Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on September 29th, 2014, 6:05 pm 

Paradox » September 29th, 2014, 7:36 pm wrote:I know about book author protection. I mean if a regular bloke writes something of their own in a comment here, is it protected, would I be plagiarizing if I copied it from this type of forum?

Yes, as I understand it, you have copyright of your original posts (unless you explicitly waive it, perhaps by agreeing to specific forum T's & C's); it applies any literary work, not just books. You have copyright, but you can give permission for use.

Plagiarising is passing off, not just copying; it's unethical - a breach of copyright, a breach of the moral right to attribution, and possibly fraudulent misrepresentation or something similar. IANAL.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Dave_Oblad on September 29th, 2014, 7:33 pm 

Hi all, just a quick drop by.

I am following this thread and wish I had more time to invest. But the Op is based on the concept of it being possible for the Universe to Think.. meaning the Existence of a Cosmic Mind. Obviously, we could evolve into a Large Mind or we could create AI as a mind.. but really, we want to know if it is possible for a Mind to Exist that wasn't born from Chemical Life.

I've suggested that the Universe is a solid object (even a Vacuum) composed of Logic Connections, not unlike Neurons. It is reasonable to believe that enough complexity could exist to make a Cosmic Mind feasible.

There are two factors offered that argue against this. One from Marshall being that this mind would be too large to allow communications within the network. Whether the Universe is Expanding or Stretching plays a critical role in this argument. Also, Science doesn't understand some aspects of the Universe, such as Entanglement, which does allow instantaneous (FTL) transfer of information over vast distances. Also, we don't know how many Dimensions we are limited to. If the Universe allows Particle world-lines to persist, then Temporal Channels for Communications (between Nodes, Preonic Neurons, etc) may Exist.

We can't disregard these due solely to cognitive dissonance.

A stronger anti-mind argument can be had by defining the prerequisite structure or complexity of such a Network as to be an autonomous self aware Mind. Can a Mind be formed from pseudo-random connectivity of the hypothetical Logic Network that may Exist below Scales we have yet to probe? That is admittedly a tough one.

As I have suggested several times over the years, can a form of Mathematical Life evolve down at these super small Scales? What we do have as a Model is our Macro Scaled Minds. That at some distant point in the past, Random Chemicals bonded together against great odds to form the first coded strands of a self replicating molecule strand, that some how found refuge within protective shells and evolved into single celled organisms using DNA/RNA (etc) coding to multiply and evolve, eventually into mufti-celled organisms and eventually into organisms with Minds, such as we possess.

The question being.. could there be a veritable Zoo of Mathematical Organisms existing at Scales well below the Scale of Quarks and such? And could these Evolve into Minds and could those Minds evolve into a Cosmic Mind? If Non-Living Particles can evolve into Biological Minds then why can't Pure Logical Math evolve into Pure Logical Minds or eventually.. a Cosmic Mind? Again, I am conceding the prerequisite stepping stones to allow the power of evolutionary emergence to play a role. Also, note that we can't use the Biological Model as a basis to deny the Possible Existence of alternate (non-biological) forms of Life.

Ok, gotta get back to work. Wanted to get this said before someone locks the thread.

Best wishes,
Dave :^)
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby neuro on September 30th, 2014, 2:59 am 

hi Dave,
I had the impression your position on this question could be summarized by a statement of the kind "the universe is a kind of thought" itself, beng the actualization (whether real or virtual) of a mathematical / logical system (equation).

It seems now that you are talking about something else, i.e. the possibility that "entities" (smaller than particles, abiological, possibly virtual or linked to phenomena we can't fully grasp, such as entanglement) be connected into a super-complex network capable of "thought".

These are all fascinating ideas, but I fear that such hypotheses, which I would refer to as "cognitive activity" rather than "thought", lack the internal reproduction of the world, interpretative activity, attribution of meaning, problem solving, affective evaluation, search for a purpose, simulation, prefiguration and strategical planning features that characterize our "thought".

It still seems to me that your hypotheses are reminiscent of Doug Adams' hitchhiker guide, i.e. the Earth as a macro-computer built by somebody outside it to find the answer to the ultimate question of the Universe (42, if I correctly recall).

And that is a conceptually major difference with respect to thought: computing in order to answer a question is not the essence of thought, IMHO; rather, it seems to me the essence of thought is to ask questions...

Cheers and thanks anyway for the stimulating contributions (and for all the fish :°)
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on September 30th, 2014, 4:05 am 

Dave_Oblad » September 30th, 2014, 12:33 am wrote:Also, Science doesn't understand some aspects of the Universe, such as Entanglement, which does allow instantaneous (FTL) transfer of information over vast distances.

Uh, no - entanglement doesn't allow FTL information transfer.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby doogles on September 30th, 2014, 5:57 am 

Thank you, neuro, for your very thoughtful consideration of my last post.

I did not speak very much to the diagram because I thought it had failed to upload. The diagram actually represents my interpretation of stages of neural development in animals from reptiles upwards.

The PRIMITIVE block is representative of the neonatal nervous system, and as we are now aware, is virtually all that is necessary for survival for a sea turtle. A sea turtle has very little cerebral cortex and appears to be hard-wired, rather like a robot. I’ve said before that I believe our ‘primitive’ (but very complex) drives are hard-wired in these parts of our anatomy. These drives represent Freud’s ID in my opinion.

I have to say at this stage that I sometimes feel a bit like an alien in this forum in that I tend to explore any topic at its ‘roots’ level. So please bear with me in this post because it may be a little longer than usual. It has to do with the development of ‘thought’ or ‘thinking’.

All of us contributing to this forum are born as a result of what was most probably a pleasant interlude between our mothers and biological father. We are born with an extensive neural system as elaborated in my last post which amounts after a few years to roughly 86 billion neurons, in total of which 70 billion are involved in our basic homeostasis (almost entirely non-thoughtful, and to some extent robotically reactive, as neuro described in his 12 points).

Again, I say that no thought is involved in this massive part of our congenital neural systems.

But then there is the 16 billion neuronal content of our cerebral cortex which eventually hangs over and entirely envelops, structurally, our equivalent of a sea turtle brain. Research has shown that when we are born, there are masses of unnecessary connections between our brain cells and other cells, connections that are superfluous to the lifestyles we are born into in these millennia. They tend to disappear, while new dendritic connections develop as we grow. At this stage, as Burrhus Skinner said, our brains are an empty box. Now who can contradict that statement?

So, at birth, all we can do is vocalise with lachrymation, especially when we get a smack on the arse to encourage the same.

None of us has the capacity to think or conjure up what we consider to be a thought at that age.
Few of us have the capacity to remember anything that happened in our childhood before the age of about three (one exception - I had an exceptional daughter who convinced me that she could remember events at the age of 18 months). I can’t.

So, in essence, we cannot have thoughts, memories, recalls, analyses, of anything unless we have a representation of the substance of those things stored in our cerebral cortices.

Imagine yourself as a neonate human being (I’m asking you to think by imagining this in your mind). You would start to perceive vaguely the touch and smell of your mother, the noises and smells of the maternity ward around you and vaguely the faces of the relatives and family that come to peer at you and ‘goo-goo’ at you.

Slowly, but surely, by repetition, the notion of mother and relatives and details of your housing would slowly become embedded in your brain as ‘meaningful’, as the great 1920s French educator Piaget propounded.

And so it is that any of us neonates across all species with a cerebral cortex, begin to build up residues of, as yet, unclear nature, of the world as we perceive it that surrounds us outside of our bodies. I note that modern cognitive psychologists these days refer to them as ‘representations’. Our ‘inner’ worlds inside our brains become virtual replicas of the world outside of our bodies.

I called this process of receiving sensory inputs (from all six of them) and the ability to recall those images as ‘sensory-imaging’.

So if I can later recall that smell or texture of my mother’s breast and her milk, is that not a thought?

As we develop in age through three years old and onwards, we begin to be able to recall more and more of the ‘meaningful’ objects and persons and vocalisations and sounds and smells around us. We finish up having virtual replicas of the sights, sounds, smells, senses of touch and taste of the whole environment around us, plus we have a sense of those things that have a nice or nasty effect on us. This is the sensory-imaging stage of development of any species with a cerebral cortex.

If we regurgitate any of these images in idle moments, for example, the desire to go to a circus, or a shop, or a swimming pool at the age of four to 10, is this not a thought?

I feel as if I’ve overstayed my time in this post and will leave ‘rationalisation’ for another time.

Just as an afterthought, Athena, I think you mentioned something about the collective thinking of groups in a previous post. My opinion is that every one of us is subjected to the localised bigotry of all of those elders around us, and as we mature, those belief systems become inculcated into each of us within those environments. I experienced such belief systems in the area in which I was reared, but fortunately, by the age of fifteen, became able to question every concept that others were thrusting upon me.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby owleye on September 30th, 2014, 10:47 am 

One difficulty with the neurological interpretations of what a thought is and what thinking is, though essential if one is going to understand it, is that it is in need of examples that lead us to understand it. For example, we take for granted that a chess player is thinking when he is contemplating her next move. And, on reaching a decision about that move makes it. And, of course, now that we have chess-playing machines, which even at the highest level of human abilities, are difficult to win against, the question arises whether we should count what the computer is doing as thinking.

And, for the purpose of examining this, doogles example of the calculator is a bit easier to digest. doogles quickly dismissed calculators as doing any thinking, while allowing that they are information processors, but he might be surprised that the meaning of the term 'information' plays an important role in what is going on in thinking despite its apparent usage by calculators. Does the calculator actually process information? In order to appreciate the difficulty here one has to differentiate 'information' in its use by the physicist which deals with properties of entities that allow for their differentiation (e.g., that the balloon when filled with a gas adopts a particular shape or that a bird's wing enables it to provide lift. Or even that water molecules can be conjoined by H-OH linkages under certain circumstances.

To an information theorist these are possible considerations for specifying their digital content. And if one is an idealist, all there is is such information.

However, this use of information, while important, isn't what is being talked about when we speak of information processing. We assume that when we speak of information processing that the information is information about something. We assume it is informative of what it supposedly applies to. And when we consider this usage of 'information', what a calculator is doing might be best answered by asking the question "Is the calculator being informed by what it takes in? A computer scientist has a well understood model of what a calculator does. Though not one, I'll suggest that what it is doing is locking bit patterns into registers, performing a built-in algorithm and producing a result. As should be understood, the calculator is not being informed of its result or even that its bit patterns represent a set of '1's and '0's. No, the calculator is merely a machine that takes voltage levels and applies a built-in algorithm about which it has no knowledge, one that produces in a register another bit pattern and using techniques of various sorts produces an image of the result to a human observer. As I understand it, it considers these voltage levels (bit patterns) as tokens, not as types, the way a human would characterize them (a series of '1s' and '0s').

While computer scientists at times call a calculator an information processor, it shouldn't be confused with what the brain is doing. The latter extracts information from its environment by active processing and keeps the connection between the one and the other so that at the end of its processing produces a result that maintains that relationship. And consciousness, which deals with both perception and cognition has the characteristic of maintaining that connection.

And it is for this reason that intelligence (associated with data processing) is often considered independent of perception, and it is only when perception is applied that information is applicable. Up to that point, it should only be considered data processing. (Note: Donald Davidson adopts this position, having written an essay on it. Perhaps by now it has been published, though I don't know.)

(Note that computers are getting more sophisticated and some are adopting this model of information processing. I can't say, however, whether they've succeeded.)
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Dave_Oblad on September 30th, 2014, 8:38 pm 

Hi Neuro,

To be precise, I suggest the Universe Exists as a Solution to an Equation. Probably a Boolean Equation. It defines something much like Conway's Cellular Automaton along with an initial pseudo-random set of cell states. These cells (I call Preons) form a 4D (minimum) Lattice laced with Rules. Each Cell is about 1x10-35 Meters in Scale. That this Lattice is an Aether that supports Fields. Fields define the rules that apply to various Geometries. These Geometries combine to define Particles and ultimately Matter in its various forms.

Again, nothing about this Reality is a True Solid. It is all Mathematically and Logically inter-related. On the Macro Scale, we have seen the impossible already. We have taken a jar of inanimate chemicals and shook it to produce Life. Now of course the jar was very large (our Oceans) and the shaking was very long (Billion years) but still.. Life was produced that had the potential to Evolve and eventually become Us with Cognitive Minds.

Now the deepest we can probe is about 1x10-18 Meters. That Scale is unbelievably huge compared to the lowest/smallest Scales of our Reality. Just for fun, I will call the bottom Scale the Quantum Foam. If it has any of the potential that Conway's simple Life Algorithm has, it will be teaming with active Geometry. Not unlike our initial Oceans (primordial soup).

It would take a very closed mind to conclude that this can't form an alternate Life type(s) in much the same way our Oceans have. And given the Scale of time, 100 Million years near the beginning of the Universe is much the same as Trillions of years for the Quantum Foam in regards to change potential.

So given how improbable that Life could form here at our Scale, it is no less improbable that life could form at the Quantum Foam Scales. Of course it would be very different from what we think of as life.. or it may have very strong parallels. But if Quantum Life (by its nature) could emerge and had the potential to Evolve, then what could it Evolve into? A type of Mathematical/Logically constructed Smart Fishy things with hands? Could they eventually Design and Engineer an AI machine? Could the AI expand to incorporate the whole Universe on some Scale? To become a Cosmic Mind? A Universe that Thinks?

Again.. I am not pushing for an All Knowing God. I just don't believe we know enough to rule out the possibility that a Cosmic Mind can Evolve from the Quantum Foam. It would probably not be aware of Humans any more the we were aware of DNA a few year back. But then again, if it was Trillions of Quantum Years old and spread across our whole Temporal Dimension, then I think it could be pretty darn smart.

Maybe smart enough to alter the Fabric of Fields and Rules to increase the odds that certain chemical combinations become more probable in the way they can connect and bond and thus Life (on our scale) becomes more probable.

I would not go so far as the Intelligent Design folks go and state the Cosmic Mind deliberately designed us Humans. I think it doesn't give a flying frack what we do, if it existed. But I am not opposed to it altering the Fabric of our Reality to improve the odds for Chemical Life to emerge from a batch of Inanimate Atoms.

This is what I have been searching for.. for many years. Proof that our Reality has, or can be changed, to suit our specific needs and desires. For example, if we want a Higgs Boson badly enough, perhaps it recently allowed it. Or a left handed sugar molecule? Or.., or.. or..

If you think in these terms, then perhaps ET can't come here, because the local (quantum) rules would not permit its Biology to function properly and it/they would die.

Hey, nobody ever claimed I had no imagination...lol.

Best wishes,
Dave :^)
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby neuro on October 1st, 2014, 4:57 am 

hi owleye,
I believe you touch on an important point.
What does it mean that the computer is not being "informed" by the information it processes?
In my opinion, it means that it digests input information, processes it some way, and outputs a revised form of such information, but it does not "know" why such revised form should be more "useful" than the original information.

My point is that the computer is guided by a request (implicitly built in the program) but does not "produce" a request. The crucial aspect is not in how it elaborates information, but WHY it does so.

In another thread Marshall discussed whether misunderstandings, in discussing about the "meaning" of life, may arise from a logical equivocation fallacy. I believe that apart from the possibility of attributing different meanings to the word "meaning" ("definition", which points toward a physical-biological domain, life vs. non-life, or "purpose", which directs us toward philosophy), a major fraction of the equivocation arises from the semantic value we attribute to the word "life" itself.

In a sense, life is a process which has some specific features, but it is not a finalized process (except it is organized to persist and reproduce itself). As you walk along the evolutionary scale, you see the emergence of a meta-level where an ensemble of living systems (cells) differentiate and cooperate to perpetuate a complex organism (each "living element" acquires a "purpose" outside its own survival, in a higher-level perspective), and a further meta-level where a >population< acquires the same capablity of perpetuating itself through the cooperative organization of individuals (bees, ants, etc). Finally, in humans, the development of a uniquely complex gratificational and motivational system, over multiple domains (from physiological needs to aesthetic pleasure) and multiple time scales, definitely shifts the picture from life as a process organized (I wouldn't say "aimed") to persist (survival/reproduction) to a process that appears to have purposes outside itself.

I believe these kinds of "life" constitute formally distinct entities under a philosophical point of view.
Which, by the way, points to the extreme importance of recognizing emergence as a mechanism that produces meta-levels, i.e. the birth of totally new domains that are not ruled and cannot be interpreted in terms of the principles that regulate and explain lower levels.

And I believe the same holds for "thought". Thought can be defines as a computational activity. However - in analogy with life - such computational activity may be organized so to produce a result (as it is in machines) or become sufficiently complex to generate - through emergence - a meta-level in which the computatonal activity not only elaborates data to produce a result ("answer") but "generates" the "questions" to which an answer is to be found.

So we can refer to "thought" as a mere computational capacity, or to "THOUGHT" as something "philosophically" distinct (a meta-level), i.e. a computational capacity that becomes able of generating questions in addition to computing answers.

In this perspective, "THINKING" is a mixture of rational cognitive activity ("thinking") and emotional, affective activity, so that each step in our "information processing" is aimed at transforming information into a "useful" format, which can help to make an internal picture of reality, develop behavioral strategies, pursue aims we care about. There is no THINKING (but only thinking=computation) without EMOTION, AFFECT and MOTIVATION.

The example of the chess player appears appropriate, but I would turn it the other way around.
The point is not whether the computer is better or worse at playing chess, or even if it can reproduce the rational thinking of the player.
The point rather is whether the player can simulate the computer.
In order to be able to do so, the player shoud:
1. be a tremendously skillful player
2. be able to forecast the development of the game a huge number of possible moves ahead
but also
3. be insensitive to fatigue, hunger, thirst, boredom
4. be immune from any narcissistic temptation of making spectacular moves
5. never permit hurry, enthusiasm, fear, to interfere with her own reasoning
6. never allow her aesthetic sense to interfere with a purely mathematical / algorithmic examination of the pros and cons of alternative strategies

Now, if a chess player were able to do all this, she would have succeeded in shutting of thought and substituting computation for it (shutting off THINKING and turning to thinking).

I am not saying that we cannot use our brain to merely compute.
I am saying that when such computation is not affected in any way by emotions, desires, affects, physiological needs, aesthetic sense, imagination, creativity, short and long term plans, and all the conflicts that necessarily arise from this intermixing of motivational drives - in a word when it is executed mechanically without any intrinsic meaning and purpose - it remains a mere computation.

You can well call such a computation "thought".
Nobody could accuse you of inappropriately using the word "thought".
And in this perspective the Universe itself may well think, or even be a form of thought.
But certainly it does not THINK.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby neuro on October 1st, 2014, 5:01 am 

Hi Dave,
no doubt imagination never seems to let you down...
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby doogles on October 1st, 2014, 5:55 am 

dlorde » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:45 am wrote:
doogles » September 29th, 2014, 9:43 am wrote:I've suggested a few times that you can check whether you think subconsciously with either of two techniques.

I think I understand what you mean, but I'm not entirely comfortable with your characterisation of daydreaming as subconscious thinking rather than conscious thinking. I see myself as conscious when I'm daydreaming, (although I'm (mostly) not consciously determining the narrative), because I have conscious access to it, albeit without an explicit focus of attention, i.e. I am aware of the narrative(s). .....

... Regarding the diagram, I noticed that 'rationalising' spans both conscious and subconscious, whereas Kanheman explicitly characterises it as Type 2 (conscious, effortful) thinking. It may be that you're including the Type 1 contributions that underlie all conscious processing, but it looks odd...


Thank you dlorde, for your comments on 29th September. I have not seen Kanheman’s book and obviously cannot comment directly about his ideas. Neuro seemed to hold to the same position as you described for Kanheman, when he posted recently.

But it’s all very arbitrary. We don’t have an international committee adjudicating on what is or what is not ‘thinking’ or what is a ‘thought’. I gave some examples of a child simply conjuring up the notion of a circus, shops or a swimming pool and expressing a desire to be taken to the same. And I asked the question, could it be said that that child had had a thought about a circus, shop or swimming pool?

For that matter, we’ve all been plagued by small children pestering us with questions about anything or everything to the point where we’ve virtually told them to either shut up, or go and ask their mother (or father). Once again, the question whether every child on this planet has to have a thought about something come into their heads in order to ask the questions?

The sensory/imaging function I described, goes on in our brains from a very early age We all finish up with a virtual mini-replica in our brains of every aspect of the environment around our bodies. The obverse evidence that we have been taking everything in without being aware of the process, is when an environmental feature suddenly goes missing from around our area. Somehow the area seems naked. For this ‘feeling’ to occur, we have to have a firm set of images of all of the local ‘normals’ in our minds. The same effect occurs if a new strange object or person appears. Certainly if we see a person who is dressed or who behaves abnormally we notice immediately.

So logically, my opinion is that we sensory/image largely subconsciously. The conscious part of cerebral cortex image-building happens when we begin to become educated. You will remember picture colouring books and the first items we seem to encounter are A for Apple, B for Banana, and C for Carrot. You may remember another thread in this forum on the question of “Why do we always say ‘carrot’ when asked to name a vegetable. Of course this sensory/image building is not thought in itself, but the question to decide is whether the recall of an image in our ‘mind’s eye’ constitutes a thought.

At the child level, I believe that any indication of recall of a mental image of any kind constitutes a thought, particularly if that image results in a question of any kind. Certainly it is associated with the process of imagination, as neuro rightfully pointed out, but then I regard the process of imagination as a requirement of thinking.

As I said, it’s all very arbitrary.

My ‘RATIONALISING’ part of that diagram is the next step up from sensor/imaging. You will see that I portray it as a very thin block. I believe that reptiles have very limited sensory/imaging and very little or nil rationalisation. The latter requires a large number of neurons in the cerebral cortex, and the ability to conjure up an image in the ‘mind’s eye’ and to build another image on some aspect of the first one, and a third and then, maybe continuous, train of images. I imagine that Dave Oblad’s brain would be doing this flat out most of the time. He has such a creative mind.

Given that every neuron has an average of 7000 connections to other neurons throughout our brains (I assume these connections go to other areas beyond the cerebral cortex), this is the process that makes us creative far beyond other species.

I’ve said before that my brain does this continuously at a subconscious level all day long and even during non REM sleep. The only time when I rationalise consciously is when I am thinking and writing in a forum such as this, or when I am participating in a meeting, or when I have to make or fix something or other. Hence the low percentage in my diagram for CONSCIOUS rationalisation! Obviously the ratio would be different between individuals depending on what they do every day.

It’s my personal opinion that we all do it so well that we do not realise we are doing it unless we get a prompt. Haven’t we all met an acquaintance who’s suddenly thought of the answer to a long-standing problem, and wondered where the thought came from? I imagine that Archimedes had such a train of thought when he called out “Eureka!” in the middle of his bath.

Owleye, I like the notion you raise with your chess-player example. “One difficulty with the neurological interpretations of what a thought is and what thinking is, though essential if one is going to understand it, is that it is in need of examples that lead us to understand it. For example, we take for granted that a chess player is thinking when he is contemplating her next move. And, on reaching a decision about that move makes it. And, of course, now that we have chess-playing machines, which even at the highest level of human abilities, are difficult to win against, the question arises whether we should count what the computer is doing as thinking.”

We really need as many examples as possible of the way we use the words ‘thinking’ or ‘thought’ in our everyday English usage before we can define what we are talking about. I’ve attempted to give quite a few examples and I’m open to any comments as usual about them.

The problem with the chess player of course is that he isn’t really playing against a computer; he’s playing against another human (programmer) who has worked out as many computations and permutations as possible regarding every move by the player.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Paradox on October 1st, 2014, 8:53 am 

It seems like the brain works very much like a computer. Would I be correct to say that it is the combination of neuron connections that creates a certain thought? That is, like the computer’s 0’s and 1’s, an item, say an apple, is represented by a distinct series of on and off neuron connections; a code so to speak? There are probably many more ways the brain works like a computer, however it also appears that we haven’t be able put our finger on what type of combination of neuron connections represents awareness. I know analogies are imperfect comparisons Owleye, however sometimes thats all we have to understanding. With that said, and not to over simplify the brains processes to that of a computer, let’s compare what a computer does and what a brain does:

Computer / Brain

1. A computer has a power supply. (electricity) The brain has a power supply (glucose)
2. A computer has an on / off switch. The brain has a on / off switch (consciousness and unconscious)
3. A computer processes information. The brain, ditto. (is this the same as thinking?)
4. A computer represents by a combination of zeros and ones. The brain represents by a combination of on / off neuron connections.
5. A computer sleeps. The brain sleeps.
6. A computer is unaware that it exists*. The brain is aware of its existence.

*Is awareness a complex combination 0 and 1’s for a computer and on / off’s for the brain?

Regards,

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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby owleye on October 1st, 2014, 10:04 am 

neuro » Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:57 am wrote:hi owleye,
I believe you touch on an important point.
What does it mean that the computer is not being "informed" by the information it processes?
In my opinion, it means that it digests input information, processes it some way, and outputs a revised form of such information, but it does not "know" why such revised form should be more "useful" than the original information.


I'd put it to mean that such a machine is functional only because it serves a human purpose. It has no independent "life" (in the way you speak of it later on).

neuro wrote:My point is that the computer is guided by a request (implicitly built in the program) but does not "produce" a request. The crucial aspect is not in how it elaborates information, but WHY it does so.


This is an interesting point, I think, though possibly in need of clarification when we are prompted in some sense to think of something. Just in the sense in which perception is an active process, this doesn't imply that it concocts what it senses out of whole cloth. Heavy processing is involved, but to a purpose.

neuro wrote:Which, by the way, points to the extreme importance of recognizing emergence as a mechanism that produces meta-levels, i.e. the birth of totally new domains that are not ruled and cannot be interpreted in terms of the principles that regulate and explain lower levels.


I've been giving this a bit of thought as well. Emergence, as it is absorbed within our own interpretative framework of what's going on, has great value as a model for much of what the universe is capable of. Life, of course, being one of the most profound, I think. Humans, being middle-sized creatures, observing the world, are going to see emergence in a variety of ways, but may miss some things, or gauge too swiftly that something is actually there. We are very sensitive to projecting. I'm getting the impression there is something solid that can be ascertained, though I also believe that levels of emergence produce weaker connections (causal powers) as they scale to higher levels.

neuro wrote:The example of the chess player appears appropriate, but I would turn it the other way around.
The point is not whether the computer is better or worse at playing chess, or even if it can reproduce the rational thinking of the player.
The point rather is whether the player can simulate the computer.
In order to be able to do so, the player shoud:
1. be a tremendously skillful player
2. be able to forecast the development of the game a huge number of possible moves ahead
but also
3. be insensitive to fatigue, hunger, thirst, boredom
4. be immune from any narcissistic temptation of making spectacular moves
5. never permit hurry, enthusiasm, fear, to interfere with her own reasoning
6. never allow her aesthetic sense to interfere with a purely mathematical / algorithmic examination of the pros and cons of alternative strategies

Now, if a chess player were able to do all this, she would have succeeded in shutting of thought and substituting computation for it (shutting off THINKING and turning to thinking).


My bad. When I inserted this, I saw what you saw, but for some reason left it in. (Note that I go to the chess games website every day for the latest puzzle, which has commentary from its members and the differences between computers and humans is one of the topics of conversation.)

And I've spoken before about a particular state of consciousness where we can "run in machine mode", so to speak. I.e., we execute instructions perfunctorily or mechanically without giving it any thought whatsoever. And what you say about it here has a similar ring to it. Note that I've not quite adopted your later leniency respecting thought, but I'll concede that before I ventured to post, what prompted it was the notion of a 'switch', which I believe I'd mentioned before, it being much like what computers do when they branch in accordance with a yes or no result (appropriately considered in how bits are understood by machines). However it is achieved, there's something like a switch which locks in the result. Suggesting this is a thought is probably ok, but naturally I'd prefer something less "automatic."
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby neuro on October 1st, 2014, 11:28 am 

Paradox » October 1st, 2014, 1:53 pm wrote:2. A computer has an on / off switch. The brain has a on / off switch (consciousness and unconscious)

I'd fully disagree on this.
Unconscious activity of the brain accounts for MOST of the overall activity. Your similitude (on/off = from conscious to unconscious) is like saying that if you switch off the monitor of your computer the computer stops working.
4. A computer represents by a combination of zeros and ones. The brain represents by a combination of on / off neuron connections.

I'd say that the brain is slightly more complex because its "ones" and "zeros" actually are patterns of activity that continuously vary in time (this holds for each single neuron, which therefore cannot be represented by a 1 or a 0, but by a continuous function of time).
*Is awareness a complex combination 0 and 1’s for a computer and on / off’s for the brain?

I would not say so.
Here a "static" vision of the brain emerges once more.

There are no neurons that are "on" when you are conscious and "off" when you are not. That's because no neuron is ever "on" or "off": each neuron (in the brain cortex in particular) is - at any moment - discharging spikes at a variable (time varying) frequency.

The intensity of activity in the prefrontal centers we usually refer to as "central executive of the working memory" roughly monitors the conscious computational (rational) activity of the subject, but other aspects of conscious activity (perceptual, motor, emotional, aesthetic...) mey rely to a much lower extent on the computational activity by the working memory systems.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Paradox on October 1st, 2014, 1:41 pm 

Greetings Neuro~

Well then, what format does the brain use to store information if it isn’t a pattern of the over 7000 on/off neuron connections per neuron representing an item? Please forgive me if I am asking already asked questions.

I read some articles from Penrose and Hameroff that the brain may use QM, which is truly amazing. There was even reference to quantum entanglement possibly playing a role in addition. So whats to say a universe cannot be a brain of entangled particles as well? Excerpts:

Physicist Roger Penrose, of the University of Oxford, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, of the University of Arizona, propose that the brain acts as a quantum computer — a computational machine that makes use of quantum mechanical phenomena (like the ability of particles to be in two places at once) to perform complex calculations. In the brain, fibers inside neurons could form the basic units of quantum computation,


the idea is appealing, because neuroscience, so far, has no satisfactory explanation for consciousness — the state of being self-aware and having sensory experiences and thoughts


Penrose's work rests on an interpretation of the mathematician Kurt Godel's incompleteness theorem, which states that certain results cannot be proven by a computer algorithm. Penrose argues that human mathematicians are capable of proving so-called "Godel-unprovable" results, and therefore human brains cannot be described as typical computers. Instead, he says, to achieve these higher abilities, brain processes must rely on quantum mechanics.

Full article:

http://www.livescience.com/37807-brain-is-not-quantum-computer.html


Wikipedia says this:

The quantum mind or quantum consciousness[1] hypothesis proposes that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness, while quantum mechanical phenomena, such as quantum entanglement and superposition, may play an important part in the brain's function, and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness. It is not a single theory, but rather a collection of distinct ideas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind


Christof Koch and Klaus Hepp have written a paper titled, "The relation between quantum mechanics and higher brain functions: Lessons from quantum computation and neurobiology"
dtd 2007 with similar study.

http://www.theswartzfoundation.org/papers/caltech/koch-hepp-07-final.pdf

Regards,

Paradox~
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on October 1st, 2014, 7:17 pm 

doogles » October 1st, 2014, 10:55 am wrote:I have not seen Kanheman’s book and obviously cannot comment directly about his ideas.

They're not strictly Kahneman's ideas, Type 1 and Type 2 thinking are widely used nomenclature; it was Kahneman's work that demonstrated and clearly characterised these two distinct modes of thinking.

But it’s all very arbitrary. We don’t have an international committee adjudicating on what is or what is not ‘thinking’ or what is a ‘thought’.

That's why I suggested we try to get a consensus for the discussion - and why I think Kahneman's clarifying work might help inform that consensus.

I gave some examples of a child simply conjuring up the notion of a circus, shops or a swimming pool and expressing a desire to be taken to the same. And I asked the question, could it be said that that child had had a thought about a circus, shop or swimming pool?

If by 'conjuring up' you mean imagining, then I'd say yes, that's a thought about a circus, shops, or a swimmimg pool, and a thought about wanting to go there. YMMV.

Once again, the question whether every child on this planet has to have a thought about something come into their heads in order to ask the questions?

I would say so - either a thought formulating the question to ask (following thoughts about the subject of the question), or - in the case of the perennial 'why?' question, simply a thought about repeating 'why?'.

So logically, my opinion is that we sensory/image largely subconsciously.

I agree; so, I think, would many (most?) neuroscientists.

It’s my personal opinion that we all do it so well that we do not realise we are doing it unless we get a prompt.

Not just your personal opinion, I suspect most neuroscientists would agree.
Last edited by dlorde on October 1st, 2014, 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on October 1st, 2014, 7:28 pm 

Paradox » October 1st, 2014, 6:41 pm wrote:I read some articles from Penrose and Hameroff that the brain may use QM, which is truly amazing. There was even reference to quantum entanglement possibly playing a role in addition.

Penrose and Hameroff's Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch-OR) hypothesis has been heavily criticised, not least on technical grounds (e.g. the timescale of decoherence is many orders of magnitude smaller than their model requires). The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a section on quantum approaches to consciousness, and has this to say about Orch-OR,
The proposal by Penrose and Hameroff exceeds the domain of present-day quantum theory by far and is the most speculative example among those discussed. It is not easy to see how the picture as a whole can be formally worked out and put to empirical test.

In my view, none of these ideas achieves their intended goals, and there's no good reason to believe classical approaches can't do so.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Paradox on October 1st, 2014, 8:13 pm 

Thank you for responding Dlorde, Im not as smart as you guys... However, I have a lot of common sense and ask good questions I think. In regards to your response... Classical approaches have not defined what conscious is either, and is still very bare in comprehension. Are you claiming to have the closest or best explanation for now, and/or is it something you can prove?

Regards,

Paradox~
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on October 2nd, 2014, 4:44 am 

Paradox » October 2nd, 2014, 1:13 am wrote:Are you claiming to have the closest or best explanation for now, and/or is it something you can prove?

I'm saying I don't see that the quantum models contribute anything useful; they don't resolve the problem of subjective consciousness, they just seem add a redundant layer of quantum uncertainty. Most of them are based on misunderstandings or speculative extensions of QM. They're trying to answer a question they don't have a clear grasp of with a mechanism they don't have a clear grasp of. A sort of QM-of-the-gaps approach.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby TheContraryLemming on November 18th, 2014, 9:50 am 

No, I find the idea bizarre. Although I admit it depends of your definition of the word., mine would be
‘ self aware with the ability to make decisions and act upon them.’.
There is no evidence that the universe can alter what it is, the Sun does not decide to take some time off
and go on a holiday or comets, change direction and decide to go somewhere else.
We are born Racist, Selfish, Fearful and utterly Irrational that is our nature, although we can consciously understand and change or control this, (granted only a pityingly small number of us evidenced by the world in which we live) there is no evidence that plants and the lower forms
of animals can do this, they just follow their nature.
I’m not formerly educated and have taken an interest in philosophy and physiology as a way of trying to understand why I view things and act so differently from the vast majority of people. It appears from my initial understanding that philosophy is further evidence (although harmless) of our irrationality.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on November 18th, 2014, 12:51 pm 

TheContraryLemming » November 18th, 2014, 2:50 pm wrote:It appears from my initial understanding that philosophy is further evidence (although harmless) of our irrationality.

Why do you say that?
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby kangs79 on November 18th, 2014, 2:30 pm 

Paradox » September 23rd, 2014, 6:00 pm wrote:
Dave_O wrote:Are you positive the Universe can't think?


Are you positive it can?

Does the universe have a conscious as well?

Is the universe aware of itself as well?

If any of that is true, the universe would be akin to God.

Paradox~


Depends on what your version of the "Universe". Every living being has their sphere of knowledge and their own thinking. For an unborn baby the universe would be his/hers mothers womb. For an ant the universe would be the limited area the ant colony has explored. For people the universe would be the observable universe is about 93 billion light years or 28 billion parsecs. All things in a universe are part of a network of interactions from the subatomic to the galactic. When viewed in total these behave something like a neural network. In quantum mechanics every particle has the ability to compute infinite number of possibilities making it a quantum computer. When you add all the particles in a system you get a total of the intelligence of what you call the universe. Larger the amount of particles more intelligent and aware the universe will be. I am not sure if what we call the universe is the totality of existence especially due to our lack of knowledge and awareness of all realities. I don't think we have the ability to describe god currently and we probably won't for a very long time.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on November 18th, 2014, 4:53 pm 

kangs79 » November 18th, 2014, 7:30 pm wrote:All things in a universe are part of a network of interactions from the subatomic to the galactic. When viewed in total these behave something like a neural network.

Nope. Nothing like a neural network.

In quantum mechanics every particle has the ability to compute infinite number of possibilities making it a quantum computer.

Nope. A single particle can have many superposed states, but isn't a quantum computer.

When you add all the particles in a system you get a total of the intelligence of what you call the universe. Larger the amount of particles more intelligent and aware the universe will be.

Your definition of intelligence is?
Aware of what?
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby kangs79 on November 18th, 2014, 9:18 pm 

dlorde » November 18th, 2014, 3:53 pm wrote:
kangs79 » November 18th, 2014, 7:30 pm wrote:All things in a universe are part of a network of interactions from the subatomic to the galactic. When viewed in total these behave something like a neural network.

Nope. Nothing like a neural network.

In quantum mechanics every particle has the ability to compute infinite number of possibilities making it a quantum computer.

Nope. A single particle can have many superposed states, but isn't a quantum computer.

When you add all the particles in a system you get a total of the intelligence of what you call the universe. Larger the amount of particles more intelligent and aware the universe will be.

Your definition of intelligence is?
Aware of what?


I'm not sure why you're just saying "nope", without any kind of reference to back it up. There are many schools of thought that back up the quantum mind or quantum consciousness. Here are just a few references:

-"Quantum Approaches to Consciousness" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. First published Tue Nov 30, 2004; substantive revision Thu May 19, 2011
- John Searle (1997). The Mystery of Consciousness. The New York Review of Books. pp. 53–88.
- Stenger, Victor. The Myth of Quantum Consciousness (PDF). The Humanist. 53 No 3 (May–June 1992). pp. 13–15.
-David J. Chalmers (2003). "Consciousness and its Place in Nature". In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield. Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-21774-9.
-David Bohm (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-99515-5.
-Piaget, J. (1956). The Origin of Intelligence in the Child. Routledge.
-Kurt Godel (2012). On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems. New York: Courier Dover Publications.
- Hameroff, Stuart (2008). "That's life! The geometry of π electron resonance clouds". In Abbott, D; Davies, P; Pati, A. Quantum aspects of life. World Scientific. pp. 403–434. Retrieved Jan 21, 2010.
-Roger Penrose & Stuart Hameroff (2011). "Consciousness in the Universe: Neuroscience, Quantum Space-Time Geometry and Orch OR Theory". Journal of Cosmology 14.
-De Zeeuw, C.I., Hertzberg, E.L., Mugnaini, E. (1995). "The dendritic lamellar body: A new neuronal organelle putatively associated with dendrodentritic gap junctions". Journal of Neuroscience 15 (2): 1587–1604. PMID 7869120.
-Freeman, W. and G. Vitiello, Nonlinear brain dynamics as macroscopic manifestation of underlying many-body dynamics. Physics of Life Reviews, vol. 3, pp 93-118, 2006.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby dlorde on November 19th, 2014, 6:50 am 

kangs79 » November 19th, 2014, 2:18 am wrote:I'm not sure why you're just saying "nope", without any kind of reference to back it up. There are many schools of thought that back up the quantum mind or quantum consciousness. Here are just a few references:

My comments had nothing in particular to do with quantum mind or quantum consciousness, I was specifically disagreeing with the claims you made that I quoted.

Having said that, I'm aware of the references you cite, and of the ones that might be relevant to quantum consciousness (i.e. not Piaget, Godel, De Zeeuw), Stenger actually rejects it, saying in the article you reference, "quantum consciousness has about as much substance as the aether of which it is composed", Freeman & Vitiello are using it as an analogous model - they say, "It is important again to stress that our wave packet is not to be confused with the notion of wave packet describing probability amplitudes in QM (the common denomination is only accidental)", Penrose & Hameroff's Orch OR Theory has been discredited on multiple grounds - the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy itself says it's "a highly speculative approach with conceptual problems and without plausible concrete ideas for empirical confirmation". That leaves Searle who thinks he needs it for his conception of free will, and Chalmers, whose argument is rational, but doesn't work.

As a counter example, in his new book 'Life on the Edge', in a chapter about quantum consciousness theories, Jim Al-Khalili says (p.270), "There is actually no evidence that quantum mechanics is needed at all to account for consciousness".
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Braininvat on November 19th, 2014, 12:53 pm 

The MIT guys make this point with great clarity:


First, Chalmers follows common practice in speaking of a physical state as being a "superposition" of other physical states, and of two physical states as being "orthogonal". But although widespread, this way of talking can encourage serious confusion. In quantum mechanics, remember, vectors represent physical states; more precisely, to each physical system there corresponds a Hilbert space (a particular kind of vector space), and certain of the vectors in that Hilbert space represent different possible physical states of the system. The terms `orthogonal' and `superposition' refer in the first instance to relationships among vectors, not physical states. When a state is said to be a "superposition" of other states, this means, or should mean, that the vector representing the state is a superposition of the vectors representing the other states. Similarly when two states are said to be "orthogonal": this means that the vectors representing the states are orthogonal.

Unfortunately, talk of "superposed" or "orthogonal" states encourages the view that these terms are physically significant. In particular, it can suggest that "superposed" states are somehow physically composite. But without further argument, this is a mistake. It is the same kind of mistake as thinking that the property of being a monosyllabic primate (Ned is a monosyllabic primate because his name has one syllable, but Alex isn't) or the property of having prime mass (for some unit of mass, a mass of prime-numbered units), are physically or biologically significant properties. In fact, the latter is a better analogy: everything with mass has prime mass, and everystate is "superposed"--for every state-vector can be expressed as a superposition of other state-vectors (indeed, in countlessly many ways). The importance of these cautionary remarks will become clear shortly.



Too often I hear superposition bandied about as some sort of science fictiony condition, as if Mr. Scott had pushed the wrong button and there were two slightly different Kirks materializing on the transporter pad.
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby Paradox on May 18th, 2017, 12:21 am 

The universe thinks through intelligent life forms
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Re: Can the universe think? (split from #1 truth thread)

Postby mitchellmckain on May 18th, 2017, 3:02 am 

Dave_O wrote:Are you positive the Universe can't think?

Yes.

The space-time structure of the universe is not even consistent with such a functionality.

Paradox » September 23rd, 2014, 6:00 pm wrote:Does the universe have a conscious as well?

Is the universe aware of itself as well?

Consciousness is a quantitative emergent aspect of the process of life. But what we see in the large scale character of the universe is not such a process. What we see instead in its natural laws is the potential for the process of life on a much smaller scale. The universe is the fertile ground for life, not life itself.

Paradox » September 23rd, 2014, 6:00 pm wrote:If any of that is true, the universe would be akin to God.

Then it is a nasty uncaring sort of god and should not be worshiped.

Paradox » May 17th, 2017, 11:21 pm wrote:The universe thinks through intelligent life forms

That is nothing but a trick of semantics. The universe is not a living organism and therefore attributing the thinking of living organisms in the universe to the universe as a whole is absurd. I do think it is possible for a community of living organisms to manifest the process of life itself and thus be called a living organism in its own right. Indeed many aspects of the human community do have many of the characteristics of a living organism and thus it could be said that is aware, conscious and thinking to some degree. But to apply this to the universe as a whole is nothing but imaginative anthropomorphizing.
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