that is fine, but you still need to elaborate on key points - and not just send everybody to papers written by others.

1.  You wrote that consciousness is an object of investigation and the end result of a   research. Now, you write the opposite... C'mon man!

2. Result of performances of life could be self-consciousness. Performances? What does that mean? Still no explanation on "self". Nor a clear position on the term "representation."

3. I understand you want to focus on what you call self-consciousness. But if you  cannot separate anxiety from phenomenal consciousness then, yes indeed, it is about phenomenal consciousness. And BTW, are you sure you can explain self-consciousness without taking into account phenomenal consciousness in the first place?

How can you focus on self-consciousness without focusing also on phenomenal consciousness?

You clearly wrote that you are drawing from Block and access consciousness. Therefore there is a flaw your thinking - unless you explain how YOU resolve it - not others. I know the literature about access and phenomenal consciousness. The burden is on you to explain how you propose to reconcile both.

4. Emergence of self-consciousness? How does that work? Please refer to my anterior post. You completely ignore Galen S. questions. Are you familiar with emergentism?

Is self-consciousness an epiphenomena? If yes, why and how?

I don't want to think you are throwing ideas and concepts in the air just to see what falls down on the ground :)

Cheers

Luc

2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
Eray,hi !

This is a good one, indeed: are you saying Plato and Descartes were terrible philosophers? You must be joking - I hope :)

"Philosophy shouldn't be a refuge for superstitious science denialists like creationists, dualists, and platonists."  Hahahaha, you really have a sense for formulas.

Godel, schizophrenia. Jeez ! That explains his theorem. Strange way to dismiss our friend Godel.

"There is no room for doubt, even"   Wow, that sounds like fundamentalism, and fanatism. Don´t you think?

You are right, ignorance "it´s a pandemic"

Cheers, man. Really :)

Luc
 

2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan
RE: Your invitation for providing some evidence.
For providing some evidence we need to change the approaching angle. In German classical philosophy it was taken for granted that mind was projected in the nature and not on the nature and now modern physics provides “some evidence” for this absolutely idealistic claim. It seems that relevant to this thread and AI in particular is the ontological status of information. Information and meaning are objective things and they are physical as far as light is so. Same goes for probability. It took some years to realize that Maxwell`s formulation of electromagnetic induction which yielded concrete measurable speed of propagation of e.m. waves, actually shifted physics onto metaphysical, i.e. Platonic, track.  Physically verified fact that the speed of some particular concrete process (the light) remains locally the same regardless the motion of referent inertial frames, presents physical evidence of a glitch inside allegedly rational nature. Evidently irrational behavior of nature is the evidence of the physical status of information and its meaning. Hence I’ve coined the term “information-thing”. Quantum waves of probability which are also physically verifiable as the phenomenon of interference patterns, are yet another glitch witnessing the metaphysical nature of reality.
So Derek, what about these two glitches? Should you regard them as some evidence of transcendental intelligence?
Anybody who find this line of thought interesting please search on the web for “Metaphysics of Light by Aleksandar Milenkovic” .
AM


2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
 RE: "I have published an argument on the inverted spectrum in which I argue that in principle someone in the actual world (not in some weird counterfactual world) can be physically identical on two occasions but their perceptions of color are inverted."

I would like to hear some more about your argument. Is it available on the web?

Regards,
AM

2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Regarding this:

> modern apes are non self-conscious

What leads you to believe that chimps and bonobos lack the ability to be conscious of themselves? Both pass the mirror test for self-recognition.  Both exhibit empathy, theory of mind and targeted helping, all of which require a sense of oneself as an entity separate from others. Clearly their mental abilities are less robust than those of humans, but they do have such abilities.

--
Bill Meacham, author of How To Be An Excellent Human, http://www.bmeacham.com.


2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
AM,
The article is posted to Phil papers.  Here's the link: http://philpapers.org/rec/SCHHIL

It is called "How I learned to stop worrying and love the inverted spectrum"  
It is in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (1): 98-115 (2009)

I gave it that title because it is written from the perspective of a logical positivist, Carnap, and it is written in Carnap's voice.  Odd as it might sound the logical positivists would have supported the view that the inverted spectrum is possible if they had thought about it.  Dennett does too for similar reasons. 

2015-12-16
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Luc Delannoy

Hi Luc,
With your numbering:

1. Perhaps a problem from an ucorrect usage of words on my side.
What I mean is that self-consciousness is a performance of life. It is not an object like a stone or a computer.But self-consciousness can be thought about, can be investigated (it s coming up in evolution can be modeled) like a computer can be thought about and modeled.
Calling it an "object of investigation" has been a wrong usage of the word "object" from my side.

2. You address three items.
They are taken into account as follows in the scenario on self-consciousness:
a) Performance:  Self-consciousness is a performance that came up in the evolution of life, like vision or the capability to identify predators. That performance came in with significant evolutionary advantages (see previous posts)
b) Self: You have noted in the paper (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENPFA-3) that the concept of self is explicitly avoided at the beginning of the scenario. The evolutionary scenario begins at pre-human level where the concept of human self cannot apply. This is why I have introduced an "auto-representation" at pre-human level in order to avoid using "self-representation" which could have been misleading.
But of course the scenario is to address ultimately the build up of our human self. This will be part of a continuation (see 5) in paper).
c) Representation: Such concept is complex and difficult to define at human level. The proposed approach is an evolutionary one where a representation for an anilmal is basicaly meaningful relatively to "stay alive" constraints.  (the representation of a cat for a mouse carries the meaning "danger").
Meaningful representations as networks of meanings are introduced and defined in a book chapter (http://philpapers.org/rec/MENCOI).
Meaningful representations are difficult to characterize for humans because we lack a clear understanding about the constraints to which humans are submitted.
The evolutionary scenario introduces anxiety management related constraints which have driven and still drive the build up of meaningful representations in human minds. Anxiety management as a permanent constraint brought in a permanent generation of anxiety related meanings in the minds of our ancestors. All these anxiety related meanings have been driving forces in human evolution, marking profoundly the nature of human mind with its potential psychological sufferings.

3. It can look a bit suprizing to focus on self-consciusness without considering phenomenal consciousness (PC). But this is a deliberate choice in order to keep the scenario as simple as possible.
PC is part of animal life and is not a human specificity (animals have experiences and feelings). As my focus is on self-consciousness as a human specificity, PC can be put aside for a while in order to keep the scenario simple.
You are right to highlight that anxiety management (key part of the scenario) calls for "what it is like". But it is not mandatory to take it into account explicitly at that level. PC is to be addressed later through the connections it has with human self-consciousnes, like pre-reflexive self-consciousness (see 4.2 in paper).
Now, regarding the relations between PC and access consciousness, the evolutionary scenario is on self-consciousness and does need to take them into account.
I agree that this can be looked at as a flaw when using the Block concepts of consciousness. But I'm confident that more brilliant minds will solution these problems.
I'm an enginreer. Nobody is perfect  :)

4. Emergence is for me about the whole being more than the sum of the parts. Self-consciousnes is an emergence of life as life is an emergence of matter and as matter is an emergence of the big bang (the next step may be a bit more complex...).
I have not read the Galen Strawson's chapter you talked about.
Regarding an epiphenomenal status of self-consciousness, for me life has produced self-consciousness and self-consciousness can affect life and matter (taking free will as a mysterious reality). So with that wording self-consciousness is not for me an epiphenomena. 


2015-12-17
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Bill Meacham
Hi Bill,
It is true that some great apes display specific performances that could bring  to consider that they may be self-conscious. But looking at these performances does not confirm such a perspective:
- Mirror Self-Recognition: Some birds pass the MSR (http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202). Birds are not self-conscious.
- Theory of mind within great apes is a highly debated subject. Even in the case of a positive answer, I do not see the ability to attribute mental states to others as being a signature of self-consciousness.
- Empathy: some modern apes exhibit empathy. But it is difficult to consider empathy as a signature of self-consciousness.
Christophe


2015-12-17
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Tim

Thank you for your post and your cheering comments. My apologies for the delay in replying. I’ve been away for a while with limited access to the internet.

I’ve had a quick look at your paper and will have a closer read as soon as I get the chance. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it justice because it’s outside my normal beat, so to speak, but I’ll see what eventuates. You’re quite right to suggest that I’m an outsider in this area. I’ve read various well-known things but I’m by no means a specialist. On the other hand, I wonder (as you also seem to suggest) if the views of outsiders might not sometimes be salutary in this area. I often feel that the philosophy of consciousness has become rather inward-looking and that it has locked itself rather prematurely into certain rather doctrinaire positions that are holding it back rather than helping it progress. The “something it is like” mantra (as I rather unflatteringly call it) is an example. An outsider can sometimes be useful in such cases – to argue that the emperor actually has no clothes. Though I must admit my attempts to point this out seem to have been singularly  unsuccessful; the consensus view among specialists on this question seems be that the emperor is fully and amply clothed.

I sympathize with your situation re criticism. As you say “Criticism is fine.  Silence from everyone is not.” Moreover, criticism can often help refine one’s own thinking or lead one to find better ways of expressing them. Silence is just frustrating. That’s one of the reasons I continue contributing to these threads. The criticisms are not always to the point of course, but c’est la vie.

 DA


2015-12-17
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Bill Meacham

Hi Bill

RE: “What leads you to believe that chimps and bonobos lack the ability to be conscious of themselves? Both pass the mirror test for self-recognition…”

But this simply begs the question of what the term “self” means and in what way, if at all, it might operate in the case of chimps and bonobos. We simply have no idea of what is happening in the brain (I won’t say “mind”) of a chimp or bonobo when it “passes” this “test”. We interpret the situation in human terms (though, as I say, the very notion “self” is far from clear to us anyway.) What entitles us to do that?

The remainder of your post is also, in my view, heavily dependent on highly questionable, anthropocentric assumptions.

DA


2015-12-18
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

RE: “around six million years ago, our pre-human ancestors might have had such capacities that broadly resembled those of some modern apes" (Bednarik, 2003).

Seriously, Christophe, what is the use of a comment such as this? Which pre-human ancestors? We’re talking about an as yet undetermined number of pre-hominid lines developing over millions of years – for which much of the evidence is often fragmentary at best.  And “”might have had such capacities”. Might have?  If we're merely conjecturing, "might not have had" would be just as appropriate, don't you think? And then: “that broadly resembled those of some modern apes” Which apes?  In what respect? etc, etc.etc. .

And then to solemnly add “(Bednarik, 2003)” as if you were quoting some clear, reliable piece of evidence is, if you'll forgive me, just silly.

DA


2015-12-21
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Pratik Jain
Godel himself was guilty for the nonsensical arguments in his unpublished philosophical manuscripts. Later lifted by Lucas and Penrose, with even more errors. There, in an exceptional move, Godel denies the possibility of learning machines. That means his disjunctive argument is equivalent to denying that the brain is a mechanism capable of learning. AGI is not a fixed axiom system, therefore Godelian arguments do not apply to universal AI/AGI designs we are working on.

That is to say, Godel drew the wrong philosophical conclusions himself. There have been some "interesting" allusions to his argument in many forms in philosophy circles, most notably Hintikka and other Platonists.

I am hoping that the original poster learns from this comment that there is much more to philosophy of AI than metaphysical/folk-psychological theories.

--
Eray Ozkural, PhD. Computer scientist.

2015-12-21
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan
Hi Derek,
I strongly agree that outsiders are needed in philosophy of mind.  And I definitely appreciate your pointed questions about naturalistic claims about the mind.  I agree with you that claims about the evolution of consciousness are not justified.  Part of the problem, as you suggest, is that there is such wide disagreement about the mind.  As a result, we are not even sure what evidence for or against such claims would even look like.  What for one person looks like evidence that apes or pre-human ancestors had limited consciousness seems incoherent to another person who thinks that consciousness is all or nothing.  We don't understand the significance of the mirror test.  It is not at all clear to me that more empirical tests are needed tor resolve the issues.  I believe that our "experts" on consciousness are in over their heads.  Consider the following question: What assumptions, if any, do we make about consciousness when we assume that empirical science is the appropriate methodology for studying it?  I see very, very little good discussion on this.  The exceptions tend to prove the rule.  For example, Stanley Cavell was good on these sorts of questions, but he would sympathize with you and me here.  Another exception are the logical positivists like Carnap and Schlick.  Despite their craziness, the logical positivists took seriously the notion that science places constraints on what it makes sense to talk about and they attempted to reflect on those constraints.  In my paper on the inverted spectrum, I draw out the implications of their reflections.  The paper is not written in my own voice.  I disagree with the logical positivists.  I do, however, believe that we need to expand the discussion to include those who reflect on the methodology of science in a critical and systematic way, which Carnap certainly did.  That is the spirit in which I wrote the paper.  I think Carnap's questions are excellent.  His answers I disagree with. 

2015-12-21
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Sarthak Tomar
You write, "Our current understanding of mind-brain does not tell us how a neuron of a Squid distinguishes between food or danger or, how does a visual signal translates into a line or a dot..."

In fact neurobiology has made a fair amount of progress on these kinds of issues. In 1967 Haldane Hartline won a Nobel Prize for discovering how the eye of the horseshoe crab Limulus converts a gradient of light into a boundary line to which it responds. Similar discoveries by George Wald (Nobel Prize 1967) show how pigments in the retina of the human eye convert sections of the electromagnetic spectrum into colors. 

Of course it is a vast evolutionary distance from these kinds of events to consciousness.





2015-12-22
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence

Hi Tim

Very encouraging to hear from someone who shares some of my concerns about current discussions of consciousness.  Regrettably, I’m somewhat hampered in this field by not having read enough of the literature - partly because it’s not my main area of interest and partly because, quite honestly, much of what I’ve read strikes me as question-begging and superficial. On the other hand, the topic itself is, in my view, of huge importance because it seems to relate so closely to the question: “What is it to be human?’’  I think it’s the contrast between the importance of that question and the triviality (as I see it) of so many of the current “explanations” of consciousness that I find so disappointing – and often irritating.

The claim that consciousness “evolved”, for example, seems to me to border on the vacuous. First, our conceptions of what human consciousness is are foggy at best; second, what characteristic of homo sapiens is not the result of evolution?

But I’d go even further. If we assume that evolutionary developments usually promote the survival and flourishing of a species, does human consciousness really fit this mould?  The usual answer is: “Yes, of course it does! It helped homo sapiens hunt, cooperate, etc. And look how successful we became! We rule the planet!” etc. etc.

But questions are begged. Were homo sapiens’ precursors such bad hunters? Homo erectus seems to have been no slouch judging by the fossil record. And can we legitimately connect the distant consequences that led to our “mastery of the planet” (science etc) with the normal evolutionary process? Moreover, one might well argue that many of the consequences of human consciousness have been very destructive, and far from ensuring our survival, may eventually wipe us out.

I even think it is perfectly possible (this is rank heresy!) that human consciousness was a sheer accident – that it was made possible by previous evolutionary changes in the brain of our hominid line but that the thing itself (whatever that thing is) was a perfectly spontaneous, “gratuitous” development, quite unconnected with evolutionary processes - with consequences as indefinite and unforeseeable then as they are now.

This of course is all speculation. But so, to my mind, is a very large amount of what is currently being written on this topic.

Sorry to be so long-winded. I’ll stop there.

 DA


2015-12-22
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Eray Ozkural
Dear computer scientist,
What are You  working on?

PS
Re: "AGI is not a fixed axiom system, therefore Godelian arguments do not apply to universal AI/AGI designs we are working on."

AM

2015-12-22
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Derek Allan
Derek,  

You write,  "I even think it is perfectly possible...that human consciousness was a sheer accident – that it was made possible by previous evolutionary changes in the brain of our hominid line...with consequences as indefinite and unforeseeable then as they are now."

That sounds a lot like the Jesuit paleontologist Teilard de Chardin. (I took the liberty of taking out your qualifications and reservations.) Do you know his "Phenomenon of Man"?

Here is a nice quote from his book:

"We already knew that everywhere the active phyletic lines grew warm with consciousness towards the summit. But in one well-marked region at the heart of the mammals, where the most powerful brains made by nature are to be found, they became red hot. And right at the heart of that glow burns a point of incandescence…We must not lose sight of that line crimsoned by the dawn. After thousands of years rising below the horizon, a flame bursts forth at a strictly localized point….Thought is born."

Mark Titus



2015-12-22
Intelligence, Self-Consciouness, Ethics on The Human Mind and Artificial Intelligence
Reply to Mark Titus

Hi Mark

I read a little Teilhard  a long time ago – so long he’s only a dim memory.

In principle, I’m not opposed to the introduction of a “poetic” element into accounts of the emergence of human consciousness. Indeed, one of the (many) criticisms I would have of accounts by “analytic” philosophers is that, whether “physicalists” or not, they constantly seek to reduce this mysterious, perhaps even semi-miraculous, event to just another evolutionary change and try to explain it through dry-as-dust arguments and simplistic formulae (e.g. the infamous “something it is like”).

Nevertheless, judging by this extract, I think I would have a few problems with Teilhard’s approach. I suspect poetry may be playing too large a role here. Maybe I'm wrong.

DA