[time 343] Re: [time 336] Big Picture & problems

Stephen P. King (stephenk1@home.com)
Fri, 21 May 1999 10:59:50 -0400

Dear Matti,

Matti Pitkanen wrote:
> Actually I am speaking about spacetime surfaces in my own approach.
> Absolute minima of Kaehler action. Imbeddability as
> smooth surface to M^4_+xCP_2 should make everything rather well defined.
> I might equally well speak about 3-surfaces
> with sufficiently general definition of 3-surface since minimization of
> Kahler action associates to 3-surface spacetime surface.
> By nondeterminism of Kaehler action, this means allowance of unions of
> spacelike 3-surfaces with time like separations, and this brings in
> 'thoughts' interpreted as surfaces of this kind: multisnapshots of
> classical time development.

        I am still struggling with the meaning of your concepts, but I am
trying. :) Are "thoughts" information? Do we consider them as existing
"sharply", e.g. with well defined finite properties prior to the
subjective experience of them? We must not assume that we can fix some
"external" point of view of the Totality and construct a toy model of it
and then say this "is absolutely how Nature works"! Our models and
formalisms are methods of communicating our subjective experiences, and
we try to build models that a maximum of communicators can agree upon
and use.
> About your hypothesis. Basic problem is that observer with free will is
> inconsistent with the determinism of physics. Speaking about observers
> means dualism. The basic problems and paradoxes of various are dualisms
> discussed by Chalmers in his book: Chalmers was a believer of interactive
> dualism but quite convincingly showed that it does not work.
> Hard problem is one of the problems: if contents
> of consciousness are determined by 'function' of the system, that is
> by the dynamical development of system, it is very difficult to see
> how free will could fit into the picture.

        I will read Chamers book to try to understand the reason why he thinks
that interactive dualism does not work. It is this information that I
need to critique my thinking since I am advocating a type of interactive
dualism! From my thought so far I would answer "if contents of
consciousness are determined by 'function' of the system, that is by the
dynamical development of system, it is very difficult to see how free
will could fit into the picture" by saying that there is something
fundamentally wrong with the very concept of determinism!
        We can easy see that the classical notions of determinism are plain
wrong! The idea that an isolated system's properties exist in a sharp
state independent of observation is wrong! QM forbids the construction
of a sharp Cauchy hypersurface of position and momenta with arbitrary
sharp values and thus the very idea of determinism is flawed! (thus we
have to use operators!) We are thus in a position to wrestle with some
notion that explains for both "free will" and "causality" (as opposed to
        We first need to figure out exactly what we mean by "free will" and
> If one wants to describe observer in manner consistent with physical laws
> one ends up with identification of consciousness as a property of physical
> state or as a process and this in turn leads to conclusion that
> consciousness is epiphenomenon, no free will. This of course assuming that
> physics is deterministic. Quantum nondeterminism does not help since
> the concept of observer is equally problematic in
> standard quantum physics context, to say nothing about quantum
> nondeterminism itself. My impression is that talking about observer
> involves assuming too much.

        But exactly what are "physical laws"?! Can we affirm that such are
independent of any observation? NO! I believe that "physical laws" are
the patterns of regularity that are imposed on sense data by the very
act of observation and thus do not exist as such independent of
observers! Thus I find Frieden's notions, as I have read about them so
far, attractive.
        You say that "consciousness is epiphenomena", what do you mean by that?
We really need to have a model of "free will". I find Pratt and Wegner's
notions to provide a natural way of thinking of "free will", explicitly
in the notion of "branching time". We remove the artificial notion that
all possible is available at the beginning and model process as able to
update and adapt to new information as it becomes available.
        This, in my opinion, makes all the difficulties and hard problems of
consciousness and free will disappear! :) BTW, quantum nondeterminism is
just stochastisity, the absence of causality. It is a wrong notion also.

> > > Various observations given very limited information about
> > > reality which itself changes in every moment of consciousness. Could
> > > this be sufficiently general to be free of internal contradictions?
> > Yes, each observation involves only finite amounts of information and
> > the content changes in every moment of conscious! How this changes and
> > what are the trade-offs is important. The statement "consistency implies
> > existence" is a two edged sword! We must understand that given finite
> > information only a lower bound can be placed on the internal consistensy
> > of observables. Reality, for me, is the Totality and it is, as a whole,
> > unknowable, e.g. it is impossible to map an infinite set onto a finite
> > set in a unique manner. Or am I wrong on that? :)
> You are quite right. Fortunately, it seems that moments of consciousness
> somehow manage to give very deep and abstract information
> about Totality: our ability to form abstractions and experience
> logical consistency is something remarkable. I really believe that
> basic property of consciousness is formation of abstractions:
> we cannot solve a simplest differential equation numerically in our head
> but we can play with infinite-dimensional geometries.

        We are getting somewhere! :) Could we consider "abstractions" as traces
or spanning subsets or finite Hamiltonian paths over the set of point
\elem Totality or some other formal notion? (I don't know the right
word.) :(
         Some work has been done outlining the limitations and strengths of
neural network computers vs. serial computers that deal with these issue
you raise. It would really benefit us to understand better computer
science. I am thus requesting for all to study his papers.


> > > Criticizing again the idea of observer (without denying that it is
> > > certainly very useful approximate concept at practical level).
> > > Couldn't communication be basically an observation in which communicators
> > > form larger unit of consciousness?
> >
> > Yes! :) Communication acts are mappings from one space-time to another,
> > if we follow Edelman's line of thinking in "Bright Air, Brilliant Fire"
> > so your notion are accurate. I am trying to understand consciousness as
> > a quantum-like action and can be composed to for different sized units.
> > The information content can vary within the uncertainty trade-offs so it
> > is not an atom in the classical sense. The closest I have seen this idea
> > discussed is in Pratt's papers. I wil try to write up this more.
> > The key understanding needed is that observations involve computation
> > of the involved minima. Such are not "free"! The computation of the
> > Lagrangian of a system has a price tag in free energy available to an
> > observer. When we think about the computations involve in the traveling
> > saleman problem we see clear example of this notion.
> >
> I love to disagree! Do conscious observations really involve
> computation? I tend to believe that something much much simpler is in
> question (no need to say, quantum jump, the miracle!). Thoughts as
> associations or sensory experiences. . 2+2=4 as learned association of
> symbols rather than computation. Somehow I feel that computationalism
> is modern version of the clockwork models of mind based on gears and
> springs.

        We need to carefully consider what is computation! I see these
"associations" as an example of computation! It is the identification of
*output* by a given physical process with some *input*. We think of
"input" as data or equations and variables or signals from arbitrary
sources or ... and "output" as patterns or solutions or messages or ...
The key point is that computations are constructing maps between
arbitrary classes or sets or fields or whatever. It is the
"constructing" part that is important! We must consume free energy or
equivalently generate thermodynamic entropy to create the mappings! The
associations do not "exist" a priori. They are "within" the subjective
aspect of observation.
        We are dealing with aspect of Nature that are foreign to classical
ideology! We must understand that observation *is* communication, it is
a computation in the sense above, and thus involves thermodynamics and
thus we are lead into having to deal with the nature of time's arrow and
local observation actions instead of idealistic toy models that tacitly
assume knowledge when such is impossible.
> MP



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