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ollypenrice

The reality of time, Lee Smolin lecture.

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3 minutes ago, saac said:

The "now" is surely just a particular value on a continuum of flowing time;  I don't believe it holds any particular significance to the universe.  Of course it tortures the human mind, it is fleet footed and ever elusive but it is of no concern to the universe. 

Jim 

 

Smolin's idea is that it might be a concern of the universe's, though, and that our assumption that it isn't might explain the present impasse. I need to read the book - once my present (:icon_mrgreen:) and uncharacteristic digression into political history is over. Why do historians write at such absurd length???

Olly

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6 hours ago, andrew s said:

I don't know of any law of physics that defines a specific "now" nor any one that defined a specific place as in here and now. 

Some theories predict a specific time as in the BB cosmological model. It would be counter to modern cosmology, GR and SR if they did. Now only has meaning at a specific event and separates the events past and future light cones. 

Even if you are having a conversation in your living room you are currently aware of the  past as all the information took time to get to you.

Regards Andrew 

I tend to agree. In fact could we not go further and say "now" is  impossible to isolate  ; it has the touch of Hisenberg all over it.  Once you believe you have located it , it is gone.  The real moving target. Perhaps that is it, perhaps the universe does not need time.  :) 

 

Jim 

 

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1 minute ago, ollypenrice said:

Why do historians write at such absurd length???

So that some fragments will still be there for future archaeologists to find.

2 minutes ago, saac said:

Perhaps that is it, perhaps the universe does not need time.  :) 

Noooooooooooooo. ?

Regards Andrew

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7 minutes ago, andrew s said:

We have come full circle - personally I don't believe consciousness plays any role in physical laws.

As to free will I am not sure we have it and if we do it is constrained by biology and upbringing. However, I believe we should act as if we do.

Regards Andrew 

I agree wholeheartedly with your first point Andrew.  In fact the other day I watched an amusing video from the series Sixty Symbols where the presenter (Professor Phil Moriarty , University of Nottingham) was railing against some piece of "new age physics"  carried by a tabloid  attempted to link quantum effects to the macro world. Similar idea as discussed here that through the entanglement principle our conscious mind is linked to the physical world.  It's the old adage , a little bit of knowledge and perhaps eagerness to write and sell another book. I'm sorry I just don't see it, too much mysticism for me.  

As for your second point I'm not ready to surrender free will.  I agree it's is informed by biology and environment  - so in that sense not entirely free I guess.  But I have to believe we have choices and that we and we alone must own those choices and their consequences.  I do like your last take on it though - "we should act as we do " . I haven't seen that sentiment expressed elsewhere  - I do like it.

Jim 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, andrew s said:

We have come full circle - personally I don't believe consciousness plays any role in physical laws.

Neither do I. I simply wonder given current set of physical laws how does consciousness arise as result?

It is there, we are conscious of it :D so there must be mechanism for it. If our physics can't explain it (or derived theories in other fields) - something is incomplete.

In my view there are bunch of open questions about it - enough to make me wonder if our understanding is incomplete (either because we did not bother to explain within current framework, or it is the framework that is lacking).

Same thing goes for free will. I can agree that free will is just illusion. I wonder why is it such persistent one, and ultimately what leads to its creation (why do we "feel" like we are making a choice, and ultimately was it necessary evolutionary to be like that and why, or was it just fluke and why).

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12 minutes ago, andrew s said:

So that some fragments will still be there for future archaeologists to find.

Noooooooooooooo. ?

Regards Andrew

I recall a comedy sketch , can't remember where, may have been a "far side" cartoon perhaps.   Some kids where mulling over the prospect of burring their dead hamster in the cockpit of an airfix model aircraft.  The bubble over the kid's head contained an archaeologist in the future perplexed over the prospect of tiny four legged creatures flying small aircraft.  It appealed to me :) 

Jim 

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21 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

It is there, we are conscious of it :D so there must be mechanism for it. I

I think it is covered by the fundamental laws that we already know about.  There is no physical law that explains why bowling balls should be made out of the material they are...but using the known laws of friction and material physics, we can devise the best bowling ball possible given our technology (and the rules of the game).  It may be that life, like the concept of now, is not important to the universe.

Rodd

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9 minutes ago, Rodd said:

I think it is covered by the fundamental laws that we already know about.  There is no physical law that explains why bowling balls should be made out of the material they are...but using the known laws of friction and material physics, we can devise the best bowling ball possible given our technology (and the rules of the game).  It may be that life, like the concept of now, is not important to the universe.

Rodd

I'm failing to see how is it covered?

Brain is in essence a neural network - nothing in mathematical description points to raise of consciousness (and all our current physical laws are formulated in mathematical terms - so it's not maths fault) nor does it provide any sort of "granulation" or "cut off" point (less/more conscious, n neurons not conscious while n+1 neurons conscious). 

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15 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

I'm failing to see how is it covered?

Brain is in essence a neural network - nothing in mathematical description points to raise of consciousness (and all our current physical laws are formulated in mathematical terms - so it's not maths fault) nor does it provide any sort of "granulation" or "cut off" point (less/more conscious, n neurons not conscious while n+1 neurons conscious). 

There are laws that govern a single neuron, and laws (biological laws--which are based on chemistry and physics--which are based on mathematics) that cover a bunch of neurons.  No, consciousness is not defined by any law, nor is the concept of favorite color, or why one likes football instead of cycling.  Because some things just can't be defined by mathematics.  Also--many neurons do not mean consciousness will form (brain death but still alive).  Consciousness is beyond mathematics.  (thank heavens!)

Rodd

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I like the idea that life is an emergent property of the body and consciousness is an emergent property of the mind. 

Just as pressure is an emergent property of a large enough collection of the molecules in a gas.

Regards Andrew 

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2 minutes ago, Rodd said:

There are laws that govern a single neuron, and laws (biological laws--which are based on chemistry and physics--which are based on mathematics) that cover a bunch of neurons.  No, consciousness is not defined by any law, nor is the concept of favorite color, or why one likes football instead of cycling.  Because some things just can't be defined by mathematics.  Also--many neurons do not mean consciousness will form (brain death but still alive).  Consciousness is beyond mathematics.  (thank heavens!)

Rodd

But is it beyond physics? Or more precisely is it beyond physics as we currently understand it?

Or to put it differently - why do we have consciousness, but any other system containing equivalent number of atoms (of same elements) occupying same amount of space, acted upon the same forces - does not have it. How can we explain it in terms of these fundamental entities. We don't need to do it directly, we can use other sciences (based on physics like (bio)chemistry, electronics, ... ) to do it - we can just say, when you take neurons, certain number of them and wire them up in such and such way, and pass electric current in certain fashion, or supply energy in certain fashion it will give raise to consciousness, but when you substitute neurons with electrical circuit this will not (or indeed it will) happen because ...

This is not new question, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - Philip K. Dick

2 minutes ago, andrew s said:

I like the idea that life is an emergent property of the body and consciousness is an emergent property of the mind. 

Just as pressure is an emergent property of a large enough collection of the molecules in a gas.

Regards Andrew 

Allow me to be blunt :D

p = F/A

(no need for collection of molecules in a gas - crystalline structure, or for that matter amorphous one can exert pressure, even fundamental particles like photons).

So I don't really see pressure as being emergent property - its phenomena (there is force) and associated useful definition (force applied over surface perpendicular to it).

And I certainly don't see life being emergent property of the body ....

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18 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

Allow me to be blunt :D

p = F/A

(no need for collection of molecules in a gas - crystalline structure, or for that matter amorphous one can exert pressure, even fundamental particles like photons).

So I don't really see pressure as being emergent property - its phenomena (there is force) and associated useful definition (force applied over surface perpendicular to it).

And I certainly don't see life being emergent property of the body ....

I shall be equally blunt.

If you start with point particles moving under Newtonian mechanics (for simplicity) then you get a set of coupled differential equations governing their movement. Pressure is not defined in this model just the positions, momenta and any forces of interaction between the individual particles. If you then treat them using statistical mechanics you can calculate the ideal gas law relating pressure and density and temperature. These are properties of the whole not the individual elements - this is what I understand as emergent properties.

Regards Andrew

Edited by andrew s
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8 minutes ago, andrew s said:

I shall be equally blunt.

If you start with point particles moving under Newtonian mechanics (for simplicity) then you get a set of coupled differential equations governing their movement. Pressure is not defined in this model just the positions, momenta and any forces of interaction between the individual particles. If you then treat them using statistical mechanics you can calculate the ideal gas law relating pressure and density and temperature. These are properties of the whole not the individual elements - this is what I understand as emergent properties.

Regards Andrew

Ah yes, see what you mean - and completely with you on that one, it sums up my dilemma nicely.

Problem of course being that no one applied "statistical mechanics" equivalent to show how QM systems en mass can produce such behavior. No one proved it can't work either.

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1 hour ago, andrew s said:

I like the idea that life is an emergent property of the body and consciousness is an emergent property of the mind. 

Just as pressure is an emergent property of a large enough collection of the molecules in a gas.

Regards Andrew 

That is sort of what I meant by consciousness being governed by existing laws.  But more eloquently put!

Rodd

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1 hour ago, vlaiv said:

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - Philip K. Dick

Not necessarily--I can dream of electric sheep (the human imagination is boundless), so they could very well dream of ordinary sheep.  I understand he was very cleverly asking "do androids dream".  

But yes--I think the laws of physics (meaning ALL laws of science) that we currently have, cover consciousness.  We just have not figured out how yet.  I mean, consider, there are aspects of quantum mechanics that Heisenberg did not know about in 1930--could not know about, that we today consider rather obvious today (for physicists).  Same laws, different application of the laws.  This in no way precludes the existence of a wholly new science or new laws that we have yet to discover.  But is it necessary?  Could be.

Rodd 

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Given the debate on do the laws of science cover consciousness I did some research on where current research was up to. 

This showed that while how to define consciousness and exactly what it was remain open work on how the brain works was progressing well.

I would conclude the following is a reasonable model on how we get to a model of the brain from fundamental theory through a series of higher level abstraction and specialisation.

Quantum Theory -> Chemistry -> Biochemistry/Biology -> neural-chemistry/evolutionary biology -> biological neural networks

One track models the details of how neurons work their interconnection and chemical environment and the other the structural development of the brain.

They then coalesce around a computing model based on a (biological) neural network. One strand of consciousness research has it as particular patterns of stimulation within the neural network.

While Olly maybe spared that the Universe is a computer simulation it may well be that his (and our) perception and understanding of it is a simulation running in the computer that is his (our) brain(s).

Regards Andrew

 

 

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5 minutes ago, andrew s said:

Given the debate on do the laws of science cover consciousness I did some research on where current research was up to. 

This showed that while how to define consciousness and exactly what it was remain open work on how the brain works was progressing well.

I would conclude the following is a reasonable model on how we get to a model of the brain from fundamental theory through a series of higher level abstraction and specialisation.

Quantum Theory -> Chemistry -> Biochemistry/Biology -> neural-chemistry/evolutionary biology -> biological neural networks

One track models the details of how neurons work their interconnection and chemical environment and the other the structural development of the brain.

They then coalesce around a computing model based on a (biological) neural network. One strand of consciousness research has it as particular patterns of stimulation within the neural network.

While Olly maybe spared that the Universe is a computer simulation it may well be that his (and our) perception and understanding of it is a simulation running in the computer that is his (our) brain(s).

Regards Andrew

 

 

Scary stuff indeed.

Having worked a bit with neural networks - simulation wise, not physical ones, I wonder what would be basis for emergence that we discussed above. I'm going to go just slightly more philosophical on this one, so sorry about that.

Neural networks can be simulated in software as opposed to being implemented in hardware. Would we see same emergence happen? I'm inclined to believe so, since we established that nothing in quantum realm or physical world is tied into consciousness - it emerges from electrical signals in neurons (and topology of it). Therefore this sort of emergence is property of state and state transitions rather than physical matter (so math again, sorry). If so, we have control over "speed" at which consciousness works, and we can pause it. Is consciousness still there when paused? Can it resume and how would it handle discontinuity of real world around it (provided that we create neural network coupled with sensors). Would it work in reverse (we just reverse arrow of time in simulation), and would we still consider it consciousness. If it can be simulated, is it deterministic - we can re run simulation, and each time consciousness will emerge in neural network - will it each time be exactly the same given exactly the same sequence of stimuli? If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck is it really a duck? - if it behave as consciousness (like super duper mighty AI passing Turing test), when can we be certain that it has consciousness in the same way we have it, perceive it, live it (don't even know how to express it).

A bit more general questions that I'm wondering about, given above is so:

- neural network simulation can be "linearised" (see above argument about manipulating time - so it can be seen as same neural network only in slow motion due to fact that there is no parallel execution) - so what property of the structure ensures emergence as opposed to any old linear code (maybe your ol' computer is conscious to some level each time you power it up, and thinks to itself, like bowl of petunia : "Oh, no, not again" each time you start shut down sequence :D ).

- What sort of "feelings", "reasoning" and "awareness" can happen depending on type of neural network - are there different types of consciousness. Would that consciousness be able to explain a particular "feeling" to us if it falls out of realm of what human type consciousness experience?

- I don't even want to start on all the ethical questions ...

I have a bunch of further questions, and to my mind it is all scary stuff indeed.

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26 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

since we established that nothing in quantum realm or physical world is tied into consciousness

I don't think we established this.  We may have agreed upon it.  But the universe works in mysterious ways--just consider quantum mechanics--as mysterious as it gets.  There is one aspect of Human research/hypotheses that is true....we are wrong almost as often as we are right (perhaps more often).  

 

26 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

What sort of "feelings", "reasoning" and "awareness" can happen depending on type of neural network - are there different types of consciousness. Would that consciousness be able to explain a particular "feeling" to us if it falls out of realm of what human type consciousness experience?

Feelings arise from the pituitary gland, which is controlled by the Hypothalamus (the rest of the endocrine system comes into play as well, but its all the same....chemicals).  Without chemicals (hormones, adrenaline, epinephrine etc, etc.), we would have no emotions.  So AI may have consciousness, but without a biological equivalent of an endocrine system, it would have no feelings, hence, no personality (or a very flat personality at most).  

Rodd

Edited by Rodd

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19 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

I have a bunch of further questions, and to my mind it is all scary stuff indeed.

I don't have any answers to the questions you pose but some observations.

I lose consciousness when I go to sleep and it seems to reboot ok!

Biological neural networks are more complex then their non-biological analogs. There are several types of neuron and work is ongoing to look at which genes are active in them. I also suspect they may be non-linear.

If I was asked to explain how you get form the 1 and 0 of a binary computer to "Grand Theft Auto" I would need several levels of abstraction to do it - assuming I could.

Regards Andrew

 

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2 minutes ago, Rodd said:

I don't think we established this.  We may have agreed upon it.  But the universe works in mysterious ways--just consider quantum mechanics--as mysterious as it gets.  There is one aspect of Human research/hypotheses that is true....we are wrong almost as often as we are right (perhaps more often).  

You are quite right, and that is basically what I meant by establishing - setting it as true for purpose of our discussion, and agreeing upon this.

2 minutes ago, Rodd said:

Feelings arise from the pituitary gland, which is controlled by the Hypothalamus (the rest of the endocrine system comes into play as well, but its all the same....chemicals).  Without chemicals (hormones, adrenaline, epinephrine etc, etc.), we would have no emotions.  So AI may have consciousness, but without a biological equivalent of an endocrine system, it would have no feelings, hence, no personality (or a very flat personality at most).  

Rodd

All that chemicals are doing is changing how fast neurons fire impulses and how they relay information, so nothing special to it - it can also be done by other means - changing resistance / capacitance in electronic neural network, or changing parameters in simulation one. It can of course be implemented as loop back feed - upon external stimuli these changes happen.

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8 minutes ago, Rodd said:

So AI may have consciousness, but without a biological equivalent of an endocrine system, it would have no feelings, hence, no personality

I am minded of Star Trek First Contact where the Borg Queen tried to turn Lieutenant Commander Data with artificial skin!

Live long and prosper Andrew

Edited by andrew s

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6 minutes ago, andrew s said:

If I was asked to explain how you get form the 1 and 0 of a binary computer to "Grand Theft Auto" I would need several levels of abstraction to do it - assuming I could.

Yes, it would take a bit of explaining if we were to do it "step by step", on the other hand, this explains it completely (and much more):

image.png.46faab2fb0910a6dfd33e3286aef3e72.png

image.png.06e0f2a8cc7a14a5cc1cae3c26194609.png

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15 minutes ago, andrew s said:

I lose consciousness when I go to sleep and it seems to reboot ok!

I don't think this is true.  Unconscious and asleep are distinct states.  I have dreamed and I am aware of myself when I am dreaming--I can remember my dreams.  One can't recall anything when unconscious.

Rodd

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15 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

l that chemicals are doing is changing how fast neurons fire impulses and how they relay information, so nothing special to it - it can also be done by other means - changing resistance / capacitance in electronic neural network, or changing parameters in simulation one. It can of course be implemented as loop back feed - upon external stimuli these changes happen.

They are also imparting electrons/photons at various energies, and let us not forget, representing quantum measurements at various times.  Biological systems can exchange single ions--single electrons/protons.  How?  The exclusion principle denies the identification of a protons location and speed simultaneously.  But if a cell is able to transfer a single particle, and this does happen--wish I could remember the the book I got this from.  It has been postulated that this either violates the principles of quantum measurement, or it represents a form of quantum measurement.  In either case, it suggests a deeper attribute than simple voltage, impedance, resistance, speed regulation.

Rodd

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48 minutes ago, Rodd said:

I don't think this is true.  Unconscious and asleep are distinct states.  I have dreamed and I am aware of myself when I am dreaming--I can remember my dreams.  One can't recall anything when unconscious.

Rodd

I have short periods of dreaming but most of the time I am not self aware. You would have to provide a definition of what you mean to be conscious for we to differentiate sleep from unconsciousness. ?

Personally I am not sure consciousness is that central. What about all the subconscious stuff that goes on?

Anyway we are way out of my area of knowledge so I shall stick to the non gloopy science?‍?

Regards Andrew 

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