Deletion, creation and movement

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Greta
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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Greta » May 20th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 3:41 am
Would you agree or disagree with this claim -
When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
If you disagree, based on what? Some theory of information as a 'thing in itself' with its own properties (ie a causal role in the manifestation of phenomenal mental states)? Or...?
I agree in principle. Still, we don't know of everything physical that exists.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Belindi » May 21st, 2020, 4:52 am

Gertie wrote as a quotation, asking also "do you agree?" :
When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
There is no extra ingredient added however subjective human brain-minds create entirely novel information whereas intelligent machines' software is deductive and analytic. I think.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Sculptor1 » May 21st, 2020, 6:22 am

Belindi wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 4:52 am
Gertie wrote as a quotation, asking also "do you agree?" :
When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
There is no extra ingredient added however subjective human brain-minds create entirely novel information whereas intelligent machines' software is deductive and analytic. I think.
I do not think "entirely novel" is correct exactly. All apparently new information is a result of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. But nothing can be entirely novel.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 7:26 am

Greta wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 8:56 pm
Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 3:41 am
Would you agree or disagree with this claim -



If you disagree, based on what? Some theory of information as a 'thing in itself' with its own properties (ie a causal role in the manifestation of phenomenal mental states)? Or...?
I agree in principle. Still, we don't know of everything physical that exists.
Right, that's how I see it too.

So when we talk about information processing, based on our current knowledge of how the world works, we're really just talking about matter in motion. And the framing of that in terms of 'information' is something we bring to it, because we are capable of abstract conceptualisation and finding meaning to us in such processes.

But there is no additional intrinsic causality for example, in relationship to consciousness somehow being manifested, just because we can describes brain matter in motion in terms of ''information processing''.

As you say, that would require some new knowledge of how the world works.

From my very limited understanding of ITT, it looks to me that the 'units of consciousness' are to do with breaking down complex processes of matter in motion, to create measurable units which can be then be calculated with. Calling that ''information'' adds nothing explanatory to what they are measuring, as I understand it. At least not without implying the need for some deeper understanding of how the world works - panpsychism in this case.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 7:37 am

Belindi wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 4:52 am
Gertie wrote as a quotation, asking also "do you agree?" :
When we talk about brains processing information, we're talking about physical stuff and physical processes. There is no extra ingredient added by descriptively framing that as ''information processing'', it has no extra explanatory power, except as a conceptualised type of framing (functionality for example).
There is no extra ingredient added however subjective human brain-minds create entirely novel information whereas intelligent machines' software is deductive and analytic. I think.
I like how Searle frames it. Us being conscious beings, capable of abstract conceptualisation and finding meaning in things, introduces semantics into the syntax of these physical processes.

We can describe purely physical processes in terms of quantitative information. But we can abstract from that, frame and encode it different ways, manipulate those symbols in ways useful to us. And also find qualiative meaning to that for us.

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Greta
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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Greta » May 21st, 2020, 8:00 am

Gertie wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 7:26 am
Greta wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 8:56 pm

I agree in principle. Still, we don't know of everything physical that exists.
Right, that's how I see it too.

So when we talk about information processing, based on our current knowledge of how the world works, we're really just talking about matter in motion. And the framing of that in terms of 'information' is something we bring to it, because we are capable of abstract conceptualisation and finding meaning to us in such processes.

But there is no additional intrinsic causality for example, in relationship to consciousness somehow being manifested, just because we can describes brain matter in motion in terms of ''information processing''.

As you say, that would require some new knowledge of how the world works.

From my very limited understanding of ITT, it looks to me that the 'units of consciousness' are to do with breaking down complex processes of matter in motion, to create measurable units which can be then be calculated with. Calling that ''information'' adds nothing explanatory to what they are measuring, as I understand it. At least not without implying the need for some deeper understanding of how the world works - panpsychism in this case.
Information is not just about motion but also configuration. Information is no more a human-made abstraction than gravity. Information is fundamental. You cannot have energy (noting that matter is only a description of the configuration of energy) without information. Likewise, information without a substrate (which includes screens, paper, brains) is impossible.

BTW, where do subjective affects fit in this? What is the difference between things that think and feel and those that do not? Configuration, thus information.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Belindi » May 21st, 2020, 9:12 am

Sculptor1 wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 6:22 am
Belindi wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 4:52 am
Gertie wrote as a quotation, asking also "do you agree?" :



There is no extra ingredient added however subjective human brain-minds create entirely novel information whereas intelligent machines' software is deductive and analytic. I think.
I do not think "entirely novel" is correct exactly. All apparently new information is a result of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. But nothing can be entirely novel.
I agree. Back to the drawing board. Are intelligent machines as creative as people? Is creativity a matter of degree or a matter of kind?

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Terrapin Station » May 21st, 2020, 10:55 am

Gertie wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 4:34 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
May 20th, 2020, 12:52 pm


I agree with that, but how does it amount to it not making sense to forward an information versus information processing distinction?
In a nutshell, ''information processing'' is stuff in motion isn't it?

The notion of information and information processing can make sense to us conscious beings who are capable of understanding and conceptualising things in abstracted terms, and be incredibly useful to us.


I'm suggesting 'information' and 'information processing' is no more than an abstracted interpretation we put on material processes, rather than it being an intrinsic property of that stuff and processes. A computer's hardware isn't made of units of information, because a unit of pure information is an abstraction. We thinking humans can conceptualise those abstractions, encode and manipulate them for our purposes, using a pen and paper or a computer, and give them meaning. Like your example. But a computer itself doesn't. It is made of stuff, and a working computer is that stuff in motion. Likewise a brain. Or a toaster or a daffodil.


When we talk about brains as encoding and processing information from our sensory systems interacting with the world, which apparently correlates with our phenomenal conscious experience, of eg seeing a red apple, we think wow, that's like how a computer encodes information, processes it, and out comes something meaningful. But I suggest we're really still only talking about stuff (brain stuff) in motion. Nothing extra is added by calling that stuff in motion 'information processing' that I can see. It doesn't magically create consciousness because we can abstractly conceptualise about what is actually going on - brain cells exchanging electrochemical charges.


What is striking and looks relevant imo, is the apparent uniformity of the simple neuron cells, the stuff, and the unimaginably gob-smacking complexity of the processes. You can describe those processes as 'informationally dense'', but I think that's just another way of saying it can be described in lots of ways, and that just means the processes are... complex.


The caveat to all that is... there might be something more fundamental, more real, about information than our current material understanding of how the world works.
I'm not really clear on what you're ultimately aiming for in your thinking about this, because you're talking about how computers work, you're talking about theories of consciousness, etc.--it's too many different things, and it's too sketchy and ephemeral about them.

One thing I find curious though is that you're saying that information is simply an abstraction--a particular way of thinking about things (which I agree with given most usages of the term "information"), but then you say "When we talk about brains as encoding and processing information from our sensory systems interacting with the world" which doesn't seem to be using "information" as if it's just an abstraction.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 11:36 am

Greta wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 8:00 am
Gertie wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 7:26 am


Right, that's how I see it too.

So when we talk about information processing, based on our current knowledge of how the world works, we're really just talking about matter in motion. And the framing of that in terms of 'information' is something we bring to it, because we are capable of abstract conceptualisation and finding meaning to us in such processes.

But there is no additional intrinsic causality for example, in relationship to consciousness somehow being manifested, just because we can describes brain matter in motion in terms of ''information processing''.

As you say, that would require some new knowledge of how the world works.

From my very limited understanding of ITT, it looks to me that the 'units of consciousness' are to do with breaking down complex processes of matter in motion, to create measurable units which can be then be calculated with. Calling that ''information'' adds nothing explanatory to what they are measuring, as I understand it. At least not without implying the need for some deeper understanding of how the world works - panpsychism in this case.
Information is not just about motion but also configuration. Information is no more a human-made abstraction than gravity. Information is fundamental. You cannot have energy (noting that matter is only a description of the configuration of energy) without information.

BTW, where do subjective affects fit in this? What is the difference between things that think and feel and those that do not? Configuration, thus information.
Ah I see what you're saying now.

Yes I agree that the composition of stuff and its configuration (location, arrangement, change over time) is real. My clumsy wording of matter in motion (being acted on by forces) as real was pointing to that. And I'm fine with you telling me that reduces to energy in different configurations.

Also agree that known conscious subjects correlate with certain configurations of stuff.

That's all stuff doing what stuff does, no need to invoke the abstract concept of ''information'', is my point.

And doing so can lead to ambiguities, which is where statements like this need unpacking -
Likewise, information without a substrate (which includes screens, paper, brains) is impossible.
We agree stuff needs to be configured in some way - internal composition and arrangement, and arrangement/location in relation to other stuff. (Maybe change over time too, but that's a different rabbit hole!). That's what the substrate is.

But there's a difference between a biro falling from my hand due to gravity and making a mark on a piece of paper, and me writing a letter to you.

When I write a letter, I'm encoding my thoughts with symbols (letters, punctuation). When you read my letter you will decode those symbols and get an idea of my meaning. You aren't reading my thoughts directly, but I'm still communicating something meaningful to both of us, through the use of abstract symbols. Same as you reading this post on a screen.

The substrate, pen and paper, isn't intrinsically imbued with that meaning I'm communicating, that's still just being stuff in various configurations. Likewise a computer. It's our conscious ability to think and feel and understand where the meaning comes in. And our ability to use abstract symbols to communicate/inform (roughly) our inherently private thoughts and feelings. To me this is the essence of what Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment is getting at. The difference between the experiential meaningful (semantic) understanding going on between me and you now, and the correlated physical processes which shuffles the symbols around blindly following programmed rules (syntax) going on in our computer network. (Assuming computers and pens aren't conscious).

And we don't know how that extra qualiative, meaningful property of conscious experience reduces to stuff and processes, or energy in various configurations. Or if it's reducible at all, it might be a fundamental property of the universe in its own right. It's not currently accounted for in that physics model.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Sculptor1 » May 21st, 2020, 2:11 pm

Belindi wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 9:12 am
Sculptor1 wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 6:22 am

I do not think "entirely novel" is correct exactly. All apparently new information is a result of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. But nothing can be entirely novel.
I agree. Back to the drawing board. Are intelligent machines as creative as people? Is creativity a matter of degree or a matter of kind?
I would argue that Intelligent machines as not really creative. I know I've let myself open to be bombarded with a whole raft of machine art, but at some level they are all reflective of a set programme developed by a software engineer. And, although the software engineer is not able to predict the outcome and might be surprised by much of the results, we are still left with a picture that is not reflective of a lived experience, and with no reference to purpose.
I think art is a pleasing activity. A machine cannot be pleased.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Steve3007 » May 21st, 2020, 3:35 pm

Belindi wrote:There is no extra ingredient added however subjective human brain-minds create entirely novel information whereas intelligent machines' software is deductive and analytic. I think.
Funnily enough, I think this is pretty much the point that the poster called Syamsu, in his own way, has been repeatedly making for years. For all those years he's claimed that nobody else gets this. (They did, but that's another story). I'm not comparing you to him. Just noting a similarity in this particular point.

So, do you think that there is no way, even in principle, that something we would refer to as a machine could add this extra ingredient? To use a popular computing term, do you think in their case it's always "garbage in, garbage out"? Whereas for natural brains it can be "garbage in, work of art out"?

If so, do you think that this view inevitably leads you to say that there is something about brains that could never, even in principle, be manufactured? If so, aren't you leading yourself down a road towards some form of dualism?

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 3:52 pm

terrapin
I'm not really clear on what you're ultimately aiming for in your thinking about this, because you're talking about how computers work, you're talking about theories of consciousness, etc.--it's too many different things, and it's too sketchy and ephemeral about them.

OK. Hopefully this isn't just repeating myself. I'm saying the physical world is made up of stuff, and what stuff does in accordance with the 'laws' of physics.


As far as we know, before conscious beings evolved, that was it. People's different definitions aside, there was no independantly existing information, because that's an idea conscious humans thought up as an abstract way of describing stuff and what stuff does. But because we are conscious, we can use this idea in meaningful and useful ways. Like your real estate example, categorizing and encoding descriptions, manipulating useful matches, or whatever.


{I think we roughly agree so far. ]


A computer too is stuff doing what stuff does according to the laws of physics. It's conscious humans who bring meaning to what we encode and input into that system. The computer doesn't understand the representaive encryptions we input (as far as we know). The meaningful, informative part comes from us because we're conscious.

[That's not hugely controversial, tho some might disagree. ]


Same thing with physical brains. Stuff (brain stuff) doing what it does according to the laws of physics.

Calling what computers or brains do ''information processing'' doesn't in itself add anything which might explain how consciousness manifests from material stuff acting in accordance with the laws of physics. Because it's just an abstract framing of those actual physical processes.

But some people think there's something about ''information processing'' which is key to conscious experience arising in brains. And therefore believe computers can be conscious too. But the way I see it, as outlined above, that would require a deeper explanation.


That's wide-ranging, but I think it all follows.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 4:06 pm

terrapin
One thing I find curious though is that you're saying that information is simply an abstraction--a particular way of thinking about things (which I agree with given most usages of the term "information"), but then you say "When we talk about brains as encoding and processing information from our sensory systems interacting with the world" which doesn't seem to be using "information" as if it's just an abstraction.
Right. I'd say that's an abstract functional type of framing some people use about brains, and it's an attractive, coherent functional description.

But what's actually happening in our physical sensory, neural and motor systems, is still just stuff acting according to the laws of physics.

So this functional description of brains processing inforrmation just boils down to another abstract framing, which can be useful in some ways, but doesn't imo help us understand the fundamental nature of the mind/body relationship.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Gertie » May 21st, 2020, 4:14 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 2:11 pm
Belindi wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 9:12 am

I agree. Back to the drawing board. Are intelligent machines as creative as people? Is creativity a matter of degree or a matter of kind?
I would argue that Intelligent machines as not really creative. I know I've let myself open to be bombarded with a whole raft of machine art, but at some level they are all reflective of a set programme developed by a software engineer. And, although the software engineer is not able to predict the outcome and might be surprised by much of the results, we are still left with a picture that is not reflective of a lived experience, and with no reference to purpose.
I think art is a pleasing activity. A machine cannot be pleased.
Agree.

I saw some artist had basically tied a paintbrush to a tree branch blowing in the wind across a canvas. It wasn't the wind or tree being creative, it was the idea the artist had which made it creative.

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Re: Deletion, creation and movement

Post by Sculptor1 » May 21st, 2020, 5:48 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 4:14 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 2:11 pm

I would argue that Intelligent machines as not really creative. I know I've let myself open to be bombarded with a whole raft of machine art, but at some level they are all reflective of a set programme developed by a software engineer. And, although the software engineer is not able to predict the outcome and might be surprised by much of the results, we are still left with a picture that is not reflective of a lived experience, and with no reference to purpose.
I think art is a pleasing activity. A machine cannot be pleased.
Agree.

I saw some artist had basically tied a paintbrush to a tree branch blowing in the wind across a canvas. It wasn't the wind or tree being creative, it was the idea the artist had which made it creative.
Were the results interesting?
I image there would be a certain amount of luck achieving something worth looking at. More chance that a chimpanzee would offer a better canvas.

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