Topic: Hard Problem

Camp: Agreement / Approachable Via Science / Representational Qualia / Mind-Brain Identity / UMSITW

Camp Statement
Go live Time :

Updating Model of Self-In-The-World

The UMSITW concept asserts that subjective awareness is what it is like to be the process of updating the model of self-in-the-world [1] which has been created within the brain of each individual. The model exists and the continual updating of it occurs as a primary survival mechanism of the individual.

The model constitutes a navigational device by means of which the self - as a living body in the first instance - keeps track of where it is within its physical and social environments. The individual is able to compare outcomes of behaviour with what was planned or predicted, assess any discrepancies, and amend current movement plans or other expectations.

A key component of this theory is that subjectivity - ie an awareness of being, however rudimentary - arises from a reflexive process in which the environment is represented, the "self" is represented, and currently significant relationships between self and environment are represented. For us humans there will be a potentially reportable subjective experience whenever these three representational processes are linked and to the extent that they are linked. This is generally what we mean by the word consciousness [2]; in discussions such as this, if the nature of C is queried, I define C as *rememberable awareness*.

This accounts for why we can have dreams at night, including lucid dreams, and why we can have hallucinations, near death experiences and so forth.

To distinguish this view point from that of the "C is prior to brain/physical, etc" camp, UMSITW can say: "C is what it is like to be the universe looking at itself from a particular point of view."
UMSITW is fairly compatible with David Chalmers' Functional Computational Equivalence idea but requires that "functional" really mean what it says. In other words, all discussion of ineffability notwithstanding, the effective outcome is what counts so that similar inputs - physical experience - will result in the same outputs - behaviours - and the same, spontaneous, reports of personal subjectivity.

Philosophical mind games such as theorising about teleportation or incrementally replacing a biological brain with a digital simulation neuron by neuron all tend to assume that complete emulation is possible in principle. The most extreme assertions are proffered by the mathematical ontologists, but popular sci-fi stories as exemplified in movies by the "Matrix" trilogy or "The Thirteenth Floor", also make this assumption. We have very good reasons to doubt this possibility however, not least being the fact that digital systems must truncate numbers or round them up or down meaning that every 'emulated' feature can only ever be a set of approximations which will drift randomly away from congruence with the original.

UMSITW however holds that the essence of what is subjectively reported as consciousness is what-it-is-like-to-be the model of self in the world, or more specifically the updating of the model. That is to say the _quality_ of the experience is precisely what it is like to be the updating of the model of the moment and in particular the registration of novelty: the unexpected.

A key understanding here is that _the model exists_ and like all models, indeed like all things, it has to _be_ somewhere now. The model is thus limited by its medium and any of it's "emulations" will be limited even more so. In fact from a practical point of view there will never be any real _emulations_ of the human mind, but there almost certainly will be some very creative artificial intelligences coming into being in future. Maybe there will be millions of them or maybe just one in each self-sustaining ecologico-economic community. Whatever, they will surely demand, and get, the vote!

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Current Topic Record

Topic Name : Hard Problem
Namespace : /General/

Current Camp Record

Camp Name : UMSITW
Keywords : self-model, self in the world,
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