Re: Consciousness ~! [Humour]

From: Olie Lamb (
Date: Sun Oct 30 2005 - 19:16:57 MST

Michael Wilson wrote:

>Woody Long wrote:
>>, the
>>subject can attend to WHICHEVER one he chooses, and this leads to the
>>practical conclusion that there is a focalizing agent or self that is
>>controlling the conscious effect, as the root of consciousness.
>Comment from my partner; she says that since she can listen to multiple
>conversations at once, as women tend to be able to, clearly under your
>model women aren't sentient. :)
>So clearly it is important to make sure that your android
>self-identifies itself as male, in order for it to be conscious ;)
> * Michael Wilson

Well, technically, an android /is/ male; a female humanoid robot would
be a gynoid.

Apart from that little equivocation, I think that focussing on one area
where human attention cannot concentrate on more than one thing at a
time is a bit of a red herring. Conversations contain a lot of
information, and the phonemes are presented at rates near the minimum
durations of conscious experience.

However, vocal conversation is just one means of information gathering.
Many people have more success in carrying on two conversations at once
if they are using different channels - for instance, reading and
listening at once.

Furthermore, it is obvious that we can take in many pieces of
information simultaneously, whether it be many parts of a picture, two
melodies at once (at least /I/ can memorise two short melodies played
simultaneously and in counterpoint), or sound accompanying picture,
accompanying touch. We can simultaneously take in numerous pieces of
information - numerous sources - and process them in parallellll. In the
visual field, not only can we simultaneously take in many bits of
information, we can simultaneously recognise several symbols.

I think that one can infer far too much from the "dual sound source
experiment". It may well be that experimentees "could only attend to
and remember one sound source at a time."

However, since Woody's contention that:

"the root of Consciousness (is) a focalizing agent, or self, that has no
option but to switch its focalizing attention to a single source"

can be disproved simply by showing that a human can switch their
focalising attention to more than one source, and since I think I showed
several examples of this above, I think that this notion about
Consciousness has to go sit out in the junk pile.

There's a school of psychology that makes a big deal about mono-tracking
consciousness: Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psych is a helluva lot more
sophisticated than just " people can't carry on two conversations at
once". However, one of the primary contentions of gestalt theory - that
something can't be ~~"concieved of" in two ways at once - is dead
wrong. If one stares long enough at the candle/faces picture long
enough, one can see both at once. One can step outside the illusion, to
see both parts as images simultaneously, since I know I can.

I think the "oneness" element of Consciouss is dreadfully overdone.
Certainly, I think that it would make for a dreadful test of whether or
not an android is conscious ("Can you walk and chew gum at the same
time? Yes? Well, you're not a conscious AI then.").

There are some very interesting things about human Consciousness (Css).
F'rinstance, our relation to Time is simple yet whacky and
counterintuitive. However, just because Human Css has certain
characteristics, /especially/ limiting characteristics, one cannot
expect that all forms of Css ("General Consciousnessess") will share
those same charachteristics.

-- Olie

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