Home > Meeting Topics and Material > Email exchange in response to QUEST Topics

Email exchange in response to QUEST Topics

Discussion Topics
Topic one is a discussion on Why build the simulation? What is the purpose of consciousness?
The only answer seems to me to be that there are aspects of the required computation that conducting the simulation achieve that are not achievable without. Imagine that a simulation is run from a script that is computed prior to the conducting of the simulation. In that case Jared’s question is applicable – there would be no reason to run the simulation – you already know where it will go and what will be computed. If however the simulation is initiated with some aspects of where it will go unknown / unpredictable then you need to run the simulation to achieve its computation impact on the critters decision making – assuming that the construct of the simulation is required to accomplish the simulation (so it can’t be done without qualia). If the qualia are not required then I could run the simulation below the level of consciousness and then post the results to blend with the other below the level of consciousness computations (for example what is done in sys1). From this perspective I still wouldn’t have to make conscious the simulation.

We don’t have to explain consciousness as it is the only way to accomplish something only that it is a means to accomplish something. The ‘something’ seems to me to be the representation in a single framework all the integrated constituent pieces of a potential serial explanation of the world necessary for the current decision with each ‘tagged’ with qualia as part of their simulation to allow deliberation at a higher level of abstraction. So as we discussed in a prior QUEST meeting one such tag is there is something with this aspect of the working memory that seems odd – ‘you might want to attend to it’. That quale is used in the simulation as one aspect to consider in driving the simulation. Another quale might be there is an emotional quale tag associated with some aspect of the potential qualia to consider in the simulation, ‘I love that critter right there in my simulation’. Another quale is ‘that is red like a rose’. The point is the formulation of the qualia based simulation allows a type of computation that the meat was not accomplishing without the qualia approach. The link-based and subjective aspects of the qualia computational approach brings with it an engineering computational advantage that non-qualia based lifeforms hadn’t achieved and thus became an evolutionary advantage.

ARogers response
since i might not make it this week, wanted to get my .02 in

why build the simulation instead of just running it in the background? – i think a vital piece of building and experiencing a simulation comes from the fact that it has to be actively grounded around a ‘self’. without a self piece in there, we lose our subjectivity/perspective, making it impossible to play with the pieces of the simulation to imagine how they could fit together in different relationships, which is the way that we solve any incongruency.

situations can and indeed are built without being experienced, we’ve seen this in the recent articles showing that people can detect those conceptual incongruencies without being aware of what was in the picture. it seems then that these situations are constructed based off of knowledge and experience, almost reflexively. yet without a self piece, the person loses the ability to imagine different situations that might better explain the stimulus they received, and are stuck with just that feeling that ‘something’s wrong’.

by pushing the simulation up to the level of awareness, where the critter is actively experiencing its construction, we have grounded the representation around its sense of self. with this important relationship in place, it now becomes possible to experiment with new links or relationships between the other entities in the representation, all with regards to how they relate to the ‘self’. now imagination comes into play, and we can work ourselves through different plausible situations with differing link structures until we find one that best explains the initial stimulus.

it seems to me that this experimentation/imagination piece is missing from the scenario where a simulation is running off a script in the background. so a critter that is conscious and is actively experiencing a simulation is better equipped to resolve incongruencies, and also better equipped to reprogram their knowledge and experience constructors to account for the new findings.

MYoung Response
I will miss the next two meetings due to other commitments, so I will get my jabs in early… 🙂

So what is meant by a self? Multiple goals to be traded off? Planning capability? Episodic memory that enables learning? And probably a few other functions as well. Chess programs “imagine” the future; many many many futures, each second.

So why do you need awareness or consciousness? Are you sure I could not build a robot with those functions that lacked consciousness?

Arogers response

Having a clear definition is key, I agree. There was a time when we had a working definition for what we meant when we said ‘the quale of self’, but after looking through my files I cannot find the reference. Maybe CA has a file on hand with the correct wording for it.

As for imagination, to me it has to include the ability to reason through an unknown query. In chess, there is never an unknown query. There is a limited (large, but limited) number of moves available at any given stage of the game, and thus with enough processing power I can certainly script out all the possible futures that could take place. That is not imagination, at least in my use of the word. I would deem that reflexive simulations.

It seems that humans rely a lot on these reflexive simulations, where we can run a stimulus through a background process that is primarily constructed based on knowledge and experience, and end up with a decision or behavior that is appropriate for it, without ever being aware of it. But when there are times that things go clunk in the system, that I could not have expected nor have I ever experienced before, it seems to me that this is where we employ a conscious process that is able to use reasoning and imagination to construct a plausible situation that can best explain that stimulus. And I strongly believe that these processes are unique in that they are performed with respect to an embodied mind and an embedded body, taking into account current and past goals, contextual information, and probably more.

With this view, I think of consciousness as a sort of situational workspace. Where links and relationships can be played with in ways that my lower level systems cannot.

I will continue to look through our old material to see if I can dig out our definition of self, as I think that is definitely a discussion worth having. What do we mean when we say it, what does it bring to the framework, which critters have it and which do not, and can we ever hope to gift an artificial machine with it?

Capt Amerika response

Sorry – I’ve been absent from this conversation – have several AF/ST taskers ‘deliverables’ due – not sure which definition you are thinking of adam – one recent effort was associated with our Barsalou discussion

• Finally, a situated conceptualization places the conceptualizer in the respective situation, creating the experience of ‘being there’ (Barsalou 2002, 2003b).
By re-enacting actions and introspections from a particular perspective, a situated conceptualization creates the experience of the conceptualizer being in the situation—the situation is not represented as detached and separate from the conceptualizer = self.

This was our discussion on why we have consciousness – it is NOT meant to say it is the only engineering solution to the engineering advantage of perspective BUT that it is one of the achievements obtained by consciousness –

We also had a series of characteristics of self:

• Continuity – unbroken thread (with ‘feeling’ of past, present and future) – cohesive narrative (non-causal – time is a quale)
• Unity – diversity of sensory data BUT ‘experiences’, memories, beliefs and thoughts are experienced as one person – as a unity
• Embodiment – mind is embodied and body is embedded, ‘feel’ anchored in our body (idea that you can’t model a priori all that will be encountered and form sensory experiences will take)
• Sense of free will – ‘feel’ in charge of our actions, I can wiggle my finger (recently thinking link sets may offset a lot of what appears to be free will)
• Reflection – ‘aware’ of itself (places ‘self’ in world model)

All of these characteristics can be differentially disturbed by brain lesions – Self is not one thing it is a set of processes
all acting together! (self is a ‘feeling’ = a quale associated with these processes {qualia}). Even when multiple personalities
only one at a time is experienced – as is all ‘one quale at a time’

remember St Mathew — a quale is a quale – Conscious = generates quale = aware of that attribute of the internal representation – in the case of self it is the awareness of the attribute of consistent perspective

• The simulation provides a common framework for integration of the parallel processes that are relevant
• The purpose of integration is to provide a rich formulation for deliberation (for better decision making AND to provide feedback to sys1 for re-learning/learning) – means to incorporate context!
– The formulation also provides the information for feedback to program/reprogram sys1 processes – common framework allows the generalization across applications of experiences – unexpected query
– adjusting the salience of currently executable actions – boost an action’s salience above the threshold required to release its veto, bringing about that action’s execution
– Key question is how does this focus require the behavioral / intent constraining of the representation (constrains conscious perception) – Focus resources! – results in change blindness
• Suggest other use of consciousness is for veto of potential actions

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