AI and cognitive psychology rant (getting more and more OT - tell me if I should shut up)

Bengt Richter bokr at
Mon Nov 3 01:13:58 CET 2003

On 1 Nov 2003 22:19:11 -0800, mis6 at (Michele Simionato) wrote:

>Stephen Horne <steve at> wrote in message news:<uhe2qv0gff8v17trs4cj6mg88t2o7smq9b at>...
>> The evidence suggests that conscious minds exist
>> within the universe as an arrangement of matter subject to the same
>> laws as any other arrangement of matter.
If there is some "stuff" whose state can eventually be shown to have 1:1 relationship
with the state of a particular individual's conscious experience, this would seem to
imply that senses and brains etc. are effectively transducers between reality and our
experiencing-stuff. Does the "experiencing-stuff" itself have matter-nature or field-nature?

>From the fact that my consciousness goes out like a light almost every night, I speculate that
that what persists day to day (brains, synaptic connections, proteins, etc) is not the _essential_
basis of my experience, but rather, those persistent things somehow _shape_ the medium through
whose state-changes my conscious experience arises.

What are the limitations on the states of the experience-medium? It seems that e.g., damaged brains
create changes in the possible range of experiences, both creating new possibilities and removing
others, but this would not seem to be a limitiation of the experience-medium itself, but rather
of the reality-transducer. Besides physical brain changes, drugs can also apparently change how
the reality-transducer works or does not work (e.g., psychedelics or anaesthetics). But what of
the (hypothetical at this point) medium itself? Could it be capable of other states if it were
conditioned by another transducer? (How would the experiencer know that was happening, BTW?)
E.g., are the limitations on temperature and electrical gradients etc. of the brain effectively
limitiations on the range of possible conscious experience, that might not limit experience
conditioned through another "transducer?"

Now consider the experience of being "convinced" that a theory "is true." What does that mean?

Does our experience-medium get shaped repeatedly through layers and layers of abstraction and
re-representation to where some bit of memory is sensed to have a comfortable stability w.r.t.
sensations derived from a series of experiemnts, and we are satisfied by some pleasure-connect
with this state of brain? Is it pain and pleasure at bottom, tied to subtle internal state
sensations? Do we form theories like patterns of sand form on a vibrating membrane at quiescent
spots for a given mode of vibration? Do internal cognitive dissonances drive the "sand" away
from untenable positions in patterns of theory? Is our conscious experience-medium passive in
being shaped by the transducer, or does it have its own properties? E.g., is our sense of
connected-ness of a broken line in our visual conscious experience due to shaping of a field?
I.e., due to our very experience medium having field-nature and naturally taking some form
across gaps between features due to its own properties?

>I think that mind is a an arrangement of matter, too; nevertheless, 
>I strongly doubt that we will ever be able to understand it. Incidentally,
I think we will find out a lot yet. Beautiful, subtle stuff ;-) Too bad we are
wasting so much on ugly, dumb stuff ;-/

>I am also quite skeptical about IA claims.
Yes, but AI doesn't have to be all that "I" to have a huge economic and social impact.
The trend is towards private concentrated control and ownership of super-productive capital
equipment (temporarily simulated as necessary by Asian cheap labor), and AI IMO will play an
evolving role. The question is how the increasingly large fraction of people who will not be needed
for producing anything will be able to play the role of customer, unless we figure out some new
social machinery to go along with the other kind. ... Maybe a UN-member-funded humanitarian
consortium should buy Google before it becomes conscious as someone's private genie ;-)

Well, as you say,
>That's life, but it is more interesting this way ;)

Yes, and we could be working on global renaissance if we could globally
figure out how to spend $500bn/year (>15kUSD/second!) on good stuff
instead of miserable conflict. I would like to see leaders elected who re-affirm
at every news/media event the goal of eliminating this global stupidity,
and see the ability to kill fellow humans (at least) as aberrant instead
of just another notch on the scale of dirty-play competition that they are
willing to engage in themselves -- unable to recognize their own aberration through
the thinnest delusory veils of justification (never mind through the filters
of a raging polarized mindset).

Sorry, I get a little upset with the waste and consequent unnecessary suffering ;-/

Bengt Richter

More information about the Python-list mailing list