Known unknowns and unknown unknowns!

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Wyman
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:21 pm

have a theory that perception is based, going back to a brain's primeval origins, upon an algorithm of searching for patterns in sense data.
I agree. I have a problem (conceptual problem) with how the algorithm changes through time, within the individual organism. At time a, given sense datum S, the algorithm produces perception R. At time a + x, given the exact same sense datum S, would the algorithm produce R? What are the variables in the scenario?

Perhaps there are no two identical sense data (S) at different times - Hereclitean flux.

Perhaps with every S, the algorithm (organism) changes slightly - Protogorean 'man is the measure of all things' - i.e. what 'is' sweet to a man at a given time (for instance when he's healthy) 'is' sour at another time (when sick)

Perhaps both are variable simultaneously.

And what is 'R,' the perception? Is it something stored in the memory, to be the subject of the algorithm in the future, thus taking the place of S in a future iteration?

If you had an algorithm (A) on your computer (which you do), which took photons collected by a camera and created a picture (R) on a pixelated screen, could a meta-algorithm (A2) be created to analyse R, pull patterns from it, use those patterns to change A for future processing, and so on? My instinct is that the answer is yes, but I could not begin to prove it.

If the answer is indeed yes, what follows? Could any R ever be recreated by other observers(1)? By the individual who produced R in the first place? How does consciousness factor in - i.e. sometimes we purposefully focus in on a particular part of an S in order to produce a particular kind of R - how is this possible in such a model(2)? If A is producing patterns out of S and A2 is 'pulling' these patterns from R, what is it that A2 could really be doing - how is the pattern 'pulled' different from the pattern 'produced' by A in the first place(3)?

Thus, certain sticky problems come up, as they always do - how is induction possible(3, above)? How are free will and consciousness possible(2)? How is shared experience (translation) of different, privileged perceptions possible(1)?
the Hessian
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:58 pm

Wyman wrote:
have a theory that perception is based, going back to a brain's primeval origins, upon an algorithm of searching for patterns in sense data.
I agree. I have a problem (conceptual problem) with how the algorithm changes through time, within the individual organism. At time a, given sense datum S, the algorithm produces perception R. At time a + x, given the exact same sense datum S, would the algorithm produce R? What are the variables in the scenario?

Perhaps there are no two identical sense data (S) at different times - Hereclitean flux.

Perhaps with every S, the algorithm (organism) changes slightly - Protogorean 'man is the measure of all things' - i.e. what 'is' sweet to a man at a given time (for instance when he's healthy) 'is' sour at another time (when sick)

Perhaps both are variable simultaneously.

And what is 'R,' the perception? Is it something stored in the memory, to be the subject of the algorithm in the future, thus taking the place of S in a future iteration?

If you had an algorithm (A) on your computer (which you do), which took photons collected by a camera and created a picture (R) on a pixelated screen, could a meta-algorithm (A2) be created to analyse R, pull patterns from it, use those patterns to change A for future processing, and so on? My instinct is that the answer is yes, but I could not begin to prove it.

If the answer is indeed yes, what follows? Could any R ever be recreated by other observers(1)? By the individual who produced R in the first place? How does consciousness factor in - i.e. sometimes we purposefully focus in on a particular part of an S in order to produce a particular kind of R - how is this possible in such a model(2)? If A is producing patterns out of S and A2 is 'pulling' these patterns from R, what is it that A2 could really be doing - how is the pattern 'pulled' different from the pattern 'produced' by A in the first place(3)?

Thus, certain sticky problems come up, as they always do - how is induction possible(3, above)? How are free will and consciousness possible(2)? How is shared experience (translation) of different, privileged perceptions possible(1)?
Interesting. I like the computational model. Let me give it a whirl.

(A) attends to (R) but not only (R). The way (A) attends to (R) is to compute a description of an experience of (R). Attending to (R) in this way is a data handling method that allows for the integration of a variety of brain information. For me to compute a description of an experience of (R) would require, at minimum, a representation of me, the (R) and a representation of the process of attention that links me with (R). I don't ever seem to access (R) directly. Rather, I am aware of (R), and that awareness presupposes all of the computational work just attributed to (A).

I think this helps answer one of your questions, namely "how is consciousness possible?" The brain doesn't mystically generate a subjective experience of (R); rather it computes a description of an experience of (R) and assigns that experience to itself. When I say that I am conscious, or self-conscious, that is really my brain reporting out on the descriptive, computed information that it has stored there.
Wyman
Posts: 974
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:21 pm

Interesting. I like the computational model. Let me give it a whirl.

(A) attends to (R) but not only (R). The way (A) attends to (R) is to compute a description of an experience of (R). Attending to (R) in this way is a data handling method that allows for the integration of a variety of brain information. For me to compute a description of an experience of (R) would require, at minimum, a representation of me, the (R) and a representation of the process of attention that links me with (R). I don't ever seem to access (R) directly. Rather, I am aware of (R), and that awareness presupposes all of the computational work just attributed to (A).

I think this helps answer one of your questions, namely "how is consciousness possible?" The brain doesn't mystically generate a subjective experience of (R); rather it computes a description of an experience of (R) and assigns that experience to itself. When I say that I am conscious, or self-conscious, that is really my brain reporting out on the descriptive, computed information that it has stored there.
Everytime I read this, I think I understand what you mean, then lose the thread.

I think A attends to S, which is not a 'picture' but a bunch of physical processes, like photons contacting retinas, nerves firing, etc.. From that, A creates a perception R, which is like a picture on a computer screen (at least that's the analogy here).

Any future awareness of R (memory, which may include memory of 'you' in the process of perception) would be another S - right? In other words, memory is a form of sense data emanating, not from photons, but from the brain.

Consciousness consists (at least in part I think) of a focusing of attention - a decision to look 'here' rather than 'there.' Other parts of perception seem to consist of unconscious or automatic processes. So it seems as if algorithm A describes the unconscious processes, but (perhaps?) not the simultaneous, conscious process (another algorithm?)
the Hessian
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:58 pm

I think I want to stick with R attending to S. R is itself the series of physical processes that starts with a reaction to photons, splits across several separate series of chemical and electircal events, to produce information. A can processes the informational output of R, in conjunction with other informational outputs of other physical brian processes, not to define a "picture of something on a computer screen", but to define the experience of seeing something. The picture analogy fails for me for two reasons: 1) for the silly reason that it makes it seem like our head is a warehouse full of pictures, and 2) for the more serious reason that it requires that we also invent something tasked with sitting down and looking at the pictures.

I like what you say here:
Wyman wrote:"Consciousness consists (at least in part I think) of a focusing of attention - a decision to look 'here' rather than 'there.' "
Nervous systems have evolved the capability to boost the most urgent incoming signals. There's so much data coming in that we can't do a very good job of processing it if we attend to it all equally. All animals, even inspects, seem to possess a basic version of this ability to prioritize or augment some signals at the expense of others. Consciousness is a more evolved form of control over this process--namely attention. Modern Control Theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_theory teaches us that control of a system is improved through internal modelling that represents that system. Attention is exactly this kind of internal modeling. And as I said in my previous post, this kind of internal modeling requires that I also model a desciption of me and descriptions of the processes that tie me to R.

Look at it the other way around. I can project consciousness onto you. I am aware that you are attending to some thing. I model the state of awareness in which you are applying attentional focus to that thing and ascribe that state to you. This can help me understand and even predict your behavior. This is the same modeling process that is used to ascribe states to myself...consciousness!

I don't have much to say about memory yet. But I totally agree that there are unconscious and automatic processes at work.

For example, and in relation to the conversation about patterns, there are some obvious evolutionary biases to our seeing. Specific arrangements of contrast (light and dark), for example, are biased to be seen by us as faces. This bias can be exploited in certain kinds of optical illusions. In fact, I've seen a famous old photograph of a family standing outside posing for a picture. The way the figures are arranged and the interplay of shadow and light makes it look like there is a face floating in front of the family. Almost anyone who looks at the picture will see the face. And almost anyone who sees the face, won't be able to see the picture for what it really is. At least until they are explicitly shown what the picture actually is. Once they are shown, they can still see the face, but they can easily see beyond the face and can easily see what the photo is actually a photo of.
A_Seagull
Posts: 895
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:09 pm

Wyman wrote:
have a theory that perception is based, going back to a brain's primeval origins, upon an algorithm of searching for patterns in sense data.
I agree. I have a problem (conceptual problem) with how the algorithm changes through time, within the individual organism. At time a, given sense datum S, the algorithm produces perception R. At time a + x, given the exact same sense datum S, would the algorithm produce R? What are the variables in the scenario?

Your R is, in effect, a description of the pattern that has been found. A pattern is a way of compressing data. So the pattern constitutes a compressed image of the sense data. At a time a + x, it is most likely that the sense data will have altered, in which case A will produce R', a slight variation of R.

Perhaps there are no two identical sense data (S) at different times - Hereclitean flux.

Most likely.

Perhaps with every S, the algorithm (organism) changes slightly - Protogorean 'man is the measure of all things' - i.e. what 'is' sweet to a man at a given time (for instance when he's healthy) 'is' sour at another time (when sick)

The parameters for the pattern searching algorithm A can easily be altered. And indeed may be different for different people.

Perhaps both are variable simultaneously.

And what is 'R,' the perception? Is it something stored in the memory, to be the subject of the algorithm in the future, thus taking the place of S in a future iteration?

Absolutely. The set of patterns {R, R', R''.....} can be used as a input for A to create a higher level pattern which can in turn be used....... And you end up with what I have called a 'pyramid of patterns'.

If you had an algorithm (A) on your computer (which you do), which took photons collected by a camera and created a picture (R) on a pixelated screen, could a meta-algorithm (A2) be created to analyse R, pull patterns from it, use those patterns to change A for future processing, and so on? My instinct is that the answer is yes, but I could not begin to prove it.

The algorithm A could be refined through evolution over many many generations.

If the answer is indeed yes, what follows? Could any R ever be recreated by other observers(1)? By the individual who produced R in the first place? How does consciousness factor in - i.e. sometimes we purposefully focus in on a particular part of an S in order to produce a particular kind of R - how is this possible in such a model(2)? If A is producing patterns out of S and A2 is 'pulling' these patterns from R, what is it that A2 could really be doing - how is the pattern 'pulled' different from the pattern 'produced' by A in the first place(3)?

Somewhere high up in the pyramid of patterns, there could be a pattern which is representative of the organism itself, which would be the beginnings of self- awareness and perhaps subsequently of consciousness.

Thus, certain sticky problems come up, as they always do - how is induction possible(3, above)? How are free will and consciousness possible(2)? How is shared experience (translation) of different, privileged perceptions possible(1)?

Pattern creation is essentially an inductive process.

Shared experience is possible through similarities of sense data and pattern creating algorithms.

Arising_uk
Posts: 12314
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 am

A_Seagull wrote:...
PS I can send you an e-copy of the book if you would like.
I'd be interested if the offer is open to others.
A_Seagull
Posts: 895
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:09 pm

Arising_uk wrote:
A_Seagull wrote:...
PS I can send you an e-copy of the book if you would like.
I'd be interested if the offer is open to others.
The offer is open to all on this forum.