Henry Shevlin has an interesting paper from 2021 in Mind & Language that just went open access: Non-human consciousness and the specificity problem: A modest theoretical proposal. Shevlin discusses the problem of applying cognitive theories of consciousness, developed within the context of human psychology, to non-human systems, such as animals or artificial systems. For example, … Continue reading The specificity problem
Today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic is pretty good, and related to our recent discussions. Click through for the original to see the hovertext and Red Button bonus caption How would you have responded to Zorkrang's initial question? (Assuming you weren't more concerned about being naked and experimented on by an extraterrestrial.)
The latest volume of Love, Death & Robots dropped Friday on Netflix. I had hoped to meter my watching of them this time, but it didn't happen. I avoided binging the whole thing Friday night, but by last night I was done. As usual, these are all relatively short, in the 10-20 minute range. All … Continue reading Love, Death & Robots, Volume 3
The idea of objectivity gets a lot of criticism. One common complaint is that it's a fantasy viewpoint, a God's eye view that doesn't exist, a view from nowhere that we can never take. This is a common complaint I've seen from people who think studying consciousness in a third person manner is misguided. It … Continue reading A thought about objectivity
I had to watch this several times before I saw it, so don't be discouraged if you don't the first time. If you're having trouble, it auto-replays at the original TikTok. https://twitter.com/social_brains/status/1518786027288104960 When you do see it, assuming you didn't initially, what were you conscious of before you caught it? Does it make sense to … Continue reading An exercise in detection
Ok, so I'm pretty late to the party on this one. Avatar: The Last Airbender is a world famous animated series. It's American animation, but done in the style of Japanese shonen anime. It's also kid friendly, something that is very evident in the early episodes. For a long time, despite many assurance from friends … Continue reading Avatar: The Last Airbender
James of Seattle clued me in to a thought experiment described by Dr. Anna Schapiro in a Twitter thread. https://twitter.com/AnnaSchapiro/status/1512866137809195011 It's very similar to one discussed in a new preprint paper: Do action potentials cause consciousness? Like all good thought experiments, it exercises and challenges our intuitions. In this case, it forces us to contemplate … Continue reading How much can we change the causality of the brain and keep consciousness?
Last week, Science News had an article about the difficulty of studying animal emotions, on understanding what an animal in a particular situation is really feeling. It's an interesting article, although not one with much new information for many of you. However, I want to focus on one point raised by one of the researchers … Continue reading The benefits of functionalism for animal welfare
This Scientific American video, shared by Aeon, is pretty good if you're looking for a quick basic primer on quantum computing. It's short, less than nine minutes. Although I do have a beef which I'll discuss below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLnGp1WTNFQ Decoded: How Does a Quantum Computer Work? The beef, which is pretty common with popular explanations of … Continue reading Decoded: How does a quantum computer work?
Quanta has a pretty interesting article up today: A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life. Our understanding of the physics of the sun indicate that it should have been only 70% as bright as it is today. But if so, early Earth should have been a snowball not really capable … Continue reading Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought