A Model for Consciousness Based on the Sequential Behavior of the Conscious Actions
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A Model for Consciousness Based on the Sequential Behavior of the Conscious Actions F. ANCEAU CNAM - Paris [email protected] http://lmi17.cnam.fr/~anceau. One possible story of awareness. The brain of primitive animals was a merging of independent and concurrent control functions.

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A Model for Consciousness Based on the Sequential Behavior of the Conscious Actions F. ANCEAU

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A model for consciousness based on the sequential behavior of the conscious actions f anceau

  • A Model for Consciousness Based on the Sequential Behavior of the Conscious Actions

  • F. ANCEAU

  • CNAM - Paris

  • [email protected]

  • http://lmi17.cnam.fr/~anceau


One possible story of awareness

One possible story of awareness

  • The brain of primitive animals was a merging of independent and concurrent control functions.

  • A possible Darwinian evolution:

    • Under the pressure of the evolution (efficiency of hunting and escaping), high-level integrative functions begin to appeared.

    • In order to obtain a consistent behavior of these functions, A Synchronization Mechanism then appeared by the reuse of a part of the Attention Mechanism.

    • Using this Synchronization Mechanism very efficient high-level Functions (intelligence, memory,…) appear.

    • Awareness could be that Synchronization Mechanism.


A possible evolution of awareness

A possible evolution of awareness

Evolution Stream

rising of awareness

high-level

functions

learned

automatic

processes

innate

automatic

processes

?

dog

ape

human

fish ?


The starting points of the discussion 1

The starting points of the discussion (1)

  • We are talking about "basic" (pure) consciousness

  • Reductive approach:Pure consciousness is consciousness minus every things which are not absolutely necessary:

    • Intelligence

    • Long-term memory

    • Affects

    • Perceptions

    • ……..

  • Pure consciousness could be awareness


The starting points of the discussion 2

The starting points of the discussion (2)

  • Voluntary actions and thoughts are conscious ones.

  • They are fully sequential:

    • It is not possible to do several independent conscious actions in parallel (without any training).

    • training improve the efficiency of actions and allows their concurrent execution but such actions becomes automatic(i.e. less voluntary).

  • The sequentiality could be a basic property of the awareness(We will see that it could also provide a test for awareness)


Principles for consciousness

Principles for consciousness

  • As in the other domains of science, we have to distinguish between:

    • The basic principles of a phenomenon(e.g. aerodynamics is the basic principles of flying)

    • Their instantiation in human or animals(e.g. the flight of a bird)

  • The principles for consciousness must be extracted by scientific investigation.

  • Probably, the consciousness of a computer will be as different of the human consciousness than the fight of an aircraft is different of those of a bird.


Specificity of this model of awareness

Specificity of this model of awareness

  • This model differs from the "standard" one:

    • Awareness is not giving meaning to perceptions.

    • Intentionality is not necessary.

    • Awareness is a (specific) process.

    • Sequentiality is the main property of this conscious process.

    • Awareness provides timing consistency to high-level mental functions (intelligence, reasoning,….).


A model for consciousness based on the sequential behavior of the conscious actions f anceau

A SMALL TEST


A model for consciousness based on the sequential behavior of the conscious actions f anceau

How many:

Drawings?

Blips?


A model for consciousness based on the sequential behavior of the conscious actions f anceau

7 Drawings

9 Blips


Sequentiality

Sequentiality

  • Sequentiality of conscious actions / perceptions seems a logical necessity.

  • It is not a constraint coming from a resource shortage!(primitive brain was massively parallel)

  • We have no idea about how we can think in parallel.

  • This explains why writing a parallel program is so difficult!

  • We can do parallel actions:

    • If they are automatic ones (possibly in parallel to a conscious one)


Automatic actions

Automatic actions

  • Automatic actions are fully parallel.

  • They can be triggered by conscious thought.

  • By learning, a sequence of conscious actions becomes automatic (and parallel).

  • Automatic actions are more efficient and more accurate than conscious ones.


Conscious actions and sequential programming

Conscious actions and sequential programming

  • The formalism of sequential programming can be used to describe conscious actions and thought:

    • sequence of actions

    • decisions branching

    • sub-routine call

    • interrupt

    • co-routine (simulating parallel execution by stepping)

  • We can also execute sequences of a set of simultaneous actions (strictly synchronized actions)


Awareness is a specific process

Being-in-the-world => Being-for-myself

Awareness is a (specific) process

  • Awareness could be seen as a (specific) process(W. James) which could be:

    • active (during wake-up state)

    • non-active (during sleep or coma)

  • This process can stay active, even when it receives no percept.

  • “Being-for-myself” could be a specific property of this process(First person perspective)


A process is

A process is….

  • Basic view:

    • A basic unit of sequential behavior

    • It contains:

      • a state (valid at each time)

      • a means to change this state

        • next state depends on:

          • current state

          • inputs of the process

    • e. g. an automaton

TUTORIAL!


Awareness is the kernel of consciousness

Awareness

High-level

mental

functions

Consciousness

Awareness is the kernel of Consciousness

Consciousness = Awareness + High-level Functions


Awareness

Awareness

  • It contains the "Mystery" of consciousness (Chalmers' hard problem)

  • Awareness could be the same for many animals and human.

  • We will suggest a model for awareness


High level functions

High-level Functions

  • The complexity of the high-level mental functions makes the difference between human and animals

  • These functions could be approached by engineering:

    • Intelligence => Artificial Intelligence

    • Memorization => Data Bases

    • Deduction => Inference systems, Automatic provers

    • Giving meaning => Semantic systems

    • ……..

  • They are automatic ones

    • We do not feel how they work! Their behavior is non-conscious.


Mental processes

Mental processes

  • They are:

    • The Conscious Process (containing awareness)(fully sequential)

    • Many Automatic Processes(working in parallel)


Conscious actions

Conscious actions

  • Conscious (voluntary) actions are triggered by the conscious process

  • "Reports" about these actions are returned to this process


Voluntary versus conscious actions

Voluntary versus Conscious actions

  • Non-Voluntary actions are automatic ones

    • They are triggered by automatic processes

      • directly by external stimuli(e.g. burning sensation)

      • from a global order given by the conscious process(e.g. running)

    • But "Reports" about these actions are returned both:

      • as feed-back to the automatic processes for control purpose

      • as global report to the conscious process

  • We cannot distinguish between Voluntary and non-Voluntary actions on their feed-back from actions!


A model for consciousness based on the sequential behavior of the conscious actions f anceau

(serial) control level

Awareness

conscious

process

learning

mechanism

command

report

learned

automatic

processes

automatic

processes

new

automatic

process

basic automatic processes (drivers)

physical

actions


Awareness and attention

Awareness and Attention

  • We are conscious of the stimuli on which we are paying attention.

  • The moving of the "focusing point" of the attention scan sequentially our environment.

    • We pay attention on one thing at a time.

    • We call "Attention point" the focusing point of the attention.

  • Then, we can unify the notions of "Attention point" and Awareness.

  • During the process of the evolution, Awareness could have been derived from the Attention Mechanism.


Attention point movement

Attention point movement

  • A metaphor:

    • The global conditions (affects, intentions, needs, external events, etc..) could be seen as twisting a metaphoric mental surface where the attention point moves like a ball.

    • The Attention Point moves on this surface.

    • It triggers automatic processes when it reaches their ”sensitivity areas”

    • It contains nothing else!

  • We can suggest a neural correlate for the Attention point

  • or an electrical realization using formal neurons.


Metaphoric mental surface

Metaphoric surface

Local resulting force

Attention point

Activation area

of an automatic

process

Metaphoric mental surface


Synchronization mechanism

Synchronization mechanism

  • They need a synchronization mechanism to have a consistent behavior of the high level funcions.

    • Notions of "before", "after", etc…

    • The massively parallel structure of the brain do not provide directly such a synchronization mechanism.

  • The massively parallel computers need also such synchronization mechanism

    • Global semaphore, global dating system……

  • It is not trivial to build a synchronization mechanism on a massively parallel computer.


Awareness as an environment

Awareness as an environment

  • Awareness could be seen as an environment for high-level functions.

  • This environment makes possible the very existence of high-level brain functions (intelligence, long-term memory, reasoning..) by providing synchronization mechanism to them.

  • Being-for-Myself could be a by-product of this environment.

  • The evolutionary advantage of this synchronization mechanism justify its existence.


Awareness as an environment1

Awareness as an environment

synchronisation

high-level

automatic

functions

consistent

behavior

environment

(sequential)

(sequentialital)

Being-for-myself

(by-product)

(parallel)

elementary

automatic processes

(massively parallel)

lack of

consistency


A test for awareness

A test for awareness

  • Look (by functional RMI) for the brain behavior for two different conscious separate stimuli (e.g. sounds and images) without training!

  • Locate the main brain dipoles responsible of theses responses.

  • Check (by magneto-encephalography) if the brain gives parallel or sequential answer for a simultaneous stimulation.

  • Sequential answer => existence of a sequential monitor => existence of awareness.


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • All of this is only a set of hypothesis!

    • Experimental verifications are necessary

    • This model of awareness is very simple

      • to understand

      • to implement (e.g. in a computer)

    • This point of view can give idea to AI developers:

      • Importance of sequentiality

      • The necessity to use of a sequential environment for synchronizing high-level functions

    • But, this simplicity leave a taste of "something is missing"……. (the Hard Problem!)


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