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Josh
2004-Jan-08, 07:00 AM
In science, consciousness isn't well understood. So what, from a scientific point of view, do you think consciousness is for? How has nature found it necessary and how does it affect nature? How does consciousness appear? What scientific or physical processes make it happen?

How does having consciousness affect the universe???

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jan-08, 02:03 PM
:o :o Immensely!! It's almost like a force unto itself. It's the universe attempting to get control of itself.

Consider the proto-stellar cloud in semi-stasis with collapse being initiated by a compression wave from a nearby explosion from a supernova. At first the controlling forces are those attributable to gravity, electricity, and magnetism (for now thermodynamics is considered derived from the latter two). Sometime later there appear molecules with special charge controlled affinities for each other such that they "elbow" their way through the mess to form special conglomerates that eventually lead to living organisms.

This elbowing through the mess is not a new force, but it is a special organizing principle both causing and being dependent upon the mess (to be and) being introduced to (and introducing) sets of strange attractors (introducing order in the chaos) to produce a "quasi-polarizing" effect. This causes the three dominant forces to be applied to the mess in a more orderly way and different from what was happening prior to the exercising of the affinities. Normally, we do not ascribe consciousness to this level of organization, but this prerequisite has put us on our way first to microbes thence to multicellulars thence to consciousness.

Sometime later (much much later by human standards) the conscious critters develop technology and begin to mold the universe into configurations of their liking including the building of planets, the moving of stars, the unwrapping of black holes packaged by gravity, and configuration control of clusters of galaxies.

Shall entropy indeed be ever increasing? A term like quasi-elasticity comes to mind&#33;&#33; <_<

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jan-09, 02:20 PM
Here&#39;s a less confusing rendition.....I hope.

Consider the proto-stellar cloud in semi-stasis with collapse being initiated by a compression wave from a nearby explosion from a supernova. At first the controlling forces are those attributable to gravity, electricity, and magnetism (for now thermodynamics is considered to be a manifestation of the latter two interacting with gravity). Sometime later molecules with special charge controlled affinities for each other and being cast about in the mess form special conglomerates that eventually lead to living organisms (either in the cloud or, later, on the planets or moons).

These special conglomerates in the mess do not represent a new force, rather they introduce a special organizing process both causing and being dependent upon sets of strange attractors within the mess (directing the degree of order in the chaos) to produce a "quasi-discriminating" effect favoring the building of ever more complex carbon based molecules leading eventually to self replication. This causes the three dominant forces to be applied to the mess in a more orderly way and different from what was happening prior to the exercising of the affinities. Normally, we do not ascribe consciousness to this level of organization, but this prerequisite has put us on our way first to microbes thence to multicellulars thence to consciousness.

Sometime later (much, much later by human standards) the conscious critters develop technology and begin to mold the universe into configurations of their liking including the building of planets, the moving of stars, the unwrapping of black holes packaged by gravity, configuration control of clusters of galaxies, managing cosmological expansion, etc. :unsure:

alpha
2004-Jan-19, 08:21 PM
Conciousness is our interpretation and interaction with the perceived reality out there?&#33;&#33;
Perceived reality is a set of interpretations of electrical signals.

Which came first ......conciousness or perceived reality? ( Have you read the "Holographic Universe")

corkft
2004-Jan-19, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by Josh@Jan 8 2004, 07:00 AM


How does having consciousness affect the universe???
Consciousness, defines the universe. It takes us from the amoeba stage ("Hungry, blob over there, eat.") to the questioning and wonderment stage. The universe to that lowly amoeba is a few cc of H20. The universe to us is an ever expanding space full of the unknown that we question and explore. Perhaps through our consciousness, the Universe itself is able to grow and expand. Someday, when we stop asking these impossible questions, the Universe will have no reason to exist.

zrice03
2004-Feb-04, 02:36 AM
Corkft, you sound like my mom. She thinks that we create the universe as we explore it.

I think I read somewhere that when matter begins to interact with itself quatum mechanically rather than chemically, consciousness emerges.

Matthew
2004-Feb-04, 06:05 AM
Conciousness creates &#39;choice&#39;, which is different to chance. Chance occurs in the universe all the time, (ie. quantum physics), though choice can only occur with a living (?) being. Chance works on mathematics, choice, well what is choice?

damienpaul
2004-Feb-04, 08:50 AM
I read somewhere that choice is a form of probability, but how to predict it is very complex...

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-05, 01:33 PM
Conciousness creates &#39;choice&#39;, which is different to chance. Chance occurs in the universe all the time, (ie. quantum physics), though choice can only occur with a living (?) being. Chance works on mathematics, choice, well what is choice?

It may be useful to consider choice enabled by consciousness in order to reduce the effects of chance (chaos) and to promote a tendency to order.

Sphinx
2004-Feb-06, 11:29 PM
I&#39;ve never heard the idea of consciousness from such a mathematical perspective. Nor have I ever heard it applied to a system. It&#39;s absolutely fascinating and I encourage the further expression of this view point. Unfortunately, I&#39;m at the short end of the stick here when it comes to inputting from this direction. I&#39;ve always heard it expressed from a psychological or spiritual stand point and the question&#39;s have always been well, a more personal phenomena and always involves the extent to which an organism is conscious, where consciousness is defined as the awareness of one&#39;s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

What I&#39;m hearing here is how consciousness of these organisms where developed due to a systems response to self-organization of carbon molecules in an effort to eliminate chance, making the development of consciously aware organisms an inevitability? That, in essence, this system self-organized in order to become consciously aware of its own existence and thus far, we humans are the most complex organization of carbon that we know of, and that our level of consciousness is essentially the universesí level of consciousness? I&#39;d like to hear more about this system&#39;s process of self organization at this macro level from a mathematical angle; again, a very fascinating view point of consciousness.

Sphinx
2004-Feb-06, 11:34 PM
In light of this view point one would have to question as to whether or not the universe is alive or whether a system must be alive in order to be conscious. But that is a different topic and might be a good discussion to proceed after this one using this mathematical application of a systems process of self organization as a platform.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-08, 03:59 PM
It may be useful to think of humanity as an organism where each individual human is the equivalent of a cell in a multicellular organism and is loosely coupled to the total of humanity via "collective consciousness" (CC). CC is not being used here in any metaphysical sense though there is an influence from the practicioneers of metaphysics. Until the proliferation of the internet, CC was fueled primarily by print media, radio and television and to a lesser degree by rabbis, priests, ministers,etc., Now the internet has provided a quantum leap in tightening of the crosscoupling of each human with a small subset of humanity consisting of close acquaintences and to a lesser degree to all of humanity. This provides a strong tendency to drive the thinking of each human toward a mean (average) set of premises and ideas with ever smaller deviations on the part of each human.

Consequently we can each arive at a commonality of acceptance of the nature and severity of problems and the likelihood of the effectivness of proposed solutions. This allows us to become increasingly aware of and agree on problems and to set priorities for their solutions in ever higher degrees of agreement. Our drive to survive and protect ourselves from the vagaries of the universe will propel us off the planet and on to the road to controlling the expansion of the universe and shaping its other characteristics as we discover them.

All this began when the effort of prokaryotes to eat each other ended in a tie.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-08, 08:21 PM
It&#39;s remarkable that Jesus of Nazareth summed up my last post on this topic with: "You shall know the truth and it shall make you free."

Sphinx
2004-Feb-09, 04:04 PM
:D I agree with your principles Gourdhead, but only on a metaphorical level. To what extent are you being literal?

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-09, 06:55 PM
:o As literal as I know how. :o

Intelligence has survival value and to the extent that it leads to technological development it has proportionally enhanced survival value. Competition among species on earth has led humans to develop technology which has increased productivity enough to allow the additional technology development for comtemplating the universe and the principles of physics that constrain, transform, and propel it. Programed into our DNA is the drive to survive at each the individual and the species level which compels us to continuously search for more and more truth at ever increasing levels of completeness and accuracy over ever increasing fields of inquiry. Thus we are forced to know the truth and to the extent that we succeed, we shall achieve an ever increasing level of freedom.

There is great beauty and emormous elegance in the quote attributed to Jesus; it may have inspired Occam to formulate his razor&#33;&#33; Here we have that which exceeds great sturdiness and beauty for a foundation of faith. :rolleyes:

The enormity of the effect of consciousness on the universe may be comprehendable; surely it is not currently so. Let&#39;s not fail to consider the effect of competition amongst whichever sentients may be loose in at least the Milky Way. :lol:

Sphinx
2004-Feb-09, 11:04 PM
;) Well I commend you on your enthusiasm gourdhead, but I don&#39;t agree with your angle. I feel that you believe it is predestined or rather, some sort of predisposition or perhaps even an outside influence, whether it be metaphysical in nature or not. I on the other hand believe it to be based on a matter of numbers and probability.

Nevertheless, we both agree that this system (whatever it may be that motivates it) may have a tendency to create more and more complex carbon based organism which inevitably would lead to a being with an overtly complex consciousness which intern affects the consciousness of the system; namely, the universe. True?

Correct me if I&#39;m wrong, but I take you to mean that a consequence of this in reference to the human race as a whole is an eventual unifying thought process largely influenced by technology and technology being a natural predestined process of the human race. Almost metaphysical in nature, correct?

I&#39;m not sure if my interpretation of your hypothesis is correct but again, nevertheless I might be inclined to say that I see something similar accept, not metaphysical, or holy in nature but rather a matter of fact due to the inception of the information age. The ability of one culture to affect another culture is extremely large because of this. Before, the extreme diversity of cultures was do to a general lack of outside contact. That is no longer the case. So, yes, in a sense the human race as a whole should develope into one unifying stream of consciosness, or thoughts and awareness of one&#39;s place in the world.

Just to note, we aren&#39;t answering this question very scientifically but are instead trying to provide a personal opinion as to the reason for biological organisation and what effects this has on consciousness (especially human) and how this might lead to the inevitable exploration of space. Interesting but very subjective.

If anyone else has any scientific data as to the reason/purpose of consciousness please, fill in. I believe the one question that might be the most straight forward answer is "What scientific or physical processes make it happen?" -asked by Josh.

Well, I&#39;m in no position to explain the neurological processes of the brain, but if anyone else out there is a Biologist or Psychologist whose primary focus is Neurology and Cognition, please, fill in. :)

Chook
2004-Feb-09, 11:26 PM
I haven&#39;t a clue. :blink:

I was never very interested in metaphysics and suggest
you will see why if ever you get to the Philosophers in "Hitchhiker&#39;s
Guide". In my job and previous training, I have to use evidence-based
material, so insertion of numerous vague terms irritates me.

Let&#39;s just live life as best we can with a basis of helping our fellows and the rest of the natural kingdom, and not make assumptions on something we cannot really grasp.

The posts are full of phrases such as "quantum leap," "cross-coupling
of each human with a small subset etc." which confuse the hell out of me.

That&#39;s why I have an IQ of 87 :P

Duane
2004-Feb-10, 01:24 AM
Well said Gourdhead&#33; {clap clap clap} Beautiful analogy of a complex and awe-inspiring condition.

I don&#39;t know Sphinx if conciousness is something that can be explained in the form of a mathematical complex. "I think, therefore I am" is not a process that can be laid out in a mathematical way, at least not that I have ever seen.

And alot of people who are way smarter than me have tried. :blink:

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 02:39 AM
I think consciousness could be a very physical form of electromagnetic energy...maybe buzzing at such a high frequency (ie beyond cosmic rays etc) that it remains undetectable...strange how we lose "21 grams" at the moment of death&#33;?

Considering energy (photons) are timeless, if there IS a detachment of this energy from the body at death, we would be immortal...

...or perhaps not...just thinking out loud&#33; :P

Sphinx - is that the singer from Motley Crue in your avatar pic?? :lol:

Sphinx
2004-Feb-10, 04:25 AM
Let me clarify something for you Duane. I never suggested that consciousness could be explained by a mathematical complex. The only thing I suggested that had anything to do with a mathematically based system was in reference to my interpretation of Gourdhead&#39;s observation. I believe what Gourdhead is talking about has nothing to do with "consciousness" per se but rather how it is that the generation of the universe (as a system) inevitably leads to consciousness. This inevitability was suggested by other&#39;s to be caused by this system&#39;s efforts at decreasing chance, thus increasing probability. This molecular organisation can be looked at mathematically and there fore a valid argument can be made.

Again, I never suggested that consciousness could be explained mathematically. If you actually read my posts, I believe you&#39;ll see that what I say is quite the opposite. The sixth page from the bottom of the first page I state that I&#39;ve never heard it expressed from a mathematical angle. That is, I was suggesting that this is what it seemed other&#39;s were eluding to. In the first post of this page I state that both Gourdhead and I are being subjective. In reality, there is nothing of value being stated here and in reality, my subjective observations are an interpretation of Gourdhead&#39;s subjective statements. It&#39;s all philosophy Which leads to the only statement I ever made that had anything to do with a mathmatical complex which was that I personally feel that most of what happens in life is all numbers and probability. Since there is nothing like that here, it&#39;s all speculation.

So, not to sound rude but I&#39;d appreciate it if you actually paid attention to what people write and not get your facts screwed up. Again, this argument from this angle, though interesting, does not answer the original question. Well, perhaps it eludes to some indirect observation of the origination of consciousness. In no way can it ever be tested. Hmph, it can&#39;t even be stated clearly right now&#33;&#33; <_<

Faulkner, No it&#39;s not a picture of Motley Crue.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-10, 02:11 PM
In science, consciousness isn&#39;t well understood. So what, from a scientific point of view, do you think consciousness is for? How has nature found it necessary and how does it affect nature? How does consciousness appear? What scientific or physical processes make it happen? How does having consciousness affect the universe???

These questions do not appear to address or inquire about the implementation details of consciousness about which we have much to learn and I even more than many, perhaps all, of you. ;)

:o With my previous entries in this thread I have tried to address the opening questions asked by Josh; now Iíll try to clarify (obviously not my strong suit) my assertions. Metaphysical forces/concepts, except as a natural (not supernatural) attribute of consciousness do not exist. Darwinís dangerous idea (see author Daniel Dennett) is more powerful than Darwin probably (we have no direct access to his mind) ever knew. Even now we have trouble grasping its range and depth. Consciousness has resulted from the mindless, purposeless, incessant fumbling of the evolutionary process as a collateral benefit to its possessors. Nature did not have to produce it; rather it was allowed (not prevented) to occur. Having occurred, it has become its own champion creating the feedback loops through technology that both cause and assist it to order the universe, sustain itself, and grow ever more complex. Yet another level of symmetry breaking comes to mind.

I am not asserting that the universe (indeed, not even humanity) is, or will become, alive in the sense of a single integrated unit; rather I assert that ever larger percentages of the mass within the universe will become incorporated into conscious critters and it, including them, will be subjected to their perception of order. Letís hope their perceptions are sound and safe. :unsure:

There is no skyhook; it&#39;s cranes all the way down...and up. :rolleyes:

Note that entropy applies to a closed finite system isolated from external inputs; I&#39;m not sure the universe qualifies. Did those who coined the second law of thermodynamics fully appreciate the complex interplay between gravity and electromagnetism under the influence of quantum effects....and consciousness? :o

If evolution is thought to be the master and us the slaves then revolution is eminent&#33;&#33; The genetic engineers are out of their cage and not all of madness has been gauged much less caged. :ph34r:

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 02:43 PM
Maybe "consciousness" is that long-sought-after connection between quantum physics & relativity theory??? :o

Sphinx
2004-Feb-10, 02:45 PM
[QUOTE]

Note that entropy applies to a closed finite system isolated from external inputs; I&#39;m not sure the universe qualifies

Is anything isoloated from external inputs? I&#39;m inclined to disagree.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-10, 03:48 PM
Only the universe, in a light speed limiting chunckwise fashion, is isolated from external inputs and that by its very definition. What I&#39;m not sure of is that it is either closed or finite. We may be in close agreement after all. <_<

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 04:36 PM
We may be in close agreement after all.

BUT...spacetime expands between the two of you...and entropy increases...chaos dominates...quantum fluctuations fluctuate everywhere...

Can you POSSIBLY be in close agreement???

;)

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-10, 05:32 PM
Quantum fluctuations are domain limited and rendered largely insignificant at the macro level by the averaging process. Chaos will be fashioned into order by the possessors of consciousness and the increase in entropy will be challenged resulting in a more rigorous and appropriate formulation of its nature and effects.

Whether or not we are in as much agreement as I think, evolution will drive our descendants ever more close into agreement.

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-10, 06:06 PM
Maybe "consciousness" is that long-sought-after connection between quantum physics & relativity theory???

Doubtful, my vote goes to geometry as expressed by me in another thread.


An item must be of non-zero size (however small) in each of the 4 spacetime dimensions in order to have a meaningful existence. Items that meet this requirement are observable and to some extent measurable even though we may not have the technology to achieve this presently for the extremely small. Having non-zero size in the 4 spacetime dimensions seems to be both necessary and sufficient---but it is sufficient

Theories invoking additional dimensions beyond the 4 of spacetime, not only exceed my comprehension, but hint at epicycling, a sport that Occam advised against. I would be much more comfortable intuitively if the additional degrees of freedom apparently required by string and brane theories could invoke "independent parameters" other than spatial dimensions (e.g. posit a composite charge-like sub-quark structure of non-hyperdimensional nature).

Having accepted general relativity that equates gravity with geometry and not knowing what mass is at the electron/neutron/proton/quark level other than resistance to motion as defined by the definition of momentum, we may have embarked on the road to defining mass and charge in terms of geometry as well. Highly localized fractal-like variations in the curvature of spacetime come to mind for mass and charge may be relatable to non-zero-energy-state space quantization compromises of some sort.

Should this wild speculation have merit, it will give a new meaning to geometers..


Some have charged that I am guilty of subjective speculation. I plead guilty as charged. :rolleyes:

Duane
2004-Feb-10, 07:17 PM
My turn to clarify Sphinx. You said:


I believe the one question that might be the most straight forward answer is "What scientific or physical processes make it happen?" -asked by Josh.


My comment was in answer to that statement alone.

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 08:43 PM
You caught me there, Gourdhead&#33; ;) But...do you think photons have mass? Size? Can something have size but not mass?

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-11, 01:06 AM
You caught me there, Gourdhead&#33; But...do you think photons have mass? Size? Can something have size but not mass?

Gamma ray to electron/positron pair formation suggests that photons either have mass or something close to it (.5mc^2 =hf). Mass is difficult to pin down at the quantum level. The true physical vacuum, empty space, can have size but not mass. It would be difficult to find a chunk of true vacuum that is free of both photons and neutrinos.

Faulkner
2004-Feb-11, 01:52 AM
Whoa&#33; If photons have mass (however miniscule), that means there is even a more fundamental energy behind the electromagnetic spectrum&#33;? E=mc<2> insists&#33;&#33;&#33;

corkft
2004-Feb-11, 02:10 AM
So, IF photons have mass and can be viewed as either a particle or a wave, depending on how it is looked at, could it not be making a conscious decision as to it&#39;s properties?
Maybe as a joke on humanity..... :D

Sphinx
2004-Feb-11, 02:31 AM
Clarity acheived Duane.

LOL corkft

corkft
2004-Feb-16, 02:20 AM
For a start, please go to: http://pr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases...es/PR12491.html (http://pr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases/PR12491.html)
Research on a SCIENTIFIC level is being done.

Faulkner
2004-Feb-16, 01:23 PM
What a fantastic little article, Corkft&#33;&#33;&#33; This explains A LOT&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; I would love to see this kind of research applied in a wider sociological sense...analyzing human society & human behaviour, our "sacred" institutions that are inherited & perpetuated by each successive generation, etc&#33; It needs to be done... Too much is taken for granted, not enough is questioned...

GOURDHEAD
2004-Feb-17, 01:38 PM
corkft:
Neat reference but the zombie effect underlying and affecting consciousness detracts from where consciousness is apt to take us via technology, its offspring, now that the feedback loop has been activated.

The details of the "mechanization" of consciousness seems to be a different inquiry from how the universe is affected/impacted by it or how it was brought about by nature.

isferno
2005-Apr-16, 04:39 PM
Originally posted by GOURDHEAD@Feb 17 2004, 01:38 PM
corkft:
Neat reference but the zombie effect underlying and affecting consciousness detracts from where consciousness is apt to take us via technology, its offspring, now that the feedback loop has been activated.

the Universe and consciousness

Gourhead, the story corkft linked to, shows one direct implication:
Zombie vs Choice making. (Matthew mentioned this choice making too)


On the choices

Whole of human history shows that there have been plenty of choices, wrong choices, unthoughtful choices and lucky shots.

Evolution predicts that the best quality will be successful and maintained in offspring.

Thus: (With all the same level of awareness)
Unthoughtful choices will prevail above wrong choices
Lucky Shots, will prevail above unthoughtful choices
Right choosing, will prevail above lucky shots
etc.


Is the Universe conscious?

Lets assume the universe is conscious:
- It is at some level aware (electrical, gravitational etc)
- It can make some kind of choice based on the minimal awareness.

Lets keep in mind that:
- The basic assumption is that the information is influentional without requiring activity. (example: Gravity influences particles.)
- choices should show discrepancies with the influentional parts, based on the assumption that not all choices have been right choices.


So the only thing you would need to prove that the universe is conscious, is to prove that discrepancies exist between the basic information and the final result.


Timely ascertion

The only problem is that humanities level of awareness of the basic workings is to shallow to be able to see the any (meaningful) discrepancies. This would only provide some answer like: God exists, in the same way that primitive cultures believe in a God.

Until then, we can only enhance humanities awareness. And before that, any attempt to ascertain whether or not the universe is conscious is moot.

cran
2005-Aug-22, 12:58 AM
Carolyn Porco (Voyager and Cassini imaging team) once suggested: "perhaps, through the evolution of intelligence, the universe is seeking a way to know itself?" :huh:

corkft
2005-Aug-22, 02:03 AM
Is that not what "Science" is all about? Finding the who, what , when, where and the why of it all...

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship HUMANITY (or possibly the starship KNOWLEDGE)...who&#39;s continuing mission is the answers to questions....the questioning of answers....and if we ever find all the answers and determine all the questions....................then will the Universe collapse and start all over again? (Gosh, that was fun, what do I do now?)

cran
2005-Aug-22, 09:02 AM
What do you do now?
Why... question your own answers, of course&#33; :lol:

buzzlightbeer
2005-Aug-22, 06:12 PM
this post has been removed by me&#33;&#33; it was off topic.

cran
2005-Aug-22, 06:50 PM
:huh: I think I missed something in the translation... :unsure:

buzzlightbeer
2005-Aug-22, 07:06 PM
post removed by me. it was off topic&#33; buzz.

cran
2005-Aug-23, 03:34 AM
okay.... :unsure: what was the topic again? :blink:

j0seph
2005-Aug-24, 03:21 AM
lol, a conscious universe..... yeah.... I don&#39;t really buy into that theory (even though I suggested it myself a few months ago ;) ) but It does seem that it could be possible based on our understanding of our brain... but then again most likely not all types of inteligences in the universe are derived from the same type of brain construction. But nevertheless it is a very interesting theory to play with...

Damburger
2005-Sep-06, 09:34 PM
Conciousness is probably an emergent property. This means that its presence in a complex system of chemicals (our brains) doesn't imply its presence in less complex chemical systems (other matter). So the universe probably isn't concious.

Of course all this is qualified, because we know nothing about conciousness for certain at the present time.

blueshift
2005-Sep-11, 12:06 AM
Consciousness is inertia that can interrupt both itself and entropy..

From breaking cars to inventing, waking from sleep , figuring out math, working or even posting something requires an interruption of inertia and entropy..

This is why we "fall" asleep..We are giving in to inertia, allowing the brain to recharge..When you dream try and accelerate something..resist the motion you are headed in the dream and notice how you will strain incredibly until you only succeed by waking, interrupting the inertia and entropy of the dream state..

You can't type a reply until you interrupt the inertia of your eye motions moving across this post that are taking visions of these words ( interrupting their inertia) and matching them with meanings ( reading them out of another inertial state) and then typing ( interrupting the inertia and entropy of your hands). Any words you do not comprehend requires that you further interrupt more inertia..that of a dictionary...and arrange its entropy until you find the word to see if it fits..An invention interrupts the inertia and entropy of technology's present infrastructure, which is, at present, without that invention..

Joe87
2006-Apr-12, 04:17 PM
Conciousness is probably an emergent property. This means that its presence in a complex system of chemicals (our brains) doesn't imply its presence in less complex chemical systems (other matter). So the universe probably isn't concious.

Of course all this is qualified, because we know nothing about conciousness for certain at the present time.

I think that consciousness is an experiment that evolution is has "stumbled upon" (like everything else it has tried), and so far the experiment seems to be successful: that is, conscious animals (us) are better able to survive and reproduce than non-conscious animals (everything else). Whether we bear the seeds of our own demise remains to be seen. Much of what we have wrought (nuclear weapons, habitat destruction, etc.) has the potential for bringing us down. It will be interesting to see if consciousness works out in the long run (although I likely won't be around to see it - this experiment probably has a long time to go to completion). If we do cause the next major extinction event, maybe we will survive it and wise up next time.

clop
2006-Apr-12, 10:48 PM
I've just finished reading an excellent book on this topic.

Human Instinct by Robert Winston
ISBN 0-553-81492-3

It tries to explain our development and describes how our evolution and primeval impulses affect our modern behaviour.

Towards the end of the book he tries to explain the development of all life (and consciousness) from the humble beginnings of the "competition" of very simple chance-occurring replicator molecules. Not competition in the sense of actively competing, but competition as a natural process that happens when you mix abstract chemicals together and add things like heat and electricity. Of course the repeated mutations, extinctions and subsequent tweaking of these replicator molecules finally produced DNA.

He describes a virus as a replicator molecule (DNA) surrounded by a protective shell - the code for the protective shell is included in the replicator molecule. The virus exists for no other "purpose" than to allow the replicator molecule to replicate itself. It shouldn't be thought that the virus has any awareness of this purpose to replicate, it's just the end result of an enormous line of evolution that started with simple random organic molecules.

By this reckoning the human body and all that goes along with it is also just a vehicle to allow our replicator molecule to replicate. The human body and our consciousness is constructed from the code in the replicator molecule we carry. Our cells, which in turn group together to make tissue, skin, bone, blood and nervous systems, are all integral components of our DNA's complex survival machine. In some ways this is a sinister way to think about our bodies. All of life as we know it is just the complex end result of these tiny molecules being naturally selected to replicate the best. And again, with no awareness and by no design.

It's quite shocking to realise that our bodies are constructed from the code in our DNA and that our only "purpose" (not the right word) here is just to replicate the DNA. When we say "we" we feel like we have some kind of higher level of control, but our body and our behaviour and everything we are is all coming from the replicator molecule and all serve to promote its proliferation.

A hen exists only to allow an egg to create another egg.

clop

clop
2006-Apr-12, 11:12 PM
I think that consciousness is an experiment that evolution is has "stumbled upon" (like everything else it has tried), and so far the experiment seems to be successful: that is, conscious animals (us) are better able to survive and reproduce than non-conscious animals (everything else). Whether we bear the seeds of our own demise remains to be seen. Much of what we have wrought (nuclear weapons, habitat destruction, etc.) has the potential for bringing us down. It will be interesting to see if consciousness works out in the long run (although I likely won't be around to see it - this experiment probably has a long time to go to completion). If we do cause the next major extinction event, maybe we will survive it and wise up next time.

Einstein said, "I know not with what weapons World War Three will be fought, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones."

clop

01101001
2006-Apr-13, 01:28 AM
A hen exists only to allow an egg to create another egg.
Whatever one perceives as higher-system X being just a way for lower-system Y to make another lower-system Y, is just a matter of picking levels.

Societies are tribes' way of making other tribes. Tribes are families' way to make other families. Families are humans' way to make other humans. Humans are organs' way of making other organs. Organs are cells' way of making other cells. Cells are DNA's way of making other DNA. DNA is chemicals' way of making other chemicals.

Focusing on one level gives it undue credit in the big picture.

clop
2006-Apr-13, 04:56 AM
Whatever one perceives as higher-system X being just a way for lower-system Y to make another lower-system Y, is just a matter of picking levels.

Societies are tribes' way of making other tribes. Tribes are families' way to make other families. Families are humans' way to make other humans. Humans are organs' way of making other organs. Organs are cells' way of making other cells. Cells are DNA's way of making other DNA. DNA is chemicals' way of making other chemicals.

Focusing on one level gives it undue credit in the big picture.

No you can focus in on one level, because the design for societies, tribes, families, humans, organs and cells is right there in the replicator molecule. DNA has the design for tribes and families. They are all, along with our behaviour, programmed in the molecule.

clop

01101001
2006-Apr-13, 05:40 AM
No you can focus in on one level, because the design for societies, tribes, families, humans, organs and cells is right there in the replicator molecule. DNA has the design for tribes and families. They are all, along with our behaviour, programmed in the molecule.

Sure you can focus in on one level. My point was that to do so gives too short shrift to the contributions of the other levels.

For instance our culture is not coded in DNA, even if the ability to do culture is. A lot of life as I know it is culture. The tools I have learned to use help me and my DNA survive, but they're not in the DNA.

clop
2006-Apr-13, 07:31 AM
Sure you can focus in on one level. My point was that to do so gives too short shrift to the contributions of the other levels.

For instance our culture is not coded in DNA, even if the ability to do culture is. A lot of life as I know it is culture. The tools I have learned to use help me and my DNA survive, but they're not in the DNA.

Ah you've added something new - you've suddenly introduced culture now. I agree with you that culture isn't coded in the replicator. I thought you were trying to say that all the other things you mentioned aren't coded in the replicator. So I suppose you must agree with me after all.

:)

clop

afterburner
2006-Apr-14, 06:07 PM
very interesting discussion. I have a few points to make aswell.
I agree with the fact that our consciousness helps us advance. I also think that our senses contribute tremendously to our consciousness, they almost define it. To be conscious is to be aware, and to be awate is to have some kind of input from the external world (our senses). If you think about it, things having less, or worse senses are "less conscious", they "know" less, see what im getting at? So the next step in evolution, and this will also make us more aware, and thereofre more conscious, is to "go robot". Thats right, we are too depenant on things like food, air, and so on. Being a machine eliminates all of those problems, and leaves only one - energy (which is easier to get). Also, being a non organic life form, we can make our "inputs" much more precise. We can have tongues, that can taste ANY chemical, eyes that can see the entire electromagnetic spectrum, ears that can hear just about anything, and so on. Which is why i believe we wil be "more conscious", and thereofre will be able to observe more, learn more, and advance faster as a species. We are also very forgetful right now, imagine you knew everything you EVER learned, how much smarter would you be? All of these improvements!, and thats without mentioning that we will live forever!

There is one major drawback, however - reproduction. (i mentioned this idea on a different thread once already)

I got a little carried away there, but i believe it will be the next step in evolution. Once technology becomes awailable for this to happen, many people will "convert" many will also chose not to, and die.

Consciousness will have a whole different meaning once the above idea is realized. In this thread someone mentioned something along the lines of humans are like cells of a bigger organism. I only sort or agree. Why? because our only means of communication is by talking to eachother, and thats not good enough. Ill give an example. Your friend goes on a trip, when he comes back he tells you all about it. But do you REALLY know how it was? you were not there, so you have NO idea what it was like, you can try to imagine, but you still dont know. Now a similar scenario in a "robot world". Your friend goes on a trip, when he comes back, he plugs you directly to his brain/computer. Since that brain/computer records everything, inputs from all sences(that are better by the way) you actually "live" through the memmory, you know EXACTLY how it was, simply by "downloading" yor friends knowledge. Or even better - you wirelessly think "together" with your friend, almost like having two consciousnesses (is that a word?lol).

Ah, but now the "true" cells of larger organism idea is possible...If EVVERYBODY was doing this(wirelessly connecting) we would have one "greater" consciousness. Just an idea, i dont actually know how much of this is possible, or when it will become possible. But if it happens, we will be the true masters of the universe.

Ken G
2006-Apr-22, 06:48 AM
If you think about it, things having less, or worse senses are "less conscious", they "know" less, see what im getting at?
It's not actually obvious that consciousness is connected to the amount of sensory input. Animals are said to have extremely keen senses, yet are generally viewed as less conscious than humans. On the other hand, when humans are threatened, our senses become more acute and it is sometimes said that we achieve a higher level of consciousness as "time slows down". But then, some Eastern religions attempt to achieve a higher consciousness through meditation, which involves a disconnect from sensory input. And what about use of alcohol or drugs to dull the senses and achieve a more blissful state by actually stepping down the level of consciousness-- if consciousness is so important to us, why do we do that? Is someone who is in pain at a high level of consciousness, even though it is undesirable? On balance, I'd say we really don't understand much about consciousness at all, including its connection to sensory input.

Ken G
2006-Apr-22, 06:57 AM
The virus exists for no other "purpose" than to allow the replicator molecule to replicate itself. It shouldn't be thought that the virus has any awareness of this purpose to replicate, it's just the end result of an enormous line of evolution that started with simple random organic molecules.

What is the meaning of the term "purpose" in the above? It is well to put it in quotes, as it is an anthropomorphism, which should be thought of as included entirely for dramatic effect and should not be taken very seriously. Why should we assume that things "want" to replicate? I could as easily stipulate that things "want" only to cease to exist, but some are doomed to replicate by their inescapable nature, and those poor cursed systems are the ones we find around us. That position isn't to be taken seriously either, but it is an equally valid position when applied to viruses, etc.

A hen exists only to allow an egg to create another egg.

No, a hen exists for a myriad of purposes that are all impossible to disconnect from whatever arbitrary definition of "purpose" is being used. If one cites that survival is the main purpose, then the statement is correct, but tautological. Any other definition of purpose invalidates the statement. So the statement is either circular, or false.

clop
2006-Apr-22, 09:05 AM
What is the meaning of the term "purpose" in the above? It is well to put it in quotes, as it is an anthropomorphism, which should be thought of as included entirely for dramatic effect and should not be taken very seriously. Why should we assume that things "want" to replicate? I could as easily stipulate that things "want" only to cease to exist, but some are doomed to replicate by their inescapable nature, and those poor cursed systems are the ones we find around us. That position isn't to be taken seriously either, but it is an equally valid position when applied to viruses, etc.

No, a hen exists for a myriad of purposes that are all impossible to disconnect from whatever arbitrary definition of "purpose" is being used. If one cites that survival is the main purpose, then the statement is correct, but tautological. Any other definition of purpose invalidates the statement. So the statement is either circular, or false.

Well yes I did put "purpose" in quotes because it is totally the wrong word and implies something greater than it is. But I couldn't think of a better word to use. The book reasoned that the primordial soup contained molecules which happened to be better at others at surviving. And no not surviving in the human sense of actively attempting to survive - surviving in the strictest possible sense that some molecules would continue to be present better by chance and some wouldn't. The book described the whole chain of evolution as starting from this point, and at some point the sheer complexity of the elegance of the chance solutions of the winning molecules makes them appear anthropomorphic. The trouble is that "anthropomorphism" is a concept created by a consciousness that has developed as a natural product of the chance evolution of the replicator to happen to survive better than its peers. At this point the line between an inanimate replicator molecule and human consciousness defining the intent of the replicator becomes blurred, because the consciousness is part of the chance survival mechanism of the replicator. The whole thing is intrinsically linked together, in a loop like you say, but I think it's wrong to be so arrogant as to take the stance that we are somehow above the replicator, sentient beings looking down and trying to figure out what the replicator is doing, when in fact the replicator is what contains the information necessary to create the consciousness in the first place. We are the replicator molecule. Our consciousness is just an end product of the refinement of our replicators chance survival.

clop

Ken G
2006-Apr-22, 01:04 PM
I agree that you have correctly described our best understanding of the processes that led to our being here. My problem is when people take the "selfish gene" approach and claim that this is somehow the goal of a gene. A gene has no goal, it is not a football player. It does what it does, and what happens is what happens. The idea that we "should" act so as to replicate ourselves is patently absurd, it is merely one arbitrary definition of what our goal should be. Where comes the presumption that we should want to replicate, or that a cell should want to leave a copy of itself? Could I not as easily stipulate that a cell's goal is to be unique, the last of its kind, and the ones we have around are the ones who have failed, not the ones who have succeeded? Attributing purpose to the process is just what evolution is not. I realize that you knew "purpose" was not the best word, it is more that many people seem to make that jump that I was objecting to. Purpose is what we make it-- we choose our purpose.

Joe87
2006-Apr-22, 02:32 PM
It's not actually obvious that consciousness is connected to the amount of sensory input. Animals are said to have extremely keen senses, yet are generally viewed as less conscious than humans.
Isn't consciousness defined by "self-awareness?" Or perhaps awareness of the past and especially the future? The ability to step outside ourselves, figuratively, and consider ourselves, and how we have acted in the past and how we can act in the future, and the likely consequenses of such future action? That seems to me to be the aspect of consciousness that is present in us but not in our non-human cousins in the animal world (at least as far as we can tell).

Ken G
2006-Apr-22, 05:46 PM
Yes, that does seem closer to the mark than amount of sensory input. A computer can analyze a spectacular amount of inputs very quickly, without achieving any consciousness in the sense of self-awareness.