Yeah, those are valid points…
Jeff is saying “the cortex has no ability to model the brain itself because there are no sense in the brain…”
This is certainly very close to the same thing I’m saying. We are both saying that since the organs we use to sense the physical world can’t sense the activity of our neurons, the brain ends up building an invalid model of itself, and that modeling error is the cause of all the confusion about consciousness. So we are both thinking the same thing at that level.
But I take that idea a step further by being specific about what the modeling error is. In that quote, Jeff is implying the brain has no data at all about itself (can’t sense the thoughts because there are no sensors there), and that this lack of data is why the model is invalid.
But if it were true that the brain couldn’t sense it’s own thoughts, then we would not be aware of ourselves having thoughts. We could not talk about what we were thinking. The fact that we can say something like “I was just thinking about how to solve that puzzle”, means we can, in fact, SENSE our own thoughts. And if we can sense and react to, our own thoughts, there must be some type of SENSOR that makes this work. And sure enough, there is. Neurons are sensors. They sense the firing of other neurons.
This is not a stretch of reality to use “sensor” in this way even though it’s not common. Every sensor in our body is a neuron I believe. Is there a single sensor in our body that is not a neuron? I’m no expert on human physically by any means but I’m not aware of any sensor that is not some type of neuron. All neurons respond to some stimulus and are triggered by that stimulus into creating a spike. Rods and cones are trigged by light. Hair cell neurons in the ear are trigged by physical motion. Neurons in the brain are trigged by the activity of other neurons – they are “neuron sensors”.
The brain has no problem at all “sensing” the fact that lots of neurons are firing (we are having thoughts). The “data” of this activity is mixed up with the data from our external sensors – all the data is in the brain. There is no lack of sense and no lack of data that represents our private thoughts.
And the brain most certainly DOES build models of the brain. It has no problem at all modeling the data that represents dogs, and cats, and private thoughts of dogs and cats. If the brain didn’t build models of this, we wouldn’t be able to understand what the words “private thoughts” means. So to say the brain can not model the mind because it doesn’t have sensors is totally invalid in my opinion. It’s just wrong.
But what’s valid, is to understand that it is building a false model.
There is only one type of model the brain builds. It’s a temporal association model. All our models of reality are association models. It’s what allows us to understand the 3D nature of the world for example. We understand the 3D world in terms of how the world changes over time. If we rotate a cube, the image of the cube changes over time, and the brain associates the sequence of patterns and that sequence of patterns (the what is expected to come next information) is what gives us an “understanding” of the 3D nature of our environment. It’s all stored, and encoded, in associations (spatial/temporal pooling in the HTM models).
What the brain can not find, is any associations between our thoughts and the external world – due to the fact that the eyes can’t see neurons, and neurons that can sense thoughts, can’t see. We don’t lack sensors, the sensory scope of our sensors are isolated, like having our eyes in one room, and our ears in a different room, so that what the ears were hearing, could not be correlated with what the eyes are seeing.
We have non-overlapping sensory domains that prevent the brain from understanding how the two sensory domains connect. There is no sensory data correlation for the brain to work with, since the sensory domains of the external sensors, and our “thought sensors” don’t sense a common part of the physical world.
The lack of physical overlap in the domain of the sensors causes the brain to build a model that has no overlap – which leaves our understanding of the physical world, isolated from our understanding of our mental world. We can sense both, we are aware both exist because both our being sensed, and analyzed for patterns, but the brain never gets to experience overlap.
The brain is accurately modeling the data it has access to, but with a lack of data, the brain has no ability to show how our thoughts are connected to the physical world. When we have a thought, where in the physical world does it exist? We know from training it’s happening in our head, but without that training where would we think a “thought” existed? We would have no idea if the thought was in our head, or our feet, or under some rock.
If we had eyes located in one room, and the eyes could never leave, and ears in another, we would have awareness of the sight and sounds, but if the sounds being picked up by the ears never correlated with anything the eyes were seeing, how would the brain ever learn how they were connected? What if the ears were just in the next room, through door #3, but yet the door never opened, and the eyes never saw anything in its room, that correlated to the sounds the ears were hearing (we must assume very sound proof rooms here). The brain would be aware of the sounds of one room, and aware of the visual activity of the second, but could never build a model of how these two rooms were associated. The brain wouldn’t know, that the ears were located through door 3 of the first room. This lack of knowledge all comes from the fact that the sensory domain of the ears and eyes in this example don’t overlap.
The sensory domain of our ears and eyes do overlap, however. Which is why when a dog barks, and we can watch the dog bark at the same time we hear the dog, the brain solves the data binding problem by creating an internal signal to represent “dog bark” that is activated by either the sound pattern or the visual pattern. The brain wires itself to represent the idea that these two very different data patterns represent “the same thing”. If the brain doesn’t t3el us two things are “the same thing” then we understand them as “two DIFFERENT things”.
That’s what the problem with our mental activity and all the things that we sense with our ears and eyes and fingers. They don’t overlap, so the brain classifies them as “not the same thing” by failing to merge them into a common signal. So the model the brain builds is one where thoughts have no physical properties, and where there are no thoughts, in the physical world (the eyes never see them). The model is one where mental activity is non-physical.
But at the same time, we associate this mental activity as our self, so we all automatically end up with a dualistic understanding of the world we live in, where we have this non-physical part of us (our soul). We automatically divide our thoughts and our body, into two very very very different categories because of this.