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TSC 2014 in Tucson
Thread Created at Jun 28th 2013, 6:16:49 am | Started by Brent_Allsop
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Brent_Allsop replied 10 years ago (Dec 15th 2013, 5:47:30 pm)
Theoreticians, Thanks, all, for the many contributions to our abstract! Thanks to all of your help we've rewritten and improved it many times. The abstract is Due Dec 20th, so we're considering it to be in its final draft form. It'd be great if everyone could give it a quick once over to see if there are any other possible improvements. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fQeWrCjXp-kO18NRfrNJrropqaLMdaBrMq7c9KbqtdE/edit?usp=sharing Upwards, Brent Allsop
Brent_Allsop replied 10 years ago (Dec 2nd 2013, 8:27:18 pm)
Hi Rich, You are missing the point we're trying to communicate. Glutamate is not intended to be a theoretical description of reality, just an example of a reality in a simplified world that makes it easier to understand what is important with the neuro substitution argument. Glutamate is just a simplified icon that represents any set of necessary and sufficient causal properties, that is the causal properties of redness. If you don't like glutamate, for this icon, then pick any other set of causes that could be the cases of a redness experience. Brent Allsop
Multisense Realism replied 10 years ago (Dec 1st 2013, 6:14:56 pm)
Rich, I do think that the astonishing hypothesis is half wrong (well, half wrong for human beings, completely wrong for matter in general, in that matter is a sensory experience, not the other way around.) but yes it sounds like we agree on the non-computational, or trans-computational nature of qualia. Something like a brain scanner is only giving us a view of certain conditions, like magnetic resonance and blood oxygen levels, through which we can infer the brain or conscious experience. It would be like programming a Google car to drive through Paris, taking pictures of all of the road signs, and by putting these signs in order and correlating them with our visits to Paris, we can imagine that the signs play a key role in the functioning of French culture. We could find all kinds of interesting patterns about where and when certain cultural events happen by sending more Google cars into Paris, comparing maps of the road signs to Tweets and blog posts on the internet. The goal is to come out with a master list which correlates each road sign and each position to the specific functions of French society - the fashion, the food, the language, the art, etc. The fact that this can be done, while useful in actually being able to fix French cities more effectively if they are damaged, does not mean that the assumption of a causal connection between road signs and culture exists. In reality, road signs refer to narrow, local conditions related to driving, not mechanisms for building the Louvre. Craig
richwil replied 10 years ago (Dec 1st 2013, 5:31:34 pm)
reply to post 18 Brent Not sure i understand the final paragraph but then i'm in neither of the mainstream camps ;) My primary objection remains the same: your talk of glutamate in relation to experience is IMO incoherent, off the wall, and invites ridicule from anyone with knowledge of molecular biology..
richwil replied 10 years ago (Dec 1st 2013, 5:18:31 pm)
Brent and Craig I think the concept of inverted qualia is misconceived. The problem only arises if you believe in computational functionalism. I agree with Craig that qualia cannot be represented as bit patterns. The colours you see on a computer display do indeed correspond to bit patterns but this has nothing to do with how the brain's visual system works: there is no bit pattern in the brain for red and a different one for green since the brain is not a digital computer. Craig: perhaps this is what you are getting at when you challenge my idea of future brain scanning? To me it is daft to envision such devices as correlating bit patterns with experiences: this is not the NCC at all :)
richwil replied 10 years ago (Dec 1st 2013, 4:54:55 pm)
Craig I'm not sure what you're getting at. Future brain scanners, able to monitor the neural correlates of conscious experiences, would be calibrated to known experiences such as seeing red or experiencing pride. Of course we have to perform the calibration and i assume this would require adjustment for individual differences. In your example, such a scanner will reliably report what is going on in the brain of blind and sighted people because that is how it would be designed and calibrated. Quite how this is done we have yet to discover, of course, but don't you see that this is inevitable unless the astonishing hypothesis is wrong?
Brent_Allsop replied 10 years ago (Nov 25th 2013, 1:37:29 am)
Theoreticians, Thanks to the help of James Carroll, and many others, I think I've significantly improved the 500 word abstract, and made it much more clear. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fQeWrCjXp-kO18NRfrNJrropqaLMdaBrMq7c9KbqtdE/edit?usp=sharing I'd love to know if you guys agree that it is better. Brent Allsop
Multisense Realism replied 10 years ago (Nov 16th 2013, 5:38:36 am)
Hi Brent, The example of color is actually a little deceiving, compared to something like flavor. It is easy to make an unsupported leap from abstract information to color because we can visualize the data as some kind of code or arrangement of bits and color as the same kind of thing, only with colored pixels. Of all the senses, visual sense is most isomorphic to public forms and functions. We can picture an (inverted) physical image on our retina that then is simply moved into the visual cortex as some kind of Fourier transform. Just as the fragmentation of sectors on a hard drive or memory paging through RAM does not give us an isomorphic image of the user content, we are still very comfortable with the idea of the user experience being reconstituted somehow, without having to be formally represented. The formal representation, while still somewhat mysteriously absent, plays a very conventional role of being simply a particular encoding format. Visual qualia can just be a compression algorithm and we leave it at that. Tactile qualia also has a lot of easy-isomorphism that we can treat that way without much thought. Something like olfactory qualia, or auditory qualia present a better example of why the explanatory gap/quale interpretation problem goes far beyond data encoding. The entire issue of effability seems beside the point to me. Qualia is ineffable because it is private, but privacy or uniqueness in and of itself doesn't challenge our view of physics. It is not that my green may be your red, but that our Thanksgiving turkey flavor is an experience of flavor rather than a quantitatively compressed data set. The elephant in the room, for me, is not the quale interpretation problem, but the need for any additional aesthetic "interpretation" at all. Craig
Brent_Allsop replied 10 years ago (Nov 16th 2013, 4:14:25 am)
Hi Craig, This conversation is the greatest! Everything you say is correct, but you are still missing a critically important 'effing' possibility. You are right, if you detect the neural correlate of your redness, all such detection will be is abstract information that suffers from the "quale interpretation problem". So, in order to overcome this quale interpretation problem, we simply need to direct that same detector to my brain, and show me different colored objects until it detects the neural correlate for your redness. Inverted qualia is a definite possibility such as your redness could be what my brain uses for greenness. So I would say: "Wow, that's not my redness, that's my greenness!" And surely there will be various types of diversity and variability between people such as different types of tetrachromats and trichromats, (even if only artificially modified). This will make it possible to validate that you reliably have consistent and reliable map of neural correlates to the set of all possible elemental qualities, enabling one to fully know how to properly interpreted any detected neural correlates. Brent Allsop
Multisense Realism replied 10 years ago (Nov 15th 2013, 7:56:46 pm)
Rich, You said, "a future brain scan will show whether visual experience or touch experience is occurring." That may be, but still only retrospectively. The brain scan is showing only that a the brain activity belongs to one pre-established category or another. These categories are mathematical descriptions so that any connection between them and the actual aesthetic difference between subjective visual or tactile modes must be inferred by human beings. It is a bit like saying "a future analysis of ballot boxes will show whether Republican or Democrats take more pride in their candidate." In both cases, what is lacking is the prospective view. The brain scan cannot tell what a new kind of sense looks like, because it has no familiarity with sense at all, only a mathematical description of brain activity. The voting booth can't really know what pride is, it can only deduce statistically what chad belongs to which inferred category.