Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Consciousness Generation in Persons, Literary Characters and Robotics

An a Inkling By GJ Gillespie

Quantum physics gives us a quite different picture of reality than we might expect. In our

Shelter from the Storm by GJ Gillespie
daily life, we do not see physical objects popping in and out of existence.

It has been observed that when two bars of metal polished extremely flat are placed near each other in a vacuum they will behave in strange ways. Not only do the two bars move closer to each other, but it can yield the production of photonic energy from nothing.

Virtual particles are said to pop in and out of existence from a pervasive super position in the microscopic quantum realm.

For the first time, we know that technology manipulated by conscious agents can create energy from nothing. Creation ex Nihilo has previously been limited to an act of God.

The physicist say that matter could also be created if there was enough energy applied to the process.

I wonder if generating something from nothing with this two facing mirrors process might be analogous to the self reflection necessary for the emergence of consciousness?

When a mind has been programed by the inter-subjectivity of a social system, learning language, norms and values from a culture there comes a point of maturation when a child begins to see him or her self as an object in the world. Perceiving the self as an object permits identity to emerge as the person chooses to integrate social norms and values into his or her interactions with others. The person can compare him or her self to role models in the social system and tact back and forth in forming an interdependent self.

Moreover, the socially conscious part of the self is now able to reflect upon the physiological, autonomic aspects of the self guiding urges with mindfulness. The mature self is able to control the automatic impulses that would otherwise motivate behavior in ways that are socially unacceptable.  Self reflection -- observing the self as an object in the world -- permits a person to change behavior consistent to an identity.

This mental interaction that occurs when a person is self aware is what George Herbert Mead calls the I and the ME dialogue. A person faced with an urge to act in an animal-like, unthinking way to satisfy some need may moderate the urge by talking back to it until it yields to the socially acceptable self image.

This mirroring effect is the basis for moral and ethical behavior as the maturing person compares potential actions with the socially conscious aspect of the self.

Something new is generated in the physical realm of time and space by the symbolic interactions in the mind of a person who is self reflecting.

Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the consciousness of the person is revealed by the mental interactions? That is it existed before in virtual form and and is made real in time and space by the self reflection process -- exactly like the experiment with the polished bars.

In this sense the developing human brain crafted by social and cultural linguistic forces becomes a consciousness-generating machine, revealing the presence of a soul ex Nihilo that stands above and outside the physical universe. something new is generated by symbolic processes in the brain of a self reflecting person, it may be possible to mimic this process in the literary personae of creative writing. The author generates a literary self that has the appearance of reality because it  follows the same processes that lead to the emergence of consciousness in physical humans. If a literary person has a near-real or a soul like consciousness, the same could be possible for virtual persons in video game like universes or in robots.

I am surprised by the number of viewers who are reading this blog post. 

Some of these ideas are more fully explained in another article that goes into more detail and is documented. See: Gillespie, Gary Pinocchio Shrugged: Character Intentionality as Artificial Intelligence — the Suspension of Disbelief in Robots as Persons. A version presented at the Faith in the Humanities Conference, Kirkland, Spring 2009.

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