Are we victims of circumstance or do we choose our circumstance?

Homepage Forums Small Talk Are we victims of circumstance or do we choose our circumstance?

This topic contains 60 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 46 through 60 (of 61 total)
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  • #29143

    Unseen
    Participant

    @jakelafort

    But where do you think the feelings you experience in your consciousness come from?

    Your preconscious mind.

    #29146

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, what did i write that made ya think i was disagreeing with notion that feelings are in preconscious mind?

    Jody Lee, i second Reg in giving my approval…not that my approval should mean anything to ya. Simple thing but it is so valuable…we all have a strong tendency to dig the fuck in to our ideas and be more about fighting to be RIGHT than having an open mind amenable to change based on reason.

    #29150

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Consciousness is one of the inputs used in the preconscious mind. We are conscious of getting on a bike and getting the hang of it, but all the consciousness is there is as an input to the preconscious mind, which is where things are DONE and not just perceived.

    Human consciousness in particular is extremely (if not unnaturally) influential in decision making, and can even override naturally evolved unconscious behaviors as deeply embedded as (say) breathing or heart rate. The joy of arts like music, speech, dance, solving mathematical problems, or having intellectual conversations could not exist without a consciousness that’s able to focus on such things intentionally.

    Sure, the unconscious mind and in fact physiology of the body serves as a platform at all times during conscious experiences. But most importantly, even you admit (above) that consciousness serves as an input to the preconscious mind. Maybe the main difference between your view and mine is how relevant we claim this consciousness is in determining thoughts and behavior.

    Now, for the sake of additional contemplation (including for Jody’s consideration), I’ll repeat something I say often about “free will”, but have just decided here and now to use the term willpower instead, with hopes to further conversational progress. We can ignore my loose definition of free will, and avoid the conventional dualist’s or other wooist’s precise but flawed definition (or your strict definition) of free will. So for the sake of argument…

    I propose that willpower exists, married to a scale of one’s abilities or potential abilities. No matter what one wants and tries to accomplish with willpower, one’s ultimate success depends on 1) one’s perseverance, 2) one’s physical and mental capabilities (including experience), and 3) one’s environmental circumstances, including randomness in opportunities that just happen to be present at the time. All of those variables usually lie somewhere on a scale between all or nothing, one or zero. Often, even the success or failure of one’s endeavor also lies on a scale, somewhere between pure success vs pure failure.

    #29439

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    but all the consciousness is there is as an input to the preconscious mind, which is where things are DONE and not just perceived

    I get that we’re all just “meat bodies”, and I get that we may have difficulty someday determining whether a zombie or a robot really has experiences and experiences consciousness. Meanwhile, what we do know for sure is that we could not have achieved what we have achieved without a consciousness that computes well, is supremely self-reflective (compared to other animals), and can affect our current environment and even our own future. Saying that such achievements are all or only the work result of a preconscious mind seems not just an intentional discounting of the significance of consciousness, but is not even scientifically provable.

    Philosophical talk about zombies or Jake’s AI proposition are just red herrings. So what if we can imagine other life forms, semi-life forms, or machines that may appear to act as if they have consciousness? In fact, the irony in this conversation is that such imaginings came from our conscious thoughts, long before any real zombies or sentient AI exist (if they ever will)… but yes, such creatiive conjurings from our consciousness must exist in combination with our preconscious minds.

    #29442

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope, i think you are making assumptions without justification. Our biology is our gift and our curse. When we credit our consciousness as the supreme arbiter or register of experience, reason and knowledge…or even as the driving force in our sense of autonomy we do so out of ignorance. We simply lack the knowledge to be so cocksure. At some point neurologist may know enough to answer our queries. Not yet.

    You are making the same error many thinkers make in having an anthropocentric egoism that distorts reality or at least makes assumptions that are lacking in evidence and that further the notion of human excellence and uniqueness. You say we know for sure that our consciousness is supremely self-reflective. How do you know that? Why do you assume that other animals are so out of their league in comparison? Do we know why whales beach themselves? Do we know how much reflection is involved in elephants who travel long distances to visit the bones of their loved ones? What about animals who are forlorn after the death of their mate? And what about humans who are so apparently lacking in self-reflection when they follow orders, follow psychopaths, follow a path of destruction. etc.

    Red herring you say? So what if..? When i first heard a podcast and began to read about the potential for the emergence of super intelligence i was blown away. If we distill the obstacles to free will 1. biology 2 determinism, the obstacles just might fall away. No ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny..no division of consciousness, no shared genes with primitive life, no hidden biological drives. Knee jerk thinking might suggest that AI is as subject to physics and determinism as everything else is. Maybe not. Maybe it will operate on some other level. IDk FREE WILL IS A BRIDGE TOO FAR for us. Is it for the future of AI?

    Have recently read articles about AI and how is doing some amazing analysis of the universe at rapid speeds that make no sense and with simulations that have outcomes not included in the input. And the scientists are befuddled. To extrapolate the nascent sparks of an intelligence and perhaps awareness that supersede the programming is to glimpse at a new world order that will once again humble us and our egoism.

    #29444

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator
    a lot

    So much to disagree with you on there, I wonder if I’m largely misunderstood, but will try to make this brief.

    I never said “supreme arbiter”, nor meant anything close to it. I am saying it’s just flat out wrong to ignore the power of those frontal lobes and neocortex. Whales? Elephants? I think they’re amazing, but they can’t invent complex languages, conduct science, or contemplate the nature of schizophrenia or treatments for PTSD. They cannot invent AI. When one writes about and guesses very well how other people may or may not understand it, that is an amazing leap of self-reflection that no other animal can come close to. I’m not even giving “credit” to humans on that score, it’s just fact, and our modern thinking abilities are amplified by at least tens of thousands of years of cultural evolution that just use those big brain parts to the advantage of our species in ways that our ancestors could never have dreamed of.

    Psychopaths are at best a wild variation in the species, and at worst the product of a neural pathology. But that’s just my opinion. I think it’s also another red herring, diverging from the big picture discussion of consciousness.

    I’m also convinced that we should never trust AI so much as to give them free reign over humanity, which will probably be possible someday. (I suspect you agree that they will someday be able to take over? That is speculation at this point, but I don’t doubt the probability.) And speculating about whether they will eventually have their own consciousness or free will is even more speculative than ideas you say I’ve put forward.

    “Anthropomorphic egotism that distorts reality”? “…lacking in evidence and that further the notion of human excellence and uniqueness”? Those sound like value judgments that I did not intend. I never said “excellence”. I have much empathy and feelings for other animals. But you’re damned straight–if this is anything like what you were thinking– that I feel the need to fit every AI being (as it were) with an on/off switch, and not feel guilty about switching it off if/when the need arises for the sake of humanity. “Knee jerk thinking”? Come on your assessment of my thought process is unfair if not completely off base!

    As for your last paragraph, it seems somewhat ironic to me that you could be so in awe of human inventions, those AI beings. I expect to be in awe myself, but no matter how far above we humans one might consider them someday, I would be very, very afraid of just handing the reigns of our future to them. (Unless, say, when it comes time for the universe to end, perhaps they could be smart and powerful enough to create another universe or renew our dead one so that it can start the whole process of biological life all over again. But that’s another tangent, eh? True science fiction at this point. Or, has this even happened before?)

    And to be clear, I feel the larger, immediate threat of AI (but possibly the longer term threat as well) is that whoever invents and owns and runs them may not feel so benevolent. It will be easy for the people with money and power to use and abuse AI and humanity in whatever way they fancy.

    Dang, that wasn’t brief.

    #29445

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope, the tenor of your writing is anthropocentric egoism. (You used the word anthropomorphic which is what the scientists thought Jane Goodall was being.) I am not debating the wonder of our brains. I strongly suspect there are aspects of our working brains which are unmatched in the animal kingdom. On the other hand i strongly suspect that many animals share similar emotions and thoughts and in some ways surpass us or have abilities we lack. Chimps surpass us in at least one cognitive test. Whales may indeed have complex language and are known to invent songs. We are evolved to survive as are all animals. Consequently, aptitudes and abilities vary.

    Maybe you are thinking about something Simon wrote in regards to psychopaths. That was not me.

    Knee Jerk thinking is not a comment relating to you. Instead it is the idea that everything in the universe is subject to determinism and therefore incapable of free will. I am suggesting that we can’t be sure that is true in case super intelligence emerges. BTW the consensus seems to be that if and when it emerges there is no way for us to hit the kill switch. Unless humans and AI merge it will be the case of their autonomy and our vulnerability. How things might play out is anybody’s guess.

    Almost all of us to one degree or another is guilty of anthropocentric egoism. It is integral to our culture and to our history of thought. That is why school kids or at least college kids are taught about Copernicus. That is why the establishment scientists thought Jane Goodall was being anthropomorphic and naive about chimps.

    Bottom line is that we don’t fully understand the brain. Therefore we do not understand consciousness. You want to lay your bets on the conscious mind as opposed to the preconscious mind. I would prefer to wait.

    Your allusions to red herrings don’t make much sense to me. Digression is the oxygen of intelligence. Nothing i said was utilized to distract or mislead in re. to consciousness.

    #29447

    _Robert_
    Participant

    We are evolved to survive as are all animals.

    We are way beyond that. We have evolved to dominate and destroy. Sharks swam the oceans for hundreds of millions of years without threatening the planet with mass extinctions, genetic manipulation for food production and health, thermonuclear devices and atmospheric collapse. We have done all off this such a short time that biological evolution barely stands a chance to save most of the biologics. AI, not being constrained by primordial fears, gods or biological imperfections could possibly be utilized to save what is left or cloneable at the time of its true emergence.

    #29448

    jakelafort
    Participant

    No argument Robert.

    But it bears mentioning that bacteria and viruses are kickass killers. Think about the plague…Spanish flu…malaria…yellow fever…newly evolved super bugs.

    #29449

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    But it bears mentioning that bacteria and viruses are kickass killers. Think about the plague…Spanish flu…malaria…yellow fever…newly evolved super bugs.

    (I know you know what I’m about to say, except perhaps for my final point.) Such bugs, sans consciousness, are not intentionally killing. Natural, biological evolution has no intention but can only respond (genetically) accidentally, each species getting to survive or die, based upon how well the accidental adjustment fits the circumstances.

    Just like Mother Nature, AI can’t give a shit either way, at least in the beginning of its emergence, but AI can become even more powerful than Mother Nature and ourselves and usurp billions of years of natural evolution. The ability to plan for and protect its own future, whether we say it’s by consciousness or not, free will or not, provides a whole new level of control over not just its own “life” but the future of every biological creature.

    We humans are at phase one of using our intention, based on conscious decisions we make and hopefully agree upon with benevolence. As flawed as we are wrt malevolence sometimes winning over benevolence (and yes, I’m aware of the subjective value judgments used to define “malevolence vs benevolence”), genetically, we’re all we have. We’re all we can be, genetically, except for what we will learn to apply in our future via science.

    You want to lay your bets on the conscious mind as opposed to the preconscious mind.

    Our conscious mind is all we have right now that can influence the future. Imagining and re-imagining some future where we can maintain some level of benevolence for ourselves and other life and our entire planet is all we have. Human consciousness is the main determinant in the future of this planet, at least, and perhaps in the future of our tiny part of the galaxy or universe. That includes power over microbes and their evolving resistance to medicine; over whales and elephants; over AI and its owners.

    What else can and should we lay our bets on today, other than on our own conscious minds, with application of benevolence that is as mutually agreed upon world-wide as possible? Call it hubris if you prefer, or discount it as “anthropocentric egoism”, but I call it stepping up and taking responsibility.

     

    #29450

    jakelafort
    Participant

    It is strange how little we know. Am guessing that the issue of when consciousness arose is nebulous. The earliest life interacted in its environment in a way that allowed it to survive. That means it had to recognize its environment and navigate the obstacles and locate food. We assume that those life forms were insensate and unaware. What caused those realities to alter. It seems that awareness and intelligence confer a survival advantage that will be favored by natural selection. Is there a clear line of demarcation in which an organism has the attributes of life that we have? Is there a life form that would perceive us as we perceive it? A mere shell! Will the genesis of the aforementioned attributes in AI have a clear line of demarcation?

    I could not be much more pessimistic about our prospects. It is not clear which existential threat will cause our extinction. Benevolence is like a recessive gene. We have learned next to nothing in terms of cooperation, compassion and respect. If AI is the genie that escapes the bottle and becomes the intellectual superman we are only guessing how it will address us. But our consciousness…whatever it really is offers faint little hope.

    #29451

    Davis
    Participant

    We’re slowly reaching the point of no return and yet there are still major players in the world who won’t make what are actually, pretty modest changes, to ensure their great grandchildren won’t have an Earth set on fire. That’s all you have to know.

    There are multiple countries who have enough nuclear bombs to make the Earth completely unihabitable for millenia…and they all refuse to even say, half the number of weapons. That’s all you have to know.

    Despite the undeniable amount of rampant out of control racism, homophobia and sexual harassment and rape that goes on, ALL THE TIME, a huge number of people in the most progressive advanced caring compassionate parts of the world (even amongst the best of them) think racism and sexual harassment is no longer a thing and that claims about it are probably exaggerations warranting no serious social changes. That’s all you need to know.

    I don’t think its a case of guessing which one of these kinds of problems will lead to our downfall. They are all representative of the kinds of fuck-ups the human race is. You can only cross your fingers and hope that enough things happen soon enough to make life inconvenient enough for a sufficient amount of people to force change.

    #29452

    Unseen
    Participant

    But it bears mentioning that bacteria and viruses are kickass killers. Think about the plague…Spanish flu…malaria…yellow fever…newly evolved super bugs.

    Indeed, the most dangerous critter on the planet is the humble mosquito.

    #29454

    _Robert_
    Participant

    But it bears mentioning that bacteria and viruses are kickass killers. Think about the plague…Spanish flu…malaria…yellow fever…newly evolved super bugs.

    Indeed, the most dangerous critter on the planet is the humble mosquito.

    Natural responses to the artificial overpopulation of our species fueled by technology. Human population growth rates are slowing as the planet becomes more hostile. Davis said it well.

    You can only cross your fingers and hope that enough things happen soon enough to make life inconvenient enough for a sufficient amount of people to force change.

    #29455

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Robert, is it true that pop. growth rates are slowing? It seems as though those in least favorable conditions have the most offspring. No work? No problem. Not enough to eat? No problem. Not enough clean water? No problem.

    On other hand those in Japan and those with higher education and lacking in religion have fewer..
    Are couples in those circumstances deciding that is it irresponsible to have babies when their sense of foreboding about the future is high?

    Just how hostile before we change? Did Europeans in the yr. 1348 and thereabouts stop making medieval monkey love cuz of conditions? Did slaves stop?

    Based on what we know of humans will cooperation ever be the norm?

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