January 12, 2020
The octopus is one of the most bizarre life forms on Earth – one of the smartest, most interesting, and most alien. It can camouflage itself in a flash, squeeze its entire body through a one-inch hole, and use their brains (yes, it has nine of them) to think and play. Chip Reid visits scientists at New England Aquarium in Boston, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and talks with Sy Montgomery, author of "The Soul of an Octopus," about these curious creatures…
Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is ... or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us.
Perhaps reality is some vast interacting network of conscious agents, simple and complex, that cause each other’s conscious experiences… Here’s the point: Once we let go of our massively intuitive, but massively false assumption of the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life’s greatest mystery… Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids.
What we have is one theory that turned out to be false, that perception is like reality and reality is like perceptions. Okay, thrown that theory away. That doesn’t stop us from now postulating all sorts of other theories about the nature of reality, so it’s actually progress to recognize that one of our theories was false. So, science continues as normal, there’s no problem there.
Bertrand Russell, the very famous logician and philosopher, was one of the first to propose this kind of thing. He pointed out that the laws of physics are quite good at describing what matter does. But, they don’t tell us what matter is - intrinsically. So he proposed, and others as well, that maybe what matter is intrinsically is conscious experiences. And it’s an interesting philosophical idea, but… it has never been turned into science. So, panpsychism is a philosophical stance, and an interesting one. But, no one has been able to turn it into a mathematically precise scientific theory. So as a scientist there’s nothing on the table for me. And, most versions of it are as you say, dualists. And most scientists are not on board with dualism.
State of the art physicists, like Nima Arkani-Hamed at the Institute for Advanced Study of Physics at Princeton, they are saying, ’Look, when you’re trying to bring general relativity and quantum field theory, the standard model of physics together into some Theory of Everything or Unified Theory, we’re finding that we’re going to have to let go of Space-Time, that physics for the last three centuries has been about what happens inside Space and Time, and now we’re going to have to let go of Space-Time: It’s not fundamental. There’s something else that’s more fundamental from which Space-Time arises as an emergent concept or property.’
They don’t know what that deeper thing is. He’s dealing with something… that he calls the Amplituhedron…
I’ve been involved in artificial intelligence since 1979, when I went to the AI Lab at MIT, and I’ve been very interested in it… of course we can make them smart, they are beating us at all sorts of stuff now, so that’s not an issue. The issue is, Could they actually have genuine experiences?, Could an AI feel love?, Could it taste vanilla and actually enjoy the taste of vanilla?, Could silicon circuits and software do that?
Most of my colleagues think yes. They think that somehow programs, sophisticated programs, are in fact what consciousness is… although they can’t tell me the program and they can’t say, so… it’s just an idea right now, a philosophical idea. There is no scientific theory on the table; but, in general, what they’re saying is that, somehow, with these unconscious circuits and unconscious software, we will boot up real conscious experiences.
So, that’s the typical question about, Could AI’s become conscious? The question is, Could the circuits that were originally unconscious become conscious? Are they complex enough?
I’m saying that’s the wrong way to think about the problem. We’re assuming that circuits in space and time are objective reality. But, in fact, that’s just a user interface; and we know that our user interfaces, as you said, gives us portals into consciousness.
My icon of Zuben Damania (the interviewer) has given me a portal into the experiences of Zuben Damania; a very, very small portal, but a genuine portal. So, for me then, the question is this: Once we understand the realm of conscious agents with mathematical precision, and we understand the mapping between conscious agents, and their dynamics, and their space-time interface, so that we understand it well enough to hack it, we’ll be able to open new portals in our space-time interface, into the realm of conscious agents, perhaps using technologies like silicon and circuits and software.
Will we be able to understand that technology in a deeper way that allows us to open portals into this pre-exiting realm of conscious agents?
For what it’s worth, I think the answer is yes; and I say that with both excitement and trepidation - because that’s unbelievable power, and it’s not clear what we’re going to meet on the other side. We don’t know if all those conscious agents out there are nice. I just don’t know.
https://www.quora.com/What-are-concious ... ans-theory
What are conscious agents according to Donald Hoffman's theory?
Tom McFarlane, M.S. Mathematics, University of Washington (1994)
Answered Oct. 7, 2016
First, some context. In Hoffman’s theory, conscious agents are the primitive constituents of reality. The objective world consists of conscious agents and their experiences. The world of elementary particles and fields are merely icons in a user interface of human conscious agents. But humans are just one complex type of conscious agent. In his article “Conscious Realism and the Mind-Body Problem,” Mind & Matter Vol. 6(1), pp. 87–121, Hoffman explains,
First, a conscious agent is not necessarily a person. All persons are conscious agents, or heterarchies of conscious agents, but not all conscious agents are persons. Second, the experiences of a given conscious agent might be utterly alien to us; they may constitute a modality of experience no human has imagined, much less experienced. Third, the dynamics of conscious agents does not, in general, take place in ordinary four-dimensional space-time. It takes place in state spaces of conscious observers, and for these state spaces the notion of dimension might not even be well-defined.
In his paper with C. Prakash, “Objects of consciousness,” Frontiers in Psychology, 2014. Hoffman provides a precise mathematical definition of a conscious agent in terms of a set of experiential states X, a set of actions G, and maps that relate these to each other and to states of an objective world W (which itself is composed of conscious agents). The maps can be understood as defining the structure of perception P, decision D, and action A. Based on this definition, he constructs models of interacting conscious agents and derives predictions from those models.
I'm considering starting a new thread about pertinent issues brought up on youtube as I wasn't sure what to file this under.
This neuroscientist has some interesting offerings on his psychedelic experiences and I thought they were worth sharing. It is my 'rigorous intuition' that psychedelic plants were purposely kept illegal with a veil of fear cast over their use (so) as to shut down the general populaces understanding of soul, self, will, ego...well consciousness in general.
It is clear that the 'gatekeepers' want us docile and apathetic. A liberated soul with greater understanding of the vehicle of consciousness is harder to program with oligarchic, patriarchal rule, imperialist nation-state agendas and oppressive control mechanisms. Have a look-see...
‘Absolute freedom is the right of the strongest to dominate,’ Camus wrote, while ‘absolute justice is achieved by the suppression of all contradiction: therefore it destroys freedom.’ The conflict between justice and freedom required constant re-balancing, political moderation, an acceptance and celebration of that which limits the most: our humanity. ‘To live and let live,’ he said, ‘in order to create what we are.’
“Between this sky and the faces turned toward it there is nothing on which to hang a mythology, a literature, an ethic, or a religion—only stones, flesh, stars, and those truths the hand can touch”
- Albert Camus
In absurdist philosophy, the Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual's search for meaning and the meaninglessness of the universe. As beings looking for meaning in a meaningless world, humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma. Kierkegaard and Camus describe the solutions in their works, The Sickness Unto Death (1849) and The Myth of Sisyphus (1942), respectively:
Suicide (or, "escaping existence"): a solution in which a person ends one's own life. Both Kierkegaard and Camus dismiss the viability of this option. Camus states that it does not counter the Absurd. Rather, in the act of ending one's existence, one's existence only becomes more absurd.
Religious, spiritual, or abstract belief in a transcendent realm, being, or idea: a solution in which one believes in the existence of a reality that is beyond the Absurd, and, as such, has meaning. Kierkegaard stated that a belief in anything beyond the Absurd requires an irrational but perhaps necessary religious "leap" into the intangible and empirically unprovable (now commonly referred to as a "leap of faith"). However, Camus regarded this solution, and others, as "philosophical suicide".
Acceptance of the Absurd: a solution in which one accepts the Absurd and continues to live in spite of it. Camus endorsed this solution, believing that by accepting the Absurd, one can achieve the greatest extent of one's freedom. By recognizing no religious or other moral constraints, and by rebelling against the Absurd (through meaning-making) while simultaneously accepting it as unstoppable, one could find contentment through the transient personal meaning constructed in the process. Kierkegaard, on the other hand, regarded this solution as "demoniac madness": "He rages most of all at the thought that eternity might get it into its head to take his misery from him!"
Relationship to existentialism and nihilism
Absurdism originated from (as well as alongside) the 20th-century strains of existentialism and nihilism; it shares some prominent starting points with both, though also entails conclusions that are uniquely distinct from these other schools of thought. All three arose from the human experience of anguish and confusion stemming from the Absurd: the apparent meaninglessness in a world in which humans, nevertheless, are compelled to find or create meaning. The three schools of thought diverge from there. Existentialists have generally advocated the individual's construction of his or her own meaning in life as well as the free will of the individual. Nihilists, on the contrary, contend that "it is futile to seek or to affirm meaning where none can be found." Absurdists, following Camus's formulation, hesitantly allow the possibility for some meaning or value in life, but are neither as certain as existentialists are about the value of one's own constructed meaning nor as nihilists are about the total inability to create meaning. Absurdists following Camus also devalue or outright reject free will, encouraging merely that the individual live defiantly and authentically in spite of the psychological tension of the Absurd.
Camus himself passionately worked to counter nihilism, as he explained in his essay "The Rebel," while he also categorically rejected the label of "existentialist" in his essay "Enigma" and in the compilation The Lyrical and Critical Essays of Albert Camus, though he was, and still is, often broadly characterized by others as an existentialist. Both existentialism and absurdism entail consideration of the practical applications of becoming conscious of the truth of existential nihilism: i.e., how a driven seeker of meaning should act when suddenly confronted with the seeming concealment, or downright absence, of meaning in the universe. Camus's own understanding of the world (e.g., "a benign indifference", in The Stranger), and every vision he had for its progress,[example needed] however, sets him apart from the general existentialist trend.
Basic relationships between existentialism, absurdism and nihilism
Sounder » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:26 pm wrote:Camus was a compulsive writer, he had word diarrhea.
Meaning is found in cultivating the creative fire within each of us, each in their own way.
This is bumming me out as I love both Camus and Merton.
Meaning is found in cultivating the creative fire within each of us, each in their own way.
Harvey wrote...I look forward to your dissertation on how Camus did not do exactly that.
I like to think our robot creators are so devoid of emotion that they run our universe as a simulation to experience love
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