Why Are We Conscious?

Homepage Forums Science Why Are We Conscious?

This topic contains 168 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 4 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 169 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #25673

    jakelafort
    Participant

    In a perfect simulation the feelings of the progenitor might be duplicated in the simulation so that the feelings of progenitor and simulation are indistinguishable.

    But again i dont see how you can view consciousness as a gratuitous add on when it makes sense in context of evolution.

    #25675

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    having an experience, as a self, of itself and the world.

    Have you heard of the white mark mirror test?  Some creatures, like ants, are conscious that they are a separate being and know who themselves are.  It seems to occur in species that need to know the workings of another being’s mind, such as in magpies who are thieves, or ants who cooperate with other ants.

    #25681

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    To be conscious of something is to be aware of it, i.e. to have knowledge of it somehow.  So, cats are conscious, because they take in information and organise it until it is useful.

    In this information-gathering process, some species have the extra-sophisticated knowledge you speak of, like awareness of themselves existing in the wider world.

    #25682

    Unseen
    Participant

    having an experience, as a self, of itself and the world.

    Have you heard of the white mark mirror test? Some creatures, like ants, are conscious that they are a separate being and know who themselves are. It seems to occur in species that need to know the workings of another being’s mind, such as in magpies who are thieves, or ants who cooperate with other ants.

    Awareness isn’t consciousness. An alarm system has awareness, and sophisticated computers can interact in complicated ways with other sophisticated computers in an interactive and cooperative way. Consciousness is an experience which is far more than mere awareness, which is easy to program, and not merely as a simulation.

    I don’t think a sophisticated security system is experiencing anything and thus isn’t really conscious.

    #25683

    Unseen
    Participant

    To be conscious of something is to be aware of it, i.e. to have knowledge of it somehow. So, cats are conscious, because they take in information and organise it until it is useful. In this information-gathering process, some species have the extra-sophisticated knowledge you speak of, like awareness of themselves existing in the wider world.

    See my most recent response to your previous post. I don’t deny people, cats, or voles are conscious. I’m just asking why we are conscious since it seems gratuitous. We could all be operating in robot-like fashion as stimulus-response beings, like plants, only far more sophisticated. Consciousness is unnecessary. So…why are we?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 4 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #25684

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So, ants are conscious?

    We could all be operating in robot-like fashion as stimulus-response beings, like plants, only far more sophisticated.

    We are, though?  Emotions and thoughts work together to guide our actions.

    #25686

    Unseen
    Participant

    So, ants are conscious?

    We could all be operating in robot-like fashion as stimulus-response beings, like plants, only far more sophisticated.

    We are, though? Emotions and thoughts work together to guide our actions.

    All that sort of interaction already goes on in the subconscious brain and we only find out about it microseconds afterward. There’s no need to experience it since we don’t control it. We’re just aware of it.

    #25688

    Strega
    Moderator

    Hey @unseen !  The only reason we are conscious, is to give us something to entertain ourselves with so our DNA can continue to mutate and evolve without interruption.

    #25691

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    We can experience something consciously or unconsciously.  Are you saying, what’s the point of conscious thought?  That’s an interesting question.

    Some people might say, it’s for purposes of making ourselves understood to others: for discussing things “rationally” and “reasonably” – in other words, for cooperation.

    #25692

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    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.

    I like that explanation, but it begs deeper questions, like how do we define experience? Or feelings? Or even the word need. I think those words alone require further agreement on what they mean before the larger topic of consciousness can make headway. Those words are, btw, emotional aspects of consciousness, which are surely its most basic, primal aspects, only recently measurable across most animal species in scientific studies.

    That word need. It can be used philosophically, in logic (e.g. as in what’s necessary vs sufficient), and/or as a physiological trait (e.g. as in need to eat) or an emotional emotional trait (e.g. as in need to belong to the group). Now ask, how could any artificially manufactured machine ever have such a “need” that is like a human need? Sure, it needs energy, and health maintenance, but really, back to the questions of experience and feelings, how in hell can we equate AI with humans using these words, even before we can adequately define those words in a context of “consciousness”?

    #25693

    _Robert_
    Participant

    how could any artificially manufactured machine ever have such a “need” that is like a human need?

    Since I consider humans to be complex and varied meat/electro/chemical computers, I see no issues in recreating emotions such as need “artificially”… whatever that means.

    #25694

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    There are inevitable deficiencies in language around this topic, e.g. especially the assumption that consciousness is an all or nothing kind of attribute. It’s not all or nothing, but it operates on scales of depth. It varies from womb to infancy to adolescence to adulthood to senility. It varies by health, by pathology, by species, and by culture. Every neuron behaves so incredibly analog wrt chemical gradients, hundreds or thousands of connections to other neurons and the glial cell support cells surrounding it, the electrical gradients and wave (e.g. asleep vs awake), and the effects of the sensory systems in the body that supports the brain.

    In a theoretical and philosophical discussion it’s way too easy to overlook such real-world, overwhelmingly complex empirical attributes.

    Similar to discussions of free will, different people assume different meanings of words used, and perhaps most importantly, mistakenly think of it as an all or nothing attribute. If there is any such thing as something like free will, then it, too, is not all or nothing, but should be described on scales of (say) each one’s ability to execute a plan, perceive and evaluate what (if any) actions and behaviors can be accomplished, at every physical level from having the basic means (and even the dexterity) to feed oneself to being able to transport oneself to be in the right place at the right time… and we haven’t even touched on the scale of motivation in each individual, at different times of the day or periods of time in their life.

    Now, that might seem off topic, but no, those are also common characteristics of what we think of as daily experiences, in daily consciousness.

    #25695

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Since I consider humans to be complex and varied meat/electro/chemical computers, I see no issues in recreating emotions such as need “artificially”… whatever that means.

    That makes sense, but evolution-wise, the difference is billions of years of genetic tuning vs a hundred or whatever years of one species’ culture (or at least its technical elite) selfishly motivated to invent their own, consciousness-driven future. One might as well posit even at this early stage of AI that AI has a “right” to supercede and eliminate all life forms for their own purposes.

    I do not mean to inject that potentially emotionally-laden topic as a tangent, but as a real-world possibility, if not probability. Arbitrarily declaring that any AI is “conscious” in any equivalent sense to human consciousness is (imo) a potential death sentence to the human race, and all life on the planet.

    The questions will become “Why are THEY conscious, and who decided that they are?”.

    #25696

    Davis
    Participant

    There are inevitable deficiencies in language around this topic, e.g. especially the assumption that consciousness is an all or nothing kind of attribute. It’s not all or nothing, but it operates on scales of depth.

    Yes. Yes yes yes.

    #25697

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    That we are conscious seems to be a gratuitous accident. Something we got but didn’t need.

    Parsing this question further, consider what would be meant by “gratuitous”. Speaking again of gradation of an attribute rather than it just existing or not, could “gratuitous” apply to Neanderthal consciousness? Or just Sapiens after (say) sophisticated language and discourse were developed?

    Might it not even be reasonable to say (as I think Strega humorously touched on) that gaining the cultural where-with-all over time to be able to discuss this issue of consciousness has elevated our (group, at least) consciousness to a gratuitous level!? If not, then at what point in (say) primate evolution did gratuitousness creep in?

    Meanwhile, I’m linking into a video here where there’s only 2-1/2 minutes left, having the most “meat” on this topic:

    Finally, YES, modern, human consciousness CAN be considered gratuitous, even pathologically so at times. Religion is gratuitous. Much of the entertainment industry. There is SO MUCH gratuitousness in effect in modern human culture that it blinds people to the most elementary genetic and cultural origins of human behavior. Very, very few people realize (or care) how far we’ve journeyed from those origins. We sit here at a truly unnaturally complex level of consciousness that far exceeds what we needed when we were still evolving mostly genetically. Those “apps” that Dennett speaks of were not invented, yet.

    (Btw, I don’t mean “unnatural” in its negative sense.)

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 169 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.