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A brain scan determines the human ability to ``wonder about your essence''

"Take for example two patients with mental illness. One of them is aware of his illness, but the other is not." said one of the researchers, Stephen Fleming. "It is likely that the first person will take his medication, but the second less so. If we understand the process of self-awareness at the neurological level, we may also be able to adapt treatments and develop training strategies for these patients."

Homer Simpson's brain lobes
Homer Simpson's brain lobes

More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle wondered about human nature. "What is the best virtue of man?" asked the ancient Greek philosopher. "And when can a person see himself as having realized his essence in life?"
The answer he found to the question was revolutionary for his time. Aristotle stated that man's good virtue is his ability to self-examine, to think deeply and to judge. The logic of thought, and the willingness to wonder and doubt your own thoughts and ideas, are what make a person a complete and complete being, and even a happy one.

For tens and hundreds of generations since Aristotle, many have labored arduously in attempts to impart to the public the ability of self-examination, while others have tried with all their might to disrupt it. Some would say that the scientific community represents the former, while established religion represents the latter. This is an important struggle, no doubt, but is it even possible to gauge its results? Is there an expression in the brain for the ability to 'think about thinking'? A study published on September 17 in the prestigious science journal Science suggests that this is the case, and that a certain area of ​​the brain appears larger in individuals who are better at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting on their decisions.

The team of researchers led by Geraint Rees from University College London, suggest that the volume of gray matter in a certain area of ​​the brain located just behind the eyes can largely indicate a person's ability to question his own way of thinking. The structure of the white matter that connects to that area is also related to the process of self-thinking.

During the study, thirty-two healthy human volunteers were recruited and exposed to two screens. Six different shapes were projected on each of the screens. On one of the screens there was one shape that was brighter than the rest. The subjects were asked to identify the screen that contained the brighter shape, and to rate the level of confidence they felt regarding their answer. After the experiment, the brains of the participants were scanned using an MRI machine.

The researchers designed the task at a high level of difficulty, so that participants could never be completely sure if their answer was correct. They hypothesized that the subjects who were particularly successful in self-examination would be more confident after reaching the correct decision, and less confident when they made the wrong choice. By adapting the task to each person, the video researchers will see that the decision-making abilities of each of the participants will be compatible with the others. Only the participants' knowledge of their own decision-making method was tested.

The test can be compared to the money taxi game. A competitor who is aware of his own way of thinking, will not deviate from his final answer when he is absolutely sure of it. In case he is not convinced of the correctness of his way of thinking, he will ask someone from the street. But a competitor who is less capable of self-examination will not be able to judge with the same degree of efficiency how correct his answer is.

After the test and its results, the researchers compared the brain scans of the various subjects, and were able to identify a connection between the ability to self-examine and the structure of a small area in the prefrontal cortex. The individual's 'higher thinking' abilities were in coordination with the amount of gray matter in that area and with the structure of the white matter that was adjacent to it.

This is an exciting discovery, no doubt, but it is important to voice the voice of skepticism. The science market is currently saturated with new studies on the brain designed to examine every possible feature and pattern of behavior. Not all of them are reliable or successful, so be careful when interpreting the results. When the number of subjects is so small, it is difficult to accept the results of the current study at face value, and it is clear that we must wait for more studies on the subject before we can attach the 'philosopher's tag' to that area of ​​the brain, and test it in the entrance exams to the Faculty of Philosophy.

Even if the researchers' findings and conclusions turn out to be correct, how can the discovery contribute to the future? What do they mean? And do the research results indicate that some of us are doomed from the moment of birth to life without deep reflection and real wondering? Not necessarily. It is more likely to assume that the area of ​​the brain responsible for self-examination develops and grows according to the way of life we ​​choose, and not just according to our genetics. A person who does a lot of self-examination and is educated for it, will be able to show off his maturity with a brain that shows it.

The main importance of the research lies in the understanding that may help scientists understand how certain brain injuries affect a person's ability to wonder about the meaning of their thoughts and actions. Through such understanding, we may one day succeed in tailoring specific treatments to each patient, such as stroke victims or people with severe brain trauma who may not even understand the difficult situation they are in.
"Take for example two patients with mental illness. One of them is aware of his illness, but the other is not." said one of the researchers, Stephen Fleming. "It is likely that the first person will take his medication, but the second less so. If we understand the process of self-awareness at the neurological level, we may also be able to adapt treatments and develop training strategies for these patients."

179 תגובות

  1. Does anyone know who in Israel is researching a topic close to this?
    That part behind the eyes
    I think it's called mid orbitofrontal cortex
    Also associated with mindfulness and other amazing human abilities
    And it's really very interesting whether it doesn't depend on culture 🙂

  2. A:

    The reason I'm not convinced yet, if you were wondering, is that the latest polls say that 30 to 40 percent of all Israelis are unconscious.
    The unconscious are not exposed so easily and are forced to use all sorts of indirect ways to extract true data.
    The latest studies also indicate that unconsciousness is genetic and the rate of unconsciousness in Chinese is twice as large as in the rest of the world.
    There are also hybrids (those with half consciousness). And those with a disability (usually from consanguineous marriages) have a particularly heightened consciousness. Of course, this deformity is not particularly disturbing because consciousness, as we know, does not take up volume, but there are signs that the left toe in these people is reduced by up to 20 percent of normal toes

  3. By the way, one more thing I want to add:

    You still haven't convinced me that you have consciousness or that you are aware.
    All I see from you are comments on the computer screen

  4. By the way, one more thing I want to add-

    Even if the brain is a computational system, it does not follow that consciousness or any other mental ability is what it is due to the fact that the brain is a computational system, just as the fact that my computer is painted red does not follow from the fact that my computer is a computational machine.
    Even if the brain in some sense can compute a computer, it is not yet clear that the mental properties are computing properties.

  5. If you want to read some arguments against John Searle, I recommend the books of Douglas Hofstetter (GEB, I AM A STRANGE LOOP) and maybe also of Ray Kurzweil

  6. Since the discussion is repeating itself, I see no point in repeating the same arguments again.

    If new points are raised, I would be happy to respond

  7. "Surely these are levels of abstraction - otherwise you would describe everything on a physical level, and we have already seen why that is not worthwhile. I will not repeat the arguments again"

    How is chemistry an abstraction level of physics? A chemical property of being an acid is a property that differs from a physical property of elementary particles. Chemistry is not an abstraction of physics, it is a description of various phenomena that are as real as physical phenomena.

    "Regarding gravity - here, too, you made a mistake. Every physical theory is a model of reality and it is always some kind of approximation and not reality itself. In exactly the same way, a Turing machine is a model of a computer"

    So what is an approximation of reality? There is reality anyway. A Turing machine is not an approximation of reality. It is not a description of any reality. It is a description of mathematics. Mathematics we attribute to different physical systems, just like we attribute meaning to scribbles on paper, which in fact have no connection between them and their meaning, except for a connection arising from linguistic conventions.

  8. A (166):
    It reminds me of a John Lennon song "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"

    An algorithm is what happened between the measurements

  9. "Well that's enough! You claimed that mathematics is relevant to the description of the reality in which we live and in exactly the same way computationalism is relevant to the description of certain phenomena (for example, the way our mind works)"

    but how? When we describe an algorithm we are not describing reality. We describe abstract mathematical entities. The mathematics of physics does not describe other mathematics. Calculation yes. There are no computational properties that are beyond mathematical properties. Physical properties are there and there are. The activity of the brain is a material physical phenomenon, not mathematical, therefore describing it at the level of an algorithm will not add any useful explanatory information about the brain.

  10. Surely these are levels of abstraction - otherwise you would describe everything on a physical level, and we have already seen why this is not worthwhile. I will not repeat the arguments again

    Regarding gravity - here, too, you are wrong. Every physical theory is a model of reality and it is always some kind of approximation and not reality itself. In exactly the same way a Turing machine is a model of a computer

  11. "Of course!
    Can't you measure book sizes at different times?
    Just as you measure the position of a stone!”

    I did not understand. Measuring size or position is a simple mechanical operation. How does this relate to the algorithm?

  12. Not true, but not levels of abstraction. We don't strip anything. Physics is a level where we describe physical processes. Chemistry is a level where we describe chemical processes that are different from physical processes. Sociology studies a completely different type of processes and phenomena, which are not similar to those that exist in the sciences. Each level has the processes and phenomena that are really real, and not an abstraction of something else.

    A Turing machine is a mathematical model that abstracts a computer, which is itself a mathematical model. A Turing machine does not strip the atoms of the computer, it strips the mathematics of the computer.
    Think of it this way, the concept of an algorithm will have meaning, even if there is no physical world with processes that implement algorithms. On the other hand, the concept of gravity, which is indeed a mathematical concept similar to an algorithm, but it would be meaningless without the world it describes. The way physics describes the world is different from the way a theory like a Turing machine describes the world. In the first case we describe an ontology, in the second case we describe random physical properties that suit our needs.

  13. "I don't know how it differs from mathematics. I understand almost nothing in both areas. But I know that computer science is a branch of mathematics, so the distinction is not important in our case"

    Well that's enough! You claimed that mathematics is relevant to the description of the reality in which we live and in exactly the same way computationalism is relevant to the description of certain phenomena (for example, the way our mind works)

  14. "But how do you know that she is running an algorithm related to sorting numbers? Can you determine this from a physical examination of the system? Or because you decided that's what she's doing?"
    Of course!
    Can't you measure book sizes at different times?
    Just as you measure the position of a stone!

  15. Do you see where I'm getting at?

    These are different levels of abstraction.
    Chemistry is a level of abstraction different from that of atomic physics which is different from the level of abstraction of biology which is different from the level of abstraction of zoology which is different from the level of abstraction of sociology which is different from the level of abstraction of cosmology.
    Neither is more real than the other.

    Computability is a level of abstraction that talks about computational and algorithmic operations.
    A Turing machine for example is an abstraction of a computer

  16. But how do you know it's running an algorithm related to sorting numbers? Can you determine this from a physical examination of the system? Or because you decided that's what she's doing?

  17. "Physical situations are not relevant to the definition, they can only be a model for the implementation of an algorithm, but they are not actually an algorithm, or have the mathematical properties of an algorithm."

    Exactly the same for mathematics - the stone itself is not a parabola

  18. I don't know how it differs from mathematics. I understand almost nothing in both areas. But I know that computer science is a branch of mathematics, so the distinction is not important for our purposes.

  19. "I ask what are the conditions that determine whether a certain physical system runs an algorithm or not"

    If we look at the sorting algorithm for example - if in the initial state I had a series of unsorted numbers and after the operation of the physical system the numbers are sorted then the system runs a sorting algorithm

  20. "It is perfectly fine when science uses "algorithms" because "algorithms" are a means of describing and quantifying "computational" phenomena"

    In the previous line you admitted that an algorithm is a mathematical entity, therefore there is no science here that describes computational situations with the help of algorithms, because a computational situation is itself a mathematical concept. Science has nothing to do with it. Computability is mathematics that talks about mathematics. Science is mathematics that talks about non-mathematical reality. Don't you see the difference?
    When you described all the mathematical properties of an algorithm/computational state, you said everything that can and should be said about it. Physical states are not relevant to the definition, they can only be a model for the implementation of an algorithm, but they are not actually an algorithm, or have the mathematical properties of an algorithm.

  21. Just as you claim about mathematics - it is a series of symbols that we humans choose to apply to our observations of the world. This is an abstraction of the world.
    In exactly the same way an algorithm is an abstraction of a computational operation.

    When will I say that a parabola equation is a description of a falling stone?
    If I measure the position of the stone at different points in time, and see that the equation describes the positions of the stone well.

    When will I say that a sorting algorithm describes the operation of sorting numbers well?
    If I have a series of numbers, for example representing book sizes. I will have a process at the end of which these numbers are sorted (ie the books are sorted by size)
    In other words, there was a computational process here, the relevant description of which is a sorting algorithm

    Why is it okay to describe the world with mathematics and not with algorithms?

  22. Regarding your question to which category algorithms belong, they belong more to the category of mathematics if anything.

    And to use your own terminology:
    "It's perfectly fine when science uses "algorithms" because "algorithms" are a means of describing and quantifying "computational" phenomena

  23. what did not you understand? I am asking what are the conditions that determine whether a certain physical system runs an algorithm or not. So it is clear that an electric current cannot be the only condition, because not every electric current is an algorithm...

    Mathematics does not have to belong to the objective world. Mathematics is syntax, it is syntax, it is templates into the content of which you can put whatever you want. It does not challenge the reality of the physical world. If you personally are not a solipsist or an idealist, then it is clear that there is physical reality separate from mathematics.
    And does it matter which atom model I believe in?

    And it is clear that a molecule has more than atoms. A water molecule has chemical properties that are not the sum of the chemical properties of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There are many emergent properties in the world that differ from the properties of the sum of the parts that make them up. This applies to molecules, cells, and flamingos…

    And you do not at all address the arguments I bring, and which I try with great effort to explain as clearly as possible, but you simply do not understand my point of view.

  24. And about chemistry, for example, which you claim is part of the objective world.
    It says that it contains atoms - does a molecule have more than atoms?

  25. If this is not an answer, then no, I probably didn't understand the question.

    I did not understand from your answer whether mathematics belongs to the objective world.
    Is it a means of description? Who describes a world without people? What is mathematics? Isn't it just meaningless symbols?
    If mathematics is just a series of symbols, is it part of physics?
    Or is there physics and mathematics separately?

    And again, which model of the atom do you use in the objective world?

  26. "Regarding the computer that is turned on - when it is turned off, the flow of electricity, for example, in the various electrical circuits is different than when it is turned on"

    OK, but not everything that has electricity runs an algorithm. This is not an answer.

  27. ravine. Using mathematics does not contradict objectivity. It is perfectly fine when science uses mathematics, because mathematics is a means of describing and quantifying physical phenomena. On the other hand, when we talk about computers, mathematics is not a way of describing something, it is the visualization of everything. She is the thing itself. An algorithm is a mathematical entity, beyond its mathematical-logical properties, there is nothing inside it. Gravity is also a mathematical concept, but it is a mathematical concept that receives its meaning only by virtue of the fact that it is a description of an empirical phenomenon.

    Look at the definition I gave. All the things you ask, existed even without humans - atoms, cells, flamingos, etc. read again
    Now think what would happen if they found a book in a language that no one speaks or understands today, would this book contain information, or would it be a collection of meaningless gibberish? Is it possible to understand the meaning of the signs in the book by examining the physical or mechanical properties of the book? I think the answers are clear.
    And I hope you'll agree with me that the way information about a book exists is very different from the way cells or flamingos exist. Now think to which category algorithms belong - is it more like letters on a book, or atoms and cells?

  28. A:
    First you didn't tell me how your objective world behaves without the use of mathematics. I ask for reference

    Regarding the computer that is turned on - when it is turned off, the flow of electricity, for example, in the various electrical circuits is different than when it is turned on

    "The relevant definition of objective and subjective that I use is that objectivity are properties of reality that exist regardless of a human point of view. Features that would exist even if humans were extinct or never appeared"
    Ok, so describe to me a bit about the objective world... Do only atoms belong to this world?
    What about chemistry? Does it belong to the objective world? molecules? chemical reactions?
    What about biology? Do cells belong in the objective world?
    Do our body parts belong to the objective world? The heart for example?
    What about the flamingo migration? Does it belong to the objective world? Is a flamingo an objective creature?

    Or is everything simply a movement of atoms?
    And if atoms then which model of the atom do you choose to use to describe the objective world (as you know it has changed a little over the years)

    Regarding information:
    There is a whole scientific Torah that deals with information, defines the term and develops the laws of information transmission.
    This scientific branch is called information theory and it was originally developed by Claude Shannon.
    This branch deals, among other things, with the definition of the concepts information and entropy, it deals with the transfer of information between two sources, the laws that dictate the rate of information transfer, the coding of information, and cryptography.
    In fact, it is more of a mathematical branch, so the chance that it will change or be found to be wrong at some point in the future is lower than that of physical theories of various kinds (including the atom model) changing.

    In it we will close these points first and continue dealing with algorithms and calculations

  29. Michael, maybe the phrase "spiritual quality" is meaningless from a scientific-empirical point of view, but I'm not sure that it doesn't have meaning in other respects as well. In the end, there are many expressions that cannot be defined or scientifically-observationally tested, but they still have meaning, such as mathematical, metaphysical expressions, expressions of values, and the like.

  30. I'll just expand a little:
    As proved in the experiment I presented - not only is the world seen through physical means, but even our deepest and most "subjective" feelings (like desire) are physical.

  31. A:
    What is meaningless is the expression itself.
    A meaningful thing is a thing that has an effect on the world - that the world looks different without it than with it.
    As of this moment, the world is "seen" only through physical means.
    But please from you. I don't want to start answering rudely so please stop the argument.

  32. Michael, what is meaningless in "non-physical property"? Are there a priori reasons to say that all the properties of reality are necessarily properties that are accessible to science and can be described with the help of objective mathematical laws?

  33. ravine-
    "Information" for example is a scientific concept as much as the concept "atom"
    - So please, try to define information physically. In what properties does a material that carries information differ from a material that does not carry information.
    And what is scientific about the concept of information? Can it be measured? On which devices? What are the laws of nature according to which information behaves? "Information" is an abstract linguistic concept that our consciousness attributes to things in the world, but in itself it has no separate physical existence, unlike atoms.

    "I can give you an objective test if the computer is on or off."
    - That's not what I asked. I didn't ask how you know when the computer is turned off or not. I asked what the qualitative difference between them is physically.

    The relevant definition of objective and subjective that I use is that objectivity are properties of reality that exist regardless of a human point of view. Features that would exist even if humans were extinct or never appeared (features of this type are opaque). Subjective exactly the opposite - properties that depend on consciousness, properties that we attribute to things with the help of linguistic conventions (eg books).

    I don't understand how you don't see the difference between an algorithm and a scientific description of an atom. When science talks about atoms, it tries to describe the reality that does not depend on the observer (and whether it succeeds in doing that or not, is not relevant at the moment). An algorithm, on the other hand, by its very definition is an artificial entity that we implement with the help of physical objects of our choice. We don't discover algorithms, we invent them. We decide what the input symbolizes, what the output symbolizes, we decide what kind of process in the world the algorithm simulates, or what the exact function it is supposed to fulfill. When we describe an algorithm we are not describing a physical property of something, we are talking about theoretical concepts that we have invented and determined in advance.

    There are non-artificial natural systems, which can be said to implement algorithms or perform computational processes, for example DNA. But what actually happens is that we translate a collection of chemical and physical processes into abstract mathematical terms. It is possible to mathematically formalize the process of protein synthesis, and translate it into an abstract collection of symbols, without talking about bases, amino acids, enzymes, etc. But such a description does not convey information that is above and beyond the causal chemical description of the process. In fact, if we don't say that the input of the process is DNA, for example, and the output is protein, such a formal description will have no meaning. To understand DNA it is enough to understand biochemistry. It is possible to understand the whole system without knowing anything about computer science, Turing machines, writing algorithms, etc. A formal mathematical description of DNA is only a conceptual aid to understand the process, not a description of a property of the system.
    On the other hand, the description of the computer hardware in computing terms does add information, because from a physical investigation of the silicon and the electrons inside the hardware, it is impossible to know what type of information the programmers intended to represent with the help of the system.
    For example, imagine an alien who would have found a computer from Earth. From analyzing the physics of the hardware, without using the screen, and without knowing the computer's programming language, would he have discovered under such conditions that the computer was running Windows? Would he understand what the features of Windows are and what the role of the software is? An algorithm from a purely physical point of view is meaningless gibberish. It can only be understood if you understand the original intentions of the programmer - for example, the software language he used, and the meaning he gave to inputs and outputs, things that lack physical reality, and their existence does not depend on physics. On the other hand, DNA can be understood with the help of pure physical investigation, without knowing any algorithms and programming languages. I don't understand how you don't see the difference.

  34. A:
    First of all, I hope you are not trying to argue with me about what I want.
    Besides, your words about dualism are so vague that they are really meaningless to me.
    But I said I was done with the argument.

  35. Michael, are you sure that existing forever as a disembodied spiritual entity is a desirable state? To me it sounds like hell... Immortality is probably much less good than it sounds at first.
    I also want to point out that not every kind of dualism assumes the existence of an immaterial soul. There is something called "property dualism", which is simply the assumption that objects in the world have additional properties that are not physical, and cannot be reduced to physical properties. Kind of like dark energy. In this kind of dualism, you don't have a soul separate from the body, and the non-physical properties don't even have to have a causal effect on the body (so-called epiphenomenalism), so the experiment you refer to that supposedly disproves free will, doesn't really threaten dualism.
    And considering the mysterious and extraordinary nature of consciousness, qualia, and other mental properties, it is not such a crazy thing to say that these are non-physical properties.

  36. A:
    I remembered that you said things thanks to physicalism, but your desperate struggle to draw the conclusions that are so necessary convinced me that it is very important to you that the conclusion be different.
    To be clear: I too would prefer a dualistic world - among other things because I really want to live eternal life - but I see no choice but to look at the present reality.

    There is a joke where a person is asked: "Why do you always speak without thinking" and he replies "And how am I supposed to know what I'm thinking before I've heard what I'm saying?"
    The dualistic soul you hope to be is - the light The experiment I already pointed out in previous comments - just like that.
    This is of course absurd because it means that the desire is not hers. She cannot determine what the brain will do and then not know what she determined and replace her determination with what the brain actually did.
    It is true that as a soul she cannot have a backbone - but to that extent?!

  37. In addition, you claim that mathematics or algorithms are subjective things - we say that you are right (I don't know how you define subjective or objective, I would appreciate it if you did it) - but then you are saying that the entire scientific world is subjective. Mathematics is the cornerstone of all sciences

  38. A (131):

    You have simply completely ignored what has been said to you in this discussion several times already. You ask us to define the conditions: "to consider a certain physical system as a computer - without using formal mathematical terms, or linguistic terms such as syntax, semantics, information, etc., which are complicated to define, and require a subjective interpretation by a human observer"
    This is again the same argument to which I answered you in response 123 and many responses before. I ask that you address the points raised there. "Information" for example is a scientific concept as much as the concept of "seal". It is ridiculous to let an atom scientist describe what he does without using the word "atom".

    "How does the physics of a functioning computer running software differ from the same computer when it is turned off or broken? In all cases, the computer cannot differentiate in any physical property"
    This is simply not true. I can give you an objective test if the computer is on or off.

    Please try to focus on the previous arguments so that we can move forward

  39. Michael, don't think I automatically support dualism. I only claim that explanations for consciousness should be sought not within algorithms, but elsewhere (for example in physics or the basic chemistry of the brain). I really want our mind to be explained within a physicalist worldview, but if the idea ultimately fails, one could also consider dualism, which is not something that can be automatically dismissed a priori.
    And I insisted on talking about computers, because the computational theory of the brain is the prevailing theory in psychology and even in philosophy, to explain the mind, and is considered the greatest hope in neuroscience and cognition. In fact some will say that if a computational explanation of the mind is impossible, then there is no other materialistic alternative, and therefore physicalism is wrong. I personally wouldn't go that far, but it makes sense.

    Anyway, thanks everyone for the discussion, it was interesting and I really enjoyed it.

  40. A:
    Listen, I'm just tired.
    I explained as much as I could.
    I am convinced of the correctness of my words. If I haven't convinced you - I can't do more.
    The word computer entered the discussion only because of the conversation between you and Guy and from that moment on you cling to its various interpretations like altar horns.
    I am only talking about one thing and that is that the laws of chemistry and physics are sufficient, apparently, to explain the soul.
    You say no but you cannot point to one thing in the universe that the laws of physics and chemistry do not stand behind (yes - and mathematics - it is always everywhere and would be there even if there were no physics and chemistry).
    I think that the argument that all things can be simulated using a computer (in its correct definition) is also true. It is about a computer that operates according to the laws of nature, and even if you claim a thousand times and bring a thousand quotes that it is meaningless, it is clear that it contradicts your claim and therefore cannot be meaningless. I am willing, by the way, to reduce the definition of the term computer to man-made computers, but that's it.
    In any case - both the escaping into a discussion about computers instead of the laws of nature and the insistence on interpreting the word "computer" in a way that does not correspond to the accepted usage of it lead me to the conclusion that there is no chance that you will be convinced.
    I, for my part, stop the discussion.

  41. Michael, obviously none of us know what consciousness is. The question we have been talking about is what kind of explanation can best fit what we do know. I argued that, in principle, consciousness cannot be a computational property. You and Guy tried to prove that it was (or at least show why not).
    And note that not every physical or chemical or biological property in the world is due to the fact that it is a property of a computer system. The world does not consist only of computational properties. Not everything in the world is an expression of an algorithm. Now, if you say that anything in principle can be an algorithm, then the statement "consciousness is an algorithm" is empty of content - either it is wrong, or it is trivial. And that's exactly what I was trying to say, it certainly can be, and in my opinion also should be, a feature that is not a computing feature. If you don't think that was the focus of the discussion, then I'm having a little trouble understanding what you wanted to say all this time. I thought you wanted to argue that in principle consciousness can be a computational property, in the sense that if we understand all the brain's algorithms, we will understand consciousness. But if an algorithm in itself is a trivial thing that can be contained on any system, then even if we know the algorithms that supposedly the brain runs, this will not add anything to us about consciousness or anything else in the brain.

    Here is a relevant paragraph on the subject from an article on the physical realization of computing:

    If unlimited pancomputationalism is correct, then the claim that a system S performs a certain computation becomes trivially true and vacuous or nearly so; it fails to distinguish S from anything else (or perhaps from anything else with the same inputs and outputs). Thus, unlimited pancomputationalism threatens the computational theory of cognition. If cognition is computation simply because cognitive systems, like everything else, may be seen as performing computations, then it appears that the computational theory of cognition is both trivial and vacuous. By the same token, unlimited pancomputationalism threatens the foundations of computer science, where the objective computational power of different systems is paramount. The threat of trivialization is a major motivation behind responses to the arguments for unlimited pancomputationalism.

    You can read the article here, and I'm sure you'll find interesting things in it-

  42. A:
    You play with words and not with meanings.
    I say that everything can be considered a computer and the better we understand it, we can use it to perform more and more calculations.
    It shouldn't be an explanation for anything.
    This should answer the questions you asked.

    I don't think, for example, that I ever said I understood the algorithm of consciousness.
    There are many algorithms that I understand, but this is not one of them. I still don't understand this either, and therefore, obviously, I can't explain it or say anything of explanatory value about it.
    If I could, I would probably stop commenting on science and concentrate on writing an article that will win me a Nobel Prize.

    All I'm saying is that everything in the world performs calculations of these and other types and when science investigates it, it tries to find out what those calculations are - that is - what their laws are it obeys.

    When you discover the laws, you can perform the same calculations in any way you see fit, and if you know how to do it quickly from the thing itself - you can predict its behavior.
    If you don't know how to do it faster than the thing itself - understanding the algorithm still makes it possible to explain its operation after the fact.

  43. So if everything can be considered a computer, then computing becomes a very trivial thing. If any system you want is a computer by definition, then if you say that consciousness is an algorithm, you're not saying anything of explanatory value about the phenomenon you're trying to explain. It's like saying "consciousness is an interaction between atoms", okay, but everything in the universe is an interaction between atoms, what did you mean by that?
    It also means that one system can run several different algorithms, depending on the point of view. For example, the movement of the molecules in a bucket of water, with enough luck, it could be called a "simulation of the state of the stock market" and from another point of view (if you define your outputs and inputs in the relevant way), it becomes a "simulation of the weather". You have a chain of different causal states that you can call by whatever name you want, and attach different meanings to them, how can a property of this kind even explain a naturalistic phenomenon, which is inherently stable, non-ambivalent, has very definite phenomenal properties, and is real in the strictest physical sense ?

  44. A:
    I don't know where you are getting at but anything can be considered a computer.
    A stone, for example, when placed in a gravitational field, can "calculate" parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas. In fact any mass can do at least these calculations.
    The stone will do this, of course, without the need for a person to be involved in the calculation, and then the input to a "computer" will be random.
    A person can use a "computer" and enter data into the system that will cause the trajectory to pass through Ahmadinejad's head (when it reaches that head, the stone will begin to calculate other calculations that will determine the continuation of its trajectory, the continuation of the trajectory of Ahmadinejad's head, and the amount of energy that will turn into heat while causing changes In the stone and head of Ahmadinejad.).
    I am not throwing any mathematical terms on the stone that do not exist in it.
    She definitely knows how to find the route on her own.
    I, since I discovered the mathematical laws that govern it, can use this fact to my advantage but in the end I only throw away the stone and not the laws.

    As a principle - every physical system performs calculations. Knowing the laws of nature allows us in some cases to use these calculations to our advantage.
    This is what we also do on a conventional computer.
    We build it so that, thanks to the laws of nature that govern its components, it will give an output with expected properties in response to an input with known properties.

  45. To Guy and Michael-
    OK, so let's assume that a description of a physical system as a computational system is an objective description that does not depend on an observer (like an atomic description, according to Guy). So please define what are the necessary and sufficient conditions to consider a certain physical system as a computer - without using formal mathematical terms, or linguistic terms such as syntax, semantics, information, etc., which are complicated to define, and require the subjective interpretation of a human observer (if you say that a physical state X runs an algorithm because it's really syntax, you don't actually say anything, because you don't describe physical properties, but throw mathematical terms out of your head, onto a physical system in which they don't exist).
    For example, it is clear that a stone is not considered a computer system, and a certain array of silicon chips is. So what, from a physical-naturalistic point of view, distinguishes them, so that the first is not a computing system, and the second is?

    Or asked another way, how does the physics of a functioning computer running software differ from the same computer when it is turned off or broken. In all cases, the computer cannot differentiate by any physical property - the same metal, the same silicon, and the same electrons that run around in some patterns. But in order to say that a certain system implements an algorithm, and another does not, you must show that there is a fundamental *qualitative* difference in the physics/causal forces/array of parts, etc. between the two systems.

    And if such criteria do not exist, if it is impossible to unequivocally define computerization without needing interpretations, then computerization is simply not an objective characteristic of reality, just as "art" is not an objective characteristic, but something we project onto physical objectives according to conventions. And such a feature is obviously unable to explain consciousness, or any other cognitive phenomenon.

  46. In any case, for people who have a little curiosity regarding symmetry and its various manifestations in nature, I recommend reading Martin Gardner's book:
    "the ambidextrous universe"

    (recommended only for the surprised) 

  47. It is hard for me to be surprised that the opposite of things in which the direction is not important - is not important, while the opposite of things in which the direction is important - is important.

  48. And this is indeed a surprising thing (as mentioned, everything is in the eye of the beholder).

    Imagine yourself walking through the looking glass like Alice. The world would remain largely sane. You could walk around it freely without any difficulty (maybe you need to be a little more careful when crossing the road) but that's about it.
    The main difference in this world will be the reversal of the caption. Like Alice when she suddenly came across a song about the Jabberwocky.
    She of course was able to read the poem through the mirror again and thus decipher it

  49. Addendum to remove the wonder of reversing the letters in the mirror:
    Among the examples of bodies that do not have bilateral symmetry - but that do have "principle symmetry" of this kind - I did not mention the bodies with a random shape. For example rocks.
    These bodies were usually shaped by the forces of nature and were not intended to serve any purpose.
    The number of laws dictating their form is low and within the constraints dictated by these laws - anything goes.
    Therefore we will have no problem recognizing a reflection of a rock as a rock.
    Man-made signs and letters are almost (I use this word cautiously. I know of no other example) the only forms in which any arbitrary shape has been given meaning beyond its belonging to a larger group.
    For example, one of the general forms to which manuscript letters belong is the collection of forms that can be defined as short line segments.
    Short line segments reflected in the mirror will indeed be recognized as short line segments in the reflection as well.
    The point is that among the short line segments we have chosen an arbitrary subset to be identified as letters and this subset has no bilateral symmetry.
    Therefore the group members' reflections in the mirror are not identifiable with the group members themselves.

  50. By the way - I think I sinned against the editor of the Wikipedia entry because when he wrote

    The minimal definition of a computer is anything that transforms information in a purposeful way.

    He described something that by definition also includes analog computers and animals.

  51. A (119):
    As I already told you - there were and there are analog computers
    Whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry didn't think of it at that moment.
    also the matter ofNeural networks I did not invent for the purpose of the current discussion and these are computers for everything and are also taught as part of computer science studies.
    The fact that you knew how to look for the missing definition in Wikipedia and didn't know how to look for the support for what you were told indicates a tendency that does not contribute to a factual discussion.

    When we build the DNA of a bacterium (can be compared to software) and integrate it into a cell (can be compared to a computer) we are doing, conceptually, exactly the same thing as what we do when we write software (for example) on a diskette (which is a physical body into which we have introduced physical changes and therefore a rule for DNA) and integrate the diskette in the computer (rule for a cell.

    There is simply no difference.

    Also in terms of the output - both that of the computer and that of the bacteria are changes in the physical world.
    We interpret them however we like, but there is no essential difference in them.

    Talking about the computer in algorithmic terms adds no information, in the sense that the computer with the software would operate exactly the same even if no one were talking about it.
    The fact that we build layers on top of physics (mathematical - and mathematics - in my opinion - is revealed and not created) only helps us to understand what is happening there and therefore we take the same approach of building logical layers in any subject - whether it is a computer - whether it is the weather or whether it is biology.
    The fact that the algorithms were coded by an intelligent being does not change the way they work (they would work the same way even if they were created by evolution). Again - the interpretation we give to things does not change their essence.

    In the computer that symbolizes a collection of molecules, weather is created.
    The fact that this weather is random is due to the fact that the molecules are random, but it is certainly possible to imagine a computer that instead of printing output on paper - will place real molecules (from a spatial printer that has molecular "ink" of various types) in real space and create what you are used to calling weather.
    This description is created only for illustration purposes but it is clear that it does not in any way affect the behavior of the symbolized molecules.
    If in that virtual world of symbolized molecules we also symbolized the molecules that make up the animals, the symbolized animals in this virtual world would act as real animals.
    If there were intelligent people there, they would hold the same discussion we are holding right now (of course we could call it a simulation of a discussion, but for them it was the discussion itself).
    That is why the claim that we have no way of knowing if we are not living in the Matrix - as a simulation created by some entity in the real physical world (and that entity also has no way of knowing this about itself) is often raised here.

  52. A:

    "Talking about your computer in terms of calculations and algorithms actually adds information that was not within the physics of the computer. And why? Because you are talking about non-physical properties that you yourself attribute to this block of metal. Otherwise it would have been enough to describe the electrons and silicon blocks that make up the hardware. And here it is different from weather, for example"

    When you talk about what the computer does in terms of computations and algorithms, you are simplifying the description of the operation of the computer. This description lives at a different level of abstraction than the electrons running around there. This is a much, much, much more convenient level of description than describing what each electron is doing at each point in time.
    In what sense is it more convenient? First, it has sufficient accuracy. When I say that the computer performed the operation 2+2 and issued the output 4 - I can translate back everything I said to the hardware level. Second, what did I gain? A super concise description of the operation performed by the computer that includes only what interests me. What I created is a **model** that describes the operations of the computer.

    When you talk about what the living cell does, in terms of biology and chemistry, you again simplify the description of the cell's action. This description lives at a different level of abstraction than the atoms that make up the cell and the subatomic forces that exist there. Here, too, you will go down in the depth of the hierarchy only to the point where the description is sufficiently accurate and contains everything that interests you in the cell. What the biologist creates is a **model** that describes the operation of the cell.

    The atom we know is also a **model** of an atom.

    One is not more or less physical than the other, more real than the other, or more subjective than the other. The way man creates models that describe the world around him (whether it's cells, computers, atoms, galaxies, flocks of birds, actions of proteins, etc., etc.) is at its core.

    When I say that when a computer sorts a series of numbers it is running an algorithm I have no reason in the world not to say the same thing when I sort numbers.
    When a dolphin dives in the water it dives "really", but when a submarine dives it's only electrons and metals that dive? I don't understand your distinction.

  53. Good solutions.
    It should be noted that the source of our choice to describe mirror reversal as right and left reversal is that our plane of symmetry is vertical, and the terms right and left are defined relative to it. As mentioned, this plane turns one of its axes (the one perpendicular to the plane of the mirror) in reflection - and so the right and left are also reversed. That is, it is a convenient way for humans to describe the inversion. (If we were not symmetrical creatures we would not describe the inversion that way)

    As for the manuscript, it still amazes me. There are lots of asymmetrical objects in the world, not just handwriting. When you try to interpret the visual world, you don't notice the strong dependence we have on the direction of the letters - this is a quite exclusive phenomenon, and it manifests suddenly in front of a mirror. Well, well... everyone and what makes them that.

  54. א
    Spiritually, it can be said that our consciousness is also controlled by another force or some body (or actually some force controls the consciousness of a certain body, but the connection between the power that controls consciousness and the body that has consciousness is like the connection between our universe and a parallel universe) but scientifically no You will get an answer about the essence of consciousness and certainly not tonight, go to sleep.

  55. A weather simulation creates an emergent weather feature? how exactly?
    What weather feature is inside the computer? humidity? pressure? temperature? We say the software simulates these things, but it's really not weather features (otherwise the room would get wet...). These are symbols we chose to represent weather. This software represents weather only by virtue of the fact that our thoughts represent weather. When I think about the fact that it's raining outside, my thoughts are really about rain and clouds. When a computer program says it's raining outside, it spits out gibberish that we've arbitrarily decided represents rain and clouds.
    But look what follows from this, if in order to interpret the gibberish of the computer program, we are needed, and if the brain creates our awareness with the help of running gibberish inside neurons, then there needs to be a little man inside our head who will say that Y neurons represent rain, and X neurons represent clouds. And what is going on inside his head? The same. We got infinite regression. It's called the homonoculus fallacy, and it's why in theory, logically, our consciousness can't be an algorithm, or a neural network, or whatever you call it.

  56. Ok, so what is the definition of a neural network? I guess it's not "everything made of neurons", but a concept that can be mathematically formalized, and applied to anything, neurons, silicon chips, slamming doors...
    Here is what Wikipedia says-
    "A computer is a programmable machine that receives input, stores and manipulates data//information, and provides output in a useful format."
    And also - "The minimal definition of a computer is anything that transforms information in a purposeful way."

    According to these definitions, I don't think a computer is possible without software. A computer is necessarily something that manipulates certain information, and gives an output, something that is impossible to do without software.
    When we build the DNA of a bacterium synthetically, we make it synthesize certain substances, and change all kinds of chemical processes within it. Call it "programming", but this definition adds nothing. When I described the complete biochemistry of the bacterium, I said everything that could be said.
    Conversely, if you describe human-made computer software, if you describe everything that happens in the computer hardware physically down to the level of elementary particles, but amazingly, you miss the software. Talking about your computer in terms of calculations and algorithms actually adds information that was not within the physics of the computer. And why? Because you are talking about non-physical properties that you yourself attribute to this block of metal. Otherwise it would have been enough to describe the electrons and silicon blocks that make up the hardware. And here it is different from weather for example.

    And there are definitely a lot of emergent qualities in the world. But there are features that are the result of linguistic conventions, not an intrinsic feature of nature. And this is the distinction I want to make. When you say you have 10 apples in the basket, you are not describing an emergent physical property, you are attributing a non-physical property to physical objects. The argument is that an algorithm is also exactly that kind of thing, and I think you're not addressing that point.

  57. A:
    Some notes:
    1. It seems to me that you are not using the term computer the way others are using it. Not every computer has software at all. There are computers called neural networks that can be built completely analogically.
    Since it is difficult and expensive - they are simply simulated using software, but here a real one-to-one simulation is possible. The software here is used for simulation and not for the computer's way of dealing with problems. Therefore, it can be considered as a computer that has no software at all.
    Long before the neural networks we had many analog computers. By the way - I personally invented one of these once, but that's not relevant. The thing is that the distinction you make between computers with software and just machines that obey the laws of nature is irrelevant and when someone among those arguing with you in this discussion says "computer" he means all these things together.
    When we build the DNA of a bacterium synthetically, you can say that we are building software for the cell and you can equally say that we are building another part of the computer that has no software at all. Both things are equal. The point is that this is one of the steps on our way to build a complete bacterium by chemical means. Have you ever heard of biological computers? A bacterium constructed in this way would be a sophisticated biological computer. And what next? Maybe we will be able to build a multicellular creature? And what will happen if and when we manage to build a person like this? Anything built this way would be a biological computer. Man too. So will this person not have consciousness?
    2. The weather is simply a framework in which you have become accustomed to calling emergent phenomena by names and still seeing them as a physical thing. That's all I'm asking you to do in other contexts and that's why I said not to bring into the discussion the confusing separation between emergent phenomena and others. If a phenomenon at a certain level is an emergent consequence of phenomena at a level below it, then the degree of "physicality" of the two levels should be considered the same.
    3. A computer is able to imitate relatively well the behavior of molecules, and therefore it also obtains an emergent phenomenon of weather. This is the basis of our ability to predict the weather. As soon as a computer is built that is able to imitate well the operation of neurons - I see no obstacle to the development of consciousness as an emergent phenomenon.

  58. I must praise the ongoing discussion in the responses to this article. Already a million years ago I learned about the psychophysical problem and read a lot of articles and books about it. I also wrote a series of articles on brain=computer and submitted a seminar paper "Electrical and electronic models of the nervous system" to the late Dr. Uriel Leibovitz, a neurologist, son of Yeshayahu Leibovitz, for which I received a 100 (I'm not proud of that - it was just casual but Probably spicy enough for the lecturer). However, I didn't feel I had anything smart to contribute to the current discussion and just read the discussions with great interest. And regarding the puzzle of consciousness (not a simulation of it), I repeat a recommendation I once gave on this stage, about Avshalom Elitzur's book "Time and Consciousness" in a university series broadcast by GLC.

  59. By the way - this text that penetrated the page - looks like cursive writing precisely when you look at it normally.
    If you rotate it in our direction around a vertical axis, it will look like mirror writing in which right and left have been swapped.
    If you rotate it in our direction around a horizontal axis, it will look like a mirror in which up and down have been replaced.

  60. That's right, Aria.
    I was aware of that but I didn't want to burden the response more than necessary.
    If what I wrote makes it possible to notice this on its own - a sign that the reduction was in place.

  61. Michael-
    I certainly agree that it is possible to completely reduce biology to chemistry. A cell, for example, is nothing more than the sum of the chemical reactions that make it up, and there is nothing in it beyond being the "life" of the cell.
    As for machines, I don't know. You mean "machine" on a macroscopic level? Cells are also machines, but microscopic. And I'm not sure that it is possible to copy all the complex biochemical processes of living things to a macroscopic level mechanically... and there is also the question of what is life at all, and it seems to me that no one has yet answered this question.

    And I don't think there is a problem with things like weather. "Weather" is simply a term we give to the set of simple physical phenomena of movement and contraction of gases, thawing and freezing of water, etc., each of which in itself is an objective property that does not depend on an observer. What depends on the viewer is how important these features are to us, hence our choice to group them under one heading. But when we call these phenomena "weather", we do not mean to say that there is something in this phenomenon that is beyond the set of physical phenomena that make it up. Weather is not a new feature that suddenly appears from simpler features that are not identical to it.
    "Computer software" on the other hand, is a completely different matter. It is not another name for a set of simple physical properties, but a new kind of property that cannot be translated into the properties it relies on. It is different from weather, because here we are not talking about the movement of particles, forces, movement, but about formal "non-physical" commands (in a mathematical sense), which have nothing to do with particles and physical forces. We say that the computer runs software only thanks to the fact that we were able to match the special causal powers of the hardware to the abstract logical structure of the software we are running. But the hardware does not "know" nor "understand" that it is making a calculation, or works according to the Java language, it is something that is in our head, and not in reality (the Java language, not the physical operation of the computer). A computer is just like those wooden calculators with the beads of old - we use material to organize the abstract concepts in our consciousness, but the material itself does not acquire a new property because of this, which it did not have before. The tree that the calculator is made of did not suddenly get a new "mathematical feature" that it didn't have before, just because we organized it so that it reflected the mathematical concepts in our heads.
    And so I claim (actually this is what John Searle claims, it's not an argument I invented), that a non-physical property such as an algorithm, cannot be the basis of our mental properties, which are certainly naturalistic, and distinct from a physical point of view, they are not subject to interpretation.

  62. What Michael wrote about turning the book in front of the mirror brought me the following idea. Take a page with text facing you, when you stand in front of the mirror. The ink penetrated the page and is also visible from the other side. And see it's a miracle (just) - the text in the mirror appears correct and not in mirror script...

  63. The brain works according to a certain 'pattern'. The solution can be obtained in different ways.
    For example, let's say you need to get from Tel Aviv to Herzliya, so you can get there in several ways, but the general direction is to go north. The brain also operates according to a certain pattern (this is called logic) and according to this pattern the organism in which the brain is located develops. The pattern seeks a particular solution to a particular problem, but the way in which the 'pattern' solves the problem is what differentiates an organism from an organism.

  64. A:
    Let's go back for a moment to a more basic step that I have already used in analogy with the current problem:
    Leave consciousness for a moment and tell us whether you think a machine can even live, or in other words - whether you think the phenomenon of life can arise from the laws of physics and chemistry.
    I also ask you not to make the difference, which in my opinion is nothing more than a mistake in the current context, between an emergent property and a direct property because if you distinguish such differences you must claim that the weather is not a physical phenomenon either because at the molecular level there is no pressure and no temperature.

  65. Regarding the mirror puzzle:

    A mirror becomes something - but something different from what is usually thought of.
    As Arya said - the mirroring is from point to point, so what is on the left is reflected on the left and what is on the right is reflected on the right.
    What does change are the forward/backward directions.
    For example - the face of our image in the mirror - if we look straight at it - we look in the opposite direction from the direction we are looking.
    This is, of course, due to the fact that in describing the three-dimensional space of the mirror, the "forward/back" axis is replaced by the "near/far" axis (from the mirror).

    So much for what is happening in the mirror and optics, and now to us.
    When we see our likeness in the mirror - he appears to us as a person, all that needs to be done to be completely normal is to change his right to left. It's a reversal that's easier for us to imagine than the real reversal that took place in the picture, which is a reversal of forwards and backwards, but it's clear that even this reversal would have sorted things out.

    So why right/left and not up/down?
    It already stems from our movement habits and the thought adapted to them.
    It is easier to understand this precisely with a reporter (an example that already appeared in the conversation but was presented as a wonder that does not surprise me and later I will say why).
    Even when you look in the mirror at a book - think that it is reversed from left to right and not from up to down.
    Because usually - the book you are pointing at the mirror was first held in your hands in a normal position and then you turned it towards the mirror - but you did it around a vertical axis.
    That is - the one who caused the right and left of the book to be changed here is not the mirror but you!
    If you chose to turn the book to the mirror by turning it around a horizontal axis - the left and right sides would be preserved and the up and down would change.
    Try it at home.

    And now to the "surprising" thing about the books.
    Most objects used by us and most animals have bilateral symmetry.
    Therefore there is no problem with their reflection. They just look like the same thing twisted a little differently.
    Even when they do not have bilateral symmetry - they usually have this kind of principle symmetry - meaning that the symmetrical body is also used for the same purpose.
    To illustrate this, think for a moment about a chair with one side painted red and the other side black.
    In the mirror it will appear to you as a different chair - one where red and black are replaced but it still serves the same purpose and still exhibits the same aesthetic tastelessness.
    The situation with the reporter is different!
    The reporter has a clear direction. It is not symmetric and its symmetric structure is not a script.
    This is the source of the phenomenon.

  66. Obviously it's a computer, so what?
    And what about the paralyzed person? Or what about dreaming for example? This is also an expression of awareness without behavior. According to your definition, if you can never tell by behavior when a person is dreaming something, then he cannot be dreaming by definition. And it's absurd.

    Air pressure and temperature, these are also properties that are in a certain sense properties that we attribute to the environment. But they are objective in the sense that they directly measure a certain physical property, and give it a name of our choosing. But an algorithm for predicting the situation in the stock market, it is not another name for a certain physical state (such as the speed of movement of particles), it is an emergentist property, a property that is realized by physical substances, but it is not physical in its essence. So if the property is not physical, then what does it mean to say that a physical object realizes it? The only meaning is that *we* decided that way, conscious beings who are able to attach semantic meaning to things that are essentially meaningless. Material state X represents price, material state Y, represents stocks, material state Z represents oil prices, so this algorithm should represent the stock market. But it is clear that there is no connection between the flow of electrons in the computer, and securities or prices, this is our decision.
    That is why our brain cannot realize qualities that require someone from the outside to give them meaning, otherwise we need a creator...

  67. A:
    "You need to connect a device to his spinal cord that knows how to stimulate the nerves in the body in exactly the same way they would be stimulated if a conscious brain was connected to them"
    And what is the name of such a wonderful song? (I call it a computer in case you were wondering)

    Regarding the "objective" qualities you described - they also depend on the way we choose to describe the outside world. Are, as M*Kal pointed out, air pressure or temperature objective properties?

    Regarding your question, is "running an algorithm for predicting the state of the stock market" an objective feature?
    I don't quite understand your separation between objective and subjective, but this feature of "running the algorithm" is indeed very interesting.
    If I formulate the question in a slightly different way, it is possible to ask whether by looking at any program running on a computer it is possible to know what the program is doing?
    This is a problem of fundamental importance in computer science, and its well-known version is the halting problem.
    The problem is whether, given a program and a certain input, it is possible to say (or more formally, whether there is an algorithm that decides the question) whether the program will ever stop or whether it will continue to run forever.
    It turns out that this is a fundamental limitation of calculating machines. This question cannot be decided for all possible programs (although there are some for which it is possible)

  68. No need to get complicated... Let's define "objective" as a property like electric charge, or the ability to perform photosynthesis, or having mass X. And let's define subjective as "being the book War and Peace" or "being the game GTA" or being a bed. So it is clear that the features of the first kind would exist, and would exist, if humans did not exist. Regarding features of the second type, this is clearly not the case.
    Now let's ask the question, what kind of feature is "running an algorithm to predict the situation in the stock market", is it an objective feature of physical reality, or something that depends on a human observer?

    I argue in the bottom line that a property that depends on a human observer, cannot be responsible for our consciousness (or any other mental property), because it is clear that our brain is a product of nature, and not an intelligent design.

  69. I explained, it's very simple. You have to connect a device to his spinal cord that knows how to stimulate the nerves in the body in exactly the same way they would be stimulated if a conscious brain was connected to them. It's a fantastical scenario that probably can't be realized, but it's logically possible, and that's enough to prove the point.

    Regarding the second question. A person with consciousness is a person with subjective internal states, with internal reflection and second-order awareness (meaning he knows he is aware, and has the art about himself). This is something that is impossible to measure in an objective scientific way, but each of us knows that such situations are a fact of existence that cannot be denied. Therefore it is also quite clear that behavior misses the real thing. Here I have an even better example-
    Is a person who is paralyzed in his whole body necessarily not conscious? of course not. Although he does not show any signs of consciousness, and may not show them throughout his life, this does not mean that he is not aware. From this it is clear that consciousness is an internal state that is not the same as behavior.

  70. I have nothing but to talk about reality as it is interpreted by me, the human observer.
    I'm not sure that the term "objective" has meaning from a non-subjective point of view...

  71. And by the way, I also said that the fact that a computer implements software is a subjective point of view of the viewer. The computer in a way that does not depend on a human observer, does not really solve any mathematical problem or simulate the sky and trees. Just like you wouldn't say that three objects on the table realize the number 3. The number 3 doesn't exist inside them, it's just something we attach to them. Therefore, a biological organ such as the brain, which was created by a blind and unconscious process of natural selection, is unable to act due to an immaterial process whose existence has no meaning at all without the interpretation of an intelligent being.
    When I say immaterial, I mean it is something that does not physically exist in its own right independent of humans. For example, the term "book", from a scientific and physical point of view, is a pile of pages with gibberish. Only humans attach semantics to it, but it does not exist within it objectively. The same goes for computers. They don't really run an algorithm, it's just our convention to talk about them.

  72. I really can't imagine a person without a brain who manages to act like a person with a mind.
    I think that to act like a conscious person you need a brain or a computer.

    By the way, if I wanted to imagine a person without consciousness, how would he be different from a person with consciousness?

  73. Computer outputs is syntax. Computers have no semantic output. Even the output of a sophisticated computer game is a pattern of pixels on the screen that only we interpret as XNUMXD graphics. On the other hand, the output we are trying to explain - consciousness for example, is something that is really not syntactic in nature. Therefore there is no similarity between the cases. You must show how semantic meaning can be reduced to syntax. When you have a system that accepts synthetic input and produces synthetic output - there is no problem. But when you have a biological system that is supposed to extract semantics with the help of syntactic processes, such a thing requires a special explanation that computers cannot give.

    And you insist on not understanding. If it is possible to imagine a person without a brain, who clearly has no awareness and does not understand anything, succeeding in behaving like a person with consciousness - then it follows that it is not enough to behave in the right way to be aware. Is it hard to understand? It doesn't matter if we build a robot that behaves exactly like a conscious person, that in itself will never prove that this robot is indeed conscious. I thought this point was completely trivial.

  74. A:

    I was left confused about the first paragraph.

    "I think it would be very strange to say that the brain, which is a biological machine, is really a feature that is essentially immaterial"
    Why is it weirder than a computer, which is a physical machine, realizing a property that is "intangibly immaterial"?

    Regarding semantics, all I can say is that if and when a computer or robot can understand language at the level I'm talking about, we won't be able to distinguish it from a human in any way - it will be just like me and you. He will be conscious or unconscious just as I am conscious or unconscious for you (you won't have any way to differentiate between us, and if so - then here is another criterion that we must fulfill on the way to making the robot conscious)

  75. You are confused about computational and computational systems. It is possible to perform an operation of calculation on something that is not inherently a system that works on computational principles. For example, we could do mathematics, even if we were non-physical spiritual objects. But that would not mean that our mind works according to computational principles. A Cartesian mental object is clearly not a system that operates due to calculability... It is one thing to perform a calculation, it is another thing to say that the system does the calculation due to the fact that it is a computational system. You don't have to have a system that works according to the principles of computability to be able to perform calculations.
    I repeat again - the fact that you know how to do math, does not mean that your consciousness is an algorithm running in the brain. There is simply no connection between the two.

    Maybe dualism is not the right word. Maybe immaterialism. An algorithm is an immaterial thing, in the sense that it is something that does not depend on a certain material, it can be implemented on a great many things. But I think it would be very strange to say that the mind, which is a biological machine, is really a property that is immaterial in its essence - and I explained that algorithms can be realized on slamming doors. But slamming doors will never be self-aware. Therefore if slamming doors cannot be self-aware, then the brain must be something else and not a system of algorithms (because obviously the brain is self-aware). The claim that doors that slam in the right pattern can be conscious is just as fantastical as spiritual objects that survive death and ascend to heaven (at least in my opinion).

    Ok, in the context of semantics I was talking about something completely different. I wasn't talking about the internal structure of our language, or how words relate to each other. But let's say we manage to build software with a database that includes all the words in a certain language, and all the possible contexts used by the speakers of the language. And let's say that the software can link the phrase "on the thief's head the hat is on fire", to "guilty people usually betray themselves without knowing", and not to expressions of hats and fires. But what did we do about it? Have we turned syntax into semantics? No, the syntax remains the same. We created software that knows how to connect masses of signs according to complex patterns. Is this called understanding the meaning of words? No, and this is exactly the Chinese room - if I were a computer being programmed to understand Chinese, then you would tell me that the sign "%^*" should call the sign "*@!" and not to the sign "%#%$#". Is it called to understand the expression "on the head of the thief the hat is burning"? No matter how much syntax you shove into your software, semantics will not come out of it. The conclusion is that semantics is not achieved by writing algorithms and building computational machines. It also means that our brain is not a computational machine that runs algorithms, at least when it comes to understanding natural language.

  76. When I say that "no one knew about it" I mean that there would be no problem to immediately understand what is in the picture even if, as Aryeh Seter pointed out, the tag suddenly appeared on the opposite shoulder.
    But with regard to writing, it will become indecipherable - that is, it will take a great effort to understand what is written (unless you have a mirror)

  77. A:

    It surprises me because on the face of it there is no reason for this to happen. If you take almost any photo and mirror it, most of the time no one will know about it. Even if there are asymmetrical objects in the picture.
    The thing with a caption is unusual in this sense.

  78. Aryeh Seter:

    "Regarding furniture and objects, you see them reversed left and right, but it doesn't bother you because this is a possible representation of them in reality as well. Which is not the case with letters where turning right and left changes their familiar form"

    I assume you are talking about the symmetry of the objects. How can this not be the case - if I also look at non-symmetrical objects in the mirror, I will usually have no problem identifying them as the same objects (for example, a chain of keys or a coil or some kind of rope). Reversing letters is also a possible presentation (for example when I look at the inscription on the stickers on my car's windshield) but for some reason the inscription becomes indecipherable

  79. A:
    "The fact that we can perform computational operations in our head does not mean that our brain itself is all, or even part, a computational system"
    Ok, so I call a system that is capable of performing computational operations a "computational system" I hope that we close this point.

    "Software\algorithm\computational mode, but mathematical definitions that do not include in their content a reference to a specific physical object or property (like a Turing machine is not something made of material X). You can use them on anything, including slamming doors. It's a kind of dualism"
    I don't understand why this is dualism, the term algorithm is based on a certain level of abstraction - on the basis of "atomic" operations that are left to the level of implementation below, describing computational operations.
    It's like flying is an abstraction of the action a bird does and an airplane does, but they are realized in different ways. There can be a whole hierarchy here, if there is a separation, then there can be a separation here for as many levels as we want, not just two. Beyond that I don't understand what the point is?

    The term syntax as I understand it refers to a series of rules that usually define a formal language (like a computer language for example), although natural language also has a syntax. But when you try to decode natural language for example by computer programming, you find that syntax is not enough to "decode" the meaning of the sentences (semantics). What is missing is huge amounts of knowledge about the world on the one hand, and on the other hand an understanding of the context in which the sentences are said, an understanding of concepts such as cynicism, humor, the ability to map (analogies) between concepts and situations, an understanding of expressions such as "on the thief's head a burning hat" when In fact, it is neither a leader nor a thief nor a burning hat.
    What is missing here is several layers of information processing. Because of the number of these layers it is so many, sometimes it seems that what is in the higher layers is so separate from what is below that there is some kind of rigid (dual) separation here - but in fact there is some kind of continuity here

  80. The mirror puzzle - the explanation seems trivial to me and there's not even room for a question - the mirror reflects point for point what is in front of it. What is above and below remains the same but the figure in the mirror is rotated 180 degrees because you see your front and not your back, therefore right becomes left. When you see your figure if it's symmetrical enough, it looks fine. Regarding furniture and objects, you see them reversed left and right, but this does not bother you because this is a possible representation of them in reality as well. Which is not the case with letters where turning right and left changes their familiar form.
    This reminds me that sometimes they saw reversed pictures - for example a unit badge of soldiers on the right arm instead of the left, because they put the negative upside down in the print. In the digital age this does not happen.

  81. It is addressed to anyone who is interested.
    Another interesting thing in the context of mirrors is the fact that when I look in a mirror almost the entire world that is reflected through it remains clear and bright and I have no problem "deciphering" what is in the reflection - what do I mean? If I look at a bed, a chair, a table, a helmet, a television, headphones, etc., etc., I will have no problem recognizing all of these in the mirror. But see it's a miracle. If I hold a book in front of me - the book will be recognized as a book, but almost all the writing on it has suddenly become indecipherable!

  82. ravine:
    I assume your puzzle is only aimed at A, so I'm not posting an answer.
    If it is directed to others as well - please say so.

  83. Sorry, I was wrong, in the line of "Regarding semantics. In short - I claim that it is possible to imitate ", I wanted to say "I claim that it is impossible to imitate".

  84. "Well, this is already really exhausting, you completely ignore what I have already presented to you on this subject, how do I have more to say."
    - Maybe tell me what response you showed. You mean things like mathematical calculations in your head? I don't think that proves anything. The fact that we can perform computational operations in our head does not mean that our brain itself is all, or even part, a computational system.

    "I think the functional theory completely ignores the specific material the brain is made of, and gives an almost dualistic interpretation..."
    I just don't understand what you were trying to say here.

    -I think I've already made the point. You say that our cognitive states are actually computational states of the brain, similar to software being computational states of the hardware. But as mentioned, software\algorithm\computational mode, but rather mathematical definitions that do not include in their content a reference to a specific physical object or property (like a Turing machine is not something made of material X). You can use them on anything, including slamming doors. It's a kind of dualism.

    "The claim that cognitive properties cannot be physical properties of the brain, but computing properties in my opinion is very strange"
    She is really strange... who claimed her? Again I do not understand what this is about.

    - What is this? You yourself quoted a paragraph that claims exactly that.

    Regarding semantics. In short - I claim that it is possible to imitate the semantic content of our thoughts (when I think of the term "dog" it is directed towards objects that are dogs and not cats for example), with the help of software that consists entirely of syntax, and knows behaviorally to link between symbols of lines of code and various objects . That's what I understood you meant to say in the last paragraph in the previous comment, but I may be wrong, so correct me.

    As for the riddle, I can't really give you an unequivocal answer. In my opinion, the difference stems from the fact that up-down is an objective distinction we make, and left-right is a subjective distinction that depends on the viewer, for example if I stand in front of someone, our directions are reversed because we have different spatial perspectives. Conversely, a relative change in space does not change the up-down distinction. I also hang with my head down, I don't think my legs are "where below". But maybe I'm wrong.

  85. A:

    "And what evidence is there that the brain runs programs and algorithms, or performs calculations?"
    Well, this is already really exhausting, you completely ignore what I have already presented to you on this topic, how can I say more.

    "I think that the functional theory completely ignores the specific material of which the brain is made, and gives an almost dualistic interpretation that allows realization in any physical (and non-physical) system, which has basic complexity. I think this also goes against what we know about the brain in particular, and our body in general"
    I just don't understand what you were trying to say here.

    "The claim that cognitive properties cannot be physical properties of the brain, but computing properties in my opinion is very strange"
    She is really strange... who claimed her? Again I do not understand what this is about.

    "I don't think there is a transition here, there is a dichotomy here. I don't see how doubling, tripling, and exponentiation can make lines of code semantically meaningful. Syntax will always remain syntax, because that is the definition we gave it in advance. I also do not believe that the semantic content of our thoughts can be translated behavioristically into a simple causal relationship between input and output"
    I again do not understand what you are talking about. It is very easy to throw words like "syntax", "semantics", "behavioristic" but I do not understand your use of these words. If you could explain to me what you are talking about it would be worthwhile to continue a more fruitful discussion.

    And what about the riddle?

  86. And regarding mysticism - consciousness and experiences, for example, are themselves quite mystical phenomena by nature. We do not know of any other phenomenon in the world that can be experienced first-hand subjectively, without a public scientific approach. I am guessing that the explanation for this phenomenon will be as mystical as the phenomenon itself.

  87. Guy, I didn't say that neurons can't develop consciousness at all. I said that neurons cannot develop consciousness simply by virtue of the fact that they exchange electrical impulses among themselves in a certain order.
    Secondly, you say "What evidence do you have that there is something in the brain beyond neurons and fluids and chemicals of all kinds?" And what evidence is there that the brain runs programs and algorithms, or performs calculations? I don't know if there is anything in the brain beyond what we know there is. But I think that the functional theory completely ignores the specific material of which the brain is made, and gives an almost dualistic interpretation that allows realization in any physical (and non-physical) system, of basic complexity. I think this also goes against what we know about the brain in particular, and our body in general.

    "We clearly see a connection between superficial cognitive phenomena... and neural activity" - but this does not prove that the brain is in computational states like a computer.

    The claim that cognitive properties cannot be physical properties of the brain, but computing properties in my opinion is very strange. All the biological properties known to us are physical-chemical properties, which can be fully reduced to basic chemistry. For example photosynthesis. No one will say that photosynthesis is a computational process, which can be realized on a silicon chip computer. It is clear as day that in order to carry out photosynthesis you must have a very special biochemistry, which is able to absorb light, and convert its energy into chemical energy. Lines of computer code will never do that, no matter how complex they are. Run photosynthesis software on a computer the size of a solar system, with 10 to the power of 20 lines of code at a speed of 1000 billion functions per second, you will not get carbohydrates at the end of the process. It is not clear to me why photosynthesis is indeed a chemical-physical property, and consciousness is not, and cannot be. And there is nothing mysterious about saying that cognitive properties are chemical properties of the stuff the brain is made of.

    "Regarding the distinction between syntax and semantics, i.e. when the symbols cease to be rigid entities and begin to have "meaning", there is more of a continuous transition here than a clear separation."

    I don't think there is a transition here, there is a dichotomy here. I don't see how doubling, tripling, and exponentiation can make lines of code semantically meaningful. Syntax will always remain syntax, because that is the definition we gave it in advance. I also do not believe that the semantic content of our thoughts can be translated behavioristically into a simple causal relationship between input and output.
    "Semantics is the ability to relate one concept to a "world" of related concepts and connotations" - true, but this is not what creates semantics. Semantics can exist even without there being a world outside. Even if we live inside a matrix, and there are no trees, stones and birds outside, our thoughts will still have semantic meaning. Semantics is an internal state, not our habits of relating words to objects.

  88. If we are talking about riddles, here is one:

    Why does a normal wall mirror turn right and left but leave the up and down directions when they were?

  89. The thing is that based scientific information of this kind cannot be reached if you rely on an intuition that in advance rules out the direction.
    Good intuition on the creative side of thought - in creating new solutions and choosing between existing directions.
    It is, as mentioned, destructive, when it is used for other purposes.

    I sent you an email with the solution to the puzzle.
    If you like mathematical challenges, you are also welcome to read the rest of the discussion surrounding the article in the context of the comments to which I presented the riddle, and following it this article:

    You are also welcome to read my response:
    and see another riddle that is sometimes used by me to present a principle.
    This is another puzzle that the intuitive answer that people are really sure of is really far from reality.
    The truth is that the context in which I usually use it is similar because just as you "feel" that a machine cannot be conscious, religious and creationists are XNUMX percent convinced that a machine (something based on physical principles only) cannot be an animal.
    As part of their war on the idea of ​​the life of the machine, they raise probabilistic considerations and this question is good to confront them about the fact that they have no idea what they are talking about when they use the word "probability".

  90. A:
    It seems that you chose the first option - that is, you claim that it is also ridiculous to think that neurons are capable of developing consciousness.
    So you are claiming that the matter in our minds is also not responsible for our feelings and our cognitive abilities? It goes beyond intuition, it is already mysticism. What evidence do you have that there is something in the brain beyond neurons and fluids and various chemicals? It is tantamount to bringing God into every place where man does not yet have clear answers.
    The only evidence we have is that in our brains there is the material we see, and the neural activity we witness every time our brains are scanned, an activity that miraculously accompanies those feelings of pain, for example.
    That is, in this case the evidence points in the opposite direction from what you claim - we clearly see a connection between superficial cognitive phenomena (such as feelings of pain, happiness, fear) and neural activity. This of course does not make us deeply understand the phenomenon, but it certainly encourages us to abandon any dualistic explanation (which, apart from being a remnant of philosophy in an ancient world where science did not exist, does not lead you in any research direction).

    That's about this option. Regarding the thought that things like sensations or consciousness are a product of the very material the brain is made of (I'm taking from Douglas Hofstetter's words here):
    This is also a mystical claim. Why would the material from which the brain is made have some miraculous property, different from any other material? If there is indeed such a feature then what is it? And how does this feature help us to be aware of ourselves? And if so why is only our brain aware of itself and not our knees or our kidneys? Why are mosquitoes not aware and we are? Why are cows not self-aware and we are? Does the organization of the material and patterns have no role? I assume your answer will be "yes, obviously the way the material is organized has a role" and if it does have a role - why should the way of organization and activity patterns have **all** the role? Or as it is said:
    "It's not the meat it's the motion"

    I do not claim to have an answer to the question of what consciousness is. But regarding the distinction between syntax and semantics, i.e. when the symbols cease to be rigid entities and begin to have "meaning", there is more of a continuous transition here than a clear separation. A large part of natural language analysis for example is understanding the hard structure of the language (syntax) but this is far from the end of the story. A huge part of natural language analysis is knowing the world we live in, the ability to link concepts, to link objects to events that have happened, to understand "what is behind" the things that are said (as in cynical sentences, or insinuations). All these are the semantics, and there is nothing dualistic here.
    Semantics is the ability to relate one concept to a "world" of related concepts and connotations. Computers today are far from our ability to analyze natural language or understand cynicism or a sense of humor. And there is no mystical claim here, this problem can be translated into an algorithmic problem. Given a series of sentences as input, I got an output that said which ones were humorous and which ones weren't. What is missing is an understanding of the computational processes behind these operations.

  91. I said, if you have established scientific information, then surely intuition should be ignored. This is true for things like the earth revolving around the sun, as counterintuitive as it was at the time, or quantum mechanics. And I'm not talking about disqualification of solution methods. For example, the "blue brain" is an interesting and useful thing even if they fail to restore consciousness with it. There is much scientific value in these studies, in any case. But where science has not yet arrived, in my opinion there is no problem in using intuition.

    Yes, I would love it if you send more puzzles. My email is-

  92. A:
    If people trusted intuition we would believe many things that are not true.
    Intuition is a useful tool in searching for solutions. It is a destructive tool in rejecting ways of solution.
    Since all the phenomena we have deciphered so far are physical, it seems very counterintuitive to me to decide that there will be no physical solution to this particular problem.
    I prefer not to publish the solution to the puzzle because it serves me well in illustrating ideas.
    If you want - send me your email address through Avi Blizovsky and I will send you the solution by email.
    I can present you with many more such riddles, the common denominator of all of them is that the intuition of most people leads them to the conclusion (often wrong) that what they do not know how to do cannot be done.

  93. Guy, what is the definition of a computer program? A computer program is a collection of functions, commands in a certain order, that manipulate formal symbols, anything can represent them, only if I decide that way (and correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore, if I choose that an open door is zero, and a closed door is one, then with the help of developing and closing it in the right order, I can theoretically realize any computer program I want, including the brain (or if that's not enough, a system of a million doors that are automatically activated). And you can think that silicon chips are something more sophisticated in terms of quality and not quantity relative to doors. Silicon chips are simply much faster. But in practice, they do something terribly trivial - run electrons in a certain order. Even nerve cells, all they know how to do is secrete all kinds of substances, and send electrical impulses, not at all the kind of thing that can create a feeling of pain, or a thought about something. No matter how many billions of electrical impulses you apply, this thing will remain electrical impulses, which only we as conscious observers interpret as software.
    The whole idea is to make this story sound funny. When talking about billions of neurons or microchips, this does not sound so far-fetched, but when you realize that such systems are not much different from mice with cheese, or a person sitting in a room shuffling cards, then you realize that the difference between the examples is quantitative and not qualitative. If you compress everything into a small space and run it faster, nothing will be added to it, except speed and less space... neither consciousness nor emotions.

  94. For Michael, intuition is the best thing we have for now, until real scientific results are received that explain things. Unlike many other things that can be successfully reduced - hereditary traits and DNA, liquids and H2O, etc., the gap between the phenomenon and reality - between consciousness and the hypothetical computational algorithms, is simply too great to be convinced that it is really possible to make a reduction from one to the other. It seems very unlikely to me that something as complex as thank you will suddenly pop up by itself if you add enough lines of code to your software.
    Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my guess, and anyway no one has yet proven that consciousness is a computer program in the brain, so speculation remains speculation. Let's say if the blue brain succeeds, I'll think about it, but for now I'm not convinced.
    This riddle seems puzzling to me. Indeed, from an intuitive point of view, it seems insoluble to me. I've been thinking all day and I'm giving up. So what is the answer?

  95. A:

    Do you think it is possible to implement a computer using a door slamming system (or mice)?
    If your answer is no - then the argument does not support your claim that a computer cannot develop consciousness, in fact it is not relevant to the discussion at all (therefore I will assume that your answer is yes unless you say otherwise, and then I will refer to this answer).
    Well a computer, according to our assumption, can be realized by slamming doors.
    First if we look at the claim "Consciousness can be realized through a door slamming system" - it is no more ridiculous than the claim "a computer can be realized through a door slamming system" - they have the same degree of ridiculousness.
    But if we look at our assumption we will discover to our surprise that a door slamming system can be very, very smart. It can help us solve differential equations, it can connect us to the Internet so that we can talk with each other, it can analyze sentences, return us search results for queries, etc., etc... All this from a system of doors? Pffff ridiculous!
    This "ridiculous effect" that John Searle uses is a sophisticated way of creating sympathy for his claims without really taking the counter-claims seriously. After all, the only reason that doors and mice seem more absurd than neurons is that we are used to looking at doors and mice at a completely different level of abstraction than neurons. We initially think of neurons as very small units in a much larger computational unit which is our mind. In doors (and mice) we encounter at most 10-20 at the same time, and they are also very large in size relative to us.
    If we were a microscopic being, a million times smaller than a single neuron, the thought that this giant neuron is capable of consciousness would be just as refutable to us.

  96. A:
    Since you already brought up the subject of intuition, there are a number of riddles I tend to ask to demonstrate how much it is missed by most people.
    One of them appears HERE

    You might also be interested in the rest of the discussion there, but it is less relevant to our case.

  97. A:
    I read Searle's articles.
    Beyond the fact that the entire basis for his conclusions is....nothing (meaning - he is merely telling a story and asking if we really believe it can be), he ignores the layers that logically grow above the activity being carried out.
    This is if I asked if it is possible for a neuron in the brain to be conscious.
    This is also the answer to the question at the end of your comment.
    I repeat and emphasize: the algorithmic behavior begins and ends at the level of the individual neurons and the communication between them. Everything else is not programmed at all.
    Intuitiveness should not be a consideration.
    I assume that quantum theory is very counter-intuitive for you as well (as it is for other people).
    I assume that it is also counter-intuitive for you that it is possible to rotate a kilometer-long straight section inside a planar body with an area of ​​one square millimeter - to any possible angle.
    But these are true things.

    By the way - you already said that a brain simulating computer of this type might convince you and I recommend you think about what is stronger in this argument than the argument of just a computer.
    I suppose that if you look deep inside you will realize that what contributes to the persuasiveness of the example is simply the fact that the computer programmers did not program its actions and did not know how to anticipate them.
    Now - imagine a situation in which - 200 years later - they have already studied this computer in depth and the next time they build it they already know exactly what makes it work. Is the consciousness that will be created in this case not equally true?

  98. To Michael - you can think of such reasons. I invite you to look for articles by John Searle or Ned Block, for example, who put forward a number of principled reasons why this is not possible.

    I think it's very counter-intuitive, to think that a computer just by virtue of running the right lines of code, suddenly manages to be self-aware or feel something. A computer program or an algorithm is a formal thing (meaning pure syntax), therefore everything that can come out of it will be formal, symbolic, and not the real thing. To create consciousness for example, you must use a material that will have certain properties that will be similar to the relevant brain properties, not write algorithms (which in theory can be realized with the help of slamming doors or mice and cheese as I have already explained).

  99. A:
    I see no reason in principle why it wouldn't work.
    I'm not claiming that there isn't, but I don't think anyone has ever presented any such reason.

  100. It doesn't seem possible to me either, but the sentence conditions your intelligence in your ability to build calculations like the brain from these materials. if->then...

    The argument is that it doesn't matter what the system is built as long as it has the capabilities. A separate question is what materials such a system can be built from. I don't think the news will come from the cats and mice although I am optimistic about the diapers

  101. Michael- So you do believe that a complete simulation of the brain (as zeros and ones inside processors and memory cards), can be conscious, feel, and think?

  102. Everyone and their intuitions... I think cats and poop are not the kind of things that can imitate brain states, but if you think they can, then who am I to say no?

  103. A:
    The matter of the neurotransmitters is not important because the function of the neurotransmitters (according to the prevailing theory) is to transmit the information about the level of arousal of a given nerve to other nerves.
    If this information is transmitted in a different way and a sense of consciousness is created (like the ability to pass the Turing test) we will discuss it.

    It is already known to create bacteria with completely synthetic DNA.
    It is assumed that later they knew how to produce complete bacteria.
    It is possible that after this they knew how to produce multicellular creatures in a similar way - and perhaps also creatures with a biological brain.
    It is still a long way off, but all the difference between it and a computer will be in the materials from which it is built.

  104. The last sentence was cut, so I'll repeat it:
    If you take a billion (put whatever you don't want here) and build a system out of it that will perform calculations like the brain, then yes, it will be intelligent

  105. A:
    If you take a billion cats mice and cheese and build a system out of it that performs calculations like the brain then yes, it will be intelligent
    If you take a billion poopy diapers and build a system out of it that will perform calculations like the brain, then yes, it will be intelligent
    If you take a billion apples and build a system out of it that will perform calculations like the brain, then yes, it will be intelligent
    If you take a billion and use it to build a system that performs calculations like the brain, then yes, it will be intelligent

  106. And by the way - as I have said several times already - there are no algorithms today that know how to do this - it is not a limitation of computing power, but rather our lack of understanding of the computational principles that stand behind the wonderful ability of human classification

  107. Guy, so okay, so let's take a billion cats, mice and cheese, and build a system out of it that will perform calculations just like the brain does. Would this system be intelligent in your opinion?

  108. A:

    If you claim that this is a reasonable logical possibility then defend it - I will also tell you why I think it is a reasonable possibility - because humans do it. And our brain doesn't do hocus pocus to be able and it doesn't have little gnomes in its head that tell it what each animal is - it's about calculations! Our brain is a machine that performs calculations

  109. Michael, I assume you are talking about the blue brain.
    First of all, what is it called "manifesting something that looks like consciousness"? Pass the Turing Test? I guess this thing will have to be connected to the body... or at least taught to use chat.
    I will be very surprised if such a simulation will indeed be intelligent and conscious, because I believe in advance that none of this will succeed. Saying that a brain simulation can produce consciousness is like saying that a hurricane simulation can blow over the building inside which the computer is located. At least that's my intuition.

    But let's say the simulation works, and exhibits intelligent behavior, I'll probably say I'm wrong. At least this thing mimics our brain in some sense, so if it both behaves like the brain and works like it, then it is probably no different from any of us. But I believe that a collection of lines of code that only represent neurons is very unlikely to be able to imitate the "real thing". For example, you wouldn't say that such a simulation would release neurotransmitters from the drive... so why would it produce intelligence?

  110. But that is not the question. You don't have to watch it. You know in advance that he has no brain, and you know that all he does is move muscles at the right time so that it looks like intelligent behavior. Would such a person have consciousness?

    There is no need now to have an algorithm that knows how to classify animals. I think it is a reasonable logical possibility to say that such an algorithm is possible. It is even logically possible for a man without a brain to discover the theory of relativity, with the help of timely activation of the muscles of the hand to write the articles of 1905. I don't think you are getting to the end of my opinion.

  111. By the way, Guy:
    If we build such a computer and it exhibits consciousness - we still won't know what consciousness is!
    Of course, because it will be a faithful imitation of the brain, we will be able to use it, and in the end - maybe even decipher the matter and understand not only what consciousness is in general, but how human consciousness is created - but this will not be an achievement of computer science, but an achievement of neurobiology working on a model True to the source of the mind.

  112. A:
    "I'm telling you that any cognitive ability can be trivially falsified - I think you're the one who has to prove that the sentence is wrong, not me that it's right."

    He is wrong because he is a liar - blame me for people's ability to classify 40 types of animals in pictures. There is currently no algorithm that knows how to do this - if you claim that there is one - direct me to it (of course it is better if you explain to me how it works)

  113. A:
    Please answer my question (response 58).
    I think it would be a travesty to say that the machine I described has consciousness.

  114. A:
    You ask does he have thoughts? Is he self-aware? Does he feel anything?
    Well it's very simple - I'll ask him. And I will watch it. If I see that his mouth is turned down and he's crying after someone beats him and I ask him "Are you sad Don Robot?" And he will answer me "yes I am sad" - so what reason do I have to think he is not sad?

  115. Understand that it doesn't matter if I can tell the difference between a person who really feels, and a person who acts as if he feels. I won't lie that I can't. But it doesn't change anything. This is only our limitation in knowing things, it does not say anything fundamental about the nature of our consciousness or emotions.
    And I ask you, do you think a person without a brain (which you know does not have a brain, because let's say you yourself designed it) - whose nerves in his hands, feet and face are stimulated so that he behaves like any other person without any difference, does such a person feel anything? Does he have thoughts? Is he self-aware (he knows he has no brain)? Because by your criteria the answer is yes, even though I'm pretty sure you don't really believe it. And it doesn't matter if we have or don't have the tools to know if the people around us are like that or not. It is a principled argument designed to convey the point that behavior by itself is not sufficient to characterize all of our mental states.

  116. A:
    These days an international project is underway that tries to build an electronic brain in the simple sense of the word.
    He tries to imitate the way the electrical pulses are transmitted in the brain at the most reductionist level.
    What would you say if at some point a computer exhibits something that looks like consciousness?
    Would you call it a fake?
    Note: if this happens - it will not be a consciousness that someone programmed into it. It will be a consciousness that will emerge by itself from the electrical activity of that machine.

  117. All the examples of robots that are able to do all kinds of things and sophisticated computers are small steps in the right direction, but I repeat that computers today are very far from humans in many ways.
    The reason why when you see a robot that is able to imitate expressions but is not impressed enough is precisely because it is not doing it well enough.
    If I place in front of you a robot that looks exactly like a human, behaves exactly like a human, talks like a human, reacts like a human - how will you know that a robot is standing in front of you?
    If you tell me that you will look inside his skull to see what is there - this is exactly my claim - the relevant thing is not what is inside but the cognitive abilities
    All we have is an examination of each other's behavior. I don't know mind readers and I don't know a person who knows how to compare minds and tell if they are similar or different.

  118. To be honest, there is nothing new in the above study. In psychology, the above-mentioned feature is referred to as the reflective function or the "theory of mind", I personally read several studies, the oldest of which dates back to 2003 (if I'm not mistaken) concerning exactly this issue.
    I can personally think of a number of applications for this finding, including measuring the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions, diagnosing psychopathologies, and more.

  119. "I tell you that any cognitive ability can be trivially falsified"

    I think you are the one who has to prove that the sentence is wrong, not me that it is right. As mentioned, computers can beat humans in chess, without knowing and understanding anything about chess. That is, we can already fake sophisticated human behaviors today, without needing things like consciousness. Therefore, it is only reasonable to assume that technology in the future will allow the falsification of any behavior, no matter how complex in this way. I really don't see a logical problem with that.

    Think, for example, what would happen if you took a normal person, removed his entire brain from his skull, and attached to his spinal cord a device that would stimulate the nerves in his body so that he would behave exactly as he would if he had a brain (ie the same movements, speech, etc.), So much so that no one will notice that something was done to him. This person could even be Einstein (it's imaginary but logically possible). I guess in this case you wouldn't say that this "person" understands relativity...

  120. Our brains are different, but relevantly similar enough, that it is almost trivial to say that they are capable of the same functions. In contrast, a computer is in no way structurally similar to a brain. It can only create similar outputs, but we have no idea if it does it the way our brain does it, and we have no idea if it imitates in the same way the cognitive processes we go through to produce those outputs. I think that output is not enough to characterize our mental life one hundred percent.
    And I thought it was something trivial to understand. Think about a robot, in fact there are already some, that knows how to imitate the expression of different emotions with the help of hand and face movements such as sadness, joy, fear, etc., is this a sufficient condition to say that it feels these things the way humans feel? I think it's pretty clear not. And we will never know if he does feel something, until we know how our brain feels - because our brain is the only thing we know that it is capable of feeling.

    And note that I'm not saying that it's impossible for anything that isn't a brain (like a computer) to be able to have awareness, emotions, etc., but I'm just saying that until we know exactly what emotion and awareness are, and we know how to explain how the brain creates them, we won't be able to Claiming that something we created with our own hands has exactly the same properties - for the simple reason that we can't even define them yet in a non-subjective scientific way. Therefore, the matter with the feathers and the plane is not relevant - we know what aviation is, therefore we are clear that there are several ways to realize it. But things like awareness we know only from our case, and we also know that our brain is responsible for this consciousness. Therefore, until we know how the mind creates consciousness, we cannot say that something that is not a mind can create it. There is even a logical possibility that consciousness can only be created with the help of a brain made of nerve cells, and nothing else. This is something that is probably unlikely, but logically possible, and until it is proven otherwise, it cannot be claimed that a computer we have built is conscious.

  121. In addition, I would consider the sentence:
    "I tell you that any cognitive ability can be trivially falsified"
    again. I will still ask for a purpose view

  122. A:
    First we don't both have the same brain. Our minds are different. It can be said that they are built from the same materials - but the claim that the material is the one that causes the computational abilities of a human being is debunked in my opinion. It is equivalent to arguing that an airplane cannot be made to fly because it has no feathers. And you yourself testify to the impressive capabilities that computers have nowadays.
    You talk about a mystical concept of "consciousness" that is "obvious" that each of us has it and "obvious" that computers don't have it, but saying something is obvious doesn't help the argument - if anything it makes it less obvious.

    you said:
    "The ability to solve problems in an original way can be simulated with the help of the analysis of a large amount of information, and sophisticated algorithms that can coordinate between different pieces of information in a 'creative' way"

    Computers today have a very limited ability - I gave you several examples and they are very far from the abilities of humans (in some tasks even from the abilities of a one-year-old baby).
    My claim is:
    "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck"

    (I used an analogy here so you don't think I'm a computer by accident)

  123. You do not understand. The difference between my knowledge of your ads and my knowledge of the ads of a computer that behaves like you is enormous. I don't care if anyone seriously claims that humans are unconscious, there are plenty of good reasons to think that way. For example we both have exactly the same brain. With computers it is not like that. So if you say that for you it is enough for a computer to behave in the right way for you to consider it to have consciousness, I am telling you that any cognitive ability can be faked trivially, without needing consciousness and things like that. Therefore, any computer you build will not really give us an idea of ​​our consciousness, until we know for sure what consciousness is and how it is made - something that can only be known from understanding the brain.
    The ability to solve problems in an original way can be simulated with the help of the analysis of a large amount of information, and sophisticated algorithms that can coordinate between different pieces of information in a "creative" way. So what are you actually claiming? That creativity, for example, is something you can only have if you are aware? This is exactly why my assumption is really not without value, it refutes the possibility that anything that behaves correctly, necessarily also has the correct mental states. As mentioned, behavior can always be faked. Experiences, or thoughts, no.

  124. A:

    "I don't see a logical problem in assuming that it is possible to fake any mental ability we have on a behavioral level, with the help of a sufficiently powerful computer with a sufficiently sophisticated algorithm. You didn't really bring an argument that would disprove this assumption"

    I am not at all trying to refute this claim - I think it is a claim without any merit.
    As you yourself mentioned - you also cannot tell if all the mental abilities that I demonstrate in this conversation I am "faking". If you show me a computer that fakes like me I will be satisfied.
    You are right that creativity is not a well-defined concept - it refers to a person's ability to invent - when a person finds a solution to a complicated problem, creativity is needed for this, the ability to see hidden connections between phenomena that until now seemed different (making analogies). Computers today are unable to come close to this ability of humans. Computers today do not come close to the ability of humans to classify objects in images.

    However, as you mentioned, there is indeed a lot of progress, which makes me believe that we are getting closer to the goal

  125. Not true. When a computer does a mathematical calculation, it runs electrons. He has no idea about math. When a person makes a calculation, his thoughts have a mathematical content. These are two very different things. Our thoughts have content, something that computers do not.

    I don't see a logical problem in assuming that it is possible to fake any mental ability we have on a behaviorist level, with the help of a sufficiently powerful computer with a sufficiently sophisticated algorithm. You didn't really provide an argument to disprove this assumption. Computers already today know how to play chess better than anyone in the world, and contrary to what you said, they can also prove theorems in mathematics and geometry. But they have no green idea what they are doing, they are just arranging symbols according to a predetermined plan. Only we give meaning to these symbols, not the computers themselves.

    By the way, concepts like creativity are impossible to define in an objective-quantitative way. For example, Pollock's paintings, which are considered creative modern art, and cost tens of millions of dollars, a computer can create them with the help of a very simple algorithm, because they look like a random collection of paint spots. I think it is also possible to program a computer to write fugues in five voices like Bach. Who's to judge if it's creative or not?

  126. A:

    Computing power is not the only obstacle (if any) in creating a computer with cognitive abilities approaching those of a human. The ability to create analogies, creativity, finding mathematical proofs are only some of the abilities that humans have and that computers lack and it is not about computing power but about understanding the processes and algorithms behind them.

    You repeat your mantra and ask who decides that the brain runs algorithms - again I say if when a computer sorts numbers it runs algorithms then also when your brain sorts numbers it runs algorithms. There isn't much more to it than that. This is not a philosophical claim.

  127. Already today there are software programs that can conduct a conversation at a minimal level. That doesn't mean they are aware. More powerful computing power can make a computer pass the Turing test, even though it itself lacks intelligence at all, and simply has a huge pool of concepts and the ability to calculate billions of processes per second. It is not enough to explain consciousness, or teach anything about our actual consciousness. The problem is fundamental - we will never know if the computer we built is conscious, until we know how our consciousness works, therefore any pretense to explain our consciousness with the help of a computer model will be worthless (because we will not know if our model really simulates what it is supposed to).

    The algorithm has no meaning without a human observer. If there were no humans in the world, calculators would just be lumps of plastic and silicon whose chatter on their displays represented nothing, no numbers and nothing else. So how can our brain realize an algorithm, if there is no one to determine that electrical voltage X represents a tree, chemical substance Y represents a dog, neuron Z represents a cat, and so on. An algorithm is a mathematical entity, not a physical property that exists objectively independent of the observer. A calculator or a computer can only run algorithms because we decided that way. But who decides that our brain runs an algorithm? Our MIND must be an objective attribute that does not depend on an observer.

  128. A:
    Right, you can't know I'm aware. You can tell that I answer your questions logically (I hope) and you assume that I am human.
    In my opinion, when a computer can reach this level of cognitive performance, then we have achieved an important goal in understanding consciousness (of course I did not invent this test for intelligence, but Alan Turing) and for me that is more than enough

    Regarding your question about whether nerve cells can implement an algorithm - who do you think performs all the calculations you do? Why don't neurons and transistors?

  129. It's a different thing. Sure I can consciously implement an algorithm. But can neurons implement an algorithm? And is it possible to reduce mental and cognitive processes to algorithms? I think not, and I explained why in one of the previous comments.

    Besides, how do you know when you have an aware computer? Ads can be faked by programming behavior that appears to be aware. I can't even know for a hundred percent that you are aware, so how do I know that a computer is?

  130. ravine:
    I hope that the beginning of your last response should not be an answer to my claim in the previous response that "it is not relevant" because the issue I was talking about is the study of our brain.
    In any case, these things are self-evident and basically say that if we manage to build consciousness we will know a thing or two about consciousness.
    This does not mean that we will necessarily know something about the way our consciousness is formed and operates, but we will certainly know about consciousness in general.

  131. In the context of our article:
    I think that when we create a computer that is able to "wonder about its essence" as the article says, we will know a thing or two about what "consciousness" means.
    You are again insisting on trifles (and in my opinion also wrong) - if I ask you to sort a series of numbers - you will perform the task according to some series of actions or strategy. This cleaning strategy is an algorithm. It can be implemented on a computer. Where do you think this computational activity takes place for you?

  132. ravine:
    It is completely clear to me.
    Why is it not clear to you that I am clear?
    It is of course irrelevant, but surely it is clear to me.

  133. I agree with Michael in this case.
    There is no connection between the brain and "calculation", calculation is an abstract mathematical concept. The brain is a biological machine that has nothing to do with computers. The brain does what it does due to its special physics and biology (or some other feature), but not because it realizes some functional state defined by inputs and outputs, which can also be run on a powerful enough computer.

  134. When you study the brain, you study a computational machine.
    Computer science is the science of computing.
    Is it not clear to you?

  135. ravine:
    I said that the solution would come through integration (response 8) and I continue to think so.
    In any case - to be serious for a moment:
    There is no way in the world that computer science will tell us how the brain works.
    At most they will be able to tell us how it might work but how it actually works we can only find out through neurobiology.
    Is it not clear to you?
    After all, even if you create a computer that succeeds in "brain" tasks, you will not be able to know that this is how the brain itself works.
    There is no way to know how the brain itself works if you don't look at the brain itself.

    Computer science is a convenient tool for testing hypotheses (mainly to easily reject hypotheses that don't work) but you should always remember that when you study a machine you built - you study a machine you built.

  136. By the way, when I say that the right way to look at how the brain works - there are several levels to this just like the separation of levels that is done in the natural world into physics, chemistry and biology.
    Analysis of a computational machine such as the computer, for example, includes looking at many separate and different levels - starting with the hardware, through the operating system and machine commands, through high-level languages, and finally through the application level.
    The hardware is definitely a very important part of a computer - but most computer science students never learn about it because a lot of computer science happens at other levels of abstraction. The same goes for the relation of cognition to neurobiology

  137. And to be serious for a moment, the promising direction is the cognitive sciences that combine several disciplines (including neurobiology, but by definition not exclusively) as required by studying a problem such as how the brain works

  138. There is no way in the world that neurobiology will tell us how the brain works.
    At most it will tell us how it might work but how it actually works we can only find out through computer science

  139. A:
    I explained to you that this is a law that at the microscopic level (and for short periods of time) all physicists reject. I also explained why.

    There is no way in the world that computer science will tell us how the brain works.
    At most they will be able to tell us how it might work but how it actually works we can only find out through neurobiology.

  140. I didn't really understand what facts I was trying to deny. Are you talking about the law of conservation of energy? I just thought it was a law that no physicist had yet disproved.

  141. A (12):
    First, I never said that "consciousness is an algorithm in the brain" - these are your words. The reason I don't use this expression is that I don't know how to define what consciousness is. An algorithm is a computational way of solving a problem. I see the brain as a computational unit that is responsible for how people solve problems. The brain receives input through the nervous system, processes it and responds to that input. Input processing or data processing is another way of looking at the brain.
    Regarding the correct level of description for the processes that take place in the brain, as I mentioned, we probably lack such description ability at the moment, but the most promising direction in my opinion is a computational look at the tasks that the brain performs and not a biological or physical look

  142. A:
    The chance is not high but that's what happened in the big bang.
    It does not belong to Perpetuum Mobila.
    Is the attempt to present my words absurdly an attempt to deny them?
    I can assure you that denying the facts is not a good strategy.
    The law of conservation of energy is indeed violated at the microscopic level.
    I repeat: experimental facts are stronger than any law.
    What we formulate as a law is a scientific theory and as such it is always under limited liability - not only with the dualists but also with the scientists.
    The fact that the experimental findings are more convincing than any theory is enshrined in the scientific method where the way to disprove a theory is by presenting findings that contradict it.

  143. So quantum ionization of particles can add energy to the system? Is it theoretically possible to build an eternal engine that draws its energy from the void without the need for fuel?

    I think any dualist with some sense in their head (especially if it's someone like a philosopher), accepts the law of conservation of energy, and can theoretically reject dualism on that basis. It doesn't matter if it actually convinces people or not, it matters now if it's even a good argument. If you say that the law of conservation of energy can actually be violated, at least on a microscopic level, then maybe you are right and the argument doesn't work, especially since interactions between the mental and the physical probably need minimal amounts of energy.

  144. A:
    The law of conservation of energy is a law that humans discovered.
    There is nothing sacred about it - certainly not in the eyes of the dualist.
    It also does not fully exist (!) because its complete existence is in contradiction to the principle of uncertainty.
    That's why in empty space - particles are constantly being created and re-ionized.

    Besides - if you hear dualists talking, the use that many of them make of the word energy is true blasphemy - for them, the soul is sometimes energy and they also have positive energies and negative energies.

    In general - I don't think it is possible to convince a person who is not a physicist using physical laws because his entire starting point is based on the assumption that physics does not predict everything.
    Reasons like the ones I gave, which show a direct contradiction between the facts he himself knows and cannot whitewash and his claims have a chance in my opinion.

  145. Obviously, this will not convince a devout dualist, and especially not a religious person. But we talked about rational arguments, and in my opinion this is the most convincing argument against dualism, even more than the arguments you brought. I'm not great at physics, but I guess the law of conservation of energy is a principle that is very undesirable to give up, especially not for something like dualism.

  146. A:
    This is because you assume the effect must be through energy but there is nothing to limit the hallucinations and therefore:
    1. It doesn't bother them even if energy needs to be created
    2. If someone is more serious, he can claim that the effect is through controlling the way the wave function collapses

  147. No, that's not the point. If interactionist dualism is true, then spiritual events should affect physical events (my mind is responsible for my behavior for example). But in that case, the neurons in the brain have to receive energy from the outside, from spiritual events outside the physical world, which of course contradicts the law of conservation of energy.

    It is possible to avoid this with the help of epiphenomenalism, but it is not something that is really acceptable (unless you really believe in this Libet experiment that you brought).

  148. A:
    I did not forget the matter of the law of conservation of energy.
    This is a law that only applies to physical systems and has no meaning in illusory worlds.
    If you read the discussion that follows the article, you will see that what is "no problem to explain" only receives wrong explanations.

  149. Michael - You forgot the most fundamental problem: dualism contradicts the law of conservation of energy.

    Still, qualia do threaten to some extent the physicalist worldview. And note that there are versions of dualism that do not assume the existence of a spiritual entity on which all mental properties rest (in a classical Cartesian sense). If you assume a relationship of subordination between the physical and the mental, then there is really no problem explaining the examples you gave in the article. But the idea of ​​the soul remaining and reincarnation after death are definitely dubious ideas that cannot really be justified. Even if non-physical spiritual properties exist, there does not necessarily exist a mental entity that survives our death. The spiritual functions can cease together with the physical functions, and then everything is over.

  150. A:
    Free will is just one of the things that should be absent from the soul.
    in this article I showed that in fact everything we would like to attribute to the soul is absent from it and what may remain in it is of no interest at all.

  151. A:
    I didn't know the story with Mary's room, but this seems to me to be simply a clumsy way of saying what I already said at the end of response 17, which is that there is a built-in contradiction in the phrase "an objective description of a subjective feeling".

    Yair: When we talk about physicalism, we also mean the different levels of abstraction. Why do you think not? Does anyone think that the weather is not a physical phenomenon just because there is also air pressure and temperature (terms that do not belong to the molecules that make up the air)?

  152. Larry Seter, you may be factually correct, but you miss the point. You don't need Mary to actually exist. It is only a logical possibility, which is all that is needed for the argument to work. Mary can be replaced by an alien who visits Earth, and learns about the human mind from observations. That's not the point.

    The principle point is that if experiencing red was a physical property, or one that results from physical properties, it could be deduced from studying physics and all other fields of science, without experiencing it first. But it seems that Mary would inevitably miss the experience, even if she had divine knowledge of the world, and from this it follows that experiences do not belong to the world of physical-naturalistic phenomena...

  153. The claim that everything is physicalism and biology is similar to the claim that the sea is a collection of puddles or that the texts I read on the computer screen are a collection of electrons.
    It ignores the fact that every structure, phenomenon, process, may serve as a layer for new forms that will develop above them, will be conditioned by them but will be completely different from them, just as water is neither oxygen nor hydrogen, and the aquatic explanation does not explain the phenomenon of water in nature.
    The physical-biological research regarding the motivation of consciousness is very important and teaches a lot, but as in the example of A (12) in connection with the way a car should be explained, also regarding consciousness, the biological physical explanation explains a pre-cognitive layer, and not the consciousness itself.

  154. Regarding Mary and from a perceptual psychological point of view - my argument is that Mary will not experience the color, not as soon as she is exposed to it, nor after a while. There is a feature in the human brain that allows the acquisition of certain skills during the period when the baby is ready for it, and if time passes and you miss the relevant period for that skill, it is not possible to acquire the skill even later. An example of this is the wolf children who returned to civilization and did not learn to walk on two but continued to crawl and did not learn to speak but continued to growl like animals, because the critical maturation time for acquiring the skill of walking, or acquiring complex language skills, has passed. I know a person very well who does not recognize people by their faces. He will know you if he hears your voice, sees your name tag, or recognizes you by your characteristic clothing that is unusual. Otherwise he could pass you on the street without saying hello, even if he has known you for years. It turns out that the man has a severe visual impairment since childhood due to which he saw everything extremely blurry. As a baby in the critical period of learning to recognize faces, he saw them all in the same blurry way. By the time he was fitted with glasses, it was already too late to acquire the tribal skill of recognizing faces.

  155. Mary has never experienced a color experience and therefore the very concept of color should not be familiar or understandable to her, therefore it is not possible to know what the experience will be, if at all, once she is exposed to color for the first time in her life. This reminds me of a story I read as a child. One man claimed to be able to heal the blind from birth. To prove his words, the man brought a man who was declared blind from birth and gave him the treatment that cured the blindness in the eyes of skeptical onlookers. When the man announced that the blind man from birth can now see, one of the spectators pulled out a red handkerchief from his pocket, waved it in front of the "blind man" who was opened and asked him "What is in my hand?" And he answered him immediately: a red handkerchief. "Cheating", said the viewer, "how can a person blind from birth say that the handkerchief is red".

  156. By the way, note that the absence of free will does not contradict dualism....

    As for Mary's room, that's a very well-known anti-physicalist argument that I thought you might be familiar with. In short, it goes like this - Mary is a scientist who has lived her whole life in a laboratory that only has the colors black and white. Although her color vision is normal, she has never been exposed to any color other than black and white. She wonders how it feels to see the color red, so she decides to learn all the possible physical facts that are relevant to seeing colors - optics, the structure of the eyes, the brain, etc. She eventually learns every possible physical fact about color vision (she's a kind of god who knows everything about the universe, if you will). In the end, she comes out of the lab into the world, and they show her a tomato, and tell her - here is something red. The intuition behind the argument says that when Khmeri sees the tomato's red for the first time, she should be surprised ("Oh! So that's what red looks like!") and therefore she learns something new, which she didn't know before. That is, it follows that she learns a non-physical fact about the world that does not derive in any way from physics or biology.

    In my opinion, there is a very strong intuition behind this argument. It is difficult to think how information of physical facts (equations, laws, relationships), or the physical structure of the brain, can know what it is like to experience something without actually experiencing it.

  157. A:
    My previous response referred to Mary's room.

    Regarding the question of when the explanation is scientifically satisfactory, I am not entirely sure.
    That is - in a certain sense - the experiment described by Sompolianski is a reduction that can be considered complete and the only reason why you do not see it as such is that it is difficult for you to give up your desire to be more than an expression of the laws of nature.
    It is not at all clear that it is possible to reach more. In the meantime we have no way to describe our subjective feelings objectively and it seems to me that this will remain our situation forever - because there is a built-in contradiction in the phrase "an objective description of a subjective feeling"

  158. Thanks for the link.

    Well, there are many reasons to believe in physicalism, and findings like this really show that dualism is very likely wrong. But still, from a purely scientific point of view, I don't think this is XNUMX percent certain. Until we succeed in making a complete reduction of mental states to physical states, the explanation will not be scientifically satisfactory.

  159. A:
    I don't have a link to the article in question.
    I have a link to earlier and less powerful articles, Like this example
    In my opinion, the article definitely shows physicalism and the attempts to escape from this are similar to me to an attempt to escape in a similar way from the fact that the genes dictate our traits. After all, even if it is proven that a certain trait is in the genes, it can be argued that it is also elsewhere.
    In my opinion, Yaron London draws the conclusions far too far - towards a determinism that does not even exist in physics (and Professor Sompoliansky does not notice or does not understand or, at least, does not bother to correct it) but physicalism is, in my view, an inevitable conclusion.

  160. Guy, it's not really a matter of choosing words. When you say that "consciousness is an algorithm in the brain", you are saying something fundamental about the nature of consciousness. You can describe anything at any level you want (assuming that everything can ultimately be put down to basic physics), but when you describe the operation of a car at the level of quantum mechanics, you are indeed saying something that is true in principle, but doing so is a stupid thing, because It has no explanatory value about how gasoline engines actually work. You should be talking about pistons, bolts, valves, etc., not quarks.

    The same goes for the mind, the real question is, what is the relevant level of explanation for our mental states. If you say that "consciousness is an algorithm that activates the brain", then you are giving up neurological explanations, and are moving into the field of computer science. In this case it is possible to make a reduction to neurons, but just as computer science does not study the physics of silicon chips, so explanations of consciousness are not relevant to brain cells.

  161. I'm not surprised at the retraction of the article The pretense of neuroscience is pathetic
    It's like trying to define the driving experience by checking the battery
    But I'm not surprised to hear this from people who are supposed to have found an essence to life other than this
    can be very intriguing and fun

  162. To Michael, can you point me to a place where I can read more about this article mentioned in the video?

    Still, from what I understand, this particular study doesn't really prove physicalism. Dualism can still be true, even if we assume that it is physically possible to affect our states of consciousness. If you assume a dualism that includes a two-way interaction between the physical and the spiritual, then there is really no problem.
    Let's say that my decision to raise my hand is a mental process, which in turn causes a physical process in the brain that ultimately causes the hand to be raised. On the other hand, there are physical processes such as pricking the skin, which affect certain physical states in the brain, which in turn cause the mental state we call a feeling of pain. So if we assume that there is such a close connection between physical states and spiritual states that a change in one of them always results in a change in the other state.
    Therefore, it is difficult to prove unequivocally that all mental states are nothing more than chemical or physical states only with the help of revealing a correlation between the stimulation of certain areas of the brain and the appearance of certain mental states. Much more sophisticated research is needed for this, which I don't think can be done today. In any case, it would be interesting to read more about this study.

  163. A:

    The question of whether the brain runs algorithms or whether it depends on our perception of the brain's activity is more a matter of choice of words than a substantive one. I will try to clarify what I mean.
    When I come to describe the operation of the brain it can be done on several levels.
    Brain activity can be described at the level of atoms, it can be done at the level of neurons and it can be done at the level of activity areas.
    No level of description is more correct or "true" than the other. When a scientist wants to describe a phenomenon, he will aim for the most descriptive description that meets the observations. When a scientist wants to describe how the brain sees, it seems to me that a description with the help of firing neurons will also be very accurate, it will be detailed and tiringly long (and if you are not convinced, then we will go down a few more levels to the level of atoms)
    I think we still don't have the right vocabulary to describe how the brain thinks or solves problems. When I say that the brain solves problems, it can mean the problem of measuring distance (I can miraculously measure distance using two images that are received on my retina) and it can also be a problem of sorting numbers. I guess you won't argue with me that we are capable of these actions. The next question is how we do these actions, I also assume that you will not argue with me that the one responsible for solving these problems (i.e. algorithms) is the brain.
    This is what I mean when I say our brain runs algorithms.

  164. A and Guy:
    First of all - it is quite clear that everything is a physical and chemical process.
    It is possible to argue about how they occur but it is difficult to doubt the actual claim.
    If anyone has doubts - I suggest that they watch In this video And then he will think again.

    Regarding the direction from which the overwhelming answer will emerge - it seems to me that it is still unclear. Even if they succeed in imitating the brain using a network of neurons (is this computer science or neuroscience? In my opinion, it's both and in general the importance of the question is secondary) it still does not mean that they will understand what is happening. Those who have experienced the development of a neural network know what I mean.

  165. And by the way, I do believe that the solution should come "from the bottom up", something in the physics of the brain is probably responsible for the mental properties, or perhaps a mysterious physical property, which has not yet been identified by the current physical theory (a bit like matter and dark energy in astrophysics). On the other hand, maybe the solution is panphysicalism, or a certain kind of dualism, who knows. It may be that awareness is a basic property of reality just like mass or electric fields.

  166. Guy, I highly doubt the brain runs algorithms. An algorithm is an abstract mathematical concept that we attribute to physical phenomena, but it does not have a separate physical existence just as there is no such existence for numbers or other mathematical entities. Therefore, for something to run an algorithm, there must be a human observer to determine that it is an algorithm, otherwise it is a series of random physical events that are not related to each other. Therefore the brain cannot implement algorithms, because this leads to the homonoculus fallacy (a small person inside the head).

    Secondly, mental properties such as colors and feelings, cannot be computing properties. An algorithm is inherently something that does not depend on a specific physical implementation. Anything with the right causal power can run a computer program, whether it's a computer with silicon chips, or whether it's a slamming door. Therefore, in theory, it can be said that if you take the algorithm of the brain that is responsible for feeling pain, and implement it with the help of slamming doors, it would be possible to say that a system of slamming doors feels pain, which, at least in my opinion, is absurd and unacceptable.

  167. A:

    In my opinion, the attempt to understand phenomena such as awareness/consciousness or in general thought processes through the analysis of MRI scans is limited. I think that a real understanding of the cognitive processes is related to the description of those processes at the computational level and not at the biological/physical level.
    My prediction is that salvation will come from the direction of computer science and not from the direction of brain research (at least not in the school of brain researchers who try to describe what is reading in our skulls by biological description at the level of the single neuron or even at the level of active areas of the brain as seen in scans).
    For example when trying to study how the visual system works. One approach says let's take a group of people. We will put them in MRI machines and show them different images and map the activity. (This is an attempt to understand from "bottom up")
    Another approach is to think about what the functions of the system are, what problems it solves. Think about possible solutions (ie algorithms), finally implement them on a computer and compare the performance of the algorithm to that of vision.
    When there will be algorithms whose performance is comparable to that of the brain, it seems to me that we will learn something important about how the brain works

  168. The quote: "Questions that are really interesting in the field of the mind (at least for me)"
    Says that instead of whining about everyone and doing nothing, you might start working on the question that interests you.
    Besides, the article here is a journalistic article. It is certainly not an "article", and if this is the type of "abundance of research" that results from your response that you read, then there is still a long way to go before you can answer what interests you.

    The title of the article, by the way, was "Relating Introspective Accuracy to Individual Differences in Brain Structure"
    ZA "Link between a certain cognitive function and a region (or structure) in the brain".
    have a fun read.

  169. I don't underestimate anything. I'm just waiting for the day when neuroscientists will start answering the really interesting questions in the field of the mind (at least for me), and will be able to validate the pretense of contemporary neuroscience and cognition to put our entire mental world on a pure biological-physical basis. Despite the abundance of research that is published in the field of brain research, I have yet to come across anything that could even be the tip of a thread from which to begin to answer the really big questions.

    Think for example of the title of this article "Brain scan determines the human ability to ``wonder about your essence.'' I already thought that this was some kind of breakthrough, but it turns out that neither bears nor a forest - an explosive title for another study that somehow links a certain cognitive function to some area of ​​the brain, without giving a real explanation for the phenomenon itself, in this case self-reflection. And I assume you know that in science a correlation between two things does not necessarily indicate a causal relationship, or explain one with the help of the other. At least it would have been possible to settle for a more modest title.

  170. A:
    How do you know if it closes or not?
    Do you know what the answer is?
    If you don't know where Timbuktu is, you have no way of knowing whether a step you've taken brings you closer to it or not.
    Besides, the disdain you express is only slightly different from dismissing the article just because it doesn't teach us how to make the best hummus.

  171. And of course the research does not bring us any closer to the answer to the more fundamental question, how is flesh capable of being self-aware..?

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