What are thoughts? What creates self-awareness, what is it? Threshold of sentience?

Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2010 10:59 am
Ahoy-hoy, haven't been around these parts for a while. I've just had a rather long and in depth discussion with a friend. We covered various topics including the nature consciousness/self-awareness, A.I. and what really makes humans different from the rest of the life on Earth, why are we so special, do we have self-awareness and free-will, or are we really robots following genetic code with the illusion of free-will? If we really are self-aware, what makes us self-aware? Our thoughts, dreams, emotions, memories, life experiences? I think therefore I am? But what are thoughts, how can we define them? When did we become self-aware, was there a point in time? Is it a result of evolution, and did mother nature design a self-aware thinking machine merely by chance through a process of mutation and survival of the fittest? Is it possible basic organisms such as ants have thoughts, are they self-aware? Is everything conscious, or part of a consciousness? Are they reacting to their external environment based on the electrical signals sent to their brain via sensory intake equipment (just like I could program a robot to dodge objects etc via sensory equipment and an on board computer - i.e. brain), or are these impulses/instincts the result of sentience and conscious thought? Can we completely understand the human brain and how it generates sentience?

I believe that we can and will understand the human brain and we will build "thinking machines" that have thoughts and dreams, and emotions plus artistic, creative and original abilities...I don't believe everything is conscious, but is part of, and contains other sentient/conscious beings. I believe in a fractal universe where this is possible. I believe humans became self-aware through a process of evolution and at some stage, the human brain became so complex in its design and computational abilities, that it gained self-awareness, although I obviously wont be able to describe to you the exact mechanism which enables sentience, because I truly have no idea, but it will be discovered and understood...and we will be able to replicate the human brain in it's entirety, sentience and all. Two words are important: INFORMATION-COMPUTATION. This IMO, is the key to consciousness, and without a structured system with some inherit complexity, you can't even begin to create consciousness. If you crush the brain or main information processing unit of any organism it will surely die, however a self-aware spirit may live on as a more fundamental form of energy, which still possesses the ability to compute information. I believe most basic organisms on Earth haven't reached a point where they require self-awareness, and they are essentially organic robots with no free-will, but it works for them...however, I don't believe humans are the only species on Earth that posses a form of self-awareness...and eventually, most life-forms on Earth will evolve into sentient beings with advanced methods of communication (possibly spoken language) and sophisticated societies.
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Reply Tue 23 Mar, 2010 12:39 pm
@GHOST phil,
I know for a fact that dolphins and elephants has inherent selfawareness, some birds too.

For me the question is, if selfawareness is a dorment feature and can be learned, such as dogs can learn selfawareness, but what in less intelligent creatures?

What excat purpose serves self awareness?
Creatures with no inherent SA, can still solve complex problems.

As for AI's we can't really say anything about it, since we often produce bugs we are not aware of, and these bugs can have very unpredictable consequenses.

I rember 2 programmers 15 years ago, discussing a car pedal recycle fabric in Denmark, where a robot would analyze the different pedals by it's huge database and thereby visually identify them and put the pedals in each their right container, but when it for the first time met an unknown pedal, it would halt all activity ..it would make a new ID for the new pedal and continue. This was a procedure never intentionally programmed, which it made by itself.

Sometimes I think SA is just a funny side effect.
Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 12:03 am
thoughts > the dwelling upon information

what creates self-awareness > thoughts beyond instinct

threshold of sentience > thoughts beyond instinct
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 11:09 pm
To be self-aware is to be able to conceive of something other than the present; i.e. to concieve at all, to view something in terms of something else - to not be wholely at the mercy of the ebb and flow of the present. By virtue of experiencing the flow of the present in terms of, through the lens of, some non-present experience, one achieves distance - i.e. self. To have selfhood is to be a subject which acts or is acted upon, to be selfless is to be action itself.

With some distance, one does something, something happens to one; i.e. there is an action AND an actor. Whereas, without any distance, there is a monism. One doesn't do something, something just happens, and then something else, etc. There is no distinction between actor and action - there is just action.

Nietzsche's concept of hierarchical physiology fits this view very well. He argued that their was in the body, as in all things, an order of rank. One could consider a relatively egalitarian - i.e. less complex - nervous system as more selfless, more 'in the moment,' lacking in higher-order 'deliberating' functionairies. Whereas, in a more complex nervous system, there is an oligarchy of higher-order functionairies managing the more automatic lower-ones: i.e. higher-order functionairies which 'deliberate' and gain some distance from the present. That is, the more complex the system, the less immediately affected are its highest order functionairies from whatever external stimuli are affecting the system as a whole - and thus, they gain the distance from the present, which in consciousness manifests as concepts, organization, intention, and other higher-order experiences: as opposed to raw sensation.

By this view, then, the difference between the self-awareness of a human being and that of animals lower down the list in complexity would be one of degree - as opposed to be some fundemental difference, like possession of a soul, etc.
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Ergo phil
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 07:23 am
@GHOST phil,
To me it seems that That which is the essense of all manifestations is Awareness which looks back at itself through consciousness.

That That or Awareness (or God, if you will) is ultimately unknowable except through its manifestations and appears to be unmanifested itself except through its own mysterious, unknowable Nothingness.

How its done is by the workings of the brain which is at this stage of evolution a complete and utter mystery.
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 10:10 am
@Ergo phil,
In terms of awareness i believe that all things at a given point in time are aware of their surrounding. If you were to look at a dog which build itself off of encounters with other people. when it encounters someone it has never met before its rational response is to Bark loudly to announce that it dosent know you. But given the opportunity if one comes around the dog long enough the dog begins to recognize you and it stops barking at you. '

The only way for this to be possible is if the dog has some form of a conscious mind otherwise it wouldn't be able to build a profile of you and /or recognize your presence even memory requires a conscious and the dog obviously has some form otherwise it would attack anyone without notice or regret

Also Hello Im new here
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 09:19 am
@GHOST phil,
Topics on my page cover at atleast try to explain what thoughts are and the exceeding relevence of them so you should check it out. I think you are basically asking whether our actions,emotions etc etc are spiritual and natural or mechanical. I for one am on the spiritual side. Think about it, everything starts off as nothing right? What is that "nothing"?
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