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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 3:21 pm 
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Faramond--

Awareness implies the ability to self-alter whatever algorithm is used to map external stimuli into internal schema. That is, one day looking at a cloud will make me react one way, but the next day, in a context otherwise identical, I can react in a different way, simply because my thought process at the time was different.

I wouldn't even go so far, really, as to say that computers map reality at the same level we do. They don't. They can store external stimuli (keystrokes, for example ;) ) and process them according to set rules, but they don't build up an internal model of the physical world based on that. They can barely distinguish what we would call significant patterns, for one thing, and that's something animals (and us) do WITHOUT thought. But even if they could, to then take those patterns and extrapolate to...no. Doesn't happen. Can't happen. That requires volition. Will and self-awareness, I suspect, are inseperable.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 5:32 pm 
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I agree.

If there is no "I," you cannot say "I will that..."

Now, it is possible that there could be some sort of "group-awareness", in which a part is merely aware that it belongs to a whole. But then, I'm not sure the part could have independent will. But whatever that is, it isn't human, so I won't take that any further.

I think the plot of the Terminator movies was that humans created a computer program that became self-aware...and then decided to destroy the world. But the plot was interrupted by long action sequences, so I might have missed something ;). But again, that connection between self-awareness and the ability to make decisions (to have a will) is made.

The Medievals claimed three traits of the human soul: memory, will, and reason. I don't know enough about medieval philosophy to really comment, but I think memory is closely tied to self-awareness. Both let you know who you are, at any rate.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 1:58 am 
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I think memory is closely tied to self-awareness. Both let you know who you are, at any rate.


Or who you were, or perhaps have been, in the case of memory. I am not who I was when I was 5, or 15, or 25, or 35. In some ways I am a fundamentally different being, and in others I am unchanged, but the mix has changed drastically over the years. I have been self-aware to one degree or another the whole time, but that self has not been the same.

Do we need to split the consciousness/awareness discussion away from the main thread?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:13 am 
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Do we need to split the consciousness/awareness discussion away from the main thread?


Unless the threadstarter feels it is going too far afield I'll leave it as is. Feels like all these things are related in some ways.

Jn

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:53 am 
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Agree with Jny.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:20 pm 
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The act of observing something changes the way it behaves.
What is that called?

I thought it might be the uncertainty principle, but that isn't right. Although Heisenberg might have some bearing on the discussion. If you are going to try and predict anything in the universe, it always comes down into particles. Everything we perceive is a particle or wave or something inbetween. Light and time and gravity and quarks... To predict where any one of these things are going to go, you would need to know the position and the velocity of each. But the uncertainty principle or "principle of indeterminacy" states that:

The simultaneous measurement of two conjugate variables (such as the momentum and position or the energy and time for a moving particle) entails a limitation on the precision (standard deviation) of each measurement. Namely: the more precise the measurement of position, the more imprecise the measurement of momentum, and vice versa. In the most extreme case, absolute precision of one variable would entail absolute imprecision regarding the other.

http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p08a.htm

Also, predicting anything requires precision... Nothing in the universe can be too precise. I did a math presentation a long time ago on quantum teleportation. I described the problem of exact precision as having a metal tube and a metal pipe the same exact diameter as the hole in the pipe. If the pipe is exactly the size of the opening, you will not be able to put that pipe in the tube. There needs to be some give, some wiggle room.

The Tao on wiggle room: The tree that does not yield is easily broken.

This is just my limited understanding. Please, educate me if you know more.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:19 pm 
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Prince Alarming,

The idea that the act of observation influences the result is also Heisenberg.

"What we observe is not Nature, but Nature exposed to our method of questioning."

The way I have always understood this, in its most general sense, is that we are only able to observe those aspects of an event that are measurable by our method, and this falls very far short of capturing the 'nature' of the system.

However, I believe that in particle physics this principle has a more literal meaning. What is happening in experiments like the double-slit experiment, where the photon being observed does behave differently depending on the experimental conditions? I believe this is an ongoing conundrum in physics, the extent to which the behavior of the system is actually altered by the experiment. But the person among us who knows the most about this is probably Faramond.

Jn

eta: and Brian!

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Last edited by Jnyusa on Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:21 pm 
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Is it that things are being perceived differently than they are, or that they are different when perceived?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:24 pm 
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Both. :D

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:27 pm 
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I see. So perhaps it was the animal magnetism of the observer that made the atoms merge? :P


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:29 pm 
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Programmers talk of Heisenbugs - glitches in the program that cannot be recreated when a programmer is watching. :D

In behavioral studies, too, the presence of the observer changes the behaviour of the observed. One study actually showed that women in labor had better outcome if a person who was not on the nursing staff was in the room, even if that person didn't do or say anything at all.

What was the topic again? :upsidedown:

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:31 pm 
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I have a theory that if no one ever read messageboards, there would never be any social dillemas. :P


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:52 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
In behavioral studies, too, the presence of the observer changes the behaviour of the observed.


That's called The Hawthorne Effect because it was discovered at the RCA plant in Hawthorn, NJ by management consultants who were trying to determine what wattage of light bulb allowed assemby line workers to be most productive. Turned out that the mere presence of management consultants had more to do with increases in productivity than the light bulbs, which explains the current surfeit of management consultants. ;)

Ta! It is in the nature of discovery that one never knows in advance what one will find!

Holby wrote:
I have a theory that if no one ever read messageboards, there would never be any social dillemas.


There would still be social dilemmas but if they fell down in the forest no one would hear them. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:57 pm 
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Jnyusa wrote:
That's called The Hawthorne Effect because it was discovered at the RCA plant in Hawthorn, NJ by management consultants who were trying to determine what wattage of light bulb allowed assemby line workers to be most productive. Turned out that the mere presence of management consultants had more to do with increases in productivity than the light bulbs, which explains the current surfeit of management consultants. ;)


You mean, the presence of the observer prevents the observed from sneaking out on the message boards? :blackeye:

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 10:58 pm 
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Some guy wrote:
I have a theory that if no one ever read messageboards, there would never be any social dillemas.


But think of the hapless salmon! :P Who would give their lives purpose?

For physical measurements, the observer effect, like the uncertainty principle, is mainly important at close range and at very small scales.

In physical chemistry class once, we had to calculate the uncertainty in the position of a Buick Skylark moving at highway speed. As I recall, it was too small a length to be measured by any means known to science.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:03 pm 
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Well this all just goes to show that whether we will or nill, everything affects everything, and that in turn may be evidence that we and all around us are truly connected.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:05 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
In physical chemistry class once, we had to calculate the uncertainty in the position of a Buick Skylark moving at highway speed. As I recall, it was too small a length to be measured by any means known to science.


Prim reveals how long ago she took physical chemistry :P


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:28 pm 
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Pfaugh! <shakes fist feebly> And you probably don't even know what phlogiston is, you sprat.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:02 am 
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Strictly speaking, there isn't any result unless there is an observation in the first place. So what does it mean, really, to say the observation changes the results?

However, an observation now may change what I would have observed an hour from now. I'm not sure if "would have" is a concept supported by physics, though.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:07 am 
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Speaking of phlogiston, Mythbusters worked out what caused the trousers of farmers in the 30's to 'spontaneously' combust. :D

While they were watching, even! :upsidedown:

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