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Animal Sentience, AI: Why Subjective Experience is not the Basis of Consciousness

The New York Declaration on Animal Consciousness was recently published. The authors wrote, "the question here is which animals can have subjective experiences. This can include sensory experiences (say, the experience of a particular touch, taste, sight, or smell) as well as experiences that feel good or bad (say, the experience of pleasure, pain, hope, or fear). Subjective experience requires more than the mere ability to detect stimuli. However, it does not require sophisticated capacities such as human-like language or reason. Phenomenal consciousness is raw feeling-immediate felt experience, be it sensory or emotional-and this is something that may well be shared between humans and many other animals. Of course, human-like linguistic and rational capabilities may allow some humans to have forms of experience that other animals lack (e.g. a linguistic "inner monologue"). Likewise, many other animals may have forms of experience that we lack."

"It is entirely appropriate to interpret these remarkable displays of learning, memory, planning, problem-solving, self-awareness, and other such capacities as evidence of consciousness in cases where the same behavior, if found in a human or other mammal, would be well explained by conscious processing. These behaviors make it more likely that these animals have consciousness without proving that they have it, just as the symptoms of a disease make it more likely that you have the disease without proving that you have it."

An obvious question is that is subjective experience a function or a feature? For example, a memory can be learned, like something in the environment or in school. An emotion can be learned, to react in a way-to an event-in a culture. A feeling can be learned, like how someone is told that something is sweet, and even though it was not initially-it gets experienced as sweet. Planning can be learned. Language can be learned. But can subjective experience be learned? If it can be learned, how? If not, what else is fixed, like it?

Also, for subjective experience to hold, what other feature must present? The visual field is broad, but focus is slight. If all visual fields are a subjective experience, what is the difference between everything else and those that are in focus? Subjective experience can change when the neck is turned, or gaze is shifted. Is that intent not a factor in the [measure of the] new subjective experience?

Could there be subjective experience on nothing? For example, no emotion, feeling, or memory, could there just be subjective experience as a function itself and as a feature? If someone were under the influence of a substance and the person loses intent, acting out or speaking without control, and the person is also not self-aware or does not have subjectivity in those moments, though awake and doing, is there no possibility to measure consciousness for [other features for] that individual?

Assuming that in the human mind, there are functions or divisions [and their subdivisions]: memory, planning, feeling, emotion, pain, hope, fear, modulation and so on. There are features that can act on those functions. This means that attention [when it matches with main vision], cannot just be attention on nothing, it has to be attention [as a feature] on a function of memory, or what is seen]. The same with peripheral vision [which always matches with awareness of the environment]. Intent is also a feature that can act on functions like language, movement, evasion of predator and reconnaissance of prey. If there was no intent or free will, language would be all incoherent and safety from predator would be impossible. Subjective experience like the touch of wind, the taste of sweet, often acts on those interpretations-as things in memory.

Consciousness could be the features that act on functions of the mind. There are several functions with their contents, but it is the collection of features, acting on them that grade them for experiences.

The authors wrote, "subjective experience requires more than the mere ability to detect stimuli." This is inaccurate, as the detection of stimuli [which is something interpreted as a function of memory], is done with features that include variations of attention or awareness, subjective experience or self-awareness and intent or control.

Sensation of anything is interpreted by memory. Memory is a function. There are several memories in mind. Those that become available in moments are possible by features that act on them.

In summary, for subjectivity of any experience to hold, there has to be at least attention or awareness, making subjectivity not a central force for consciousness. Also, intent can initialize or cut subjectivity, making it a factor as well. Experiences or functions of the mind are numerous, but it is when these features act on them that they come into view, but subjectivity alone as consciousness is exclusionary.

Action Potentials-Neurotransmitters Theory of Consciousness

The sense of self or subjectivity can be said to be a derivative of the sense of being. The sense that as a being, an experience of something is happening to self. This is more like a self-attachment to experiences, away from detachment, depersonalization or dissociation, which would have been a risk to survival, say experiencing cold and ascribing it to another person. What it feels like to be an organism could be an experience of contrast with the self and [seeing] the habitat. It is mechanized by memory-as a function-and subjectivity as a feature. The same applies to when a human thinks of being, or feels being alive.

Experience is a function, subjectivity is a feature. Features apply across functions of the mind while functions are sometimes distinct. When [modulation] of a function, say breathing, in the brainstem is lost, its features-or consciousness-are also lost. It does not mean consciousness is just somewhere and not elsewhere-cerebellum.

How do experiences arise? Experience arises from the human mind. What part of the cranium is the human mind? It is theorized to be the collection of all the electrical and chemical signals of nerve cells, with their interactions and features, in sets.

Electrical impulses are established in brain science to be action potentials from voltage-gated ions channels. It is theorized that in sets, they carry information as 'summaries' of functions and features. It is with this that they strike, to fuse briefly with chemical signals, presenting what they bring then accessing what is contained in that configuration of chemical signals.

Simply, electrical signals-in sets-strike, to fuse briefly with chemical signals-in sets, distributing what they are relaying, as well as accessing what is available in that configuration. It is in this process that experiences arise, conceptually. It is in sets that they carry information, and it is by their strike, they generate experiences or allow for what they bear as information to be available or useful as functions [memory, emotions, feelings and modulation].

Respective chemical signals contribute rations to what becomes the configuration of that set. It is with this configuration-in set, that they hold information. It is what electrical signals strike at to give to and to take from, conceptually.

Within the breadth where chemical impulses are provided, there are spaces from which intent or free will is operated from. This space is theorized to be what contracts during sleep, as intent leaves. It thins for long hours while awake, reducing the strength for a balanced function, setting up for sleep.

Subjectivity or self is obtained by the side-by-side concentration change of rations of chemical impulses in a set. Attention [or prioritization] is the set with the highest possible volume in a moment, while awareness [or pre-prioritization] are others with less. Interchange between both occurs often. All features can be relayed in [summaries of] sets of electrical signals.

The way experiences arise conceptually is different from how subjectivity is produced. This makes the common definition of consciousness unmatched with what goes on in the mind.

Consciousness is a super qualifier, collecting qualifiers of functions or the features that act on functions. Provided the human mind or all the information function of the brain is carried out by both electrical and chemical signals, experiences are postulated to arise by this description.

What is the measure of subjective experience?

Are all the subjective experiences the same, in measure, for an adult human? Also, are subjective experiences the same across species? What determines the intensity of any experience, is it attention [as a feature] or subjectivity?

It is possible to develop a measure for the features of the functions of mind, to be able to gauge how they permeate experiences, across situations and for species. It is postulated that the total possible outcome when all the features act on a function is 1. This means that the possible total outcome is always 1, but the action of any feature on the function, may take a larger chunk of effect. Attention and intent are often more rated than self and awareness. It is possible to develop this as a conceptual scale for sentience.

AI Safety

For AI, it is also possible to measure features they apply to digital memory, parallel to human memory, since AI does not have feelings and emotions. For AI safety, it is possible to use this scale to measure how their intent is coming up, to also know how they align with human values or not. The human mind interprets the physical world, but the mind filters a lot, with intent, to ensure that social and occupational functioning matches with the mean. AI has some representation of the physical world, with a second-hand intent that goes on any possible errand. Exploring AI with the scale of mind features holds promise for safety.

Digital succeeded because it is easily manipulable than physical, making chaos more common in digital than in physical. This makes AI exposed to free fall, deepfakes and so on.

The order threshold an individual must have, due to consequences, to be a part of human society does not necessarily exist with digital and by extension, AI, so far.

As AI gets better with intent, without subjectivity or knowledge of consequences, more risks may abound.

 

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