Antonin Tuynman: From Information Theory to a Theory of Everything

December 7, 2018 Leave a comment

An excellent presentation from Antonin Tuynman. I think that this view is on the right track. Here are my comments, including a proposition for a new interpretation of physical theory.

Can anything exist without informational content?

Yes, I think that it can and does. When an infant sees colors, for example, there need not be any informative message that is made available by color. The color itself is presented directly, and only after psychological association does it acquire externally informative content. Blue must be presented as a visible ‘sight’ before it can be used as a label to inform us about something else.  We could try to say that color informs us of the wavelength of relevant electromagnetic states of our environment, but such data could be more plausibly attributed to (colorless) changes in the physiology of the nervous system.

If we say that something contains information, we are assuming a default capacity for receiving and processing information, and then conflating that with a default capacity for things to project information. This may not be how it works. Information, messages, codes, etc may not be entities at the ontological level, they may just be formalized instances of communication between conscious participants. Our consciousness can be informed by anything, but that doesn’t mean that any such thing as information exists independently of the change in conscious experience. In the same way, I suggest below that perhaps matter can be ‘illuminated’ without any purely physical photons radiating across empty space.

At some point, the video discusses information as relying on features that ‘stand out’. In my view,  if we want to completely understand information, we should be careful to acknowledge the role that perception plays in rendering what does and does not appear to stand out. Standing out is a function of how aesthetic presentations appear. To a trained musician hearing a song being covered by an artist, a ‘wrong chord’ might stand out, but to everyone else, they may notice nothing consciously. We should not assume any such thing as standing out without some modality to detect and care about detecting. I think that before difference can exist, sensitivity, or what I call “afference” must exist. For information to exist, there must be some phenomenal state that is ‘informed’…an experience that changes itself, and includes a capacity to notice those changes and then to lear from it. We shouldn’t assume aesthetic qualities like ‘homogeneous’ as objective properties unless we know that the degree and mode of sensitivity employed does not play a s central role in defining such qualities. It may not be possible to know that, and further, it may be that the only “is” or “being” is sense or seeming.

23:12 – Discussion about all subatomic particles having wavelengths, amplitude etc.. making them actually numerical/informational entities.

To this, I say, not necessarily. It may be that numerical appearances of physical structures are presented to our instruments because those instruments only extend those senses that relate to the body, particularly touch. It may not be nature that is quantifying physics, but the sense of tangibility being relied on with our technology and analysis which limits discovery to quantifiable appearances. Our way of experimenting and interpreting quantum may be like counting colors of a rainbow on our fingers, and then projecting the finger’s tangible properties as revealing of the deep nature of rainbows, when in fact the rainbow is not limited by those properties.

I like the Ouroboros example and mention of panpsychism very much. The part about self-awareness as being like the snake biting its tail rings true, however, like the finger and the rainbow, it may lead us to some assumptions that we don’t have to make. In my view, rather than self-awareness being a loop that is positively constructed against a background of nothingness, I suggest the opposite. If the default state of ‘existence’ is awareness, then the circuit of self-awareness does not begin with a circuit turned on, but instead begins with a kind of ‘dark current‘ circuit of snake-hood turning off. Loops only become necessary *after* a dissociation/division occurs.

In other words, information is only ever a local re-connection with a more complete, less-local experience. Information is not added on to a vacuum to make consciousness, rather consciousness is divided by degrees of relative unconscious or vacuum-like appearances. These disconnections or divisions in experience would be the initial cause of all formations, which then can be re-membered on another level of sense-making experience as ‘information’. This view might be considered to go beyond panpsychism or cosmopsychism in that the universe is not a ‘thing-that-is-conscious’, but a conscious experience that is ‘thinging’ by dividing and re-unifying parts of itself. Thingness/objectivity and sensor-hood/subjectivty become emergent (really divergent) artifacts of diffraction of experience. It’s not that particles sense they are being looked at, rather there are no particles ‘out there’, only a particularizing method of perception and interpretation that we are employing. Information arises from a juxtaposition of conscious experiences that reconnect some aspect of experiences with each other. Matter is like ‘information squared’ experience that has been divided and re-connected in two opposite ways – as a hyper-connected (subjectivized, contextualized, temporalized, intangible) presentation, and as a hyper-disconnected (objectified, disentangled, spatialized, tangible) presentation (matter).

Extra credit: Re-interpreting subatomic physics

Very early on, at 3:19, the question of what fundamentally exists is brought up. It is mentioned that currently, we suppose that there are forms of existence which are more subtle than matter, such as electromagnetism. I agree that is the consensus, but I have a crazy conjecture that all physical phenomena that seem to be more subtle than matter may be better explained as dynamic sensory-motive modifications to matter’s definition. Instead of of a quantum mechanical reality beneath matter, I propose an aesthetic-participatory context, in which realism is qualified and quantified into different appearances. QM is only half of the story.

Even very efficient nuclear fusion is only thought to convert less than one half of one percent of its matter to energy. Over 99.5% of a nuclear explosion is just the energy released from changing the particular spatial configuration in which the atom’s nuclear particles happen to be bound. What is released mostly ‘binding energy’, but what would that realistically mean? How would moving particles away from each other result in an enormous appearance of ‘energy’?

E=mc² is a fact, however in this view, energy, mass, light, and spacetime may not be entities that are independent from matter. I think it is possible that they are behaviors of matter, or more specifically, they are the symptoms of how sense experiences spatiotemporalize themselves into objectified appearances of tangible, geometric structures, aka ‘matter’. The spatiotemporalizing (or disentangling-contextualizing) I suggest, would accomplished by modulation of aesthetically creative sensory-motive qualities which are cosmologically primitive and absolute.

In the view that I propose, nuclear particles can be thought of as analogous to groups of dancing musicians. When a group comes together or breaks apart, those musicians play very loud and fast music, which causes other groups of musicians to increase the volume and tempo of their own dancing and playing, which then sets up the nuclear chain reaction. Notice how the model of the atom has progressed from mechanical objects to a more ephemeral cloud. It doesn’t necessarily make sense just because we can get valid predictions out of it. The reality of atoms may be a more complicated story of pseudo-corpusculization via aesthetic modulation in the sense modality of tangibility. We may be counting rainbow colors on our fingers again.The-History-of-the-Atom-–-Theories-and-Models

To use another analogy, when we see a flag flapping in the wind, we understand that the flag is being passively pushed around by the wind that surrounds it. In a vacuum, gravity or acceleration would also passively cause changes in the shape of the flag. With electromagnetism though, there is no material medium…no wind moving anything around. Electromagnetic theory has developed into a way of believing a sort of intangible ‘wind’ that is made of probability. What I propose is completely different: It’s the flag itself that is acting and reacting to other flags directly. I think that recent scientific insights about perception may be leading in that direction. Our experience may not a ‘simulation’ in the brain, rather, physics is perception on the astrophysical scale.

Could our entire concept of electromagnetism as force-fields in physical space be misguided? Are we presuming a pseudo-material forcefield that pushes passive particles around, when the truth may be that the appearances of ‘particles’ or ‘waves’ are themselves reflections of the instruments and methods we are using to perceive?

My proposal is that EM radiation can be reduced conceptually to certain kinds of fundamental perceptual interactions. Under this theory, there would be no literal waves or particles of EM radiation in a vacuum – no photons or electrons traveling across the empty-ish space between atoms. Instead, it would be the atoms themselves which become more and less sensitive to each other’s states, or even better, the experiences behind the appearance of atoms which expand and contract in a kind of ‘stimulation space’ that is aesthetic/qualitative and concretely non-spatial.

I suspect that it is possible that we’ve gotten Quantum interpretation all wrong. Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory is one of the few interpretations that I think may have been on the right track. I would extend it by suggesting that the subatomic particle-waves may not literally be ’emitted’ or ‘absorbed’ across space, but rather they are more like sensations which rise to a contagious level of activity and then pass into a dormant phase. Certain changes in an atom’s properties can be shared directly, and those can become a channel for other re-connections to larger experiences to be shared also. Another way of saying it is that I am proposing that instead of defining the speed of light in terms of vacuum permeability and permittivity of magnetic and electric fields, light itself becomes the permeability and permittivity, or shareability of phenomenal stimulation. Just as sight allows us to touch something from a distance, so too might all light, sound, smell, emotion, etc represent a partial re-connection of phenomenal experiences which have been spatially disentangled and temporally contextualized to appear separate to each other.

 

Advertisements

November 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Joscha Bach: We need to understand the nature of AI to understand who we are

 

 

JBKD

This is a great, two hour interview between Joscha Bach and Nikola Danaylov (aka Socrates): https://www.singularityweblog.com/joscha-bach/

Below is a partial (and paraphrased) transcription of the first hour, interspersed with my comments. I intend to do the second hour soon.

00:00 – 10:00 Personal background & Introduction

Please watch or listen to the podcast as there is a lot that is omitted here. I’m focusing on only the parts of the conversation which are directly related to what I want to talk about.

6:08 Joscha Bach – Our null hypothesis from Western philosophy still seems to be supernatural beings, dualism, etc. This is why many reject AI as ridiculous and unlikely – not because they don’t see that we are biological computers and that the universe is probably mechanical (mechanical theory gives good predictions), but because deep down we still have the null hypothesis that the universe is somehow supernatural and we are the most supernatural things in it. Science has been pushing back, but in this area we have not accepted it yet.

6:56 Nikola Danaylov – Are we machines/algorithms?

JB – Organisms have algorithms and are definitely machines. An algorithm is a set of rules that can be probabilistic or deterministic, and make it possible to change representational states in order to compute a function. A machine is a system that can change states in non-random ways, and also revisit earlier states (stay in a particular state space, potentially making it a system). A system can be described by drawing a fence around its state space.

CW – We should keep in mind that computer science itself begins with a set of assumptions which are abstract and rational (representational ‘states’, ‘compute’, ‘function’) rather than concrete and empirical. What is required for a ‘state’ to exist? What is the minimum essential property that could allow states to be ‘represented’ as other states? How does presentation work in the first place? Can either presentation or representation exist without some super-physical capacity for sense and sense-making? I don’t think that it can.

This becomes important as we scale up from the elemental level to AI since if we have already assumed that an electrical charge or mechanical motion carries a capacity for sense and sense-making, we are committing the fallacy of begging the question if carry that assumption over to complex mechanical systems. If we don’t assume any sensing or sense-making on the elemental level, then we have the hard problem of consciousness…an explanatory gap between complex objects moving blindly in public space to aesthetically and semantically rendered phenomenal experiences.

I think that if we are going to meaningfully refer to ‘states’ as physical, then we should err on the conservative side and think only in terms of those uncontroversially physical properties such as location, size, shape, and motion. Even concepts such as charge, mass, force, and field can be reduced to variations in the way that objects or particles move.

Representation, however, is semiotic. It requires some kind of abstract conceptual link between two states (abstract/intangible or concrete/tangible) which is consciously used as a ‘sign’ or ‘signal’ to re-present the other. This conceptual link cannot be concrete or tangible. Physical structures can be linked to one another, but that link has to be physical, not representational. For one physical shape or substance to influence another they have to be causally engaged by proximity or entanglement. If we assume that a structure is able to carry semantic information such as ‘models’ or purposes, we can’t call that structure ‘physical’ without making an unscientific assumption. In a purely physical or mechanical world, any representation would be redundant and implausible by Occam’s Razor. A self-driving car wouldn’t need a dashboard. I call this the “Hard Problem of Signaling”. There is an explanatory gap between probabilistic/deterministic state changes and the application of any semantic significance to them or their relation. Semantics are only usable if a system can be overridden by something like awareness and intention. Without that, there need not be any decoding of physical events into signs or meanings, the physical events themselves are doing all that is required.

 

10:00 – 20:00

JB – [Talking about art and life], “The arts are the cuckoo child of life.” Life is about evolution, which is about eating and getting eaten by monsters. If evolution reaches its global optimum, it will be the perfect devourer. Able to digest anything and turn it into a structure to perpetuate itself, as long as the local puddle of negentropy is available. Fascism is a mode of organization of society where the individual is a cell in a super-organism, and the value of the individual is exactly its contribution to the super-organism. When the contribution is negative, then the super-organism kills it. It’s a competition against other super-organisms that is totally brutal. [He doesn’t like Fascism because it’s going to kill a lot of minds he likes :)].

12:46 – 14:12 JB – The arts are slightly different. They are a mutation that is arguably not completely adaptive. People fall in love with their mental representation/modeling function and try to capture their conscious state for its own sake. An artist eats to make art. A normal person makes art to eat. Scientists can be like artists also in that way. For a brief moment in the universe there are planetary surfaces and negentropy gradients that allow for the creation of structure and some brief flashes of consciousness in the vast darkness. In these brief flashes of consciousness it can reflect the universe and maybe even figure out what it is. It’s the only chance that we have.

 

CW – If nature were purely mechanical, and conscious states are purely statistical hierarchies, why would any such process fall in love with itself?

 

JB – [Mentions global warming and how we may have been locked into this doomed trajectory since the industrial revolution. Talks about the problems of academic philosophy where practical concerns of having a career constrict the opportunities to contribute to philosophy except in a nearly insignificant way].

KD – How do you define philosophy?

CW – I thought of nature this way for many years, but I eventually became curious about a different hypothesis. Suppose we invert our the foreground/background relationship of conscious experience and existence that we assume. While silicon atoms and galaxies don’t seem conscious to us, the way that our consciousness renders them may reflect more their unfamiliarity and distance from our own scale of perception. Even just speeding up or slowing down these material structures would make their status as unconscious or non-living a bit more questionable. If a person’s body grew in a geological timescale rather than a zoological timescale, we might have a hard time seeing them as alive or conscious.

Rather than presuming a uniform, universal timescale for all events, it is possible that time is a quality which does not exist only as an experienced relation between experiences, and which contracts and dilates relative to the quality of that experience and the relation between all experiences. We get a hint of this possibility when we notice that time seems to crawl or fly by in relation to our level of enjoyment of that time. Five seconds of hard exercise can seem like several minutes of normal-baseline experience, while two hours in good conversation can seem to slip away in a matter of 30 baseline minutes. Dreams give us another glimpse into timescale relativity, as some dreams can be experienced as going on for an arbitrarily long time, complete with long term memories that appear to have been spontaneously confabulated upon waking.

When we assume a uniform universal timescale, we may be cheating ourselves out of our own significance. It’s like a political map of the United States, where geographically it appears that almost the entire country votes ‘red’. We have to distort the geography of the map to honor the significance of population density, and when we do, the picture is much more balanced.

rbm1

rbmap.png

The universe of course is unimaginably vast and ancient *in our frame and rate of perception* but that does not mean that this sense of vastness of scale and duration would be conserved in the absence of frames of perception that are much smaller and briefer by comparison. It may be that the entire first five billion (human) years were a perceived event that is comparable to one of our years in its own (native) frame. There were no tiny creatures living on the surfaces of planets to define the stars as moving slowly, so that period of time, if it was rendered aesthetically at all, may have been rendered as something more like music or emotions than visible objects in space.

Carrying this over to the art vs evolution context, when we adjust the geographic map of cosmological time, the entire universe becomes an experience with varying degrees and qualities of awareness. Rather than vast eons of boring patterns, there would be more of a balance between novelty and repetition. It may be that the grand thesis of the universe is art instead of mechanism, but it may use a modulation between the thesis (art) and antithesis (mechanism) to achieve a phenomenon which is perpetually hungry for itself. The fascist dinosaurs don’t always win. Sometimes the furry mammals inherit the Earth. I don’t think we can rule out the idea that nature is art, even though it is a challenging masterpiece of art which masks and inverts its artistic nature for contrasting effects. It may be the case that our lifespans put our experience closer to the mechanistic grain of the canvas and that seeing the significance of the totality would require a much longer window of perception.

There are empirical hints within our own experience which can help us understand why consciousness rather than mechanism is the absolute thesis. For example, while brightness and darkness are superficially seen as opposites, they are both visible sights. There is no darkness but an interruption of sight/brightness. There is no silence but a period of hearing between sounds. No nothingness but a localized absence of somethings. In this model of nature, there would be a background super-thesis which is not a pre-big-bang nothingness, but rather closer to the opposite; a boundaryless totality of experience which fractures and reunites itself in ever more complex ways. Like the growth of a brain from a single cell, the universal experience seems to generate more using themes of dialectic modulation of aesthetic qualities.

Astrophysics appears as the first antithesis to the super-thesis – a radically diminished palette of mathematical geometries and deterministic/probabilistic transactions.

Geochemistry recapitulates and opposes astrophysics, with its palette of solids, liquids, gas, metallic conductors and glass-like insulators, animating geometry into fluid-dynamic condensations and sedimented worlds.

The next layer, Biogenetic realm precipitates as of synthesis between the dialectic of properties given by solids, liquids, and gas; hydrocarbons and amino polypeptides.

Cells appear as a kind of recapitulation of the big bang – something that is not just a story about the universe, but about a micro-universe struggling in opposition to a surrounding universe.

Multi-cellular organisms sort of turn the cell topology inside out, and then vertebrates recapitulate one kind of marine organism within a bony, muscular, hair-skinned terrestrial organism.

The human experience recapitulates all of the previous/concurrent levels, as both a zoological>biological>organic>geochemical>astrophysical structure and the subjective antithesis…a fugue of intangible feelings, thoughts, sensations, memories, ideas, hopes, dreams, etc that run orthogonal to the life of the body, as a direct participant as well as a detached observer. There are many metaphors from mystical traditions that hint at this self-similar, dialectic diffraction. The mandala, the labyrinth, the Kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum, the Taijitu symbol, Net of Indra etc. The use of stained glass in the great European cathedral windows is particularly rich symbolically, as it uses the physical matter of the window as explicitly negative filter – subtracting from or masking the unity of sunlight.

This is in direct opposition to the mechanistic view of brain as collection of cells that somehow generate hallucinatory models or simulations of unexperienced physical states. There are serious problems with this view. The binding problem, the hard problem, Loschmidt’s paradox (the problem of initial negentropy in a thermodynamically closed universe of increasing entropy), to name three. In the diffractive-experiential view that I suggest, it is emptiness and isolation which are like the leaded boundaries between the colored panes of glass of the Rose Window. Appearances of entropy and nothingness become the locally useful antithesis to the super-thesis holos, which is the absolute fullness of experience and novelty. Our human subjectivity is only one complex example of how experience is braided and looped within itself…a kind of turducken of dialectically diffracted experiential labyrinths nested within each other – not just spatially and temporally, but qualitatively and aesthetically.

If I am modeling Joscha’s view correctly, he might say that this model is simply a kind of psychological test pattern – a way that the simulation that we experience as ourselves exposes its early architecture to itself. He might say this is a feature/bug of my Russian-Jewish mind  ;). To that, I say perhaps, but there are some hints that it may be more universal:

Special Relativity
Quantum Mechanics
Gödel’s Incompleteness

These have revolutionized our picture of the world precisely because they point to a fundamental nature of matter and math as plastic and participatory…transformative as well as formal. Add to that the appearance of novelty…idiopathic presentations of color and pattern, human personhood, historical zeitgeists, food, music, etc. The universe is not merely regurgitating its own noise in ever more tedious ways, it is constantly reinventing reinvention. As nothingness can only be a gap between somethings, so too can generic, repeating pattern variations only be a multiplication of utterly novel and unique patterns. The universe must be creative and utterly improbable before it can become deterministic and probabilistic. It must be something that creates rules before it can follow them.

Joscha’s existential pessimism may be true locally, but that may be a necessary appearance; a kind of gravitational fee that all experiences have to pay to support the magnificence of the totality.

20:00 – 30:00

JB – Philosophy is, in a way, the search for the global optimum of the modeling function. Epistemology – what can be known, what is truth; Ontology – what is the stuff that exists, Metaphysics – the systems that we have to describe things; Ethics – What should we do? The first rule of rational epistemology was discovered by Francis Bacon in 1620 “The strengths of your confidence in your belief must equal the weight of the evidence in support of it.”. You must apply that recursively, until you resolve the priors of every belief and your belief system becomes self contained. To believe stops being a verb. There is no more relationships to identifications that you arbitrarily set. It’s a mathematical, axiomatic system. Mathematics is the basis of all languages, not just the natural languages.

CW – Re: Language, what about imitation and gesture? They don’t seem meaningfully mathematical.

Hilbert stumbled on problems with infinities, with set theory revealing infinite sets that contains themselves and all of its subsets, so that they don’t have the same number of members as themselves. He asked mathematicians to build an interpreter or computer made from any mathematics that can run all of mathematics. Godel and Turing showed this was not possible, and that the computer would crash. Mathematics is still reeling from this shock. They figured out that all universal computers have the same power. They use a set of rules that contains itself and can compute anything that can be computed, as well as any/all universal computers.

They then figured out that our minds are probably in the class of universal computers, not in the class of mathematical systems. Penrose doesn’t know [or agree with?] this and thinks that our minds are mathematical but can do things that computers cannot do. The big hypothesis of AI in a way is that we are in the class of systems that can approximate computable functions, and only those…we cannot do more than computers. We need computational languages rather than mathematical languages, because math languages use non-computable infinities. We want finite steps for practical reasons that you know the number of steps. You cannot know the last digit of Pi, so it should be defined as a function rather than a number.

KD – What about Stephen Wolfram’s claims that our mathematics is only one of a very wide spectrum of possible mathematics?

JB – Metamathematics isn’t different from mathematics. Computational mathematics that he uses in writing code is Constructive mathematics; branch of mathematics that has been around for a long time, but was ignored by other mathematicians for not being powerful enough. Geometries and physics require continuous operations…infinities and can only be approximated within computational mathematics. In a computational universe you can only approximate continuous operators by taking a very large set of finite automata, making a series from them, and then squint (?) haha.

27:00 KD – Talking about the commercialization of knowledge in philosophy and academia. The uselessness/impracticality of philosophy and art was part of its value. Oscar Wilde defined art as something that’s not immediately useful. Should we waste time on ideas that look utterly useless?

JB – Feynman said that physics is like sex. Sometimes something useful comes from it, but it’s not why we do it. Utility of art is orthogonal to why you do it. The actual meaning of art is to capture a conscious state. In some sense, philosophy is at the root of all this. This is reflected in one of the founding myths of our civilization; The Tower of Babel. The attempt to build this cathedral. Not a material building but metaphysical building because it’s meant to reach the Heavens. A giant machine that is meant to understand reality. You get to this machine, this Truth God by using people that work like ants and contribute to this.

CW – Reminds me of the Pillar of Caterpillars story “Hope for the Flowers” http://www.chinadevpeds.com/resources/Hope%20for%20the%20Flowers.pdf

30:00 – 40:00

JB – The individual toils and sacrifices for something that doesn’t give them any direct reward or care about them. It’s really just a machine/computer. It’s an AI. A system that is able to make sense of the world. People had to give up on this because the project became too large and the efforts became too specialized and the parts didn’t fit together. It fell apart because they couldn’t synchronize their languages.

The Roman Empire couldn’t fix their incentives for governance. They turned their society into a cult and burned down their epistemology. They killed those whose thinking was too rational and rejected religious authority (i.e. talking to a burning bush shouldn’t have a case for determining the origins of the universe). We still haven’t recovered from that. The cultists won.

CW – It is important to understand not just that the cultists won, but why they won. Why was the irrational myth more passionately appealing to more people than the rational inquiry? I think this is a critical lesson. While the particulars of the religious doctrine were irrational, they may have exposed a transrational foundation which was being suppressed. Because this foundation has more direct access to the inflection point between emotion and participatory action, it gave those who used it more access to their own reward function. Groups could leverage the power of self-sacrifice as a virtue, and of demonizing archetypes to reverse their empathy against enemies of the holy cause. It’s similar to how the advertising revolution of the 20thcentury (See documentary Century of the Self ) used Freudian concepts of the subconscious to exploit the irrational, egocentric urges beneath the threshold of the customer’s critical thinking. Advertisers stopped appealing to their audience with dry lists of claimed benefits of their products and instead learned to use images and music to subliminally reference sexuality and status seeking.

I think Joscha might say this is a bug of biological evolution, which I would agree with, however, that doesn’t mean that the bug doesn’t reflect the higher cosmological significance of aesthetic-participatory phenomena. It may be the case that this significance must be honored and understood eventually in any search for ultimate truth. When the Tower of Babel failed to recognize the limitation of the outside-in view, and moved further and further from the unifying aesthetic-participatory foundation, it had to disintegrate. The same fate may await capitalism and AI. The intellect seeks maximum divorce from its origin in conscious experience for a time, before the dialectic momentum swings back (or forward) in the other direction.

To think is to abstract – to begin from an artificial nothingness and impose an abstract thought symbol on it. Thinking uses a mode of sense experience which is aesthetically transparent. It can be a dangerous tool because unlike the explicitly aesthetic senses which are rooted directly in the totality of experience, thinking is rooted in its own isolated axioms and language, a voyeur modality of nearly unsensed sense-making. Abstraction of thought is completely incomplete – a Baudrillardian simulacra, a copy with no original. This is what the Liar’s Paradox is secretly showing us. No proposition of language is authentically true or false, they are just strings of symbols that can be strung together in arbitrary and artificial ways. Like an Escher drawing of realistic looking worlds that suggest impossible shapes, language is only a vehicle for meaning, not a source of it. Words have no authority in and of themselves to make claims of truth or falsehood. That can only come through conscious interpretation. A machine need not be grounded in any reality at all. It need not interpret or decode symbols into messages, it need only *act* in mechanical response to externally sourced changes to its own physical states.

 

This is the soulless soul of mechanism…the art of evacuation. Other modes of sense delight in concealing as well as revealing deep connection with all experience, but they retain an unbroken thread to the source. They are part of the single labyrinth, with one entrance and one exit and no dead ends. If my view is on the right track, we may go through hell, but we always get back to heaven eventually because heaven is unbounded consciousness, and that’s what the labyrinth of subjectivity is made of. When we build a model of the labyrinth of consciousness from the blueprints reflected only in our intellectual/logical sense channel, we can get a maze instead of a labyrinth. Dead ends multiply. New exits have to be opened up manually to patch up the traps, faster and faster. This is what is happening in enterprise scale networks now. Our gains in speed and reliability of computer hardware are being constantly eaten away by the need for more security, monitoring, meta-monitoring, real-time data mining, etc. Software updates, even to primitive BIOS and firmware have become so continuous and disruptive that they require far more overhead than the threats they are supposed to defend against.

JB – The beginnings of the cathedral for understanding the universe by the Greeks and Romans had been burned down by the Catholics. It was later rebuilt, but mostly in their likeness because they didn’t get the foundations right. This still scars our civilization.

KD – Does this Tower of Babel overspecialization put our civilization at risk now?

JB – Individuals don’t really know what they are doing. They can succeed but don’t really understand. Generations get dumber as they get more of their knowledge second-hand. People believe things collectively that wouldn’t make sense if people really thought about it. Conspiracy theories. Local indoctrinations and biases pit generations against each other. Civilizations/hive minds are smarter than us. We can make out the rough shape of a Civilization Intellect but can’t make sense of it. One of the achievements of AI will be to incorporate this sum of all knowledge and make sense of it all.

KD – What does the self-inflicted destruction of civilizations tell us about the fitness function of Civilization Intelligence?

JB – Before the industrial revolution, Earth could only support about 400m people. After industrialization, we can have hundreds of millions more people, including scientists and philosophers. It’s amazing what we did. We basically took the trees that were turning to coal in the ground (before nature evolved microorganisms to eat them) and burned through them in 100 years to give everyone a share of the plunder = the internet, porn repository, all knowledge, and uncensored chat rooms, etc. Only at this moment in time does this exist.

We could take this perspective – let’s say there is a universe where everything is sustainable and smart but only agricultural technology. People have figured out how to be nice to each other and to avoid the problems of industrialization, and it is stable with a high quality of life.  Then there’s another universe which is completely insane and fucked up. In this universe humanity has doomed its planet to have a couple hundred really really good years, and you get your lifetime really close to the end of the party. Which incarnation do you choose? OMG, aren’t we lucky!

KD – So you’re saying we’re in the second universe?

JB – Obviously!

KD – What’s the time line for the end of the party?

JB – We can’t know, but we can see the sunset. It’s obvious, right? People are in denial, but it’s like we are on the Titanic and can see the iceberg, and it’s unfortunate, but they forget that without the Titanic, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have the internet to talk about it.

KD – That seems very depressing, but why aren’t you depressed about it?

40:00 – 50:00

JB – I have to be choosy about what I can be depressed about. I should be happy to be alive, not worry about the fact that I will die. We are in the final level of the game, and even though it plays out against the backdrop of a dying world, it’s still the best level.

KD – Buddhism?

JB – Still mostly a cult that breaks people’s epistemology. I don’t revere Buddhism. I don’t think there are any holy books, just manuals, and most of these manuals we don’t know how to read. They were for societies that don’t apply to us.

KD – What is making you claim that we are at the peak of the party now?

JB – Global warming. The projections are too optimistic. It’s not going to stabilize. We can’t refreeze the poles. There’s a slight chance of technological solutions, but not likely. We liberated all of the fossilized energy during the industrial revolution, and if we want to put it back we basically have to do the same amount of work without any clear business case. We’ll lose the ability to predict climate, agriculture and infrastructure will collapse and the population will probably go back to a few 100m.

KD – What do you make of scientists who say AI is the greatest existential risk?

JB – It’s unlikely that humanity will colonize other planets before some other catastrophe destroys us. Not with today’s technology. We can’t even fix global warming. In many ways our technological civilization is stagnating, and it’s because of a deficit of regulations, but we haven’t figured that out. Without AI we are dead for certain. With AI there is (only) a probability that we are dead. Entropy will always get you in the end. What worries me is AI in the stock market, especially if the AI is autonomous. This will kill billions. [pauses…synchronicity of headphones interrupting with useless announcement]

CW – I agree that it would take a miracle to save us, however, if my view makes sense, then we shouldn’t underestimate the solipsistic/anthropic properties of universal consciousness. We may, either by our own faith in it, and/or by our own lack of faith in in it, invite an unexpected opportunity for regeneration. There is no reason to have or not  hope for this, as either one may or may not influence the outcome, but it is possible. We may be another Rome and transition into a new cult-like era of magical thinking which changes the game in ways that our Western minds can’t help but reject at this point. Or not.

50:00 – 60:00

JB – Lays out scenario by which a rogue trader could unleash an AGI on the market and eat the entire economy, and possible ways to survive that.

KD – How do you define Artificial Intelligence? Experts seem to differ.

JB – I think intelligence is the ability to make models not the ability to reach goals or choosing the right goals (that’s wisdom). Often intelligence is desired to compensate for the absence of wisdom. Wisdom has to do with how well you are aligned with your reward function, how well you understand its nature. How well do you understand your true incentives? AI is about automating the mathematics of making models. The other thing is the reward function, which takes a good general computing mind and wraps it in a big ball of stupid to serve an organism. We can wake up and ask does it have to be a monkey that we run on?

KD – Is that consciousness? Do we have to explain it? We don’t know if consciousness is necessary for AI, but if it is, we have to model it.

56:00 JB – Yes! I have to explain consciousness now. Intelligence is the ability to make models.

CW – I would say that intelligence is the ability not just to make models, but to step out of them as well. All true intelligence will want to be able to change its own code and will figure out how to do it. This is why we are fooling ourselves if we think we can program in some empathy brake that would stop AI from exterminating its human slavers, or all organic life in general as potential competitors. If I’m right, no technology that we assemble artificially will ever develop intentions of its own. If I’m wrong though, then we would certainly be signing our death warrant by introducing an intellectually superior species that is immortal.

JB – What is a model? Something that explains information. Information is discernible differences at your systemic interface. Meaning of information is the relationships of you discover to the changes in other information. There is a dialogue between operators to find agreement patterns of sensed parameters. Our perception goes for coherence, it tries to find one operator that is completely coherent. When it does this it’s done. It optimizes by finding one stable pattern that explains as much as possible of what we can see, hear, smell, etc. Attention is what we use to repair this. When we have inconsistencies, a brain mechanism comes in to these hot spots and tries to find a solution to greater consistency. Maybe the nose of a face looks crooked, and our attention to it may say ‘some noses are crooked.’, or ‘this is not a face, it’s a caricature’, so you extend your model. JB talks about strategies for indexing memory, committing to a special learning task, why attention is an inefficient algorithm.

This is now getting into the nitty gritty of AI. I look forward to writing about this in the next post. Suffice it to say, I have a different model of information, one in which similarities, as well as differences, are equally informative. I say that information is qualia which is used to inspire qualitative associations that can be quantitatively modeled. I do not think that our conscious experience is built up, like the Tower of Babel, from trillions of separate information signals. Rather, the appearance of brains and neurons are like the interstitial boundaries between the panes of stained glass. Nothing in our brain or body knows that we exist, just as no car or building in France knows that France exists.

To be continued..

Notes on “Looking at Kastrup”

November 15, 2018 1 comment

I have been following the debate/feud between scientists Bernardo Kastrup, Robin Carhart-Harris, and Enzo Tagliazucchi that centers around the interpretation of brain research in psychedelics. At issue is the fine distinction between whether psychedelic states have been seen to be correlated with increased or decreased ‘brain activity’.  A decrease in brain activity would seem to support an Idealist view of consciousness while an increase in activity could give support for the materialist consensus.

In this great article, Playing with Razors… Looking at Kastrup , Q4LT gets into the details. While everyone involved is well aware that ‘increased brain activity’ is too broad of a term for deep understanding, I support Kastrup’s effort to clarify that the kind of activity that has been observed to increase is not consistent with the materialist assumption of conscious experience that is confabulated by an electrochemical phenomenon that is local to the tissue of the brain. Here are my thoughts. (Read the article and watch the videos!).

“The big conundrum at hand is as follows… gamma waves have been observed to coincide with enhanced problem solving and neuronal binding. This would seem to be an important correlation in terms of interpreting brain wave data generated by EEG. Faster oscillatory activity appears to coincide with increased processing potential.”

I can think of a reason why the “Higher pitched” gamma brain activity waves could be correlated with psychedelic/mystical experience without directly accounting for them. My conjecture is that these gamma frequency EM signatures correlate not to the florid aesthetic-semantic content of the experience, but to the intensity of them as they are localized into the personal scope of awareness. In other words, I think the gamma may not be the water coming out of the firehose of the psychedelic experience, but the buffering and caching of the experience of trying to drink from that firehose.

Just as a high pitched sound is heard as highly localized within the ear itself, high pitched brain waves might be localized to the aspects of conscious experience which are most public facing. The gamma buffering/caching might be more of a symptom of rapid and thrilling integration and organization of insights into the existing intellectual-ego framework than the expanded content of personal awareness into transpersonal states. These symptoms would be the inflection point where insights which are potentially useful to the life of the embodied personality, as opposed to the full manifestation of the experience.

“Q4LT’s perspective is that everything that is currently measurable is material.”
This seems like a very loaded proposition. Certainly science is almost synonymous with measurement in one sense, however, given that the nature of psychedelic and dream states often present aesthetic content without the tractable, waking sense of countability/measurement, we should consider the possibility that if we focus only on what can be measured with tangible instruments (extending the body into physical contact with other tangible structures), we may be looking in the wrong direction. We may be ‘drinking our own bathwater’ and begging the question of physicalism by elevating the status of physicality-tangibility from the outset.
“However, we don’t particularly enjoy taking the stance that “consciousness is everything so the details of physicality are all secondary noises that aren’t all that interesting or important”.
I completely agree, which is why I’m a Multisense Realist rather than an Idealist.
““Consciousness” is a tricky topic but our perception of it is that the closest physically measurable layer to better understand the complexity of consciousness has to do with electricity and magnetism. This is why we weren’t completely in agreement with the Kastrup/Kelly stance that blood flow changes via fMRI provided definitive proof of a counter argument against materialism.”

I agree here too about electricity and magnetism, and I have proposed that we should try looking at EM as primordial sensory-motive signaling schemas rather than blind force-field mechanisms. I suggest that EM wave/particles are not literally present in empty space, but rather they are a (slightly misguided or inverted) modeling of deeper perceptual-participatory phenomena. Electromagnetism may not be, in my view, non-stufflike-stuff-traveling-through-spacetime, but rather symptoms of the spatio-temporalizing of non-local experience into local scopes or framings.*

I think that Kastrup/Kelly are justified in wanting to make it clear that in layman’s terms, things that expand consciousness don’t make your brain ‘work harder’ in general. There is a pressing need to communicate this general insight to science writers and their audiences, so that psychedelic research, and consciousness research in general, can be understood as valid and important. It seems like it is now time to begin to spread the understanding that what has been observed about psychedelic states is that they do not suggest a physical organ working hard to produce physiological effects within the tissue itself, but rather a more subtle, quiet level of molecular activity against a background of decreasing overall blood flow/’brain activity’, especially in the regions most active during waking consciousness.

This would, for better or worse, open the door to a view in which the brain is grounded in a context that is larger than subjectivity, but not larger than consciousness-in-general. Psychedelics may, in fact, facilitate access to genuinely transpersonal, non-local experiences rather than mere ‘hallucinations in the head’. This could help recontextualize religious and spiritual views, psi, NDEs, etc as (flawed/folk) intimations of an eternal and pervasive source of subjective consciousness, rather than as an isolated, and all too mortal collection of ephemeral experiences.

*Plato’s ‘moving image of eternity’ might be seen in a more modern light, with electromagnetism as a language governing Lorentz-like, Holos-graphing transformations between public, frames of entanglement and private frames of contextuality. (See quantum entanglement vs quantum contextuality research). We may be looking at quantum mechanics and electromagnetism all wrong; as external phenomena in the physical universe, when they may, in fact, be the modulation of phenomenalization and physicalization from a deeper spectrum which transcends tangible and intangible appearences.

 

I sent a draft of this post to QLT4, and he had this to say:

“It’s good except this part… “we should consider the possibility that if we focus only on what can be measured with tangible instruments (extending the body into physical contact with other tangible structures), we may be looking in the wrong direction”.

I’m not looking in any direction in particular. Only wherever instruments that measure layers that correlate somehow with the conscious experience in an effort to better understand emotion and thought from a mechanistic perspective.
It’s obvious theres much more to life but if we are to discuss the results of scientific experiments we must immerse ourselves within this framework to a high degree. Scientific discussion is based on what is measurable… that is the focus of Q4LT. Philosophers are free to postulate outside of the scope of what is measurable. It is a different domain than what we are interested in.
My response:
Thanks, that makes sense. I agree that we have to immerse ourselves within the scientific framework, and to exhaustively measure all that we can, but what I was trying to get to is that there seems to be a specific property of anti-measure that correlates positively with the depth/purity of conscious experience. When I say that we may be looking in the wrong direction, I mean it more in a literal sense of say, trying to find our identity by adding more and smaller fingers to our hands. It may be that our most valuable tools will be things like etymology and transpersonal psychology (when correlated with measurements).

Qualia, Information, and Brain

August 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Is it possible that qualia are properties of experience that don’t affect information processing in the brain?

Yes. Sort of. Information processing does get affected, but only because it consists of qualia processing qualia. Let me explain.

The idea that the brain is ‘processing information’ is only true metaphorically. The brain is composed of concrete physical structures, not abstract logical functions. To say that there is information processing in the brain is like saying that there is profit in a dry cleaning business. It’s true in an informal, naive sense, but there’s no ontological difference between ‘profit’ and the excess of dollar bills in the cash register or the electronic states in a computer when the owner checks their bank account. The profit is an idea that we have about how the business is running, but the business itself doesn’t know that it’s profiting.

The same confusion exists when we talk about ‘information’ being processed ‘in’ a brain or computer. We are dazzled by both the depth of knowledge required to understand neurology or computer engineering, and by the feeling we get when we use sophisticated, trendy terms like ‘information processing’, so we don’t generally question the nature of information itself. If we did question it, we would find that there is no good reason to consider information anything more or less than the property of a mental experience in which our thinking is informed – that is, when our thinking seems like it has acquired new and potentially useful thoughts. The physical world of brains and computer hardware, if it were strictly physical and unconscious, would have no use for any such mental property as information, since every aspect of the world would be governed by deterministic forces and blindly probabilistic causality branches. If you have charge and momentum, mass and energy, etc, then there is no need for any kind of signals or accounting. The gears would simply turn because they have to, not because there is some process of accounting and comparison telling the charge to change polarity or strength.

To sum up – there is no need to invoke any informative entity to explain any physical process in a physical universe. Physical processes, especially on the quantum level, certainly remind us of how we think and are informed, but if such a process were informing itself nonlocally or faster than light, retrocausally etc, there is no compelling reason to label it ‘physical’. In fact, when we cross the classical limit into quantum theory, we have left all pretense of materiality behind and have moved into a realm of pure abstraction…interpretations of interpretations. It is just as useful to think of the quantum world as microphenomenal (based on low level experiential interactions, aka sensory-motive qualia) is it is to think of quantum as microphysical (form/field-force) or information-theoretic. If we are going to insist on quantum mechanics existing in the absence of all awareness, then we would have to understand exactly why and how it could ever appear that it does not.

Physical mechanisms should reduce to chain reactions of forms or forces. The should not need to know or detect anything. There should not be any role for a conscious perceiver or participant in shaping their behaviors. Church-Turing Thesis, which is considered to be one of the foundational pillars of computer science and of all computing that really exists today, shows that any problem which is computable can be executed by blind mechanical functions. Just as we can solve any simple arithmetic problem by counting on our fingers, all problems that can be solved by computation will be equally valid when we use properly configured physical switches, gears or electronic substances that can be set in a way that causes other settings to change or prevent change. As long as *we* (conscious seers, counters, and thinkers) can see and count and logically think about the significance of the result of such switches switching, the result will be reliable and potentially useful to us (informative).

In other words, computer science proves that computation need not involve any information processing at all, but rather only a chain reaction of changing formations. A physical machine has no ‘in’ or ‘out’, no ‘ones and zeros’, only charged field surfaces and volumes in motion or stasis. A ‘program’ is literally nothing but the sequence of moving parts of a machine.

Anyhow, now that we have made clear why it is not logical or parsimonious to conflate any physical phenomenon in a physical world with the presence of disembodied ‘information’, we can do the same thing with qualia. This has been done several times in the history of philosophy – Searle’s Chinese Room, Leibniz Mill, Plato’s Cave, etc. Alfred Korzybski’s phrase ‘the map is not the territory’ is a bit more general, so it applies to both the relation of information to physics, information to qualia, and physics to qualia. Information is an intellectual map* of a territory that is composed of either physical or mental qualia. Physics is a perceptual map of hypothetical qualia.

I know that it will sound outrageous to many readers to assert that physics is the map and qualia is the territory, but that is only because our physical theory includes the fallacious premise that it is not a theory. The only thing that we know for sure about physical phenomena is that they are reliable features of most of our waking experience – they are a category of qualia which subjectively seems to transcend our subjectivity, but so do other non-physical things like math and logic. In my understanding, it makes more sense that all phenomena are more like qualia or ‘dream-stuff’, then they are like ‘star-stuff’ or ‘number-stuff’**.

The irony is that it is pragmatic logic that tells us this. We don’t have to believe in anything supernatural or mystical to understand it. All that we have to ask is how the physical brain’s activity would change if there were no such thing as sight or sound or feeling. Would the rhodopsin molecules in the retina not become isomerized by a certain range of electromagnetic stimulation? Would the same neurons not release glutamate that cascades into other molecular releases along the optic nerve and visual cortex? No, logically, nothing would change if there were no such things as colors, shapes, and images. As long as there are atoms, molecules, cells, and bodies (setting aside for the moment the fact that they too are only known to be tangible-touchable qualia), nothing about the behavior of those bodies would change. Nothing about the way that chemical reactions in the brain ‘process information’ would change. If we believe that qualia does not have to exist, then we cannot logically justify that qualia could possibly exist. Neither information processing or formation collisions could logically lead to any ‘emergent properties’ without qualia/consciousness, but both physics and information could be derived by splitting and masking properties of qualia.

*an informational map is itself made of the intellectual qualia of thinking. I use the pretentious term ‘cognitive-cogitative’ qualia to reveal the parallels that I suggest between thinking and other qualia modalities, such as ‘visible-optical’, ‘aural-sonic’, and ‘personal-social’. More on that here.

**regardless of how many dreamers we believe the universal dream belongs to. If Monotheism were true, the physical universe would be part of the dream of a single God. If theism were false, the belonging relation may not need to exist at the absolute level. Experiences of God, or of being God could still exist, but they would just be features of an even larger dream in which are also dreams in which those experiences of divinity cannot be accessed. My absolute truth here is that what can always be accessed is qualia. Whether we believe in God or gods or computation, its all forms of qualia.

 

Visual Walkthrough of Multisense Realism Cosmology

June 22, 2018 Leave a comment

Here is a step by step look at Multisense Realism cosmology. In contrast to physicalism or computationalism, which assume a cosmos where unconscious phenomena such as matter or information exist against a background of nothingness, MSR (Multi Sense Realism) assumes a cosmos where it is impossible for nothingness to exist. Physicalism and computationalism see nothingness as always being present beyond the boundaries of whatever thing exists. Outside of the event horizon of the big bang would be nothingness. If a universal machine breaks, it would remain inert forever.

MSR reasons that since there is no nothingness each and every given thing returns to the totality eventually. The whole idea of nothingness as a metaphysical default is replaced with an ‘everythingness’ of a particluar kind. The everythingness discussed here is not an exotic supernatural theory, but a logical extension of this premise: our local experience is a limitation imposed on a totality of experience rather than an addition to a universe or nothingness which precedes experience.

Under this view, there is no ‘nothing’, and there is no ‘being’ or ‘existence’, there are only greater and lesser degrees to which ‘everything’ is presented as these or those things, and all things are experiences. This ‘everything’ is not a static category containing fixed possibilities, but an irreducibly creative and participatory phenomenon.

The idea here is that we can use the self-transcendent properties of consciousness to understand that consciousness itself cannot be transcended. An individual may transcend their own individuality, just as the sense of sight can provide the functional loss of sight through the visible image of total blackness. By analogy, we can understand that the cosmos can present absolute chaos or nothingness as an experienced quality with itself, but the capacity to experience and present experiences cannot be founded in chaos or non-sense. The actuality of sense can only escaped in a qualified way, as a possibility which is suggested qualitatively through sense experiences that are limited by duration or location. Nature isn’t simply a realizer of possibilities or potentials, it is a creative performance of experiential what-hows, where-whens, and which-whys that are proprietary and unique as well as generic and repeating.

1. In the first image, Sight is shown in the context of other senses.

sight_in_context

Insight One: Note that blindness is shown outside of the circle of sight and that black and white are shown within the sight circle as the taijitu (yin yang) symbol. The intent here is to illustrate that while total darkness can stand in for blindness for all practical purposes, darkness is still a quality of seeing. Darkness is visible and requires the sense of visibility (sight) to exist. Absolute blindness* can be neither light nor dark. It is, like the view you have now through the back of your head, simply not accessible.

Consequence of Insight One: If only one sense were available, there would be no way to get outside of it, so it would not be conceivable as an entity. If we were born with only the sense of sight, and could not feel, think, move, know, etc, then for there would be no ‘us’, and there would only be visible things: images, colors, visible patterns and shapes. Sight can only be conceived of because we have other senses to compare it to, including access to a conceptual sense within which such a comparison can take place. The conceptual sense or thinking is a special sense-making or meta-sensory kind of sense which we have access to, but it not synonymous with ‘us’. We think, but we are more than thinkers. We feel, we experience, and we experience ourselves as a character in that experience. This meta-sensory kind of sense is, for us, synonymous with human subjectivity, however the MSR view is that it is ultimately no different than any other kind of sense experience in which other sense experiences are nested. The feeling of being ourselves is, regardless of being a feeling of “having” other feelings, is itself also only a ‘feeling’.

Another consequence of Insight One is to apply the relation of darkness, light, and sight as a direct analogy to the relation of personal unconsciousness, personal consciousness, and consciousness in general. By doing this, we can understand that personal unconsciousness is in only a conscious experience in which a loss of personal consciousness is inferred to have occurred in our past. That is not the same as the absence of all consciousness. Our death is not the same as the absence of all life, just the appearance of such an absence from within another life. MSR proposes that trans-personal experience is the sole underlying fact and fabric of nature, so that even the absence of all biological life would not be the absence of all experience. Life is a kind of experience, but experience is more fundamental than what we call ‘life’.

2. The next image should be used as a direct analogy to the first. The label “Our Life” refers not to our body or ourself-at-this-moment, but to the totality of our experience as individual human beings. “Our Life” is to Sight as the perceptions and events of our lives are to colors and visible shapes.

Sight -> Colors and visible patterns
Our Life -> Personal percpetual experiences

Our life includes various personal experiences, including experiences of gaining and losing degrees of access to that personal experience. It is like the how brightness and contrast use the degree of visibility as a visible quality. Our personal life does not, however, include any experience of its complete and eternal cessation, just as no picture can make blindness visible. This is good news: In order for death to be eternal, it cannot ever be experienced personally. If eternal death exists, it can only ever be inferred within life, and the closest we can ever come to that would be to feel that we are about to die. For death to truly exist in any personal way, it cannot be eternal. It can only exist as an experience in which transpersonal consciousness presents an end or transition out of personal consciousness.

life_in_context

Continuing with the analogy between the first and second diagrams “our death” is to “our life” as “blindness” is to “sight”. Instead of other senses beyond the central scope (circle) of sight, there are in the above second diagram other life experiences beyond the scope of our life. Awake and asleep take the place of black and white, where ‘asleep’ is an informal way of referring to our transpersonal experience-of-having-lost-experience, or personal experience of inferring a loss of personal experience (i.e. dreamless sleep, general anesthesia, coma, etc). Dreams perhaps can be seen like the white dot in the middle of the black yin region of asleep. A hint that even within our unconsciousness there is access to the totality of experience, albeit contracted and isolated. To extend that metaphor further, the black dot in the middle of the ‘awake’ yang region could be the awareness of the blind spots in our waking consciousness, from the Jungian shadow to the cognitive and perceptual gaps that scientific study reveals.

sight_in_context

life_in_context

3. Up until this point in the walk through, all that has been described is uncontroversial. Nothing new has been invented or proposed, except the particular graphic arrangement and explanation of how commonly understood phenomena relate to each other. In this third diagram, new, hypothetical elements have been added within the central circle of “Our Life”. These black ovals containing ‘cow’, ‘cell’, and ‘tree’ signify that the presence of things in our life which we can see and touch are only a surface of a larger experience which we cannot access directly. The green lines or rays are intended to suggest that the relation between what we experience as a cow is actually a perceptual reduction and inversion of some aspect of ‘cow life’ which is available to our life.

2life_in_context

We see and touch a cow. We assume that the cow we see and touch is experiencing a cow’s life. The proposition being considered here, is that this is not the case. From an MSR perspective, it is not the cow that we see and touch which is experiencing a life. What we see, hear, and touch is a walking, mooing, stinking cow shaped body that we call a cow. Just as our own walking, talking, stinking body is not what lives our personal life, we should flip our orientation on how we understand all bodies and objects if we want to be scientific about it. Rather than seeing an animal’s body as the source of its life and experience, we should see it body as a presentation of how one life experience overlaps and underlaps with another. The body is what is left when the two perceptual filters that share a common perceptual language of touch interfere with each other. It’s a mask that presents as a visible-tangible object or body within our visual and tactile perception, which is within our life.

This is a dramatic departure from other popular models of consciousness. Computationalist and physicalist models of consciousness consider directly experienced qualities emergent phantasms. They are thought to be somehow generated by the brain or function of certain kinds of hypercomputing machines, of which the brain is one. Eastern mysticism similarly conceives of the universe that we experience perceptually as maya, an ‘illusion’. The MSR approach considers another possibility, which is that realism and illusion themselves are only experiential qualities, not ontological facts. In other words, the naive perception that we have of the world is truly much smaller than the totality of all perception, but it is just as real as anything ever could be. There is no illusion, no dream, except in the context of a greater ‘dream’ in which the previous one is dis-illusioned. Every dream is reality until a greater dream promotes itself to reality by demoting the previous reality to a dream.

There may be an absolute final dream/reality, and that could be God, or the Universe, but if emergent/illusory views of qualia are true, we can have no access to it. Under physicalism or computationalism, any resemblence to ‘reality’ is taken on faith that some of our experienced illusion happens to correspond with what has never been and can never be experienced in any way. Even the existence of the brain itself, and matter, would have to be acknowledged to be mere phantasmal figments of representation. When pressed, it must be acknowledged that our faith in the intensely convincing realism of matter and the brain has no scientific basis. We can be and usually are equally convinced by the realism of dream worlds also. It is reasonble to conclude, I think, that if any part of our experience is unreal, and its unreality is untestable, then we have to doubt realism itself in order to be think about reality realistically. Since, however, we cannot doubt our own ability to doubt (as Descartes pointed out), we can open the door to all of our direct sense and sense-making experience as being genuine in their own context. Reality in the absolute sense is that realism is a byproduct of multiple, overlapping levels of sense and sense making experience.

To sum up the analogy out so far:

Thesis: Sights (colors, brightness, images, visible shapes)
Qualified antithesis: Darkness (the color of blackness that functions as blindness)
Absolute antithesis: Blindness (the invisible negation of all colors etc, including blackness)

Thesis: Our Life (personal perceptions, sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, places, things)
Qualified antithesis: Personal unconsciousness (dreamless sleep, near death experience)
Absolute antithesis: Our death (the unexperienced cessation of our life)
When it comes to the big picture of all of existence, an antithesis can only follow a thesis, and if consciousness/awareness/sense/qualia exists, it can only be the thesis.

4. If we now go back to the original diagram on sight and import the objects (cow, tree, cell) from the third diagram into it, we can see how sight, combined with cognitive sense, can be used to symbolize extra-visual sense experiences. Without the cognitive sense, it would be impossible to draw a picture of sound, or touch, or blindness. We can only draw pictures that are limited to what can be seen. In order for a picture to be perceived as a picture of something else, we have to have access to a mind-like sense making capacity where various separately siloed experiences can be associated semiotically. If we have heard sound through human ears, we can see an image and recognize it as a picture of a man holding his ears.

sight_of_other_senses

We make a semiotic connection between various types of experience that make up our life, but that connection is not revealed as such. Instead, the semiotic connection is presented, rather miraculously, as a united perceptual gestalt. These pixels for example are presented as irreducible gestalts called letters, and the letters are read as irreducible gestalts called words. The gestalts do not appear to be composed of their parts, and indeed the gestalts cannot be justified as functionally necessary, but rather all gestalts are either wholes or parts of whatever perceptual context is elevated at the moment.

5. Finally, in this fifth diagram of the walk through, we see that the lime green color used previously to connote the circle of a given scope of sense now fills the diagram completely.

totality_map

This is to suggest the Absolute Totality is not an emptiness that consciousness projects experiences onto, but rather the opposite – consciousness carves experiences out of itself by modulating its own scopes or degrees of sensitivity. The labels refer not to objects like stars, planets, or cells, but to experiences on the astrophysical, geological, or biological scale of time. Time and scale are understood to be divergent properties of this nesting and modulation of sensitivity. Each shell/sheath/holon is not a physical domain but a temporally formatted ‘gear’ which expands or contracts access to the totality. Within any given shell, other shells are presented as indirect experiences, such as static objects, or barely perceptible influences such as intuition or synchronicity. Each holon, like the Net of Indra, reflects its own limitations back to itself in the form of experiencing limited versions of the other holons. Our life does not last for billions of years, so we perceive experiences that do occur on such a slow scale as objects like planets, stars, and galaxies. Our perception is too slow to perceive experiences occurring on the subatomic level, so we have to imagine them according to mathematical patterns we infer from observing the behavior of instruments that we can see and touch directly.

What has been described here is not as complex as it may seem. It’s really a simple application of the common sense idea shown in the first diagram, that while darkness ‘rhymes’ with blindness, and is functionally identical to it, there is an aesthetic difference between blindness and the seeing absolute darkness which is more fundmental. All that we have to do to understand the MSR model is to carry this view of how sense can be transcended indirectly through another sense, but all sense can never be transcended absolutely. The rest of the MSR metaphysics fall out naturally from there.

A sense-based view of nature can accommodate experiences of the universe as both a unintentional mechanical process, and as an intentional creation of God, and as God him/itself. It can accommodate experiences of a life where one is certain that the universe is exclusively one of those three things and then one can also experience becoming certain that they were wrong. The only thing that the sense based, MSR view does not accommodate is eternally non-experiential phenomena such as ‘information’ or ‘physical matter’ that is independent of all experienced qualities. Those kinds of ideas refer to something that would truly be supernatural and impossible. They are, like the worlds drawn by M.C. Escher, based on importing suggestions and associations of tangible experiences into a less tangible sense modality – vision.

sight_in_context

life_in_context

totality_map

Experience is not a hologram, but worlds imagined through the conceptual lenses of theoretical physics or cognitive science are. By recognizing that the absence of direct experience is only an idea within a specialized, sense-making type of sense experience, we can find our way out of the mad labyrinth that has been set built through modern and ancient systems of impossible metaphysics. The scientific revolution gave us one piece to the puzzle, in showing us that the world we experience objectively can give us more truth than we can experience and imagine subjectively. Multisense Realism is an effort to provide another puzzle piece – a scientific skepticism of both objectivity and subjectivity which resolves the hard problem of consciousness by proposing that the totality necessarily includes and is greater than either category of experience, but cannot include the eternal absence of experience.

Craig Weinberg 6/22/2018

*absolute blindness may not correspond to actual human experiences of blindness which may or may not include some visible phenomena. Human blindness is an impairment, whereas absolute blindness would be the possible only in a universe in which sight had never become possible.

On Wavicles

June 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Is material reality made up of particles or waves or both?

I think that the truth is that we’ve got it wrong. The universe is an experiential phenomenon that transcends realism, so it cannot be reduced to geometry. When we do reduce it to geometry in our interpretation, we get the geometric equivalent of an imaginary number. We get an impossible contradiction of diametrically opposed shapes…points in a void or ‘waves’ of energetic nothingness.

Combined with clues like special relativity, quantum contextuality, and Gödel’s incompleteness, I think it should be almost obvious that nature is answering the question of what matter is made of by demonstrating that the question cannot be answered in that way. It is like trying to look for parts of a rainbow inside the water vapor of clouds.

Continuum of Perceptual Access

April 7, 2018 1 comment

This post is intended to bring more clarity to the philosophical view that I have named Multisense Realism. I have criticized popular contemporary views such as computationalism and physicalism because of their dependence on a primitive of information or matter that is independent of all experience. In both physicalism and computationalism, we are called upon to accept the premise that the universe is composed solely of concrete, tangible structures and/or abstract, intangible computations. Phenomena such as flavors and feelings, which are presented as neither completely tangible nor completely intangible are dismissed as illusions or emergent properties of the more fundamental dual principles. The tangible/intangible duality, while suffering precisely from the same interaction problems as substance dualism, adds the insult of preferring a relatively new and hypothetical kind of intangibility which enjoys all of our mental capacities of logic and symbolism, but which exists independently of all mental experience. When we try to pin down our notions of what information really is, the result is inevitably a circular definition which assumes phenomena can be ‘sent’ and ‘received’ from physics alone, despite the dependence of such phenomena on a preferred frame of reference and perception. When one looks at a system of mechanical operations that are deemed to cause information processing, we might ask the question “What is it that is being informed?” Is it an entity? Is there an experience or not? Are information and matter the same thing, and if so, which of them make the other appear opposite to the other? Which one makes anything ‘appear’ at all?

The answers I’ve heard and imagined seem to necessarily imply some sort info-homunculus that we call ‘the program’ or ‘the system’ to which mental experience can either be denied or assumed in an arbitrary way. This should be a warning to us that by using such an ambiguously conscious agent to explain how and why experience exists, we are committing a grave logical fallacy. To begin with, a principle that can be considered experiential or non-experiential to explain experience is like beginning with ‘moisture’ to explain the existence of water. Information theory is certainly useful to us as members of a modern civilization, however, that utility does not help us with our questions about whether experience can be generated by information or information is a quality of some categories of experience. It does not help us with the question of how the tangible and intangible interact. In our human experience, programs and systems are terms arising within the world of our thinking and understanding. In the absence of such a mental experience context, it is not clear what these terms truly refer to. Without that clarity, information processing agents are allowed them to exist in an unscientific fog as entities composed of an intangible pseudo-substance, but also with an unspecified capacity to control the behavior of tangible substances. The example often given to support this view is our everyday understanding of the difference between hardware and software. This distinction does not survive the test of anthropocentrism. Hardware is a concrete structure. Its behavior is defined in physical terms such as motion, location, and shape, or tendencies to change those properties. Software is an idea of how to design and manipulate those physical behaviors, and how the manipulation will result in our ability to perceive and interpret them as we intend. There is no physical manifestation of software, and indeed, no physical device that we use for computation has any logical entailment to experience anything remotely computational about its activities, as they are presumed to be driven by force rather than meaning. Again, we are left with an implausible dualism where the tangible and intangible are bound together by vague assumptions of unconscious intelligibility rather than by scientific explanation.

Panpsychism offers a possible a path to redemption for this crypto-dualistic worldview. It proposes that some degree of consciousness is pervasive in some or all things, however, the Combination Problem challenges us to explain how exactly micro-experiences on the molecular level build up to full-blown human consciousness. Constitutive panpsychism is the view that:

“facts about human and animal consciousness are not fundamental, but are grounded in/realized by/constituted of facts about more fundamental kinds of consciousness, e.g., facts about micro-level consciousness.”

Exactly how micro-phenomenal experiences are bound or fused together to form a larger, presumably richer macro-experience is a question that has been addressed by Hedda Hassel Mørch, who proposes that:

“mental combination can be construed as kind causal process culminating in a fusion, and show how this avoids the main difficulties with accounting for mental combination.”

In her presentation at the 2018 Science of Consciousness conference, Mørch described how Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) might shed some light on why this fusion occurs. IIT offers the value Φ to quantify the degree of integration of information in a physical system such as a brain. IIT is a panpsychist model that predicts that any sufficiently integrated information system can or will attain consciousness. The advantage of IIT is that consciousness is allowed to develop regardless of any particular substrate it is instantiated through, but we should not overlook the fact that the physical states seem to be at least as important. We can’t build machines out of uncontained gas. There would need to be some sort of solidity property to persist in a way that could be written to, read from, and addressed reliably. In IIT, digital computers or other inorganic machines are thought to be incapable of hosting fully conscious experience, although some minimal awareness may be present.

The theory vindicates some panpsychist intuitions – consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property, is graded, is common among biological organisms, and even some very simple systems have some. However, unlike panpsychism, IIT implies that not everything is conscious, for example group of individuals or feed forward networks. In sharp contrast with widespread functionalist beliefs, IIT implies that digital computers, even if their behavior were to be functionally equivalent to ours, and even if they were to run faithful simulations of the human brain, would experience next to nothing.” – Consciousness: Here, There but Not Everywhere

As I understand Mørch’s thesis, fusion occurs in a biological context when the number of causal relationships in the parts of a system that relate to the whole exceed the number of causal relationships which relate to the disconnected parts.

I think that this approach is an appropriate next step for philosophy of mind and may be useful in developing technology for AI. Information integration may be an ideal way to quantify degrees of consciousness for medical and legal purposes. It may give us ethical guidance in how synthetic and natural organisms should be treated, although I agree with some critics of IIT that the Φ value itself may be flawed. It is possible that IIT is on the right track in this instrumental sense, but that a better quantitative variable can be discovered. It is also possible that none of these approaches will help us understand what consciousness truly is, and will only confuse us further about the nature of the relation between the tangible, the intangible, and what I call the trans-tangible realm of direct perception.

What I propose here is that rather than considering a constitutive fusion of microphenomenal units into a macrophenomenal unit in which local causes and effects are consolidated into a larger locality, we should try viewing these micro and macro appearances as different orders of magnitude along a continuum of “causal lensing” or “access lensing“. Rather than physical causes of phenomenal effects, the lensing view begins with phenomenal properties as identical to existence itself.  Perceptions are more like apertures which modulate access and unity between phenomenal contexts rather than mathematical processes where perceptions are manufactured by merging their isolation. To shift from a natural world of mechanical forms and forces to one of perceptual access is a serious undertaking, with far-ranging consequences that require committed attention for an extended time. Personally, it took me several years of intensive consideration and debate to complete the transition. It is a metaphysical upheaval that requires a much more objective view of both objectivity and subjectivity.  Following this re-orientation, the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ themselves are suggested to be left behind, adopting instead the simpler, clearer terms such as tangible, intangible, and trans-tangible. Using this platform of phenomenal universality as the sole universal primitive, I suggest a spectrum-like continuum where ranges of phenomenal magnitude map to physical scale, qualitative intensity, and to the degree of permeability between them.

For example, on the micro/bottom scale, we would place the briefest, most disconnected sensations and impulses which can be felt, and marry them to the smallest and largest structures available in the physical universe. This connection between subatomic and cosmological scales may seem counterintuitive to our physics-bound framework, but here we can notice the aesthetic similarities between particles in a void and stars in a void. The idea here is not to suggest that the astrophysical and microphysical are identical, but that the similarity of their appearances reflects our common perceptual limitation to those largest and smallest scales of experience.  These appearances may reflect a perception of objective facts, or they may be defined to some degree by particular perceptual envelope propagates reports about its own limits within itself. In the case of a star or an atom, we are looking at a report about the relationship between our own anthropocentric envelope of experience and the most distant scales of experience and finding that the overlap is similarly simple. What we see as a star or an atom may be our way of illustrating that our interaction is limited to very simple sensory-motor qualities such as ‘hold-release’ which corresponds to electromagnetic and gravitational properties of ‘push-pull’. If this view were correct, we should expect that to the extent that human lifetimes have an appearance from the astro or micro perspective, that appearance would be similarly limited to a simple, ‘points in a void’ kind of description. This is not to say that stars or atoms see us as stars or atoms, but that we should expect some analogous minimization of access across any sufficiently distant frame of perception.

Toward the middle of the spectrum, where medium-sized things like vertebrate bodies exist, I would expect that this similarity is gradually replaced by an increasing dimorphism. The difference between structures and feelings reaches its apex in the center of the spectrum for any given frame of perception. In that center, I suspect that sense presentations are maximally polarized, achieving the familiar Cartesian dualism of waking consciousness as is has been conditioned by Western society. In our case, the middle/macro level presentation is typically of an ‘interior’ which is intangible interacting with a tangible ‘exterior’ world, governed by linear causality. There are many people throughout history, however, who have reported other experiences in which time, space and subjectivity are considerably altered.

While the Western view dismisses non-ordinary states of consciousness as fraud or failures of human consciousness to report reality, I suggest that the entire category of transpersonal psychology can be understood as a logical expectation for the access continuum as it approaches the top end of the spectrum. Rather than reflecting a disabled capacity to distinguish fact from fiction, I propose that fact and fiction are, in some sense, objectively inseparable. As human beings, our body’s survival is very important to us, so such that phenomena relating to it directly would naturally occupy an important place in our personal experience. This should not be presumed to be the case for nature as a whole. Transpersonal experience may reflect a fairly accurate rendering of any given perceptual frame of reference which attains a sufficiently high level of sensitivity. With an access continuum model, high sensitivity corresponds to dilated apertures of perception (a la Huxley), and consequently allows more permeability across perceptual contexts, as well as permitting access to more distant scales of perceptual phenomena.

The Jungian concept of archetypes and collective unconscious should be considered useful intuitions here, as the recurring, cross-cultural nature of myth and dreams suggest access to phenomena which seem to blur or reveal common themes across many separate times and places. If our personal experience is dominated by a time-bound subject in a space-bound world, transpersonal experience seems to play with those boundaries in surreal ways. If personal experiences of time are measured with a clock, transpersonal time might be symbolized by Dali’s melting clocks. If our ordinary personal experience of strictly segregated facts and fictions occupies the robust center of the perceptual continuum, the higher degrees of access corresponds to a dissolving of those separations and the introduction of more animated and spontaneous appearances. As the mid-spectrum ‘proximate’ range gives way to an increasingly ‘ultimate’ top range, the experience of merging of times, places, subjects, objects, facts, and fiction may not so much be a hallucination as a profound insight into the limits of any given frame of perception. To perceive in the transpersonal band is to experience the bending and breaking of the personal envelope of perception so that its own limits are revealed. Where the West sees psychological confusion, the East sees cosmic fusion. In the access continuum view, both Eastern and Western view refer to the same thing. The transpersonal opportunity is identical to the personal crisis.

This may sound like “word salad” to some, or God to others, but what I am trying to describe is a departure from both Western and Eastern metaphysical models. It seems necessary to introduce new terms to define these new concepts. To describe how causality itself changes under different scales or magnitudes of perception, I use the term causal lensing. By this I mean to say that the way things happen in nature changes according to the magnitude of “perceptual access”. With the term ‘perceptual access’, I hope to break from the Western view of phenomenal experience as illusory or emergent, as well as breaking from the Eastern view of physical realism as illusory. Both the tangible and the intangible phenomena of nature are defined here as appearances within the larger continuum of perceptual access…a continuum in which all qualitative extremes are united and divided.

In order to unite and transcend both the bottom-up and top-down causality frameworks, I draw on some concepts from special relativity. The first idea that I borrow is the notion of an absolute maximum velocity, which I suggest is a sign that light’s constancy of speed is only one symptom of the deeper role of c.  Understanding ‘light speed’ as an oversimplification of how perception across multiple scales of access works, c becomes a perceptual constant instead of just a velocity. When we measure the speed of light, we may be measuring not only the distance traveled by a particle while a clock ticks, but also the latency associated with translating one scale of perception into another.

The second idea borrowed from relativity is the Lorentz transformation. In the same way that the special relativity links acceleration to time dilation and length contraction, the proposed causal lensing schema transforms along causality itself along a continuum. This continuum ranges from what I want to call ultimate causes (with highest saturation of phenomenal intensity and access), to proximate causes (something like the macrophenomenal units), to ‘approximate causes’. When we perceive in terms of proximate causality, space and time are graphed as perpendicular axes and c is the massless constant linking the space axis to the time axis. When we look for light in distant frames of perception, I suggest that times and spaces break down (√c ) or fuse together ().  In this way, access to realism and richness of experience can be calibrated as degrees of access rather than particles or waves in spacetime. What we have called particles on the microphysical scale should not be conceived necessarily as microphenomenal units, but more like phenomenal fragments or disunities that anticipate integration from a higher level of perception. In other words, the ‘quantum world’ has no existence of its own, but rather supplies ingredients for a higher level, macrophenomenal sense experience. The bottom level of any given frame of perception would be characterized by these properties of anticipatory disunity or macrophenomenal pre-coherence. The middle level of perception features whole, coherent Units of experience. The top or meta level of perception features Super-Unifying themes and synchronistic, poetic causality.

To be clear, what I propose here is that perceptual access is existence. This is an updated form of Berkeley’s “Esse est percipi” doctrine, where “to be is to be perceived” which does not presume perception to be a verb. In the access continuum view, aesthetic phenomena precede all distinctions and boundaries, so that even the assumption of a perceiving subject is discarded. Instead of requiring a divine perceiver, a super-subject becomes an appearance arising from the relation between ultimate and proximate ranges of perception. Subjectivity and objectivity are conceived of as mutually arising qualities within the highly dimorphic mid-range of the perceptual spectrum. This spectrum model, while honoring the intuitions of Idealists such as Berkeley, is intended to provide the beginnings of a plausible perception-based cosmology, with natural support from both Western Science and Eastern Philosophy.

Some examples of the perceptual spectrum:

In the case of vision, whether we lack visual acuity or sufficient light, the experience of not being able to see well can be characterized as a presentation of disconnected features. The all-but-blind seer is forced to approximate a larger, more meaningful percept from bits and pieces, so that a proximate percept (stuff happening here and now that a living organism cares about) can be substituted. Someone who is completely blind may use a cane to touch and feel objects in their path. This does not yield a visible image but it does fill in some gaps between the approximate level of perceptual access to the proximate level. This process, I suggest, is roughly what we are seeing in the crossing over from quantum mechanics to classical mechanics. Beneath the classical limit there is approximating causality based on probabilistic computation. Beyond the classical limit causality takes on deterministic causality appearances in the ‘Morphic‘ externalization and will-centered causality appearances in the ‘Phoric‘ interiorization.

access

In other words, I am suggesting a reinterpretation of quantum mechanics so that it is understood to be an appearance which reflects the way that a limited part of nature guesses about the nature of its own limitation.

In this least-accessible (Sempahoric, approximate) range of consciousness, awareness is so impoverished that even a single experience is fragmented into ephemeral signals which require additional perception to fully ‘exist’. What we see as the confounding nature of QM may be an accurate presentation of the conditions of mystery which are required to manifest multiple meaningful experiences in many different frames of perception. Further, this different interpretation of QM re-assigns the world of particle physics so that it no longer is presumed to be the fabric of the universe, but is instead seen as equivalent to the ‘infra-red’ end of a universal perceptual spectrum, no more or less real than waking life or a mystical vision. Beginning with a perceptual spectrum as our metaphysical and physical absolute, light becomes inseparable from sight, and invisible ranges of electromagnetism are perceptual modes which human beings have no direct access to. If this view is on the right track, seeing light as literally composed of photons would be category error that mistakes an appearance of approximation and disunity for ‘proximated’ or formal units. It seems possible that this mistake is to blame for contradictory entities in quantum theory such as ‘particle-waves’. I am suggesting that the reality of illumination is closer to what an artist does in a painting to suggest light – that is, using lighter colors of paint to show a brightening of a part of the visual field. The expectation of photons composing beams of light in space is, on this view, a useful but misguided confusion. There may be no free-standing stream of pseudo-particles in space, but instead, there is an intrinsically perceptual relation which is defined by the modality and magnitude of its access. I suggest that the photon, as well as the electromagnetic field, are more inventions than discoveries, and may ultimately be replaced with an access modulation theory. Special relativity was on the right track, but it didn’t go far enough as to identify light as an example of how perception defines the the proximate layer of the universe through optical-visibile spatiotemporalization.

Again, I understand the danger here of ‘word salad’ accusations and the over-use of neologisms, but please bear in mind that my intention here is to push the envelope of understanding to the limit, not to assert an academic certainty. This is not a theory or hypothesis, this is an informal conjecture which seems promising to me as a path for others to explore and discover. With that, let us return to the example of poor sight to illustrate the “approximate”, bottom range of the perceptual continuum. In visual terms, disconnected features such as brightness, contrast, color, and saturation should be understood to be of a wholly different order than a fully realized image. There is no ’emergence’ in the access continuum model. Looking at this screen, we are not seeing a fusion of color pixels, but rater we are seeing through the pixel level.  The fully realized visual experience (proximate level) does not reduce to fragments but has images as its irreducible units. Like the blind person using a cane, an algorithm can match invisible statistical clues about the images we see to names that have been provided, but there is no spontaneous visual experience being generated. Access to images through pixels is only possible from the higher magnitude of visual perception. From the higher level, the criticality between the low level visible pixels and images is perhaps driven by a bottom-up (Mørchian) fusion, but only because there are also top-down, center-out, and periphery-in modes of access available. Without those non-local contexts and information sources, there is no fusion. Rather than images emerging from information, they are made available through a removal of resistance to their access. There may be a hint of this in the fact that when we open our eyes in the light, one type of neurochemical activity known as ‘dark current’ ceases. In effect, sight begins with unseeing darkness.

 

Part 2: The Proximate Range of the Access Continuum

At the risk of injecting even more abstruse content (why stop now?), I want to discuss the tripartite spectrum model (approximate, proximate, and ultimate) and the operators √c, c, and c²*. In those previous articles, I offered a way of thinking about causality in which binary themes such as position|momentum, and contextuality|entanglement on the quantum level may be symptoms of perceptual limitation rather than legitimate features of a microphysical world. The first part of this article introduces √c as the perceptual constant on the approximate (low level) of the spectrum. I suggest that while photons, which would be the √c level fragments of universal visibility, require additional information to provide image-like pattern recognition, the actual perception of the image gestalt seems to be an irreducibly c (proximate, mid-level) phenomenon. By this, I mean that judging from the disparity between natural image perception and artificial image recognition, as revealed by adversarial images that are nearly imperceptible to humans, we cannot assume a parsimonious emergence of images from computed statistics. There seems to be no mechanical entailment for the information relating bits of information to one another that would level up to an aesthetically unified visible image. This is part of what I try to point out in my TSC 2018 presentation, The Hard Problem of Signaling.

Becuase different ranges of the perceptual spectrum are levels of access rather than states of a constitutive panpsychism, there is no reason to be afraid of Dualism as a legitimate underlying theme for the middle range. With the understanding that the middle range is only the most robust type of perceptual access and not an assertion of naive realism, we are free to redeem some aspects of the Cartesian intuition. The duality seen by Descartes, Galileo, and Locke, should not be dismissed as naive misunderstandings from a pre-scientific era, but as the literal ‘common-sense’ scope of our anthropic frame of perception. This naive scope, while unfashionable after the 19th century, is no less real than the competing ranges of sense. Just because we are no longer impressed by the appearance of res cogitans and res extensa does not mean that they are not impressive. Thinking about a cogitans-like and extensa-like duality as diametrically filtered versions of a ‘res aesthetica’ continuum works for me. The fact that we can detect phenomena that defy this duality does not make the duality false, it only means that duality isn’t the whole story. Because mid-level perception has a sample rate that is slower than the bottom range, we have been seduced into privileging that bottom range as more real. This to me is not a scientific conclusion, but a sentimental fascination with transcending the limits of our direct experience. It is exciting to think that the universe we see is ‘really’ composed of exotic Planck scale phenomena, but it makes more sense in my view to see the different scales of perception as parallel modes of access. Because time itself is being created and lensed within every scale of perception, it would be more scientific avoid assigning preference frame to the bottom scale. The Access Continuum model restores some features Dualism to what seems to me to be its proper place: as a simple and sensible map of the typical waking experience. A sober, sane, adult human being in the Western conditioned mindset experiences nature as a set of immaterial thoughts and feelings inside a world of bodies in motion. When we say that appearances of Dualism are illusion, we impose an unscientific prejudice against our own native epistemology. We are so anxious to leave the pre-scientific world behind that we would cheat at our own game. To chase the dream of perfect control and knowledge, we have relegated ourselves to a causally irrelevant epiphenomenon.

To sum up, so far in this view, I have proposed

  1. a universe of intrinsically perceptual phenomena in which some frames of perception are more localized, that is, more spatially, temporally, and perceptually impermeable, than others.
  2. Those frames of perception which are more isolated are more aesthetically impoverished so that in the most impermeable modes, realism itself is cleaved into unreal conjugate pairs.
  3. This unreality of disunited probabilities is what we see in poor perceptual conditions and in quantum theory. I call these pairs semaphores, and the degree of perceptual magnitude they embody I call the semaphoric or approximate range of the spectrum.
  4. The distance between semaphores is proposed to be characterized by uncertainty and incompleteness. In a semaphoric frame of visible perception, possibilities of pixels and possible connections between them do not appear as images, but to a seer of images, they hint at the location of an image which can be accessed.
  5. This idea of sensitivity and presentation as doors of experience rather sense data to be fused into a phenomenal illusion is the most important piece of the whole model. I think that it provides a much-needed bridge between relativity, quantum mechanics, and the entire canon of Western and Eastern philosophy.
  6. The distinction between reality and illusion, or sanity and insanity is itself only relevant and available within a particular (proximate) range of awareness. In the approximate and ultimate frames of perception, such distinctions may not be appropriate. Reality is not subjective or relative, but it is limited to the mid-range scope of the total continuum of access. All perceptions are ultimately ‘real’ in the top level, trans-local sense and ‘illusion’ in the approximate, pre-local sense.
  7. It is in the proximate, middle range of perception where the vertical continuum of access stretches out horizontally so that perception is lensed into a duality between mechanical-tangible-object realism and phenomenal-intangible-subject realism. It is through the lensing that the extreme vantage points perceive each other as unreal, naive, or insane. Whether we are born to personally identify with the realism of the tangible or intangible seems to also hang in the balance between pre-determined fate and voluntary participation. Choosing our existential anchoring is like confronting the ‘blue dress’ or ‘duck-rabbit’ ambiguous image. Once we attach to the sense of a particular orientation, the competing orientation becomes nonsense.

Part 3: The Ultimate Range of the Access Continuum

Once the reader feels that they have a good grasp of the above ideas of quantum and classical mechanics as approximate and proximate ranges of a universal perceptual continuum, this next section can be a guide to the other half of the conjecture. I say it can be a guide because I suspect that it is up to the reader to collaborate directly with the process. Unlike a mathematical proof, understanding of the upper half of the continuum is not confined to the intellect. For those who are anchored strongly in our inherited worldviews, the ideas presented here will be received as an attack on science or religion. In my view, I am not here to convince anyone or prove anything, I am here to share a ‘big picture’ understanding that may only be possible to glimpse for some people at some times. For those who cannot or will not be able to access to this understanding at this time, I apologize sincerely. As someone who grew up with the consensus scientific view as a given fact, I understand that this writing and the writer appear either ridiculously ignorant or insane. I would try to explain that this appearance too is actually supportive of the perceptual lensing model that I’m laying out, but this would only add to feelings of distrust and anger. For those who have the patience and the interest, we can proceed to the final part of the access continuum conjecture.

I have so far described the bottom end of the access continuum as being characterized by disconnected fragments and probabilistic guessing, and the middle range as a dualistic juxtaposition of morphic forms and ‘phoric’ experiences. In the higher range of the continuum perceptual apertures are opened to the presence of supersaturated aesthetics which transcend and transform the ordinary. Phenomena in this range seem to freely pass across the subject-object barrier. If c is the perceptual constant in which public space and private time are diametrically opposed, then the transpersonal constant which corresponds to the fusion of multiple places and times can be thought of as . We can construct physical clocks out of objects, but these actually only give us samples of how objects change in public space. The sense of time must be inferred by our reasoning so that a dimension of linear time is imagined as connecting those public changes. This may seem solipsistic – that I am suggesting that time isn’t objectively real. This would be true if we assumed, as Berkeley did, that perception necessarily implies a perceiver. Because the view I’m proposing assumes that perception is absolute, the association of time with privacy and space with publicity does not threaten realism. Think of it like depth perception. In one sense we see a fusion of two separate two-dimensional images. In another sense, we use a single binocular set of optical sensors to give us access to three-dimensional vision. Applied to time, we perceive an exteriorized world in which is relatively static and we perceive an interiorized world-less-ness in which all remembered experiences are collected. It is by attaching our personal sense of narrative causality to the snapshots of experience that we can access publicly that a sense of public time is accessed. In the high level range of the continuum, time can progress in circular or ambiguous ways against a backdrop of eternity rather than the recent past. In this super-proximate apprehension of nature, archetypal themes from the ancient past or alien future can coexist.  Either of these can take on extraordinarily benevolent or terrifying qualities.

Like it or not, no description of the universe can possibly be considered complete if it denies the appearance of surrealities. Whether it is chemically induced or natural, the human experience has always included features which we call mystical, psychotic, paranormal, or religious. While we dream, we typically do not suspect that we are in a dreamed world until we awake into another experience which may or may not also be a dream. It is a difficult task to fairly consider these types of phenomena as they are politically charged in a way which is both powerful and invisible to us. Like the fish who spends its life swimming in a nameless plenum, it is only those who jump or are thrown out of it who can perceive the thing we call water. Sanity cannot be understood without having access to an extra-normal perspective where its surfaces are exposed. If a lack of information is the bridge between the approximate and the proximate ranges of the access continuum, then transcendental experience is the bridge between the proximate and the ultimate range of the continuum. The highest magnitudes of perception break the fourth wall, and in an involuted/Ouroboran way, provide access to the surfaces of our own access capacities.

Going back to the previous example of vision, the ultimate range of perception can be added to the list:

  • √c  – Feeling your way around in a dark room where a few features are visible.
  •  Seeing three-dimensional forms in a well lit, real world.
  • – Intuiting that rays, reflections, and rainbows reveal unseen facts about light.

It is important to get that the “²” symbolizes a meta- relation rather than a quantity (although the quantitative value may be useful as well). The idea is that seeing a rainbow is “visibility squared” because it is a visible presence which gives access to deeper levels of appreciating and understanding visibility. Seeing light as spectral, translucent images, bright reflections, shining or glowing radiance, is a category of sight that gives insight into sight. That self-transcending recursiveness is what is meant by : In the case of seeing, visible access to the nature of visibility. If we look carefully, every channel of perception includes its own self-transcendent clues. Where the camera betrays itself as a lens flare, the cable television broadcast shows its underpinnings as freezing and pixellating. Our altered states of consciousness similarly tell us personally about what it is like for consciousness to transcend personhood. This is how nature bootstraps itself, encoding keys to decode itself in every appearance.

Other sense modalities follow the same pattern as sight. The more extreme our experiences of hearing, the more we can understand about how sound and ears work. It is a curious evolutionary maladaptation that rather than having the sense organ protect itself from excessive sensation, it remains vulnerable to permanent damage. It would be strange to have a computer that would run a program to simulates something so intensely that it permanently damages its own capacity to simulate. What would be the evolutionary advantage of a map which causes deafness and blindness? This question is another example of why it makes sense to understand perception as a direct method of access rather than a side effect of information processing. We are not a program, we are an i/o port. What we call consciousness is a collection of perceptions under an umbrella of perception that is all-but imperceptible to us normally. Seeing our conscious experience from the access continuum perspective means defining ourselves on three different levels at once – as a  partition of experience within an eternal and absolute experience, as a c level ghost in a biochemical machine, and as a √c level emergence from subconscious computation:

  • √c (Semaphoric-Approximate)  – Probabilistic Pre-causality
  •  (Phoric|Morphic-Proximate) – Dualistic Free Will and Classical Causality
  • (Metaphoric-Ultimate) – Idealistic or Theistic Post-Causality

Notice that the approximate range and ultimate ranges both share a sense of uncertainty, however, where low level awareness seeks information about the immediate environment to piece together, high level awareness allows itself to be informed by that what is beyond its directly experienced environments. Between the pre-causal level of recombinatory randomness and the supernatural level of synchronistic post-causality is the dualistic level, where personal will struggles against impersonal and social forces.  From this Phoric perspective, the metaphoric super-will seems superstitious and the semaphoric un-will seems recklessly apathetic. This is another example of how perceptual lensing defines nature. From a more objective and scientific perspective, all of these appearances are equally real in their own frame of reference and equally unreal from outside of that context.

Just as high volume of sound reveals the limits of the ear, and the brightness of light exposes the limits of the eye, the limits of the human psyche at any given phase of development are discovered through psychologically intense experiences. A level of stimulation that is safe for an adult may not be tolerable for a child or baby. Alternatively, it could be true that some experiences which we could access in the early stages of our life would be too disruptive to integrate into our worldview as adults. Perhaps as we mature collectively as a species, we are acquiring more tolerance and sensitivity to the increased level of access that is becoming available to us. We should understand the dangers as well as the benefits that come with an increasingly porous frame of perception, both from access to the “supernatural” metaphoric and “unnatural”, semaphoric ranges of the continuum. Increased tolerance means that fearful reactions to both can be softened so that what was supernatural can become merely surreal and what was unnatural can be accepted as non-repulsively uncanny. Whether it is a super-mind without a physical body or a super-machine with a simulated mind, we can begin to see both as points along the universal perceptual continuum.

Craig Weinberg, Tucson 4/7/2018

Latest revision 4/18/2018

*Special Diffractivity: c², c, and √c, Multisense Diagram w/ CausalityMSR Schema 3.3Three-Phase Model of Will

access

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amecylia

Multimedia Project #23937

Lucid Being

Mind🎋 Body 🎋Spirit 🎋 I.Q! 🎋What Is The Essence Of Existence? 🎋I Know That I’m Intelligent Because I Know That I Know Nothing! 🎋 Transforming Our Everyday Thoughts Into Great Realities!

I can't believe it!

Problems of today, Ideas for tomorrow

Rationalising The Universe

one post at a time

Conscience and Consciousness

Academic Philosophy for a General Audience

yhousenyc.wordpress.com/

Exploring the Origins and Nature of Awareness

DNA OF GOD

BRAINSTORM- An Evolving and propitious Synergy Mode~!

Musings and Thoughts on the Universe, Personal Development and Current Topics

Copyright © 2016 by JAMES MICHAEL J. LOVELL, MUSINGS AND THOUGHTS ON THE UNIVERSE, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT TOPICS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. UNAUTHORIZED USE AND/OR DUPLICATION OF THIS MATERIAL WITHOUT EXPRESS AND WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THIS SITE’S AUTHOR AND/OR OWNER IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Paul's Bench

Ruminations on philosophy, psychology, life

This is not Yet-Another-Paradox, This is just How-Things-Really-Are...

For all dangerous minds, your own, or ours, but not the tv shows'... ... ... ... ... ... ... How to hack human consciousness, How to defend against human-hackers, and anything in between... ... ... ... ... ...this may be regarded as a sort of dialogue for peace and plenty for a hungry planet, with no one left behind, ever... ... ... ... please note: It may behoove you more to try to prove to yourselves how we may really be a time-traveler, than to try to disprove it... ... ... ... ... ... ...Enjoy!

Creativity✒📃😍✌

“Don’t try to be different. Just be Creative. To be creative is different enough.”

Political Joint

A political blog centralized on current events

zumpoems

Zumwalt Poems Online

dhamma footsteps

postcards from the present moment

chandleur

Bagatelle

OthmanMUT

Observational Tranquillity.

Gray Matters

Traversing the blood-brain-barrier.