Reality is an illusion...no, really

More
1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #117464 by Chris Marti
Hmmm... I'll suggest that self-awareness is different than not-self. Not self is the recognition that there is no permanent entity that we can call "me." Self-awareness is the ability to perceive our inner life, to realize that there is something there, let's call it the mind, though it's not permanent, unsatisfactory, and not a permanent me. I do think some animals have self-awareness - probably whales and dolphins, probably the great apes, maybe some other mammals, like dogs.
Last edit: 1 week 4 days ago by Chris Marti.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
1 week 3 days ago #117474 by Shargrol
I'm slow... so help me understand. What is necessary requirement of self-awareness?

Seems to me it is an experience remembering and rumination function... Isn't that programmable? 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
1 week 3 days ago #117476 by Chris Marti
I'm slow, too.

I think self-awareness might be programmed someday but I don't think any of today's AI are self-aware. I think for now "they" are just very cleverly following complex but deterministic rules. If you know the initial conditions the result is pre-determined. This gets to the heart of something that I'm not sure has an answer - what makes a self-aware being different from a non-self-aware being? Is there a role (or a requirement) for non-deterministic functions of some sort? Or is everything deterministic (programmable), though very, very complex?

I really don't know.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
4 days 10 hours ago #117509 by Tom Otvos
I think that we might be battling with definitions, so I would ask: is sentience == self-awareness == consciousness?

There is another talk I am listening to now with Hoffman and Sam Harris, and his wife Annaka. Annaka has a book on consciousness which I may have mentioned before. Anyhow, in that she points to a famous paper that I know I have mentioned before, called "What's it like to be a bat?", where a definition of "consciousness" is given as knowing what it is like to be a "thing". So a rock, or a proton (probably) doesn't know what it is like to be a rock or a proton, but we clearly know what it is like to be us. In the discussion with Hoffman, that definition seems to be a given, so I gather (not being an expert) that is the commonly accepted definition.

So my question to Chris and Shargrol is, do we mean the same thing for sentience and self-awareness?

-- tomo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
4 days 9 hours ago #117511 by Chris Marti
Tom, I don't think the definitions of sentience and self-awareness are the same, but there is massive overlap in how these terms are used by various cultures, scientific disciplines, and even individual people who write about this stuff. My preferred definition of sentience is the ability to experience feelings and sensations, which to me is kind of the floor, or a minimum requirement, for self-awareness, which added to sentience gets to consciousness. But again,  overlap.  These terms all sort of blend together in science and philosophy depending on who you read, which indicates how little we really know about any of this "stuff."

There may be some version of an agreed-upon set of definitions for these terms but I've never encountered such a thing.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
4 days 2 hours ago - 4 days 2 hours ago #117518 by Shargrol

Tom Otvos wrote: I think that we might be battling with definitions... We clearly know what it is like to be us.


Hmm, I don't think that's clear. What is it like to be you, Tom? 

I can point to momentary experiences, but I'm not sure what it is like to be me. What is this true me? It's sort of like asking, "what color is my mind?".
Last edit: 4 days 2 hours ago by Shargrol.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 days 21 hours ago #117522 by Tom Otvos

Shargrol wrote:

Tom Otvos wrote: I think that we might be battling with definitions... We clearly know what it is like to be us.


Hmm, I don't think that's clear. What is it like to be you, Tom? 

I can point to momentary experiences, but I'm not sure what it is like to be me. What is this true me? It's sort of like asking, "what color is my mind?".


I am not sure the question is quite as deep as that. I understood that to mean that we are aware of our sensory inputs, have some notion of history through memory, that kind of thing. I can't know what a bat experiences, nor can a bat know what human experience is like. But either of us knows what it is like to experience the world through our specific sense gates.

I still can't tell if Hoffman is asserting that rocks, or protons, have "consciousness". I think he is, but that we don't have the "interface" to relate to that specific kind of consciousness. I find that pretty mind bending, and have a hard time with it. But then, I also have a hard time with the argument that consciousness is the fundamental unit of the universe and that space and time are emergent properties deriving from that.

-- tomo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 days 19 hours ago #117523 by Dusko
We don’t have interface to say if our very own children are real. Or this hand of mine holding this phone. 

Let alone rocks or bats or the very fabric of the universe :) 

What if all This (consciousness experience) is fake/not real? We must take that possibility into account too or?

But I’m no expert and haven’t read on the subject. 

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 days 13 hours ago #117526 by Shargrol

Tom Otvos wrote:

Shargrol wrote:

Tom Otvos wrote: I think that we might be battling with definitions... We clearly know what it is like to be us.


Hmm, I don't think that's clear. What is it like to be you, Tom? 

I can point to momentary experiences, but I'm not sure what it is like to be me. What is this true me? It's sort of like asking, "what color is my mind?".


I am not sure the question is quite as deep as that. I understood that to mean that we are aware of our sensory inputs, have some notion of history through memory, that kind of thing. I can't know what a bat experiences, nor can a bat know what human experience is like. But either of us knows what it is like to experience the world through our specific sense gates.

I still can't tell if Hoffman is asserting that rocks, or protons, have "consciousness". I think he is, but that we don't have the "interface" to relate to that specific kind of consciousness. I find that pretty mind bending, and have a hard time with it. But then, I also have a hard time with the argument that consciousness is the fundamental unit of the universe and that space and time are emergent properties deriving from that.


Well, it the question isn't that deep, then surely a bat is self aware, right? They are aware of sensory inputs, have some notion of history through memory, etc. 

And then it's a slippery slope: plants have self awareness, they have awareness of sensory inputs (more like mechanical/chemical signals) and have a version of history (probably more cyclical than our sense of linear time).

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 days 10 hours ago #117528 by Chris Marti
I think I need to re-watch the Hoffman interview with Lex Fridman.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 days 5 hours ago #117532 by Kacchapa
I think that what Hoffman has put forward is something far more alien to our cultural heritage than can be readily grokked without going a little deeper into the body of his team's work. Not long ago he came out with a popularized version, a book, but unlike almost all other consciousness science folks, he and his team of hard-core research science and mathematics people are trying to operationalize their theories and models so they can actually be replicated or falsified. Such as is required in the "physical" sciences. 

(With sincerely objective and non self-deprecating "modesty") I know that many of the participants here have greater than average sophistication and discernment and able to navigate this kind of thing with more capability than me. But I feel confident that it would be a journey for anyone with our cultural heritage to move past our internalized conceptual foundations of our shared received world view into the new realm that genius folks like Hoffman have devoted, in his case, decades of multidisciplinary effort to engaging.

Some of you have already been doing that for a long time but I'd suggest that if you haven't spent some with Hoffman's presentations, maybe even tried reading a little of his more formal stuff, it might not be possible to fairly assess it.

One of the fascinating things to me about Hoffman is that he has over the years been coming out more about the contemplative basis of his work (which unfortunately in this interview mainly flew past Lex). He clearly has advanced insight disease if not some advanced insight. He pointed out for example that Einstein was just a patent clerk without resources other than libraries. Einstein's lab, Hoffman said, was his quiet room where he locked himself with a violin that he played occasionally to stimulate his intuition. Hoffman says that Einstein said his theories came from intuitions and images that he worked with for a long time to express as concepts and then mathematically.  (I've heard that Newton, perhaps similarly, said that his theories came from quiet "meditation".)

Hoffman took that to heart and says that he meditated for an average of 4 hours daily for some decades while doing his science career. (Does he sleep!?)

I don't know math and science but listening to him has always been an inspiration to my practice even before I found out he is a meditator.  

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 21 hours ago #117538 by Tom Otvos

Hoffman took that to heart and says that he meditated for an average of 4 hours daily for some decades while doing his science career. (Does he sleep!?)

In his interview with Sam and Annaka Harris, he talks more about his practice, which he has been doing for 17 years. It is not rooted in any tradition but, explaining what he does, it is "just sitting". Sam labeled it as "mindfulness" but I am not sure I would have used that as much as "choiceness awareness".

Funnily enough, both Sam and his wife suggested that he try psychedelics, at least once.

-- tomo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 20 hours ago #117539 by Tom Otvos
This appears to have some of the more rigorous math:

www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577/full

Totally over my head. And how this can be used to "derive" the theory of evolution, quantum mechanics, and general relativity, let alone spacetime is...well, I have no words.

-- tomo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 11 hours ago #117541 by Chris Marti
Article saved - thanks for the link, Tom. I plan to read it later today, after my lunch appointment.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 11 hours ago #117544 by Kacchapa
Thanks for the frontiers link, Tom. Whew, think I'll try to wade / scan through some of that just for thrills. No hope of understanding it.

When I got up to sit this morning it happened to be clear that what I wrote about Hoffman yesterday was an emotional outburst based on some unnoticed personal investment rather than much contribution to intellectual understanding. :-)  Oops, live and learn.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 10 hours ago #117547 by Chris Marti
There is nothing wrong with being excited about and liking something, Mark. It's what we humans do, after all. These feelings contribute to our happiness

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
2 days 7 hours ago #117548 by Kacchapa
I think it was in the Lex Fridman interview where Hoffman was describing how some current problems in quantum physics (that assume space and time) required huge formulations to solve but someone found a remarkably brief solution when space and time were not assumed. And Hoffman said that was considered a give away that there is a more fundamental level than the one where we envision space and time. 

Leading some of those humans who are able to be involved at that level to say "space time is dead". He commented that those folks tend to be young and hungry and don't have careers invested in assuming space time (I feel for the old folks!).

So, Hoffman continued, if space time is not fundamental, then brains and neurons can not provide a fundamental explanation for consciousness - not just in fact, after decades of fruitless efforts - but in principal. That lays the ground for Hoffman to propose that consciousness is fundamental, and that's where his team starts.

I was impressed when Fridman asked him if an elaborated falsifiable theory of consciousness as fundamental proved successful, did Hoffman think that would be the end of the road on the quest for the most fundamental scientific explanation, and he said no. I think he said his personal feeling is that there would be no final view point. But he made the point that a great deal is gained in the process of achieving the realization of a deeper view.

I should listen to the last half hour again though where i think he turned more to the personally reflective (which frustratingly LF always bounced away from) and said something about being interested in how form comes out of the formless. He had been broaching topics of meditation, detaching from being stuck in the instinctive fabricated view, his brush with death over covid, the precious impermanence of human relationship I think when he mentioned about the benefit of letting go of form.

He's dedicating his life to finding a better view, in theory and personal life, while knowing it's also just a view. Can't help but like him even if I'll never actually understand him.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
11 hours 41 minutes ago #117574 by Tom Otvos
Regarding Lex, yes, I found some of his questions frustrating. He is generally really, really insightful, and this was the first time I felt he was missing something. The talk with the Harris' was more satisfying that way.

Regarding "fundamental", in this talk and the other he mentions Godel's Incompleteness theorem which he summarizes as: there will always be a deeper truth, representing the axioms on which your theory is based.

-- tomo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Powered by Kunena Forum