Jan 30, 2020, 10:20 AM
(“The only observer is memory of the last moment: recursion.”)
—“Have you tried answering what I think neuroscientists call the “hard problem”? which is, how is it that electrical activity within neurons gives rise to subjective experience.”— Martin Edhouse
I think we know the answer and I don’t think it’s even complicated. The problem is that they want an observer and we are recursively observing a stream of memory that is changing so fast – like movie frames – that we can’t detect differences other than those differences necessary or useful for our perception and action (novelty).
As far as I can tell everything is experienced where it’s constructed and we can’t disambiguate inputs any more than we can disambiguate the outputs (how we move our limbs).
So the following iteration (recursion) of experience produces layers upon layers of predictions constantly falsified by the next moment of prediction that our short term memory can only identify changes – not introspectively hold any given state for analysis (we capture episodic memory for condensing that stream of experiences.)
The reason being that the distributed calculation producing what we call either input experience or output action is so granular its only meaningful as a stream of changes TO ITSELF in very short term memory.
So like everything else in the brain, all we have is memory to work from. Either memory of the past little bit, or the forecasts we make from the last little bit into the future, and our control over that process by focusing our attention – which does nothing except shut off that which we aren’t interested in. I think the only thing stopping the average person from comprehension of experience is a basic understanding of the mechanisms for assembling and then predicting from the spectrum of spatial models from interior to body to proximity to space to boundaries, to the intentions and minds and imaginations of others – that’s what consciousness consists of that prediction and memory of changes in those predictions.
In that sense, while we have our six senses so to speak, they are primitives, and the first generation assembly of those senses is into a spatial model. it’s that spacial model of the world we experience. And we are so heavily dependent upon it we almost can’t ignore it.
Once you see that we do this just like a three-dee video game does (exactly the same way – it’s scary) and that we have neurology that specifically produces the same information as does a three dee video game for the same reason, you see it’s naturally deterministic that we would think that way and that computer games would have to be architected that way – just as much as atoms must be composed of only three particles. It’s beautiful, it’s terrifying, and it’s dehumanizing – and yes, we compute differently from computers but the analogy is more correct than it is false.
So my understanding is that while the above narrative might be improved upon, that like newton’s gravity the description is correct for every and all questions of human scale – which is all we need for self and other understanding.
I differ from Dennett in that Dennett uses philosophical and neurological frames first, and I use technological and neurological frames first, and avoid philosophy which I consider only slightly better than theology. I don’t differ from Searle that much. I consider myself the beneficiary of Searle as much as I do the beneficiary of Hayek. Again he uses the philosophical frame and I avoid it.
I differ only in that I have perhaps a slightly better understanding of how subjective experience is constructed because one of the side effects of my illness is a rather slow restoration of consciousness when I (frequently) lose it and CAN experience that construction at least a little at a time each time. It might also be that I am VERY current on the research (I know the working papers) and he is not producing as much public material. So I don’t know what he thinks today. I might like to ask him but he’s getting on in years.
I think the most articulate expression for ordinary people that’s available in video is Michio Kaku’s explanation of consciousness and it’s something like three minutes or less and it’s spot on. It’s just prediction of space and time at increasing distances.
The perception I find most interesting is that even with very little consciousness, when waiting for stimuli, when waiting for that thin layer of neurons to create a sense of reality outside the body, that ‘temperament’ you consider ‘you’ is there. What I find most interesting is the shift from that temperament when I’m first aware of it, through changes as your world model and layers of memories come back to life. I feel every time, that I’m moving from childhood to adulthood and I see my change in values as the world model and current context, and intertemporal context come into being. It’s fascinating.
In most cases, I avoid philosophy except to explain why its false – or to find a way to bridge between someone else’s frame of reference and what I understand to be the scientific (most parsimonious and consistent) frame of reference.