Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

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Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#1  Postby kennyc » Apr 04, 2014 12:12 pm

Oh No! He stole my thermostat example! Now I'm really mad! :lol:

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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#2  Postby Imza » Apr 04, 2014 3:06 pm

Consciousness refers to many things and he is on the right track that certain types of studies on consciousness can be quantified, one may argue that much of neuroscience and psychology is addressing parts of consciousness. However, I don't think this deals with the specific part of consciousness that gives scientists and philosophers trouble, mainly qualia.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#3  Postby DavidMcC » Apr 04, 2014 5:01 pm

Michio seems to be completely ignoring animals other than monkeys and humans. There is no mention of chimp planning ability, yet It has been known for years that chimpanzees can plan ahead:

http://www.wired.com/2012/05/chimp-planning-future
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL5SGe7zSIc
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#4  Postby seeker » Apr 04, 2014 7:06 pm

Imza wrote:Consciousness refers to many things and he is on the right track that certain types of studies on consciousness can be quantified, one may argue that much of neuroscience and psychology is addressing parts of consciousness. However, I don't think this deals with the specific part of consciousness that gives scientists and philosophers trouble, mainly qualia.

What do you mean by "qualia"? Do you think that it's a coherent concept, and that it poses a genuine problem?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#5  Postby Imza » Apr 04, 2014 8:16 pm

seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:Consciousness refers to many things and he is on the right track that certain types of studies on consciousness can be quantified, one may argue that much of neuroscience and psychology is addressing parts of consciousness. However, I don't think this deals with the specific part of consciousness that gives scientists and philosophers trouble, mainly qualia.

What do you mean by "qualia"? Do you think that it's a coherent concept, and that it poses a genuine problem?

I have a pretty standard definition of qualia as subjective conscious experience such as seeing colors, etc. In that sense, yes I don't see anything incoherent about qualia.

And if it constitutes a genuine problem, depends on what you mean. It constitute a genuine puzzle as to how qualia occurs but it's not necessarily a problem in the sense that I don't think it counts as a counter to scientific/naturalistic worldview. It may simply be an epistemological limit.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#6  Postby kennyc » Apr 04, 2014 8:24 pm

seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:Consciousness refers to many things and he is on the right track that certain types of studies on consciousness can be quantified, one may argue that much of neuroscience and psychology is addressing parts of consciousness. However, I don't think this deals with the specific part of consciousness that gives scientists and philosophers trouble, mainly qualia.

What do you mean by "qualia"? Do you think that it's a coherent concept, and that it poses a genuine problem?



I certainly don't.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#7  Postby minininja » Apr 04, 2014 9:23 pm

Obviously this is only a short video so it can't go into much detail, but I think it misses a significant point about consciousness that I've seen most thoroughly explained by Douglas Hofstadter in I Am a Strange Loop. That is, the human level of consciousness is not just a model that can predict the future, but more importantly, it's a model that contains a model of itself.
[Disclaimer - if this is comes across like I think I know what I'm talking about, I want to make it clear that I don't. I'm just trying to get my thoughts down]
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#8  Postby GrahamH » Apr 04, 2014 10:05 pm

minininja wrote:Obviously this is only a short video so it can't go into much detail, but I think it misses a significant point about consciousness that I've seen most thoroughly explained by Douglas Hofstadter in I Am a Strange Loop. That is, the human level of consciousness is not just a model that can predict the future, but more importantly, it's a model that contains a model of itself.


I agree. 'Qualia' can be considered as references to events/states occurring in/to the organism.
Damasio takes a similar view to Kaku, with evolutionary perspective and body ,mapping, but includes the self referencing map aspect.

These are all forms of eliminativism that view the self as some sort of information construct. There is no 'inside' but there is a model of an inside. The model is functional, useful and evolvable (none of Searle's functionally superfluous consciousness).
Why do you think that?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#9  Postby seeker » Apr 06, 2014 5:23 pm

Imza wrote:
seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:Consciousness refers to many things and he is on the right track that certain types of studies on consciousness can be quantified, one may argue that much of neuroscience and psychology is addressing parts of consciousness. However, I don't think this deals with the specific part of consciousness that gives scientists and philosophers trouble, mainly qualia.

What do you mean by "qualia"? Do you think that it's a coherent concept, and that it poses a genuine problem?

I have a pretty standard definition of qualia as subjective conscious experience such as seeing colors, etc. In that sense, yes I don't see anything incoherent about qualia.

That's not the "standard definition", because you've omitted the "qualitative" aspect. We don't need the concept of "qualia" to recognize that humans have "subjective conscious experience such as seeing colors", and it's rather obvious that skeptics of qualia are not denying such platitude.
The term "quale" was introduced to signify the alleged "qualitative character" of experience. Every experience, it is claimed, has a distinctive "qualitative feel". Also, the "qualitative feel" of a conscious experience is characterized in terms of there being "something it is like" for an organism to have the experience. "What it is like" to have the experience is the "qualitative feel" of the experience. The alleged "mystery of consciousness" is conceived to be the mystery of qualia.
You can find these assumptions when you look at how the concept of "qualia" is characterized by its proponents (there are no genuine "definitions" of qualia, there are only vague "characterizations"). For example, Ned Block says that qualia ‘include the ways it feels to see, hear and smell, the way it feels to have a pain; more generally, what it’s like to have mental states. Qualia are experiential properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions and ... thoughts and desires as well.’ Searle says that ‘There is something it is like to think that two plus two equals four. There is no way to describe it except by saying that it is the character of thinking consciously “two plus two equals four”.’ Chalmers says that a mental state is conscious ‘if it has a qualitative feel — an associated quality of experience. These qualitative feels are also known as phenomenal qualities, or qualia for short. The problem of explaining these phenomenal qualities is just the problem of explaining consciousness.’He says that thinking is an experience with a qualitative content: ‘When I think of a lion, for instance, there seems to be a whiff of leonine quality to my phenomenology: what it is like to think of a lion is subtly different from what it is like to think of the Eiffel tower.’
Do you agree with these assumptions or not? If you do, then you agree with the "standard characterization" of qualia, a concept that I think is incoherent and cannot pose a genuine problem. If you don't agree with these assumptions, then you are using another conception of "subjective conscious experience", and it will be misleading that you label it with the term "qualia", a term which is already used to express another concept.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#10  Postby Imza » Apr 06, 2014 9:25 pm

Seeker
Do you agree with these assumptions or not? If you do, then you agree with the "standard characterization" of qualia, a concept that I think is incoherent and cannot pose a genuine problem. If you don't agree with these assumptions, then you are using another conception of "subjective conscious experience", and it will be misleading that you label it with the term "qualia", a term which is already used to express another concept.


I do agree with that characterization and don't see anything incoherent about it. It's only a problem if you want to explain why we have the subjective or qualitative experiences, which from my experience no one has even shown how to start to study. I mention "if you want to" because for me personally, as interesting as qualia is, it's not as interesting as say "isolating variables that influence behavior", which to me are far more interesting scientifically.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#11  Postby GrahamH » Apr 06, 2014 9:47 pm

Imza wrote:It's only a problem if you want to explain why we have the subjective or qualitative experiences, which from my experience no one has even shown how to start to study.


Most people would, I think, assume qualia to be inextricably tied to conscious responses. You eat because you feel hungry, you jump becuase you experience a loud sound. That's not very useful, since it seems superfluous to any functional definition of such responses. It's what led Searle to propose his 'P-Zombie'.

Many people take qualia to be something in themselves, quite distinct from conceptual information. Some will flatly state that they are absolutely certain that qualia exist (and are distinct from other 'data processing')

Qualia become incoherent if you suppose that they are not necessary in a functional account of mind, and yet also assume that they are 'real' and 'not just data/concept'.
Why do you think that?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#12  Postby seeker » Apr 06, 2014 10:19 pm

Imza wrote:Seeker
Do you agree with these assumptions or not? If you do, then you agree with the "standard characterization" of qualia, a concept that I think is incoherent and cannot pose a genuine problem. If you don't agree with these assumptions, then you are using another conception of "subjective conscious experience", and it will be misleading that you label it with the term "qualia", a term which is already used to express another concept.

I do agree with that characterization and don't see anything incoherent about it.

The assumptions of the proponents of "qualia" were that "every experience has a distinctive qualitative feel" and that "what it is like" to have the experience is the "qualitative feel" of the experience. But it is false that every experience has "a qualitative feel" understood as the "what is it like" to have the experience. It's true that every experience is a possible subject of positive and negative attitudinal predicates (e.g. predicates of pleasure, interest, attraction) but it does not follow, and it is false, that every experience is an actual subject of a positive or negative attitudinal predicate. Also, distinct experiences, each of which is the subject of an attitudinal attribute, may not be distinguishable by reference to how it feels for the person to have them. And what differentiates thinking one thing rather than another is not how it feels or what it feels like to think whatever one thinks. Instead, they are individuated by their object. One can think that something is thus-and-so or think of something or other without any accompanying affective attitude whatsoever — so there need be no ‘way it feels’ to think thus. Therefore, all these assumptions are wrong. If you accept the concept of "qualia", you are also accepting all these mistaken assumptions.

Imza wrote:It's only a problem if you want to explain why we have the subjective or qualitative experiences, which from my experience no one has even shown how to start to study.

You seem to be using the terms "subjective", "qualitative", and "qualia" as synonyms. They are not. The concept of "qualia" is, as I've shown you with the previous quotes, a specific conception about the qualitative aspects of conscious experiences that assumes that "every experience has a distinctive qualitative feel" and that "what it is like" to have the experience is the "qualitative feel" of the experience. Unlike the problems I've mentioned with the concept of "qualia", I see no problem with the concept of "subjective" or the concept of "qualitative" (if it's not conceived as I've mentioned above).
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#13  Postby Imza » Apr 06, 2014 11:06 pm

Seeker

The assumptions of the proponents of "qualia" were that "every experience has a distinctive qualitative feel" and that "what it is like" to have the experience is the "qualitative feel" of the experience. But it is false that every experience has "a qualitative feel" understood as the "what is it like" to have the experience. It's true that every experience is a possible subject of positive and negative attitudinal predicates (e.g. predicates of pleasure, interest, attraction) but it does not follow, and it is false, that every experience is an actual subject of a positive or negative attitudinal predicate. Also, distinct experiences, each of which is the subject of an attitudinal attribute, may not be distinguishable by reference to how it feels for the person to have them. And what differentiates thinking one thing rather than another is not how it feels or what it feels like to think whatever one thinks. Instead, they are individuated by their object. One can think that something is thus-and-so or think of something or other without any accompanying affective attitude whatsoever — so there need be no ‘way it feels’ to think thus. Therefore, all these assumptions are wrong. If you accept the concept of "qualia", you are also accepting all these mistaken assumptions.


I’m having a hard time deciphering the meaning of the above, which I don’t mean as an insult. I may just not understanding what your saying or maybe I don’t understand the issue well enough to get the distinctions your making. So let me try to address your point below to help clarify my own view here.


You seem to be using the terms "subjective", "qualitative", and "qualia" as synonyms. They are not. The concept of "qualia" is, as I've shown you with the previous quotes, a specific conception about the qualitative aspects of conscious experiences that assumes that "every experience has a distinctive qualitative feel" and that "what it is like" to have the experience is the "qualitative feel" of the experience. Unlike the problems I've mentioned with the concept of "qualia", I see no problem with the concept of "subjective" or the concept of "qualitative" (if it's not conceived as I've mentioned above).


So lets take the example of seeing the color red here. This is an issue that is discussed in psychophysics quite a bit, as we try to translate how wave lengths of color are processed, from sense receptors to the brain, etc. There is a sense in which we can explain the process, such and such receptor works this way, it converts light into such and such chemicals. However, none of this tells me of the experience of actually seeing red. How does my experience of seeing red (call it whatever you want) come about from the different wavelengths? Or I guess putting it another away, why do I have the experience of red at all and not just be a zombie that simply reacts functionally to different wave lengths?

I take it that there is a better way to put this in philosophical terms and I’m not sure what the actual terms are, but this is essentially the so called hard problem of consciousness as far as I understand it. My claim regards to Kaku’s video was that his so called quantified consciousness doesn’t address this aspect at all, he is suggesting a model for someone that neuroscientists and psychologists already study very well and have quantified. What he doesn’t address is the harder issue of how we would study the “experience of seeing red”.


‪GrahamH
Most people would, I think, assume qualia to be inextricably tied to conscious responses. You eat because you feel hungry, you jump becuase you experience a loud sound. That's not very useful, since it seems superfluous to any functional definition of such responses. It's what led Searle to propose his 'P-Zombie'.

Many people take qualia to be something in themselves, quite distinct from conceptual information. Some will flatly state that they are absolutely certain that qualia exist (and are distinct from other 'data processing')

Qualia become incoherent if you suppose that they are not necessary in a functional account of mind, and yet also assume that they are 'real' and 'not just data/concept'.


I’m not sure if I agree that that it’s incoherent to think that qualia is not necessary in functional account of the mind. Qualia could have come about as a spandrel or various other adaptions towards other functional properties of mind. Simple fact is, we get along very well without taking “qualia” into account when we try to figure why people do what they do. It maybe the case that qualia adds something further in terms of explanatory power but I’ll wait to see if someone can show that to be true.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#14  Postby seeker » Apr 06, 2014 11:25 pm

Imza wrote:I’m having a hard time deciphering the meaning of the above, which I don’t mean as an insult. I may just not understanding what your saying or maybe I don’t understand the issue well enough to get the distinctions your making.

Well, that's the point. As far as I can see, you are confusing the philosophical concept of "qualia" with the ordinary concept of "subjective experience". Don't you think it's more reasonable that you make claims about the concept you know ("subjective experience"), and not about the concept you don't know ("qualia")?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#15  Postby Imza » Apr 06, 2014 11:55 pm

seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:I’m having a hard time deciphering the meaning of the above, which I don’t mean as an insult. I may just not understanding what your saying or maybe I don’t understand the issue well enough to get the distinctions your making.

Well, that's the point. As far as I can see, you are confusing the philosophical concept of "qualia" with the ordinary concept of "subjective experience". Don't you think it's more reasonable that you make claims about the concept you know ("subjective experience"), and not about the concept you don't know ("qualia")?


Again, I'm not sure I quite get the distinction. I looked up qualia and here is what Wiki says:

Qualia (/ˈkwɑːliə/ or /ˈkweɪliə/; singular form: quale (Latin pronunciation: [ˈkwaːle]) is a term used in philosophy to refer to individual instances of subjective, conscious experience


Here is Stanford's definition:

Feelings and experiences vary widely. For example, I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, I am the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia. Disagreement typically centers on which mental states have qualia, whether qualia are intrinsic qualities of their bearers, and how qualia relate to the physical world both inside and outside the head. The status of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy largely because it is central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia are at the very heart of the mind-body problem.


These at least refer to subjective experience to some degree but like I said, I'm not familiar with the fine distinctions philosophers make. I"m asking about my example of experiencing the color red, I don't care about how others define it or what other people think is the central point. I'm asking about this specific example.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#16  Postby seeker » Apr 07, 2014 1:11 am

Imza wrote:These at least refer to subjective experience to some degree but like I said, I'm not familiar with the fine distinctions philosophers make. I"m asking about my example of experiencing the color red, I don't care about how others define it or what other people think is the central point. I'm asking about this specific example.

OK, what are you asking about that example?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#17  Postby Imza » Apr 07, 2014 2:39 am

seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:These at least refer to subjective experience to some degree but like I said, I'm not familiar with the fine distinctions philosophers make. I"m asking about my example of experiencing the color red, I don't care about how others define it or what other people think is the central point. I'm asking about this specific example.

OK, what are you asking about that example?

Do you think that the experience of seeing red constitutes a genuine problem and is it coherent to talk about it as such? And is that what you understand to be the hard problem of consciousness?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#18  Postby seeker » Apr 07, 2014 3:30 am

Imza wrote:
seeker wrote:
Imza wrote:These at least refer to subjective experience to some degree but like I said, I'm not familiar with the fine distinctions philosophers make. I"m asking about my example of experiencing the color red, I don't care about how others define it or what other people think is the central point. I'm asking about this specific example.

OK, what are you asking about that example?

Do you think that the experience of seeing red constitutes a genuine problem and is it coherent to talk about it as such? And is that what you understand to be the hard problem of consciousness?

A "problem" implies that someone has found an obstacle to reach some goal. The claim that "humans have the experience of seeing red" doesn't imply by itself any goal nor any obstacle, so it doesn't constitute a problem. In order to pose a problem, I guess you'll need to specify which are the goals and obstacles here.
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#19  Postby GrahamH » Apr 07, 2014 9:21 am

seeker wrote:The claim that "humans have the experience of seeing red" doesn't imply by itself any goal nor any obstacle, so it doesn't constitute a problem. In order to pose a problem, I guess you'll need to specify which are the goals and obstacles here.


The problem is the 'hard problem' of explaining how/why/what the "What-it's-like-ness" that constitutes subjective experience is. Why is it like something to see red? What is like to be a bat (is there something it is like to be a bat)? Are these coherent questions?
Why do you think that?
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Re: Quantified Consciousness - Michio Kaku

#20  Postby kennyc » Apr 07, 2014 10:56 am

GrahamH wrote:
seeker wrote:The claim that "humans have the experience of seeing red" doesn't imply by itself any goal nor any obstacle, so it doesn't constitute a problem. In order to pose a problem, I guess you'll need to specify which are the goals and obstacles here.


The problem is the 'hard problem' of explaining how/why/what the "What-it's-like-ness" that constitutes subjective experience is. Why is it like something to see red? What is like to be a bat (is there something it is like to be a bat)? Are these coherent questions?


No, but not because you are not being coherent.
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