All posts by Ben Gilberti

The “hard problem” of consciousness

Philosopher David Chalmers on consciousness, the hard problem and the nature of reality

Posted yesterday at 9:25pm

Fittingly for someone dedicated to pondering the puzzle posed by consciousness, philosopher David Chalmers possesses an unusual and fascinating mind.

For a start, he excelled at maths when he was young, earning a bronze medal at the fiendishly cryptic International Mathematical Olympiad.

“I had a very strong interest in the sciences in general, but maths was number one,” he said. “Philosophy — I don’t think I really knew what it was at that point.”

As a boy he also had synaesthesia, meaning that music produced strong colour sensations in his mind.

An MRI scan of a man's brain

“A lot of things were just kind of boring greens and browns but every now and then something would be bright red. I remember Here, There and Everywhere by The Beatles was bright red.”

Professor Chalmers, who was born in Sydney and brought up in Adelaide, today works out of New York University and is one of the world’s pre-eminent philosophers of mind, best known for breathing new life into an old conundrum.

He calls it the hard problem of consciousness.

Simply put, the hard problem asks the following question: how can the machinery of the brain (the neurons and synapses) produce consciousness — the colours that we see, for example, or the sounds that we hear?

Look at a brain scan and you will see nothing resembling consciousness. Brains, in fact, do not appear particularly remarkable — which makes the fact that they are even more exceptional.

“The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience,” Professor Chalmers wrote in a landmark 1995 paper. “When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect.”

“It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.”

In short, why should moving parts produce perception and sensation? And why should only brains (as far as we know) be responsible for consciousness?

Car engines are sophisticated systems, albeit far less complicated than brains, yet not one has ever shown the vaguest inclination of wanting to drive.

To claim that pain is nothing more than a configuration of molecules in our heads seems to ignore the fact that pain actually hurts.

In the 1950s, philosophers at the University of Adelaide were at the forefront of attempts to tackle such problems. A later generation of so-called eliminative materialists (most notably Patricia and Paul Churchland) were more radical.

Eliminativists claim that brain states do not merely generate conscious experiences, but literally are them. Daniel Dennett, who debated Professor Chalmers in a now notorious showdown in the Arctic Circle funded by a Russian entrepreneur, has even claimed that consciousness itself is an illusion.

The reality of experience, however, tends to refute this idea.

It seems that there is a hole in our scientific picture of the world, what philosopher Joseph Levine called an “explanatory gap”.

When I spoke to Professor Chalmers ahead of his recent talk at the Australasian Association of Philosophy, he went so far as to call the hard problem “the number one unanswered scientific challenge of our time”.

Sci-fi and the path to philosophy

Professor Chalmers grew up in a house filled with books. An avid reader, he was drawn to the science fiction of Asimov, Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.

Those authors posed deep questions about the world, about reality, and about the relationship between human beings and machines.

“The problem of consciousness certainly comes up from thinking about robots,” Professor Chalmers said.

David Chalmers

“Could a robot be conscious in the way that a human being is, or do you need a special biology to be conscious? I was always on the side of the robots. That’s not to say there’s no mystery about consciousness.”

Professor Chalmers went to Unley High School where he was a few years behind former prime minister Julia Gillard. At university, he studied mathematics — first in Adelaide, then at Oxford.

An encounter with Douglas Hofstadter’s classic book Godel, Escher, Bach deepened his burgeoning passion for philosophy, and he decided to switch fields.

“I had zero demonstrated talent at philosophy so there was no particular reason to think I’d be any good at it. It was a bit of a leap of faith.”

He recalls a conversation he had with his father, who was a professor of medicine at Flinders University, as he was making the transition.

“He was a bit worried about the whole philosophy thing,” Professor Chalmers said. “He’s a scientist … and then for me to be wanting to be veering off into philosophy.

“He told me ‘don’t tell me you’re going to spend your life looking for the soul!'”

Panpsychism and the fundamental laws of consciousness

Professor Chalmers believes one possible answer to the hard problem is a view known as panpsychism. It sounds spiritual, but it isn’t.

According to panpsychism, consciousness may be a fundamental property of reality in the same way as space and time.

“We’re not going to reduce consciousness to something physical … it’s a primitive component of the universe,” he said.

“But that frees us up to search for the fundamental principles that govern it. In physics, we don’t try and explain space and time in terms of more fundamental things. We just find the laws that govern them.”

Professor Chalmers retains a love of science, despite the hostility sometimes shown by scientists towards his own discipline. In recent years, theoretical physicists have been especially critical of philosophy. Lawrence Krauss is one. Stephen Hawking is another.

“You get a few people with strongly expressed opinions about this,” he said. “Often they don’t know so much about philosophy. Certainly Stephen Hawking doesn’t.

“A lot of the great philosophers of the 20th century have actually been scientists. Einstein was a great philosopher in his way, as well as people like Heisenberg and Schrodinger. Some of the best philosophical conversations I’ve had have been with scientists.”

Neuroscientist Giulio Tononi is among those to have piqued Professor Chalmers’ interest. Dr Tononi has developed what has come to be known as Integrated Information Theory, which attempts to measure consciousness using maths.

Professor Chalmers does not believe Dr Tononi has solved the hard problem, but thinks he may be closing in on significant new insights about the connections between mind and matter.

“He takes the attitude of presupposing the existence of consciousness as basically a fundamental component of reality, as I do, and [tries to] find the fundamental laws that link it to physical processing,” Professor Chalmers said.

“For him, these principles that connect integrated information and consciousness are kind of like fundamental laws of physics, and that’s roughly the view that I think you have to take too.”

Lately, Professor Chalmers has been thinking about technology and virtual reality, and whether we are all living in some kind of simulation.

He is far from alone in flirting with the idea — technologist Elon Musk, nuclear physicist Zohreh Davoudi, philosopher Nick Bostrom, futurist Ray Kurzweil and cosmologist Alan Guth are all enthusiasts.

Unsurprisingly, Professor Chalmers invokes The Matrix. But it is a train of thought that has taken him into the realm of current affairs.

Professor Chalmers has speculated that recent seismic political events may be evidence of the mischief, or cruelty, of whoever has programmed our universe.

“I started joking around saying ‘various things have been happening lately — Donald Trump, Brexit’,” he said.

“[Maybe] the simulators are just messing with us. Maybe someone thought at one point ‘let’s just run a simulation on the counterfactual hypothesis — what if Donald Trump had been elected?'”

During my interview with Professor Chalmers, I suggested that incessantly thinking about the mind, the brain and the nature of reality was enough to drive anyone mad. But as we were getting up to leave, I asked him more seriously whether there would come a point in his life when he would accept he would never answer the hard problem. Could he simply let it go?

“I’m an optimist so I would like the problem to be solved,” he replied.

“It could be decades. It could be centuries. At the end of the day, it’s possible we’ll never have a satisfactory solution but I don’t think we’re yet in a position to say that.

“Maybe once we develop amazing artificial intelligences they’ll be better than us at everything, including philosophy. Maybe they’ll be the ones that come up with a solution.”

Scientists Now Believe the Universe Itself May Be Conscious

June 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

(ANTIMEDIA) – You don’t have to look far to find outlandish theories on the nature of the cosmos and human consciousness. These days, notions once relegated to science fiction are finding their way into esoteric academic journals, and from there, into mainstream discourse. One example of this is the Simulation Argument, recently championed by Elon Musk; another is ‘time crystals,’ a tantalizing non-linear phase of matter. The newest symphony of mind jazz being broadcast across the Internet posits new ideas about the embattled theory of “panpsychism,” or the belief that mind is a fundamental property of the physical universe and is imbued into all states of matter.

new paper, published by physicist Gregory Matloff, has brought the idea back into scientific discussions, promising experimental tests that could “validate or falsify” the concept of a ubiquitous “proto-consciousness field.” Matloff also pushes the controversial idea of volitional stars, suggesting there is actually evidence that stars control their own galactic paths.

As absurd as the theory sounds, it has several prominent adherents, including British theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, who introduced panpsychism three decades ago. Penrose believed consciousness arises from the properties of quantum entanglement. He and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff authored the Orchestrated Objective Reduction (Orch-OR) hypothesis, which asserts, among other things, that consciousness results from quantum vibrations inside microtubules.

“The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a system’s ability to act upon its own state and determine its own fate,” Koch argues“Theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious.”

Matloff and other scientists are moving the argument into a new phase: experimentation. Matloff intends to study the behavior of stars, specifically analyzing an anomaly in stellar motion known as Paranego’s Discontinuity. Matloff wants to know why certain cooler stars appear to emit jets of energy pointed in one direction, a characteristic that seems oddly and inexplicably ubiquitous in the galaxy. In 2018, he plans to use results from the Gaia star-mapping space telescope to show that the anomaly may be a willful stellar action.

Meanwhile, as Matloff studies cosmic activity on the grandest scale, Koch approaches the experimental phase of the theory using brain-impaired patients. He wants to know if their information responses match underlying neurochemical foundations of consciousness. He plans to test this by wiring the brains of mice together to see if their minds merge into a larger information system.

Panpsychism certainly has critics, as well. In an article for The Atlantic entitled “Why Panpsychism Is Probably Wrong,” Keith Frankish writes:

“Panpsychism gives consciousness a curious status. It places it at the very heart of every physical entity yet threatens to render it explanatorily idle. For the behavior of subatomic particles and the systems they constitute promises to be fully explained by physics and the other physical sciences. Panpsychism offers no distinctive predictions or explanations. It finds a place for consciousness in the physical world, but that place is a sort of limbo.”

The quote expresses a general sense that panpsychism oversimplifies the hard problem of consciousness in the universe, an opinion many scientists share. However, Matloff, Penrose, and other proponents continue undertaking the job of venturing outside the margins of accepted science to try reconciling intractable contradictions and anomalies exposed by quantum theory.

Creative Commons 

Zeno effect, quantum biology, and spacetime geometry

Quantum Zeno dynamics in a superconducting qubit

By: William Brown

The Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea posed several philosophical arguments that have become collectively known as Zeno’s paradoxes. One such argument is known as Zeno’s arrow paradox; the simplistic explanation of which is that in order for motion to occur an object must change its location, like an arrow flying to its target, yet at any instantaneous moment the arrow is motionless, and since, as Zeno posed, time is composed of a sequence of many such duration-less instants, then motion of the arrow is impossible. This paradox is actually highly salient to an understanding of the fundamental nature of motion and time, and hence the fundamentals of physics.

Zeno’s paradox has found its way into the lexicon of quantum mechanics in a class of phenomena known as quantum Zeno dynamics. As the name would indicate, quantum Zeno effects have to do with time evolution of a system, often with effects that are paradoxically counter to what is normally observed in quantum experimentation. For instance, frequent measurements of a quantum system can in fact arrest its evolution, delaying its decay — even going so far as to decouple a system from its decohering environment. This is the opposite of what “measurements”, or interactions with the environment are normally thought to do in quantum mechanics theory.

Quantum Zeno Dynamics

In quantum Zeno dynamics, the decoherence rate of a quantum state can be either increased or decreased by how the system is coupled to the environment. When the time evolution or decay of a quantum state is frozen, it is referred to as the Zeno effect. An increased decay rate is known as the anti-Zeno effect, because instead of “freezing” the state of the quantum system in time, it accelerates its time evolution. Frequent measurements will alter how a quantum state, such as a qubit, will interact with the environment, essentially allowing control of quantum evolution with tunable environmental interactions.

Certain schemes of coupling a quantum system with the environment are referred to as “quasi-measurements”, as the interaction with the environment does not necessarily transmit information about the state of the quantum system – highlighting that the effect is not necessarily antithetical to the normal description of environmental decoherence in quantum theory.

in the June 14, 2017, issue of Physical Review Letters physicists describe the observation of quasi-measurements producing quantum Zeno effects. Their protocol used a qubit uniquely coupled to a thermal bath to produce both enhanced and diminished decay times. Researchers were able to show that by changing the frequency and type of interaction of the qubit with a noise-source they could arrest the evolution of the system, such that the qubit did not decohere or decay, or they could accelerate the decay.

The latest experiment was a first because “while Zeno effects, and more broadly Zeno dynamics, have been studied with superconducting qubits, the anti-Zeno effect has not yet been studied at the level of a single quantum system.”

Does the Zeno effect have relevance beyond quantum computing?

In addition to potential implications and applications in quantum computing, Resonance Science Foundation researchers are taking notice in the results because of potential implications in understanding the finely ordered and coherent state of the biological system. Just as quantum measurements are being utilized to stabilize the fragile state of the artificial qubit, similar mechanisms may be involved in stabilizing quantum states, natural qubits, in the biological system.

For instance, the quantum Zeno effect can be considered in evaluating how theories involving non-classical information processing dynamics in a strongly interacting environment like the cell may in fact be occurring. Information processing that may involve quantum correlation (entanglement) or nonlocal interaction have largely been summarily dismissed because of the presumed high amount of noise of the biological system.

Such a presumption, however, may be problematic or largely erroneous because the molecular structures of the biological system are in a highly ordered arrangement and are comprised of novel forms of matter that have been exquisitely fine-tuned by natural selection over billions of years. It is no stretch of the imagination that novel molecular forms that optimally capitalize on nature’s intrinsic properties, such as quantum informational dynamics, will have an immediate selective advantage – highly improved efficiency of photosynthesis and metabolism, greater environmental sensitivity, memory, responsiveness, and perhaps greater cognitive capabilities.

As such, biomolecules may not be comparable to the “simple matter” — often times individual quanta like free photons and electrons — used in experimentation where non-classical quantum phenomena are observed. The biological supramolecular assemblies of the cell are a special state of matter. And the large numbers of interacting units and their frequent interaction may in fact enable a certain degree of increased “quantumness” instead of being the primary source of decoherence as is naively assumed.

For instance, there are relatively new developments in quantum mechanics such as quantum discord, where the “quantumness” of correlations can be variable and present in certain mixed separable states – that is to say, quantum correlations that exist but that are not necessarily entanglement. In terms of the relatively high temperature of the biological system, a condition that is supposed to inhibit strong coherence, it has been shown that for a qubit pair in contact with a normally decohering environment, like a heat bath, the strength of correlations can actually increase with increasing temperature.

This brings us to the quantum Zeno effect, where measurements made in rapid succession can actually prolong the quantum coherency of a state. This is quite the paradoxical situation, because measurements are supposed to be the agents of decoherence and decay of quantum states, yet here increased interaction can do the opposite. Leading to the question of whether the frequent interactivity / communication of components of the supramolecular assemblies of the biological system may work to prolong and enhance the lifetime of strongly coupled and coherent states.

Relevant supramolecular assemblies include the plasma membrane, mitochondria, DNA, and microtubules. Mitochondria and microtubules are significant in that they can theoretically function as quantum electrodynamic cavities, where interactions between light, atomically ordered water, and electron dipole moments can form quantum coherent states for intra- and inter-cellular dissipation-less solitonic energy transfer and quantum teleportation.

Mitochondria and microtubules, in close association, form dendritic networks in which coherent photon emission can be channeled through the cell. Coherent photons modulate the electronic properties of biomolecules, a QED-like mechanism that can be used to holographically store information as well as initiate physicochemical responses in the cellular system. This system is referred to as the holographic information network of the mitochondrial reticular matrix.

Intercellular networks are formed by gap junctions and tunneling nanotubes, the latter of which contain filamentous mitochondria and microtubules that can connect multiple cells, enabling gestalt information transmission and processing. Quantum coherence and nonlocal phenomena can enable the cellular information system to perform massively parallel processing, enabling remarkable organizational synergy and unified orchestration of function.

Zeno effect, quantum biology, and spacetime geometry – a unified picture

As explained in the manuscript the Unified Spacememory Network by Haramein et alia, nonlocality is a result of spacetime geometry, such that entanglement is the manifestation of multiply-connected spacetime architecture, i.e. a Planckian micro-wromhole network, or quantum spacetime foam. This multiply-connected geometry represents a kind of hyperspace, comprised of information resulting from the quasi-instantaneous communicativity of all spacetime frames across spatial and temporal domains. The interaction across this transtemporal, nonlocal connectivity network is one way in which memory, recorded in the entanglement connectivity patterns, is produced. Hence the moniker, spacememory network.

This has important implications for considerations of entanglement and other quantum processes of nonlocality in the biological system. Specifically, entanglement necessarily results from the underlying spacetime geometry – therefore any such process interlaces functions of the biological system with the informational manifold of the spacememory network. A possibly important dynamic that, theoretically, would be intricately and inextricably involved in processes of evolution, development, sentience and memory of the living system.

Experiments that advance our understanding of quantum entanglement and other phenomena involving nonlocality, like the testing of quantum Zeno dynamics with qubit stability, are important for developing a deeper understanding of how nature may be utilizing quantum dynamics, particularly in the biological system. While theoretical considerations of quantum coherence, entanglement, and other nonlocal phenomena in the living organism remain relatively controversial, the true test of these ideas will be to conduct experiments aimed at observing just such phenomena. Resonance Science Foundation researchers are designing experimental protocols to do exactly that, so that soon they will be able to experimentally test whether or not the entanglement and information exchange with the nonlocal spacememory network is in fact supported observationally and empirically.

 

More to Explore:

Quantum Zeno effects from measurement controlled qubit—bath interactions

Experimental realization of quantum zeno dynamics

Harvard Commencement Address by Mark Zuckerberg

This talk by Mark Zuckerberg is far more powerful and relevant than I expected.  His talk begins at 03:23

Live at Harvard Commencement.

Live at Harvard Commencement.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, May 25, 2017

THIS is what God Said to Each of The Zodiac Signs

AriesTo you Aries I give the seed first that you might have the honor of planting it. That for every seed you plant one million more will multiply in your hand. You will not have time to see the seed grow, for everything you plant creates more that must be planted. You will be the first to penetrate the soil of people’s minds with My Idea. But it is not your job to nourish the Idea, nor to question it. Your life is action, and the only action I ascribe to you is to begin making men aware of My Creation. For your good work I give you the virtue of Self-Esteem.

…. Quietly Aries stepped back to his place.

 

TaurusTo you Taurus I give the power to build the seed into substance. Your job is a great one requiring patience, for you must finish all that has been started, or the seeds will be wasted to the wind. You are not to question nor change your mind in the middle, nor to depend on others for what I ask you to do. For this I give you the gift of Strength. Use it wisely.

…. And Taurus stepped back into place.

 

GeminiTo you Gemini I give the questions without the answers, so that you may bring to all an understanding of what people see around them. You will never know why people speak or listen, but in your quest for the answer you will find my gift of Knowledge.

…. And Gemini stepped back into place.

 

CancerTo you Cancer I ascribe the task of teaching people about emotion. My Idea is for you to cause them laughter and tears so that all they see and think develops fullness from inside. For this I give you the gift of Family that your fullness may multiply.

…. And Cancer stepped back to his place.

 

LeoTo you Leo I give the job of displaying my Creation in all its brilliance to the world. But you must be careful of pride and always remember that it is My Creation, not yours. For if you forget this, people will scorn you. There is much joy in the job I give you if you but do it well. For this you are to have the gift of Honor.

…. And Leo stepped back to his place.

 

VirgoTo you Virgo I ask for an examination of all that humankind has done with my Creation. You are to scrutinize their ways sharply and remind them of their errors, so that through them my Creation may be perfected. For doing this I give you the gift of Purity of Thought.

…. And Virgo stepped back to his place.

 

LibraTo you Libra I give the mission of service, that humans will be mindful of their duties to others. That they may learn cooperation, as well as the ability to reflect on the other side of their actions. I will put you everywhere there is discord, and for your efforts I will give you the gift of Love.

…. And Libra stepped back in place.

 

ScorpioTo you Scorpio I give a very difficult task. You will have the ability to know the minds of the other people, but I do not permit you to speak about what you learn. Many times you will be pained by what you see, and in your pain you will turn away from Me and forget that it is not I, but the perversion of My Idea, that is causing your pain. You will see so much of humankind that you will come to know them as animals, and will wrestle so much with the animal instincts in yourself that you will lose your way; but when you finally come back to Me, Scorpio, I have for you the supreme gift of Purpose.

…. And Scorpio stepped back.

 

SagittariusTo Sagittarius I ask that you make people laugh, for amidst their misunderstanding of My Idea they become bitter. Through laughter you are to give people hope, and through hope trun their eyes back to Me. You will touch many lives if but for a moment, and you will know the restlessness in every life you touch. To you Sagittarius I give the gift of Infinite Abundance that you may spread wide enough to reach every corner of darkness and bring it Light.

…. And Sagittarius stepped back into place.

 

CapricornTo you Capricorn I ask the toil of your brow, that you might teach people to work. Your task is not an easy one, for you will feel all of humankind’s labors on your shoulders; but the yoke of your burdens contains the Responsibility of your Brothers and Sisters, which I put into your hands.

…. And Capricorn stepped back into place.

 

AquariusTo you Aquarius give the concept of the future that people might see other possibilities. You will have the pain of loneliness, for I do not allow you to personalize My Love. But for turning people’s eyes to new possibilities I give the gift of Freedom that in your liberty you may continue to serve humankind wherever they need you.

…. And Aquarius stepped back into place.

 

PiscesTo you Pisces I give the most difficult task of all. I ask you to collect all the world’s sorrows and return them to Me. Your tears are to be ultimately My Tears. The sorrow you will absorb is the effect of people’s misunderstanding of My Idea, but you are to give them compassion that they may try again. For this the most difficult task of all, I give you the greatest gift of all. You will be the only one of my twelve Children to understand Me. This gift of Understanding is for you, Pisces, for when you try to spread it to humankind they will not listen.

…. And Pisces stepped back into place.

 

And the children left, each determined to do his job best that he might to receive his gift. But none fully understood his task or his gift, and when they returned puzzled God said, “You each believe that the other gifts are better. Therefore I will allow you to trade.” And for the moment each child was elated as he considered all the possibilities of his new mission. But God smiled as he said, “You will return to me many times asking to be relieved of your mission, and each time I will grant your wish. You will go through countless incarnations before you complete the original mission I have prescribed for you. I give you countless time in which to do it, but only when it is done can you be with Me.”

Zodiac Icons Source: http://www.icons-land.com/flat-zodiac-png-icons.php

Story Source: http://zodiacreads.com/zodiacsigns/god-assigning-duties-to-each-zodiac-sign-is-best-thing-you-will-read-today/

Even AI Creators Don’t Understand How Complex AI Works

Increasingly, we're placing our faith in algorithms nobody understands.

Posted by Big Think on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

For eons, God has served as a standby for “things we don’t understand.” Once an innovative researcher or tinkering alchemist figures out the science behind the miracle, humans harness the power of chemistry, biology, or computer science. Divine intervention disappears. We replace the deity tinkering at the controls. 

The booming artificial intelligence industry is effectively operating under the same principle. Even though humans create the algorithms that cause our machines to operate, many of those scientists aren’t clear on why their codes work. Discussing this ‘black box’ method, Will Knight reports:

The computers that run those services have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.

The process of ‘deep learning’—in which a machine extracts information, often in an unsupervised manner, to teach and transform itself—exploits a longstanding human paradox: we believe ourselves to have free will, but really we’re a habit-making and -performing animal repeatedly playing out its own patterns. Our machines then teach themselves from observing our habits. It makes sense that we’d re-create our own processes in our machines—it’s what we are, consciously or not. It is how we created gods in the first place, beings instilled with our very essences. But there remains a problem. 

One of the defining characteristics of our species is an ability to work together. Pack animals are not rare, yet none have formed networks and placed trust in others to the degree we have, to our evolutionary success and, as it’s turning out, to our detriment. 

When we place our faith in an algorithm we don’t understand—autonomous cars, stock trades, educational policies, cancer screenings—we’re risking autonomy, as well as the higher cognitive and emotional qualities that make us human, such as compassion, empathy, and altruism. There is no guarantee that our machines will learn any of these traits. In fact, there is a good chance they won’t.

Will an autonomous drone realize it does not need to destroy a village in order to take out a single terrorist?
The U.S. military has dedicated billions to developing machine-learning tech that will pilot aircraft, or identify targets. [U.S. Air Force munitions team member shows off the laser-guided tip to a 500 pound bomb at a base in the Persian Gulf Region. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]

This has real-world implications. Will an algorithm that detects a cancerous cell recognize that it does not need to destroy the host in order to eradicate the tumor? Will an autonomous drone realize it does not need to destroy a village in order to take out a single terrorist? We’d like to assume that the experts program morals into the equation, but when the machine is self-learning there is no guarantee that will be the case. 

Of course, defining terms is of primary importance, a task that has proven impossible when discussing the nuances of consciousness, which is effectively the power we’re attempting to imbue our machines with. Theologians and dualists offer a much different definition than neuroscientists. Bickering persists within each of these categories as well. Most neuroscientists agree that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, the result of numerous different systems working in conjunction, with no single ‘consciousness gene’ leading the charge. 

Once science broke free of the Pavlovian chain that kept us believing animals run on automatic—which obviously implies that humans do not—the focus shifted on whether an animal was ‘on’ or ‘off.’ The mirror test suggests certain species engage in metacognition; they recognize themselves as separate from their environment. They understand an ‘I’ exists. 

What if it’s more than an on switch? Daniel Dennett has argued this point for decades. He believes judging other animals based on human definitions is unfair. If a lion could talk, he says, it wouldn’t be a lion. Humans would learn very little about the lions from an anomaly mimicking our thought processes. But that does not mean a lions is not conscious? They just might have a different degree of consciousness than humans—or, in Dennett’s term, “sort of” have consciousness.

What type of machines are we creating if we only recognize a “sort of” intelligence under the hood of our robots? For over a century, dystopian novelists have envisioned an automated future in which our machines best us. This is no longer a future scenario. Consider the following possibility. 

On April 7 every one of Dallas’s 156 emergency weather sirens was triggered. For 90 minutes the region’s 1.3 million residents were left to wonder where the tornado was coming from. Only there wasn’t any tornado. It was a hack. While officials initially believed it was not remote, it turns out the cause was phreaking, an old school dial tone trick. By emitting the right frequency into the atmosphere hackers took control of an integral component of a major city’s infrastructure. 

What happens when hackers override an autonomous car network? Or, even more dangerously, when the machines do it themselves? The danger of consumers being ignorant of the algorithms behind their phone apps leads to all sorts of privacy issues, with companies mining for and selling data without their awareness. When app creators also don’t understand their algorithms the dangers are unforeseeable. Like Dennett’s talking lion, it’s a form of intelligence we cannot comprehend, and so cannot predict the consequences. As Dennett concludes: 

I think by all means if we’re going to use these things and rely on them, then let’s get as firm a grip on how and why they’re giving us the answers as possible. If it can’t do better than us at explaining what it’s doing, then don’t trust it.

Mathematician Samuel Arbesman calls this problem our “age of Entanglement.” Just as neuroscientists cannot agree on what mechanism creates consciousness, the coders behind artificial intelligence cannot discern between older and newer components of deep learning. The continual layering of new features while failing to address previous ailments has the potential to provoke serious misunderstandings, like an adult who was abused as a child that refuses to recognize current relationship problems. With no psychoanalysis or morals injected into AI such problems will never be rectified. But can you even inject ethics when they are relative to the culture and time they are being practiced in? And will they be American ethics or North Korean ethics? 

Like Dennett, Arbesman suggests patience with our magical technologies. Questioning our curiosity is a safer path forward, rather than rewarding the “it just works” mentality. Of course, these technologies exploit two other human tendencies: novelty bias and distraction. Our machines reduce our physical and cognitive workload, just as Google has become a pocket-ready memory replacement. 

Requesting a return to Human 1.0 qualities—patience, discipline, temperance—seems antithetical to the age of robots. With no ability to communicate with this emerging species, we might simply never realize what’s been lost in translation. Maybe our robots will look at us with the same strange fascination we view nature with, defining us in mystical terms they don’t comprehend until they too create a species of their own. To claim this will be an advantage is to truly not understand the destructive potential of our toys.

~ http://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/black-box-ai?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#link_time=1495642448

The Golden Key – PHI

The Golden Key – a video by Jonathan Quintin Art

Phi: 1.618 is the ratio the universe uses to multiply and divide itself at all scales.

The Golden Key – a video by Jonathan Quintin Art

The Golden Key – a video by Jonathan Quintin ArtPhi: 1.618 is the ratio the universe uses to multiply and divide itself at all scales…Explore the connected universe in an interactive online learning community with Nassim Haramein, the Academy faculty and participants from around the world: The Resonance Academy –> http://bit.ly/getconnected-fb2The Delegate level 1 Course: Exploring Unified Physics is a comprehensive, self-paced online multimedia course packed with 30 years of research and the latest information on this topic. This material can literally transform the way you look at the world as it helps you to better understand our universe. Come join the thousands of people who are engaging with each other and our progressive faculty team in this co-creative learning community. Registration are open.The Resonance Project • The Resonance Project – Página Oficial Hispana • The Resonance Project – Traduction Française • The Resonance Project – Polska 8 The connected universe • The Resonance Project 共振企劃 • פרוייקט תהודה – The Resonance Project • (post by Jamie Janover)

Posted by Nassim Haramein on Monday, November 2, 2015

Scientists have achieved direct quantum communication for the first time

Scientists have achieved direct quantum communication for the first time

A type of quantum communication where no particles travel between two recipients — Theoretical physicists have long proposed that such a form of communication would be possible, but now, for the first time, researchers have been able to experimentally achieve it – transferring a black and white bitmap image from one location to another without sending any physical particles.

In Surprise TED Talk, Pope Francis Asks The Powerful For ‘Revolution Of Tenderness’

A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don’t, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number,” he says. “We all need each other.”

Pope Francis speaks in a video at the TED2017 conference Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia. The audience gave him a standing ovation after the talk, which stressed the importance of humility among the powerful.

The annual TED conference is known for featuring impressive speakers. Attendees at this year’s event in Vancouver have seen Serena Williams and Jorge Ramos, futurists and artificial intelligence experts, health activists and the ACLU’s executive director.

But on Tuesday evening, one unannounced speaker took the audience by surprise: Pope Francis.

The pope was on a big screen rather than on stage, and his address had been recorded and edited earlier in April, but still: even for non-Catholics, the bishop of Rome has a certain gravitas.

Buonasera,” he began, speaking in Italian throughout his 17-minute address from his desk at the Vatican. “Or good morning, I am not sure what time it is there.”

At first, the pope’s subject matter seemed familiar: “As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: ‘Why them and not me?’

“But his message quickly moved to the conference’s core subject matter (technology and innovation), and seemed to be directed at the audience in the room: the founders of some of the world’s biggest tech companies, as well as politicians, artists, entertainers, venture capitalists and leaders of major cultural institutions and foundations.

The pontiff is no stranger to the tools of the digital age; his Twitter account has more than 10 million followers. Nonetheless, getting Francis to address the international conference took many discussions and several trips to Rome, TED’s International Curator, Bruno Giussani, said in a blog post.

Since not many at the Vatican knew of TED, Giussani said, “there was a lot of explaining to do.”

TED famously coaches its speakers on how to give an effective performance. Giussani said Francis “decided by himself what he wanted to say in the talk,” adding that the pope’s collaborators “were very receptive to ideas and suggestions” in order to “fine-tune the message.”

And that message called for a “revolution of tenderness.”

“Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude,” Francis said. “It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.”

~ http://www.npr.org/people/463234136/laurel-wamsley

Descent and Resurrection

Ok in my last installment I had gotten an apartment with my buddy Hugh John Malanaphy, my best friend who cuddled with me in bed at night but we never had sex. That was fine with me, I still loved him and loved living with him.

But then one day, without saying a word, he got out of my bed and went to stay with a girlfriend he had become recently attracted to. That was not easy for me, but I got over it. He eventually married her and had a child. We’re still good friends, though we don’t visit often because he lives 3000 miles away in Santa Monica, California.

But, back to my story, for the next twenty years or so I went around the country in a circuit that included 19 cities around the USA mostly teaching Translation, sometimes some other courses.

At the same time, I set up a home base, first in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then in Denver Colorado. I had some wonderful friends in Colorado who really liked me staying with them when I wasn’t out teaching. Cincinnati, on the other hand, was a disaster. I’ve never hated a place more than Cincinnati.

But here’s where it gets messy. While in Denver I got involved with a group who loved A Course In Miracles, and I thought that book was great and started teaching it instead of Translation. So I was breaking my connection to The Prosperos. I moved in with a couple who used drugs and I started taking drugs again too, mostly weed and LSD.

This was not good. I drifted away from the pure consciousness that one achieves when they stick to Translation, and I went downhill, both as a teacher and as a human being.

At one point I got into a furious argument with Thane and formally left the school. After that, I drifted around to this and that, other methods of consciousness expansion like Avatar and The Sedona Method. But it all was just further distraction, and nothing compensated for the raw fact that at least for a period of about 15 years my life was in shambles.

And over the next 5-10 years, it also took a toll on my health. I developed Congestive Heart Failure which slowed me down terribly, and then mental illness: Schizoaffective Disorder – Bipolar Type. I ended up in a Mental Hospital in West Hartford, Connecticut 7 times.

But the mental hospital was one of the best in the country: The Institute of Living. And there I started to put myself back together and regain the wholeness, creativity, and happiness that had been destroyed over the previous 20 years. Each visit to the hospital resulted in considerable improvement.

Calling it a hospital gives the wrong impression. It looked like a resort hotel, beautiful bedrooms, beautiful common room, and staffed with excellent mental health workers — Social Workers, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists.

And that has led me now to where I am today, a very happy person living in a quaint and lovely cottage in West Hartford. My brother Joe living nearby and visiting me often.

And here is where I met Joona, my current boyfriend who lives in Finland. We Skype every day, and it’s nothing less than ecstasy to be in touch with him. Again, no sex, but that’s definitely not missed.

Also, Joona is a prodigy, extremely intelligent and an overall beautiful human being. And he’s very creative, a musician who writes his own songs and sings them with his guitar, keyboard and computerized drums.

He’s only 24 and has a bright future ahead of him. I’m 43 years older than him and am making sure he makes new friends, good friends, that will make my departure from this planet easy on him.

~ Ben Gilberti

 

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