Consul wrote: ↑
May 11th, 2018, 10:47 pm
Greta wrote: ↑
May 11th, 2018, 6:49 pm
I'm not convinced that one needs a mind or psyche for life to feel like, when we know for sure that some things, eg. a pile of gravel, have insufficient integration for senses something
. Feeling surely comes before mind. Note that that "something" is often not impressive by animal standards - very weak raw, basic sensing. Rather than memory there would be some physical or chemical resonances (like a bell ringing), and rather than emotion there would just be quickening or slowing. It's not consciousness as we know it, more akin to dreamless sleep, but it would seemingly feel like something
There's nothing it is like to sleep dreamlessly, because it's a nonconscious state.
"The irreducible minimum involved in mentality would seem to be the fact which we express by the phrase 'feeling somehow', e.g., feeling cross or tired or hungry. It seems to be logically possible that this characteristic, which we might call 'sentience', could belong to a thing or event which had no other mental characteristic."
Actually, there is exponentially more interactivity, complexity and awareness in mammalian deep sleep than in the fully awake state of C. elegans. Neither is impressive, but the comparative sensing and neuronal activities between sleeping humans and C. elegans's basic existence are enormously different.
As you said yourself, "the human brain is the most complex material object in the known universe. It contains at least 90 billion neurons and even much more combinatorial possibilities of neuronal connection and interaction". How many of them are active in deep sleep as compared with C. elegans's total 302 neurons?
These are basic states of being, so subtle as compared with our florid waking state that we perceive them to be "nothing". Once bacteria were "nothing" too.
Consul wrote:Although the components of brains and galaxies are both heavily interconnected, the natures of the respective interactive forces among their respective components are very different. Stars interact by means of a single, uniform, and well-described force—gravity—that declines uniformly with distance. Quite to the contrary, the brain’s neurons are both locally and remotely interconnected with one another by what other estimates suggest may be thousands or even tens of thousands of synapses with idiosyncratic effects.
Yet, if intelligent life can work past its natural barriers (Fermi) then in 10 billion years there may be far more interconnection in the galaxy than is present today. By the same token, there was a time before even nerve nets existed; this does not necessarily imply a final state, especially with entities that change over deep time.
This sounds speculative but, given the number of potential civilisations in the universe before, now and in the far future (the Stelliferous Era is anticipated to last another trillion years), it's actually a strong probability.
The universe in another 14b years may be shockingly different to the one we observe today (aside from upcoming the Milkromeda merger).
Consul wrote: Greta wrote: ↑
May 11th, 2018, 6:49 pm
This line of thinking would seemingly lead us to IIT and the kind of tightly integrated feedback patterning that is required for sensing or conscious systems, which of course is a work in progress. The thread's question also logically leads to possibilities as regarding AI; if AI is found to be "awake" then that has implications as regards other complex systems such as the Earth.
For instance, the Earth clearly cannot have an equivalent "mind" of a human or a deity, given the significant amount of chaos (lack of control) inherent in the Earth's systems. Still, I take seriously the reports of astronauts living on the ISS who routinely remark that the Earth is a living system - but not Lovelock's Gaia. Rather than parasites, humans appear more to be agents of change in nature, seemingly related to the emergence of "spores" (resettlement and off-world vitalisation projects) and a "nerve net" (telescopy, LIGO, SETI, asteroid detection) in what is looking increasingly like a fractal reiteration of chordate evolution on a larger scale.
There is a relevant difference between speaking literally
and speaking metaphorically
There is a biosphere
on Earth, but the Earth itself (qua planet) is not a living being or organism.
Biology cannot exist without active geology. Biology and geology are separated by emergences but they remain are still inextricably lined as a single system, that includes the atmosphere and magnetosphere.
I recommend this video, Inevitable Life? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElMqwgkXguw
. It is serious and I am confident you will like it as much as I did (relevance to this part of the conversation at a shade after 14 mins and onwards).
All living systems require some scaffolding to support those systems, which is exactly the issue at hand in the thread. Biology's scaffold is both itself (eg, microbes, plants) and geology.
Thus, our areas of difference pertain to the possibility of high levels of integration, now and in the future, of large entities and the possibility that undiscovered substrates may (or may not) exist in either other dimensions (string theory) or via other undiscovered mechanism. This is an area still rife with "unknown unknowns", and that will remain the case until the precise mechanisms of life and consciousness are understood and, perhaps, replicable.