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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Xerxes Arsiwalla: on 5/16/20 at 22:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Satya, Many thanks for your comments and wish you too the best for...

Xerxes Arsiwalla: on 5/16/20 at 22:18pm UTC, wrote Dear Edwin, Many thanks for your comments! Concerning your first comment,...

Xerxes Arsiwalla: on 5/16/20 at 22:02pm UTC, wrote Dear Jochen, Many thanks for your comments! Your article mentioned above...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 5/9/20 at 12:33pm UTC, wrote Dear Dr Xerxes Arsiwalla Thank you for your nice essay on qualia,...

Edwin Klingman: on 4/25/20 at 20:13pm UTC, wrote Dear Xerxes, I agree with your conclusion that qualia are fundamentally...

Jochen Szangolies: on 4/25/20 at 15:42pm UTC, wrote Dear Xerxes, I've myself long been interested in the idea that subjective...

Xerxes Arsiwalla: on 4/25/20 at 11:56am UTC, wrote Essay Abstract Can the qualia of consciousness be described as a...


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FQXi FORUM
September 19, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Are Qualia Computable? Godel, Infinite Regress and Distributional Semantics by Xerxes D. Arsiwalla [refresh]
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Author Xerxes Arsiwalla wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 11:56 GMT
Essay Abstract

Can the qualia of consciousness be described as a computation? If it were possible to provide an objective description of qualia, how should such a description be formally expressed? Here we show that attempting to construct such a formal description of qualia generates a series of obstructions due application of Godel's theorems, thereby leading to the conclusion that qualia are fundamentally non-computable. We then suggest an alternative description based on distributional processes. However, this severely restricts formal axiomatic expressibility. In other words, if certain attributes of phenomenal states are of a distributional type, then those attributes fail any objective description based on computation.

Author Bio

The author is a researcher at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain; with an interest in physics, mathematics and consciousness studies.

Download Essay PDF File

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 15:42 GMT
Dear Xerxes,

I've myself long been interested in the idea that subjective properties of experience could escape formal description for much the same reason that hampers the possibility of finding a complete and consistent axiomatization of (sufficiently rich) mathematical structures---and finally put forward an argument to this effect in this article, which might be of some interest to you.

I also agree that the reason for this problem is essentially the existence of an infinite regress---the 'homunculus problem' encountered when one tries to explain a capacity in terms of itself. I am not quite clear on how you propose distributional systems---which I'm afraid I'm not familiar with---evade this problem. Could you perhaps give an example, or point me towards one?

Anyway, good luck in the contest!

Cheers

Jochen

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Author Xerxes Arsiwalla replied on May. 16, 2020 @ 22:02 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Many thanks for your comments!

Your article mentioned above is certainly of interest to me and I will follow up on that soon.

Concerning my proposal to evade the infinite regress problem, this is similar in spirit to the more general discussion in philosophy between what is called "Foundationalism" vs "Coherentism", where the latter advocates circular reasoning to evade a regress. The specific distributional system I mentioned in the essay has its roots in models of meaning from natural language processing, where meaning of a concept can be described in terms of how that concept relates to other concepts rather than from an axiomatic prescription. I tried to argue that meaning might at least be one of the attributes of qualia that do not lend themselves to an axiomatic description. Possibly there are other attributes too, and presumably our failure to describe them computationally might be suggestive of an underlying distributional framework to describe them.

Good luck to you as well for the contest!

Cheers,

Xerxes

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 20:13 GMT
Dear Xerxes,

I agree with your conclusion that qualia are fundamentally non-computable, where qualia are associated with the “raw feel” of an experience. Nevertheless, I do not believe this precludes a physical model underlying awareness. Schultz’s essay suggests that limitations on knowability are based on algorithmic patterns and that non-algorithmic patterns do not impose limits on knowability.

As I understand it, your “distributed reasoning” serves as an alternative to axiomatic systems, which are, by definition, algorithmic systems. I also believe that your graphical representation is the correct approach, but I disagree with “nodes denoting the objects of study and edges denoting relations between them.”

On the other hand, I do agree, so to speak, that “the identity or attribute of any object in this graph is completely dependent on its relations to other objects in the network.”

You mention natural language processing, where such distributed models were, I believe, first proposed by Stephen Grossberg in 1969. The mechanics of filtering are represented by algorithmic processes on the net. This is aside from the ‘qualia ’ of comprehension of detected words.

Based on ten day old info I have rewritten my essay to analyze conscious awareness of 3D shapes in space. Based on your excellent essay I believe you might find it interesting.

Deciding on the nature of time and space

I look forward to any comments you might have,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Xerxes Arsiwalla replied on May. 16, 2020 @ 22:18 GMT
Dear Edwin,

Many thanks for your comments!

Concerning your first comment, I did not mean that non-computability precludes a physical or mathematical model. Just that these models are not built on an axiomatic or in philosophy on a foundationalist approach. Instead, they follow circular reasoning characteristic of coherentist philosophy, of which distributional models are a specific example.

Concerning how one may represent those graphs, I took a simplistic realization that is similar to what is used in models of meaning. It is perfect reasonable if one wants to generalize that to more complex settings.

Thanks for the Grossberg reference and also thanks for the link to your essay, it certainly looks interesting. Good luck for the contest!

Cheers,

Xerxes

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on May. 9, 2020 @ 12:33 GMT
Dear Dr Xerxes Arsiwalla

Thank you for your nice essay on qualia, describing mental consciousness. Wonderful try for the fist step. Probably the "qualia "of future may be computable!!

I also tried to attempt an explaining on Cosmology side and developed 'Dynamic Universe Model', which solves many unsolved problems and many predictions came true.

I hope you find a little of your valuable time to give some comments on my essay' A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy'

Best wishes

=snp

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Author Xerxes Arsiwalla replied on May. 16, 2020 @ 22:22 GMT
Dear Satya,

Many thanks for your comments and wish you too the best for your essay! It certainly looks interesting, I will have a look.

Cheers,

Xerxes

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