010-Awareness and representation illustrated

Arrival of Minds is about creating a computer based artificial consciousness, an artificial intelligence. 

To do this, we need to understand what consciousness is, what intelligence is, regardless of whether it is artificial or biological. 

Questions about consciousness, intelligence, and mind are old philosophical questions.  Asking them requires us not only to look at what consciousness is, but what reality is.  In philosophy we can start by looking for irrefutables and go from there.  Relying on refutable ideas will not address the philosophical problems.  Those problems are not going to be solved by biological descriptions of neural firing or by computer algorithms.  There is something deeply intrinsic about consciousness and intelligence and we need to understand what it is if we are going to make one.

This is an overview where I will summarize ideas of awareness and representation and how they function and present that information graphically.  Hopefully in this overview we can speed along to some postulates about mind and intelligence without too much hassle.


Experience is inescapable. 

We cannot make arguments or understand things without making appeals to experience. We experience the heat of the sun; we smell bad; we like certain flavors. It's to dark. It's too bright. Thinking and our thoughts, heat and the sun, smells and "bad", certain and flavors and like, "it", "to", dark, and bright, are all 'things', in this universe.  They are all things or stuff in our experience.  The contents of experience, and the character of experience are contents of the universe.  They are contents of reality.

We naturally refer to some of the contents of our experience as external to ourselves.  But this is not what happens.  The contents of experience whether "external" or not are experience.  

We talk about the contents of our experience.  We make reference to the content of other peoples experiences.  We even make reference to ideas that refer to things we do not directly experience.  We do this in a way that implies that the contents of these experiences are external or unconnected to our experiences.  Or we imply that the contents of our experience are nested in special ways inside the universe (they exist only in our minds). We imply that different experiences have categorical distinctions that separate or join them to our selves.  

But the contents of experience are not external nor are the contents conjoined to us.  The contents of experience, the objects of experience, are experiences and that is all.  We have beliefs about objects of experience as being external or subjective and tied to our self.  These beliefs are experiences.  Metaphysics is in the realm of experience, not outside it.

In the pictures below you will see a unicorn.  A unicorn is a fictional creature.  But you recognize it.  You experience that unicorn image.  You know what a unicorn is. 

You also see the number 2.  Not the actual number 2, because numbers and 2 are abstractions.  You see a representation of the abstract concept of the number 2.

Numbers, ideas, animals, plants, planets, gravity, molecules, fragrances, tastes, art, energy, running, fire, cold, metal, wind, talking, words, symbols, dance, motion, time, change, space, action, me, you, other people.  These are all experiences. 

Experience is the first principle.


Is this magenta circle real? 

If you can see it, then it is obviously real... right?  Magenta is not produced by any wavelength of light.  There is no electro-magnetic frequency that is magenta.  The visible spectrum does not contain the color magenta.  Our eyes and brain make up the color magenta from "sensations" of "red" and "blue" light.   No physicist will talk about the magenta spectrum of light because it doesn't exist.

In fact, electro-magnetic radiation does not "have" a color.  We perceive color, most likely, because of our biology.  Some people cannot perceive some colors because of differences in biology (color blindness).  Some people may even perceive more colors than most human beings because they are tetrachromats.  What colors does a tetrachromat see? 

The frequency or wavelength of light is quantitatively different between the blue spectrum and the red spectrum.  But the colors of red and blue are qualitatively different.  We do not see red as somehow less or more blue, even though the wavelength of red is This is why color experience is referred to as qualia.  Perhaps you have noticed that when you first experience something new or with a deep attention, the colors you experience are more intense.  This is not a function of light intensity but 'intensity' of perception.

Our experience, our perceptions, are real.  Even illusions are real.  What we mean by reality descends from experience.  We begin with experience to understand reality.  It is experience that decides what is illusion and what is not illusion.  It is experience which decides what is a dream and a simulation and what is not a simulation and not a dream.  We suspend disbelief to have new experiences in movies, literature, and other arts.  We imagine. 

Experience shows us a world much more varied and complex than is permitted in a materialist philosophy.  A world full of ideas, words, numbers, emotions, goals, disappointments, itches, effervescence, light, and so many many other things. .  There are even unicorns.

Magenta is like a unicorn.  Unicorns are not 'real' you know...even though you see one below.  How can you see a unicorn if a unicorn is not a physical thing?  How can you see magenta, if magenta is not a physical thing?  How many colors can a unicorn see?   Is this a silly question?  What is the physics and mathematics of silly?


What if you saw the color spectrum below, and I saw the color spectrum in negative (2nd below)?  How could we ever tell that we perceived color in opposites? 


Did you know unicorns eat cupcakes?


Awareness is circled in yellow objects are not circled

If you have experience, what does that mean?  It means you are aware of the things you experience.  Experience is awareness. 

I do not have experiences where I do not have awareness and vice versa.  Awareness is another way to say experience.  When I experience something, I am aware of that something.  

Awareness is always awareness of something.  It is awareness of some content.  An experience is always an experience of something.  There is no experience without content of the experience.  There is no awareness without an object of awareness.  There is no "empty" awareness...

...An "empty" awareness is not empty at all.  It is full of "nothing".  Nothing being content which is the absence of other things.   Strangely, if you have this experience, you may find that nothing is really EVERYTHING.

The content of awareness (experience) is always the same as the thing experienced.  The awareness of a thing is always the same as the thing itself. There is no variation between the awareness of an object and the object itself.

Every time I compare my awareness of an object to the object itself, I find they are the same.  Every time I see some variation in an object, there is a corresponding variation in my awareness of the object. 

I cannot find any objects that are not also  objects of awareness.  There are no objects outside awareness.  Every time I posit that an object is outside awareness, I find that I am aware of it. 

These properties of awareness and objects can be expressed with symbols:

Awareness is always awareness of an object, action, or experience.  AW = AW : X.  Awareness is a kind of function.

Awareness of an object (X) is the same as that object (X).  Objects of awareness are always the same as the object itself.   AW : X = X

.................................. ..................

AW:X = X

This proposition may be unconventional.  But it is irrefutable.  

Any refutation requires that the objects, ideas, propositions, and examples of a refutation be objects of awareness and experience.  And these refutation objects or counter-examples always match the awareness of them.  

Test the proposition: Awareness (or experience if you prefer) is always awareness of an object (an object is some content, object, action, idea etc).  And the awareness of an object is always identical to the object itself. 

Any object or action that is proposed as being different from the awareness you have of that object is never different from your awareness of the object.  Always, the contents of our experience are identical to the experience itself.  The content of awareness is identical to the content itself.  (AW:X = X)

What we assert as being a difference between an object itself and the awareness of an object is an example of many objects of awareness that associate together.  It is the association we conceptually substitute for the many objects of awareness.  The association of one object is separate from the other object it associates too.  All these many objects are objects of awareness. 

When the content of awareness is claimed to be different than the content itself, the claim is NOT one about the identity function of awareness (AW:X=X) but is about how our representations of content are not identical.

In this example we see that the representation (US Penny concept) is a separate object of awareness from the faces of a US cent.   Which it must be, because the concept of a penny is not made of metal.


Consider the classic sense data problem of the bent stick or a bent pencil in water.

When a pencil sits outside water it looks straight. The properties we apprehend of the pencil correspond with our awareness of the pencil properties. 

When we insert the pencil in water, the pencil appears bent.  This is caused by light refraction. 

Did the pencil itself actually bend?  No, but we see a bent pencil.  We are aware of the pencil as appearing bent. just as before we were aware of the pencil as appearing straight.  

We are not aware of the pencil as being both bent and straight at the same time.  We see a  straight pencil and see a pencil that appears bent in water.  These two experiences are separate objects of awareness. 

In this experiment, the 'bending' only occurs when we see the pencil in water.  The experience of the bent pencil co-occurs with the pencil inserted in water and not by itself.  

Our awareness of the pencil as being bent by itself, not in water, is a conceptual object. We can conceive of bent pencils just as we conceive of unicorns.  Our awareness of a bent pencil is awareness of the concept of a bent pencil.   That concept is not sense data.   

What lets us talk about all these kinds of pencils and pencil properties and states is that we use a representation that we refer to as a "pencil".  The pencil concept, the straight concept, the bent concept are all objects of awareness.   


Are these images the same? 

Obviously not.  One is larger than the other.  But in other ways they are the same.  Both are obverses of a US Cent.  They both show a visage of Abraham Lincoln.  They have similar colors

The similarities and the differences are things that we are aware of.  We are aware of these images of pennies and we are aware of the parts and properties of the images. 

We can associate these penny images together but they are not the same objects of awareness, and they are not the same objects. 

Let A = large penny image
Let B = small penny image

AW: A = A
AW: B = B

A ≠ B

Then how do we show similarity?  How do we show that these two images are associated together?  How do we show that this penny is the same large or small?


Sense data, and conceptual information have relationships to each other.

The concept of a pencil relates to a sensory pencil experience, a sensory experience of a bent-in-water pencil, and the concept of a bent pencil.   The bent-in-water pencil would relate to the bent pencil concept. 

We experience similarities between sense data (pencil in water, not in water) and between concepts (bent-pencil concept, pencil concept).  We experience differences between these "same" objects.  If there are NO differences between objects are they the same object? 

We naturally refer to an object we sense as being persistent over time.  The persistence of an object over time is a representation.  If you see a face in one part of your vision field and then you see that same face in another part of your vision field you are associating the different sense data from those different visual inputs to a stable recognizable object. 

If a face changes it's angle or expression, you associate those angles and expressions to the same face.  The differences and similarities of angles, expressions, and position of visual information is used to construct a relationship from sense data into conceptual information.

For instance,  do you recognize the face of Abraham Lincoln on the US Penny? 

You have never actually seen Abraham Lincoln.  

Does the US Penny Concept connect to the concepts for Two-Sided and Circle Shape?  Yes.

Should the images of the faces of the Pennies connect to "Two-Sided" or should they connect to a new concept "One-Side"?

How can one "face" of the US Penny look like Lincoln while the other face does not?  Who does it look like?  This play on words shows another kind of idea, the metaphor of face.  


-- We are aware of many associations and relationships inside and between objects.  Our experience is full of connections between things, with similarities, differences, and a plethora of related experiences and concepts.

Take a penny out of your pocket and roll it around in your fingers.  One way it's heads up, another way it's heads upside down.  We see it in different positions, and we put these two images together as views of one penny.  How do we make that association?  How do we show these different views belong to the same object?  How do we show similarity and difference?

Let the top penny be X and the bottom penny be Y.   X and Y are not the same.  We are aware of X (upside penny) and that awareness is different than our awareness of Y (upside down penny).  Thus the awareness of X is not the same as the awareness of Y.  AW:X ≠ AW:Y

But X and Y are identical, except for the rotation.  The bottom penny is the top penny rotated.  The awareness of this penny is different and similar.  Our awareness of these views relates them together.  How does awareness of X relate to awareness of Y?

The pennies are related representationally. 

A representation means one object AS another object. Or one object is in the form of another object.  The top penny is in the form of the bottom penny when it is upside down.  Or X ; Y.  (We use the semi-colon to show representation/as.)  (top penny) ; (bottom penny)

We are aware of the top penny X in the form of the bottom penny Y.  or AW: X;Y  and we know that awareness of an object is that object. 

Thus  AW:X;Y = X;Y

Notice that the top penny (X) is the same as itself, when it is upside down, as the bottom penny Y.    X is X as Y.  
X = X;Y


Consider the above images of pennies.  They are all variations on the first image.  The first penny image let's call it X1 is different from the second (X2), the third (X3) and the fourth (X4).  The pennies are similar and they are different.

X1 is the same as X2 but in a different form (X2 is a greyscale of X1).  X1 = X1;X2. 
X1 = X1;X3 (color reversed).  X1 is the same as X1 as X3.
X1 = X1;X4 (rotated).  

We can show all kinds of relationships, associations, and representations in this way. 

Moreover, we do not have to show representations as identities. 

We can show representations as sequences, switches, or flows.  If we look at a penny, and then rotate it 180 degrees, we see a change in our awareness.  We have an awareness of X1 and an awareness of X4. If X1 changes, our awareness of X1 changes.   AW:X1 switches to an AW: X1;X4.  How?

X1 -> X1;X4 .  We use an arrow -> to show a flow of awareness from a thing itself to a representation or relation of the thing. .  
AW:X1 = X1 -> X1;X4 = AW:X1;X4

What is the difference between these two models or expressions of representation(flow/equality)?  One indicates logic or identity and the other shows action or change.  They are different ways to REPRESENT representation. They are modally different, depending on if YOU want to follow a path of action or YOU want to apprehend a relationship of identity.  The basic feature of representation is the same regardless of the mode of expression.  Representation is X as Y, or X in the form of Y, or X like Y   

X ; Y 

These two expressions of representation outcomes (->  =) are matters of convenience.  We choose one over the other because we want to show a change, action, or flow versus an identity.

If X = X;Y then it follows that Y = Y;X    X;Y or Y;X are the same thing.   X;Y = Y;X


If X = X;Y and  Y = Y;X  and  X;Y = Y;X then X = X;Y = Y   However, X != Y. 
Sequences of representations (left to right) are more obviously EXPRESSED as flows:
X -> X;Y -> Y
Representations can flow in both directions.  X -> X;Y <- Y.   These expressions of representation show what is happening with the objects of awareness.   Change is when objects of awareness switch VIA a representation.  

object permanence is a representation.

Let A = large penny image
Let B = small penny image

AW: A = A
AW: B = B

A ≠ B

The large penny is the same AS the small penny. 
A ; B
A =  A ; B

The small penny is the same as the large penny. 
B ; A
B =  B ; A

The awareness of each penny is the same as the penniy AS small or AS large.

AW:A = A ; B
AW:B = B ; A

There may be other symbolic models of representations. 

In our brains, we are not doing math or logic to make representations.  We are making representations using our biology and neurological structures.  The best way to model neurological processess may be different than how it is shown here.  But the brain function instantiates a function of awareness and representation like the one shown here.    

These functions of awareness and representation should be the same regardless of the structures that produce awareness and representation.  This symbolic way to describe awareness should be as effective in describing neurological processes of awareness and representation as computer processes of awareness and representation.  The substrate upon which awareness functions and representation occurs is incidental to the fact that awareness and representation do occur.   The substrate may color the kinds of representations that are made, but not the fact of representation making. 

previous next