What is "Mind?"

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MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jan 9, 2019 - 09:02am PT
Some recent results on machine learning and the continuum hypothesis. The world is weirder than we usually give it credit for, but surprisingly connected. Discovering the connections often happens unexpectedly.
WBraun

climber
Jan 9, 2019 - 09:17am PT
Yep .... gross materialist can't understand their own selves so they make sh!tty machines that take them nowhere fast .....
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Jan 9, 2019 - 09:28am PT
Ward: Do you see the analgesic properties of the things you listed?


Yes I do. I've experienced them too, as well as many others here, no doubt. There is the biological explanation, and that might be all there is to it.

On the other hand, I'd look at the other side of unconsciousness and report just how difficult (energy, focus, will) it is to stay awake in life. A good example, imo, is learning in school for most everyone--especially when one doesn't hold an affinity for a topic. The ability to focus on a single concept, notion, or approach for a long period of time appears to be energy-sapping. (Or, my god, reading a difficult journal article in an area that one is not accustomed to.)

So, while I appreciate your idea, there appears to be more that could be said or pointed to.

Consciousness is always "on," it seems. It seems to come in an infinite variety of textures / qualities. I am oriented to noticing the varieties, and that is a kind of wakefulness that has enriched this life. That said, it seems to me that even unclear wakefulness is equal. In the end, there's no accounting for any of it subjectively. I should think that many climbers have seen some of the great differences between being in-the-moment in the times of crisis and everyday mundane existence. Yet, somehow, it's all the same from what I can make out.

I can remember being trapped in a village with a PFC from the 101st Airborne during the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam. I picked up the PFC along the way to circling around the enemy (thinking that I was John Wayne). Things got heavy, I got shot twice, our units withdrew from the village, and the two of us were left hiding behind a haystack. In a moment of clarity, my life passed in front of me like a flash. I was barely 20, and there wasn't much to that movie to see. "So this is it," I thought. Everything around me was poignant, sparkling, and immediate. It's that way now, too, when I take the moment.

It seems impossible to grasp consciousness, as it shows up as anything and everything.

Be well.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jan 9, 2019 - 03:22pm PT

I can remember being trapped in a village with a PFC from the 101st Airborne during the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam. I picked up the PFC along the way to circling around the enemy (thinking that I was John Wayne). Things got heavy, I got shot twice, our units withdrew from the village, and the two of us were left hiding behind a haystack. In a moment of clarity, my life passed in front of me like a flash. I was barely 20, and there wasn't much to that movie to see. "So this is it," I thought. Everything around me was poignant, sparkling, and immediate. It's that way now, too, when I take the moment.

E.B Sledge in his WW2 memoir With the Old Breed about his horrendous experiences on Pelilou and Okinawa spoke of such moments in foxholes with maggots and dead bodies of fellow Marines and Japanese. Suddenly he would hear a voice " you're going to be alright". He also had his moments of deep clarity listening to small island birds that incredibly after such unbelievable carnage he could hear singing ever so sweetly up in a mangled tree at the break of day after a night of endless rain and death. ( I think he later became a biologist )

He observed that of one of the hardest things a combat veteran adjusted to stateside were civilians who sometimes bitterly complained about mundane things.

If you ever write of your life experiences, MikeL, I would like to read it. Thanks for the story above.



yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Jan 9, 2019 - 03:52pm PT
An interesting take on the idea that "consciousness creates the world" (not the whole world, but parts).

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/09/magazine/beauty-evolution-animal.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Jan 9, 2019 - 06:49pm PT
A feather, with its reciprocal structure, embodies the confluence of two powerful and equally important evolutionary forces: utility and beauty.


Didn't an old Chouinard catalog make a point like that?







Steven Pinker, in How the Mind Works, acknowledged that parts of our make-up escape easy explanation from the evolutionary biology perspective. His example was our like for music.


Sometimes a feather is just a way to keep a chick warm but it can still be beautiful even though it probably has no influence attracting a potential mate.








I wonder how this hypothesis would be tested?


Sometimes beauty is the glorious but meaningless flowering of arbitrary preference.


But I like the poetry of it.


http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1593650&tn=1720


MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Jan 10, 2019 - 09:30am PT
Ward,

I’d have to write things that I’d rather not admit. But, thanks.


MH2,

Waxing poetic.

“Perfection” in the Sainte Exupery quote seems to be a particular aesthetic in most sophisticated societies. However, Wabi-Sabi expresses the aesthetic that imperfection is truer to reality in every way. There are different minds about such things as poetry.

Be well.
Wayno

Big Wall climber
Republic, WA
Jan 10, 2019 - 09:37am PT
Stars are best discerned from the lonely isolation of experiential depths, not from the illuminated and ecstatic mountain tops.

Only a poet can discern poetry in the commonplace prose of routine existence.
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jan 10, 2019 - 04:16pm PT
I continue to be interested in the three words; intelligence, consciousness, and mind. My sense is that intelligence is the odd man out. To my mind, intelligence is more general and not contingent on life. The other two are more tied-up with biological evolution. Here are a couple of early entries on Intelligence in Wikipedia.

Intelligence has been defined in many ways, including: the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, and problem solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.

The definition of intelligence is controversial. Some groups of psychologists have suggested the following definitions:
From "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" (1994), an op-ed statement in the Wall Street Journal signed by fifty-two researchers (out of 131 total invited to sign).

A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—"catching on," "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do.

The problem with a word like intelligence is that it really is commonly used to mean different things. Personally, I like the last paragraph as a definition. In this sense, AlphaOne displayed intelligence that Deep Blue and Stockfish did not. AlphaOne is, of course, not a general algorithm tool like our brains are (and most pointedly, AlphaOne has to be fed a goal), but I think that it covers most of the supporting definitions for intelligence.

Consciousness and mind are products of evolution that use intelligence.

Edit: Okay, so I'm working on this. Since it seems to me that intelligence is also a product of evolution, I can't use that as a dividing line. I guess my modified thesis would be that you should think of consciousness and mind as the direct evolutionary products of replicators, while intelligence is really, pure code that is used by replicators to survive and propagate. The code and replicators are both transmitted to a new generation via replication. The code could have a life of its own that relies heavily on recursion rather than replication.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Jan 11, 2019 - 12:28am PT
Here's a question for Ed.

A friend of mine just found a library book about the Lawrence Rad Lab in the 1970's called How the Hippies Saved Physics. It's supposedly non fiction. Have you heard of it and if so what is its reputation with physicists?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 11, 2019 - 03:30am PT
Reed College nuclear reactor three minutes from my house.
Reed College nuclear reactor three minutes from my house.
Credit: healyje
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 11, 2019 - 08:29am PT
A friend of mine just found a library book about the Lawrence Rad Lab in the 1970's called How the Hippies Saved Physics. It's supposedly non fiction. Have you heard of it and if so what is its reputation with physicists?

I've heard of it and it's on my sub-conscious list of books to read, but I haven't yet. Here's the Physics Today review of it:

https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/PT.3.1262

American Scientist:
https://www.americanscientist.org/article/fun-with-fysiks

from the Science review:
"Though intended for the scientifically literate general reader, it is hard not to interpret Kaiser's praise for the quantum revival as a warning in humanism's present storm. Confronted with an anemic job market in a system that has embraced the commercialization ethic, one professor has issued a national warning to prospective graduate students to “Just don't go” (12). Meanwhile, the president of the American Historical Association defends the profession against charges of esotericism, jargon, and politicization (13). Kaiser forgoes eulogy or righteous battle and instead emulates Capra in an homage to the fundamental strangeness of the past. Meticulously researched and unapologetically romantic, How the Hippies Saved Physics makes the history of science fun again."
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Jan 11, 2019 - 08:45am PT
eeyonkee’s cite: it [intelligence] reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—"catching on," "making sense" of things, or "figuring out" what to do.

Here’s a possible problem with this idea. Given any set of data, one can construct perhaps an infinite number of narratives that “make sense” or that minds “catch on” to. By another name, “making sense” and” catching on” are interpretations.

On another note, this idea of “making sense” (aka, a vision) is perhaps the most influential skill any leader can have. Look at Elon Musk.

“No army can stop an idea whose time has come.” (Victor Hugo)

All such things are ideas, thoughts, no more substantial than a feeling. (One should not assume they are truth.)
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Jan 12, 2019 - 09:04pm PT
Thanks Ed. That was pretty much what I expected of the book and the reviews. Ihave forwarded the review to my friend.
Don Paul

Social climber
Washington DC
Jan 13, 2019 - 05:02am PT
Dogs Can Actually Understand What You're Saying to Them, Study Says

I didn't realize human brains processed intonation and meaning of words in right and left brain hemispheres. I wonder if the brains of other animals that didn't evolve as pets work the same way?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 13, 2019 - 08:30am PT
Computers turn neural signals into speech
Kelly Servick

Science 04 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6422, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6422.14

"For many people who are paralyzed and unable to speak, signals of what they'd like to say hide in their brains. No one has been able to decipher those signals directly. But three research teams recently made progress in turning data from electrodes surgically placed on the brain into computer-generated speech. Using computational models known as neural networks, they reconstructed words and sentences that were, in some cases, intelligible to human listeners..."


Coherence-based spectro-spatial fillters for stimulus features prediction from electrocorticographic recordings.
Jaime F. Delgado Saa, Andy Christen, Stephanie Martin, Brian N. Pasley, Robert T. Knight, Anne-Lise Giraud

Towards reconstructing intelligible speech from the human auditory cortex
Hassan Akbari, Bahar Khalighinejad, Jose Herrero, Ashesh Mehta, Nima Mesgarani

Speech Synthesis from ECoG using Densely Connected 3D Convolutional Neural Networks
Miguel Angrick, Christian Herff, Emily Mugler, Matthew C. Tate, Marc W. Slutzky, Dean J. Krusienski, Tanja Schultz

Intelligible speech synthesis from neural decoding of spoken sentences
Gopala K Anumanchipalli, Josh Chartier, Edward F Chang
Don Paul

Social climber
Washington DC
Jan 13, 2019 - 01:20pm PT
Can't read any of those papers without paying a lot of money. Can anyone explain what a "convolutional" neural network is? I do know what convolutions and fourier transforms are.

The other interesting term is spectral coherence, which an author claims is better than multilinear regression. It's impossible to tell what they're talking about from the abstracts, but if they have decoded the signals then they must have figured something out.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 13, 2019 - 05:04pm PT
The Science article is behind a paywall,
all the others, preprints, are on the bioRxiv and are free, click the "Download PDF" button

healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 14, 2019 - 03:15am PT
All great, none of it involves intelligence.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 14, 2019 - 07:56am PT
wasn't posting about intelligence...
...posting about making sense of what goes on inside the brain

(and the utility of artificial neural nets)
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