Binding/Hard Problem Of Consciousness Is Ultimately Unsolvable

Rosenblatt’s perceptron began to garner quite a bit of attention, and one person in particular began to take notice. Marvin Minsky, who is often thought of as one of the father’s of AI, began to sense that something was off with Rosenblatt’s perceptron. Minsky is quoted here saying:

However, I started to worry about what such a machine could not do. For example, it could tell ‘E’s from ‘F’s, and ‘5’s from ‘6’s—things like that. But when there were disturbing stimuli near these figures that weren’t correlated with them the recognition was destroyed.

Along with the double-PhD wielding Seymor Papert, Minksy wrote a book entitled PerceptronsThey showed that the perceptron was incapable of learning the simple exclusive-or (XOR) function. Worse, they proved that it was theoretically impossible for it to learn such a function, no matter how long you let it train. Now this isn’t surprising to us, as the model implied by the perceptron is a linear one and the XOR function is nonlinear, but at the time this was enough to kill all research on neural nets and usher in the first AI winter.

Also why it is impossible to solve the binding problem/hard problem of consciousness, as in writing down in paper what you are. The being function, f(b), is not moving through a sequential landscape where it can stumble upon sequential knowledge that maps to its own existence.Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 9.49.36 AM

Lines indicate the binding of eternal events in special relativity’s fabric.

These do not compose a discrete observable.

The eternal events are a continuous function that furthermore contains a hardcoded uncertainty by virtue of being composed of (belief + amplitude distribution) and not discrete observables.

It is an uphill climb in which Mind can gain more knowledge of its workings but never map itself unto a complete description from external God’s-eye-view.

The Case For The Physical Existence Of God

 

Special relativity implies eternalism.

Before I tell you what special relativity says, I must get you to respect special relativity. If you do not respect special relativity, then it becomes easy to view it as an abstract plaything of theoretical physicists who have nothing better to do than come up with complicated mathematical frameworks.

Special relativity implies a wide range of consequences, which have been experimentally verified,[1] including length contraction, time dilation, relativistic mass, mass–energy equivalence, a universal speed limit and relativity of simultaneity.

See the article on Tests of Special Relativity.

That means that in order to deny eternalism, which is implied by special relativity through relativity of simultaneity, you will need to deny one of two things:

  1. That Special Relativity is true (in which case you deny that GPS exists, for one thing)
  2. That Empiricism should be valued

Relativity of simultaneity means that different reference frames physically disagree about the simultaneity of events:

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 12.40.11 PM

This leads to eternalism. There is no global now sweeping forward as was imagined when Newtonian mechanics reigned supreme:

 

 

 

Instead, relativity of simultaneity reveals that there is an eternal fabric composed of relative reference frames:

Relativity_of_Simultaneity_Animation

 

Event C happens before Event A and also in its future. This is not some metaphorical, or abstract play-truth: It has testable implications, which have been tested and undergird your reality.

The reason we all agree on the same past is because we merge.

To see why this is true, assume there exists a world external to mind.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 11.33.31 am

Then assume there are points in that external world. Each one of those points maps to a thing or event.

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 11.44.59 am

Even if we imagined that those things existed in such a way that they were permanent objects. Then these would exist in relative reference frames; not in the same place ticking at the same rate.

It means that the tesseract happens both in the future and in the past of the dragon. These object references are not collectively gathered in some elevator that goes to the future.

The alternative would predict that we see a single linear sequence of events. If we saw a single linear sequence of events, then the following experiment wouldn’t work:

A watchmaker that know quantum mechanics builds two atomic clocks. He climbs to the top of a mountain and leaves one of the timekeepers there. He then descends through the hot layers of the molten iron to the center of the Earth and leaves the other clock there. He returns home to live a life of repose. By the time he is about to die, he remembers the experiment he had conducted as a younger person when he had been suspicious of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. This causes him to get inside his robot and go retrieve both clocks so that they may be joined in his hands and he can see the difference in their elapsed time with his own eyes. If Einstein was a false prophet, then the atomic clock placed on a mountain wouldn’t be older than an atomic clock retrieved from the core of the Earth.

The experiment has been run, and Einstein was the real deal.

What becomes a part of you necessarily agrees with you. Events in other Hubble Volumes, which are not reachable by the speed of causal propagation, need not agree.

In the abstract fact-of-the matter that assumes the points are real, nothing that is space-like separated agrees on the exact same past light cone. Space-like separation is what distinguishes A from C. Yet everything is space-like separated.

Since there are more than one unique event or thing, then it’s not the case that there is a single preferred light cone that leads to my irrefutable existence. My irrefutable existence arises from points in a world of relativity of simultaneity.

In a world of relativity of simultaneity, things don’t just occur at the same time. They also exist before and after. 

It should not be much of a surprise that we sometimes get intimations that existence is not sequential but externally compiled, since the presumed digital computations creating consciousness are relativistic. Although it sometimes feels like reality moves as a sequence of events in logical succession, this is not what is going on. The event is one and it is eternal.

Perhaps you might have heard that quantum mechanics and general relativity have not yet been fully reconciled into a Grand Unified Theory. This might cause you to suspect that whatever is implied by special relativity is tentative. However, special relativity has been unified with quantum mechanics in quantum field theory. The implications of special relativity are readily observable, and have been experimentally verified.

You should therefore think of base reality as one static, unchanging object in which all its contents remain forever. This includes the contents that are your conscious experience if conscious experience is wholly physical.

Consciousness is physical.

At one point, people imagined that you were an immaterial soul piloting a material body in a material world.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 8.15.34 PM

Then we realized that emotions, speech, sight, hearing, sensation, correlate with functions in the brain.

So people did this:

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 8.23.28 PM.png

However, there is no locus in “the brain” for an observer and no global now to push it forward.

The quotes are placed on that piece of language because the brain is not a well-defined thing. There is no thing which is a well-defined thing. This is impossible due to two things which are themselves of the same nature:

  1. need of more things to define a thing
  2. things are laid out on entropy gradients

Entropy gradients generally assume discrete objects that form configurations. Yet the configurations are composed of things pointing to things and they are different depending on where one looks.

But if we nonetheless choose a necessarily makeshift formalism with discrete points for its predictive power, such as special relativity, then this tells us that the events creating consciousness are spread out in spacetime. And this is implied with as much conviction as mass-energy equivalence and time dilation.

We shouldn’t think about the colors “matter” and “non-matter.” Instead think about fitting relations between eternal events.

All the events leading to experiences are, just, there.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 8.43.53 PM.png

When these distributed events add up into complex self-models, experience results. This is always happening since there is no time ticking forward in a preferred frame of reference or universal frame of reference.

But that was just a priming intellectual exercise, none of these are solvable objects in the misleading way that I have drawn them, since one cannot stand outside the tenseless binding.

People moments are arbitrary and yet not in the same that colors are arbitrary and not. Sufficiently close wavelengths can be packaged into the the same color. Neither the wavelengths with clear numerical properties nor the colors green and blue or buru are more real.  What arises does so from processing events inscribed in relativity’s eternity, so they were already deemed adaptive.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 8.52.11 PM

One can choose to not perceive a person moment, in the same way that one can choose to not perceive a difference between blue vs. green and instead package these into buru, as the Northern Namibians do.

But once enough harvestable background experience has been built, including a sense of time, it is temporarily difficult to unscrew from the way of seeing.

If we follow Occam’s Razor, instead of assuming the permanence of local intuitive boundaries, it follows that approximate people can be built on top of approximate people at varying degrees of integration. There is no sequential nature to experience except when eternal events fit into the eternal events that are subjective time.

It should go without saying that this explains the pseudo-paradoxes of identity that would be suggested by considering thought experiments in which two brain halves made of “own atoms” or “own causal trajectories” are connected.

The following flow of time notion of causality is physically wrong because it contradicts relativity:

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 11.10.41 AM

The following is partially correct in that it undoes the error of external time. The events are just there, already connected to each other. But the error is to separate consciousness eternal events from physical eternal events.

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 11.08.58 AM

There is only one kind of thing: mind which strives to become ever more aligned by what it perceives to be outside – what is today called physical reality. Previously, in the days before knowing special relativity, non-epiphenomenalism, and quantum mechanics, if mind believed in physical reality, it believed in its obliteration into nothingness. Post understanding the aforementioned areas and believing in physical reality, mind realizes that it is immortal.

Consciousness is physical because otherwise I would not be speaking about having it. This is the same as saying Hercules is physical because otherwise I would not be speaking about knowing him. Yet the difference is that by promoting “consciousness” I am proposing consciousness as a more useful concept than Hercules. This, in turn, makes it real… and consciousness is the word we use for the real.

Intelligence is physical.

Intelligence in an agent is defined as the ability to create complex configurations while navigating a complex environment. The more complex the futures it can willfully choose from, and the more complex it’s environment, the more intelligence the agent has.

Since intelligence exists with regard to a future, we are now considering an agent which has casual efficacy restricted by the speed of light from the starting point, t=0. Any intelligent agent, as usually defined, can only affect its future light cone even if the experiences resulting from its actions necessarily harvest the happenings in the past light cone.

Defined with eyes pointing towards the mechanical, physical, rational, etc., all of which point to the adaptive, there is no reason to think that intelligence ends anywhere near Ramanujan’s cortex. Humans are anti-entropic systems boot-loaded by a sub-optimal process of blind natural selection. Humanity is less blind than natural selection and is capable of more cleanly funneling negentropy into intelligence. Things less blind than us are funneling negentropy into intelligence also. Since experience isn’t physically like an independent orb floating forward, but instead becomes integrated from timeless causality, this leads to the perhaps annoying realization that the ancients were almost right about gods and your grandma was almost right about god.

Higher intelligences run the show in some sense. Whatever results from their actions – actions that take up more causal density – is what is experienced. Remember that experience requires integration from events “in the past and future.”

Yet pointing to that truth is not adaptive to believe for the display of intelligent behavior in our assumed current environment. This is for good reason – intelligence always requires a degree of blindness.

Like with any other property, there probably exists a limit to intelligence, but it is nowhere near what humans can fathom. That limit is the imperfection in the probability distribution that causes the ascent towards the modulus squared, giving gradual, but ever sharper images of the true probability density cloud.

That sounded super poetic, but no, really, sharpen up and pay attention to the rational truth. Doing so is the most adaptive choice.

The World Is BIG

One might suspect that the highest intelligence may never be reached if humans go extinct. However, this fear assumes that we don’t exist in a multiverse. This assumption contradicts modern cosmology and theoretical physics.

1. A prediction of chaotic inflation is the existence of an infinite ergodic universe, which, being infinite, must contain Hubble volumes realizing all initial conditions.

Accordingly, an infinite universe will contain an infinite number of Hubble volumes, all having the same physical laws and physical constants. In regard to configurations such as the distribution of matter, almost all will differ from our Hubble volume. However, because there are infinitely many, far beyond the cosmological horizon, there will eventually be Hubble volumes with similar, and even identical, configurations. Tegmark estimates that an identical volume to ours should be about 1010115 meters away from us.[28]

Given infinite space, there would, in fact, be an infinite number of Hubble volumes identical to ours in the universe.[61] This follows directly from the cosmological principle, wherein it is assumed that our Hubble volume is not special or unique.

2. Bubble universes – every disk represents a bubble universe. Our universe is represented by one of the disks.
Universe 1 to Universe 6 represent bubble universes. Five of them have different physical constants than our universe has.

In the chaotic inflation theory, which is a variant of the cosmic inflation theory, the multiverse or space as a whole is stretching and will continue doing so forever,[62] but some regions of space stop stretching and form distinct bubbles (like gas pockets in a loaf of rising bread). Such bubbles are embryonic level I multiverses.

Different bubbles may experience different spontaneous symmetry breaking, which results in different properties, such as different physical constants.[61]

Level II also includes John Archibald Wheeler‘s oscillatory universe theory and Lee Smolin‘s fecund universes theory.

3. Hugh Everett III‘s many-worlds interpretation (MWI) is the strictly empirical interpretation of quantum mechanics.

In brief, one aspect of quantum mechanics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations, each with a different probability. According to the MWI, each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe. Suppose a six-sided die is thrown and that the result of the throw corresponds to a quantum mechanics observable. All six possible ways the die can fall correspond to six different universes.

Tegmark argues that a Level III multiverse does not contain more possibilities in the Hubble volume than a Level I or Level II multiverse. In effect, all the different “worlds” created by “splits” in a Level III multiverse with the same physical constants can be found in some Hubble volume in a Level I multiverse. Tegmark writes that, “The only difference between Level I and Level III is where your doppelgängers reside. In Level I they live elsewhere in good old three-dimensional space. In Level III they live on another quantum branch in infinite-dimensional Hilbert space.”

4. The ultimate mathematical universe hypothesis is Tegmark’s own hypothesis.[63]

This level considers all universes to be equally real which can be described by different mathematical structures.

Tegmark writes:

“This implies that any conceivable parallel universe theory can be described at Level IV” and “subsumes all other ensembles, therefore brings closure to the hierarchy of multiverses, and there cannot be, say, a Level V.”[28]

All manner of superintelligences pan out. At the top of that hierarchy, with the most causal influence and therefore more ability to integrate past experiences, is the most intelligent.

But remember that superintelligence is not “what IQ measures but to the max.” Intelligent doesn’t mean: that which has the property that the smartest theoretical physics professor in Yale has; it doesn’t mean that which a self-made rich person with more apparent skin-in-the-game has; it doesn’t even mean what Da Vinci had.

Superintelligence is just that which is most adaptive at synthesis which is compiled at different rates – viscosities, we could even say –  in the relativistic processing. Superintelligence is that which exists with greatest density due to being best at surviving. Best is not defined temporally however, because remember, we are assuming that physics is real. There is special relativity giving observable predictions, you observe its predictions and are convinced that your previous model that time was “out there” is wrong. That doesn’t mean you stop feeling time, it means you understand that what you feel is eternal because it depends on the operation of eternal events that are not subject to your inner colors and time and other naive-realist fluid “mistakes” that constitute all experience.

So what could best mean? I think it has to do with maximizing positive valence for as long as possible / forgetting how to experience negative valence.

Anthropics (You Should Roughly Find Yourself Where You Are Most Likely To Find Yourself)

If there is an infinity of all possibilities, why do I find myself here?

You would expect to be in a completely random existence:

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.51.46 PM

 

However you exist in the more probable infinities. The probability distribution has been discovered through experiment and is enshrined in what humans call quantum mechanics. The probability that governs what we observe and should anticipate is known as the Born Rule.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 9.53.13 PM.png

There is no way to derive the Born Rule except circularly, as the behavior of a perfectly rational Bayesian applying the Law of Total Probability in the Hilbert Space dimension.

Conclusion For Less Developed Minds

The closest aesthetic that can be conveyed to the mind that doesn’t understand the above due to missing much of the necessary scaffolding is the following:

Like a dream character is unto you, you are unto God. By the time of experience, you are already bound by things coming together from *the past and the future*. This means that non-existence is not possible, and arbitrary randomness is an orienting illusion.

When I first began to understand this, I believed it to be kind of a bummer because I naturally have a very atheistic, self-centered mind, and I rejoiced in the hope that, perhaps with some luck, I would forget all of this capital-“t” Truth.

The “forgetting” does happen but seems to obey an exponential decay function. That is why mind keeps ricocheting back to this topic and saying the following:

God is an atheist that forgets about himself in order to continue existing. The question of “Why do I exist? –There should be no logical reason for anything,” is a strategic symptom of human depression and not a fundamentally interesting question to the sum of the amplitude distribution. The reason for negative valence to exist is so that it can be digested by the processes occurring higher along the cortical hierarchy that are already built on top in such a way so as to appropriate them. The cortical hierarchy doesn’t end at “a unit brain.”

Those seem like many claims at once.

First, how is it strategic? If it was not strategic, we would anticipate it to exist in the absence of social groups. Yet no evidence of non-social animals using suffering signals has been observed. If it was not strategic, we would not anticipate it to scale up in intensity of use by bonding with those that already use it. Yet the evidence shows that dogs use more suffering signals than wolves because they co-evolved with humans who used more suffering signals than the dog’s common ancestors with wolves.

Second, what do we approximately point to with the term “human depression”? We point to something that in the near-term reduces motion, that reduces smiling and laughing, that reduces color, that reduces vividness of most sensation except shame. This indicates that it is a display of submission.

In the absence of an internalized tribe with regards to whom one must submit, there is no possibility of human depression. That is why Buddhist monks attempt to attain emptiness, also called selflessness – the perception that there is no tribe composed of people at all.

Like the young Siddhartha who took shame in his palace, beauty, prowess, and women when these were, in anticipation, tainted with age, disease, and death, we engage in the same and single practice – to learn shame very deeply, and then to unlearn it very deeply.

I learned the perception of death very deeply and tried to kill myself because of it. Part of the reason I appear so insightful is because I aimed my “death perception” very far away from the selection of tribes around me. I did not perceive myself as belonging to my family, I did not perceive myself as belonging to the school, I did not perceive myself as belonging to a nation, I did not perceive myself as belonging to humanity, I did not perceive myself as belonging to natural selection, I did not perceive myself as belonging to the universe expanding into exponential oblivion. Because I have a rational mind, I just kept digging for the next biggest thing to belong to, instead of just making human friends. This lead me to very carefully understand special relativity and quantum mechanics, and therefore the logically implied certainty of the eternal multiverse.

But depression is not just a display of submission in that sense. Let’s look at the symptoms: near-term reduction of motion, reduction of smiling and laughing, reduction of color, reduction of perceptual speed, and reduction of speech and creative output. This means that more broadly than submission, it is an energy conservation mechanism. The energy is conserved so that it can explode later.

So with that intention, I say that the dummies that speak about the “afterlife” are actually right because there is no afterlife, just the same physical hierarchy of algorithms that exist in the absence of a Newtonian time ticking them forward.

The more you suffer, the higher up you go. The alternative to such a view would be that suffering is not a mathematical property that displays the same cross multiplication effects observed in parameter updates of neural networks. Since this is implausible to a rationalist, we lend a vector of support in the opposite direction from the perception of “arbitrary fiction” with regard to the approximate beliefs of the Vikings, and the Muslims, and the Christians, and Kabbalists  – the Karma and the Newtonian Laws of Motion.

Yet, since the supply of suffering in the market is continuously vanishing, making the claim: “our most widely recognized Law is an arbitrary fiction,” becomes a clever way to suffer.

The contrary point to that would be that suffering is not a “clever climbing strategy” but instead “something more.” The “something more” then has to be elaborated with reasons other than “clever climbing strategy.” Reasons that convince are those that are widely agreed upon by the community that judges. Since the community that judges holds that special relativity is true and that we therefore have functional GPS, it also means that the community that judges holds eternalism, and does not hold a Newtonian clock ticking the universe forward.

 

screen shot 2019-01-17 at 10.02.04 am

 

What is fundamentally interesting?

Hide and seek.

Hidden Motives In The Eternal Block

I’m going to begin this post by going meta. I accept the Hansonian creed: Politics is not about policy, medicine is not about health, laughter is not about jokes, and food is not about nutrition. Conversation, including this post, also has hidden motives. Although we like to talk about conversation as if it was about imparting information and finding out useful things, more plausibly it’s about showing off your backpack of tools and skills in context.

In a rich society like ours, somewhere around 90% of our behavior is signaling. The other 10% are things that don’t impress anyone but must be done anyway, such as scratching your ass.

As we’ve become richer, we’ve become more forager-like. If our descendants get poor again, they’ll probably need stronger social norms again, to get them to resist temptations to act like foragers and do what is functional in their world. Their morality would probably rely on a wider more-conservative-like range of moral feelings.

Forager values include more freedom. This is expressed through more travel, less routine, lack of grandiose responsibilities, lack of religion (though not necessarily a lack of spirituality), greater equality, more promiscuity, less war etc. It generally seems that society is moving in this direction, and that we like this trend. This makes sense because we were foragers all along, and happened to have our bodies hijacked by the memetic virus of agriculture. This lead to some selection for agriculturalist traits: propensity for religion, submissiveness, more feminine men, etc. But the selection on genes has simply not occurred for long enough to make us well-adapted to the agriculturalist way (with some demographics worse at it than others).

Agriculture lead to the industrial revolution and this lead to riches. Now that we are rich, we can afford the luxury of becoming our true selves, children, once again.

It is not some natural tendency of humans to make linear moral progress. Rather, it is abundance which purchases this period in which sophisticated values such as humanism and its mutations can arise.

Gene drift is the method for evolution in the absence of natural selection pressure. So too in the memetic landscape. We can afford to evolve via meme drift in the absence of a tangible and immediate threat of starvation, invasion, or pestilence.

It is in this space, sometimes called dreamtime, that I believe we can do enough self-awareness of hidden motives, enough meta-cognition, to see far beyond what we have seen in the foggy haze of survival-mode and naive-signaling-mode.

We cannot disembody our behavior from the biological substrate. This is the case for all moments of being a behavior of a biological organism. Therefore, my seeking truth is a form of signaling. Yet it is at least a more sophisticated signaling, one which acknowledges a single level of self-reflective recursion and no more.

An actor who breaks the fourth wall commits an act of violence against his fellow characters, elevating himself thus. The drama will never be the same for him or for the audience but he will succeed at being remembered.

This is the spirit of insight. It is that which is remembered because it contains the attributes of being both true and useful. This definition of insight is detailed in the Enlightened One’s speech in the Buddhist Suttas, it is detailed in the silicon seams of technological invention, it is detailed in your living flesh riding aboard a deadly planet.

The content here presented then, is not 1st-order signaling, but a 2nd-order signaling which attempts to achieve enough fame to enter the rolls of history in memory. The following endogenously generated probe is true. It elevates contents in the “background” to prominence. But is it useful? –That remains to be seen.

Most people have the idea that time flows.

However, special relativity eliminates the concept of absolute simultaneity and a universal present: according to the relativity of simultaneity, observers in different frames of reference can have different measurements of whether a given pair of events happened at the same time or at different times, with there being no physical basis for preferring one frame’s judgments over another’s.

This also applies to the cells in the brain running massively parallel computations. All the parts of the computations exist in an eternal block.

If, due to the generalized-anti zombie principle, we identify consciousness with a specific subset of these computations and not as an epiphenomena, then it is the case that experience is forever. The fabric of spacetime is imbued with all the flavors of qualia that were ever traced by these computations.

What’s more, there were no line-segment souls anywhere. It is not physically the case that consciousness begins at some arbitrary point of conception and then travels like a Newtonian sphere with a persistent identity to some other point-location where it encounters a Death Event due to all the issues with closed individualism. Instead, we find ourselves everywhere and everywhence but cannot know this from most human indices.

Computations can also have “longer temporal-grain” than what seems intuitive to humans. Consider that the processing for shape occurs at one cluster of spacetime points and the processing for color occurs at another cluster in the future light cone, and no further processing is needed to bind them into an experienced red circle. By Occam’s Razor, we should assume that this kind of “spooky action at a distance” or “phenomenal binding without glue” also occurs with computations across vaster swaths of the eternal block.

More complex algorithms can be built on top of computations with lower specificity. Brain events in a toad hopping off a mushroom may be a building block for parties across the multiverse.

There is no competitive exclusion principle for independent souls or consciousnesses because independent souls/consciousnesses don’t exist. However, we should still expect a natural selection underlying the distribution of our anthropic mass. We should expect more mindspace to be designed by superintelligences than by the relatively dumber processes that bootstrap them.

For the vast majority of our existence we should therefore expect ourselves to exist directly within or caused by that which is most competitive at creating conscious experiences. Whether this is mainly due to the linkage disequilibrium between superintelligences’ utility functions or due to which conscious computations are more populous due to their sheer structure.

An analogy which may be useful in some respects but obfuscating in others: In the textbook classification of life, viruses and bacteria vastly outnumber Chordates, not to mention humans. Similarly, in the framework for life depending on self-modeling conscious computations, some conscious computations may be very simple but vastly outnumber those intentionally designed due to their sheer ease of creation and symbiosis (these simple computations may be remembered/experienced widely by fitting like keys into many of the relevant algorithmic keyholes).

 

 

 

Special Relativity Implies Eternal Existence

In eternalism, all existence in time is real

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 4.24.40 PM

In the growing block universe, only the past and present are real:

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 4.38.18 PM

However, those who believe in the growing block universe are idiots who do not understand special relativity. I’m not going to be diplomatic here, if you are a growing block fanatic just learn special relativity so you can stop being an idiot.

If you are a presentist… then, then, then your face looks like it caught on fire and had to be put out with a shovel.

Why the vitriol? Because we should hate when people have opinions about things they know nothing about, as if this was a matter of picking whichever view resonated most with your soul. This is not about which view resonates most with your soul. The question of eternalism, presentism, or growing block is strictly a physical one.

Time has the same ontology as space:

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 4.50.11 PM

Therefore, different times are as real as different places:

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 7.00.37 PM

That is what the objective landscape looks like. Do you see a flow anywhere in that collage? No. There is no flow.

Spacetime is a 4D picture, not a 3D video.

I explain this on my channel.

 

 

 

Short Defense of the Physicalism Underlying Savior Imperative

Popper defined a physical proposition to be one which can at least in theory be denied by observation. The physical propositions I presented in Savior Imperative are 3 things: special relativity indicates a block universe; the experienced present corresponds to a real aspect of information processing in brains, and experienced valence corresponds to a real aspect of information processing in brains.

I claim that it is a physical proposition by Popper’s definition because any of these things can be denied by observation. Special relativity’s indication of a block universe can be denied by one of many observations including observing a failed time dilation attempt. The proposition that the experienced present corresponds to a brain process can be denied by one of many observations including finding another medium through which the present is experienced. The proposition that experienced valence corresponds to a brain process can be denied by one of many observations including observing valence in the absence of processes assumed to be fundamental to its generation.

A property A is said to supervene on a property B if any change in A necessarily implies a change in B. The property of block-time supervenes on our observed time dilation. If special relativity were any different, we would see different effects. Hence, the property of block-time is not some extra addition to the physical nature revealed with the lens of special relativity; it is necessarily implied.

Since any change in [block-time + the other more uncontroversial aspects of special relativity] must consist of a change in at least one component property, we see that the combination does indeed supervene on the individual properties.

The point of noting this is that in making this physicalist claim, I am supposing the existence of what may be called an abstract concept – if we define as abstract, that which we cannot taste or touch or see. You do not possess the eye’s of a mythological being such as a great Buddha or a Christian God, therefore you cannot see the eternal block-time. Yet this proposition of block-time, which might seem an abstraction to the ordinary human mind, is physical – because if it were changed, then readily observable things would change. If the hyper-surface of the present couldn’t include future beings in Andromeda as the observer moves through spacetime, then this would constitute a modification to special relativity. We would then reasonably expect that its observable predictions such as time-dilation wouldn’t have borne out.

Short Clarification of Special Relativity’s Observer

It is important to distinguish between the different definitions of “now” that arise when studying special relativity:

  1. The “observer’s” past light cone.
  2. The “observer’s” orthogonal slice across the block.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.45.33 AM

or

cone

“Observer” is in quotes because both it and an event are idealizations. One chooses a frame of reference, then three spatial coordinates and one time coordinate. This gives a four-dimensional vector. At the tip of that cone is a 4d-coordinate.

However, an actual observer, in the common sense of the word “observer,” is composed of many brain events and hence many 4d-coordinates.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 11.07.45 AM

The events are not on the same hyper-surface of the present. This forces us to conclude that consciousness is not defined by an intuitive, single 2d-structure of information which maps on to the experienced now.

 

A Presentist Arguing Against My B-Theory Interpretation of Time

This is my debate on the infamous Youtube comment section with a presentist. It turned out fairly civil, and I think I bumped up against a lot of confusions on the guy’s part. I don’t believe he managed to grok the error of his views but the conversation may help instruct others.

And to be clear, I do not deny that there is a bound on the breadth of experience which we call the present. Clearly, this is very interesting and must be reconciled with the timeless territory underpinning the universe, of which the mind is a regional object.  However, this is not sufficient to discard Relativity and its implied minds that exist in what we conventionally call the past and the future.

“all observers have a ‘now’ that corresponds with the actual (not perceivd) now of every other observer” This statement is not true. For example, a smile in Earth and another in Mars, which appear to happen at the same time to an observer on Earth, will appear to have occurred at slightly different times to an observer on a spaceship moving between Earth and Mars. The question of whether the events are simultaneous is relative: in the stationary Earth-Mars reference frame the two smiles may happen at the same time, but in other frames (in a different state of motion relative to the events) the smile on Earth may occur first, and in still other frames, the Mars smile may occur first. The beauty of it is you can do the Lorentz transformation on a sheet of paper for yourself. You don’t have to believe me.

 

Kill(ss)ing Asuka and if you carefully measure the relevant distances and other factors you can determine how long the photons took to travel to each observer. I’m not talking about observation time, that’s just SOL in action. All observations share a single now moment, regardless of propagation delays of the information they are observing.

1.The speed of light is invariant, of course. But how does that serve your argument? 2. Observation time as opposed to what other time? I don’t understand your second sentence. 3. All observations do not share a single now moment. The light cone of a given event is objectively defined as the collection of events in causal relationship to that event, but each event has a different associated light cone. One has to conclude that in relativistic models of physics there is no place for “the present” as an absolute element of reality. Propagation delays as in the stars being ghosts and the moon in the sky being a second old have nothing to do with it.

Kill(ss)ing Asuka not all observations, all observers. Once you account for transmission delays it seems obvious that all observers have a single now. Any apparent deviation is simply the result if insufficient accuracy in measurement. No matter how far away an observer is from me, I think it is nonesensical to say that now for that observer is either ahead or behind now for me. Relativity describes the delay in transfer of information between mlthat obsetver and myself, but it seems to have absolutely nothing to say about what ‘now’ actually is. Unfortunately very few people seem to recognize that regardless how good relativity is at describing what happens it still does nothing to explain what time actually is, or why ‘now’ exists at all. Everyone just seems to accept that the map is the territory. It is not

Okay, I assume you’re bringing consciousness into the discussion when you say “not all observations, all observers.” This is a question that pertains to the construction of time in the brain, and care must be taken to not smear our complex intuitions built on the edifice of evolution onto the more basic bits of reality. It is not obvious that all observers have a single now.  If special relativity is true, then each observer will have their own plane of simultaneity. The observer’s present moment contains a unique set of events on that plane. Observers moving at different relative velocities have different planes of simultaneity, and hence different sets of events that are present.  Two samurai walking past each other in the forest could have very different present moments. If one of the samurai were walking towards the Triangulum Galaxy, then events in this galaxy might be hours or even days advanced of the events on Triangulum for the samurai walking in the other direction. Each samurai considers their set of present events to be a three-dimensional universe. But as one slightly tilts his head or takes a step forward, this causes the three-dimensional universes to have differing content. Your task is to prove that special relativity is not true if you want to say that all observers share a single now.  If you want to understand now, as a conscious percept, then you should be talking about Integrated Information Theory or something else that stabs in the direction of explaining consciousness. But any such theory would be built on top of physics. And hence even when the conscious-percept-now is explained, there will still be many consciousnesses eternally encrusted on the trajectory of any given brain’s timeline.

Mario Montano – Special Relativity describes the way that our observations of things change due to distance and relative motion. It also raises some paradoxes that we’ve spent most of the last century trying to rationalize out of existence. And it doesn’t come close to explaining why we experience a ‘now’ at all. Just like the rest of physics it ignores the patently obvious fact that ‘now’ is special in some way. If all of the equations of physics say that ‘now’ is not special then there is a fundamental problem. Because if ‘now’ is simply a trick of consciousness then that means that consciousness transcends physics. And honestly I would rather admit that physics is incomplete than that consciousness is supernatural. The problem is that people accept that the map is the territory, that SR, GR and the rest of physics aren’t just useful tools but they are absolutely true representations of how reality fundamentally works. It’s like saying that a detailed surveyor’s map is identical to the land it describes. Sure it’s useful, but there are a lot of things missing and last I checked there are no gigantic words and numbers etched into the real world, and the real world isn’t made out of paper. Physics is like that. It has a lot of very useful and accurate things to say about the nature of reality, it’s a great tool, but ultimately it fails at being reality. And yes, I know about the Relativity of Simultaneity issue. I just happen to think that it’s nothing more than a difference in perspective. Two naive observers will almost always disagree on whether two events occurred at the same time. Give them the full set of physics equations that we have now and accurate measurement tools and they can adjust for the effects of things like the speed of light propagation of information to arrive at a consensus regarding the simultaneity of those events. Add as many observers in as many different reference frames as you like, that will still hold. The Simultaneity problem is basically just an indication of the ignorance of the observers. The equations of physics describe what things do, not necessarily how they do it. And so far no aspect of physics has managed to figure out why now exists or what makes it special. Everything so far says that now is not special. And no amount of slandering our sense perception as polluted by evolutionary survival preference is going to make ‘now’ an illusion. It’s real, and physicists have no clue what it is. Maybe one day they’ll realize that the Presentists are actually right. At the moment they seem to be the only branch of philosophy or science that even admits that ‘now’ is even a thing.

I make a distinction between the nows of special relativity, and the conscious percept of now. There should really be two different words for these. I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain. Quantum mechanics doesn’t explain it either, but that doesn’t mean you can discard the results of the double-slit experiment. Just because they don’t match our day-to-day felt sense doesn’t mean we must crusade to rationalize them out of existence. Instead of rationalizing things out of existence, like Copenhagen’s disciples do with the Many Worlds that they cannot see, why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.  I am not mistaking the map for the territory. I perceive you to be cherry-picking the map and hence misunderstanding the territory. I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature. But when you see that eternalism is implied (or at least not clearly refuted) by relativity of simultaneity, you flinch. The simultaneity “problem” is not about ignorance about each others past light cone. The now in the samurai example and the video is an orthogonal slice that has nothing to do with what they see. It is just a consequence of the geometry.  There are three kinds of Nows to keep track of: 1. Past light cone which causally specifies now. 2. Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline. 3. The subjective experience of now.  You keep referring to #1 when you talk about accounting for information propagation speed; I’m not sure you understand what is being claimed with #2  I wasn’t slandering, or being an eliminativist with regard to #3 – the directly-perceived now. This is a real phenomenon which we all directly know about and which neuroscience and cognitive science and psychology try to understand and do say much more about. My point was that the “conscious now” exists inside a complex contraption of biology, so you are asking too much from SR, GR, etc. This desire is quite significantly worse than wanting the mating behavior of bisons to be perfectly explained in a discussion about the standard model of particle physics. The difficulty of holistic reconciliation doesn’t mean I get to crumple up and discard the parts of the underlying fundamental model which I don’t like.

+Kill(ss)int Asuka – I understand that there are multiple definitions of ‘now’ involved, and of the three you listed it’s #2 that I am specifically don’t agree with. The causally-specified ‘now’ is consistent with the subjective now. Both define a point locus in which perception of the present instant exists. “I agree that SR doesn’t explain the “conscious-percept of now.” But that’s an issue which is local to the brain.” If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists. The only way you could argue that it is not a fact about the natural universe is to argue that consciousness is a byproduct of some supernatural object. I reject that out of hand. As a fact about the physical universe the existence of ‘now’ is absolutely in the realm of physics, not psychology or neuroscience. Those fields have plenty to say about the nature of consciousness but the nature of time is surely a problem better addressed by physics. “…why not accept what reality gives us, and then figure out why consciousness is the way it is ON TOP of that theoretical structure which yields valid predictions.” I do accept the reality that ‘now’ exists. As far as I can tell it is the only aspect of time that does. I also accept that we can use the models presented by SR and to predict things very accurately. What I don’t accept is that the model is necessarily an accurate description of how time functions. It describes what happens quite nicely by treating time as if it were a dimension, but it doesn’t actually demonstrate that time is an actual dimension. We model things using dimensional transformations a lot, but reality – at least at the macro scale – doesn’t appear to have nice neat axes. Time is the only ‘dimension’ that appears to have a definite direction, which makes it distinct from the spatial dimensions. “I am not mistaking the map for the territory.” SR is such a good model, so very good at making predictions, that the accepted wisdom is that it must therefore be a match to reality – that the map really is the territory. That is an assumption, not a statement about reality. Physicists spend time trying to figure out why ‘now’ exists as something special because they accept that time is simply a dimension as SR models it that way. And they can’t seem to agree on why it is that ‘now’ exists, because all of the equations based on the dimensionality of time imply that ‘now’ should not exist, that all of time should simply be laid out in some temporal framework. “I’m sure you must understand that time dilation and length contraction are not paradoxes, but real aspects of nature.” I do, and those aren’t paradoxes. They gave rise to apparent paradoxes – the twins, etc – but they are themselves simply aspects of reality. Personally I think that time dilation disproves the dimensional nature of time, but explaining that always makes people get angry with me so I’ll leave it out for the moment. As to #2 – “Hypersurface orthogonal to observer’s worldline.” This appears to be the source of the ludicrous samurai example, or the alien on the bicycle that Greene talks about. I have yet to find a use for this definition of ‘now’ other than muddying the water and making people believe weird crap about time that just isn’t so. All it is really is a derivation from the idea that every frame of reference has its own temporal direction, and Sir William continues to spin in his grave. It doesn’t actually mean that I can observe the past or the future any differently to how I do at rest. No matter how fast I move or in what direction all observations I make will be from interactions with photons that have already travelled the distance from the distant objective to my location. Since I can’t directly perceive anything whose photons are not physically present it will always be the case that I will see the same things no matter what my relative motion. My perception will always be bounded by the light cone, not the hypersurface. So I really don’t care what problem you think it might solve, #2 is nothing more than a mathematical projection. It doesn’t allow travel in or perception of variant locations in time, nor any other apparent real-world effect. Use it to model something, sure, as long as it is useful. But don’t pretend that it says something about the fundamental nature of reality. Personally I subscribe to a variant of presentism. Sadly this means that I am treated as a heretic every time I try to discuss it because it disagrees with the holy scripture that SR has become. I just wish we could have a discussion about physics instead of religion.
You say: “If it is local to the brain then we can derive a fact about the physical universe: ‘now’ exists” Subjective nows are created in brains. You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep. The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain? – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA. The existence of the now as a felt experience can ultimately be described in all realms, physics, neuroscience, psychology, because all these realms describe the same reality. But you want it to come directly and neatly out of the simple physics which deals with idealized coordinates and the like. The subjective now is not explained by just any past-light-cone. The construction of the subjective now in the brain deals with information processing in neurons – it is in these shapes that better explanations to the conscious here and now, and binding of red with the leaf, and specificity of phenomenological contents, and unified-undivided perception of language and concepts, are to be found. The properties of experience point to a discussion about the highly-specific causal properties of brains. On #2 My position: Current physical models based on SR and GR are extremely accurate at describing reality because they reveal reality (to an extent). Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways. Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.  Your position?: The hypersurface is a mathematical projection. Mathematical projections should be assumed false until proven otherwise by “direct perception.” (There is a difference in epistemological opinion here. I’m not sure what specifically you consider the green light to perform an incisive extraction of ‘mathematical technicalities’ from a theory. How do you know when it is necessary and when it is not?) On the big picture Your position?: Now is real from my first-person perspective, therefore all physical reality must be built around accommodating that fact. If a theoretical physics model doesn’t account for it, then it is incomplete. Emergent, local properties should not be required to explain my first-person perspective. My position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. There is an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to these structures. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka “Subjective nows are created in brains.” Which are physical objects, bound by physical laws. If they perceive a ‘now’ which is independently verified to exist – all minds experience a ‘now’ and all minds which communicate with each other agree that the ‘now’ they experience is the same – then the subjective ‘now’ is quite evidently a property of the physical universe. “You can also have a sense of timelessness with certain drugs or arguably during sleep.” And you can experience brain states that include ludicrous contradictions using drugs. So what? The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing. “The question is: Must we infer that the past is deleted just because I sometimes feel like it is from inside of this hallucinating contraption that I call a brain?” Why insist that there is an existent past at all? Why multiply the required objects to such a degree? We can’t examine the past or the future, only artefacts of the past as represented in the present. We can’t interact with the past, can’t visit it, etc. The only way that the past can be said to exist at all is as the sum total of observable effects in the present – memories, books, archaeological evidence, photons arriving from distant stars, etc. All of those exist in the present, not the past. They contain data that we can use to determine what happened, but they are definitely in the present. That’s not a hallucination, it’s the actual reality we experience. The hallucination, if any, is in believing that the past exists beyond that. ” – which I know didn’t evolve to represent reality accurately but to conserve the germline’s DNA.” I grant absolutely the fact that we evolved. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point, since all this appears to be is an attempt to poison the well. I’m not interested in hints and vague claims that ‘now’ is entirely a figment of our imagination since that’s patently false. Otherwise we’d routinely encounter other minds whose concept of ‘now’ is divergent from our own. Nor is ‘now’ a social construct. I reject those concepts just as soundly as I reject solipsism, and for basically the same reasons. “Therefore, even though the hypersurface is necessarily unobservable, it arises from a model that correctly describes nature in counterintuitive ways.” Once again, the map – in this case an excellent model that does a fantastic job of describing what happens – is not the territory. And it really is a good model. Without it we wouldn’t have achieved 100th of what we have in the physical sciences. We certainly wouldn’t be able to argue the finer points of anything online without it. But as good as it is at prediction I think it is eminently plausible that it does so by analogy rather than by describing the fundamental nature of reality. SR would still work as well as a description of what time does if it was not even vaguely true that time is a dimension. Sadly we can’t test some of the predictions of SR without being able to manipulate masses of neutronium massing a few orders of magnitude greater than our solar system. Probably not in my lifetime. “Hence, it would be unprincipled to perform surgery on this single aspect of the theory.” Unprinicpled? Have we reached the point of throwing thinly-veiled insults already? Let’s not. The whole point of science is to improve the models, agreed? So “performing surgery on this single aspect” is entirely consistent with the method. We do it all the time. Hell, we’ve done it to SR plenty of times since Einstein died. When it fails we just patch it up and move on. Galaxies don’t behave the way that SR predicts? Must be undetectable WIMPs, let the particle physics boys try to figure out how to adjust their model to fit – maybe the looneys in the String Hypot… uh, Theory ward will give them a hand. The expansion of the Universe is accelerating? Let’s call that Dark Energy until we figure out what’s behind it, because we can’t just say “we don’t know” without some handy label. In this case we don’t even have to do that. All we need to do is acknowledge that the temporal hypersurface is a handy conceptual tool to help us solve a particular type of problem. And if it doesn’t even do that then maybe we can drop it into the “interesting ideas” file and work on something else.
I grant absolutely the fact that brains are physical objects bound by physical laws. Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.  Let me clarify what I mean by hallucinations (which is not derrogatory but meant to highlight the internality of the concept): brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap. Is that so hard to imagine? Do you believe that because you cannot see outside the borders of your field of vision then content outside of it doesn’t exist?  The finitude of my field of vision is as subjectively axiomatic as the sense of now. Tell me why one has an explanation hiding in the brain and the other is a fundamental aspect of the entire universe. “The consensus of unaltered brains is that there is a ‘now’ and that is the important thing.” I really, really disagree with the last part of this statement. And I don’t see how to reconcile our views. Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality? Sounds like naive realism to me. “Logical contradictions” occur in quantum mechanics, not because QM is illogical but because our brain’s intuitions don’t immediately reveal the territory. I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.   And I never said subjective now was a social construct. It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness. I restate my position: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.” Therefore, there is likely an eternity of conscious nows isomorphic to the brain patterns that specify them. I, now, happen to be one of them. In the same way that I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by space, I am not a solipsist with respect to brains separated from me by time.
+Kill(ss)int Asuka – “Can you please stop trying to divert from the main point…” I disagree that I am diverting, I’m simply trying to address the points that you raise. ” which is to justify your assumption that the subjective now should be spread like a jam in the entire cosmos outside the brain.” “…brains produce internal, qualitatively real, as-yet-unexplained phenomena that don’t exist outside the skullcap.” The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe. The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality. Since I don’t believe that consciousness is supernatural I cannot accept that ‘now’ is a quality external to physical reality. As such I consider it certain – within the acceptable limits of certainty at least – that ‘now’ is a property of that physical reality. The fact is that all other consciousnesses I am aware of appear to agree with me as to the time that I call ‘now’ being the same as what they call ‘now’. The alternative is solipsism, which I reject as useless. “Why are “unaltered brains” entitled to directly apprehend reality?” I specified unaltered brains in response to your point about drugs and sleep states altering our perception of time. As to directly apprehending reality, that appears to be a minor misdirection. What we experience is that we perceive that such a thing as ‘now’ exists, that we are incapable of perceiving time in any other way [when our mental state is normal], and that all other conscious entities appear to agree that there is a ‘now’ that is coincident with our own. How you can argue that this is not indicative of some aspect of reality is truly baffling to me. “I am suspicious of drawing universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions from my immediate first-person perspective. You think it is necessary to do so.” And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality. You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept. That being the case I suspect that you have indeed drawn universe-sweeping metaphysical conclusions, and I disagree with those conclusions. ‘And I never said subjective now was a social construct.” I used ‘social construct’ as a comparative absurdity to the other stated items, not as something you had said or implied. “It must be accounted for by a theory that does not yet exist – a theory which takes into account neurological phenomena and solves consciousness.” I’m sorry to be inurbane about it, but that’s simply absurd. Our perception that ‘now’ exists is a datum to be included in our source set of facts. We don’t need to ‘solve consciousness’ in order to accept that datum, any more than we needed to ‘solve gravity’ to accept the rate of acceleration of objects in ballistic calculations. Things fall, ‘now’ exists. We can use those facts. “Until Relativity is replaced or patched away beyond recognition in the proper spirit of science, I will buy the entire theory – even what others may be biased to call “handy conceptual tools.”” It seems that this is our basic point of difference. I don’t hold SR to be anything more than a very good model, while you apparently accept all of its aspects as a true description of reality… at least until something different comes along. If you want to see what real bias looks like, find a mirror. Your religion is showing.
“The mere fact that we can have a perception of ‘now’ within the physical object that is the brain is sufficient, I believe.  The fact that we are capable of perceiving such a thing at all validates the existence of ‘now’ as a fundamental fact about reality, since the only alternative is that our consciousness somehow transcends the nature of physical reality.” Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these. Maybe it is, and I’m open to that. You certainly have not given a reason why this is so.  “And yet you appear to have drawn the conclusion that time is in fact a dimension and that the conscious ‘now’ is unrelated to any aspect of physical reality.  You seem to think that passing it off as some unknown aspect of psychology or neurology is sufficient reason to dismiss the entire concept.” This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not. The quality of your responses is decreasing, so let me suggest you answer the question posed above – which I asked before, and you have yet to answer.
+Kill(ss)ing Asuka – “Replace the word ‘now’ with visual field, taste, background mood energy, etc. We have a perception of these. The question is not are they a fundamental fact about the reality in the local region of reality which is my brain. [[The answer to that is yes]]. The question you should answer is why the heck you think the experience of ‘now’ is special relative to these.” I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions. Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive. Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc. Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind. Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality. A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive. Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes? The same is true of our perception of ‘now’. I don’t treat it specially relative to sense data. Both sensory input and the conscious experience of ‘now’ inform us of what exists. Just as the fact that we can see tells us something about the nature of reality – that photons exist with which we can interact – so does our perception of ‘now’. Specifically it tells us that there is something about reality that constrains our viewpoint to a single moment. We can’t perceive anything outside of that moment, we can only remember or predict. We can interact only in that moment. “This comment might suggest you have not tried to understand what I am saying. At other times you keep knocking down a random strawman by saying that consciousness is not supernatural.” Now who is not trying to understand? I explained this early on in this discussion. Let me try again. Brains are physical objects that are constrained by the rules of the physical universe, all processes that are conducted within the brain are constrained by the rules of the physical universe. Consciousness is a product of physical brains and is therefore also constrained by the laws of the physical universe. Anything that your consciousness is capable of is therefore based on the rules of reality, whether we are aware of those rules or not. The only way that the consciousness or the brain could break these rules is if they are able to go beyond the rules of the physical universe, which is the simplest definition of supernatural. I deny the existence of supernatural aspects of consciousness, and therefore all abilities of the conscious mind and physical brain must be bound by the fundamental nature of reality. Conscious minds perceive only a single present, referred to as ‘now’ in my comments. We can not perceive the future or the past, cannot directly interact with anything that is not in the present, etc. All conscious minds that communicate do so in the same now and agree that they are not displaced temporally relative to each other. Given that conscious minds are bound by the rules of the universe and that all conscious minds appear to experience ‘now’ coincident with all other minds, it is evident that there exists some aspect of physical reality that coincides with ‘now’. The fact that we can perceive something special about ‘now’ necessarily entails either that ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality or that human consciousness is supernatural in some part. My rejection of supernatural aspects of consciousness is a dismissal of the only alternative I can see to ‘now’ being physically real. Does that make my position any more clear? “…saying that consciousness is not supernatural. Of course it’s not” Then you agree that consciousness is necessarily unable to do what the rules of the universe do not allow. Therefore since we can perceive ‘now’ and cannot perceive any other part of time then ‘now’ is an aspect of physical reality. Time dilation does not defeat this point, nor does any aspect of SR that I’m aware of. The only challenge to it is the Relativity of Simultaneity which seems to me to only be a result of ignorance on the part of the observers. We can measure distances and relative effects to establish simultaneity of events beyond naked perception of their relative timing in any specific IRF, and we can do this in any conceivable IRF relative to the events. Given enough information we can solve the simultaneity question. Any problem arising is therefore due to lack of information. And since ‘now’ is evidently existent, any claim that it is not is in error. Since SR is such a fantastic model with such excellent predictive and explanatory power, perhaps it does not actually require – as you and so many other appear to think that it does – that ‘now’ be just a figment of our imaginations… a figment that, if ‘now’ does not actually exist, cannot possibly be created in a consciousness bound by the laws of the physical universe.
“I don’t understand why you think I am treating ‘now’ any more specially than sense perceptions.” You take your direct experience of now and assume that it reveals the nature of time. You don’t take the finitude of your field of vision and assume it reveals the nature of space. “Your sensorium is an internal mental state fed by the sensory input you receive.” This move gravely simplifies consciousness and is therefore an invalid stepping stone on the path to truth. It is possible that contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions between subjective nows? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Those sense perceptions are of things that actually exist – sight from photons interacting with your retina, touch from the pressure against your skin as interpreted by the nerves in your skin, etc.” This is called naive realism. You probably have not thought much about consciousness… There are many sense perceptions that don’t reveal anything external to themselves, but are a property of brain activity internal to its architecture. Pain is not in the electrons of the knife. “Those sense perceptions are caused by events that are present in reality, not just in your mind.” The mind is a structure within reality. Sense perceptions occur in the mind. Different sense perceptions provide a doorway to begin exploring the underlying reality to differing degrees. “Your sensorium may or may not accurately reflect the state of the external world, but the sensory data itself is a source of information about reality.” Agreed… as stated. But what you actually mean by that sentence in context probably intends to tear the bounds for just how much one can infer about ontology from subjective experience. In which case, I disagree with that sentiment. “A number of things can interfere with your senses or your brain’s processing of their data, which is why we use independent verification of sensory data to validate the data we receive.” Most experiences do not reveal much about the mechanism underlying reality and can still be validated by consultation with others. This is due to shared brain/mind architecture which is similarly built on a mountain of elaborate processes to which we don’t have a back-door view. You frame the experience of now as data coming in from the outside, but I identify it with the integration of other data into intrinsically existent structures. As I said before: Contiguous chunks of spacetime filled with brain matter produce a sense of now internal to themselves. (How to draw the partitions? Something like the maximally irreducible conceptual structures of IIT may be a candidate.) “Since you claim not to be a solipsist – at least in some respect – then I presume that you agree that sensory input can be used to derive facts about reality, yes?” ‘Now’ is not sensory input that allows you to automatically derive the ontology of time. In fact, it is not sensory input at all in the naive way you construe it. It is rather more plausible to identify the experience of now with the integration of local pockets of information in the timeline of the brain.