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LH Merlo

About life and consciousness.

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13 minutes ago, MPMin said:

And what about the ability of abstract thoughts and a sense of mortality perhaps these are necessary attributes of consciousness or maybe I’m just setting the bar too high for what consciousness is. 

You're setting the bar to your level of understanding. It's a little like trying to understand how and why the Egyptians built pyramids, when all we know is, they did...

There is no line...

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On ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 10:03 PM, Hrvoje1 said:

but obviously termites didn't need to hire a human architect to design a mound for them, that's why is this question without any sense, in general.

For "that's why is this" Google returns about 2 results, for "that's why this is" Google returns about  29.500.000 results. So, I thought to rewrite it like this:

"but obviously termites didn't need to hire a human architect to design a mound for them, that's why this question is without any sense, in general."

But then I googled for "this question is without any sense", and that returned no results, and "this question has no sense" returned about 175.000 results, so I think I should have written:

"but obviously termites didn't need to hire a human architect to design a mound for them, that's why this question has no sense, in general."

Is that correct now, or at least better?

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"that's why this question makes no sense" is the phrase you're looking for

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Posted (edited)
On 8/18/2019 at 10:26 PM, iNow said:

Merely repeating this claim doesn’t magically render it true

You are right, but now I can rely on magic called common sense of benevolent readers, who can read and assess for themselves what you got.

Thank you for the correct phrase I was looking for.

Edited by Hrvoje1

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26 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

You are right, but now I can rely on magic called common sense of benevolent readers, who can read and asses for themselves what you got.

You meant assess. 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, iNow said:

You meant assess. 

Yes, thanks for that too, automatic assistant is not yet that advanced to warn me about such mistakes.

Edited by Hrvoje1

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On 8/14/2019 at 3:27 PM, StringJunky said:
On 8/14/2019 at 10:24 AM, Eise said:

For an organism, or more general, a system, to be conscious,

  1. it must have some 'mental picture' of the environment
  2. it must be able to see its position in this environment
  3. It can anticipate the future, i.e. have a notion of what can happen (soon), dependent on its 'mental picture'
  4. It can anticipate the future dependent on different actions it can do

I think you are setting the bar too high with this one because I think it requires self-consciousness i.e  an organism needs to be able to 'mirror' itself mentally. 

Not 100% sure. But I think it is a necessary condition for acting.

On 8/14/2019 at 4:51 PM, zapatos said:

I have a brand new grand daughter.

First: gratulations!

On 8/14/2019 at 4:51 PM, zapatos said:

I don't think she can anticipate anything at all about the future.

Very young babies already expect certain things. Such experiments have been done, e.g. with objects that disappear and appear again at another place.

But I cannot exclude completely that I take human, adult consciousness a bit too much as the norm for consciousness. But only a bit...

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On 8/14/2019 at 9:27 AM, StringJunky said:

I think you are setting the bar too high with this one because I think it requires self-consciousness i.e  an organism needs to be able to 'mirror' itself mentally. 

I agree; an organism simply has to demonstrate that it can engage behavioral responses independent of those we might consider instinctual or programmed responses.  Non-instinctiveo/non-programmed behaviors suggest that an organism can engage a mentation process comparable to that which produces human behavioral responses.  These are the processes of thought that we engage to suppress behaviors we would otherwise engage instinctively or without thoughtful consideration; e.g., suppressing the urge to run from loud explosions while attending a fireworks display.

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On ‎8‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 2:02 AM, DrmDoc said:

independent of those we might consider instinctual or programmed

This is not science. Science is about precise definitions, precise logic, and precise facts. What we "might consider" is none of that. Again, all definitions that include comparison to human, are not objective, and therefore I disregard them.

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4 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

Science is about precise definitions, precise logic, and precise facts. What we "might consider" is none of that.

Not quite. Science is a process of hypothesizing about and attempting to model the cosmos in a way that minimizes our blind spots, enables accurate predictions, and helps us disregard flawed ideas.  Your position above, I’m sorry to inform you, should be considered flawed for precisely omitting those core concepts and disregarded accordingly. 

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2 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

This is not science. Science is about precise definitions, precise logic, and precise facts. What we "might consider" is none of that. Again, all definitions that include comparison to human, are not objective, and therefore I disregard them.

Then, clearly, you do not understand science. Science regards the cogent, replicable methodologies by which evidence may be investigated or found for the ideas we espouse. Your comments here suggest that your idea of consciousness cannot be defined by human comparisons because you believe such comparisons lack objectivity. Consciousness cannot be defined or hypothesized without an initial point of reference. The word itself, consciousness, is a human invention and idea you would not be exploring in this discussion without that "human" origin.  What small measure of understanding you may now hold about the nature of consciousness is based on references defined by your very human experience.  In science, consciousness relatable to humanity is the only sort we are capable of fully understanding because of the reciprocity in brain function and behaviors among humans.  Consciousness that isn't relatable to humanity isn't consciousness because it has no human reference and any definition you may ultimately settled on cannot be quantified without a cogent basis relatable to human experience.

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3 hours ago, iNow said:

Not quite. Science is a process of hypothesizing about and attempting to model the cosmos in a way that minimizes our blind spots, enables accurate predictions, and helps us disregard flawed ideas.  Your position above, I’m sorry to inform you, should be considered flawed for precisely omitting those core concepts and disregarded accordingly. 

You can disregard whatever you want, and I can tell you something in a clear and understandable way, but I cannot understand it for you.

Nothing I said there is flawed, and I did not "omit" anything, because I was not obliged to say everything that is important about science. I was free to emphasize just that what I think is important, and is lacking in that post.

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29 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

Nothing I said there is flawed

I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong. 

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25 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

You can disregard whatever you want, and I can tell you something in a clear and understandable way, but I cannot understand it for you.

But you can teach it better...

3 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

Again, all definitions that include comparison to human, are not objective, and therefore I disregard them.

Any and every description has to include a human comparison (it's the law), I can only understand you because we're both human and share a relative POV.

 

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26 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

You can disregard whatever you want, and I can tell you something in a clear and understandable way, but I cannot understand it for you.

Nothing I said there is flawed, and I did not "omit" anything, because I was not obliged to say everything that is important about science. I was free to emphasize just that what I think is important, and is lacking in that post.

I disagree if the based of your ideas or premise involves nonhuman qualifiers as I otherwise conveyed in my comments above. 

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7 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

This is not science. Science is about precise definitions, precise logic, and precise facts. What we "might consider" is none of that. Again, all definitions that include comparison to human, are not objective, and therefore I disregard them.

I might consider gravity a force, or I might consider gravity as the curvature of spacetime.

I might consider a virus and a prion to be alive or not.

Unfortunately 'precise logic, definitions and facts' are subject to human convention and interpretation, and to confuse things further, not all humans (or scientists for that matter) agree with each other.

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16 hours ago, iNow said:

I’d agree with you

You don't have to do that for me, nobody forces you. It is a given, either you understand it or you don't.

 

12 hours ago, zapatos said:

I might consider gravity a force, or I might consider gravity as the curvature of spacetime.

I might consider a virus and a prion to be alive or not.

You are right, you might consider an oak a stupid wood, that cannot run away if people decide to cut it, or an impressive living being, and I bet you consider domestic animals stupid, but at least they try to escape when they realize that people decided to eat them, right? And we might consider all animals purely instinctive creatures, unable to think, such as Descartes did, but the question is, what is true?

 

13 hours ago, zapatos said:

Unfortunately 'precise logic, definitions and facts' are subject to human convention and interpretation, and to confuse things further, not all humans (or scientists for that matter) agree with each other.

The point is that they are also subject to human validation, but if you don't make an effort to provide any, you don't have anything to validate in the first place.

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44 minutes ago, Hrvoje1 said:

And we might consider all animals purely instinctive creatures, unable to think, such as Descartes did, but the question is, what is true?

You would need to provide some evidence for your opinion, rather than aggressively asserting it as fact.

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9 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

The point is that they are also subject to human validation, but if you don't make an effort to provide any, you don't have anything to validate in the first place.

No. Not everything is subject to human validation, and even if we do validate it, it is colored by a human's imperfect, limited, and biased view of the universe.

Is a virus alive or is it not?

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5 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Is a virus alive or is it not?

Yep...

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18 hours ago, Strange said:

You would need to provide some evidence for your opinion, rather than aggressively asserting it as fact.

What opinion, and what aggressiveness exactly are you talking about?

I don't consider all animals purely instinctive creatures that are unable to think. I started to talk about plant self-awareness, when all of a sudden they started to offend me, tried to ridicule me, and push out of the forum. There is a strong evidence that plants can receive information from the environment, process it, and act accordingly. Which means that they have information system alternative to the nervous one, as they don't have neurons. Now, consciousness seems to be the result of such information processing that is capable of self-referential operations, implemented by such self-referential structures in the information system that are obviously implementable in a neural system, but we don't have much reason to believe it can't be implemented elsewhere, at least I don't have, if you have some evidence that proves the opposite, please do present it, because I would love to see it.

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3 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

I don't consider all animals purely instinctive creatures that are unable to think.

Me neither. On the other side, I don't think all animals really think in the sense we do: use abstract concepts, consciously try to remember what something looked like or remember the way to the pond. And thereby, being conscious is not the same as thinking.

3 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

There is a strong evidence that plants can receive information from the environment, process it, and act accordingly. Which means that they have information system alternative to the nervous one, as they don't have neurons.

That jump is too big. A thermostat receives information from the environment, and acts accordingly. But would you call a thermostat conscious? Does it think?

3 hours ago, Hrvoje1 said:

Now, consciousness seems to be the result of such information processing that is capable of self-referential operations, implemented by such self-referential structures in the information system that are obviously implementable in a neural system, but we don't have much reason to believe it can't be implemented elsewhere, at least I don't have, if you have some evidence that proves the opposite, please do present it, because I would love to see it.

Closer. But do plants have these self-referential capabilities? For that a very complex structure is needed, with different levels of functional abstraction: functional units working together to perform symbolic operations, until one can speak of observing, evaluating, reflecting, and acting.

I do think that neural structures are not the only kind of structures that can lead to thinking and consciousness. E.g. I think conscious AI is, at least in principle, possible. But I would not go that far to say that plants think or are conscious. Their information processing systems are too simple.

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On ‎9‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:17 AM, Eise said:

But would you call a thermostat conscious? Does it think?


Definitely no, on both accounts. But it depends on the definitions of both terms, so following the logic promoted here, that precise definitions are neither necessary nor crucial, to which you didn't object, it is actually hard to tell.
The fact that plants and thermostat can both be described as intelligent agents, due to the fact that they process information from the environment and act accordingly in order to achieve certain goal, if you accept such a definition, given here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_agent doesn't mean much. IA is a powerful abstraction, and as such it can describe supreme intelligence such as human beings or entities that in some aspects even surpass human intelligence, but it can also describe such simple devices, that conform to a basic definition, there is simply a large spectrum of notions that such a definition covers.
However, depending on the complexity of information processing that IA is capable of, there are also huge differences between them. As plants are hardly comparable with humans, thermostat is hardly comparable to plants. That really doesn't undermine the power of that abstraction at all, and we cannot conclude anything about plants from the fact that thermostat is not conscious.
You as a human being should not have a problem with that, as you claim that people are good in understanding abstract concepts, and still, if I had a nickel for every time I've read such "thermostat objection" I would be a millionaire. It is so pedestrian and common because everyone can access wikipedia or any similar source of information, read that thermostat is considered an example of IA, and become puzzled or even offended by that statement.
It is actually a little bit comparable to this situation: let's say that someone asks for a short description of a chess engine, that can potentially beat human world champion. And let's say that someone responds with this specification: it should be able to take the current position as input, process it, and respond with a move. And then one might object that such a description doesn't exclude such lousy programs that might even return illegal moves, let alone bad (but legal), or not sufficiently good to beat human world champion.
That objection is valid, but it also doesn't falsify the validness of given short description, if someone wants better and more informative description, it should definitively take some longer.
In other words, plants can be intelligent (if we define so), and still neither think anything like animals do, nor be conscious the way people are, or animals for that matter. Or, they may be more like a rock.

On ‎9‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:17 AM, Eise said:

Closer. But do plants have these self-referential capabilities?

I have no idea, I believe they have, but I didn't dedicate my life to botany, so that I could have a more informed belief, so I may be wrong. But here are people that are positive about the possibility that they don't have, so maybe they have some evidence for that.

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Zapatos, thumbs up on the MP quote.  Hilarious!

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4 hours ago, DrmDoc said:

Zapatos, thumbs up on the MP quote.  Hilarious!

If your intention was to insult me, you could be a man enough to say that openly what you got, and not hide behind the others, and behind abbreviations.

Edited by Hrvoje1

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