Volume 19, Issue 2, 2021

Wild Futures: Anticipating Artificial Anticipatory Consciousness
J. Scott Jordan, Department of Psychology, Illinois State University, Normal, USA

The present paper addresses the nature of anticipatory consciousness by examining the assumptions researchers have utilized in attempts to recreate it, artificially. When we reflect on the nature of our relationship with artificial intelligence (AI), any conclusions we reach about our anthrobotic future will be contextualized and constrained by what we think we and AI are. Contemporary scientific approaches to these issues tend to be based on divisions between subjective and objective properties, where objective phenomena are physical, and deemed the only phenomena entailing causal efficacy. Within such a physicalist framework, anticipation is an objective, physical process, it is something we do, and it can be transferred from human media to "non-human" media. A cost of this way of thinking is the total loss of subjective properties in scientific descriptions of what we are. As a result, it may be the case that no matter how hard we attempt to make AIs look, talk, and act like ourselves, they will be seen as void of subjective properties. Such continued objectification will be used as an "objective" reason to deny them rights, and to exclude them from the class of "things" deserving moral consideration. An alternative viewpoint is that anticipation is not something we do. Rather, it is something we are. This approach re-vitalizes holist philosophies that rejected subjective-objective divides and conceptualized all of reality as an internally related unity in which all phenomena are naturally and necessarily about all other phenomena. In short, meaning is something we are. Within this framework, anticipation is also something we are. As a result, AIs, like all phenomena, are inherently meaningful. The question, therefore, is how will we treat them? Those committed to subjective-objective divides will deny their subjectivity. Those who see them as constituted of meaning will come to realize that any assessment of the subjectivity of another says just as much about oneself as it does about the other.

Anticipation and Dissipative Structures
James A. Dixon, Benjamin De Bari, Dilip Kondepudi and Bruce A. Kay
Center for the Ecological Study of Perception & Action, University of Connecticut, USA

Cognitive science tends to accept the implicit assumption that organisms are a conglomeration of equilibrium structures which operate as a machine. This assumption has sent the cognitive and behavioral sciences down the wrong path and created insoluble theoretical problems. Placing organisms in their appropriate physical class, the class of dissipative structures, resolves many of these problems, and offers routes to theory. Even very simple dissipative structures show organism-like phenomena, such as anticipation, that are inexplicable from the perspective of equilibrium structures. Most fundamentally, dissipative structures are end-directed such that they increase their rate of entropy production, thereby increasing their own stability or persistence. As reviewed here, this end-directedness manifests itself in the behavior and morphology of these systems. In addition, we show that, given the right physical system, the end-directedness of dissipative structures can exhibit Hebbian learning, an example of anticipatory behavior.

Anticipatory Consciousness: Multiscale Control and Volition
Devpriya Kumar and Narayanan Srinivasan, Department of Cognitive Science, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India

Anticipation is an important aspect of our mind. Our conscious experiences are directed towards the future both in terms of phenomenological awareness as well as volition. Empirical studies indicate that anticipation influences aspects of consciousness experience and cognitive processing. Phenomenological investigations indicate that the temporal structure of consciousness itself is anticipatory in nature. We point to the need to distinguish kinds of anticipation that involve temporality of the present and other kinds that are temporally decoupled from the present. We discuss a prominent approach to understand the predictive mind using free energy principle and predictive processing approaches. We argue that although a predictive processing approach may help explain some aspects of anticipatory consciousness, it is not sufficient to understand the temporality and intentions that underlie anticipatory consciousness. We then argue that a dynamic multiscale theory of consciousness and intentions provides a more holistic framework to understand both phenomenal and volitional aspects of anticipatory consciousness.

Paradigm Shifts in Neuroscience Linked to Decision-Making: Back to the Future with Thomas Aquinas
Armand Savioz, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

The main paradigm in neuroscience, the Cartesian-Sherringtonian paradigm, understands changes in behavior based on reflex theory. Faced with life changes undertaken by some humans, which in current neuroscience are mainly addressed by studies of decision-making and problem-solving, this paradigm today appears insufficient because of its vision of a rather reactive than proactive brain. A new paradigm has emerged in neuroscience at the start of the 21st century, notably in connection with studies of behavior and dementia. It complements the Cartesian/Sherringtonian paradigm and can be characterized by four dimensions: it is Bayesian; it takes into account epigenetics; it is emergentist rather than reductionnist, and it is systemic, seeing the brain as part of the body and its environment. We will show that this paradigm shift corresponds to a movement "back to the future" with Thomas Aquinas whose philosophy best sums up these four dimensions with his insistence on intentionality, deliberation, hylemorphism and

On the Possibility of Plant Consciousness: A View from Ecointeractivism
P. Adrian Frazier, Minimal Intelligence Lab, Department of Philosophy, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

In the world of plant science, the sub fields of plant physiology and plant neurobiology (a.k.a. "plant signalling and behaviour") have been arguing in the academic literature for at least a decade. The latest controversy is about consciousness. Should we consider the possibility that there is "something it is like" to be a plant? If we do, we need a theory. Consciousness is a famously difficult subject, inspiring a range of attitudes from "consciousness is an epiphenomenon" to "everything is conscious". The trouble begins with a taken-for-granted theory of representation, encodingism. Representation, or specifically the encodingist theory of representation, is where things go wrong. The qualities of experience are simultaneously available and unavailable to awareness, suggesting that they have both explicit and implicit content. But encodings have none of the latter. Encodingism renders the problem not just hard, but impossible. In this paper, I will present an alternative to encodingism, based in James J. Gibson's ecological psychology and Mark Bickhard's interactivism, and explore its application to the question of plant consciousness.

Last revision: 23 December 2021