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Old June 4th 02, 12:01   #21
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Re: 20 years

To each their approach. For me, that approach does not work. Data cannot be read/written without sufficient energy being applied. Especially if the carrier (human brain) is not designed for "full backups".

Only forgetting, loss of organized state can happen easily, with little energy expended. To make me suspect that such information can last while maintaining individual form, you would have to present three mechanisms.

1. A mechanism of storage beyond nature and generations of human beings, beyond the countless things they inherit from past generations (thoughts, ideas, doubts, beliefs, environment, genes, society, economy, knowledge of ourselves, knowledge about the world, anything which makes us unique or shapes our perception, anything we create or change, thus expressing our nature).

2. A mechanism of transfer capable of replacing every known means. Because anything less would leave something untransfered, part of our essence uncovered. I cannot see such a mechanism... except our everyday life. Only the process of life can convey all aforementioned things.

3. A source of energy propelling this storage and transfer, protecting this information from entropy (beyond processes already known, propelling life in this universe). Because clearly, we have no internal sources of energy or matter. Nothing but temporary reserves. Every system which decreases entropy (life does that) must be an open system, gaining energy from outside (life does that).

4. Alternatively, you could point out a reason why the laws applying to all other information (no matter if genes or computer intellect) would not apply to the information we call soul. Sadly enough, I suspect that the law of increasing entropy applies to all.
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Old June 5th 02, 06:41   #22
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Re: 20 years

I hate smart people [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif[/img]. I understand what you're saying and I honestly wish I had something more tangible to offer you in the way of an argument but half of my argument is hinged solely in the belief of the unknown and unexplained. If I may, I'd like to know from you what you believe? I mean you've done a masterful job of putting a spanner in the works thus completely debasing my argument. However I'm not going to discard it completely, just reprove it [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
seriously though there is an energy loss when one dies and furthermore it is not as negligible as one may think.
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Old June 5th 02, 16:33   #23
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Re: 20 years

The one problem I have with seeing the Brain as a Computer is sentience. Can you if you really think about it really accept that every thought you have is just a bundle of electrical impulses? I can't. Of course, It's possible, everything is. As I said before, I follow no faith or religion or similar, I'd probably count as an agnostic. I believe that humans do not have the means to understand how the universe and life functions completely. No that does not mean I am against scientists, I'm just people claiming they understand what it's all about. They don't. Noone does.
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Old June 5th 02, 17:12   #24
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Re: 20 years

Nobody undestands the human mind in every detail. To fully undestand something of complexity equal to yourself... would be jumping over your own shadow. Very unlikely to happen.

But one can undestand principles, and they suggest that the brain is just another computer. Not the average computer. Quite a fancy biological computer, with self-programming, self-repair and self-analysis capabilities.

But it follows the same rules as simpler computers. Therefore I would suspect that an overwhelming portion of my essence is simply various interlinked states of information, stored and processed in brain.

If one can see a gradual increase of complexity from simple cells to human beings, one can assume that on some level, they all follow similar rules. The rules of energy, matter, information... and life, no matter if sentient, half-sentient, quarter-sentient or even less sentinent.

Even the simplest bacterial cell exhibits "learning" and "personality". Immensely simpler than human learning and personality, happening via genetic rather than neural processes, within one cell instead billions. But it reacts to environment, and adapts. Give it great periods of time, and it will try different options. Some may yield something like us.
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Old June 6th 02, 08:13   #25
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Re: 20 years

In other words a successful fluke!
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Old June 6th 02, 19:36   #26
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Re: 20 years

I disagree completely. Human consciousness, i believe, is not simply the product of the mechanical structure of the human brain. of course, the human brain is an incredibly complicated work... electrochemical responces, neural pathways, synapses and electic potentials. is this like a computer? certanly not like any computer we have now... computers may look like they 'think' sometimes, but they don't. computers follow algorithms. any artifical intellegence program created thus far is simply algorithms and heuristics... but you cannot make true consciousness out of these. human consciousness, i believe, is what is known as an emergant property. this is, essentially, when you get something that is more than the sum of its parts.

but your rules of energy, matter, information... you cannot hold these as paramount, simply because you don't know and cannot know how these rules themselves operate. right now, no one knows. both relativity and quantum mechanics are wrong because they contradict each other, all different versions of string theory (which all combine into M-Theory) are incomplete... we dont even know all the equations that go into it, and the ones we do know are unsolvable... all the values that we have now are approximations.

so what i'm trying to say is that no one can say theres no such thing as a soul. for all we know, the soul is a form of previously undiscovered energy thats held inside the quantum structure of the neurons of your brain. the point is, there is so much about life and the universe itself that we simply dont know. faith doesnt have to be believing in something that scientific evidence doesnt support.. it can be believing in something that is simply beyond the scope of what modern science includes

or, er, and on the topic of sheridan and lorien, what everyone seems to have forgotten is that besides falling down a hole, a very powerful nuclear device was detonated above him... i dunno about narn thermonuclear devices, but current human ones require a 'smaller' fission reaction to set off the 'larger' fusion reaction, and the level of radiation put off by that can't be good for you...
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Old June 6th 02, 20:20   #27
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Re: 20 years

I disageree completely.

1. There are computers which emulate neural networks, and achieve it quite beautifully. Just that currently, they are powerful enough to simulate worm behaviour.

2. There are artificial intellect programs which are built from bottom up (without more hard-coded algorithms than our bodies have hard-coded genes). They learn by interacting with the world, observing and building their own rules. Some have even reached intellect comparable to mammals.

3. Therefore sooner or later, artificial intellect will built which possesses all "emergent properties" often attributed to people, but actually possessed (in widely different degrees) by all life.

4. These properties (personality, thought, curiosity, boredom, doubt, free will, happyness, sadness, love, hate) are inherent to any sufficiently complex self-building information system interacting with its environment.

5. The properties possessed by adaptive collections of information create no exceptions to the rule of increasing entropy. In fact, nothing seems to contradict that universal principle. While relativity and quantum physics may <font color=yellow>seem</font color=yellow> contradictory with each other, neither of them really contradicts the basic laws of energy, matter and information.

6. These laws are quite simple. In closed systems, energy and mass (not really separate concepts, but somewhat intertwined) remain constant, but entropy only increases. To preserve information from entropy, energy must be expended. To transfer information, energy must be expended.

7. Nothing in currently known research suggests that anything but the human brain runs the human mind. This has been proven via deduction and induction, top down and bottom up, by observing function and failure, and it fits. Now if the human brain runs the human mind, why should something mysterious &amp; unrelated to brain be involved in such processes?

8. Clearly the information stored and processed by brain has no other fully compatible storage but another brain. Information cannot exist without media. Clearly personality changes (and may be lost) already in our lifetime. Clearly no imaginable means can explain it remaining after death?

9. Why? Because that would be energetically impossible. Basing on everything currently known, there is no mechanism or energy source capable of preserving such information. <u>Remember that such information is generated constantly everywhere,</u> by every known form of life, starting from the simplest and ending with the most complicated!

Now imagine how much "soul" the world would have generated since its beginning. The energy required to maintain that information would suck dry not only our universe, but countless universes. All of mass, all of energy and all of Queen's men could not maintain that information.

Hence I must conclude that this information has been lost. Clearly it is being lost constantly, with the passing of each being. Basing on everything I have seen and learnt and considered, I cannot imagine any alternative to this uncomforting state of affairs. The only comforting part is that where energy is available, life and information can maintain itself, and continue its existence in generations of living beings, hopefully gaining more understanding along the way.
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Old June 7th 02, 06:58   #28
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Re: 20 years



Hence I must conclude that this information has been lost. Clearly it is being lost constantly, with the passing of each being. Basing on everything I have seen and learnt and considered, I cannot imagine any alternative to this uncomforting state of affairs. The only comforting part is that where energy is available, life and information can maintain itself, and continue its existence in generations of living beings, hopefully gaining more understanding along the way.</font color=yellow><hr></blockquote>

Once again. You are referring to a closed system. A point in time in 3 dimensional space. Given our understanding of our current position in our galaxy, let alone the universe gives rise to the question of other points in other phases of time and place.
Lennier I'll be straight with you, you are a stimulating debater and the form and force of your arguments are excellent. The problem is that you appear to be fact orientated whereas I lean more towards the faith aspect. Not blind faith mind you, just a mixture of fact and other stuff to base my opinions on. This debate could continue in a stalemate fashion for however long because I do not have the tangibility to sway your opinion and there is no way in hell mine will be changed.
After all is variety not the spice of life? [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

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Old June 7th 02, 16:21   #29
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Re: 20 years

1) Emulation is one thing. And worms arent conscious.

2) Intellect? You mean, some have reached the level that they appear to have intellect. That they simulate it. But they don't actually have it... it's all a simulation based on heuristics. You also cannot compare hard-coded algorithms to hard-coded genes. DNA tells what structure our bodies take. How the brain forms, what instincts we have... but it doesn't tell us how to think in anything that can be directly compared to an algorithim.

3) Thats a big assumption, certanly not a fact.

4) A human is *not* an information system. If we were, we'd have much better memories [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif[/img] The point of the human brain is not to store or process information like a computer, but the point of it is to *think*. True thought transcends language, and you can't quantify it into set electrical pathways and algorithms.

5) So they create no exceptions to the rule of increasing entropy... yeah, and thats one important property of the universe. But there are so many others. Relativity and Quantum Mechanics do not both work together, if you put in some research you'll see that to be true. Your basic laws of matter, energy and information? Can you explain to me what matter is? Where mass comes from? What exactly is energy? Of course you can't... right now, no one can. Entropy is all well and good, but its only one property.

6) You don't have to expend energy to transfer information... look at things like Quantum Entanglement. Two particles that are entangled are linked, and will react instantly to each other no matter where they are, with no energy transfered between them.

7) You say "suggests". Suggests doesn't equal know. But if you have faith that thats the way things are, then I have no problem with that. You can prove things via logical processes all you want, but if you don't have all the information when you go in to do your proofs, then you're going to come up with incorrect solutions. And we simply don't know enough about how the brain works to simply go on and say that you can be sure either way. People used to think that the 'plum pudding' model of the atom fit. Then they thought it was the Borh model. Each model was thought to fit with experimental evidence, when new evidence came along the model was refined... or completely thrown out in place of a new one. Our current model of quantum dynamics will someday also be thrown out. If you don't know all the facts about how a system functions, your model and assumptions will be inherently flawed.

8) This is, in fact, not clear at all. How do you know that the information stored in the brain has no other storage medium? We have such a limited understanding of the universe, such a limited understand of what is possible that you cant go off and say "clearly this and clearly that."

9) Who said every form of life had a soul? But the crux of this is "Basing on everything currently known..." Because everything thats currently known is wrong....

My whole point here is that there simply is not enough information, that we simply do not know enough about the universe, to say that something is impossible or something isnt, not something as inherently mysterious as a soul. Perhaps all the energy that is needed is all drawn upon from one source, and when that source runs out there will be no more souls. Aren't there elements of christiantiy that sound similar to that? Maybe the afterlife involves the energy of a soul being twisted into an n-dimensional Calabi-Yau space which doesnt interact with the rest of the universe. Maybe the soul becomes transformed into a previously unknown form of energy or matter or maybe something different entirely. You can't say for certan that matter and energy are all there is, because as I said we simply don't really know how the universe works. All we have are therories and equations that approximate things, and every physicist knows them to be incorrect.

Hence I conclude that there simply isn't enough information either way. There are too many unknowns in this universe, too many gaps in our knowledge. While I see that you're looking at this from a 'scientific' view, there's nothing not scientific about saying "there is not enough information to make a determination at this time." But it seems to me that you have a great deal of faith in things working the way you outlined them here.

To be completely honest, and my intent is not meant to be insulting and I apologize if it is, people have been grappling with this question for thousands of years... why all of a sudden do you think you've come up with the answer in one lifetime?
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Old June 7th 02, 20:02   #30
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Re: 20 years

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>1) Emulation is one thing.<hr></blockquote> Emulation of all effects (variance of response under similar circumstances included) means understanding and using mechanisms which drive the real thing. You cannot achieve that without using the same principles. No matter if the hard-coded part is genes and neurons, or ROM and processors.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>And worms arent conscious.<hr></blockquote> Actually, they are. Obviously less conscious than people, having less sensors to observe their environment, less neural cells to accept, analyze, process and store information. Less complicated arrangement of those neural bundles. But their neural systems are based on the same fundamental principles. Only the complexity and arrangement differs.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>3) Thats a big assumption, certanly not a fact.<hr></blockquote> Certainly a fact. When life on Earth works the same way, and despite diversity expresses similar characteristics, why should you assume that humans (or any other species) have properties which other life (or artificial life) cannot possess?

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>4) A human is *not* an information system. If we were, we'd have much better memories The point of the human brain is not to store or process information like a computer, but the point of it is to *think*.<hr></blockquote> Life is an adaptive information system, and we are too. We are also energy-processing systems. Ecosystems, societies, individuals, cells and genes. We use energy to decrease entropy, adapt and organize information (on many levels). Our point has never been storing maximum data... but learning in flexible manner, creating knowledge and using that knowledge. Hopefully for the benefit of life, because if life cannot last, that knowledge cannot last either.

Our knowledge is simply somewhat more complicated than bacterial knowledge. Their knowledge is only their genes, we store our knowledge in countless different ways, the main (at least in these times) being our brain.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>Can you explain to me what matter is? Where mass comes from? What exactly is energy? Of course you can't... right now, no one can. Entropy is all well and good, but its only one property.<hr></blockquote> No. I cannot define mass without my definition using either mass, time or energy. But I can explain how mass interacts. The same about energy, and their interaction with time, which produces entropy.

If all interactions I see follow the same direction, I prefer to consider that direction more possible than others. Until the point where I notice an interaction which seems to "break the rules". Now in the latter case, I would become curious and consider how the new interaction fits in the puzzle. But in questions related to personality/soul, I cannot find such interactions, and the information approach explains everything in sufficient depth.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>You don't have to expend energy to transfer information... look at things like Quantum Entanglement. Two particles that are entangled are linked, and will react instantly to each other no matter where they are, with no energy transfered between them.<hr></blockquote> I suspect that by concluding that, you would misinterpret the meaning of transfer. My knowledge of physics is rather limited. Yet despite that, I have had the honor to read some very interesting articles on the subject of causality and 'spooky action from distance' as someone called Einstein quite adequately called it.

After twisting my poor mind more than I would have wished, I did gain a superficial understanding of what better-prepared people speculate on this subject. It has become my impression that indeed, by considering the probabilistic nature of quantum effects, and applying relativity to these probabilistic events, one can explain many seeming contradictions, if not all.

"A pair of quantum particles can exist in entangled 'superposition', a mixture of states that resolves only when some physical property such as spin or polarization is measured."

Now if timespace is relative, then under certain conditions (like photons leaving an atom in opposite directions) the event of measuring determines the state of the particle (itself located not "there", but only "probably there"), and due to the combined effects of quantum and relativistic processes, causality actually extends "backward in time".

Without using the concept of relative space/time, you would observe mysterious "instant cause without energy expended". By accounting for relativity, you would see cause and effect, because the event has not "already happened". That is not transfer, simply probabilities in relative time.

If my above quotation was indeed a description of quantum entanglement, I would dare to recommend <a target="_blank" href=http://fergusmurray.members.beeb.net/Causality.html>an article which I found very interesting.</a> Unfortunately it is somewhat difficult to read, but this difficulty is more than rewarded by amusement obtained from its contents.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>...we simply don't know enough about how the brain works to simply go on and say that you can be sure either way. / ... / If you don't know all the facts about how a system functions, your model and assumptions will be inherently flawed.<hr></blockquote> To make <font color=yellow>sufficiently true conclusions,</font color=yellow> you need to know <font color=yellow>sufficiently much.</font color=yellow> I don't have to be omniscient to guess that, should a hydrogen bomb explode near me, all known expressions of my personality, and all storage media known to harbour it, would be turned into random traces of heat and radiation, and forever lost. To believe the opposite, I would need sufficient proof, which is not available. Sufficient proof that my aforementioned suspicion (and resulting dislike of hydrogen bombs) is justified, does however exist.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>This is, in fact, not clear at all. How do you know that the information stored in the brain has no other storage medium?<hr></blockquote> My reasoning is simple: if the brain runs these processes, it is <font color=yellow>extremely unlikely</font color=yellow> that anything inherently different duplicates the brain and runs exactly the same processes.

My second approach is somewhat less usable, but points in the same direction: now if the personality would have some way of surviving damage to brain, which would be the "right" personality: the one currently running in the brain (although the brain suffered damage) or some "master copy" residing elsewhere?

Why should anything not in the brain be considered the "master copy"? Even if such copies could exist (clearly impossible) we would be left with a contradiction: there would be no master copy. Because all states of the same personality would be equal. The learning infant and the demented elderly mind, and everthing in between.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>Who said every form of life had a soul?<hr></blockquote> I said that, because all forms of life I have encountered, no matter if by meeting on street or observing via microscope, have all been remarkably similar. One of them cannot be special, possess something which another does not have. Otherwise you might have soul and I might not, or vice versa. Because we are quite obviously somewhat different.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>...people have been grappling with this question for thousands of years... why all of a sudden do you think you've come up with the answer in one lifetime?<hr></blockquote> But you see, I suspect that I have only one lifetime to answer this question. To leave behind a somewhat better world clearly requires consideration about how the world works. I feel the need to consider some isses (even puzzling ones) and answer them to some extent.

I know well that my answer is not yours. Neither final, nor obligatory to others. Actually not even myself, for people often doubt their own answers. Despite that, I still try to answer, preferring to make informed choices, even if the information is not complete.
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