[Fis] "the mother of information"

jose luis perez velazquez jlpvjlpv at gmail.com
Thu Jan 24 16:12:06 CET 2019

     Indeed, I have always thought that life & consciousness share many
aspects, starting with the fact that after so many years (centuries) trying
to define both, tehre is no accepted definition for any of those two. Which
is probably telling us something: that they should not be defined by a
specific sentence. Rather, I posit that these two concepts can be defined
by enumerating characteristics. This is an accepted practice, think of a
fundamental concept in science: linearity and nonlinearity. A linear system
is defined by two features: independence and homogeneity (and perhaps one
more, I have forgotten...), so there is no need for a clear-cut sentence
defining linearity. Similarly, life can be defined by features like
self-reproduction, genetic transmission, compartmentalization etc. And
consciousness by memory, sensorimotor actions, self awareness etc...
features that can be investigated in depth.
    A fundamental question is when, from a mere chemical reaction system, a
metabolism became "alive". Paraphrasing in the case of consciousness,  when
from mere perception a nervous system becomes "conscious". These are
matters for thought, but some indications point to similar phenomena in
both cases: complexity of the system, either in terms of molecules
reacting, or in terms of nerve cells connecting; and of course the system
components, the reactants and cells, they should have some specific
features (kidney cells are not neurons, I don't think one can make a brain
with kidney cells regardless of contacts you allow them to have among
them). In this regard, S. Kaufmann's proposal of metabolic closure
(autocatalytic sets) may have a parallel too in the case of cognition, a
sort of neural closure where one can reach any neuron in the brain starting
from any  cell. To me, self-referentiality is the key to life &
     And thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 1:25 PM GUEVARA ERRA RAMON MARIANO <
guevara.erra at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> I have some comments on the question by Krassimir. In our paper we talked
> about consciousness but I think the results can also be interpreted in a
> wider sense.
> Indeed, with open or closed eyes, a person is not more or less conscious
> than with closed eyes, also seems to me. There is simply more sensory input
> with eyes opened, and presumably more information processing.
> So, going back to our paper, we measured the information content in the
> brain network, and see that in some states there is more information
> content than in others. Now, if you are unconscious, in a medical sense,
> say you fainted or you are in coma, the information content is very low.
> But also if you switch off part of the sensory input. In both cases what
> you measure is information processing.
> In other words, our measure is good at revealing the amount of information
> processing in large scale brain networks. Incidentally, it serves to
> contrast conscious and unconscious states as consciousness is related to
> information processing. But not only, it also serves to contrast states
> with different sensory input, as in the eyes opened/ eyes closed case, even
> when both seem to be conscious states.
> It would be interesting to see results from an experiment where subjects
> have sensory deprivation.
> Regarding consciousness, I don't know of a method to quantify it
> behaviorally. Actually, even the definition is elusive. Without a
> behavioral quantification, all we can do is to rely on an empirical,
> medical use of the concept and say "this state is more conscious than that
> state".
> I agree with Karl , this question is very important, weather something is
> alive or not, and is perhaps related to the question of begin conscious or
> not.  They may be examples of "major evolutionary transitions" (Maynard
> Smith and Szathmary). In this sense I have a comment. There seems to be a
> believe in certain communities that intelligence and /or consciousness
> would appear as a result of the accumulation of processing units, with
> networks of sufficient complexity. So, an artificial intelligence could
> appear if we have a very complex and large set of artificial neurons (it
> could even be a simulation, it doesn't have to be physical). I disagree
> with this optimism on historical grounds. There was a similar  wave of
> optimism after the Miller - Urey experiment on the origin of life, long
> time ago, and look where we are now. As long as I know, a self-replicating
> artificial cell cannot be created from inorganic molecules.  I think this
> is the case because, of the large amount of possibilities that gives
> molecular combinations, chemical reactions, etc, only a few can be
> qualified as "alive". And the more the system is complex, the more there
> are combinations. Is the selection of the correct combinations that is
> difficult. One could say the same about the brain, where in this case the
> units are neurons. There is a nice argument in one of Penrose's books about
> this. The cerebellum and the cerebral cortex have the same order of
> magnitude neurons. However, we don't tend to believe that the cerebellum is
> the material basis of consciousness.
> Best,
> Ramon
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