RE: [agi] What are qualia...

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2005 - 10:30:21 MST


You should read this edited volume

it's a damn good one, and I think it will enrich your perspective on these
topics. Not that any of the authors have solved all the problems of
consciousness, but a lot of them are very smart and have thought about the
topic very hard and come up interesting ideas.

Among other things, some papers there describe research proving that FOCUSED
ATTENTION can occur in humans WITHOUT consciousness.

So, while there's a close relationship between consciousness and attention,
it's not an identity by any means...

-- Ben

A abstract and TOC of the book are as follows:


      Neural Correlates of Consciousness
      Thomas Metzinger
      This book brings together an international group of neuroscientists
and philosophers who are investigating how the content of subjective
experience is correlated with events in the brain. The fundamental
methodological problem in consciousness research is the subjectivity of the
target phenomenon--the fact that conscious experience, under standard
conditions, is always tied to an individual, first-person perspective. The
core empirical question is whether and how physical states of the human
nervous system can be mapped onto the content of conscious experience. The
search for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) has become a highly
active field of investigation in recent years. Methods such as single-cell
recording in monkeys and brain imaging and electrophysiology in humans,
applied to such phenomena as blindsight, implicit/explicit cognition, and
binocular rivalry, have generated a wealth of data. The same period has seen
the development of a number of theories about NCC location. This volume
brings together the leading experimentalists and theoreticians in the field.
Topics include foundational and evolutionary issues, global integration,
vision, consciousness and the NMDA receptor complex, neuroimaging, implicit
processes, intentionality and phenomenal volition, schizophrenia, social
cognition, and the phenomenal self.

            Table of Contents
                  1 Introduction: Consciousness Research at the End of the
Twentieth Century
                  I Foundational Issues and Conceptual Problems
                  2 What Is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness?
                  by David J. Chalmers
                  3 The Perennial Problem of the Reductive Explainability
of Phenomenal Consciousness: C. D. Broad on the Explanatory Gap
                  by Ansgar Beckermann
                  4 Prospects for a Scientific Research Program on
                  by Antti Revonsuo
                  5 The Evolution and Ontogeny of Consciousness
                  by Gerhard Roth
                  II Candidates for the NCC I: Representational Dynamics
                  6 The Unconscious Homunculus
                  by Francis Crick and Christof Koch
                  7 A Neurobiology for Consciousness
                  by Antonio R. Damasio
                  8 Phenomenal Awareness and Consciousness from a
Neurobiological Perspective
                  by Wolf Singer
                  9 Reentry and the Dynamic Core: Neural Correlates of
Conscious Experience
                  by Gerald M. Edelman and Giulio Tononi
                  III Candidates for the NCC II: Vision
                  10 Visual Perception Without Awareness: Priming
Responses by Color
                  by Thomas Schmidt
                  11 Face Representation Without Conscious Processing
                  by Beena Khurana
                  12 Space in the Brain: Different Neural Substrates for
Allocentric and Egocentric Frames of Reference
                  by Melvyn A. Goodale and Kelly J. Murphy
                  13 Conscious Registration of Continuous and Discrete
Visual Events
                  by Romi Nijhawan and Beena Khurana
                  14 Imaging Conscious Vision
                  by Dominic ffytche
                  15 Binocular Rivalry and Human Visual Awareness
                  by Erik D. Lumer
                  IV Candidates for the NCC III: Consciousness,
Anesthesia, and the NMDA Receptor Complex
                  16 NMDA Receptor-Mediated Computational Processes and
Phenomenal Consciousness
                  by Hans Flohr
                  17 How to Understand the N in NCC
                  by Valerie Gray Hardcastle
                  18 The Role of NMDA Receptors in Consciousness: What We
Learn from Anesthetic Mechanisms?
                  by Nicholas P. Franks and William R. Lieb
                  19 NMDA Receptor-Mediated Consciousness: A Theoretical
Framework for Understanding the Effects of Anesthesia on Cognition?
                  by Jackie Andrade
                  V Toward the Neural Correlates of Selfhood, Agency, and
Social Cognition
                  20 The Subjectivity of Subjective Experience: A
Representationist Analysis of the First-Person Perspective
                  by Thomas Metzinger
                  21 Awareness of Agency: Three Levels of Analysis
                  by Joelle Proust
                  22 The Acting Subject: Toward the Neural Basis of Social
                  by Vittorio Gallese

  -----Original Message-----
  From: []On Behalf
Of Philip Sutton
  Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 11:30 AM
  Subject: RE: [agi] What are qualia...

  Hi Ben,

  I just read Chalmers article and yours.

  You concluded your article with:

> In artificial intelligence terms, the present theory suggests that if
> an AI program is constructed so that its dynamics give rise to a
> constant stream of patterns that are novel and significant (measured
> relative to the system itself), then this program will report
> experiences of awareness and consciousness somewhat similar to those
> that humans report.

  This is a useful statement because it testable at some stage when AI
exists that can hold complex conversations.

  By the way, would it be true that a "novel and significant" pattern is one
that by definition trigger the AI's attention system? If so then that is a
commmon point in both our speculations.

  I think I've nearly exhausted the value of my speculations for the moment.
My intuition is that qualia are going to be different in intelligences that
do *not* have long evolutionary histories of being social, compared to those
that do have such histories (a species could be currently non-social, but if
it has evolved from antecendents that have gone through a social phase then
my guess is that it would experieice qualia more like social species ie. the
capacity for experiencing qualia is like to be retained to some degree).

  My guess is that there will be structured processes discovered in brains
that account for the subjective experience of qualia - and that qualia will
not be experienced without some appropriate system for qualia generation ie.
pattern recognition by an AI will not be enough by itself to give rise to
the experience of qualia. But this intuition is so speculative and so
poorly based on my part that it probably doesn't warrant comment from
others! :) So I might leave it there and just wait to see what people come
up with in the future.

  Cheers, Philip


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