Google DeepMind claims they're close to achieving human-level AI

None of which explains anything. All you have here is a fancy verbal footwork. Ok, not just you, most of the people who are hang up on consciousness and qualia. Doesn’t even matter if they are positive or negative about it, this obsession with “how it feels like” is a stupid waste of time.


I totally agree with you. There are contexts such as where the conversation was, that call for such comments. but for the purposes of building an agi they are irrelevant

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This is verbal jousting, it takes us nowhere, but I feel obliged to point out a serious oversight. You have not said anything that would distinguish the perception of an animal brain from that of a human, so on this argument every animal has the same kind of consciousness. Perhaps they do – you can’t show otherwise.

No matter – your projection is my illusion. [And please don’t get me started on the irrelevance of what some long dead guy said or meant – it gets us nowhere.]

Bkaz…lol…i like your brutally honest attitude…peoples learning curves are faster when they interact with you because of it…dont change :slight_smile:

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My beliefs are simple: (1) there is a real world out there (2) we can produce models of that world by observation and logical thought good enough to make useful predictions. Light and wavelengths are models of a reality we can never perceive directly, but they too are illusions.

Your consciousness may be real to you, but I have no way to knowing if that is so. Perhaps you are a super-smart AGI or an alien intending to deceive me. How would I know?

…and just when you think it has been beaten to death, it resurfaces.

Motivation problem. People simply care a lot more about their feeeeelings, than about getting the shit done. Especially the shit as abstract and complex as constructive theory. Dumb boss, my stinking ass.

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Well, it’s actually even worse. I can not be certain that any other person (human or other) than myself is conscious. The only thing, in the whole of existence, that I can be certain of, is that I am conscious.

From your point of view, you can’t rely on what I am telling you about my experience. But if you feel anything, then you can be certain, only, that you are conscious.

But, we have access to more than qualia.

Qualia are the subjective entities we consciously think about. It’s the objects and features for which we ponder whether we like them; whether we should use them; how we should use them, etc.

But there are many more inputs into our brain that we do not consciously process, but nevertheless have an impact on our behavior. I think you can only at most process one qualia at the same time, while your brain processes countless of impulses at any moment.

And as far as I can tell, there is no known (engineering) process to transform an objective impulse into a subjective one.

The position @bkaz and @david.pfx are defending (I think) is that qualia are not necessary to produce intelligent agents.

There are also those who think that qualia is an emergent property.

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If you want to be constructive call it modality, “qualia” is the word obscurantists use to feel special.

In fact there are measurable physical correlates of conscious perception; see and in particular chapter 7:

Our own brain imaging work relied primarily on
two techniques: retrograde masking, where the stimulus is flashed for a perceptible
duration but is made invisible by the subsequent presentation, at the same location,
of another shape, called the “mask;” and the attentional blink (AB), where a brief
target, presented for a duration that would be perceivable in isolation, becomes
invisible once the participants are temporarily distracted by a concurrent task. In
both cases, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magneto-encephalog-
raphy (MEG), electro-encephalography (EEG) and intracranial recordings can be
used to record the progression of activation in the cortical hierarchy under
conditions of conscious versus non-conscious perception.

Scientists have started to unravel the mechanisms behind conscious perception, see and further discussed at L5tt cells are attentional (paper summaries).


I agree with all of that except: how can you (or I) be certain we are ‘conscious’? Maybe that too is an illusion.

Yes, but more. I am firmly of the view that feelings, introspection, qualia et al are distractions. An AGI is a piece of designed and engineered software that can on purely objective grounds be shown to perform tasks and solve problems we associate with biological intelligence. If a crow can learn to drop pebbles into a bottle to raise the water level and reach the food, then so can our AGI. If a chimp can figure out how to make a tool to reach food then so can our AGI.

As I have said elsewhere animal brains model reality, project forwards and backwards in time, detect anomalies and learn from them, choose and refine strategies to solve survival problems. So can our AGI, with nary a qualia in sight.

If the only things you are aware of are qualia what are the impulses you talk of as being signals in the subconscious. The term subconscious is a qualia. The term signal is a qualia. ALL YOU HAVE ACCESS TO ARE QUALIA. This means even you interpretations are functions of qualia. Let me give you an example. you cannot conceive of something thats not a concept by definition. You cannot think of anything thats not a thought. You cannot know of anything thats not knowledge. Where does that leave room for any objective reality. Yet it has to be there otherwise all concepts would be equivalent because there would be no basis to differentiate them. ultimately interrogating this leads you back to qualia being the only things existing and further on back again to this conclusion. If we are building an agi and everything we sense are qualia then every part of the agi is qualia and including its inputs

If you say the word objective reality is a concept (i.e. words are concepts). Then what will you answer when i ask you what it refers to except more words/concepts that need the same interrogation. This chain will lead you back to the words objective and reality . You cant escape it. Ultimately everything, if we are consistent and logical is a concept. The problem is , what do concepts refer to if not other concepts. that means all concepts ultimately are just a generic concept. So this line of reasoning has two branches , equally logical. The difference is while one is positive (it says what reality is) the other is negative (it says what reality cannot be without telling us what it is). so on the surface the first one is pragmatically more useful which is scary. Believing in the first leads to the fct that everything about me is a concept. And all the parts i am using to make an agi are also concepts just like other people i conceive and see. So the agi will function exactly like me since we are both made of concepts. If we are made of something else then both of us are and our relationship to qualia is equivalent.

No. Leaving aside the question of what qualia are or whether they exist (philosophers are divided), they are at least some kind of human-specific subjective state derived from properties associated with sensory inputs. Just because you have a see an object or hear a sound or recall a word does not in any sense imply corresponding qualia. After all, animals do all those things, so are you arguing that animals have qualia?

Forget qualia. They get us nowhere.

So much “Elan Vital”-esque (i.e., top-down explanation seek). We need a bottom-up approach! Any other construct it is futile.

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You are missing the point, “qualia” people don’t want explanation :slight_smile:

So, given my dissection between contents and process of consciousness, where the contents are almost certainly not what they seem, but the process being my ability to be subjectively aware of something, possibly illusory.

Then, if you propose that the process is also illusory, what could be some alternatives for that effect that I am experiencing?

I know modi from music theory. And I guess it means change in a more general sense. But you’d need to give me a lot of context before I would understand modality to mean subjective instances. An important step in science is nomenclature. Build abstractions with the goal to optimize communication.

Well, I’m not a scientist, so I guess I don’t count. But I am interested in qualia, and I very much would like an explanation please.