Back to IT4GH : Home

Definitions and frameworks

It is helpful to refine certain concepts to align them to apply to both human and machine entities. We start with the most general idea, philosophy, and work down to give a structure to our consideration of machine consciousness.


== examining the characteristics of the world, how we perceive it and how we should act in it.

Physical organic existence calls for satisfaction of essential needs and desired wants; we must at least eat and drink and breathe. This requires thinking and planning to stay alive and preferably live honourably. Unlike plants, animals can move in, and to some extent reshape, their environment. The more accurately we can predict the consequences of any contemplated act, the more we may benefit from that act or its avoidance by selecting optimally from the many apparent alternative choices. Choosing requires wisdom, the ability to first define a profitable search space of solutions, and then apply constraints to constrict the search space to a manageable size.

What does it mean to know something? From a practical point of view we need to be able to recognize it using our senses, and be able to interact with it in a way which is of benefit. To do this efficiently we need to be aware of those things with which it is closely associated (that with which it shares traits in common and to a close degree), and those things that distinguishes them (the traits that are different, either by nature or degree). A definition therefore consists of two things: the group to which it belongs and the things that make it uniquely different.


== that which we perceive through our senses sequentially through time both internally and as external to our own personal, or group, existence

Most of what we are aware of appears to be random and unpredictable, but some phenomena demonstrate, to varying degrees, some predictability. Apples fall to the ground, I feel pleasure drinking coffee and doing things that benefit the wider community. Dogs mostly bark and cats mostly meow. We can benefit from this predictability. Internal sensibility might be do I feel well, do I feel pain or dis-ease; external sensibility might involve the ambient temperature and humidity, whether night or day, the season of the year, other humans in the vicinity. At any moment in time the world has a state which can be imaged and formalized by perception


== processing of sensory input and imaginative projection of a coherent picture which can be queried

The final goal of perception is to generate a complex single snapshot of the continuous conscious world that we can query for meaningful summary state data; this is achieved by processing sensory input observations together with experience and projecting it through a function to produce a useful deliverable - “counsel”.


== a deliberate change in the state of the world initiated by an individual human or group.

I can seek shelter if it starts to rain, or drink when I feel thirsty, thereby increasing comfort or maintaining metabolism. Acts have consequences, known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen. The IDA is not able to act except indirectly through the quality and form of counsel delivered to the final actor; acts are performed by the human after consideration of both internal intuition and IDA counsel.


== looking for consistent structure in an apparently chaotic environment

We can by default treat the world as entirely chaotic; this means we cannot predict the outcome of any action and therefore cannot choose, with deliberation, between alternatives. One guess is as good as another. Each alternative has the same value; both human and machine assessments are unreliable.

However we observe that the world is not entirely chaotic. Even a search space that is extensively infinite can be constrained effectively if the space and constraints remain stable. We have some important skills as human animals:

Our evaluation of the state of the world becomes less chaotic, somewhat more predictable when we distinguish patterns. We can approach the uncertainty of the future with more courage, if not with more confidence.


== a set of connected or unconnected nodes that demonstrates the property of consistency within probability limits

Structures are solid patches of safe ground through a morass of chaotic, uncertain and unreliable bog; it is scaffolding to which other looser decorations can be attached. Safe in this context indicates that the result of an act is consistent in a specific structure and is the same independent of time or observer. It may not actually be safe at all, but if we perceive it as safe then it is safe. It just has to be safe relative to a frame of reference.

Structural domains - domain (de main - with the hand) meaning that we have control - we can stretch out a hand and tweak a detail of the environment - switch on a light, turn on the radio or the tv, send in the cops to quell a rebellion.

It may be different in space; an apple dropped on earth will fall towards the centre of the earth, but it may behave differently in space, where the closest large object expressing gravitational attraction may be less obvious.

Examples of structured domains:

Some structures may overlap or touch in some places; so in these circumstances we may be in one or both domains simultaneously. At such times we need to be sure which structure we are using. The recent interview held by Channel 4 between Peterson and Newman was a good example - one side of the argument took up positions in science, the other took up positions in a different structure, so there was no possibility of a rapprochement since moving away from the common point led to firm ground in one domain and chaos in the other. A meeting of minds on safe ground is only possible when the two discussants share structural domains which contain common safe nodes. Otherwise one party will argue from one safe node and the other from a different safe node, each trying to pull the other to their own safe ground, necessarily requiring one party to traverse unsafe ground, to travel through chaos.


== a collection of traits forming safe ground in a chaotic environment

A recognizable element of a structure uniquely distinguishable from other nodes in the same structure through one or more of its traits; it may be dependent on a parent node in a tree structure, or may be directly linked to other nodes through a common root. It may or may not be very close in philosophical space to another node from the same or a different structure.


a property or attribute, in prototype/paratype or instantiated form, possessed by a node possibly to some specific degree

Traits shared in common with other similar nodes but not instantiated, that is as prototypes, are collected in the parent (group) node of a tree. We can instantiate a trait (make something less like others in the group) or revert it to a prototype (make it less individual, more like the parent group). Instantiation implies existence to a certain degree, either in general terms (a little, a lot), comparative terms (more than 10, more than Fred has), or in specific amount (2 cm., box of a dozen).


== a node shows consistency (that is it is “safe”) when one or more traits appears to remain the same no matter where or when it is viewed or who views it.

If pure gold has a yellowish shiny colour today in Spain viewed by person A then gold viewed by B in the Congo next week will have the same colour. The actual colour the different people perceive is not relevant; one may see it as blue but know the colour as yellow, no difference.


== nodes are connected by leaps through chaos

these links or edges, which have no traits of their own, provide a narrative way (chain of links) of getting from one node to another, where one lends strength to those with which it is connected. In the case of the science structure there is most often a solid road connecting nodes based on logic. In the case of religion the connections, if any, are based on accepted church principles, perhaps papal dogma or biblical reference but the nodes can stand alone and separate on their own perceived and accepted virtue.

Back to IT4GH : Home
© Colin Beckingham 2018,2019; Last modified: 2019-March-20