Mind in action

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The argument brewing in the "Bugs in Darwin" thread has a matched partner in "Brain vs Mind".  The argument over RM+NS is over and has moved to the thesis that thoughts come from electrochemical processes, exclusively.  I will argue it is likewise, ancient prejudice and we can grasp the working of mind and its evolution in living things.

This argument works with near materialism of current favor and with spiritual ideas alike.  It a methodological stance as to the measurable reality of information science to reveal nature and mind. 


stephenw Wrote: Wrote:mind defined as information processing.
Laird Wrote:
...doesn't seem to me to be a valid definition of mind. In particular, it seems to be equally subject to the critique levelled by Bernardo against unanchored information, except that here we have unanchored information processing. It seems to me that similarly to why information cannot be the basis of reality in that it (information) only makes sense in that context when embodied (i.e., as information *about* some tangible thing), nor can information processing be the basis of a mind in that it only makes sense in that context when treated as a process of mind. Thus, mind precedes (its) information processing, and cannot be reduced to it. At least, this is how it seems to me.

Moreover, I don't see how defining mind as information processing explains subjectivity (awareness). Subjective awareness is not entailed by information processing as we well know given the electronic devices with which we're communicating: they are processing information, but they are (presumably) not aware. Thus, again, there must be something more to mind than information processing.

Finally, I don't see how defining mind as information processing encompasses the free will of, and meaningfulness chosen by, mind, both of which you affirm.

                                          ***************************************************************
The simple straightforward answer is that the action of mind is measured in the changing probabilities in the informational environment.  

These changing probabilities can be by generated by knowing the past and bringing its mutual information to the current mental state of a living thing.  Likewise, bring possible future states to the present or synthesize diverse current facts into a new configuration and change can be seen in events from purposeful activity.  Each of these events is measurable.  

What I am saying that is otta of the box in that the importing of the past and future are real activities. Reality includes all current physicality AND all information as probability waves past and future.  The naïve version of Informational Realism is to treat the structured information, just as pragmatic science treats the physical objects it detects.  The can track their historical development, their future possible states and their possible purpose use.

As a thought experiment.  Picture the famous chemical soup, existing in a chaotic state.  In that chemical soup's past and future there is a an actual probability for life (as embedded mind) to start creating information objects that resonate with this environment.  This changes the only driver being physics, to one (like Maxwell's Demon) who can detect and respond to probability waves.  Physical forces are needed, but mind is not a physical force.  Mind is just as Maxwell described, directly interacting with the informational heart of reality creating function from organization of elements.

The activity that mind acts with is directly perceiving - not physical structure - (eyes come later) but organizational structure as affordances.  The ingestable bit for the first cell.  Mind makes information objects out of the substance of probability.  Just like quantum observations tell us >> first the real-world probabilities of superposition - then a single outcome.  

Minds can embody intent and extract objective meaning matching subjective purpose, even at the level of making the first working cell.

Ok - this means that what is real and functional is more than just the tangible in the here and now, it means the information objects of the past, present and future come through the informational environments of living things with the objective meaning open to being imported.  The first append instruction from mind in evolution is the motion to eat.  Mind organizes first and form and function follow.

The assertion is that mind evolved to see probability waves first and then later that same detection behavior developed the five senses.  In the informational environment - the probability waves are the root for making living things rich in information.  Mind's core function is to take these probability wave detections and make an informational object that guides a response.  Not a conscious response, necessarily, but a mindful intentional behavior matching the target state output from mind.

This leads to the profitable ability being not so much consciousness, at the beginning of mind in matter, being understanding.  In this arrangement the two variables to measure are how mind changes real-world events and how deeply connected with useful ideas are moment to moment understandings of a living thing.

Mind acts on physical realities indirectly by changing the underlying reality of probability waves and information structures.
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(2021-08-03, 07:14 PM)stephenw Wrote: The argument brewing in the "Bugs in Darwin" thread has a matched partner in "Brain vs Mind".  The argument over RM+NS is over and has moved to the thesis that thoughts come from electrochemical processes, exclusively.  I will argue it is likewise, ancient prejudice and we can grasp the working of mind and its evolution in living things.

This argument works with near materialism of current favor and with spiritual ideas alike.  It a methodological stance as to the measurable reality of information science to reveal nature and mind. 


Laird Wrote:
...doesn't seem to me to be a valid definition of mind. In particular, it seems to be equally subject to the critique levelled by Bernardo against unanchored information, except that here we have unanchored information processing. It seems to me that similarly to why information cannot be the basis of reality in that it (information) only makes sense in that context when embodied (i.e., as information *about* some tangible thing), nor can information processing be the basis of a mind in that it only makes sense in that context when treated as a process of mind. Thus, mind precedes (its) information processing, and cannot be reduced to it. At least, this is how it seems to me.

Moreover, I don't see how defining mind as information processing explains subjectivity (awareness). Subjective awareness is not entailed by information processing as we well know given the electronic devices with which we're communicating: they are processing information, but they are (presumably) not aware. Thus, again, there must be something more to mind than information processing.

Finally, I don't see how defining mind as information processing encompasses the free will of, and meaningfulness chosen by, mind, both of which you affirm.

                                          ***************************************************************
The simple straightforward answer is that the action of mind is measured in the changing probabilities in the informational environment.  

These changing probabilities can be by generated by knowing the past and bringing its mutual information to the current mental state of a living thing.  Likewise, bring possible future states to the present or synthesize diverse current facts into a new configuration and change can be seen in events from purposeful activity.  Each of these events is measurable.  

What I am saying that is otta of the box in that the importing of the past and future are real activities. Reality includes all current physicality AND all information as probability waves past and future.  The naïve version of Informational Realism is to treat the structured information, just as pragmatic science treats the physical objects it detects.  The can track their historical development, their future possible states and their possible purpose use.

As a thought experiment.  Picture the famous chemical soup, existing in a chaotic state.  In that chemical soup's past and future there is a an actual probability for life (as embedded mind) to start creating information objects that resonate with this environment.  This changes the only driver being physics, to one (like Maxwell's Demon) who can detect and respond to probability waves.  Physical forces are needed, but mind is not a physical force.  Mind is just as Maxwell described, directly interacting with the informational heart of reality creating function from organization of elements.

The activity that mind acts with is directly perceiving - not physical structure - (eyes come later) but organizational structure as affordances.  The ingestable bit for the first cell.  Mind makes information objects out of the substance of probability.  Just like quantum observations tell us >> first the real-world probabilities of superposition - then a single outcome.  

Minds can embody intent and extract objective meaning matching subjective purpose, even at the level of making the first working cell.

Ok - this means that what is real and functional is more than just the tangible in the here and now, it means the information objects of the past, present and future come through the informational environments of living things with the objective meaning open to being imported.  The first append instruction from mind in evolution is the motion to eat.  Mind organizes first and form and function follow.

The assertion is that mind evolved to see probability waves first and then later that same detection behavior developed the five senses.  In the informational environment - the probability waves are the root for making living things rich in information.  Mind's core function is to take these probability wave detections and make an informational object that guides a response.  Not a conscious response, necessarily, but a mindful intentional behavior matching the target state output from mind.

This leads to the profitable ability being not so much consciousness, at the beginning of mind in matter, being understanding.  In this arrangement the two variables to measure are how mind changes real-world events and how deeply connected with useful ideas are moment to moment understandings of a living thing.

Mind acts on physical realities indirectly by changing the underlying reality of probability waves and information structures.

Again, an argument primarily by assertion, that Mind (origin and ultimate nature unspecified) simply permeates nature and powers evolution. I guess we have to take that on faith. Sure, the actions of mind can be measured; it can be as simple as a person in a psychology laboratory taking the action of squeezing a hand pressure sensor to indicate the degree of brightness of the color red he is perceiving, or the degree of pain he is feeling. Mind has changed a measureable something in the real physical world. But the subjectively experienced qualia are still an existential universe away from the physical measurements, and we are no closer to understanding their real nature.   

I'm curious. If mind acts to change the physical world by changing and creating new probability waves and information structures in some underlying reality, how can it be that in the example just cited the  proximate mechanism is human subjective experience of certain qualia and subsequent free will conscious decision to exert a certain muscular force on a pressure sensor? For that matter it remains a total mystery how the human mind actually interfaces with the physical brain cells to cause a muscular action. Just saying that it is a matter of changing probability waves and information structures doesn't dent that impenetrable mystery of how the mind/matter interface really works.
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Hey Stephenw,

I think it's useful that you've started a separate thread to discuss these issues.

Just for the reference of later readers, the posts from the original thread in which the argument brewed currently range from #1,525 to #1,529.

(2021-08-03, 07:14 PM)stephenw Wrote: The simple straightforward answer is that the action of mind is measured in the changing probabilities in the informational environment.

Hmm. I don't see though how that answers my objections to your definition of mind, since you've now switched contexts to the measuring of mind. These are two separate issues.

In any case, here's an attempt at paraphrasing your paradigm so that you can tell me whether or not I have correctly understood:

Minds (whatever they are, and I still don't think you've ever meaningfully addressed this question on this forum) process information and assign meaning to that information, which they then freely act upon based upon the affordances embodied in that information. Information objects are in some sense real, exist in parallel with (also real) physical objects, and can be studied scientifically just as physical objects can be. Information includes all future quantum possibilities, and this information is available - though not necessarily consciously - to minds. Using this information (about future possibilities), minds sense which future possibilities offer the best affordances, and - again, not necessarily consciously - make choices which lead in that direction. This probabilistically-guided sensing, rather than external, intelligent, explicit designers, is the origin of the complex information which minds encode into their biological forms.

Does that seem fair?

I think that nbtruthman asks some relevant questions, but I'd like to first confirm that I'm at least somewhat correctly understanding what you're saying before sharing any of my own.
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Are we referring to a definition of mind that must be measurable in order to be a scientific definition while still holding the philosophical position that mind, as the layperson would define it, and the measurement of mind are two entirely different things?
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(2021-08-04, 09:17 AM)Brian Wrote: Are we referring to a definition of mind that must be measurable in order to be a scientific definition while still holding the philosophical position that mind, as the layperson would define it, and the measurement of mind are two entirely different things?
That is a tough question!  Yes - the advantage of the proposed definition has the obvious ability to parse issues with the extensive mathematics available to quantify outcomes.  As a method, it can examine reality in a very pragmatic manner.

For me the term mind - is an abstraction - for just this actual activity of detection of affordances and their manipulation and imaginations as mental workings.  It includes affordance detection by mental processes as the model for transfer of information measured by Shannon's communication equations.  This may be only one metric among many to grant a global perspective, so it not a dive into ontology and metaphysics.  It is a heuristic focused on a simple idea of direct perception as a means of gaining knowledge and understanding in the virtual space of a agent. 

I am reaching for general and top-level structures from nature, as its forces, materials, objective meaning and information structures. The interaction of these four can map to simple and general set of environments where the outcomes match public experience.  The method is to track physical events and informational events on separate paths, due to how things evolve in each environment differently.  That means there is a third domain of study where there are the outcomes of their mutual transformations - grounded - in the here and now.  Biology fits this bill as does thermodynamics.

Defining subjective mind comes from the processing of the "ingredient" of objective meaning, so a duck on that right now.  Staying with Shannon information and Gibsonian direct-perception framework, what follows is an attempt to sort land from the map.  The map is surely our data about these two or more environments and the process outcomes both manifest and virtual.  Data about what is virtual is a new "feel" found in this mode.  Probabilities that don't happen are still real and may have a relationship to past and future information.  Subjectively, it can be the thought of "an idea whose time is come."

The ontology of the "land" is left open to as many ways as can fit the data.  But, let me say personally here that - I do - as a simple guy - think and believe that in existing deep subjectively-meaningful experiences that are spiritual,  The process model grabs only data from observation, with as little prejudice as possible.  It cannot be "objective" in any comprehensive way, because the data can be modeled in many perspectives.  BUT  it is a perspective where new answers and questions get answered.
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Here is a science view about what I am trying (poorly) to describe. 
Increase in Mutual Information During Interaction with the Environment Contributes to Perception

Quote: 4.12. Affordance and Mutual Information

The above analyses of mutual information explain how affordances relate to the organism,
information, and event. Affordances are perceivable environmental opportunities for behavior or
action possibilities [1]. Affordances depend upon the properties of the organism and the environment,
for example, if an organism is tall (property of the organism) enough to jump a fence (environment).
As depicted in Figure 4, different areas of the brain in the dorsal and ventral streams, which guide
perception and action, respectively, interact as they are interconnected. This interaction, between
dorsal and ventral streams, will increase the probabilities of joint activity of select neurons in different
parts of the brain, leading to an increase in mutual information (Table 1), given (i) visual stimuli from
environment (fence) and (ii) motor response (jump) to visual stimuli. A recent study by Josa et al. [74]
showed that the perception of the distance of a target in front of subjects who pushed a trolley varied,
which depended on whether the trolley was heavy (loaded with book) or light (empty). Their results
show that the perceived distances were greater when the trolley was loaded. These results agree with
Gibson’s ideas about perception. Gibson argued that the primary purpose of perception is to guide
action and not to gather information about the environment [1,5]. In this example, the addition of
the trolley adds another visual stimulus source, which would lead to joint activity of a new set of
neurons, which would increase the mutual information related to visual information (object properties
in affordance). The increase in mutual information will increase the signal to noise ratio (result 3),
which would enhance attention to action opportunities; that is, to move the trolley to the target. 
(This post was last modified: 2021-08-05, 12:05 PM by stephenw.)
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(2021-08-04, 05:38 AM)Laird Wrote: In any case, here's an attempt at paraphrasing your paradigm so that you can tell me whether or not I have correctly understood:

Minds (whatever they are, and I still don't think you've ever meaningfully addressed this question on this forum) process information and assign meaning to that information, which they then freely act upon based upon the affordances embodied in that information. Information objects are in some sense real, exist in parallel with (also real) physical objects, and ca n be studied scientifically just as physical objects can be. Information includes all future quantum possibilities, and this information is available - though not necessarily consciously - to minds. Using this information (about future possibilities), minds sense which future possibilities offer the best affordances, and - again, not necessarily consciously - make choices which lead in that direction. This probabilistically-guided sensing, rather than external, intelligent, explicit designers, is the origin of the complex information which minds encode into their biological forms.

I think that nbtruthman asks some relevant questions, but I'd like to first confirm that I'm at least somewhat correctly understanding what you're saying before sharing any of my own.
The process model doesn't have meanings assigned by mind, as a primary function.  Mind, as an activity, experiences the flow of meaningful probabilities.  This flow would be well described by William James's stream of consciousness.  If the flow was water in a chamber, the analogy would that mind is container and water at the same time.  It limits the scope of action to an individual while constantly sampling the environment.

The flow of water would be complex, with an dynamic inner structure modeled by equations of fluid dynamics.  The flow of information in mind is modeled by information science, as methods that includes both the equations of MTC as to its structure.  And by logical structuring of the personal viewpoint.  The idea with this analogy is that: material structure corresponds to Shannon info; and that the energy of the water flow corresponds to the meaningful relations available to the agent.

The rest of your review is on target and thank you for that.  I would add the evolutionary perspective, that the five senses that detect information from physical events, developed from a prior "sense" of capability of the "probabilistically-guided sensing," (love the phrase).

The next step, if any of this is clear, is to quantify this corresponding "fluid dynamics" as the structuring of thought.
(This post was last modified: 2021-08-05, 12:58 PM by stephenw.)
Hey Stephenw,

Drawing from your responses to both Brian and me, starting with your response to Brian:

(2021-08-04, 02:45 PM)stephenw Wrote: For me the term mind - is an abstraction

In the same sense, though, every term (word) is an abstraction - a linguistic token standing in for something else - so this observation doesn't help much.

(2021-08-04, 02:45 PM)stephenw Wrote: - for just this actual activity of detection of affordances and their manipulation and imaginations as mental workings.

Clearly, though, this is a very limited and inadequate definition of mind, which gets back to what to me is a very meaningful problem: you continue to define mind in terms which I (and others) find to be manifestly deficient, and have still not responded to my objections to what I see as a very inadequate definition, in particular its avoidance of mention of subjective awareness, one of the crucial aspects to which we generally do refer when we talk about "mind".

(2021-08-04, 02:45 PM)stephenw Wrote: Defining subjective mind comes from the processing of the "ingredient" of objective meaning, so a duck on that right now.

OK, wait, now this is interesting. You seem to be making a new distinction with the qualifier of "subjective" for "mind". I don't see how subjectivity can be excised from the definition of mind in the first place, but perhaps here you are trying to distinguish between your functional definition of "mind as processor of information objects" and the more holistic definition which I and others think is necessary of "mind as subjective awareness and intelligent agent of volition"? Are you, thus, not so much rejecting subjectivity in your original definition of mind as trying to refer only to the most important (to you) aspect of mind (its information processing aspect) in that definition whilst simply bracketing and ignoring for those purposes that it has other (to me and others very important) aspects such as subjective awareness? Am I reading you fairly here?

Turning now to your response to me:

(2021-08-05, 12:49 PM)stephenw Wrote: The process model doesn't have meanings assigned by mind, as a primary function.  Mind, as an activity, experiences the flow of meaningful probabilities.  This flow would be well described by William James's stream of consciousness.  If the flow was water in a chamber, the analogy would that mind is container and water at the same time.  It limits the scope of action to an individual while constantly sampling the environment.

The flow of water would be complex, with an dynamic inner structure modeled by equations of fluid dynamics.  The flow of information in mind is modeled by information science, as methods that includes both the equations of MTC as to its structure.  And by logical structuring of the personal viewpoint.  The idea with this analogy is that: material structure corresponds to Shannon info; and that the energy of the water flow corresponds to the meaningful relations available to the agent.

So, following on from my comments above, I think that here you're bracketing the subjective aspects of mind so as to focus on its information/meaning-processing aspects, whilst not denying those subjective aspects - right?

Nevertheless, your above description is puzzling, in that on the one hand, you have affirmed the reality of free will, whereas your description seems to leave no room for it. Information and its correlated objective meaning flow inexorably through mind, with no apparent room for mind to alter the flow. Is this really how you see it? If not, where is there scope for free will?

(2021-08-05, 12:49 PM)stephenw Wrote: The rest of your review is on target and thank you for that.

No problem. Thanks for confirming its accuracy.
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Just pondering the title of this thread. "Mind in action". Clearly that is not the same as "Mind". I had wondered whether there might be a need for a separate thread entitled "Mind at Rest", but concluded that it would be, like this one a little too restrictive. Though I understand the need or purpose of the current discussion. The topic is valid, though it represents a subset.
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(2021-08-05, 01:38 PM)Laird Wrote: In the same sense, though, every term (word) is an abstraction - a linguistic token standing in for something else - so this observation doesn't help much.
of course,

Again, I am trying to keep it pragmatic, and proffer a model for structure and activity and not one of deep-meaning. Doesn't mean I would like to bath in deep-meaning.  The definition of mind and understanding is for quantification and functional output purposes.  Having ready data and a process map is the goal.

Mind is active as a copy function, importing mutual information.  Mental processes - besides structuring a object internally from detection - can select it for focus.  This selection for focus corresponds to a potential future behavioral act.  Selection of focus is a primary action of mind and has a place in computation as a definitive act.  If an information object is selected it can be altered by another object and affordance sensed can be restructured as a potential future.  This activity is now an information object corresponding to a behavior and its presence is a stimulus for action.
  • Minds can gain information as a nexus of bits from external sources of signals.
  • Minds can gain information as a nexus of bits from internal sources of signals
  • Minds can select nexuses of bits for focus.
  • Mind can insert, append, delete, reformat etc..... These nexus of bits (Shannon info) and their relations to all probabilities (meaningful/logical) and create a new object to new purposes.
  • Minds combine data so as to create understanding in a personal context and is experience itself.
Details and specifics of both the sciences of neurology and information are beyond my pay grade, but following this for years, papers like the one I just cited seem to be answering the questions of how it works.

Quote: We propose that robust increases in mutual information, measuring
the association between the characteristics of sensory inputs’ and neural circuits’ connectivity patterns,
are partly responsible for perception and successful motor interactions with physical surroundings.
The increase in mutual information, given the knowledge about environmental sensory stimuli and
the type of motor response produced, is responsible for the coupling between action and perception. - Gupta and Bahmer
(This post was last modified: 2021-08-05, 02:44 PM by stephenw.)

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