↑ comment by CCC ·
2014-01-21T18:52:37.082Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It's interesting to me that you say your hearing and language modules are independent.
This may be related to the fact that I learnt to read at a very young age; when I read, I run my visual input through my language module; the visual model pre-processes the input to extract the words, which are then run through the language module directly.
At least, that's what I think is happening.
Running the language module without the hearing module a lot, and from a young age, probably helped quite a bit to seperate the two.
Aside from your sensory modules, what other module(s) do you have?
Well... my introspection isn't really good enough to tell, and it's really more of a zeroth-approximation model than something I have a lot of confidence in. That said, I suspect the question doesn't have an answer even in principle; that there's no clear border between two adjacent subsystems, so it depends on where you want to draw the line. It doesn't help that some elements of my thinking almost certainly only exist as a property of the communication between other systems, not as a physical piece of meat in itself, and I can't really tell which is which.
Hmph. Disappointing, but thanks for answering the question.
I think I was hoping for more clearly defined modules than appears to be the case. Still, what's there is there.
When your modules share information, what form does that information take?
I'm very tempted to say "conscious experience", here, but I have no real basis for that other than a hunch. I'm not sure I can give you a better answer, though. Feelings, visual input (or "hallucinations"), predictions of how people or physical systems will behave, plans - not embedded in any kind of visualization, just raw plans - etc. etc. And before you ask what that's like, it's a bit like asking what a Python dictionary feels like.. though emotions aren't much involved, at that level; those are separate.
The one common theme is that there's always at least one meta-level of thought associated. Not just "Here's a plan", but "Here's a plan, and oh by the way, here's what everyone else in the tightly knit community you like to call a brain thinks of the plan. In particular, "memory" here just pattern-matched it to something you read in a novel, which didn't work, but then again a different segment is pointing out that fictional evidence is fictional."
...without the words, of course.
So the various ideas get bounced back and forth between various segments of my mind, and that bouncing is what I'm aware of. Never the base idea, but all the thinking about the idea... well, it wouldn't really make sense to be "aware of the base idea" if I wasn't thinking about it.
Now, this is interesting. I'm really going to have to go and think about this for a while. You have a kind of continual meta-commentary in your mind, thinking about what you're thinking, cross-referencing with other stuff... that seems like a useful talent to have.
It also seems that, by concentrating more on the individual modules and less on the inter-module communication, I pretty much entirely missed where most of your thinking happens.
One question comes to mind; you mention 'raw plans'. You've correctly predicted my obvious question - what raw plans feel like - but I still don't really have much of a sense of it, so I'd like to poke at that a bit if you don't mind.
So; how are these raw plans organised?
Let us say, for example, that you need to plan... oh, say, to travel to a library, return one set of books, and take out another. Would the plan be a series of steps arranged in order of completion, or a set of subgoals that need to be accomplished in order (subgoal one: find the car keys); or would the plan be simply a label saying 'LIBRARY PLAN' that connects to the memory of the last time you went on a similar errand?
As for me, I have a few different ways that I can formulate plans. For a routine errand, my plan consists of the goal (e.g. "I need to go and buy bread") and a number of habits (which, now that I think about it, hardly impinge on my conscious mind at all; if I think about it, I know where I plan to go to get bread, but the answer's routine enough that I don't usually bother). When driving, there are points at which I run a quick self-check ("do I need to buy bread today? Yes? Then I must turn into the shopping centre...")
For a less routine errand, my plan will consist of a number of steps to follow. These will be arranged in the order I expect to complete them, and I will (barring unexpected developments or the failure of any step) follow the steps in order as specified. If I were to write down the steps on paper, they would appear horrendously under-specified to a neutral observer; but in the privacy of my own head, I know exactly which shop I mean when I simply specify 'the shop'; both the denotations and connotations intended by every word in my head are there as part of the word.
If the plan is one that I particularly look forward to fulfilling, I may run through it repeatedly, particularly the desirable parts ("...that icecream is going to taste so good..."). This all runs through my language system, of course.
Sight is something else again. It certainly feels like I'm aware of my entire visual field, but I'm at least half convinced that's an illusion. I'm in a prime position to fool myself about that.
I have a vague memory of having read something that suggested that humans are not aware of their entire visual field, but that there is a common illusion that people are, agreeing with your hypothesis here. I vaguely suspect that it might have been in one of the 'Science of the Discworld' books, but I am uncertain.