Monday, October 13, 2014

Princeton vs. Consciousness

Are We Really Conscious? -

Yes, though it's entirely predictable that the Cathedral would prefer you to doubt it.

(Via, via.)

Graziano asserts that since consciousness is inaccurately modelling something else which isn't conscious, consciousness doesn't exist.
Graziano takes forever to get to the point, luckily I could guess or I would never have bothered reading the whole thing. I will instead use inverted pyramid structure.

This is where my own work comes in. In my lab at Princeton, my colleagues and I have been developing the “attention schema” theory of consciousness, which may explain why that computation is useful and would evolve in any complex brain.
It's remarkable that Graziano thinks this is even remotely fitting as an explanation. I think the fact that he recognizes the flaws makes it worse. He's noticed the problems but is hoping to sweep them under your rug.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
At least it misses the point in a complex way. Unfortunately that makes it sophisticated sophistry.

Wavelength is a real, physical phenomenon; color is the brain’s approximate, slightly incorrect model of it.
Colour is also its own thing, which it is a perfect model of.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
Awareness is also its own thing.
Presumably Graziano believes attention does not have awareness. He therefore concludes that awareness, by having awareness, is an inaccurate model of attention.

The word 'cat' is not a furry carnivore. It is, however, a curve, a loop with a tail, and a cross, indeed it is exactly identical to those things. You cannot explain that the word 'cat' doesn't exist by asserting that curves, loops, and crosses are not furry carnivores.

This is exactly analogous to Graziano's 'refutation.' The word 'cat' is not an illusion. Instead, it merely betrays his extreme naivete and disinterest in the facts about consciousness. Or sophistry.

I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary, a shift from a credulous and egocentric viewpoint to a skeptical and slightly disconcerting one: namely, that we don’t actually have inner feelings in the way most of us think we do.
Emphasis added. Yeah, major, I've never heard that one. This year.

The scientific truth about white (i.e., that it is not pure) differs from how the brain reconstructs it.
Misrepresenting or misunderstanding consciousness. We're supposed to not take consciousness for granted but we are supposed to take Graziano's interpretation of consciousness for granted.

White, in the mind, is neither pure nor impure. It's a colour, just like every other colour. The brain doesn't 'reconstruct' colour. The mind constructs an entirely new thing, colour, which does not exist in a photon-camera system. The photonic mixture 'white' is completely separate form the qualia 'white.' Check; they can exist independently. Mixture without brain, and dreams, respectively.

Not to mention equivocation; trying to purify the photonic mixture should not be confused with trying to purify the quale.

How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t.
"I observe a thing. What is it?" "Oh, you're not observing it." You cannot get more anti-scientific.

But the argument here is that there is no subjective impression; there is only information in a data-processing device.
"I observed a thing." "No you didn't." Plebs aren't allowed consciousness. You have to go to Princeton if you want to deserve consciousness.

The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property.
Deliberate or taught confusion of objective and subjective. Yes, if you assume subjective properties are objective, it will be difficult to show the objective truth of the subjective properties. For some reason.

It also computes information about the self and about a (physically incoherent) property of subjective experience.
Graziano has discovered that nonphysical properties are physically incoherent. I am amazeballs.

And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.
Rank newbie mistake. Introspection is not unitary.

First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
Much like a sapphire is just a speck in some large rock, and uranium makes up only 2.7% of the crust.

Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
We build skyscrapers and nothing else on the entire tree does. Luckily skyscrapers are just a social construct, so none of our precious beliefs are challenged.