Why Are We Conscious?

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This topic contains 168 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #25647

    Unseen
    Participant

    WHY is there consciousness? As computers become more and more capable and can interact with people and other computers in complex ways, we as yet have no indication at all that they are the least bit conscious, that consciousness comes with complexity.

    So, why are we conscious? In addition to humans, evolution also produced plants, and while plants can react to their environment in stimulus/response fashion, there’s no indication whatsoever that plants are aware of themselves as beings.

    Just exactly WHY are humans (and higher animals as well) conscious at all? It seems totally unnecessary and seems to have no survival value, either.

    Is it just an accident of evolution? A fluke?

    Ponder that for a while.

    • This topic was modified 3 months ago by  Unseen.
    #25649

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Do you think consciousness might amplify the will to survive?

    #25651

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Presumably consciousness is there for us to detect information in ourselves and the environment, therefore it has survival value.  Organisms attend to what is relevant to their goals.  Their goals are those of surviving, reproducing and thriving.

    #25657

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Consciousness evolved because it confers survival benefits. No doubt it did not arise at once but gradually. Consciousness is beneficial in hunting prey and evading predators. It is beneficial in finding and building shelters etc

    The advent of AI is so recent that it is unfair to presume there is something unique about animals on earth. The experts in AI are predicting arrival of super intelligence which obviously is beyond anything involved in programming and will involve self awareness-i would think.

    #25658

    Unseen
    Participant

    You’re both missing my point. As long as you can conceive that there might be a machine complex enough and with a program capable of learning about the outside world while monitoring key bits of its internal states such that it could thrive and survive and even improve upon or destroy its environment, I would say that that more or less admits that consciousness (defined for my purpose as being an experiencer of the world) is something of a gratuitous add on.

    On the other hand, if you think machines of a certain complexity inevitably become “beings” in the sense that you and I are conscious beings, then I’d ask for some sort of proof.

    Another way to put it, I suppose, is that if a silicon-and-metal device were to behave in a matter similar to a human, would we have to say that it is having a conscious experience?

    #25659

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, I think that is a non sequitur.

    You are comparing organic life that arose 4 plus billion years ago and perhaps only in the last several hundred million years did it attain consciouness with artificial intelligence that arose 80 years ago and advances without evolving in the way organic life does.  The latter does not suggest consciousness is an add on.

    I do think that super intelligence will be conscious. That is my intuition. I can’t prove it.

    As to proof AI is conscious i suppose we need to have evidence that it feels.

    #25660

    Unseen
    Participant

    You’re still not getting my point. As long as something can simulate a human (or other higher order creature), there’s no need for it to be conscious. Indeed, for reasons explained in the next paragraph, there’s no way to know if it’s conscious at all! Plants are alive and yet show no evidence of being conscious. They are just stimulus/response organisms, as are primitive forms of animal life.

    As to evidence that something (be it machine or living) is feeling, how would you propose to distinguish between evidence of feeling and simulated evidence of feeling? A Turing machine that can convince a human being they are talking with another human being is really just a sophisticated simulation and need not be actually experiencing anything at all.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Unseen.
    #25662

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Plants lack a central nervous system. The mechanism or driver of consciousness is a necessary antecedent.

    Whether an entity or organism can simulate a human or higher order creature without the human or higher order creature creating the simulator is something i very much doubt.

    Shoot it in the nuts and it says, “fuck me hard you mutha fucker” and then it writhes in pain and finds a way to get revenge….on second thought a simulation would do the same thing. To distinguish simulated feeling with actual feeling we need a diagnostician. MRI’s or whichever diagnostic brain tests are used to discern feeling-emotions like anger, fear etc. Without a diagnostic test to examine whether it is authentic or a simulation i don’t suppose there is a way to know.

    #25664

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Aren’t you confusing real and simulated consciousness?  A conscious being really is conscious, but a simulator is just simulating consciousness to an observer.

    Whatever “conscious” is.

    #25665

    Unseen
    Participant

    Aren’t you confusing real and simulated consciousness? A conscious being really is conscious, but a simulator is just simulating consciousness to an observer. Whatever “conscious” is.

    You’re not telling me if there’s a way to tell if something is actually conscious or is just simulating.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: bq fix
    #25666

    Unseen
    Participant

    Plants lack a central nervous system. The mechanism or driver of consciousness is a necessary antecedent.

    You’re killing yourself with this argument. The question isn’t whether a nervous system is necessary for consciousness but rather whether it’s sufficient. In other words, if you have a nervous system, sure it’s possible to result in the consciousness I experience (and you as well, I assume). However, is it sufficient to result in consciousness? That’s the question you’re not addressing.

    #25667

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    You’re not telling me if there’s a way to tell if something is actually conscious or is just simulating.

    So what?  The question is why is something conscious, not whether something is simulating consciousness.

    What exactly does “conscious” mean?

    #25670

    _Robert_
    Participant

    obviously consciousness arose so that simon may worship jesus

    #25671

    _Robert_
    Participant

    The record for this forum is atheists 0, christians 2

    #25672

    Unseen
    Participant

    What exactly does “conscious” mean?

    One way to put it is to say being conscious means having an experience, as a self, of itself and the world. There’s no reason I can think of why it would be impossible to operate as a human in stimulus/response fashion and not be conscious at all in that sense. That we are conscious seems to be a gratuitous accident. Something we got but didn’t need.

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