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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
That issue should no longer ...
The use of the word "should" is an opinion. You are certainly entitled to it. But it also completely fails to address the point of the post. Even if we assume that birds have consciousness, that still doesn't explain the connection you asserted between consciousness and birds singing to their eggs. I attempted to make that connection by posing some questions. Nobody has cared to respond to them. That's fine. But if anyone happens to have any info on when a bird's egg becomes conscious, please let me know.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
The use of the word "should" is an opinion. You are certainly entitled to it. But it also completely fails to address the point of the post. Even if we assume that birds have consciousness, that still doesn't explain the connection you asserted between consciousness and birds singing to their eggs. I attempted to make that connection by posing some questions. Nobody has cared to respond to them. That's fine. But if anyone happens to have any info on when a bird's egg becomes conscious, please let me know.
The two links posted by Steve just above should give you some answers you didn't expect.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Hauber contributed to some of the only other research on incubation calling, in which the authors found that fairy wrens train their chicks to make certain sounds when born so the parents can distinguish them from cuckoos, a parasitic bird that lays eggs in other birds' nests before skipping out on the childcare struggle. Cuckoos don't have the brain mechanism to learn to identify a song, so fairy wrens use incubation calling as a strategy to avoid raising the parasitic cuckoos.

“What was important about some of the more recent work is it showed that much of this learning already takes place inside the egg,” Hauber says
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I guess it depends on what you mean by "read". I use different reading styles for different situations, and I'd rather not get into a discussion about them. If you have some point to make, or would like to discuss something specific, then let's talk about that instead.
Lol, no, that's the specific question I meant to ask. :)

What I mean by "read" is what you are (probably) doing right now. I assume there is a minimum level of attention to detail in any of the reading styles you employ and that would likely be sufficient for my purposes, which returns it to a yes/no question.

However, at this point it's moot.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
There appears to be some conflation in the Wikipedia article between consciousness and intelligence by way of assuming that language is a reliable indicator of consciousness. I didn't do a detailed comparison of avian and human brains, but I did notice that the forebrain was mentioned in the PubMed piece, and that the experts seem to favor the idea that similar structures result in similar functions. This seems reasonable to me. Of course this still leaves us with the question about bird's eggs. At what point ( if any ) does a bird's egg experience its mother singing to it?
  • Do birds start singing to their eggs right after they are laid?
  • Can a bird hear anything before it hatches?
  • What if it turns out that birds only begin singing to their eggs when the unhatched bird inside can hear it?
From the study @Constance posted above:

Researchers then took finch eggs into an incubation chamber at a constant temperature (they replaced the ones in the nest with false eggs) and played back different sounds to two different groups of eggs during the last three to five days of incubation. Once the birds hatched, they placed them back in the outdoor finch nests, and found that their growth and development differed based on whether or not they had heard the sounds while still in the egg.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
From the study @Constance posted above:

Researchers then took finch eggs into an incubation chamber at a constant temperature (they replaced the ones in the nest with false eggs) and played back different sounds to two different groups of eggs during the last three to five days of incubation. Once the birds hatched, they placed them back in the outdoor finch nests, and found that their growth and development differed based on whether or not they had heard the sounds while still in the egg.
Cool. Not entirely surprising. But cool. This implies that a significant amount of brain and sensory development is required. Another nail in the coffin for the idea that neuroscience and consciousness are nothing more than correlations.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
What I mean by "read" is ... I assume there is a minimum level of attention to detail in any of the reading styles you employ and that would likely be sufficient for my purposes ...
That is a very good way of putting it, but generally speaking the sufficiency is for my purposes, which is why I wanted to know your purposes. That way if I need to review something in greater detail to get on the same wavelength as you, I can do so, and then we can drill down into whatever it is that has caught our interest.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
What I mean by "read" is what you are (probably) doing right now. I assume there is a minimum level of attention to detail in any of the reading styles you employ and that would likely be sufficient for my purposes, which returns it to a yes/no question.
That is a very good way of putting it, but generally speaking the sufficiency is for my purposes, which is why I wanted to know your purposes. That way if I need to review something in greater detail to get on the same wavelength as you, I can do so, and then we can drill down into whatever it is that has caught our interest.
If we are going to adequately recognize the differences in our approaches here -- and mutually do justice to one another's reasoning and arguments -- we all need to read thoroughly and attentively all of the texts cited. It appears to be the case, Randle, that in your reading of some of our linked texts you are not reading the parts that do not appeal to you and instead focus only on segments that might serve the conclusions you believe to be the 'correct' ones. In other words, your reading is theory-driven; you look for and pay attention primarily [or only] to that which supports your already fixed beliefs.

A possible case in point:


From the study @Constance posted above:

"Researchers then took finch eggs into an incubation chamber at a constant temperature (they replaced the ones in the nest with false eggs) and played back different sounds to two different groups of eggs during the last three to five days of incubation. Once the birds hatched, they placed them back in the outdoor finch nests, and found that their growth and development differed based on whether or not they had heard the sounds while still in the egg."
Cool. Not entirely surprising. But cool. This implies that a significant amount of brain and sensory development is required. Another nail in the coffin for the idea that neuroscience and consciousness are nothing more than correlations.
I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say here so would you clarify it? Thanks.
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
The two links posted by Steve just above should give you some answers you didn't expect.
I'll have to get to those later. In the meantime, if they provide the answers, what do you think are the questions?
The questions are the same ones we've been asking and attempting to answer throughout this 5-year thread -- what is consciousness, in our species and others? When, where, and how does it begin and how does it evolve? What purposes does it serve in the evolution, survival, and development of life from primordial species to our own species? To observe and recognize that species of birds communicate in purposeful and beneficial ways with the embryos living and growing inside their eggs points to the reality of both protoconsciousness and consciousness existing -- indeed fostered -- deep in nature. If the scientists making these discoveries are impressed, you should, it seems to me, pay attention to what they report.
 

blowfish

Whittingham
Found this a interesting read in Quanta Magazine 18/02/2020 article by Nola Taylor 'New Exoplanet Search Strategy Claims First Discovery' Quote " I wouldn't be surprised if [it finds] many hundreds to thousands once its operating in full sensitivity, " Vedatham said. " The sky is full of new and interesting things if you're sensitive to it.1." This brings me to the ongoing debate about 'Radio Burst Patterns' (R.B.P) as the paper in the New Scientist issue 15 February , 2020 by Leah Crane 'Radio Burst Pattern Discovered : A Repeating Signal Could Shed Light On Mysterious Radio Signal ' show the current road block by science in having a open mind. Quote " If it were alien beacon, I would think it would emit more quickly, because a 16-day period is not efficient for communication.16." The point that need to be contested is how does today science today know what a so called " Alien Beacon" produce? and how does science know is the 16-day period is not efficient for communications ? Currently, no one knows if "Aliens" exist and it methods of communication. What we might be able to grasp is the eyewitness accounts of 'UAP's/UFOs which have occurred according to New Dawn , Vol .14 No.1 of researchers and academics who are willing to ask open minded questions . For example DR.T.J Coles ' article 'UFO's Interfering with Nuclear Weapons? is a excellent read and with the ongoing new discoveries by science it should not be afraid to read and review these articles for New Scientist for debate for open minds. Quoting DR. T. J Coles interview with long-time academic researcher R.Hastings "My sources are mostly U.S. Air Force veterans , or Navy , and range from low-level Airman to Colonels . Usually , they worked with or guarded nuclear weapons, but some were radar operators , counter-intelligence personnel or pilots.15." If today's science is really going to understand our world it needs to look in its own backyard first and the fact something odd is occurring in U.S. and NATO sensitive installation and ongoing interaction with top guns fighter pilots should be a wake up call to science and the larger community. Unless science is afraid what it might find?
 

Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
“But until a mapping has been established between the conscious experience and the corresponding neurophysiological state, there is no way to verify whether the model has correctly replicated the psychophysical data.

Because these models straddle the mind/brain barrier, they run headlong into the issue that Chalmers (1995) dubbed the “hard problem” of consciousness.

Simply stated, even if we were to discover the exact neurophysiological correlates of conscious experience, there would always remain a final explanatory gap between the physiological and the phenomenal levels of description.

For example, if the activation of a particular cell in the brain were found to correlate with the experience of red at some point in the visual field, there would remain a vivid subjective quality, or quale, to the experience of red that is not in any way identical to any externally observable physical variable such as the electrical activity of a cell.

In other words, there is a subjective experiential component of perception that can never be captured in a model expressed in objective neurophysiological terms.”

Indeed because the capturing, expressing, and translation into "terms" requires a formal description that lies outside the entity creating the same. Even worse, our "formal" structures lie within the very framework attempting to "undermine" the same through "explanation."

The engine of explanation attempts to undermine it's own basis of generation...
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
In other words, there is a subjective experiential component of perception that can never be captured in a model expressed in objective neurophysiological terms.”
We all get the above. What concerns me is when people assume that because of the above, they are justified in assuming that neurophysiological causation isn't the case, and therefore it's safe to dive off into the land of woo. Simply because neuroscience has only proven correlation, doesn't mean there is no causation, or that it's safe to assume consciousness doesn't require a neurophysiological framework, or some other framework that serves the same function. In fact the correlations give us every reason to assume causation, and to identify how neurophysiology is responsible. The chances of that being wrong at this stage in the investigation seem to be vanishingly small.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
We all get the above. What concerns me is when people assume that because of the above, they are justified in assuming that neurophysiological causation isn't the case, and therefore it's safe to dive off into the land of woo. Simply because neuroscience has only proven correlation, doesn't mean there is no causation, or that it's safe to assume consciousness doesn't require a neurophysiological framework, or some other framework that serves the same function. In fact the correlations give us every reason to assume causation, and to identify how neurophysiology is responsible. The chances of that being wrong at this stage in the investigation seem to be vanishingly small.
Not 'woo':

Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious
By Subhash Kak - Oklahoma State University October 16, 2019

Extracts:

". . .
Living organisms store experiences in their brains by adapting neural connections in an active process between the subject and the environment. By contrast, a computer records data in short-term and long-term memory blocks. That difference means the brain's information handling must also be different from how computers work.

The mind actively explores the environment to find elements that guide the performance of one action or another. Perception is not directly related to the sensory data: A person can identify a table from many different angles, without having to consciously interpret the data and then ask its memory if that pattern could be created by alternate views of an item identified some time earlier.

Another perspective on this is that the most mundane memory tasks are associated with multiple areas of the brain — some of which are quite large. Skill learning and expertise involve reorganization and physical changes, such as changing the strengths of connections between neurons. Those transformations cannot be replicated fully in a computer with a fixed architecture. . . ."

". . .
Computation and awareness

In my own recent work, I've highlighted some additional reasons that consciousness is not computable.

A conscious person is aware of what they're thinking, and has the ability to stop thinking about one thing and start thinking about another — no matter where they were in the initial train of thought. But that's impossible for a computer to do. More than 80 years ago, pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing showed that there was no way ever to prove that any particular computer program could stop on its own — and yet that ability is central to consciousness. . . ."

Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
Further to Randel -- In response to your statement captured above:

"Simply because neuroscience has only proven correlation, doesn't mean there is no causation, or that it's safe to assume consciousness doesn't require a neurophysiological framework, or some other framework that serves the same function."

To be sure, to the best of our knowledge, consciousness occurs in living beings, thus obviously occurs in beings having 'neurophysiological frameworks'. But as is quite obvious, all living creatures' 'neurophysiological frameworks' change and adapt throughout their lifespans. Each creature develops during and over the course of its own lifetime, evolving through the influence, the pressure, of its ongoing situated experiences increasingly complex neural connections and interconnections based in its own sensed experiences. In this way, ongoing lived experience influences, indeed forges, the developing neurological characteristics of the brain.

It seems that you think of 'neurophysiology' or 'neurophysiological frameworks' as static rather than as developing and expanding. In a way you are trapped in a 'synchronic' notion of what the body/mind of any creature is at a given moment, rather than recognizing that biologically embodied life is a diachronic process, continually developing in the time/temporality of a biological being's existence.

As we know, infants in our species and others begin to experience their existence at birth {and even before birth}, but we can hardly think that their brains, their neural networks, are the same at ages 1 month, 2, 6, 12, 20, and 80 years as they were at birth. It is lived experience, both protoconscious and conscious, prereflective and reflective, that forges the neural developments of the brain in any species, and lived experience depends on the nature/qualities of the lived environments within which embodied beings and their brains develop. We and other forms of life exist in change, just as nature as a whole exists in change.

Synchronic and diachronic - Oxford Reference
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Not 'woo':

Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious
By Subhash Kak - Oklahoma State University October 16, 2019
My usage of the word "woo" had nothing to do with consciousness in current computers.
". . . Living organisms store experiences in their brains by adapting neural connections in an active process between the subject and the environment.
A good article and PDF. Thanks. However, in reading and searching through them, I didn't find the specific sections you cite. Regardless, there are a couple of problems with the quote. Firstly, experiences themselves aren't stored neurophysiologically. Nobody knows how experiences are created yet. At best neurophysiology is causal, but as you have pointed out in the past, at present we only have correlation.
By contrast, a computer records data in short-term and long-term memory blocks. That difference means the brain's information handling must also be different from how computers work.
Biological memory also has short term and long term "modules", but in any case, it's not that sort of information handling that seems relevant to me. Rather it's the difference between the physical construction of the systems. In other words, no amount of neuron modelling by electronic circuits can make the model into actual neurons. I suspect ( yet to be proven ), that something about the situation with actual brain materials and functions is responsible for consciousness, and those situations might not occur the way they need to with current electronic designs.
The mind actively explores the environment to find elements that guide the performance of one action or another. Perception is not directly related to the sensory data: A person can identify a table from many different angles, without having to consciously interpret the data and then ask its memory if that pattern could be created by alternate views of an item identified some time earlier.
The above also has little relevance because so far as we know, computers don't "consciously interpret the data". Additionally, human perception actually is directly related to sensory data. Perhaps it's not always real time sensory data, but then again pattern recognition in computers also works with a combination of real time and stored data.
Another perspective on this is that the most mundane memory tasks are associated with multiple areas of the brain — some of which are quite large. Skill learning and expertise involve reorganization and physical changes, such as changing the strengths of connections between neurons. Those transformations cannot be replicated fully in a computer with a fixed architecture. . . ."
Computer memory changes its configuration as needed in order to do what it needs to do. It's not a "fixed architecture". Brains can grow new cells, but that's not practically different than simply accessing new unused memory, or installing more memory as needed. For these reasons, while I think the writer is intuitively correct, the specific differences mentioned, aren't necessarily at the root of the question, whereas the materials and design are.
". . .
Computation and awareness

In my own recent work, I've highlighted some additional reasons that consciousness is not computable.
Are you saying you are Subhash Kak? Or are you still quoting someone else?
A conscious person is aware of what they're thinking, and has the ability to stop thinking about one thing and start thinking about another — no matter where they were in the initial train of thought. But that's impossible for a computer to do. More than 80 years ago, pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing showed that there was no way ever to prove that any particular computer program could stop on its own — and yet that ability is central to consciousness. . . ." Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious
The above implies a leap in logic in that it's premise applies to situations that are different than the premise it sets out. It also assumes that persons can simply stop thinking on command. I see no evidence for this. Humans can change their minds, or shoot themselves in the head, but they cannot simply switch off their brains off. At best we can only fall asleep, and that isn't even always guaranteed. Even then it's also not a true off state.

In contrast computers have advanced to the point where they can do rudimentary self-programming and adapt to environmental conditions. Attach a light sensor to a computer and it can dim, brighten, or turn itself off in response to changing lighting conditions without any human intervention. A lot more is also possible. Eventually computers will be at the point where they are no longer designed, programed, or built by us.

When computers evolve to that point, I have little doubt that if they select an option to turn themselves off, they'll be able to do so, but whether or not they will experience anything in the process is another question altogether.
 
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Michael Allen

Paranormal Adept
"A conscious person is aware of what they're thinking, and has the ability to stop thinking about one thing and start thinking about another — no matter where they were in the initial train of thought. But that's impossible for a computer to do. More than 80 years ago, pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing showed that there was no way ever to prove that any particular computer program could stop on its own — and yet that ability is central to consciousness. . . ." Why Computers Will Never Be Truly Conscious

Interesting that we think we have the ability to consciously start and stop thinking...Computers have the ability to switch between threads (and processes) based on semaphore/mutex and even can change priorities of the same on the fly. A computer that ends a thread of computation (unfinished) and starts on another -- we assume "starting" and "stopping" as if these are permanent and final. Perhaps we are "thinking" about thinking in the wrong way... the switch between threads are more like moving a spotlight on a vast landscape of parallel processes in our "brain" from one task to another. In our "awareness" we feel that something is "started" and something else is "stopped" but in reality "we are" simply moving the spotlight.
 
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