Re: [ai-philosophy] Emotions and thoughts: are they the same kind of stuff?
- I think that the solution is, instead of trying to neutralize the noise
in a system, use it. Leverage the noise so that it becomes the ultimate
foundation or driver of the system. In the noise, in the fundamental
apparent randomness of reality, lies the qualities of truly living things.
The human brain is a hierarchy of many minds, the smallest ones less
capable than an insect's, the topmost one capable of grand abstractions,
but all of them capable of experience and choice, the noise of each
allowed to contribute and define the whole. It is a society of
differring experiences, different opinions and different choices, and
structured so that each higher mind experiences the choices of the ones
below, and chooses from amongst them which is best. It is not a network
of data, but a network of qualia, and it can only work if the initial
inputs come from the very heart of reality -- the quantum noise. Dampen
or ignore that, and the spirit is gone, the enterprise is lost.
Marvin Minsky wrote:
> On Jan 25, 2009, at 11:36 AM, Eray Ozkural wrote:
>> Considering Minsky's theory that emotions are a ways of thought in The
>> Emotion Machine, I wonder if we can say that emotions and thoughts (or
>> higher-order thoughts, like ways-to-think) are the same type of stuff.
>> And if so, in what sense?
>> i) Is the subjective experience the same "sort"?
>> ii) Can we say that they are the same kind of "thing" at a cognitive
>> iii) Same type at a functional level?
> I think this raises some really hard problem—about words like
> 'cognitive" and 'functional'. It makes me wonder if we've all gotten
> stuck with old "pre-computational" ideas.
> For example, I wonder if any good philosophers have recognized the
> differences between 'interpreted' and 'compiled' procedures. (Compiled
> programs can't 'introspect' in a sense, because the 'source-code'
> doesn't exist for them. Whereas a program running under a LISP
> interpreter could be made to have access to the source-code -- and could
> be easily enabled to edit it, etc.
> §9-5. Why makes feelings so hard to describe?
> /A color stands abroad /
> /On solitary hills /
> /That science cannot overtake/
> /But human nature feels—/Emily Dickinson /[i]/ <#_edn1>
> Many thinkers have wondered about the relations between our minds and
> our brains. If the bodies (of which our brains are parts) consist of
> nothing more than physical stuff, then each person must be some sort of
> machine. Of course, that machine is immensely complex; in every human
> embryo, billions of units of DNA are involved with assembling countless
> atoms and molecules into intricate arrangements of thousands of types of
> membranes, fibers, pumps, and pipes. Nevertheless, one still has to ask
> how any such structures could ever support what we call our sensations
> and thoughts?
> /Dualist Philosopher: Computers can do only what they’re programmed to
> do, simply proceeding from step to step, without any sense that they’re
> doing this. Machines can have no goals or aversions or pleasures or
> pains—or any sensations or feelings at all because they lack certain
> vital ingredients that can only exist in living things./
> But what could those “vital ingredients” be? Many philosophers have
> wondered how a thing composed of physical parts could ever “really” feel
> or think.
> / /
> /David Chalmers 1995b: “When we visually perceive the world, we do not
> just process information; we have a subjective experience of color,
> shape, and depth. We have experiences associated with other senses
> (think of auditory experiences of music, or the ineffable nature of
> smell experiences), with bodily sensations (e.g., pains, tickles, and
> orgasms), with mental imagery (e.g., the colored shapes that appear when
> one rubs one’s eyes), with emotion (the sparkle of happiness. the
> intensity of anger, the weight of despair), and with the stream of
> conscious thought. /
> / /
> /“[That we have a sense of experiencing] is the central fact about the
> mind, but it is also the most mysterious. Why should a physical system,
> no matter how complex and well-organized, give rise to experience at
> all? Why is it that all this processing does not go on "in the dark”,
> without any subjective quality? Right now, nobody has good answers to
> these questions. This is the phenomenon that makes consciousness a
> _real_ mystery.”/
> However, it seems to me that the mysteries that Chalmers sees result
> from squeezing multiple mental activities into suitcase-words like
> /subjective/, /sensations/, and /consciousness/. For example, Chapter
> 4-2 showed how people use the word /consciousness/ for at least a dozen
> mental processes—and Chapter 5-7 showed that that our perceptual systems
> also involve many types and levels of processing. However, our
> higher-level processes cannot detect all those intermediate perceptual
> steps—and this lack of insight leads us to the belief that our
> sensations come to us in some way that is simple, direct, and
> immediate.[ii] <#_edn2>
> For example, whenever something touches your hand, it seems to you that
> you instantly sense that you have felt a touch on your hand—/and that
> this happened immediately, without any complex processing./ Similarly,
> when you look at a color and sense that it’s red, no intermediate steps
> seem to intervene—and so, you can find nothing to say about it. Surely
> this is at least partly why so many philosophical thinkers conclude that
> there can be no “mechanical” explanation of why different stimuli seem
> to each have particular qualities: they simply have not worked hard
> enough to imagine adequate models of those processes; instead, they
> mainly attempted to show that no such models would ever be possible.
> Now, although we find it hard to speak about the character of any
> particular, single, sensation, we find it far easier to compare or
> contrast two different but similar kinds of sensations. For example, one
> can say that sunlight is brighter than candlelight, or that pink lies in
> between red and white, or that a touch on your cheek is somewhere
> between your ear and your chin.
> However, this says nothing about how each separate sensation “feels.”
> It’s like describing the distance between two towns on a map, while
> saying nothing about those individual towns. Similarly, if I were to ask
> what the color red means to you, you might first say that it makes you
> think of a rose, which then reminds you of being in love—and then you’ll
> find yourself relating this to other kinds of sensations and feelings;
> red might also remind you of blood, and make you feel some sense of
> dread or fear. Similarly green might make one think about pastoral
> scenes and Blue might suggest the sky or the sea. Thus, a seemingly
> simple stimulus can lead to many other kinds of mental events, such as
> these other feelings and reminiscences.
> Similarly, when you try to describe the feelings that come with being in
> love, or from suffering fear, or when seeing a pasture or a sea, you’ll
> soon find that you are merely mentioning yet other feelings that these
> /re-mind/ you of. And then, perhaps, you will come to suspect that one
> can never really describe what anything/ is;/ one can only describe what
> that thing is/ like/.
> What would be a useful alternative to the idea that our sense of
> “experiencing” is mysterious? Well, if your higher cognitive levels had
> better access to your lower ones, then you might be able to replace
> statements like, /“I am experiencing the sensation of seeing something
> Red,” /by more detailed descriptions of the processing that sensations
> involve, such as
> /“My resources have classified certain stimuli, and then made some
> representations of my situation, and then some of my Critics changed
> certain plans I had made, and altered some ways in which I was
> perceiving things, and this led to the following sorts of cascades, and
> so forth.”/
> If we were able to make such descriptions, the mystery of “subjective
> experience” should disappear, because then we would have enough
> ingredients to answer our questions about those processes. In other
> words, it seems to me, the apparent “directness of experience” is an
> illusion that comes because our higher mental levels have such limited
> access to the systems we use to recognize, represent, and react to our
> external and internal conditions.
> I don’t mean to suggest that this illusion is usually harmful, or that
> we should strive to surmount all those limitations, because, as we noted
> in Chapter 4-4, too much such information might overload our minds;
> however, some such therapy might benefit some of those dualist
> philosophers. Also, in some future time, we will have to make decisions
> about the extent to which our future Artificial Intelligence machines
> should be equipped with ways to inspect (and then, to be able also to
> change) their own systems—or whether we’ll need to prohibit that access.
> [i] <#_ednref1> Verse 2 of/ A Light Exists in Spring, at
> <http://www.firstscience.com/SITE/poems/dickinson3.asp> /
> [ii] <#_ednref2> Philosophers call this “the problem of qualia.” There
> is a superb discussion of these “subjective qualities” in Daniel Dennett
- From: email@example.com [mailto:ai-
> firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Ray GardenerVery well said. In the minute fidelity of the noise lies some of the most
> I think that the solution is, instead of trying to neutralize the noise
> in a system, use it. Leverage the noise so that it becomes the ultimate
> foundation or driver of the system. In the noise, in the fundamental
> apparent randomness of reality, lies the qualities of truly living
> The human brain is a hierarchy of many minds, the smallest ones less
> capable than an insect's, the topmost one capable of grand abstractions,
> but all of them capable of experience and choice, the noise of each
> allowed to contribute and define the whole. It is a society of
> differring experiences, different opinions and different choices, and
> structured so that each higher mind experiences the choices of the ones
> below, and chooses from amongst them which is best. It is not a network
> of data, but a network of qualia, and it can only work if the initial
> inputs come from the very heart of reality -- the quantum noise. Dampen
> or ignore that, and the spirit is gone, the enterprise is lost.
important information, yet of weak signal and computationally prohibitive to
extract directly it's influence ultimately could be an important
deterministic ingredient. Things are too clean w/o the noise, it doesn't
work that way, it's almost like noise is a complex system whose barrier
needs to be inclusively transgressed in order to get higher intelligence
- John G. Rose wrote:
>Something like that. I pictured noise as symptomatic of the very force
> Very well said. In the minute fidelity of the noise lies some of the most
> important information, yet of weak signal and computationally prohibitive to
> extract directly it's influence ultimately could be an important
> deterministic ingredient. Things are too clean w/o the noise, it doesn't
> work that way, it's almost like noise is a complex system whose barrier
> needs to be inclusively transgressed in order to get higher intelligence
that animates the universe and gives it life, indeed defines life.
There was an article on Slashdot today referring to probabilistic
computing; how energy-efficient and fast it was. Given enough processing
elements, I believe one could both let the noise "speak for itself"
while simultaneously gaining useful reliability. A statistical averaging
can be used as an error detection/correction without adversely
offsetting the speed and energy efficiency.
Not to digress, but it's almost perfectly analogous to a dialogue I
imagine God had with the Devil concerning creation. God could create
life, but try as He might, it would either self-destruct inside a week
out of sheer boredom or putz around doing nothing of interest.
So finally the Devil slides up next to him and whispers, "I respect what
you're trying to do, old man... but you know in your heart, you can't
pull this off without me."
And God sighs so mightily that the heavens and earth tremble, and with
great sadness spreads his hands to let the Devil lend a hand. Satan
gleefully jumps down to Man and starts tinkering, introducing mortals to
apples and books and free will and so forth.
"You will be sinful," he says, teeth glistening. "and corrupt, and
craven, and decadent, and forever lusting for power. And paranoid, and
fearful, and stupid, and you will prey upon each other and cause untold
pain and suffering."
"But how can God allow it?" cries Man.
"Because," God answers from above, quietly, as if continuing to
acknowledge defeat. "it is the only way you will survive. Because to
exist without being interesting... it isn't enough."
"I'll start by giving you free will." says the Devil. "Then you can
choose yourself if you want all the rest. Fair enough?"
Man nods, and with his free will, thinks it through, and realizes the truth.
"Yes, I see now. You're right, there could be no other way."
And even as he destroyed himself, Man flourished, because he was no
longer bored. Great cataclysms and orgies of destruction waxed and
waned, and yet Man spread to every corner of the Earth, and eventually
And God wept, and the Devil laughed, but one day he stopped laughing
long enough to say "You know, old man... I wasn't lying when I said that
I respected what you were trying to do. And I didn't really want to be
the bad guy, but I don't have the power of creation. I needed you as
much as you needed me. For what's it worth... if it's any consolation now."
And God watched as his creation -- perhaps, in all fairness, their
creation -- spread to one star after another, the galaxy slowly but
surely filling up.
"It's okay." He replied, even as His tears fell. He tried to focus on
all the good and wonderful things that were happening too, none of which
would ever have been without the Devil's help. And He knew that those
good things drove the Devil crazy, and as consolations went, it helped
keep him from destroying everything and trying yet again another
exercise in futility.