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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 11

Merchandise that’s just out of this world!

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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
In a Twilight Zone reversal, the community reveals they are all the androids...
Fun stuff.

What would it mean if they were all to reveal that they lacked consciousness? Is this the same as a blind person revealing they can't see or is it categorically different?

How would a nonconscious species know they were or weren't conscious or that another species was or wasn't conscious? And vice versa.

That's the question I'm seeking to explore. It could also be explored via a first contact story.

On the one hand, what would it matter, right?, but on the other hand, it's the only thing that matters.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Fun stuff.

What would it mean if they were all to reveal that they lacked consciousness? Is this the same as a blind person revealing they can't see or is it categorically different?

How would a nonconscious species know they were or weren't conscious or that another species was or wasn't conscious? And vice versa.

That's the question I'm seeking to explore. It could also be explored via a first contact story.

On the one hand, what would it matter, right?, but on the other hand, it's the only thing that matters.
There could be physical evidence - differences in brain structure, or just the claim - for example I claim right now that I am devoid of p-consciousness.

(PROVE IT PROVE! - from the peanut gallery)



How would a nonconscious species know they were or weren't conscious or that another species was or wasn't conscious? And vice versa.

Exactly ... that is the writer's problem! Shows us something new!

There is a recent novel ... hang on a tic ...
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
@Soupie

Blindsight (Watts novel) - Wikipedia

The alien creatures encountered by the crew of the Theseus themselves lack consciousness.[6][7][10][12] The necessity of consciousness for effective communication is illustrated by a passage from the novel in which the linguist realizes that the alien creatures can't be, in fact, conscious because of their lack of semantic understanding:

Tell me more about your cousins," Rorschach sent.
"Our cousins lie about the family tree," Sascha replied, "with nieces and nephews and Neanderthals. We do not like annoying cousins."
"We'd like to know about this tree."
Sascha muted the channel and gave us a look that said Could it be any more obvious? "It couldn't have parsed that. There were three linguistic ambiguities in there. It just ignored them."
"Well, it asked for clarification," Bates pointed out.
"It asked a follow-up question. Different thing entirely."[13]

clues ... spoilers ...
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
@Soupie

What would it mean if they were all to reveal that they lacked consciousness? Is this the same as a blind person revealing they can't see or is it categorically different?

This is the whole argument ... just as in NDEs - how do you even know the brain has stopped functioning if we can't reliably "detect"/"measure" consciousness? - what if we prove at some point that consciousness can't be measured? Or even that energy levels low enough to sustain an NDE aren't currently detectable? How would a case of having a real NDE differ from one in which experience is constructed after consciousness is regained? Perhaps there is a way to measure physiological changes and some pattern would emerge but then you could just say there was some very low level of activity or some as yet undetectable physical something at work -

Here's the gold standard - platinum, even, to show that the brain is in the same physical state, down to the lowliest whatever fundamental particle configuration (or to whatever scale differentiable consciousness could be attributed (hypothetically) and yet two different p-states are reported ... 1) how would you definitively show it? and 2) just think what it means if two different states are then reported ... ? Do current experiments show that when region A-1 is stimulated grandma's biscuits are reported in exactly the same way, or do they sometimes have gravy on them (I hope there is gravy!) ... too crude probably but you could argue that either thesis is supported ...

This is what I was trying to get at ... there don't seem to be any clean cases in which a non-physical consciousness looks different from a physical one, or any scenario under which a physical cause couldn't be hypothesized (and that has some implications, I think in any/all other areas) ... so perhaps your job as author is to come up with a world in which consciousness is non-physical and the reports from this scenario above lead scientists to a troubling conclusion ... perhaps it is physical after all ... or, you know, vice-versa, it's your story, after all. ;-)

How would a nonconscious species know they were or weren't conscious or that another species was or wasn't conscious? And vice versa.

How do we know? Would you be surprised by future science if a fair percentage of the population was found to be devoid of conscious experience, not outwardly visible? There seem to be people of any other variation - those without imagery for example ...

Maybe they could be required to wear a little symbol to indicate, you know, so we would know better how to interact with them, in the proper way ... like a "C" with a line through it, in some kind of eye catching design (color) or maybe when you approach, the relative levels of consciousness could be indicated electronically ...

yes, many possibilities here ...
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
There could be physical evidence - differences in brain structure, or just the claim - for example I claim right now that I am devoid of p-consciousness.

(PROVE IT PROVE! - from the peanut gallery)
The physical evidence would all be indirect. And we would only know it was indirect via self-report. Because we (individual humans) are conscious, we assume other humans are conscious. Thus if brain region A lights up when we have conscious experience A1, we can make the reasonable claim that humans with brain region A also have conscious experience A1 when their brain region A is lit up. But we can't prove it.

However, some people can't see this.

That's why bringing in android clones and aliens is helpful. Because androids and aliens can be like us but not quite us, that reasonable claim we make about other humans isn't quite as reasonable when we make it about androids and aliens.

While a lit up A1 human brain region gives us confidence that a fellow human is having a conscious experience, a similar lit region in an android or alien gives us less confidence. I think it's clear why: because we have no idea how an active brain region could produce consciousness.

This is what I was trying to get at ... there don't seem to be any clean cases in which a non-physical consciousness looks different from a physical one, or any scenario under which a physical cause couldn't be hypothesized (and that has some implications, I think in any/all other areas) ... so perhaps your job as author is to come up with a world in which consciousness is non-physical and the reports from this scenario above lead scientists to a troubling conclusion ... perhaps it is physical after all ... or, you know, vice-versa, it's your story, after all. ;-)
Yes, yes! What is consciousness if it's... nothing? Which is different than saying it's nothing but the physical. Or how can it be the physical and not the physical--or more than the physical--at the same time? I have an answer that works for me--and that I think should work for everyone--and perhaps this story could help pop that out for others as well?

How do we know? Would you be surprised by future science if a fair percentage of the population was found to be devoid of conscious experience, not outwardly visible? There seem to be people of any other variation - those without imagery for example ...
Yes, the vice versa. How does a species that identifies as conscious (seems funny in today's culture) know that it is, indeed, a conscious species as opposed to a non-conscious species--or system, considering AI systems.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
The physical evidence would all be indirect. And we would only know it was indirect via self-report. Because we (individual humans) are conscious, we assume other humans are conscious. Thus if brain region A lights up when we have conscious experience A1, we can make the reasonable claim that humans with brain region A also have conscious experience A1 when their brain region A is lit up. But we can't prove it.

However, some people can't see this.

That's why bringing in android clones and aliens is helpful. Because androids and aliens can be like us but not quite us, that reasonable claim we make about other humans isn't quite as reasonable when we make it about androids and aliens.

While a lit up A1 human brain region gives us confidence that a fellow human is having a conscious experience, a similar lit region in an android or alien gives us less confidence. I think it's clear why: because we have no idea how an active brain region could produce consciousness.


Yes, yes! What is consciousness if it's... nothing? Which is different than saying it's nothing but the physical. Or how can it be the physical and not the physical--or more than the physical--at the same time? I have an answer that works for me--and that I think should work for everyone--and perhaps this story could help pop that out for others as well?


Yes, the vice versa. How does a species that identifies as conscious (seems funny in today's culture) know that it is, indeed, a conscious species as opposed to a non-conscious species--or system, considering AI systems.
"That's why bringing in android clones and aliens is helpful. Because androids and aliens can be like us but not quite us, that reasonable claim we make about other humans isn't quite as reasonable when we make it about androids and aliens."

Hmmm...and this is crazy...but instead of aliens and androids...what about something closer to home...I don't know, maybe a bat?

:)
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
My pond goldfish had fry this year. The fry started life smaller than an ant. They looked exactly like their parents and grew in size in equal proportion. The question is does their brain grow in size in proportion to their body and if so do they get increasingly cleverer?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
The physical evidence would all be indirect. And we would only know it was indirect via self-report. Because we (individual humans) are conscious, we assume other humans are conscious. Thus if brain region A lights up when we have conscious experience A1, we can make the reasonable claim that humans with brain region A also have conscious experience A1 when their brain region A is lit up. But we can't prove it.

However, some people can't see this.

That's why bringing in android clones and aliens is helpful. Because androids and aliens can be like us but not quite us, that reasonable claim we make about other humans isn't quite as reasonable when we make it about androids and aliens.

While a lit up A1 human brain region gives us confidence that a fellow human is having a conscious experience, a similar lit region in an android or alien gives us less confidence. I think it's clear why: because we have no idea how an active brain region could produce consciousness.


Yes, yes! What is consciousness if it's... nothing? Which is different than saying it's nothing but the physical. Or how can it be the physical and not the physical--or more than the physical--at the same time? I have an answer that works for me--and that I think should work for everyone--and perhaps this story could help pop that out for others as well?


Yes, the vice versa. How does a species that identifies as conscious (seems funny in today's culture) know that it is, indeed, a conscious species as opposed to a non-conscious species--or system, considering AI systems.
How could you not know you're conscious?

On the other side, you could say you're not conscious after hearing a description of it (hint hint).

access vs phenomenal consciousness

This happens in the film Frank and Robot. Although the robot might have been lying.
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
How could you not know you're conscious?

On the other side, you could say you're not conscious after hearing a description of it (hint hint).

access vs phenomenal consciousness

This happens in the film Frank and Robot. Although the robot might have been lying.
I feel you can't know if anybody else is conscious you can't know if anybody else is not conscious.

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't.

It's kind of like the question: how do you know you haven't had a headache your entire life?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I feel you can't know if anybody else is conscious you can't know if anybody else is not conscious.

If you don't know if anybody else is or isn't conscious, how do you know that you are or aren't.

It's kind of like the question: how do you know you haven't had a headache your entire life?
Then how did anybody ever figure out they were conscious?
 

Soupie

Paranormal Adept
First Contact

Uncle Verde died 5 years ago. We finally have the technology to create a simulation of him with all his memories.

*fires up computer*

Uncle Verde on the screen, looking around.

"Uncle verde, can you hear me?"

"Yes. Is that you nephew Brian?"

"Omg yes it is uncle. It's so good to see you!"

"Brian what's going on? I can hear you but not see you. Am I hallucinating?"

"No" says Brian. He explains that they've created a simulation of him complete with his memories.

"Uncle verde aunt Jane is doing fine. I'm out of college. Dad misses--"

"Brain wtf are you talking about? I'm a simulation." Uncle says angrily.

"We missed you and wanted to see you again--"

"I'm right here" uncle says, looking at his arms. He moves around angrily on the screen.

"Yes, in the simulation. It works by--"

"I can assure you I am no simulation. I, eh, I'm starting to get a little scared. Jane? Jane!"

"Uncle, I'm watching you on a screen. You are a simulation in a computer--"

"What computer? Where! Let me see it. I don't believe you." Uncle growing angrier.

"I... I can't show you the computer." Fumbles around. To a technician: "can we show him a picture of the computer?"

"Sure."

A computer appears before Uncle Verde.

"Well?"

"Uh, that's the computer you're, uh, in."

"Preposterous!"

"Well, that a picture of the one you're in. Your not in that one exactly..."

"I'm not in anything! I'm right here." Stamps his feet.

"Uncle, uncle, look and you'll see little pixels. Dots of light--"

"He actually can't see those." Says the technician.

"Oh." Said Brian.

"You probably shouldn't have told him he was a simulation." The tech said flatly.

"Am I hallucinating? I think I'm hallucinating." Verde could be heard saying in the background.

"Why not?" Asked Brain. He swayed a little. His knees buckled slightly.

"People don't like to be told they're a simulation."

"I'm dreaming!" Shouted Uncle Verde.

Just then a loud popping sound could be heard. In the corner of the room, another computer appeared.

Brian and the tech looked at each other.
 
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smcder

Paranormal Adept
My pond goldfish had fry this year. The fry started life smaller than an ant. They looked exactly like their parents and grew in size in equal proportion. The question is does their brain grow in size in proportion to their body and if so do they get increasingly cleverer?
Are you being koi...?

download (1).jpeg
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
First Contact

Uncle Verde died 5 years ago. We finally have the technology to create a simulation of him with all his memories.

*fires up computer*

Uncle Verde on the screen, looking around.

"Uncle verde, can you hear me?"

"Yes. Is that you nephew Brian?"

"Omg yes it is uncle. It's so good to see you!"

"Brian what's going on? I can hear you but not see you. Am I hallucinating?"

"No" says Brian. He explains that they've created a simulation of him complete with his memories.

"Uncle verde aunt Jane is doing fine. I'm out of college. Dad misses--"

"Brain wtf are you talking about? I'm a simulation." Uncle says angrily.

"We missed you and wanted to see you again--"

"I'm right here" uncle says, looking at his arms. He moves around angrily on the screen.

"Yes, in the simulation. It works by--"

"I can assure you I am no simulation. I, eh, I'm starting to get a little scared. Jane? Jane!"

"Uncle, I'm watching you on a screen. You are a simulation in a computer--"

"What computer? Where! Let me see it. I don't believe you." Uncle growing angrier.

"I... I can't show you the computer." Fumbles around. To a technician: "can we show him a picture of the computer?"

"Sure."

A computer appears before Uncle Verde.

"Well?"

"Uh, that's the computer you're, uh, in."

"Preposterous!"

"Well, that a picture of the one you're in. Your not in that one exactly..."

"I'm not in anything! I'm right here." Stamps his feet.

"Uncle, uncle, look and you'll see little pixels. Dots of light--"

"He actually can't see those." Says the technician.

"Oh." Said Brian.

"You probably shouldn't have told him he was a simulation." The tech said flatly.

"Am I hallucinating? I think I'm hallucinating." Verde could be heard saying in the background.

"Why not?" Asked Brain. He swayed a little. His knees buckled slightly.

"People don't like to be told they're a simulation."

"I'm dreaming!" Shouted Uncle Verde.

Just then a loud popping sound could be heard. In the corner of the room, another computer appeared.

Brian and the tech looked at each other.
Uncle Verde is green.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
First Contact

Uncle Verde died 5 years ago. We finally have the technology to create a simulation of him with all his memories.

*fires up computer*

Uncle Verde on the screen, looking around.

"Uncle verde, can you hear me?"

"Yes. Is that you nephew Brian?"

"Omg yes it is uncle. It's so good to see you!"

"Brian what's going on? I can hear you but not see you. Am I hallucinating?"

"No" says Brian. He explains that they've created a simulation of him complete with his memories.

"Uncle verde aunt Jane is doing fine. I'm out of college. Dad misses--"

"Brain wtf are you talking about? I'm a simulation." Uncle says angrily.

"We missed you and wanted to see you again--"

"I'm right here" uncle says, looking at his arms. He moves around angrily on the screen.

"Yes, in the simulation. It works by--"

"I can assure you I am no simulation. I, eh, I'm starting to get a little scared. Jane? Jane!"

"Uncle, I'm watching you on a screen. You are a simulation in a computer--"

"What computer? Where! Let me see it. I don't believe you." Uncle growing angrier.

"I... I can't show you the computer." Fumbles around. To a technician: "can we show him a picture of the computer?"

"Sure."

A computer appears before Uncle Verde.

"Well?"

"Uh, that's the computer you're, uh, in."

"Preposterous!"

"Well, that a picture of the one you're in. Your not in that one exactly..."

"I'm not in anything! I'm right here." Stamps his feet.

"Uncle, uncle, look and you'll see little pixels. Dots of light--"

"He actually can't see those." Says the technician.

"Oh." Said Brian.

"You probably shouldn't have told him he was a simulation." The tech said flatly.

"Am I hallucinating? I think I'm hallucinating." Verde could be heard saying in the background.

"Why not?" Asked Brain. He swayed a little. His knees buckled slightly.

"People don't like to be told they're a simulation."

"I'm dreaming!" Shouted Uncle Verde.

Just then a loud popping sound could be heard. In the corner of the room, another computer appeared.

Brian and the tech looked at each other.
Was Uncle Verde a submarine pilot before he died?
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
First Contact

Uncle Verde died 5 years ago. We finally have the technology to create a simulation of him with all his memories.

*fires up computer*

Uncle Verde on the screen, looking around.

"Uncle verde, can you hear me?"

"Yes. Is that you nephew Brian?"

"Omg yes it is uncle. It's so good to see you!"

"Brian what's going on? I can hear you but not see you. Am I hallucinating?"

"No" says Brian. He explains that they've created a simulation of him complete with his memories.

"Uncle verde aunt Jane is doing fine. I'm out of college. Dad misses--"

"Brain wtf are you talking about? I'm a simulation." Uncle says angrily.

"We missed you and wanted to see you again--"

"I'm right here" uncle says, looking at his arms. He moves around angrily on the screen.

"Yes, in the simulation. It works by--"

"I can assure you I am no simulation. I, eh, I'm starting to get a little scared. Jane? Jane!"

"Uncle, I'm watching you on a screen. You are a simulation in a computer--"

"What computer? Where! Let me see it. I don't believe you." Uncle growing angrier.

"I... I can't show you the computer." Fumbles around. To a technician: "can we show him a picture of the computer?"

"Sure."

A computer appears before Uncle Verde.

"Well?"

"Uh, that's the computer you're, uh, in."

"Preposterous!"

"Well, that a picture of the one you're in. Your not in that one exactly..."

"I'm not in anything! I'm right here." Stamps his feet.

"Uncle, uncle, look and you'll see little pixels. Dots of light--"

"He actually can't see those." Says the technician.

"Oh." Said Brian.

"You probably shouldn't have told him he was a simulation." The tech said flatly.

"Am I hallucinating? I think I'm hallucinating." Verde could be heard saying in the background.

"Why not?" Asked Brain. He swayed a little. His knees buckled slightly.

"People don't like to be told they're a simulation."

"I'm dreaming!" Shouted Uncle Verde.

Just then a loud popping sound could be heard. In the corner of the room, another computer appeared.

Brian and the tech looked at each other.
It's good - and I think there's plenty to expand, if you decide to - I'd like to read more.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
To interject a thought here, and please forgive me if it's already been touched on and I missed it, but it may be the case that a non-conscious intelligence could extrapolate that there seems to be a difference between they way it thinks and the way we think through inductive reasoning, which doesn't require consciousness, only data. For example, at some point they would run across people's discussions about consciousness and determine that particular qualities of our process are lacking in theirs. Even just the word "experience" might be confusing to such an intelligence as its only info about it would come from its database of definitions and descriptions by others. At that point they may try to discover more about it by studying us further in order to determine what it's about.

With respect to this question in sci-fi. I'm reminded of the excellent Star Trek episode Measure of a Man: Star Trek TNG - 2x09 - The Measure of a Man - Video Dailymotion



 
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