Re: Consciousness (Re: JOIN)

From: Woody Long (
Date: Sun Oct 30 2005 - 21:24:47 MST

[Original Message]
> From: Olie Lamb <>

> 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.

Is this from a controlled experiment? In a controlled experiment, monitored
by instruments more powerful then subjective experience, subjects can be
seen to be switching back and forth very quickly, processing one then the
other, although the subjective experience may be of doing them "at the same
time." This is the flaw in your argument. This self-switching is happening
extremely quickly, perhaps at the speed of light, and fools you into
thinking you are doing two things at the once. But the monitoring
instruments prove otherwise.

> 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 if you were to pay close attention, even your subjective experience
would show you that you are first processing one sound, then processing the
other, very quickly. At no single moment in time are you thinking both
"That is A#." "and That is D flat." If not, the experimental data can show
you this undeniable switching behavior.

 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.

My position is that your examples fall flat, and so you haven't disproved
the Dual Sound Source Experiment at all, and as such my artificial self
theory is still on the top shelf.

> 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.").

In android engineering you are talking about two actuator actions, walking
and chewing gum. To do both at the same time would simply require having
one control processor doing one action, and at the same time another
control processor doing the other action. Or you could have a single very
fast processor doing both by swithching back and forth, which is
interesting because it would be functioning like the focalizing agent,
quickly switching from one action to the other, but so quickly that from
external subjective experience it would appear to be doing both at the same
time. This has nothing to do with possessing artificial conscious, as an
unconscious, contemporary system could do this just as well, so this
wouldn't be a test of anything, and not what I proposed.

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

I think that scientists would agree with me that an objective experiment,
properly controlled, is the definition of knowledge producing

Ken Woody Long

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