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RING!!! A new theory of consciousness

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Karlsson <em>alarm</em> <em>clock</em> copper case and blue dial Yes, that’s just what it sounds like. Every morning, the alarm clock rings, and there is a new theory of consciousness. Today’s contender is from Michael Graziano at Atlantic:

Ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has been the grand unifying theory of biology. Yet one of our most important biological traits, consciousness, is rarely studied in the context of evolution. Theories of consciousness come from religion, from philosophy, from cognitive science, but not so much from evolutionary biology. Maybe that’s why so few theories have been able to tackle basic questions such as: What is the adaptive value of consciousness? When did it evolve and what animals have it?

The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence. If the theory is right—and that has yet to be determined—then consciousness evolved gradually over the past half billion years and is present in a range of vertebrate species. More.

If drowning in information was really that big a problem, all life would have drowned long ago. Life forms use senses for filtering and focusing necessary information, but it is not clear that consciousness as such has any kind of adaptive value in the matter.

Consciousness may well be present in invertebrate species. See Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?

What most human beings mean by consciousness is a sense that an experience is happening to oneself = self vs. not-self. But that sense need not imply any kind of reasoning ability. See Animal minds: In search of the minimal self.

The big problem with consciousness studies is that the researchers are looking for a naturalist (materialist) explanation that probably does not exist, or not in the form they are looking for.

See also: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?


New Scientist astounds: Information is physical

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Correct. They are looking for a naturalistic answer and not looking for the immaterial soul. Without the soul nothing makes sense. So hypothesis are made by the dozen. its funny to see them scramble. Robert Byers
as to:
Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence,,, We say we have consciousness because deep in the brain, something quite primitive is computing that semi-magical self-description
And here is a refutation of that particular just so story for 'computational consciousness':
Sentient robots? Not possible if you do the maths - 13 May 2014 Over the past decade, Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues have developed a mathematical framework for consciousness that has become one of the most influential theories in the field. According to their model, the ability to integrate information is a key property of consciousness. ,,, But there is a catch, argues Phil Maguire at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. He points to a computational device called the XOR logic gate, which involves two inputs, A and B. The output of the gate is "1" if A and B are the same and "0" if A and B are different. In this scenario, it is impossible to predict the output based on A or B alone – you need both. Crucially, this type of integration requires loss of information, says Maguire: "You have put in two bits, and you get one out. If the brain integrated information in this fashion, it would have to be continuously haemorrhaging information.",,, Based on this definition, Maguire and his team have shown mathematically that computers can't handle any process that integrates information completely. If you accept that consciousness is based on total integration, then computers can't be conscious. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25560-sentient-robots-not-possible-if-you-do-the-maths.html#.U3LD5ChuqCe Mathematical Model Of Consciousness Proves Human Experience Cannot Be Modeled On A Computer - May 2014 Excerpt: The central part of their new work is to describe the mathematical properties of a system that can store integrated information in this way but without it leaking away. And this leads them to their central proof. “The implications of this proof are that we have to abandon either the idea that people enjoy genuinely [integrated] consciousness or that brain processes can be modeled computationally,” say Maguire and co. Since Tononi’s main assumption is that consciousness is the experience of integrated information, it is the second idea that must be abandoned: brain processes cannot be modeled computationally. https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/mathematical-model-of-consciousness-proves-human-experience-cannot-be-modelled-on-a-computer-898b104158d
Moreover, in the article the author betrays a profound ignorance of the nature of consciousness and information. Both consciousness and information are transcendent entities that are not reducible to material explanation. Although information and consciousness can interact with material entities, they, by their very nature, can never be reduced to materialistic causality and/or explanation:
“One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin? And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires. Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.” -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences. - Intelligent design: Why can't biological information originate through a materialistic process? - Stephen Meyer - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8 Recognising Top-Down Causation - George Ellis Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities: Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored. The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts. Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, for example state vector preparation, where top-down constraints allow non-unitary behaviour at the lower levels. It may well play a key role in the quantum measurement problem (the dual of state vector preparation) [5]. One can bear in mind here that wherever equivalence classes of entities play a key role, such as in Crutchfield’s computational mechanics [29], this is an indication that top-down causation is at play. http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Ellis_FQXI_Essay_Ellis_2012.pdf Brains on Fire: Dr. Steven Novella Explains, "The Mind Is the Fire of the Brain" - Michael Egnor - December 18, 2014 Excerpt: The difference between a memory and a representation of a memory is obvious. Right now I remember that I have an appointment at noon. I'm writing down "appointment at noon" on my calendar. My memory is my thought that I have an appointment at noon. The representation of my memory is the written note on my calendar. A thought differs from a note. A thought is something I experience; a note is something I write. My memory is a psychological thing. My note is a physical thing. My memory is represented in my note. My memory is not the same thing as my note. A memory is not the same thing as a representation of a memory. I hope that's clear. I'm not sure how I can be clearer. - Michael Egnor is a professor and vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/12/brains_on_fire092151.html How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God - J. Warner Wallace - video - Sept. 2015 (5 attributes of mind that are distinct from the material brain therefore, via the law of identity, the mind is not the material brain) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ff1jiRpjko podcast - How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God - Sept. 2015 http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-consciousness-points-to-the-existence-of-god-cold-case-christianity-broadcast-42/ Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds - 01/30/2014 1) First-person access to mental properties 2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies 3) Persistent self-identity through time 4) Mental properties cannot be measured like physical objects 5) Intentionality or About-ness 6) Free will and personal responsibility http://winteryknight.com/2014/01/30/six-reasons-why-you-should-believe-in-non-physical-minds/

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