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Comments on "What Is It Like to Be a Brain Simulation?"

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  • Joseph Polanik
    Eray, Thanks for uploading your revised paper; I found it more readable than the version online at examachine. Good luck in presenting it. curiously, while you
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 2, 2012
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      Eray,

      Thanks for uploading your revised paper; I found it more readable than
      the version online at examachine. Good luck in presenting it.

      curiously, while you mention that Goertzel provided helpful commentary,
      I noticed that all specific references to Goertzel's work have
      disappeared. I especially missed the quote that begins "Consciousness is
      the basic ground of the universe" which introduced the section subtitled
      'Naturalist theories of experience' in the examachine version.

      a few comments that may help you strengthen your paper ...

      1. Expectation of Corresponding Changes.

      finding a correlation between brain events and (reports of) experienced
      events is more of a methodology for researching the brain/experience
      relation than a theory of experience. indeed, it is a methodology that
      allows scientific research to remain neutral as between the various
      philosophical theories (identity, constitution, panpsychism etc) that
      might be advanced to explain those correlations.

      in this regard, you might want to consider a paper to which JP DeMouy
      once referred us, Heidelberger, Michael. (2001). The Mind-Body Problem
      in the Origin of Logical Empiricism: Herbert Feigl and Psychophysical
      Parallelism.
      http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/945/1/Mind%2DBody_Theory_in_the_Origin_of_Logical_Empiricism.pdf


      2. Confusion/Conflation: Theories of Mind vs Theories of Experience.

      early in the paper you allow token identity theory to represent
      physicalism, "A popular statement of physicalism is token physicalism:
      every mental state x is identical to a physical state y"; but, surely
      there are other forms of physicalism; and, in the very next paragraph
      you confuse identity theory with constitution theory. you write, "Mental
      states are physical states. The brain states in a human constitute its
      subjective experience."

      later in the paper you write,

      "For that reason, per ordinary philosophical theories of 'mind', I go no
      further than neuro-physiological identity theory, which is a way of
      saying that your mind is literally the events that happen in your
      brain."

      unless you have defined 'mind' to mean 'experience', you've changed the
      subject.


      3. Distinguishing Consciousness from Experience

      one of the conclusions of your 'evil alien' thought experiment is that
      there is a difference between consciousness and experience.

      "The evil alien thought experiment supports the distinction between
      experience and consciousness. Many philosophers mistakenly think that
      consciousness consists in experience. That, when we understand the
      'mystery' of experience, we will understand consciousness."

      it is difficult for me to understand how demonstrating the difference
      between cognitive brain functions (collectively referred to as
      'consciousness') and experience is consistent with your claim to have an
      identity theory.

      if you choose to modify this section, I suggest to include a disclaimer
      explaining the difference between your evil alien and Descartes'
      malicious demon. you might really be an octopus who was attacked last
      night and made to think that you have arms and legs instead of
      tentacles. does it make any difference whether your brain was scrambled
      by an evil alien with super-technology or a malicious demon of supreme
      cunning and power?


      4. QM and Consciousness

      you write, "Recent experiments suggest that quantum coherence plays a
      key role in photosynthesis, therefore we cannot rule out that quantum
      coherence might be a necessary aspect of brain operation, and brain's
      subjective experience."

      you could strengthen your case by going into the details of this
      finding. in studies of the photosynthesis in green sulfur bacteria, the
      quantum phenomenon involved was a quantum 'walk', a primitive quantum
      computation.

      you continue, "Presently, however, there does not seem to be any
      evidence that quantum randomness, or quantum coherence plays a role in
      nervous system."

      evidence of quantum processes occurring in the nervous system already
      exists.

      check out
      http://discovermagazine.com/2009/feb/13-is-quantum-mechanics-controlling-your-thoughts/article_print.

      it gives some background on the green sulfur bacteria; but, also surveys
      other findings from the field of quantum biology including the finding
      that quantum tunneling may be involved in the sense of smell.

      you'll find further evidence by googling 'avian magnetoreception'.

      Joe


      --

      Nothing Unreal is Self-Aware

      @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
      http://what-am-i.net
      @^@~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~@^@
    • Eray Ozkural
      Dear Joseph, On Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 10:28 PM, Joseph Polanik
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 18, 2012
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        Dear Joseph,

        On Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 10:28 PM, Joseph Polanik <Philscimind@...> wrote:
        Eray,

        Thanks for uploading your revised paper; I found it more readable than
        the version online at examachine. Good luck in presenting it.


        Thank you.
         
        curiously, while you mention that Goertzel provided helpful commentary,
        I noticed that all specific references to Goertzel's work have
        disappeared. I especially missed the quote that begins "Consciousness is
        the basic ground of the universe" which introduced the section subtitled
        'Naturalist theories of experience' in the examachine version.



        That was web material, so I tried to replace it with a paper reference. It's a nice phrase, that one. :) Goertzel has written some books, I think I had referred to one of them. There are some papers of his that may be relevant to this question, too, you may want to check it out.
         
        a few comments that may help you strengthen your paper ...

        1. Expectation of Corresponding Changes.

        finding a correlation between brain events and (reports of) experienced
        events is more of a methodology for researching the brain/experience
        relation than a theory of experience. indeed, it is a methodology that
        allows scientific research to remain neutral as between the various
        philosophical theories (identity, constitution, panpsychism etc) that
        might be advanced to explain those correlations.


        Yes, I understand the concern here. But this doesn't mean that there cannot be a theory of experience, right? In particular, some theories cited aren't just methodology, but are theories proper I think.
         
        in this regard, you might want to consider a paper to which JP DeMouy
        once referred us, Heidelberger, Michael. (2001). The Mind-Body Problem
        in the Origin of Logical Empiricism: Herbert Feigl and Psychophysical
        Parallelism.
        http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/945/1/Mind%2DBody_Theory_in_the_Origin_of_Logical_Empiricism.pdf


        Thanks, I will try to cite this. They didn't want me to make changes to the revised version, but this could go into a further journal version definitely. 
         

        2. Confusion/Conflation: Theories of Mind vs Theories of Experience.

        early in the paper you allow token identity theory to represent
        physicalism, "A popular statement of physicalism is token physicalism:
        every mental state x is identical to a physical state y"; but, surely
        there are other forms of physicalism; and, in the very next paragraph
        you confuse identity theory with constitution theory. you write, "Mental
        states are physical states. The brain states in a human constitute its
        subjective experience."

        But perhaps I do not know the difference between two theories. Is it possible for one to be true while the other is false? This might be the first time I hear of the constitution theory.

        later in the paper you write,

        "For that reason, per ordinary philosophical theories of 'mind', I go no
        further than neuro-physiological identity theory, which is a way of
        saying that your mind is literally the events that happen in your
        brain."

        unless you have defined 'mind' to mean 'experience', you've changed the
        subject.

        I haven't, but experiential aspects are part of mind, right? Or are they something else? I always took "qualia"/subjective-experience to be mental.

        I'm rather confused, perhaps this point needs further debate.

        3. Distinguishing Consciousness from Experience

        one of the conclusions of your 'evil alien' thought experiment is that
        there is a difference between consciousness and experience.

        Yes, hopefully, that is.
         
        "The evil alien thought experiment supports the distinction between
        experience and consciousness. Many philosophers mistakenly think that
        consciousness consists in experience. That, when we understand the
        'mystery' of experience, we will understand consciousness."

        it is difficult for me to understand how demonstrating the difference
        between cognitive brain functions (collectively referred to as
        'consciousness') and experience is consistent with your claim to have an
        identity theory.

        And I'm confused, why? Both are aspects of mind, which is physical. It's a complex system, like an airplane, an airplane has an engine, has wings, has aerodynamic lift, has propulsion, and so forth. The brain can have high-level cognitive functions, intelligence, experience, and so forth. Not all of its components/aspects have to be explained in the same way. Most notably, subjective experience is an important aspect of the brain, but it is not the only aspect, or even the definitional aspect. That's what the thought experiment shows.
         

        if you choose to modify this section, I suggest to include a disclaimer
        explaining the difference between your evil alien and Descartes'
        malicious demon. you might really be an octopus who was attacked last
        night and made to think that you have arms and legs instead of
        tentacles. does it make any difference whether your brain was scrambled
        by an evil alien with super-technology or a malicious demon of supreme
        cunning and power?

        It doesn't change, but that's not the same experiment. In my experiment, all intelligence and cognitive function is corrupted, on purpose.

        Another GREAT thought experiment of mine is the "blue mind" experiment. (Or "the mind of blue")

        There is a neural network that has been organized so that it solely experiences blue, imitating the state of part of visual system of a human, for a small number of neurons. So, it just experiences blue, and nothing else. It doesn't have any intelligence. There is no learning. No behavior. No nothing, just experiencing blue. This experiment gives the same result, but the other one is more striking.

        4. QM and Consciousness

        you write, "Recent experiments suggest that quantum coherence plays a
        key role in photosynthesis, therefore we cannot rule out that quantum
        coherence might be a necessary aspect of brain operation, and brain's
        subjective experience."

        you could strengthen your case by going into the details of this
        finding. in studies of the photosynthesis in green sulfur bacteria, the
        quantum phenomenon involved was a quantum 'walk', a primitive quantum
        computation.

        Yes, I remember that.

        you continue, "Presently, however, there does not seem to be any
        evidence that quantum randomness, or quantum coherence plays a role in
        nervous system."

        That might not be too precise, yes.
         

        evidence of quantum processes occurring in the nervous system already
        exists.

        check out
        http://discovermagazine.com/2009/feb/13-is-quantum-mechanics-controlling-your-thoughts/article_print.

        it gives some background on the green sulfur bacteria; but, also surveys
        other findings from the field of quantum biology including the finding
        that quantum tunneling may be involved in the sense of smell.

        you'll find further evidence by googling 'avian magnetoreception'.


        Thanks, these will definitely help. I'd read your comments a while ago by the way, but I couldn't answer as I was involved in other discussions.

        A little tangential, what do you think of Tononi's formulation of qualia? I was going to cite him as well but they didn't let me revise further. That looks like a pan-experientialist theory, but he doesn't really give any argument why that should be so.

        Best,

        --
        Eray Ozkural, PhD candidate.  Comp. Sci. Dept., Bilkent University, Ankara
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ai-philosophy 

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