Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#21
Ah, it's what Paul said -> Hoffman's just saying that in the simulations he made the real world was a set of conditions he arbitrarily decided on.

I think it's important to note there's two arguments being made in the presentation. The first is for the idea that evolution actually limits true perception. The second is for Idealism.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#24
Hoffman ->

"A spoon is like a headache

A spoon is like a headache. This is a dangerous idea in sheep's clothing. It consumes decrepit ontology, preserves methodological naturalism, and inspires exploration for a new ontology, a vehicle sufficiently robust to sustain the next leg of our search for a theory of everything.

How could a spoon and a headache do all this? Suppose I have a headache, and I tell you about it. It is, say, a pounding headache that started at the back of the neck and migrated to encompass my forehead and eyes. You respond empathetically, recalling a similar headache you had, and suggest a couple remedies. We discuss our headaches and remedies a bit, then move on to other topics.

Of course no one but me can experience my headaches, and no one but you can experience yours. But this posed no obstacle to our meaningful conversation. You simply assumed that my headaches are relevantly similar to yours, and I assumed the same about your headaches. The fact that there is no "public headache," no single headache that we both experience, is simply no problem.

A spoon is like a headache. Suppose I hand you a spoon. It is common to assume that the spoon I experience during this transfer is numerically identical to the spoon you experience. But this assumption is false. No one but me can experience my spoon, and no one but you can experience your spoon. But this is no problem. It is enough for me to assume that your spoon experience is relevantly similar to mine. For effective communication, no public spoon is necessary, just like no public headache is necessary. Is there a "real spoon," a mind-independent physical object that causes our spoon experiences and resembles our spoon experiences? This is not only unnecessary but unlikely. It is unlikely that the visual experiences of homo sapiens, shaped to permit survival in a particular range of niches, should miraculously also happen to resemble the true nature of a mind-independent realm. Selective pressures for survival do not, except by accident, lead to truth.

One can have a kind of objectivity without requiring public objects. In special relativity, the measurements, and thus the experiences, of mass, length and time differ from observer to observer, depending on their relative velocities. But these differing experiences can be related by the Lorentz transformation. This is all the objectivity one can have, and all one needs to do science.

Once one abandons public physical objects, one must reformulate many current open problems in science. One example is the mind-brain relation. There are no public brains, only my brain experiences and your brain experiences. These brain experiences are just the simplified visual experiences of homo sapiens, shaped for survival in certain niches. The chances that our brain experiences resemble some mind-independent truth are remote at best, and those who would claim otherwise must surely explain the miracle. Failing a clever explanation of this miracle, there is no reason to believe brains cause anything, including minds. And here the wolf unzips the sheep skin, and darts out into the open. The danger becomes apparent the moment we switch from boons to sprains. Oh, pardon the spoonerism."
 
#25
Ah, it's what Paul said -> Hoffman's just saying that in the simulations he made the real world was a set of conditions he arbitrarily decided on.

I think it's important to note there's two arguments being made in the presentation. The first is for the idea that evolution actually limits true perception. The second is for Idealism.
Hmmm... I understand what your saying, but I still have problems with trying to demonstrate anything valid about this self-constructed notion of 'truth' being both parameters set the same, and that suggestion coming from within the system itself. For instance, what happens if truth is that both parameters must not match? or if there is no validity in the concept of truth? I would rather he just said he set both parameters the same, and got such and such a result... I don't see why he thinks that this is some sort of valid test of reality... am I making myself clear...
 
#26
Hoffman ->

"A spoon is like a headache

A spoon is like a headache. This is a dangerous idea in sheep's clothing. It consumes decrepit ontology, preserves methodological naturalism, and inspires exploration for a new ontology, a vehicle sufficiently robust to sustain the next leg of our search for a theory of everything.

How could a spoon and a headache do all this? Suppose I have a headache, and I tell you about it. It is, say, a pounding headache that started at the back of the neck and migrated to encompass my forehead and eyes. You respond empathetically, recalling a similar headache you had, and suggest a couple remedies. We discuss our headaches and remedies a bit, then move on to other topics.

Of course no one but me can experience my headaches, and no one but you can experience yours. But this posed no obstacle to our meaningful conversation. You simply assumed that my headaches are relevantly similar to yours, and I assumed the same about your headaches. The fact that there is no "public headache," no single headache that we both experience, is simply no problem.

A spoon is like a headache. Suppose I hand you a spoon. It is common to assume that the spoon I experience during this transfer is numerically identical to the spoon you experience. But this assumption is false. No one but me can experience my spoon, and no one but you can experience your spoon. But this is no problem. It is enough for me to assume that your spoon experience is relevantly similar to mine. For effective communication, no public spoon is necessary, just like no public headache is necessary. Is there a "real spoon," a mind-independent physical object that causes our spoon experiences and resembles our spoon experiences? This is not only unnecessary but unlikely. It is unlikely that the visual experiences of homo sapiens, shaped to permit survival in a particular range of niches, should miraculously also happen to resemble the true nature of a mind-independent realm. Selective pressures for survival do not, except by accident, lead to truth.

One can have a kind of objectivity without requiring public objects. In special relativity, the measurements, and thus the experiences, of mass, length and time differ from observer to observer, depending on their relative velocities. But these differing experiences can be related by the Lorentz transformation. This is all the objectivity one can have, and all one needs to do science.

Once one abandons public physical objects, one must reformulate many current open problems in science. One example is the mind-brain relation. There are no public brains, only my brain experiences and your brain experiences. These brain experiences are just the simplified visual experiences of homo sapiens, shaped for survival in certain niches. The chances that our brain experiences resemble some mind-independent truth are remote at best, and those who would claim otherwise must surely explain the miracle. Failing a clever explanation of this miracle, there is no reason to believe brains cause anything, including minds. And here the wolf unzips the sheep skin, and darts out into the open. The danger becomes apparent the moment we switch from boons to sprains. Oh, pardon the spoonerism."
I don't understand this either... I can't see how he justifies this idea as having any validity? I accept (understand) parts of it because of indirect perception, but it doesn't seem grounded in my own experiences... He gives this one example, but can't show how it fits our experiences over a range of different examples... am I expected to work through these things myself to see if his idea is valid?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#27
Objects of Consciousness presents a more detailed breakdown of the math presented in the linked talk.

I don't understand this either... I can't see how he justifies this idea as having any validity? I accept (understand) parts of it because of indirect perception, but it doesn't seem grounded in my own experiences... He gives this one example, but can't show how it fits our experiences over a range of different examples... am I expected to work through these things myself to see if his idea is valid?
I think Hoffman makes the mistake of not really explaining what the spoon is. This is because Hoffman is trying to be as neutral as possible w.r.t. matter/energy/time/space/forces/fields/etc.

So there's something there represented by the spoon, but it need not arise from an objective reality, it could be part of what we might call the "shared dream" of Idealism. I do think Bernardo makes this clearer in Our Future Sanity:

When I say that everything is in consciousness, I am saying that things exist only insofar as they play themselves out in the mind of a conscious observer. For instance, when you dream at night, everything in your dream exists only insofar as it is in your mind; the stuff in your dream does not have an independent existence. But that does not mean that every person or animal in your dream has a consciousness of their own; they do not ground a subjective point of view separate from yours; there is nothing it is like to be a character of your dream. So my worldview entails that, like a dream, reality exists only insofar as it is in consciousness, but not that everything in it is conscious. For instance, while acknowledging that other living entities are likely conscious (i.e. statement 2), I do not subscribe to the notion that rocks, windmills, home thermostats, or computers are conscious.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#28
Hoffman:

"No one but me can experience my spoon, and no one but you can experience your spoon. But this is no problem. It is enough for me to assume that your spoon experience is relevantly similar to mine."

He is hiding a lot of important stuff in the magic word "relevantly." In particular, if there is nothing that represents the "real spoon," then why are our two spoons similar at all?

"Selective pressures for survival do not, except by accident, lead to truth."

But selective pressures are no more real than anything else, so why do they work at all?

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#29
But selective pressures are no more real than anything else, so why do they work at all?
The pressures exist, they just don't take the form we think they do.

I think it would be like if we were a blind species using echolocation. We might develop all sorts of interesting technology in our darkness, but the reality of the what is actually happening could never be known by us.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#31
I think he's got much bigger problems than that... I need to understand why I should accept Hoffman's assertion that a spoon is like a headache? To me they are not a like...
Well Hoffman is arguing for Idealism, and so he needs to explain the physical in terms of the mental. The opposite problem of materialists, who have to explain the phenomenal in terms of the physical.

Imagine we were playing a video game via an online connection. There's an image of you on my screen, and vice-versa. Let's say a monster shows up. The game's representation of the monster is based on data packets being sent between us, possibly via a central server. But the monster on your screen is rendered via the hardware of your computer, and the monster on my screen is rendered similarly.

As such, the monster each of us sees is a signifier for some data, but are we really seeing the same monster? Or has each of our respective computers rendered signifiers for the underlying patterns of zeroes and ones? Is there even a physical place for this monster we're fighting, or is its existence more based in the movement of data packets and actions in the computer hardware?
 
#32
Well Hoffman is arguing for Idealism, and so he needs to explain the physical in terms of the mental. The opposite problem of materialists, who have to explain the phenomenal in terms of the physical.

Imagine we were playing a video game via an online connection. There's an image of you on my screen, and vice-versa. Let's say a monster shows up. The game's representation of the monster is based on data packets being sent between us, possibly via a central server. But the monster on your screen is rendered via the hardware of your computer, and the monster on my screen is rendered similarly.

As such, the monster each of us sees is a signifier for some data, but are we really seeing the same monster? Or has each of our respective computers rendered signifiers for the underlying patterns of zeroes and ones? Is there even a physical place for this monster we're fighting, or is its existence more based in the movement of data packets and actions in the computer hardware?
I appreciate your explanation, but I want to understand why I should accept Hoffman's actual assertion that a spoon is like a headache?
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#33
The pressures exist, they just don't take the form we think they do.
Hmm. Are you sure?

The only level that Hoffman talks about is below that of QM and relativity. Otherwise he says that he has to be able to derive everything from QM and above from his framework. So does that mean that everything from QM and above really is the way we think it is? Or is he suggesting that nothing, at any level, is the way it seems? If the latter, then there does not have to be anything corresponding to selection pressures, just as there is nothing corresponding to the blueness of an icon. On the other hand, perhaps there is something "corresponding to" selection pressures, but it is significantly different from the way it appears.

The whole idea that our perceptions aren't "true" is quite confusing. Does that mean that some of our perceptions don't correspond to anything at all? If so, why do such perceptions exist? Is it like the blueness of the icon? It only exists because it has to be some color. That is, unless the color represents something, such as the location of the file.

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#35
Hmm. Are you sure?

The only level that Hoffman talks about is below that of QM and relativity. Otherwise he says that he has to be able to derive everything from QM and above from his framework. So does that mean that everything from QM and above really is the way we think it is? Or is he suggesting that nothing, at any level, is the way it seems? If the latter, then there does not have to be anything corresponding to selection pressures, just as there is nothing corresponding to the blueness of an icon. On the other hand, perhaps there is something "corresponding to" selection pressures, but it is significantly different from the way it appears.

The whole idea that our perceptions aren't "true" is quite confusing. Does that mean that some of our perceptions don't correspond to anything at all? If so, why do such perceptions exist? Is it like the blueness of the icon? It only exists because it has to be some color. That is, unless the color represents something, such as the location of the file.

~~ Paul
Well he explicitly discusses evolution in his paper, AFAICTell noting that the natural selection we see could be driven by factors interacting in ways beyond our ken:

One major objection to conscious realism invokes evolution. We now know, the argument goes, that the universe existed for billions of years before the first forms of life, and probably many millions more before the first flickers of consciousness. Natural selection, and other evolutionary processes first described by Darwin, then shaped life and consciousness into “endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful”. This contradicts the claim of conscious realism, viz., that consciousness is fundamental and that matter is simply a property of certain icons of conscious agents. There are four responses to this objection.

First, although it is true that evolutionary theory has been interpreted, almost exclusively, within the framework of a physicalist ontology, the mathematical models of evolution do not require this ontology. They can be applied equally well to systems of conscious agents and, indeed, such an application of evolutionary game theory (Maynard-Smith 1982, Skyrms 2000) is quite natural. Systems of conscious agents can undergo stochastic evolution, and conscious agents can be synthesized or destroyed in the process (Bennett et al. 1989, 2002). There is simply no principled reason why evolution requires physicalism. Evolutionary changes in genes and body morphology can be modeled by evolution whether those genes and bodies are viewed as mind-dependent or mind-independent. The mathematics does not care. Nor does the fossil evidence. A dinosaur bone dated to the Jurassic can be interpreted along physicalist lines as a mind-
independent object or, with equal ease, as a mind-dependent icon that we construct whenever we interact with a certain long-existing system of conscious agents.
So his idea is to show how interaction of conscious agents - which we might think of as of irreducible minds - can produce the physical world we do perceive. He does have to account for the reality we do perceive, even if it is inaccurate.

But the interactions of matter/energy that offer themselves up to our perception would not be the genuine causes of anything, just as Mario jumping on a Goomba isn't the real reason the Goomba disappears.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#36
So his idea is to show how interaction of conscious agents - which we might think of as of irreducible minds - can produce the physical world we do perceive. He does have to account for the reality we do perceive, even if it is inaccurate.
But then the idea that our perceptions are nothing like the "real world" is misleading. They are just not like his conscious agents that exist below the level of QM. And if we discover something below the level of QM, he will have to push down his conscious agents another level in order to keep hiding them. Or perhaps we will discover conscious agents down there and he will turn out to be right about the agents but wrong about our perceptions. It's already the case that we don't really believe that our perception of low-level particles is a "true" perception of them.

Lots of fun!

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#37
But then the idea that our perceptions are nothing like the "real world" is misleading. They are just not like his conscious agents that exist below the level of QM.
Seems to me that it's twofold. Our perceptions about the world are misleading, and our inability to get around our evolved perceptions keeps us from recognizing the deeper layers of reality.

He's account for why the physical world would seem so convincing in an Idealist interpretation.

As such I'm not sure what you think is misleading?
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#38
Seems to me that it's twofold. Our perceptions about the world are misleading, and our inability to get around our evolved perceptions keeps us from recognizing the deeper layers of reality.
But that's just too convenient. If there is absolutely no way to find evidence that conscious agents underlie QM, then his framework will always remain a framework and never become a theory. In that case, it's no better than any other framework. Flip a coin. This is why I don't understand why he thinks his framework is falsifiable. Did you figure out why he thinks this?

He's account for why the physical world would seem so convincing in an Idealist interpretation.
I don't think you can make a distinction between ideal and physical here. Is a quark a physical thing or is it the perception of a conscious agent?

As such I'm not sure what you think is misleading?
I'm not sure he can make a crisp distinction between his conscious agents and their perceptions, in which case it is tough to demarcate the "real world" from the "perceived world."

~~ Paul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#39
This is why I don't understand why he thinks his framework is falsifiable. Did you figure out why he thinks this?
If he can make predictions about the future of QM that will falsify [or corroborate] his theory. Right now AFAICTell he has a good bit of the math put together but is still working on it.

I think he's allowed a little promissory idealism, given how many things materialist think will be solved in their paradigm. ;)

I don't think you can make a distinction between ideal and physical here. Is a quark a physical thing or is it the perception of a conscious agent?
A quark, from what I've read, would be the result of underlying agent interaction in this psychophysics model.

I'm not sure he can make a crisp distinction between his conscious agents and their perceptions, in which case it is tough to demarcate the "real world" from the "perceived world."
Ah, I see what you're saying. I was confused about this myself, as it seems clear humans are not the conscious agents making up reality. It might be good to think of this version of idealism as panpsychism without the matter.

In fact, going over Objects of Consciousness and then Chalmer's discussion of Panpsychism I noticed some interesting similarities and discussion of issues to overcome. I do think Hoffman should consider clarifying a few things in these papers, and using Chalmers' terminology might help.
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#40
If he can make predictions about the future of QM that will falsify [or corroborate] his theory. Right now AFAICTell he has a good bit of the math put together but is still working on it.
He doesn't have a theory, he has a framework. If he had a theory, he could, among other things, calculate the mappings in the model, which I very much doubt he can. If the framework is isomorphic to QM, then it will make the same predictions that QM does. He may be just going along for the piggyback ride.

I think he's allowed a little promissory idealism, given how many things materialist think will be solved in their paradigm. ;)
I'll give him as much slack as he wants. It's an interesting idea.

A quark, from what I've read, would be the result of underlying agent interaction in this psychophysics model.
Is it a result, or is it a (not-true) perception of the underlying agent schema?

~~ Paul
 
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