Consciousness

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Hagoth
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Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:49 pm

What is consciousness and where does it come from?

This is a topic I have touched on several times, but it's one that is almost constantly on my mind. I am endlessly amazed by nature, particularly things that have complex behaviors without the benefit of a brain. Here's one of my favorite examples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7UFDUcstW0

Kinesin is a bipedal walking protein molecule that can locate, attach to, and carry waste material from the cell nucleus to a portal in the cell membrane, along a self-constructing microtubule bridge. If it encounters an obstacle it will step sideways until it is able to get clear of the obstacle, or it will gang up with additional kinesins to pull its load past the obstacle. This is one of the things that Intelligent Design apologists point to as evidence of a designer, but I think it is something much more interesting than that. I think consciousness is a fundamental component of the universe that proceeds naturally out of a scaffold provided by the laws of nature, which are themselves the elemental building blocks of consciousness. By consciousness I don't mean any kind of spooky universal intelligence, although higher manifestations of consciousness, like what goes on in our brains, might be thought of as a higher manifestation of the same kind of consciousness made up of billions of tiny molecular components, each of which has a modicum of consciousness of their own.

Is this just me being wacky, or is there something to it?
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Thu Jan 19, 2023 4:46 pm

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“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Linked
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Linked » Thu Jan 19, 2023 5:57 pm

I love this question. I wanted to respond earlier but it's been a busy week. This question touches on the basis of wonder that probably started religions, but with the well developed religions we have today the canned Sunday School answers can kill the wonder in the question.

Who am I? What am I? Why am I? What is self and why am I me instead of thee? Who or what controls it?

In the bible when God states he is I AM THAT I AM, declaring that he holds the key to existence and self, it is really powerful, because it touches on these fundamental questions. (I am sure I missed the actual point of that story, but this is what spoke to me).

And then what level of self, of consciousness deserves what rights?

I have no answer to your question. I think humans are conscious. Animals seem to be. Tardigrades? Bacteria? Viruses? At what point does the biologicall soup required to sense and react to the environment become complex enough that it is thinking and deciding? Or is even human thinking and deciding just a fated consequence of the series of events set in motion by the big bang?
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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Re: Consciousness

Post by wtfluff » Thu Jan 19, 2023 9:14 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Jan 16, 2023 3:49 pm
...
Is this just me being wacky, or is there something to it?
Honestly, I had to read through your post multiple times and the do some ponderizing before much really sunk in. Maybe because I almost immediately jump to being self-aware as "consciousness." Nope. While those two things may be components of each other in some way or some instances, they are not equal to each other.

Those "billions of tiny molecular components" that you mentioned are "conscious" enough to reproduce and evolve. The kinesin is literally "conscious" of obstacles in it's way, or it wouldn't be able to get clear of those obstacles.

So I think "There is something to it", even though you are a bit wacky. :P
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Angel
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Angel » Fri Jan 20, 2023 12:37 pm

I think therefore I am :ugeek:

From : https://panspermia.org/

https://panspermia.org/whatis2.htm

Louis Pasteur: "I have been looking for spontaneous generation during twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible.... You place matter before life, and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists... to consider that life has existed during eternity and not matter?"

Russian geochemist V. I. Vernadskii:
None of the exact relationships between facts which we know will be changed if this problem has a negative solution, that is, if we admit that life always existed and had no beginning, that living organisms never arose at any time from inert material....

For kicks,
Here's a video of Carl Sagan explaining where auditory hallucinations come from:

https://youtu.be/UnURElCzGc0



In heaven as it is on earth? Not monotheistic - just a bunch of random conscience energy floating around. All the same age, all eternal, none better than another. Conservation of mass, energy, and conscience.

To me, its a melting pot. Haha - literally together forever, mixed together, united in all things. My next Reincarnation- part of me might end up in China, and another part in South America - all mixed up.
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Fri Jan 20, 2023 1:11 pm

Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 12:37 pm
For kicks,
Here's a video of Carl Sagan explaining where auditory hallucinations come from:
Sagan's apple had a huge effect on me when I was a kid. At some point I think I equated it to the Angel Moroni and Jesus magically appearing in closed rooms without walking through the door.
Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 12:37 pm
To me, its a melting pot. Haha - literally together forever, mixed together, united in all things. My next Reincarnation- part of me might end up in China, and another part in South America - all mixed up.
It's easy to see how we are eternal beings via the conservation of matter and energy. The big hurdle for many is getting past the ego that tells them those particles and atoms must stay together in a form that can enjoy mansions of gold and eternal intercourse.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Angel
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Angel » Fri Jan 20, 2023 3:14 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 1:11 pm
Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 12:37 pm
For kicks,
Here's a video of Carl Sagan explaining where auditory hallucinations come from:
Sagan's apple had a huge effect on me when I was a kid. At some point I think I equated it to the Angel Moroni and Jesus magically appearing in closed rooms without walking through the door.
Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 12:37 pm
To me, its a melting pot. Haha - literally together forever, mixed together, united in all things. My next Reincarnation- part of me might end up in China, and another part in South America - all mixed up.
It's easy to see how we are eternal beings via the conservation of matter and energy. The big hurdle for many is getting past the ego that tells them those particles and atoms must stay together in a form that can enjoy mansions of gold and eternal intercourse.

Walk a mile in another's shoes - literally haha. I love the idea of an actual melting pot - mixed together, raindrop returning to the ocean.

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/s ... ucinations

I think Carl S might have experienced a little something.
I have only had one auditory hallucination - voice from within, it's scary weird for sure ;)
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2bizE
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Re: Consciousness

Post by 2bizE » Fri Jan 20, 2023 6:00 pm

This is probably not the same topic, but when I think of the brain and consciousness I often think of Battlestar Galactica. There is a scene where they have to reach into the brain of a Cylon. It has been too long to remember what they were doing, but touching certain areas helped them connect. Well, the brain was not electronic, but was flesh and blood. This scene makes me wonder how our own brains of flesh and blood can think, remember, and do what humans do. How does the brain actually store information? It is mind boggling.
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Re: Consciousness

Post by LSOF » Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:19 pm

Thinking and consciousness are emergent properties of peculiar arrangements of unthinking, unconscious matter, energized. The AI discourse of late has got me reflecting on the "Chinese room" thought experiment, which was an answer to the Turing test. A man, who himself knows no Chinese, sits in a room, sealed but for a mailslot. In the room with him are a bunch of books on the Chinese language, to which he refers. Would the man not, the question is, appear to the outside to be fluent in Chinese, even though he is only mechanically following the rules in his books?

This is my answer: He would, yes, but the fact is, he and his books together form the system which knows Chinese. If he himself were fluent, then the library in his box would be in his head instead. And this completely ignores that after long enough, the man would learn Chinese anyway.

What is "true" consciousness as against "simulated" consciousness? First, what is a simulation? It is a working model, patterned after something "real". The closest artificial analogue to the human brain is the computer. There exist many computer simulators or emulators. These often have limitations compared with the template; e.g., certain undocumented behaviors of the template might not be implemented in the simulator. The simulator might be slower.

But suppose that we implemented the template exactly, so that a program written for either will run on both, according to ever-so-exact specifications. But we say, that even such a simulator is not "the real thing". The only difference, given the simulator we have postulated, is the hardware. I wonder, then, where the line is between "real" and "simulated" consciousness for people who so distinguish. It seems to me that only biological, human consciousness is "real" to them. Thus artificial consciousness is only impossible by their definition.
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Re: Consciousness

Post by alas » Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:52 pm

Linked wrote:
Thu Jan 19, 2023 5:57 pm

And then what level of self, of consciousness deserves what rights?

I have no answer to your question. I think humans are conscious. Animals seem to be. Tardigrades? Bacteria? Viruses? At what point does the biologicall soup required to sense and react to the environment become complex enough that it is thinking and deciding? Or is even human thinking and deciding just a fated consequence of the series of events set in motion by the big bang?
This. This is why I didn’t reply. Chimps are too intelligent to keep in zoos. Dolphins and orcas are too intelligent to keep in water parks and do tricks for humans. It is like in Phantom of the opera when the kept the deformed child in a cage for people to gawk at. You want this discussion to turn into an animal rights fight? Well, I still eat the animals I think are stupid, but I won’t eat the ones I think are too intelligent to “treat like animals” nor will I go see Sea World shows or swim with the dolphins. Yes, I know they don’t make the orcas perform because they decide to kill their trainers. Good God, why do they think the orcas kill their trainers? Why do chimps in zoos turn violent and attack the humans keeping them in cages? So, before I start to sound like I am going to start an animal rights argument, I will shut up.

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:23 pm

alas wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:52 pm
You want this discussion to turn into an animal rights fight?
Nope. Not at all.

What I'm fascinated with and perplexed by is what looks like conscious behavior of things without brains, like the kinesin molecule, organelles like mitochondria, amoebas, sperm cells competing for the prize. Maybe it's just that we creatures with brains impose brain-like interpretations on these behaviors, but these things are behaving nonetheless, and I think it's pretty cool.

Maybe it's time for a Church of the Laws of Nature to give credit where credit is due, rather than to invisible sky people on invisible sky thrones. Nature is so much more impressive.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Consciousness

Post by malkie » Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:41 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:23 pm
alas wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:52 pm
You want this discussion to turn into an animal rights fight?
Nope. Not at all.

What I'm fascinated with and perplexed by is what looks like conscious behavior of things without brains, like the kinesin molecule, organelles like mitochondria, amoebas, sperm cells competing for the prize. Maybe it's just that we creatures with brains impose brain-like interpretations on these behaviors, but these things are behaving nonetheless, and I think it's pretty cool.

Maybe it's time for a Church of the Laws of Nature to give credit where credit is due, rather than to invisible sky people on invisible sky thrones. Nature is so much more impressive.
Is a Roomba conscious? It appears to have goals, and to be able to look for and use ways to overcome obstacles.

When you touch something hot, and jerk your hand away, it all happens before your brain has any idea about what is going on. So are your reflexes conscious?

I could (probably :) go on and on with examples of things that exhibit the same kinds of behaviour you are describing, but that you would likely hesitate to ascribe consciousness to.
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Re: Consciousness

Post by hmb » Sun Jan 22, 2023 6:32 am

Hagoth wrote:
Thu Jan 19, 2023 4:46 pm
Image
My first thought!
595155-jiminy2.jpg
595155-jiminy2.jpg (38.49 KiB) Viewed 176 times

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:14 pm

malkie wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:41 pm
Is a Roomba conscious? It appears to have goals, and to be able to look for and use ways to overcome obstacles.

When you touch something hot, and jerk your hand away, it all happens before your brain has any idea about what is going on. So are your reflexes conscious?

I could (probably :) go on and on with examples of things that exhibit the same kinds of behaviour you are describing, but that you would likely hesitate to ascribe consciousness to.
I thought of the same examples, Malkie. A Roomba would be much more interesting to me if they came about naturally. But it didn't. It was designed and programmed by human brains to perform specific functions in predetermined ways. By using Roomba as an example, we are employing the same line of reasoning Christian apologist use to explain things like kinesin. It appears to have behaviors because someone designed it to have behaviors. But, put 1000 Roombas in a gymnasium and and let them interact with each other and you're likely to see some emergent behavior that lies outside of their specific programming. That would be far more interesting and more exemplary of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I think reflexes are actually a better example of the kind of natural consciousness I'm thinking of, although a reflex is very simple and mechanical compared to something like an amoeba.

Maybe consciousness is not even the right word for it. I dunno.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:15 pm

hmb wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 6:32 am

My first thought!

595155-jiminy2.jpg
Consciousness... conscience... hmmm
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Consciousness

Post by malkie » Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:11 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:14 pm
malkie wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:41 pm
Is a Roomba conscious? It appears to have goals, and to be able to look for and use ways to overcome obstacles.

When you touch something hot, and jerk your hand away, it all happens before your brain has any idea about what is going on. So are your reflexes conscious?

I could (probably :) go on and on with examples of things that exhibit the same kinds of behaviour you are describing, but that you would likely hesitate to ascribe consciousness to.
I thought of the same examples, Malkie. A Roomba would be much more interesting to me if they came about naturally. But it didn't. It was designed and programmed by human brains to perform specific functions in predetermined ways. By using Roomba as an example, we are employing the same line of reasoning Christian apologist use to explain things like kinesin. It appears to have behaviors because someone designed it to have behaviors. But, put 1000 Roombas in a gymnasium and and let them interact with each other and you're likely to see some emergent behavior that lies outside of their specific programming. That would be far more interesting and more exemplary of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

I think reflexes are actually a better example of the kind of natural consciousness I'm thinking of, although a reflex is very simple and mechanical compared to something like an amoeba.

Maybe consciousness is not even the right word for it. I dunno.
Agreed.

However, at a reasonable level of analysis even a single Roomba's behaviour is not completely predictable - there's a degree of randomness built in. As part of a beginners programming course I took several years ago I wrote code fragments to simulate a Roomba cleaning a room. With the same starting point each time, successive cleanings took quite different paths and times to complete the job. Even the starting direction had an element of randomness in it, and every move after that compounded the unpredictability. But, point taken.

Before you can decide whether any given mechanism or organism is conscious, I think that you have to have in mind (your consciousness :) ) what your criteria are, so that your decision is binary: is conscious (meets the criteria); is not conscious (fails to meet the criteria). Otherwise you will find yourself dithering at some point.
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jan 23, 2023 8:01 am

malkie wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:11 pm
As part of a beginners programming course I took several years ago I wrote code fragments to simulate a Roomba cleaning a room.
Sounds like a fun project. When I was taking programming classes, sometime back in the Stone Age, I wanted to write a simulation of a bee finding honey and communicating it to the hive, but I never got around to it. I would also be interested in a program that simulates chemical reactions in various early-Earth environments to see what is the likelihood and processes for the emergence of self-replicating molecules.
malkie wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:11 pm
Before you can decide whether any given mechanism or organism is conscious, I think that you have to have in mind (your consciousness :) ) what your criteria are, so that your decision is binary: is conscious (meets the criteria); is not conscious (fails to meet the criteria). Otherwise you will find yourself dithering at some point.
Great points. You gave me a different perspective on the Roomba example. Conscious minds taking advantage of the inherent conscious building blocks of reality. :P

I guess I got started heading down this rabbit hole when I listened to an interview with a philosopher whose name I can't recall, that was recommended by another member of NOM. Unnamed Philosopher maintained that consciousness is a fundamental quality of nature, and that everything in existence possesses it to some degree. Two particles collide and cause a reaction, or a rock rolls down a hill; those are examples of consciousness at the lowest level. Step up a level or two and you have molecular bonding, etc. I thought it was pretty wacky but then I started thinking about things like the examples I gave above, and about complex emergent behaviors of simple systems, and it gradually became more comprehensible. Then I re-took college biology (decades after the first time around) and I was turned upside down by the updated understanding of behaviors of things like ribosomes and mitochondria. Then I watched some episodes of a YouTube series called Journey Into the Microcosmos and was further mindblown.

I suppose if you were to follow Unnamed Philosopher's hypothesis to the conclusion you would end up with "God," but more of a Spinoza sort of God (the only kind I can really believe in) that is really the sum of all of these behaviors compounded at the cosmic level - not a being in the sense of a conscious entity, but a BEING in the sense of BEING everything, and everything being a manifestation of consciousness. I guess it's just one baby step beyond: “The cosmos is within us... We are a way for the universe to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Hagoth
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Re: Consciousness

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:13 pm

Interesting comment by Max Planck that I just stumbled on entirely by accident:

"I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness."
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Consciousness

Post by Ghost » Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:27 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Jan 23, 2023 8:01 am
Unnamed Philosopher maintained that consciousness is a fundamental quality of nature, and that everything in existence possesses it to some degree.
Are you sure this wasn't Brigham Young? I seem to remember him having said some very similar things about "intelligence" and how the elements are actually obeying God when He "controls" them, etc. :)
Hagoth wrote:
Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:14 pm
malkie wrote:
Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:41 pm
Is a Roomba conscious? It appears to have goals, and to be able to look for and use ways to overcome obstacles.

When you touch something hot, and jerk your hand away, it all happens before your brain has any idea about what is going on. So are your reflexes conscious?

I could (probably :) go on and on with examples of things that exhibit the same kinds of behaviour you are describing, but that you would likely hesitate to ascribe consciousness to.
I thought of the same examples, Malkie. A Roomba would be much more interesting to me if they came about naturally. But it didn't. It was designed and programmed by human brains to perform specific functions in predetermined ways.
In discussions of consciousness, one thing that comes up sometimes is that if you observe your own behavior, you get the sense that your consciousness is more of an observer than an actor. That your "self" is just along for that ride and taking credit for what your body does. In other words, maybe we are programmed just like the Roomba, but with more complex programming courtesy of natural selection rather than a human designer. And for some reason, there's also a part that can access senses and memories, and that tells stories and thinks it's in control.

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Re: Consciousness

Post by RubinHighlander » Tue Jan 24, 2023 3:38 pm

Oofah, some cool rabbit hole content in this thread!

After my experience in the great cult and other institutions, I feel I've made good progress in disconnecting from my ego, traditional sapient thinking and the philosophies of men. Like Haggoth, I mill lots of different possibilities around in various existential mind journeys. I also watch a lot of science videos across a spectrum of topics, just enough to be a trippy hippy dick when I'm a bit too lit. For me I had to settle into this one fact: At the end of the day I don't know $hit about Fu... and neither does anyone else. At least in terms of this weird reality our conciseness creates and how or if it ties into the whole cosmos.

That aside, I currently do believe there is some kind of greater consciousness. Nothing like the old man in the sky bs, but I've felt at times I've plugged into or sensed something much bigger than me and I take on this perspective that I'm like one tiny brain cell of the greater cosmos. I've also experienced bumping into it's boundaries, like running into a big wall of Jello. This is often with the help of plant based molecules that plug into my meat bag and alter my default operational parameters, but not always.

Lately I've been trying to look at our little speck of dust and all these crazy sapes from an outsider perspective. Looking at our current level of noise output, both digital and analog, how could any intelligent alien life ever decipher this mess? I mean, just take five minutes and surf a hundred TicToc vids, that small slice of mostly digital nonsense is likely no more meaningful or conclusive than a million of those videos for a sample. Hand that over to a completely different intelligence...IDK, maybe it's AI could sort it out. And now AI is quickly coming of age for our species; we are likely close to transition from the Anthropocene to the Silicopocene, or whatever they end up calling the next epoch.

But from all the chaos of our ever evolving global society, some of the science is managing to push us forward. Like the smallest bio machines, that appear to have a drive and purpose, from the elements to organic molecules, to cells arranging themselves in all these different ways, our own behaviors seem to be driving us back together into a single brain. It feels to me like all us individual sapiens are brain cells that are being forced back into one machine again. Seems counter intuitive, but look how desperately these systems we've created are trying to plug us into everything and record every aspect of our lives and behaviors. Sure it's being driven by a few with most of the $$, the greed to control, but to me it seems something more primal is generating this drive. Evolution's crazy experimentation got us these egotistical tribal meat bags that somehow have not yet nuked the entire planet. But there is a small percentage of our population creating things like James Webb. Think about that telescope and it's predecessor Hubble and the next gen Carl Sagan telescope. These are image sensors, just like our eyes, evolving to see as far as we can. It's like the first eyeball for the Cosmos to look at it's own baby pictures and it seems to be wanting to understand itself (via us and the silicon based life to follow). We've gone from primitive meat bag forms of trying to remember, store and recall memories and information to evolving digital systems.

This is the drive I'm talking about; it feels like it's inherent in the evolutionary pattern. But it also seems so damn inefficient and janky, like the super long way around to getting to a solution. You'll have to run every possible experiment with a super small success rate, in order to maybe get to a level where you start to unravel the mysteries of this reality. The conundrum of this place is that at any moment, one crazy monkey pushes the red button, or the cosmos itself throws a rock at us and boom, game over, try again. Based on observations, there is a limited play/experiment time here. If the sapiens go poof into the cosmic composter, before we manage to escape our own solar system, there's likely another dust speck out there that will manage to evolve into something that can do the same thing, start to unravel it all, but if their timing is 2 trillion years from now, they will only see the stars in their own galaxy and not much else. So it's kind of like "You better figure this out now." because the puzzle eventually becomes impossible to piece together. Trillion is a big number, but it's not infinity and thanks to the cosmic speed limit, expansion seems to be the only thing allowed to exceed that, exponentially. So far we have little evidence to suggest things will ever reverse course and fly back into the pre-big bang state. The last star dies, the last black hole dissipates, the cosmos reaches it's angle of repose.

There's a lot of rabbit holes to jump into from all of this BS I just typed out, so I'll stop here.
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