Questioning Consciousness

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Elvis » Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:09 pm

DrEvil wrote:It's like people are so wedded to the idea of buying and selling things and accumulating wealth that they can't conceive of a reality where that isn't the case.


ding ding ding

The conditioning creeps into every corner of the culture.

At least the Star Fleet Federation had a simple credits system where everything appeared to be free to the user. Profiteers and professional traders were caricatures. Could I interest you in a tribble? Buy ten, get thirty!
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Sat Jun 29, 2019 1:37 pm

^^Star Trek is probably the closest thing we've seen to a communist utopia on TV.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:44 pm

DrEvil » Sat Jun 29, 2019 12:37 pm wrote:^^Star Trek is probably the closest thing we've seen to a communist utopia on TV.


Utopia is a vision of a possible future with a bit of roadmap for getting there, although it is understood that one will never arrive at the perfected "No-Place." Star Trek is not utopia, however, unless you are positing the historically imminent viability of ships two miles long traveling at warp speed, transporters that can beam people on to these ships from any other place in the universe even while they are in warp, perfect gravity control, and little whirring hand-held helicopter fans that instantly diagnose and cure any ailment.

Most importantly, you need a box that violates the laws of thermodynamics by magically and instantaneously conjuring, out of literal thin air, any meal whatsoever, artfully arranged on its dish, perfectly prepared and steaming hot. On your oral command, the box can also produce any drink, use-object or tool or artwork or collectible one desires, off a perfect database of all goods ever devised, with no need of farmers, manual laborers, or even robots. Is this communism, or a parody of communism? Have I mentioned the universal translators that render idiomatic any concepts spoken by any previously unencountered alien species, or the development of complete immunity to the microbes and chemicals of other planets?

But we are talking about fiction, so let's suspend disbelief and take it for what it is, shall we? Star Trek is not utopia and never has been. It is allegory.

Star Trek is a space opera fantasy, set a mere 200-300 years from now, in which the United States military has morphed into a federation of all countries on Earth, and Earth now leads or is first among equals within a vast and expanding alliance of planets. The union's most important institution, a space navy known as Starfleet, brings the Open Door and liberal concepts of human rights and international law to the underdeveloped planets of the universe, in competition with the undemocratic and aggressive empires of the martial Klingons and the wiley-cunning Romulans. Accordingly the USS ships pack a lot of supernukes and directed energy weapons, and these do tend to be used.

Supposedly this enterprise follows a supreme rule that prevents them from fucking up less advanced civilizations, but I don't believe this has ever been mentioned except as a prelude to finding workarounds or justifying violations. It is true they don't have money and seem not to own property, other than their rich personal collections of stuff. This is thanks to the aforementioned god-magic-tech, and because they are a modern military in which every single individual's place in the hierarchy and precise role (and uniform) as a specialist has been assigned by a perfect meritocracy. Everyone can be tracked 24/7 by everyone else thanks to a surveillance and communications system they wear on their chests in the form of a distinctive badge that also specifies their rank. "Uhuru, where's Mr. Spock?" "He's on Deck 9." "Why isn't he answering?" "I believe he is masturbating, sir."

Surely no relation to an evolving ideal American self-image was ever intended?

While in 1967 the style of action was more centered on the command principle and thus more explicitly authoritarian, sexist, heroic, and muscular, by the nineties and beyond rainbow teams of races and alien species collaborated to overcome their cultural differences and maximize their harmony and competence so as to achieve the best outcomes in their peacekeeping missions, such as to mediate the conflicts of the newly Balkanized Wormhole Sector after the fall of the Cardassian empire and the arrival of the green little money-grubbing Ferengi with their big noses; Jesus did I really see that?

On Discovery, it's reached the point where no character other than the Real Science guy seems to have any credible function, especially not on the bridge. They sit in rooms where the lighting would be blinding, at least to the humans, and mash a lot of buttons in front of gargantuan screens, speaking their brief competent-sounding lines and their tediously long prayer-meditation monologues. Meanwhile a supercomputer actually runs the ship.

After their shifts, they retire to the enormous and ultrastylish luxury suites typical of the yeoman sailor's life. Again, they enjoy the instantaneous availability of every conceivable consumer good, none of which I have ever seen them disposing. They also enjoy tours within 4-D simulations of any place or time in the universe on their holodecks. This illustrates that the main form of consumption in the modern consumer society is the vicarious consumption of goods and experiences by the rich and smart characters we watch and identify with in our entertainments. On the holodeck these characters do roughly the same thing, so it adds a meta level.

As of the late 2010s, some people have taken to calling this a vision of communism.

;-)
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:22 pm

Okay, so maybe not a completely communist utopia. :)

The main thing for me is the quote "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", which they have essentially solved in the Star Trek universe. Getting to that point is a central idea of communism. There's also Rodenberry's insistence that things like religion and money are obsolete in that future.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:48 pm

DrEvil » Sat Jun 29, 2019 4:22 pm wrote:Okay, so maybe not a completely communist utopia. :)

The main thing for me is the quote "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", which they have essentially solved in the Star Trek universe. Getting to that point is a central idea of communism. There's also Rodenberry's insistence that things like religion and money are obsolete in that future.


I get it, I get it. Trek cultists always say this stuff you know. We've all heard it a dozen times. So.

This "future" is still predicated on

1. a magic box that conjures unlimited food and goods without requiring any labor, resources or ecological costs, ever, and

2. a perfectly militarized hypermeritocratic society.

#1 translates as "From a magic box, to each according to his need."

So this has no more relation to communism, capitalism, or the future than even the most vulgar versions of the Christian heaven. I challenge you to argue that as a vision of the future, Star Trek is more plausible than the idea that you will die and then be resurrected in your own body and live eternally young and happy by the side of God forever, amen.

Rodenberry's "insistence" on the supposed significance of his work be damned. Its only values are as entertainment, historical artifact, or allegory, i.e. commentary on society. As an advertisement for future communism, it can only be read as a parody of the idea that it's possible for people to share the world and be happy, because its answer is that we can pull unicorns out of the matter transformer. This promotes communism about as well as 1984 or the Red Scare.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:36 am

JackRiddler » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:38 pm wrote:
DrEvil » Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:47 am wrote:How about consciousness as money? In a hypothetical post-singularity society where everyone has uploaded their minds the obvious choice for currency would be computational power, and more computational power would equal more mind.


Wow. Fucked up, but also irrelevant. Did you know the women in the award-winning Black Mirror episode "San Junipero" no longer existed at the end? That's my view, and I stick by it.

Another brainfart: If the simulation hypothesis is correct, who's to say we're inside the simulation? How de we know we aren't the hardware?


But this! Genuinely clever variation.


Re: San Junipero -- what do you mean by "no longer existed"? do you mean to imply their consciousness was never actually 'transferred' to the 'simulated' reality, or at some point the machine is shut down?

[which, regardless of speculation regarding this specific episode, such a scenario would very well be in play 'IRL': the machines operating the simulations can't run in perpetuity. Entropy comes for all, eventually. Though if one subscribes to the cyclical nature of reality, entropy would be nothing more than one repeatable step in the never-ending cycle of beginning,end,renewal. Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga]

Watched that episode last night. Although [reportedly] largely viewed as one of the few 'happy endings' out of the Black Mirror episodes, I -- and others -- viewed it as more of a sober tale of the hollow promise of living eternally in a simulated world (and/or the eventual folly of opting to 'download' consciousness to a virtual, tailored reality, a la Kurzweil and his ilk). How long can one live a 'virtual' life of no actual consequence, pain, challenge? Never growing old or dying may sound appealing on paper, but the vacuousness eventually takes its toll over time.

Nicely summarized here:


The episode does explore the notion of an existence without impetus or development. Many residents are shown to have tired of the simulation’s repetitiveness and lack of new stimulus. In order to feel anything many of them frequent a BDSM club just to feel something other than tedium. Long-time residents latch themselves onto new faces — who are either visiting or have made the transition — out of desperation to experience a fresh mind, who hasn’t been worn down by the facile nature of their digital afterlife.

Whether or not Charlie Brooker was aware when he wrote “San Junipero”, Kelly and Yorkie are reduced to one of three tragic fates. One: they spend the rest of eternity reliving the glory days of their past lives, consumed in self indulgence and hollow pursuits, and never physically ageing. Two: they eventually grow bored of their limited existence and become like the other residents, waiting for new arrivals or torturing each other in sadomasochist games. Or three: they eventually grow bored of their limited existence and commit digital suicide. The tragedy is that the people of San Junipero are digital spectres haunting an information netherworld, clamouring for lives they once had but will never experience the same way again.

It’s a tired but evidenced truth that money can’t buy you happiness. Social and economic comfort is no guarantee that a person will feel gratification or satisfaction with their life. There is no magic bullet that can promise us contentment or emotional fulfillment. We need upset and pain to make the joy and love we feel meaningful. As human beings who know and understand our lives are finite, and that the people around us won’t always be there, we must savour the time we have and cherish the people we love, because who knows how and when it will end.

Maybe “San Junipero” does have a happy ending — not for the episode’s characters but for us. If there’s any hopeful message I can take from the story it’s counter to what is depicted in the episode: it is better to embrace change, to discover, to grow as individuals, and live with the uncertainty of the future, whatever it may hold.


https://medium.com/@CDWalker/who-said-s ... c60c29b50d


DrEvil:
Another brainfart: If the simulation hypothesis is correct, who's to say we're inside the simulation? How de we know we aren't the hardware?


I may be a bit dense, but I don't get this premise. If we're the hardware, who's experiencing the simulation? Computer hardware is in no way 'aware' of the resultant OS interface. Each piece of hardware in a computer plays its distinct role in facilitating the resultant operation of the operating system, which in turn is simply a 'dummy terminal' that requires input from a user to function (until such time that the software becomes 'autonomous', of course. But then, the inherent hardware remain nothing more than discrete vehicles...or do they become more than that?). I must be missing a key point -- help me identify it so I can slap my forehead for the fool that I am.

I hesitate quoting The Matrix during these types of discussions, cliche as it's become, but this bit touches on the above themes:

Agent Smith:

Have you ever stood and stared at it, marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious.

The first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world. Where none suffered. Where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was viewed as a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:33 am

^^The simulation theory always assumes that we're part of the simulation, but what if our universe and everything in it is the hardware (maps of the universe look suspiciously like maps of brains) that the simulation runs on and we're just a side effect (or some specific function we're not aware of) of how that hardware is organized? Clumps of matter in our world, such as stars, planets or people could be representations of denser areas of processing inside the simulation. A city of ten million inside the simulation runs on the matter that constitutes the sun while a small backwoods village runs on the matter that makes up a village idiot in our reality.

What would be living inside I have absolutely no clue, same as a computer has no awareness of what runs on it (we think. In a materialistic view our consciousness is an emergent property of the physical interactions happening inside our brains. In that context, how do we know the same thing isn't happening inside other complex systems, like a computer with billions of transistors?). Maybe UFOs are entities that managed to break out of the simulation, or demons are real and literally live inside the atoms we're made of.

So in short, maybe we shouldn't be thinking about breaking out of the simulation, but breaking in.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Elvis » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:09 am

What if the ones running the simulation is us? (the memory of that fact turned 'off' for the simulation.)

This is how the 'simulation' theory works for me.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:20 am

By us being the hardware I took it to mean we were created as the medium through which the intended simulation product is expressed. The simulation product is our collective dream.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby minime » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:02 am

Vibration. Frequency. Harmonics. Resonance, acoustic, psychic, morphic.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:08 am

.

Thanks DrEvil for the intriguing take, and Jack's/Elvis' interpretation of your initial 'hardware' theory resonates as well.

Simulation theory appears more conceptual rather than actual as one digs deeper: an approximation - an analogy - for what remains a mystery, though it has me leaning increasingly further away from a hard materialist stance.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:05 pm

.

I don't even know what hard materialist would mean. To me the thinking (found among both "materialists" and "spiritualists") that premises a dichotomy separating the material from whatever the immaterial is supposed to be is an artifact of definition. To me, if something exists it is material, whether or not I have seen it and believe it exists. That includes the universal God of the monotheistic traditions (the kind that is separate and "above" our plane). The dichotomy that makes sense to me is existent/non-existent. This, by the way, is entirely consistent with "there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy," or conceived of and acknowledged by me. There so obviously are!

As an example to illustrate what I mean: if souls after death maintain a continuity as entities and float on an astral plane before entering new embryonic bodies to inhabit, then the souls and that astral plane are material; or else the bodies are not. They're both existent.

My reluctance to lend credence to stories of such souls, given what I take to be their absence from existence, is based on my perception and reckoning, and does not make me a materialist. It also does not mean I am not spiritualist. It makes me a skeptic, if you will, although I'm also reluctant to generalize that term. In this example, I am only a skeptic about the existence of souls as described. If the souls exist, then I would have reached the wrong conclusion or guess about something I never saw or processed. At the same time as being skeptical about these souls, I may still believe in other (tangible) things that do not actually exist, and this belief would carry my implicit claim that those are material, or rather existent.

So the common definition of materialism as the opposite of something spiritual or divine seems to me impossible to pin down, not very useful, and often unnecessarily confusing or agenda driven.

Definition 2

I suppose I subscribe to a philosophical or social materialism, under a far stricter, second definition. In seeking to understand a society, my first tendency is to give more weight to the ways its peoples make their livings (the political economy, if you will) and to the social relations among them (and those between them and the rest of the world), rather than to their reigning ideas and traditions, which are also important.

Definition 3

A third definition of the word that is common describes an extreme of consumerism under capitalism, wherein people assess the value of lives and the significance of others based on the number of objects an individual owns. This is harder to separate into its components and nuances. Viewed as a spectrum, this kind of materialism at one pole may express a love of luxury or physical pleasures or experiences. This is the kind of definition-3 materialism that I feel close to. At an another pole it expresses the love of rich or powerful appearances (brandnames, outfits, conspicuous consumption, being seen, gifting, dominance rituals, etc.) and is thus actually not very materialist but a kind of symbolic interaction based on mutually intelligible conventions of what is valuable and impressive. One way to describe this is commodity fetishism.

But who can really know what pleasure is? Is it really the feeling of being in a hot tub that pleases me, the warmth on my skin and the relaxation still felt afterward? Or is this enhanced by the fact that I own one, and that others know that, or that they could know it, and that they desire to own it also? When did I decide that the grail for the basement is not a cup, it comes in the size of a tub? What made me want to acquire this? Am I trying to return to momma? Momma?!

.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby DrEvil » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:13 pm

My take on it (if we are the hardware) is that our existence as part of that hardware is purely coincidental. A better way to look at it is that the universe is the hardware, and we happen to be a teeny-tiny insignificant part of that universe. The simulation isn't running inside us, but inside the stuff that we're made of. We're just a side-effect of how information is organized inside the simulation.

That isn't to say that we're entirely separate from the simulation. Hardware can affect what goes on inside it and careful manipulation of the hardware can make intentional changes to the simulation, and perhaps it's a two-way street. Maybe my consciousness is a reflection of a simulated consciousness running inside the distinct lump of matter that makes up my body.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Belligerent Savant » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:26 pm

.
Yes, all fair/good points. A universally accepted lexicon for what we mean when certain words are used, particularly on this topic, can help (likely never to happen, however).

"hard materialist" in the context of my prior response was used under the premise that consciousness is explained by the workings/interactions of tangible matter: the brain, neurons, particles, atoms. But yes: one can, as JR does above, expand the definition of "materialism" as anything that 'exists'. And then we come to: how do we define what "exists"? What criteria are we using and do we all agree on this criteria? The scientific method is one criteria -- not foolproof though, as it relies, ultimately, on observable measurements and is [probably] limited by formulations within current understandings of reality. What we observe -- either directly or through instruments -- is a byproduct of our senses, which in turn are electrical signals interpreted by the brain. How can we confirm what exists outside of the medium of our brain, which we know will shape/modify/"interpret" information [input] to maximize our ability to 'navigate' this plane we seem to encompass?

Holograms, though not 'material' under certain definitions, would fall under the category of "existing" within the 'exist'/'doesn't exist' dichotomy. Souls may be a byproduct of this hologram model, just as meatspace is.

Myriad pages would be required to parse through this [I'm not qualified to do so in earnest!] -- and there are plenty of pages within this forum that have been dedicated to doing so, not to mention across the interwebs as well*. For now though, time for me to step outside and explore the simulated/holographic/conjured/[other] environment just outside my -- real/imagined -- door.


*that's not to say there's isn't high value in the continued ruminations on this topic, of course. Far be it from me to halt the party.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby thrulookingglass » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:51 pm

All is energy. Its what you do with it that counts. The Starship Enterprise is a battleship with traditional military rankings and organizations. The replicators aboard these fictional starships take energy and turn it into organic matter for consumption. Food is fuel, that is all. Data takes a nutritional substance and as he says, its not exactly good, but good for him. Enjoy your wheat grass spirulina smoothie. As I've said, a universe at war with one another is a terrible thing. War is costly, peace is priceless. Science-fiction attempts to perceive the future of our technological developments and transformations which is its capture. Take a big stick into that big black night? Even those God fearing Puritans aboard they Mayflower came equipped with cannons. Danger around every corner in God's world.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back." - Luke
Quite the ignored phrase, though one who finds enemies in others is bound for trouble. Nevertheless, this has yet to negate all the other negative philosophies espoused in the bible.
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