@Randall "Let's not box ourselves into binary "Yes" or "No" type situations." On the contrary, do let us box ourselves in with binary QAs. This is how one identifies fudging. Back when I was 18, I came up with a methodology for creative thinking: it involved asking myself only yes/no questions and seeing where it took me: very revealing.
"A non-QE type of sorting might be some sort of a filter membrane that by its evolutionary development, separates out good nuggets from the rest."
I am afraid this is a slam dunk answer. You use the word "good": think about it. So, does the radiometer or a thermostat or a computer do its thing because it is good? You have 'ascribed value' in using the word good. Importantly, for something to do an act because to do otherwise would not be good for it isn't to say that it knows of good, but that somehow 'goodness' exists in its frame of acting (or in its frame of experiencing-in-the-world).
Two other thing:
1. I do not say that qualitative assimilation creates consciousness btw. I say it is necessary and foundational.
2. Also I use the term ascription 3 times in my paper on page 435. I was very careful in its use. The phrase "in the qualitative ascription to the physical" is not the same as 'in the qualitative ascription of the physical'. I know it seems small but the latter is more in the sense that you are taking it Randall.
Randall, I think you need to try to think your way down into this core insight as @Pharoah clearly expresses it:
"Importantly, for something to do an act because to do otherwise would not be good for it isn't to say that it knows of good, but that somehow 'goodness' exists in its frame of acting (or in its frame of experiencing-in-the-world)."