I think there's a fundamental problem with Mark's idea of backing up the mind, he wrote:
"On the other hand, in a start-from-scratch, digital mind cloning scheme where the substrate could perhaps be a standardised parallel processing architecture, I believe there _is_ a way in which minds could be stored/backed up..."
I would agree that duplication is at least theoretically possible. It seems to me that duplication doesn't work, however, because the duplicate is not one-and-the-same as the original. A duplicate is literally an identical twin: there is no difference between the original and the duplicate except for the fact that they are separate individuals with their own experiences. This may seem an empty/daft distinction until you consider which you'd rather be: the twin who is injured in a car crash or the one who isn't.
"The thing is that for most intents and purposes, for most of the situations that any of us find ourselves in, the issue simply doesn't arise; naive realism is our default state of mind, it is what we have practised virtually every day of our lives, and it is what the Darwinian evolution of our species has predisposed us to."
Having considered the matter, we have concluded that naive realism is false. Given the low precedence given to philosophy by the current economic system, most people haven't heard of the term or considered the evidence and so they cannot be said to hold the belief in anything but a superficial way. Take a Socratic stance and ask people what an hallucination is...
I don't see that naive realism is a default or that evolution predisposes us to such belief. The default conception is something like the world is real and we interact with it. Evolution has selected for a good correlation between the VR and the world and so there is generally no imperative to make a distinction between the two. It has also selected for brain power so we can, when not in survival/economic meltdown mode, reflect on/challenge our beliefs etc.
Duh, in the nineth paragraph of that last post, where I mentioned robotic ant-things, with skills like ants and personalities like guide dogs, I meant _"flight_ enabled", not fight enabled. My aliens are too smart to be war mongers.
Well Brent, obviously I would be foolish to _prescribe the future_ when learning about the present is hard enough! :-)
That said though, from the UMSITW perspective there appear to be some intrinsic logical limits.
* reportable awareness is what it is like to be the updating of a view of the universe, the view being defined, [instantiated] by representations of features of world, features of a self, and relationships between these.
* our brains already have the capability of copying behaviour and creating empathy by emulating features of the "self" of another. This usually gives us enough insight to respond to situations _as the other appears to be responding_. This allows companions and helpers to embody meaningful assistance and support as well as cement relationships in personal situations. It also forms the basis of creative art whereby the artist can change the world in some way [the work of art] and so induce emulations of the artist's own thoughts and feelings.
* in a "Matrix" [the movie] type context it is questionable how an exact "same" experience could be induced without decreasing the autonomy and or personal awareness of the individual/s concerned. The problem is this: the _mind_ of the individual [which I see as the individual's description of the world or model of the universe] has evolved over the life of the individual through billions of adjustments to synapses. These adjustments are "fixed" as potential permanent features of the person's brain due to feedback processes within the cell which adjust the rates of transcription of DNA patterns into messenger RNA, etc. When these synapse are participating in dynamic logical structures or cell assembly activation patterns, that part of the person's model of the universe is active, otherwise it exists only implicitly within the brain. This means that experience is embodied in _that_ brain.
* What follows from the above is there is no guarantee that this embodiment could be transferred to another brain or brain emulation and be able to produce the same effects. Everything which I have read so far about brain "placticity" would seem to support my contention.
* On the other hand, in a start-from-scratch, digital mind cloning scheme where the substrate could perhaps be a standardised parallel processing architecture, I believe there _is_ a way in which minds could be stored/backed up. In this sort of situation it may well be feasible to extract significant information from the back up _so long as_ the backup data packets stored during and after the learning of the skill were not later over-written.
The reason this could work is that the backup system I have in mind _records only significant changes_ in synaptic settings as or very soon after they occur. As long as the storage location is known for the serial stream to the backup device created during and for some time after the learning, then that sequence of adjustments to known [i.e. numbered] synapses could be fed to any architecturally identical device and the skill or memory of experience would be transferred.
I am currently trying to write a science fiction novel _Shortcut to Imadjinning_ incorporating this concept. The robotic mobil units [or "ant-things"] used by the aliens normally have the intrinsic dexterity and proportional strength of an ant with power tools and the intelligence of a well adjusted, fight-enabled, guide dog. What they can receive though is specific downloads of specialist skills ranging from micro surgery to baby sitting. Progress is slow on the writing though. The draft is on my website.
One could say that none of the above should have bearing on the issue, but then Brent's query invoked "comprehensive emulation" shall we say.
* My basic contention remains: that any process of perception, of anything, is a process of construction within a brain of some sort on the basis of patterns attributed to variations of environmental energy impinging on the body belonging to the brain. This will be true whether it is a simulated body and brain or a "real" one. So it remains true that the source of the variations of environmental energy cannot, by means of _those_variations alone, be known with certainty by the perceiver to be whatever it is the perceiver construes them to be.
* As this applies also to any source of verification, as far as I see, a self aware subjective being, should infer that what he, she, or it perceives is always only what they believe the percept to be. It is naive realism to assume otherwise.
Thus Mark's second axiom is "Things are what we believe them to be, until we discover otherwise.
Yours _truly_ ... :-)
cannot be privileged in anything more than a
completely private sense.
You forgot the 'YET' in that statement right? Or are you disagreeing with the theoretical possibility for, given the right future technology, enabling our spirits to be able to effingly break out of these spiritually lonely isolated phenomenal worlds currently walled in by our skulls?
Are you saying we will never be able to 'eff' the ineffable, to merge, join and share these phenomenal worlds?
Brent and John,
I am, dismally, inclined to agree with the 99% figure.
The thing is that for most intents and purposes, for most of the situations that any of us find ourselves in, the issue simply doesn't arise; naive realism is our default state of mind, it is what we have practised virtually every day of our lives, and it is what the Darwinian evolution of our species has predisposed us to.
One troubling aspect of the supposedly 'enlightened' speculations about consciousness on forums such as this is that people start trying to invoke "quantum" this and that as something that will explain the experience of awareness and all it does is cloud the issue. Of course John, by that statement you can see my bias to a strict identity theory. But my point is that any assumption about details of quantum physics being important to the issue implies a naive realist assumption somewhere in the thinking.
I recently put it to Michael Cecil on Mind&Brain discussion group that the killer argument _against_ naive realism is that the things of the world are simply what they are. There is no reason to suppose that any sense impression - ie something happening in a brain as a consequence of a series of causes and effects between something "out there" - carries a guarantee of authenticity. Michael and others have argued in favour of some kind of "objective" consciousness. As far as I can see this type of idea assumes that subjective clarity of perception equates to truth of aperception. It doesn't though. It is always possible that we are deceived or simply naive in taking some experience, such as stillness in meditation, joy in music, ecstasy in orgasm, whatever, as being a manifestation of 'absolute truth'. In fact it is just a memorable instance of _what it is like to be me_. Hopefully it is fun to experience, but cannot be privileged in anything more than a completely private sense.
I think we're just miss communicating again. I apologize if I am saying something in the wrong way leading to such confusions. Thanks for asking for clarifications and helping me with such.
I was trying to say I bet 99% of the general population believed in a form of naive realism (that the phenomenal property of red was something on the strawberry rather than something in our mind.) rather than representationalism.
I would like to get some real data to find out for sure, just what everyone believes.
Does that make more sense? Or am I still missing something important?
You say "If you took a survey, I would bet 99% of the general population, and the majority of people heavily involved in this field of study, would say that the phenomenal quality of red is something on the surface of the strawberry, not something in our head." You present this as 'representationalism' but to me it looks more like naive realism. Therefore it would help if you spelled out just what you mean by 'representationalism" as I think I mean something different.
I think we are in violent agreement. We are just saying things in different ways.
When you say: "Representationalism is a trivial truth", within this camp, or amongst this representational crowd, I would agree with you.
But when I first started coming to this community earlier this year I would ask 'experts', people that had many reputable publications, and / or were functioning as editors and 'peers' of reputable peer reviewed journals, and so on what their thoughts about representational theories of perception were. I was dumfounded how many reputable people were completely ignorant to anything about even the idea of representationalism.
And, evidently, there are many people that do know about representationalism, that are in a very different camp about whether it is a "trivial truth". Apparently Dr Wright is in this camp?
If you took a survey, I would bet 99% of the general population, and the majority of people heavily involved in this field of study, would say that the phenomenal quality of red is something on the surface of the strawberry, not something in our head. These are anecdotal numbers we definitely need to get some real hard data behind and monitor as things progress.
Sure, qualia are important, but until you can get a handle on where people think the important red is located, and properly educate them about what must be "a trivial truth", you can't even truly begin to have further discussions about qualia since you will never be able to talk about the same thing with anyone in any real meaningful way.
So I think it is first most important to show how much consensus there is on this representational idea, where our awareness is located, then the consensus on qualia can follow much sooner once this is clear to all the people still so clueless on this critical, should be obvious issue.
You said: "I would vote for having two parallel processes in the camp structure" and this is exactly what I am proposing - that we have a parallel structure initially rooted in representationalism - with the non representationalists in a completely different competing branches. This way we can show how much consensus there is on this first issue in a much more unified way and force the non representationalists to clearly declare their ignorance and stupidity (IMHO) which will of course effect their reputations.
Notice the much more dominant idea that the hard problem is or isn't based on something 'supernatural' in the structure here:
Notice how all the people that think it is something 'supernatural' are forced to declare such by being outside of the most well supported branch that says it has nothing to do with the 'supernatural'. Of course this effects their reputations as it rightly should. When talking with someone, or reading material from them, you need to know definitively their position on such. Today it is too easy to avoid the issue on to many things like this, causing so much of the confusion and noise everywhere.
If we put the qualia dimension at the root, this will fracture all representationalists into the qualophile or qualophobe branches of parallel structures rather than having them unified at the root. This will make it much more difficult and in my opinion will greatly confuse the issue and slow things down significantly in the long run.
Ultimately, what you or I want isn't as important as what everyone else wants. If we start with a camp rooted in representationalism (or visa versa), then as more people join, we can monitor how many total people are in the rooted representational camp, versus the total number of people in qualophile camps split between the representational and other competing camps. If there are clearly more total qualophiles than representationalists, then, absolutely, the structure should be inverted - based in the more well supported qualophile camp (and visa versa if we start the other way). The more well supported camps should always be higher and more unified in the structure - with the ultimate goal of getting the accepted truth migrated towards the agreement statement as more and more people begin to agree on particular issues.
Do you violently agree? ;) Or do you think there are more qualophiles than representationlists?
And much more importantly, what does everyone else think?