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Comment author: Marcus_Oz 31 December 2014 02:43:51PM 0 points [-]

I have not been to one of these before. I think I should be able to get there depending on my daughter's work schedule. Is it okay just to turn up? :)

Comment author: Marcus_Oz 11 November 2014 07:32:21AM 1 point [-]

Whilst I appreciate the validity of criticism offered here of the use of the word emergence (by itself) as if were an explanation sufficient unto itself - I think it a little harsh. To call it "futile" is almost acting as semantic stop sign itself for the term.

We need to take a little time to properly understand what is meant by emergence when used properly.

First that it is an observation rather than an explnation. But an observation with useful descriptive power since it observes that the phenomena under consideration is a process with properties whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.

Therefore not at all properties that arise from interactions or combinations of smaller components are emergent (e.g. putting a whole bunch of magnets together just gives a larger magnetic field). So not all things arise are emergent.

So, while "emergence" is hardly an explanation - and one is obliged to look for the mechanisms that lead to the emergent behaviour - (such as how the polar hydrogen bonds in H20 give water surface tension - a property that a single H2O molecule does not exhibit) - nevertheless it's use as an observation has power since it points us to look for (and ask question about) how properties which do not exist in the sub components come to be via the interactions of the components (often multi-factor) - and also to see if there are simple factors or descriptive rules than have predictive power (e.g. flocking phenomena of birds)

Comment author: Capla 17 October 2014 04:33:57PM *  0 points [-]

If a phenomenon feels mysterious, that is a fact about our state of knowledge, not a fact about the phenomenon itself.

I completely accept and (I think) understand this, however there are some phenomena that cannot, by their nature, be known.

A typical example is Cantor's proof that it is impossible to prove that there are "mid-sized infinities. More generally, Godel's incompleteness theorems prove that some things are ever unknowable. (If I'm misunderstanding or misrepresenting, enlighten me. I'm no mathematician.)

More controversially, I suspect that consciousnesses may present a similar problem (for different reasons).

These might be described as inherently mysterious phenomena.

Comment author: Marcus_Oz 11 November 2014 06:59:23AM *  1 point [-]

Hi Capla - no that is not what Godel's theorem says (actually there are two incompleteness theorems)

1) Godel's theorems don't talk about what is knowable - only about what is (formally) provable in a mathematical or logic sense

2) The first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an any sort of algorithm is capable of proving all truths about the relations of the natural numbers. In other words for any such system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that such a system cannot demonstrate its own consistency.

3) This doesn't mean that some things can never be proven - although it provides some challenges - it does mean that we cannot create a consistent system (within itself) that can demonstrate or prove (algorithmically) all things that are true for that system

This creates some significant challenges for AI and consciousness - but perhaps not insurmountable ones.

For example - as far as i know - Godel's theorem rests on classical logic. Quantum logic - where something can be both "true" and "not true" at the same time may provide some different outcomes

Regarding consciousness - I think I would agree with the thrust of this post - that we cannot yet fully explain or reproduce consciousness (hell we have trouble defining it) does not mean that it will forever be beyond reach. Consciousness is only mysterious because of our lack of knowledge of it

And we are learning more all the time

http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_kanwisher_the_brain_is_a_swiss_army_knife? http://www.ted.com/talks/david_chalmers_how_do_you_explain_consciousness?

we are starting to unravel how some of the mechanisms by which consciousness emerges from the brain - since consciousness appears to be process phenomena rather rather than a physical property