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> The Consciousness Singularity
maximus242
post May 04, 2007, 03:03 AM
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The Consciousness Singularity, some people are very familiar with the topic, but many have not quite heard of this concept yet. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about the Consciousness Singularity, such as, how do we know that we are not already in a Singularity and that is reality is simply a dream of unified consciousness?

The Consciousness Singularity is a completely different theory from the Technological Singularity. There are some similarities, the idea of many minds connecting together as one, however the way this is intended and the concepts of reality - are completely different. The Consciousness Singularity is about the mind transcending the body and the reaching a higher state of consciousness, where it connects with other minds and forms a unified conscious mind. The Technological Singularity is about using technological devices to allow many minds to connect together and form one, much larger mind that becomes a single consciousness. Now this is something of great interest to many people, how do we go about bringing a Singularity? Well, like all things, the concepts to bringing such a change should be kept simple. What we are looking at is a possible point in evolution where human brains will be able to communicate to each other without using a sense. In essence, you would be linking human minds together in order to form a larger and more powerful one - when all conscious minds become linked together, that is called the Consciousness Singularity.

Think of it like this, a single personal computer is not capable of calculating complex equations, but.. if you link thousands of personal computers together, you have a supercomputer. Yale University is actually running a program between three universities and thousands of computers where they use the PCs processing power to help calculate complex equations when the owner isn't using it. Here's an interesting thought, right now it is economically impossible to build a computer that can emulate the human brain, this is mainly because of power consumption, however, if a person were to link thousands and thousands of computers together and use their processing power to form a massive neural network, you could very well have the next 'matrix'. These are the same concepts of the Consciousness Singularity, link many minds together and become something beyond what any single conscious mind is capable of.

So, how do we get all those computers to link together? Through the Internet right? Well, in order to bring about a Consciousness Singularity, we need an Internet for the brain. Actually we could put the brain on the Internet, well in some ways, it already is. You communicate over the Internet using your sense of sight, in this way, there is a limited form of connection. What is needed for a Consciousness Singularity is to have a stream of thought so that the neurons in one brain could communicate to the neurons in another one. What happens after that is the neurons begin forming new pathways on a much larger scale, absolutely massive if you think 7 billion people connected together - we cant even emulate one brain, let alone the power of 7 billion of them.

The raw thinking and cognitive abilities of such a thing are so immense that it would supersede everything else and this, is where we have our consciousness singularity. Each mind could be responsible for a small piece of the puzzle, just as how each PC adds a little bit of processing power to the supercomputer. The most powerful computers in the world could be toppled if enough cheap PCs were linked together. Its almost unimaginable what such a thing would be capable of, 7 billion minds connected together, the possibilities are endless. Another interesting point about the Consciousness Singularity is that should it occur, or if it already has, then we never really die. Rather, we are preserved in a collective consciousness, so our memories and personality - everything, would be preserved in the stream of consciousness. The Consciousness Singularity is mainly about the mind surpassing the body and then those minds unifying together.

Have you seen those ugly zombie looking Borge from Star Trek? Well, the Borge is essentially what would happen in a Technological Singularity gone wrong, similar to the matrix but not identical. Essentially, to go back to my supercomputer analogy, if you link a bunch of computers together - someone needs to tell them what to do. What happens is one rules all, that harpy woman who is ordering all the Borge soldiers around is the one making sure everyone does their job. So why wouldn't this happen in a Consciousness Singularity you ask? Because each mind is like one neuron, no single cell precedes any other. So every mind would be equal and it is the result of all these minds working together that creates something more. This is the same as how many neurons work together to form something more powerful than any individual neuron.

Also, the Consciousness Singularity is much more evolutionary and mentally based where as the Technological Singularity is about using science to cause Singularity. The Consciousness Singularity can draw from a lot of science, especially neuroscience but it doesn't necessarily have to. The Consciousness Singularity is about the mind transcending the body, this can be by religious means, meditation, enlightenment, astral projection, ect. This means that the Consciousness Singularity could come about in one of many ways or perhaps by a combination of methods. Perhaps the real need is a change in human thought, an enlightenment of the mind, perhaps this will allow us to move forward in bringing about the Consciousness Singularity. Places like Brain Meta are important, because they allow people to work together in thoughts and ideas in order to bring about new ideas and insights. Could you imagine what it would be like if everyone on Brain Meta had a clear and unfiltered flow of conscious thoughts from one person to the other? Imagine the insights we could gain and how much deeper our understanding would become.


Think about this, if you knew the experiences, the thoughts, the skills and the insights of every person on this planet, you would be capable of such tremendous things! Its this concept which makes the Consciousness Singularity so exciting, imagine all at once you knew exactly what Einstein thought and you could speak every language in the world, you would know everything about science every known and you could do anything to your hearts desire. This is really no different that connecting computers together and sharing the information between each computer. For example, lets say you needed to do Brain Surgery, you could draw on the experiences of the worlds top neurosurgeons and conduct the best possible operation. This is primarily because you would have the sum of all their experiences, so lets say there are 1,000,000 neurosurgeons, they vary in experience from 1 - 50 years. So you could very well have 100 million years worth of experience in preforming neurosurgery! Now perhaps you can see just how startling and world changing the effects of a Consciousness Singularity would be. The sheer volume of information is mind boggling, for the amount of memory a computer would need to store all of it - your are talking about numbers that do not even exist yet. The most difficult subjects facing scientists today would seem to be something of extreme stupidity to such a powerful mind, everything we think is hard to do and to think about would seem to be the most easy thing in the world to a singular consciousness. Subjects like Mathematics would be reduced to the amount of thinking required to breath.

The key to remember is Consciousness Singularity, not Unconscious Singularity, if we are not Consciously aware of the Singularity then it is like having a Ferrari in your Garage but riding a bike instead.


Such an occurrence would change the world and reality to such an extent, it is almost incomprehensible. At that point, one very well may be considered some sort of God, by then you would probably know how to make your own universe and life itself.
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lucid_dream
post May 04, 2007, 07:37 AM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 04, 2007, 04:03 AM) *
So, how do we get all those computers to link together? Through the Internet right? Well, in order to bring about a Consciousness Singularity, we need an Internet for the brain. Actually we could put the brain on the Internet, well in some ways, it already is. You communicate over the Internet using your sense of sight, in this way, there is a limited form of connection. What is needed for a Consciousness Singularity is to have a stream of thought so that the neurons in one brain could communicate to the neurons in another one. What happens after that is the neurons begin forming new pathways on a much larger scale, absolutely massive if you think 7 billion people connected together - we cant even emulate one brain, let alone the power of 7 billion of them.


Excellent essay, Max! What remains is working out the details.
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eden
post May 04, 2007, 09:13 AM
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expand cingulate cortex and
sync with others brains
sync thalamic rhythms with other brains click. :

or simply allow oneself tof all in love with other brains and get everyone elses brains to fall in love with you

may the 4th be with you
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lucid_dream
post May 04, 2007, 02:53 PM
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I suspect that the assumption of an external world, with cingulate cortices, brains, and thalamic rhythms, while a necessity to maintain nowadays for any scientific discourse or progress, will be found to be a very incomplete picture of things. The question is, to what extent will this incomplete picture of reality prove a hindrance to breaking out of the human consciousness box and to the realization of the consciousness singularity?
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 02:51 AM
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I am somewhat less enthralled...optimizing communication through direct interfacing is certainly desirable, but "open access" is not something I would be interested in.

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Think about this, if you knew the experiences, the thoughts, the skills and the insights of every person on this planet, you would be capable of such tremendous things!


This is a misconceptualization.
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 01:08 PM
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No its not a misconceptualization, its simple learning functions put onto a larger scale. The more trials a person goes through, the easier they are able to preform the task and the more they will learn about said task. When you first ride a bike you have a great deal of trouble with it, but after x# of trials you are able to get the basic handling of it. Now if you had the experiences of a world class biker before you stepped on a bike, your mind would already know how to ride a bike.

On that note, another instresting throught is if we were able to download experiences from somewhere else. Or prehaps through some form of hypnosis be able to go through hundreds of trials in minutes.

This is possible for two reasons,

A. The Brain Recieves the same sensory input for something being visualized as being actualized.
B. The Brain does not have a set internal perception time, it is capable of experiencing hours worth of learning in seconds.

We know this from clinical trials and the inital experiments from Copper and Erickson. Now it is infact possible, to learn at a very fast rate. So if we cannot connect to others yet or download skills from something, then this should suffice for now.
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 05:21 PM
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My point, Maximus, was simply that, while it may be theoretically possible for a cybernetic system operating within the larger composite structure of a "super-consciousness" to possess ubiquitous access, it would not be possible for it to possess the knowledge of the super structure itself. I think you would agree with me that this is bordering on a tautology, but your choice of wording left matters unclear.

BTW, I have nothing against the concept of a "consciousness singularity", it is just that my focus is more on the relational dynamics that must necessarily evolve between agents for such a system to be functionally viable. smile.gif
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 09:44 PM
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I talked about this in my first post, its not a conscious singularity unless we are consciously aware of it. We could very well be in a singularity but not a unified consciousness because we believe to have individual minds instead of a collective.
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 10:21 PM
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Yes, and I am telling you that I want no part of your "collective consciousness" and I suspect that there will be a sizable percentage of individuals who are of a similar mindset.
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 10:23 PM
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Hmm, first time ive heard resiliancy towards the consciousness singularity. You know, there may already be a singularity, you just might not be aware of it ^.=
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 10:38 PM
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Your claim that there may already be a "conscious singularity" has buddhistic undertones (eg, universal consciousness). There's nothing wrong with that, but it is indicative of certain ontological commitments which are, atleast currently, indemonstrable.

I don't see this as a "right or wrong" issue, but a matter of morality and what our Will compels us to desire.

It could very well be that there will be multiple independently evolving collectives with varying degrees of interconnectedness.
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 10:43 PM
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Indeed, although my thoughts on the Consciousness Singularity are not buddhist in nature as I know little about buddhism. The core of the Consciousness Singularity is in philosophy, people all around the world have thought about this topic without any relation to religion. Buddhism certainly seems to have Unified Consciousness as one of their goals, so I suppose it could be good to see what the buddhist solution to the Consciousness Singularity is.

If there were a singularity right now, it would most likely be responsible for the existance of this reality and individual consciousness' (us) would use this reality as a form of communication and entertainment.
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post May 06, 2007, 10:59 PM
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QUOTE

Your claim that there may already be a "conscious singularity" has buddhistic undertones (eg, universal consciousness). There's nothing wrong with that, but it is indicative of certain ontological commitments which are, atleast currently, indemonstrable.

You could also say that Buddhism rallies itself around the conscious singularity but one would have to awaken to that which inspired Buddha and his own experience of that.

Morality is something that is wrapped up with a label. The direction of the expanding universe is always forward regardless of what the ego wants to think is good for human growth and experience.
In retrospect when one takes their awareness beyond their selfish motives and ideals perfection always presents itself.

QUOTE
Yes, and I am telling you that I want no part of your "collective consciousness" and I suspect that there will be a sizable percentage of individuals who are of a similar mindset.
The collective contains both ideas. The experience of the collective doesn't force those who don't have one to have one and those who don't have the experience can't take away the experience of the collective from those who have it. Go figure. dry.gif
Some things are not altered by a democratic majority.



QUOTE
It could very well be that there will be multiple independently evolving collectives with varying degrees of interconnectedness.

Has , is and always will be.
Recognising connectedness is enhancing to awareness rather than detremental.

Just 'cause you aint seein it don't mean it aint there. wink.gif
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 11:09 PM
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QUOTE
The Technological Singularity is about using technological devices to allow many minds to connect together and form one, much larger mind that becomes a single consciousness.


I partially agree, but I also see technology and consciousness as being indivisibly linked. Technology is a particular form of ("useful") knowledge. People often confuse a tangible artifact as being technology, when really it is only a physical correlate of the technology in question. For instance, strange as it seems, an actual car is not technology. The knowledge of how to build a car and how to operate a car is the technology. Interestingly, one of the only forms of "pure communal knowledge" that presently exists is technology. IOW, it is universally shared knowledge that is not subject to interpretation (there is little interpretation over what the purpose of a car is).

Applying technology to consciousness related domains, wouldn't it be safe to say that one form of knowledge is expanding recursively and exponentially, and thus creating the fertile ground out of which other forms of conceptual and experential knowledge can grow?
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 11:15 PM
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As I said, there is a risk of the technological singularity going bad, but that same risk doesnt occur in the consciousness singularity due to a non centralized structure.

The consciousness singularity is really a society whose interaction occurs through consciousness rather than physical bodies.
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lucid_dream
post May 06, 2007, 11:24 PM
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allow me to play devil's advocate:
perhaps Max and Techno are trying to conceptualize something that can't be conceptualized with human consciousness, like a monkey trying to understand calculus?
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 11:31 PM
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If it cannot be conceptualized by the conscious mind then it cannot exist, the key here is the Conciousness Singularity, if our consciousness is unable to conceptualize it then it is unable to actualize it. If this were the Unconcious Singularity, then prehaps the conscious mind could not conceptualize it.
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 11:34 PM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 03:15 AM) *

As I said, there is a risk of the technological singularity going bad, but that same risk doesnt occur in the consciousness singularity due to a non centralized structure.

The consciousness singularity is really a society whose interaction occurs through consciousness rather than physical bodies.


So if I understand you correctly, you are saying that some type of technological singularity is not necessary for consciousness singularity? If so, we are much further apart in our conceptualization of things then I had at first thought.
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 11:41 PM
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Technological Singularity and Consciousness Singularity are two diffrent things. Consciousness Singularity entails that a person is connected through consciousness rather than their body. Technological Singularity is about using devices to interface peoples brains to eachother.
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 11:42 PM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 03:31 AM) *

If it cannot be conceptualized by the conscious mind then it cannot exist, the key here is the Conciousness Singularity, if our consciousness is unable to conceptualize it then it is unable to actualize it. If this were the Unconcious Singularity, then prehaps the conscious mind could not conceptualize it.


Wow, I'm really not trying to be argumentative but...

I view consciousness as an evolving, emergent process. There are things which could not be imagined 10,000 years ago which are imaginable today. Still, the general constraints imposed on us by our neurobiological substrate are considerable. There is an upper limit to human level intelligence and imagination, just as there is an upper limit to the cognitive capacities of our primate cousins. Technological augmentation is the next step in the evolution of intelligence (or, dependingn on your semantics, consciousness).
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 11:45 PM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 03:41 AM) *

Technological Singularity and Consciousness Singularity are two diffrent things. Consciousness Singularity entails that a person is connected through consciousness rather than their body. Technological Singularity is about using devices to interface peoples brains to eachother.


How do you propose we attain consciousness singularity through non-technological means? Group meditation?


(And for the record, I am a functionalist philosopher of the mind who subscribes to the concept of supervenience)
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maximus242
post May 06, 2007, 11:56 PM
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Depends on the way you see reality, read around about the diffrent perceptions of reality and the ways reality works on a quantum level and maybe youl get it.
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Technologist
post May 06, 2007, 11:59 PM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 03:56 AM) *

Depends on the way you see reality, read around about the diffrent perceptions of reality and the ways reality works on a quantum level and maybe youl get it.


Trying to solve a mystery with a mystery is one of the oldest conceptual errors. tongue.gif
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maximus242
post May 07, 2007, 11:01 AM
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All posts that are irrelevant to the discussion have been deleted.
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lucid_dream
post May 07, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Let's all take a deep breath and try not to let our egos get overly-emotional here!

QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 12:31 AM) *
If it cannot be conceptualized by the conscious mind then it cannot exist, the key here is the Conciousness Singularity, if our consciousness is unable to conceptualize it then it is unable to actualize it.

yet the Universe existed well before anyone conceptualized it. Or is it the Mind of God that conceptualized it? I think you're wrong here, Max. Monkeys cannot conceptualize calculus yet it exists mathematically, quite independent of whether there are humans to conceptualize it. The fact that we cannot adequately conceptualize the Consciousness Singularity (since by definition, the Consciousness Singularity is beyond human ability to conceptualize or imagine what it's like), does not rule out its actualization. No more than water's inability to conceptualize a snowflake rules out it's ability to actualize a snowflake.

Technologist's linkage of the Consciousness Singularity to the Techno Singularity is an interesting idea. Do you really consider modifying the wetware of the brain to be "technology"? If so, then yes, they are linked. However, many people define technology in terms of computers, not in the general form that you are espousing; in which case, the Techno Singularity and the Consciousness Singularity would not seem to be necessarily related.

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maximus242
post May 07, 2007, 03:40 PM
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Lucid you got my creative juices going, I hadnt thought that universe could of existed before consciousness, or could it? I guess this goes back to the if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

Very intresting thoughts though, my thought was that the unified consciousness works similar to the computer that runs a game. Your character does not think about the dynamics of firing a bullet, the game calculates that out for you. Individual consciousness' do not think about the meaningless things, rather the unified body of consciousness does it. Like in a dream, you dont think about every little detail, the sub-conscious does it for you.
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Technologist
post May 07, 2007, 11:51 PM
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QUOTE(lucid_dream @ May 07, 2007, 05:39 PM) *

Technologist's linkage of the Consciousness Singularity to the Techno Singularity is an interesting idea. Do you really consider modifying the wetware of the brain to be "technology"? If so, then yes, they are linked. However, many people define technology in terms of computers, not in the general form that you are espousing; in which case, the Techno Singularity and the Consciousness Singularity would not seem to be necessarily related.


Lucid, essentially what I am doing is developing the concept of technology from an uncommitted monistic framework (as opposed to dualism). By this I mean that I am not taking a firm stand on the nature of the one substance which reality consists of because this often muddles the dialog with unnecessary semantical baggage. One could very well be a Berkeleyan idealist and still agree with the logic I'm espousing.

I understand what you're saying about how people popularly conceive of technology and that was my main point; that their conception is generalized and misguided. Technological evolution is both a product of and catalyst for cultural evolution. Anthropologically, one could trace this inter-relationship back thousands of years. The advent of external data storage (writing) allowed for the literate guilds which solidied religious tenets and moved modern human culture away from the amorphous animism of prehistoric times (along with many many other effects). The invention of the prinitng press, which amplified the projection of cultural norms and brought with it the formation of nation states. And telecommunication, and fiber optics, and... What are all of these technologies doing? Optimizing information transfer and allow for the more rapid advance of cultural evolution (which we are all instantiations of -- there is no logical way that any of our perspectives could have existed 500 years ago).

I can already hear the objections. Yes, certainly there have been massive improvements in communications over human history, but none of these advances even remotely approach the type of intimate communication that is being conceived of with a consciousness singularity. To this I would argue that the perceived differences are not qualitative but quantitative. An optimized transfer of data, whether it could somehow be engineered for mind-to-mind link ups, or just "non-sentient storage facility"-to-mind is still, by definition, a form of information transfer.

Yet many may still not be satisfied with my conception of consciousness singularity. Some would say that "Consciousness singularity" requires an even more intimate connection where experiential knowledge can be shared. Ah, now this is the crux of the matter. And quite frankly, such a sharing of knowledge is not possible as long as a super-consciousness remains distributed. This is because experiential knowledge is necessarily interpretive. It can not be thought of as a passive absorption of sensory data, but as a consequence of functional interaction between a cognition and its environment. Of course, the super system could restructure itself to be homogenous. This would allow for unified experience by the system, but also at the expense of what some cognitions perceive as autonomy.

From my perspective, cognitive transcendence does not even need to be a communal affair. Even with my paltry human level cognition, I already feel some measure of transcendence when pursuing my quest for uber-rationality. Improving one's heuristic methods, and with it the refinement of hir realism, is certainly enlightening. With technological augmentation of cognition, this optimization process will reach unprecedented heights.

All of what I have stated is based on a physicalist (not traditional materialism) interpretation of reality. Consciousness is a process that supervenes on a physical substrate. Meaning is produced through the functional relationships between objects, which is analgous to the fields of mathematics (quantity, structure, space, change). As this theorizing is substrate neutral, psychological properties are multiply realizable (iow, cognition can operate on a biological or synthetic substrate).
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Technologist
post May 08, 2007, 12:15 AM
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Also, there is one other thing I would like to mention. Maximus, as you've requested of me not to mistake your position for religious mysticism, I would also kindly ask you not to mistake mine for traditional naturalism.

I am a systems theorist who has, as of late, been focusing on second order cybernetics.
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Technologist
post May 08, 2007, 01:10 AM
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QUOTE(maximus242 @ May 07, 2007, 07:40 PM) *

Lucid you got my creative juices going, I hadnt thought that universe could of existed before consciousness, or could it? I guess this goes back to the if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?


An interesting and age old question. For all we know, we could be residing in some type of advanced simulation as postulated by Bostrom, but these types of metaphysical speculations are utterly unresolvable from our current vantage point. Fortunately, if one embraces Bayesian probablistic reasoning and the principle of causality there is no need to make an intellectual commitment (ie, belief) one way or the other while constructing a maximally consistent conceptual framework.

QUOTE
Individual consciousness' do not think about the meaningless things, rather the unified body of consciousness does it.


The belief in a unified consciousness is unsubstantiated. There are increasingly sophisticated accounts of how intelligence has evolved on this planet. The dualist intuition that makes the idea of a universal consciousness seem plausible is representative of making an intellectual commitment where noncommitment is the appropriate response.

Take inverted spectrum arguments. Why is 475 nm electromagnetic radiation perceived by my cognition as the quale of blueness and not the quale of redness? For starters, this questions use of the term quale demonstrates certain ontological commitments, namely, that qualia actually exists and isn't just an aspect of our cognitive psychology. But even if we assume that qualia do exist (a big assumption), this doesn't topple functionalism as the superior framework for considering consciousness. This is because qualitative experience corresponds to the acquisition of sensory data. Electromagnetic radiation that is within the visible spectrum for human beings serves the functional purpose of accurately informing us about our surrounds. As such, 475nm light had to be represented by our minds as something. Why it was represented as one something and not another something is, I will quickly admit, quite mysterious. However believing that this is necessarily a mystery of consciousness when there is also the possibility of it being a mystery of reality itself is, once again, an unjustified assumption.

[PS - I wrote a response to your PM but I'm not sure if it went through as my I don't see any messages archived in my sent box...do basic members not get a sent messages archive or is there something funky with my account?]

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lucid_dream
post May 08, 2007, 07:38 AM
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these are some great thoughts, Technologist. So you're a monistic functionalist? You say "such a sharing of knowledge is not possible as long as a super-consciousness remains distributed" but I'm not so sure since holographic models are such that the whole is represented in each individual. In fact, small-world networks where each node is highly causally interdependent on most or all other nodes will have the activity of the whole contained within each individual. You also say that "the perceived differences are not qualitative but quantitative" but this seems a bit iffy since what technological development needs to do is enhance the wetware of the brain, functionalism notwithstanding. Just because there are a 100 billion neurons in the human brain does not mean that 100 billion Chinese ppl talking on cell phones can reproduce the activity of the human brain (and give rise to some societal consciousness on a par with human consciousness) because the complexity of the interconnections and activities of individual neurons is such as to render functionalism essentially meaningless in all but theory (since we can never fully mimic the full complexity of individual neurons and their activities). Technology certainly helps us in many ways and improves information flow between people, but for the Consciousness Singularity, the wetware of the brain will have to be augmented and enhanced, most likely not solely through silicon implants, but through growing and augmenting living neurons in the brain. The exact relation between the Techno and Conscousness Singularities is an interesting one regarding their interdependence and whether one implies the other. I do understand what you're saying and the monistic and functionalist approach you take (and it is a very interesting one), but this to me seems to be treading on shaky ground, and that a firmer footing would be found by staying within the human brain, which we know is associated with our consciousness, and talking about enhancing the human brain, whose continued enhancement will result in the Consciousness Singularity. While functionalism is very reasonable, it still requires a lot of faith that we fully understand the functionality behind consciousness, and this is the assumption that I would question. The brain is the most complicated system in the known universe, and to presume that we can represent it's consciousness-producing activities functionally, distinct from its peculiar wetware implementation, is currently untenable.
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