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Camp Statement

Go live Time : 09 November 2023, 01:49 AM

Correspondism

 

Summary of Camp's Tenets

This Camp’s Inherited Tenets:

From Theories of Mind and Consciousness Camp (tentative):  One can describe consciousness in words.

From Approachable Via Science Camp (tentative):  One can test descriptions of consciousness using scientific methods.

This Camp’s Additional Tenets:

(C1)  At least one physical item “corresponds to”, “links to”, or “maps to” a conscious item.

(C2)  “Physical items” include events and things in a physical framework such as in a space-time continuum or in a spatial and/or temporal frequency spectrum.

(C3)  A “conscious item” is a set of one or more conscious experiences, including relations among them that are experienced, e.g. their sequences or transitions between them.

(C4)  A proposed correspondence/link/mapping between physical items and conscious items is hypothetical until scientifically validated based on empirical evidence.

Notes:

—As used here, a camp’s “tenets” include propositions or assertions that the camp’s supporters generally accept, e.g. expressly or by logical necessity; a tenet could, for example, be an axiom, if self-evident, or, if testable, a hypothesis (e.g. tenet (C1)), a definition (e.g. tenets (C2) and (C3)); a methodology (e.g. tenet (C4)); etc.  A supporting camp has one or more “inherited tenets”, i.e. the tenets of camps it supports.  An “additional tenet” of a supporting camp is a tenet that is not an inherited tenet.  

—The above summary of tenets is provided because explicit tenets may allow easier comparison with tenets of other camps.

—In this summary, we marked some tenets of supported camps as “tentative” because their respective camps have many other supporters, and the supporters might reach consensus on changes that improve the tenets; if such a tenet remains unchanged for an extended time, we plan to remove the “tentative” marking.

 

Scientific Approach

Correspondism progresses by scientifically increasing our knowledge about correspondences. Researchers have already proposed many physical/conscious correspondences, and some of these hypotheses have been evaluated through experiment or other types of testing. For example, researchers often find that a certain type of physical stimulus applied to a conscious human will cause or correlate with a certain type of transition in the human’s reported experience; physical/conscious causation and correlation would be examples of correspondences.

Examples like causation and correlation have intuitive appeal:  They are familiar types of correspondence, commonly mentioned in the literature about consciousness; other examples of intuitive types include identity, production, emerging or arising from, etc.  Despite their familiarity, intuitive types of correspondence are poorly defined mathematically, typically having vague criteria for testing and falsification.

In contrast, several mathematical types of correspondence are well-defined with clear criteria for testing and falsification; but these types are not, in general, familiar to non-mathematicians.  Examples include injective, surjective, and bijective correspondences.  In injection (also known as a “one-to-one function”), no two different elements of a first set map to the same element of a second set; in surjection (also known as an “onto function”), every element of a second set is mapped to by at least one element of a first set; and in bijection (also known as “one-to-one correspondence”), both injection and surjection are true.

We note that correspondism is implicitly surjective in a weak sense:  Its tenet (C1) requires that at least one physical item corresponds to, links to, or maps to a conscious item; this would be a surjective correspondence from a first set that includes the physical items to a second set that includes each conscious item to which items in the first set correspond, link, or map.  Without this weak surjection, there would be no physical/conscious correspondence.  But correspondism, by itself, does not require complete or “strong” surjection in which every element of the set of conscious items is mapped to by at least one element of the set of physical items—if  strongly surjective correspondism were a camp in this hierarchy, it would be a supporting camp of correspondism.

Our scientific approach centers on hypotheses about physical/conscious correspondences of all these types, both intuitive and mathematical; we seek both better hypotheses and also better scientific evaluation of hypotheses, i.e. determination of their likely validity.  We welcome efforts to improve, or even optimize, a hypothesis, especially in cases in which scientific evaluation of the hypothesis will be difficult or expensive.  In these cases, significant progress can sometimes be made by thoroughly studying and comparing a number of alternative hypotheses.

In addition to hypotheses about physical/conscious correspondences, correspondism as a whole is concerned with the truth or falsehood of tenet (C1).  Intuitions about tenet (C1) could differ:  To some researchers, it might be self-evident and therefore like an axiom; to others, it might be debatable and/or testable and therefore more like a hypothesis.  In either case, one could argue that the truth of tenet (C1) has already been confirmed by the discovery and validation of physical/conscious correspondences.

 

Relation to Other Approaches

As researchers continue to discover and validate physical/conscious correspondences, we hope to discover patterns that allow us to generalize, e.g. about the nature of links between physical items and conscious items. In this way, correspondism might one day support (or even dovetail with) another approach, such as a representational qualia approach.

We already recognize that representational qualia theories, including some monisms and dualisms, could in principle be reformulated as supporting camps of correspondism. In the respective camp statements of monisms and dualisms, however, we have not found an explicit emphasis on scientifically evaluating proposed correspondences.

The camp for “Integrated Information Theory”, based on Giulio Tononi’s well-known Integrated Information Theory (IIT), appears especially suitable for reformulation as a supporting camp of Correspondism.  One instance of Integrated Information Theory now appears as a supporting camp of “Mind-Brain Identity”, then “Representational Qualia”, and finally “Approachable Via Science”; although its camp statement does not clarify how this support hierarchy was chosen, one could infer from the camp statement that Dr. Tononi agreed.  

A reformulated version of the Integrated Information Theory camp (“reformulated IIT”) could instead support Correspondism, then Approachable Via Science, thus making its support hierarchy more parsimonious than the above-summarized support hierarchy of Integrated Information Theory.  Further, reformulated IIT could, for example, propose correspondence hypotheses of the form:  “Physical items having integrated information values in the range X1-X2 correspond to conscious items having feature Y.”  Like other correspondisms, reformulated IIT could make progress by generating and evaluating such hypotheses, without depending on Mind-Brain Identity, etc. as the current camp statement does.

 

Focus on Evolution

One focus of correspondism is biological evolution of consciousness, with particular emphasis on evolutionary hypotheses. Scientific evaluation of such hypotheses can be challenging—for example, one cannot easily go back in time to early conscious organisms and ask them to report their experiences in response to various stimuli. Similar challenges arise in evaluating hypotheses about present-day non-human organisms and about computers and other non-biological objects to which consciousness might be ascribed. In such areas, important tasks for correspondism include generation and comparison of hypotheses in order to obtain better ones; we also welcome creative new ways to scientifically evaluate evolutionary hypotheses.

Further, correspondism fits well with certain approaches to evolution of consciousness. For example, Lacalli (2020) framed thought experiments about evolution of consciousness in topological terms; Lacalli explained that “mapping is assumed between the physical realm of neural structure and function and an abstract experience space consisting of all possible experiences.” (pp. 3 and 6) Progress in correspondism may provide scientific support for Lacalli’s assumed mapping and for similar approaches.

 

Focus on Design of Conscious Machines

Another, more recent focus of correspondism is design of artificial machines that have conscious experiences.  One might ask, for example, whether one can design a machine in which physical items correspond to conscious items.  This question parallels a similar question about biological evolution:  Did evolution lead to an organism in which physical items correspond to conscious items?

Correspondism would allow that similar physical items could correspond to consciousness of a biological organism and to consciousness of an artificial machine.  For example, the physical items in both cases could be events in an electrical and/or magnetic pattern.  But similar physical items in consciousness of organisms and machines is not a requirement of correspondism—the physical items in the two cases could instead be fundamentally different.

Correspondism therefore allows the possibility of computation-based consciousness in a machine such as a computer performing an artificial intelligence algorithm.  But correspondism also allows other possibilities that are not based on computation or algorithms, possibly even conscious machines whose operations are more analog than digital.  Here again, progress in correspondism may provide scientific support for hypotheses about machine consciousness.

 

Conclusion

In sum, correspondism has a solid foundation in previous research. It may lead to useful generalizations about correspondences, possibly dovetailing with representational qualia theories. It offers a multitude of research opportunities in generating, comparing, and evaluating hypotheses. And its progress may support other approaches, such as to evolution of consciousness and to machine consciousness.

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