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Second, neural networks do have the capability of
changing various patterns of input into various patterns
of output. This includes all the general things that science
observes the brain to be doing, such as muscle control
pattern recognition, short and long term memory,
forming relationships between abstract concepts, and so
on. This knowledge comes primarily from the study of
artificial neural networks, computer programs that mimic
the activity of the squishy things inside the brain. While
this work has partly been motivated by brain research, it
is largely directed at the development of better computer
systems. We know that neural networks can carry out
these general types of tasks because engineers use them
on a daily basis. Present day artificial neural networks
cannot match the performance of the human brain, but
they clearly can perform the same kinds of functions.
Third, altering the brain results in fundamental
changes to the mind. Psychoactive drugs affect our
emotions, patterns of thinking, how we interpret pain,
and so on. Aberrant connections in the brain can cause
us to “see sounds” and “smell colors” (synesthesia).
Chapter 3: The Third-Person View of the Mind 41

Brain damage is even more dramatic, being able to
literally rip the mind apart. For instance, it can obliterate
judgement and foresight (Phineas Gage), prevent storage
of new long term memories (H.M.), create two minds
from one (split-brain patients), and prevent the
association of words with meaning (Wernicke™s aphasia).

This evidence overwhelmingly points to only one
explanation: the mind is the activity of the brain. There is no
reason for an external observer to believe that anything more is
going on, because this explanation accounts for everything that
can be seen from outside the mind. All of the things that we
associate with consciousness, such as thinking, perception,
emotion, and short term memory, arise from the neural activity
circulating in the neural network loops. From the third-person
perspective, this circulating neural activity is the mind; there is
nothing more.

Brain Activity and Information
Our next step is to apply the method of reduction to this
third-person view of the mind. As with everything in our
reality, we find that the brain is composed of only two things,
Elements-of-reality and Information. In other words, the brain
is formed from ordinary materials assembled in an exquisitely
complex way. But the mind is not the brain; the mind is the
activity of the brain. Does this make the mind an Element-of-
reality, or Information, or both? This question can be answered
in two different ways, by looking at brain structure and brain
function.
To understand the importance of brain structure, consider
the difference between a brain and a rock. Using reduction, we
find that both objects are composed of the same Elements-of-
reality, that is, the electrons, protons, and neutrons that form all
ordinary matter. The difference between a brain and a rock is
in how this raw material is assembled. The brain has an
incredibly intricate biological and chemical structure, while the
The Inner Light Theory of Consciousness
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rock is relatively random and unorganized. It is this difference
in structure that allows a brain to support a mind, while the rock
is a mindless lump. From the third-person view, the mind arises
from the structure of the brain, not the raw materials.
Therefore, the mind is Information, and not an Element-of-
reality.
This same conclusion is reached by looking at brain
function. To an external observer, the function of the brain is to
generate an appropriate neural output in response to a given
neural input. This means that the brain is manipulating
Information, not Elements-of-reality. To illustrate this, imagine
that your hand is stroking the soft face of a young child.
Suddenly, this sensation is replaced by intense pain when the
child bits your fingers. This unpleasant event will clearly
change the activity of your brain and nervous system. A new
pattern of action potentials will pass from your fingers, through
your brain, and to your muscles. The final result will be your
screaming and attempting to escape the child™s hold. However,
the raw material that makes up your body will not be changed
in the slightest. The same electrons, protons, and neutrons will
be present after the event as before. In short, the activity of the
brain involves only Information, not Elements-of-reality. Again
we find that the mind is pure Information.
While both these lines of reasoning reach the same
conclusion, there is an important distinction between the two.
The analysis using brain structure is based solely on the method
of reduction. Here we are concerned with the identification of
irreducible entities and how they are assembled. This is science
in its most pristine form. In comparison, the analysis using
brain function is based on emergence. This is an attempt to
integrate our observations with existing human knowledge. We
want to know more than what the physical structure is; we want
an explanation of how and why the brain behaves as it does.
The important result is that reduction and emergence, the
two primary methods of science, lead to the same conclusion:
the third-person perspective sees the mind as Information. An
Chapter 3: The Third-Person View of the Mind 43

interesting consequence of this is that the mind will therefore
act as all Information does. For instance, the mind can be
transmitted over a communications channel or stored in the
electronic memory of a computer. Using reduction, this would
be accomplished by recording the exact location and state of
each electron, proton, and neuron that forms a person™s brain.
Duplicate copies of the brain could then be constructed by using
other electrons, protons, and neutrons. Since the mind is the
activity of the brain, this would also create duplicate minds.
An even more interesting case of “mind duplication” is
provided by emergence and the functional view of the brain. To
create a duplicate mind, we do not necessarily need to create an
exact duplicate of the brain. Rather, we only need to construct
a device that duplicates the function of the brain. For instance,
suppose we start by creating an artificial neuron, a manmade
device that exactly matches what a real nerve cell does. How
this device is constructed is of no importance; it may be a few
transistors wired together, a tiny digital computer, or some other
technology developed in the future. The important feature is the
logical relationship between its input and output. When the
artificial neuron is presented with the same input as a real
neuron, it must generate exactly the same output as the real
neuron. Now suppose that we use this device to treat brain
deterioration in an elderly patient. As each neuron in their
brain dies, we replace it with an artificial neuron, allowing the
person to retain their full mental capabilities.
But where does this process end? Eventually, all of the real
nerve cells will have died and only artificial neurons will be left.
This means that our patient's mind will have been transferred
from their brain to a manmade computer. This line of reasoning
is called functionalism and is one of the most striking
conclusions resulting from the third-person view. In short,
brains create minds by carrying out certain computational
activities. Likewise, any machine that carries out these same
computational activities will also create a mind.
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To summarize, science sees the mind as being synonymous
with brain activity; they are one and the same. Taking this a
step further, reduction and emergence tell us that brain activity
is nothing but Information, and not an Element-of-reality. In
short, the third-person viewpoint sees consciousness as pure
Information. These conclusions are based on overwhelming
scientific evidence, and there is not the slightest objective
reason to suspect that they are not true. But now we need to
look at the other side of the coin, a viewpoint that makes
science cringe, the subjective view of the mind.

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