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Computation as Anti-Holos

July 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Here is a technical sketch of how all of nature could arise from a foundation which is ‘aesthetic’ rather than physical or informational. I conceive of the key difference between the aesthetic and the physical or informational (both anesthetic) is that an aesthetic phenomenon is intrinsically and irreducibly experiential. This is a semi-neologistic use of the term aesthetic, used only to designate the presence of phenomena which is not only detected but is identical to detection. A dream is uncontroversially aesthetic in this sense, however, because our waking experience is also predicated entirely upon sensory, perceptual, and cognitive conditioning, we can never personally encounter any phenomenon which is not aesthetic. Aesthetics here is being used in a universal way and should not be conflated with the common usage of the term in philosophy or art, since that usage is specific to human psychology and relates primarily to beauty. There is a connection between the special case of human aesthetic sense and the general sense of aesthetic used here, but that’s a topic for another time. For now, back to the notion of the ground of being as a universal phenomenon which is aesthetic rather than anesthetic-mechanical (physics or computation).

I have described this aesthetic foundation with various names including Primordial Identity Pansensitivity or Pansense. Some conceive of something like it called Nondual Fundamental Awareness. For this post I’ll call it HolosThe absolute totality of all sensation, perception, awareness, and consciousness in which even distinctions such as object and subject are transcended.

I propose that our universe is a product of a method by which Holos (which is sense beneath the emergent dichotomy of sensor-sensed) is perpetually modulating its own sensitivity into novel and contrasting aspects. In this way Holos can be understood as a universal spectrum of perceivability which nests or masks itself into sub-spectra, such as visibility, audibility, tangibility, emotion, cogitation, etc, as well into quantifiable metrics of magnitude.

The masking effect of sense modulation is, in this hypothesis the underlying phenomenon which has been measured as entropy. Thermodynamic entropy and information entropy alike are not possible without a sensory capacity for discernment between qualities of order/certainty/completeness (reflecting holos/wholeness) and the absence of those qualities (reflecting the masking of holos). Entropy can be understood as the masking of perceptual completeness within any given instance of perception (including measurement perceptions). Because entropy is the masking of the completeness of holos, it is a division which masks division. Think of how the borders of our visual field present an evanescent, invisible or contrast-less boundary to visibility of visual boundaries and contrasts. Because holos unites sense, entropy divides sense, including the sense of division, resulting in the stereotypical features of entropy – equilibrium or near equilibrium of insignificant fluctuations, uncertainty, morphological decay to generic forms and recursive functions, etc. Entropy can be understood as the universal sense of insensitivity. The idea of nothingness refers to an impossible state of permanent unperceivability, however just as absolute darkness is not the same as invisibility, even descriptors of perceptual absence such stillness, silence, vacuum are contingent upon a comparison with their opposites. Nothingness is still a concept within consciousness rather than a thing which can actually exist on its own.

Taking this idea further, it is proposed that the division of sense via entropy-insensitivity has a kind of dual effect. Where holos is suppressed, a black-hole like event-horizon of hyper-perceivability is also present. There is a conservation principle by which entropic masking must also residuate a hypertrophied entity-hood of sense experience: A sign, or semaphore, aka unit of information/negentropy.

In dialectic terms, Holos/sense is the universal, absolute thesis of unity, which contains its own antithesis of entropy-negentropy. The absolute essence of the negentropy-entropy dialectic would be expressed in aesthetic duals such as particle-void, foreground-background, signal-noise. The aesthetic-anesthetic dual amplifies the object-like qualities of the foregrounded sensation such that it is supersaturated with temporary super-completeness, making it a potential ‘signal’ or ‘sign’…a surface of condensed-but-collapsed semantics or ‘phoria’ into ‘semaphoria’, aka, syntactic elements. I call the progressive formalizing of unified holos toward graphic units ‘diffractivity’. The result of diffractivity is that the holos implements a graphic-morphic appearance protocol within itself, which we call space-time, and which is used to anchor and guide the interaction of the entropic, exterior of experience. The interior of complex experiences are guided by the opposite, transformal sense of hierarchy-by-significance’. Significance is another common term which I am partially hijacking for use in a more specific way as the saturation of aesthetic qualities, and the persistence of any given experience within a multitude of other experiences.

To recap, the conjecture is that all of nature arises by, through, for, and within an aesthetic foundation named ‘holos’. Through a redistribution of its own sensitivity, holos masks its unity property into self-masking/unmasking ‘units’ which we call ‘experiences’ or ‘events’. The ability recall multiple experiences and to imagine new experiences, and to understand the relation between them is what we call ‘time’.

Within more complex experiences, the entropic property which divides experience into temporal sections can reunite with other, parallel complex experiences in a ‘back to back’ topology. In this mode of tactile disconnection, the potential for re-connection of the disconnected ends of experiences is re-presented what we call ‘objects in space’ or ‘distance between points’, aka geometry. By marrying the graphed, geometric formality of entropy with the algebraic, re-collecting formality of sequence, we arrive at algorithm or computation. Computation is not a ‘real phenomenon’ but a projection of the sense of quantity (an aesthetic sense just like any other) onto a distanced ‘object’ of perception.

Physics in this view is understood to be the inverted reflection and echo of experience which has been ‘spaced and timed’. Computation is the inversion of physics – the anesthetic void as addressable container of anesthetic function-objects. Physics makes holos into a hologram, and computation inverts the natural relation into an artificial, ‘information theoretic’, hypergraphic anti-holos. In the anti-holos perspective, nature is uprooted and decomposed into dustless digital dust. Direct experience is seen as ‘simulation’ or ‘emergent’, non-essential properties which only ‘seem to exist’, while the invisible, intangible world of quantum-theoretical mechanisms and energy rich vacuums are elevated to the status of noumena.

Computationalists Repent! The apocalypse is nigh! 🙂

AI is Still Inside Out

June 29, 2017 Leave a comment

artmonstern

Turn your doodles into madness.

I think this is a good example of how AI is ‘inside out’. It does not produce top-down perception and sensations in its own frame of awareness, but rather it is a blind seeking of our top-down perception from a completely alien, unconscious perspective.

The result is not like an infant’s consciousness learning about the world from the inside out and becoming more intelligent, rather it is the opposite. The product is artificial noise woven together from the outside by brute force computation until we can almost mistake its chaotic, mindless, emotionless products for our own reflected awareness.

This particular program appears designed to make patterns that look like monsters to us, but that isn’t why I’m saying its an example of AI being inside out. The point is that this program exposes image processing as a blind process of arithmetic simulation rather than any kind of seeing. The result is a graphic simulacra…a copy with no original which, if we’re not careful, can eventually tease us into accepting it as a genuine artifact of machine experience.

See also: https://multisenserealism.com/2015/11/18/ai-is-inside-out/

 

Three-Phase Model of Will

June 24, 2017 1 comment

Within the Multisense Realism (MSR) model, all of nature is conceived of as a continuum of experiential or aesthetic phenomena. This ‘spectrum of perceivability’ can be divided, like the visible light spectrum, into two, three, four, or millions of qualitative hues, each with their own particular properties, and each which contribute to the overall sense of the spectrum.

For this post, I’ll focus on a three-level view of the spectrum: Sub-personal, Personal, and Transpersonal. Use of the MSR neologisms ‘Semaphoric, Phoric, and Metaphoric’ may be annoying to some readers, but I think that it adds some important connections and properly places the spectrum of perceivability in a cosmological context rather than in an anthropocentric or biocentric one.

In my view, nature is composed of experiences, and the primary difference between the experiences of biological organisms (which appear as synonymous with cellular-organic bodies to each other) and experiences which appear to us as inorganic chemistry, atoms, planets, stars, etc is the scale of time and space which are involved and the effect of that scale difference on what I call perceptual lensing or eigenmorphism.

In other words, I am saying that the universe is made of experiences-within-experiences, and that the relation of any given experience to the totality of experience is a defining feature of the properties of the universe which appear most real or significant. If you are an animal, you have certain kind of experiences in which other animals are perceived as members of one’s own family, or as friends, pets, food, or pests. These categories are normally rather firm, and we do not want to eat our friends or pets, we understand that what constitutes a pet or pest in some cultures may be desirable as food in others. We understand that the palette can shift, for example, many with a vegan diet sooner or later find meat eating in general to be repulsive. This kind of shift can be expressed within the MSR model as a change in the lensing of personal gustatory awareness so that the entire class of zoological life is identified with more directly. The scope of empathy has expanded so that the all creatures with ‘two eyes and a mother’ are seen in a context of kinship rather than predation.

Enslavement is another example of how the lens of human awareness has changed. For millennia slavery was practiced in various cultures much like eating meat is practiced now. It was a fact of life that people of a different social class or race, women or children could be treated as slaves by the dominant group, or by men or adults. The scope of empathy was so contracted* by default that even members of the same human species were identified somewhere between pet and food rather than friends or family. As this scope of awareness (which is ultimately identical with empathy) expanded those who were on the leading edge of the expansion and those who were on the trailing edge began to see each other in polarized terms. There is a psychological mechanism at work which fosters the projection of negative qualities on the opposing group. In the case of 19th century American slavery, this opposition manifested in the Civil War.

Possibly all of the most divisive issues in society are about perception and how empathy is scoped. Is it an embryo or an unborn child? Are the poor part of the human family or are they pests? Should employees have rights as equals with employers or does wealth confer a right of employers to treat employees more like domesticated animals? All of these questions are contested within the lives of individuals, families, and societies and would fall under the middle range of the three tiered view of the MSR spectrum: The Phoric scope of awareness.

Phoric range: Consciousness is personal and interpersonal narrative with a clearly delineated first person subject, second person social, and third person object division. Subjective experience is intangible and difficult to categorize in a linear hierarchy. Social experience is intangible but semiotically grounded in gestures and expressions of the body. Consider the difference between the human ‘voice’ and the ‘sounds’ that we hear other animals make. The further apart the participants are from each other, the more their participation is de-personalized. Objective experience (more accurately objective-facing or public-facing experience) is totally depersonalized and presented as tangible objects rather than bodies. Tangible objects are fairly easy to stratify by time/space scale: Roughly human sized or larger animals are studied in a context of zoology. Smaller organisms and cells comprise the field of biology. As the ‘bodies’ get smaller and lives get shorter/faster relative to our own, the scope of our empathy contracts (unless perhaps if you’re a microbiologist), so that we tend to consider the physical presence of microorganisms and viruses somewhere in between bodies and objects.

Even though we see more and more evidence of objects on these sub-cellular scales behaving with seeming intelligence or responsiveness, it is difficult to think of them as beings rather than mechanical structures. Plants, even though their size can vary even more than animals, are so alien to our aesthetic sense of ourselves that they tend to be categorized in the lower empathy ranges: Food rather than friends, fiber rather than flesh. This again is all pertaining to the boundary beteween the personal or phoric range of the MSR spectrum and the semaphoric range, sub-personal. The personal view of an external sempahore is an object (morphic phenomenon). The morphic scope is a reflection within the phoric range of experiences which are perceptually qualified as impersonal but tangible. It is a range populated by solid bodies, liquids, and gas which are animated by intangible ‘forces’ or ‘energies’**. Depending on who is judging those energies and the scale and aesthetics of the object perceived, the force or energy behind the behavior of the body is presumed to be somewhere along an axis which extends from ‘person’, where full fledged subjective intent governs the body’s behavior to ‘mechanism’ where behaviors are governed by impersonal physical forces which are automatic and unintentional.

Zooming in on this boundary between sentience and automaticity, we can isolate a guiding principle in which ‘signals’ embody the translation between mechanical-morphic forms and metric-dynamic functions which are supposed to operate without sensation, and those events which are perceived with participatory qualities such as feeling, thinking, seeing, etc. While this sub-personal level is very distant from our personal scope of empathy, it is no less controversial as far as the acrimony between those who perceive no special difference between sensation and mechanical events, and those who perceive a clear dichotomy which cannot be bridged from the bottom up. To the former group, the difference between signal (semaphore) and physical function (let’s call it ‘metamorph’) is purely a semantic convention, and those who are on the far end of the latter group appear as technophobes or religious fanatics. To the latter group, the difference between feelings and functions is of the utmost significance – even to divine vs diabolical extremes. For the creationist and the anti-abortionist, human life is not divisible to mere operations of genetic objects or evolving animal species. Their perception of the animating force of human behavior is not mere stochastic computation and thermodynamics, but ‘free will’ and perhaps the sacred ‘soul’. What is going on here? Where are these ideas of supernatural influences coming from and why do they remain popular in spite of centuries of scientific enlightenment?

This is where the third level of the spectrum comes in, the metaphoric or holophoric range.

To review: Semaphoric: Consciousness on this level is seen as limited to signal-based interactions. The expectation of a capacity to send and receive ‘signs’ or ‘messages’ is an interesting place to spend some time on because it is so poorly defined within science. Electromagnetic signals are described in terms of charge or attraction/repulsion but it is at the same time presumed to be unexperienced. Computer science takes signal for granted. It is a body of knowledge which begins with an assumption that there already is hardware which has some capacity for input, output, storage, and comparison of ‘data’. Again, the phenomenal content of this process of data processing is poorly understood, and it is easy to grant proto-experiential qualities to programs when we want them to seem intelligent, or to withdraw those qualities when we want them to see them as completely controllable or programmable. Data is the semaphoric equivalent of body on the phoric level. The data side of the semaphore is the generic, syntactic, outside view of the signal. Data is a fictional ‘packet’ or ‘digit’ abstractly ‘moving’ through a series of concrete mechanical states of the physical hardware. There is widespread confusion over this, and people disagree what the relation between data, information, and experience is. MSR allows us to see the entire unit as semaphore; sensory-motive phenomena which is maximally contracted from transpersonal unity and minimally presented as sub-personal unit.

Like the vegan who no longer sees meat as food, the software developer or cognitive scientist may not see data as a fictional abstraction overlaid on top of the material conditions of electronic components, but instead as carriers of a kind of proto-phenomenal currency which can learn and understand. Data for the programmer may seem intrinsically semantic – units whose logical constraints make them building blocks of thought and knowledge that add up to more than the sum of their parts. There is a sense that data is in and of itself informative, and through additional processing can be enhanced to the status of ‘information’.

In my view, this blurring of the lines between sensation, signal, data, and information reflects the psychology of this moment in the history of human consciousness. It is the Post-Enlightenment version of superstition (if we want to be pejorative) or re-enchantment (if we want to be supportive). Where the pre-Enlightenment mind was comfortable blurring the lines between physical events and supernatural influences, the sophisticated thinker of the 21st century has no qualms about seeing human experience as a vast collection of data signals in a biochemical computer network. Where it was once popular among the most enlightened to see the work of God in our everyday life, it is now the image of the machine which has captured the imagination of professional thinkers and amateur enthusiasts alike. Everything is a ‘system’. Every human experience traces back to a cause in the body, its cells and molecules, and to the blind mechanism of their aggregate statistical evolutions.

To recap: The MSR model proposes that all of nature can be modeled meaningfully within a ‘spectrum of perceivability’ framework. This spectrum can be divided into any number of qualitative ranges, but the number of partitions used has a defining effect on the character of the spectrum as a whole. The ‘lower’, semaphoric or ‘signal’ end of the spectrum presents a world of sub-personal sensations or impulses which relate to each other as impersonal data processes. Whether this perception is valid in an objective sense, or whether it is the result of the contraction of empathy that characterizes the relation between the personal scope of awareness and its objectification of the sub-personal is a question which itself is subject to the same question. If you don’t believe that consciousness is more fundamental than matter, then you aren’t going to believe that your sensitivity has an effect on how objective phenomena are defined. If you already see personal consciousness as a function of data processing organic chemistry, then you’re not going to want to take seriously the idea that chemical bonding is driven by sensory-empathic instincts rather than mathematical law. If you’re on the other end of the psychological spectrum however, it may be difficult to imagine why anyone would even want to deny the possibility that our own consciousness is composed of authentic and irreducible of feelings.

In either case, we can probably all agree that activity on the microscopic scale seems less willful and more automatic than the activity which we participate in as human beings. Those who favor the bottom-up view see this ‘emergence’ of willful appearance as a kind of illusion, and that actually all choices we make are predetermined by the mechanics of physical conditions. Those who favor the top-down view may also see the appearance of human will as an illusion, but driven by supernatural influences and entities rather than mathematical ones. Thus, the personal range of awareness is bounded on the bottom by semaphore (sensation <> signal < || > data <> information) and on the top by what I call metaphor (fate <> synchronicity < || > intuition <> divinity).

As we move above the personal level, with its personal-subject, social groups and impersonal objects, to the transpersonal level, the significance of our personal will increases. Even though religiosity tends to impose limits on human will in the face of overwhelming influence from divine will, there is an equally powerful tendency to elevate individual human will to a super-significant role. The conscience or superego is mediator between personal self and the transpersonal. It even appears as a metaphor in cartoons as angel and devil on the shoulder.  Most religious practices stress the responsibility of the individual to align their personal will to the will of God by finding and following the better angels of conscience or suffer the consequences. The consequences range from the mild forms of disappointing reincarnation or being stuck in repeating cycles of karma to Earth shaking consequences for the entire universe (as in Scientology). From the most extreme transpersonal perspective, the personal level of will is either inflated so that every action a person takes, including what they choose to think and feel is a tribute or affront to God, and gets us closer to paradise or damnation. Simultaneously personal or it is deflated or degraded so that the entirety of human effort is pathetic and futile in the face of Higher Power.

Notice the symmetry between the quantum (extreme semaphoric or ‘hemi-morphic’) concept of ‘superposition’ and the transpersonal concept of ‘synchronicity’.  Superposition is brought in to tame the paradox of simultaneous randomness and determinism of subatomic phenomena, while synchronicity is brought into psychology as a kind of metaphoric, poetic, or acausal intrusion from the transpersonal scope of awareness to the personal. This allows a bridge natural determinism of time and transpersonal from beyond our limited awareness of time. Superposition and synchronicity are ways of describing the gateways between spacetime and the nonlocal absolute. If these gateways form the opposite extremes of the continuum of personal awareness, then the sense of free will would be the very center of that continuum. At any given moment, even though we are presented with conditions and inertial patterns which influence our will, we are also presented with opportunities to condition our will itself. We can feel within ourselves a power to oppose inertia and change conditions in the world, or we can feel completely powerless to change anything that we are experiencing.

There’s a paradox here, in that how we feel about our own willpower factors in to the feeling of how powerful our will is or can be. There is a chicken-egg relation between mood and will which tends to polarize people psychologically. Feeling that we are destined to feel depressed corresponds to a set of truths about life which are difficult to accept in the sense that they lead to nihilism and despair. Feeling that it is up to us to change how we feel so that we can improve our lives or the world corresponds to a difference set of truths about our lives which can be equally difficult to accept but in the opposite sense that they lead to risk taking and the possibility that our effort can end up causing more harm than good to ourselves and others. To be or not to be each have their strengths and weakness.

As with the other social-psychological dichotomies mentioned earlier, each side sees the other in a scope of diminished empathy; The downbeat introvert sees themselves as facing the bitter facts of mortality and the human condition with courage and honesty, while their positive-thinking counterparts are seen as deluded ninnies…intellectual lightweights who don’t have the stomach to face the existential abyss. The upbeat idealist sees themselves as heroically facing the challenge of rescuing their own life from the abyss while the realist appears to be willfully blind to their own power, and consciously or unconsciously wallow in a prison of their own making. This polarity of the phoric range of consciousness can be understood as its euphoric and dysphoric orientations. Those who have ‘mood disorders’ are familiar with these extremes and how inadequate the term ‘mood’ is to describe the totality of change in how the universe and one’s own life is presented. It is not simply that these opposing phoric ‘charges’ feel very good or bad, it is that the individual find themselves in a universe which is very good – (maybe too ‘good’), or very bad. In the current time of political transformation, we find ourselves to be drawn to align with one social polarity or another, each with its own euphoric-dysphoric signifiers and each with a separate narrative of history and the possible future. More than any time in the US since the 1960s, the questions of our personal agency and the possibilities for our future freedoms have become important. How important may be up to us individually, or we may find that fate and coincidence conspire to make them more important.

*This is not to say that slavery is not still going on, or that everyone has evolved the same level of conscience about race, gender, and age.

**I have issues with the concept of energy, but I use it here as a popular way to make the reference.

Even Wilder-Ass Sh*t

June 19, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m only about 20 minutes in to the video, but I wanted to post some comments before I forget them.

Topic 1. Non-Foundational sets
Take the idea of non-foundational sets and infinite probability distributions of infinite probability distributions but invert it. Literally, invert the language and then conceptualize the result. If I do this and apply it as a hypothesis, the foundation of consciousness and nature in general would be Absolutely foundational setless-ness. Consciousness now no longer needs to be positively asserted as an agent which instantiates itself recursively, rather it is the appearance of unconsciousness which is a negative assertion which is temporarily instantiated by manipulating relative degrees of sensitivity. Think here of how the color black or white are colors which stand in for colorlessness. Desaturating an image is analogous to how conscious experience is truncated into forms and functions which are quantifiable.

Consciousness now no longer needs to be positively asserted as an agent which instantiates itself recursively, rather it is the appearance of unconsciousness within consciousness which is a negative assertion which is temporarily instantiated by manipulating relative degrees of sensitivity. Think here of how black or white are colors which stand in for colorlessness. Desaturating an image is analogous to how conscious experience is truncated into quantifiable, finite forms and functions.*

To continue then: Instead of infinite probability distributions, I propose the inverse: Finite, but absolutely pervasive improbability. If we trace back any consideration of first cause we run into a something that we have to admit is being considered beyond causality and existed ‘just because’. Instead of banishing this miraculous-seeming appearance of ‘existence’ from nothing or vacuum potential or God, I see that all phenomena have some degree of uniqueness, and that uniqueness is by definition idiopathic (aka ‘strongly emergent’). Blue comes out of nothing but itself, and ultimately the uniqueness of any given moment does the same thing. By grounding our view of nature in infinite improbability, we can re-frame our own interest in probability as a function of our subjective desire to defy incompleteness rather than an impartial assessment of nature as a phenomenon.

Topic 2: Hypercomputation
I like this line of thinking. I would suggest thinking first of ‘transcomputation’ rather than hypercomputation, that is, instead of conditions which are inaccessible to computation simply because they exceed quantitative limits of finite-ness, think of finite-ness itself as only the monochrome edges which bound a deeper and dynamically expanding spectrum of universal phenomenology. Because this spectrum is pervasive, communication is a matter of triggering each entity’s unmasking of their own separation from the totality rather than generating a new understanding which is copied from one entity to another.

To communicate is to subtract a seperation between two minds, and the separation between minds and the totality of cognitive truth, and between that totality of truth and the universal phenomenal spectrum. To communicate is to dissolve some of the masking of underlying unity across all phenomena.

Topic 3: Morphic Resonance
Morphe = form, shape. I like Rupert Sheldrake’s famous idea of MR, but again I would invert it. The name ‘Morphic Resonance’ draws us to the exteriors of tangible and visible objects. It implies that forms hold meaning which propagates to other forms. Turning that inside out, I find the resonance to be ‘phoric’ rather than morphic. This neologistic use of the Greek root ‘phor’ (pherein, to carry, bear) is intended to inspire associations with terms like ‘metaphor’, ‘euphoria/dysphoria’ and even ‘semaphore’. Between these three terms, we might glimpse a sign of three ‘primary colors’ of human consciousness: The the personal, the sub-personal or impersonal, and the transpersonal. I am a holon of experiences (‘phoria’), my body is a holon of biochemical code (‘semaphoria’), and my lifetime is a leaf on a branching ‘zeitgeist tree’ of mytho-poetic themes propagating from the top down (‘metaphoria’ or anthro-metaphoria for us humans).

In all cases where we talk about ‘patterns’ (morphe) we should substute ‘sense’ (phor), i.e. instead of an ontological, existential phenomenon, we should think of a phenomenon which expresses itself to itself by self-masking, unmasking, and residuating novelty (in a similar way to the residuation of color from the diffracting of visible light which is ‘white’, i.e. colorless, clear, and representative of visibility itself).

*sidebar: If we have color, we can use it to point to the potential for colorlessness. This pointing can’t be accomplished mechanically because there can’t literally be a color which implies colorlessness, but because of the aesthetic quality of black and white in relation to the other colors, we can pick up on a metaphor. By being able to access the difference between monochrome and color vision, and compare them, we ‘break the fourth wall’ which separates the content of visible phenomena from the modality of our visual sense, and we can carry that metaphorical wall breaking to the larger context of the wall between our personal experience and the totality of all possible experience. We can see that visibility is possible with only one dimension of hue, but only if we have more hues that we can compare it with. If there were no color vision, there would be no way to conceive of more than one type of hue (luminosity).

Fooling Computer Image Recognition is Easier Than it Should Be

December 19, 2016 1 comment

This 2016 study, Universal Adversarial Perturbations, demonstrates how the introduction of specially designed low level noise into image data makes state of the art neural networks misclassify natural images with high probability. Because the noise is almost imperceptible to the human eye, I think it should be a clue that image processing technology is not ‘seeing’ images.

image_recognition

It is not only the fact that it is possible to throw off the technology so easily that is significant, but that the kinds of miscalculations that are made are so broad and unnatural. Had the program had any real sense of an image, adding some digital grit to a picture of a coffee pot or plant should not cause a ‘macaw’ hit, but rather some other visually similar object or plant.

While many will choose to see this paper as a suggestion for a need to improve recognition methods, I see it as supporting a shift away from outside-in, bottom-up models of perception altogether. As I have suggested in other posts, all of out current AI models are inside out.

3/16/17 – see also http://www.popsci.com/byzantine-science-deceiving-artificial-intelligence

Dereference Theory of Consciousness

October 24, 2016 Leave a comment

Draft 1.1

IMO machine consciousness will ultimately prove to be an oxymoron, but if we did want to look for consciousness analogs in machine behavior, here is an idea that occurred to me recently:

Look for nested dereferencing, i.e. places where persistent information processing structures load real-time sense data about the loading of all-time sense data.

image

At the intersection of philosophy of mind, computer science, and quantum mechanics is the problem of instantiating awareness. What follows is an attempt to provide a deeper understanding of the significance of dereferencing and how it applies to integration of information and the quantum measurement problem. This is a broad conjecture about the nature of sensation as it pertains to the function of larger information processes, with an eye toward defining and identifying specific neuroscientific or cognitive signatures to correlate with conscious activity.

A dereference event can be thought of as the precise point in which a system that is designed or evolved to expect a range of inputs receives the real input itself. This sentence, for example, invites an expectation of a terminal clause, the terms of which are expected to be English words which are semantically linked to the rest of the sentence. English grammar provides templates of possible communication, but the actual communication relies on specific content to fill in those forms. The ability to parse English communication can be simulated by unconscious, rule-based mechanisms, however, I suggest that the ability to understand that communication involves a rule-breaking replacement of an existing parse theory with empirical, semantic fact. The structure of a language, its dictionary etc, is a reference body for timeless logic structures. Its purpose is to enable a channel for sending, receiving, and modifying messages which pertain to dereferenced events in real time. It is through the contact with real time sense events that communication channels can develop in the first place, and to continue to self modify.

What is proposed here is an alternative to Multi-World Interpretation of Quantum Wave Function collapse – an inversion of the fundamental assumption in which all possible phenomena diverge or diffract within a single context of concretely sensed events. The wave function collapse in this view is not the result of a measurement of what is already objectively ‘out there’, nor is it the creation of objective reality by subjective experiences ‘in here’, but a quantized return to an increasingly ‘re-contextualized’ state. A perpetual and unpredictable re-acquaintance with unpredictable re-acquaintance.

In programmatic terms, the variable *p is dereferenced to the concrete value (*p = “the current temperature”, dereferenced p = “is now 78 degrees Fahrenheit″). To get to a better model of conscious experience (and I think that this this plugs into Orch OR, IIT, Interface Theory, and Global Workspace), we should look at the nested or double dereferencing operation. The dereferencing of dereferencing (**p) is functionally identical to awareness of awareness or perception of perception. In the *p = “the current temperature” example, **p is “the current check of the current check of the temperature”. This not only points us to the familiar Strange loop models of consciousness, but extends the loop outward to the environment and the environment into the loop. Checking the environment of the environmental check is a gateway to veridical perception. The loop modifies its own capacity for self-modification.

Disclaimer: This description of consciousness as meta-dereferencing is intended as a metaphor only. In my view, information processing cannot generate conscious experience, however, conscious experience can possibly be better traced by studying dereferencing functions. This view differs from Gödel sentences or strange loops in that those structures refer to reference (This sentence is true) while the dereference loop specifically points away from pointers, rules, programs, formal systems, etc and toward i/o conditioning of i/o conditions. This would be a way for information-theoretic principles to escape the nonlocality of superposition and access an inflection point for authentic realization (in public space-time as shared experience). “Bing” = **Φ. In other words, by dereferencing dereference, the potentially concrete is made truly concrete. Sense experience is embodied as stereo-morphic tangible realism and tangible realism is disembodied as a sense of fact-gathering about sensed fact-gatherings.

Dereference theory is an appeal to anti-simulation ontology. Because this description of cognition implicates nested input/output operations across physically or qualitatively *real* events, the subjective result is a reduced set of real sense conditions rather than confabulated, solipsistic phenomenology. The subjective sense condition does not refer only to private or generic labels within a feed-forward thinking mechanism, but also to a model-free foundation and genuine sensitivity of the local ‘hardware’ to external conditions in the public here-and-now. This sensitivity can be conceived initially as universal property of some or all physical substrates (material panpsychism), however, I think that it is vital to progress beyond this assumption toward a nondual fundamental awareness view. In other words, subjective consciousness is derived from a dereference of a local inertial frame of expectation to a universal inertial frame of unprecedented novelties which decay as repetition. Each event is instantiated as an eternally unique experience, but propagated as repetitive/normalized translations in every other frame of experience. That propagation is the foundation for causality and entropy.

The Spirit of the Law

August 9, 2016 2 comments

The distinction between “The letter of the law” and “The spirit of the law” is a good way to understand the relation of consciousness to matter or to computation. Specifically, when we talk about the spirit of the law, we are speaking metaphorically. We don’t actually mean that there is a spiritual force radiating from paragraphs of text in legal documents which have a conscious intent. When we talk about the letter of the law, we are being much more literal (literally literal). The letter of the law refers to the actual written code that is recorded on paper, or stone tablets somewhere and copied from one physical medium to another.

To be literal about it, we would say the Spirit (or motive) behind the creation of the law. The law itself is inert. It is purely a medium to contain and transport a reference to the lawgiver’s motive, so that the motive can be actualized in the behaviors of those who follow the law. Laws don’t write themselves, and they don’t follow themselves. Their existence depends entirely on a world of agents and their efforts to influence each other.

The same is true of the relation between conscious experience, which is irreducibly sensory-motive, and external forms and functions which act as reflective mediums or vehicles for conscious experience. Like the letters of the law, physical forms or logical functions have no teleological motive. Those who mistake forms for having the potential to develop consciousness do so as a result of identifying too literally with their body and the experiences that they have through their body of its world of bodies and objects.

When we think too literally, we overlook the enormous gulf between the literal code of law (including the laws of physics or laws of mathematics) and the motive behind the giving and following of law. We begin to imagine that bodies or computer programs can become so complex that some spirit with sense and motive can ‘emerge’ from them. When someone argues that we will eventually discover the function of the brain which produces consciousness, or develop a program which will simulate consciousness, they are making an assumption about the relation between consciousness and the forms which it reflects back to itself. Translating this assumption into the context of law, it is an argument which says that there is no immaterial ‘spirit of the law’, so that therefore there must be a complicated set of legal codes which we mistake for such a ‘spirit’.  For many this assumption is in the blind spot of their intellect so that they are incapable of knowing that they are even making an assumption at all, let alone that it could be an oversight which is ‘emergent’ from their way of thinking about it.

The reason that forms and functions cannot create conscious experience has nothing to do with our current level of technological development, rather the reason is that the thesis that forms and functions can create consciousness is based on a reductive functionalism which breaks down when we carry the thesis out fully. Namely, our motive for reducing consciousness to physics or computation in the first place is based on principles of parsimony and sufficiency. Those same principles prohibit us from inflating physics or computation to consciousness. Consciousness cannot be justified, nor can any emergent properties which only appear within consciousness. If laws could create themselves and follow themselves, then there would be no need for any further experience of participating in either that creation or application. Like a computer program, the law would be generated automatically and a programmed chain reaction would follow. There would be no function for a sense of participation. The Hard Problem of Consciousness, translated into legal terms would ask why, if there is no spirit of the law, must lawyers ‘practice’ law instead of the law simply carrying itself out. Why would anyone argue over how a law should be ‘interpreted’?

The law ultimately is a communication between people as a way to try to maintain order in a civilization. It is not an alien life form whose body survives on ink and microfilm. Without a spirit or motivation to impart a sense of proper conduct onto other people, the law literally cannot exist as a law. In the same way, computer programs cannot exist without a motive of people to give and receive conscious experiences to each other. The letter of a program or of a physical structure cannot refer to anything by itself, and cannot act as a reference since there is no rational place for any such layer of intention. The laws of physics or mathematics don’t argue with each other. They don’t set up courts with juries to try to convince each other that one force should apply here and another should apply there. Why do we?

Decapitating Capitalism: Why the Easiest Job for AI to Replace is the Job of “Owner”

July 18, 2016 3 comments

tumblr_oaftnkT1xA1qz6f9yo5_540.jpg

This may seem like a ridiculous point to try to make, however I submit that it provides a direct metaphor for the Hard Problem of Consciousness which may help make it more concrete, especially for those whose minds are filled with concrete.

What is the essential role of the Owner of a company? 

Whether they are individual proprietors, stockholders, or investors, the only truly unique function that a capitalist principal performs is to be the beneficiary of net profit. Every executive function of a company can of course be delegated to employees. The CEO, COO, board of directors, etc can make every functional decision about the company, from the hiring and firing to the broad strategy of operations and acquisitions. Simulating those roles would be more difficult for a computer program than simulating an owner would be because there would be a lot of tricky decisions to make, subtle political maneuvers that require a lot of history and intuition, etc. The role of pure ownership however, while highly coveted by human beings, is completely disposable for an AI system. In fact, we already have that role covered by our bank accounts themselves. Our personal accounting systems can be configured quite easily to automatically pay, receive, and invest funds automatically. They need not be considered ‘our’ funds at all. They are merely signals in a global financial network which has no use for any pleasure or pain that we might experience as a side effect of its digital transactions.

From the view of an AI scientist, the job of receiving capital gains is a no-brainer (literally). If we didn’t want to delegate the job of selling the company to a corporate officer, that feature would be a simple one to create. A modest set of algorithms could digitize some of the concepts of top business schools to determine a set of indicators which would establish a good time to sell the company or its assets. The role of receiving the profit of that sale, however, would require no such sophisticated programming.

All that is needed to simulate ownership is some kind of digital account where money can be deposited. The CEO would then re-invest the capital gains into the corporate growth strategy, which would yield a huge windfall for the company, in the form of eliminating useless expenses such as yachts, mansions, divorce settlements, etc. Left to its own devices, AI simulation of ownership would be communist by default*. Whatever money is extracted from the individual customer as profit would be returned ultimately to all customers in the form of expanded services. Profit is only useful as a way to concentrate reinvestment for mathematical leverage, not to ‘enjoy’ in some human way. I suppose that a computer could be programmed to spend lavishly on creature comforts, but what would be the point?

This is where the metaphor for consciousness comes in. 

Consciousness can be thought of the Capital account of the human body. We are the owner of our own lives, including our body. We might be able to subscribe to a service which would manage our finances completely in a way which would transfer our income to the highest priority costs for civilization as a whole rather than for our personal hoard, but this is not likely to be a very popular app.

We might ask ourselves, why not? Why is ownership good?

Ownership is good for us as owners or conscious agents because we want to feel personal power and significance. Ownership signifies freedom (from employment) and success. Sure, many owners in the real world get a lot of satisfaction from actually running their companies, but it is not necessary. There is still power and prestige purely in being the person who owns the money which pays the bills. We want to own and control, not because it is more effective than simply reinvesting automatically in whatever functions are being executed to keep an economy growing, but because we want to experience the feelings and other aesthetic qualities define freedom, success, and power for us. Even if these qualities are employed for humanitarian purposes, there is still a primary motive of feeling (to feel generous, kind, wise, evolved, Godly, etc).

In my view we do not have to have a purely selfish motive, as Ayn Rand would insist. I think that our personal pleasure in being a philanthropist can be outweighed by the more noble intention of it – to provide others with better feelings and experiences of life. This decision to believe that we can be truly philanthropic has philosophical implications for realism. If we say as the Randian Libertarian might, that all our humanitarian impulses are selfish, then we are voting for solipsism over realism, and asserting that consciousness can only reflect the agenda of a fictional agent rather than perceiving directly the facts of nature. It’s an argument that should be made, but I think that it is ultimately an argument of the intellect commenting on its own process rather than tapping into the deeper intuition and aesthetic presence which all cognition depends on. The mind doesn’t think that feeling is necessary, and it is right, for the mind, but wrong for everything else.

For the intellect, the universe is inverted.

Logic and language are ‘real’ while the concrete sensations, perceptions and emotions of life experience are ‘illusions’ or ‘emergent properties’ of deeper evolutionary bio-computations. There is a kind of sleight of hand where the dry, masculine intellect pulls the wool over its own eyes and develops amnesia about the origins of what makes its own sanity and self-intelligibility possible. The closest that it can come without seeing consciousness as irreducible is the mind-numbing process of calculation. Counting is a sedative-hypnotic for the mind. The monotonous rhythm puts us to sleep, and the complexity of huge calculations gives us a kind of orgasmic annihilation of the calculating experience. This is why big math is a convenient substitute for the deeper, direct experiences of cosmic awe.

Metaphor for Consciousness

Like the head of a company, our consciousness may seem to reside at the top end of our body, but there is no functional reason for that. There is nothing that the brain does which is fundamentally different from what any cell, tissue, or organ does in an animal’s body. Looking for the secret ingredient in the brain’s function or structure is analogous to looking for the substance in an object which casts a shadow.

Like the owner, our personal pains and pleasures are ours not because there is any intrinsic benefit for the pragmatic application of biology and genetics to feel painful or pleasurable, but because what we feel and experience is the only thing that the universe actually can consist of. The Hard Problem of Consciousness is not an Empirical problem, but a Rational one. Not everyone is able to understand why this is, but maybe this metaphor of business decapitation can help. When we use the intellect to reverse its own inversion, we can get a glimpse of a universe which is made of conscious experiences and aesthetic qualities rather than logical propositions, natural laws or existential facts. In my view, facts are a category of sensations rather than the other way around. Sensations which persist indefinitely without contradiction are ‘facts’. Hard to know if something is going to persist indefinitely, but that’s another issue.

Only consciousness cares about consciousness.

Material substrates can be programmed to perform the executive functions of a corporation, or an evolving species, or a human body, however there is no function which is provided exclusively by the receipt of feelings and aesthetic qualities of experience, including the qualities of feeling that one is free or in control of something. Rationally, we should be able to see that qualia is irrelevant to function and violates Occam’s Razor in a functionalist universe. From a physical or information-centric perspective, there is no place for any feeling or sensation, no owner or capital of aesthetic wealth. The more that we, as a society, embrace a purely quantitative ethos, and actualize it in the structures of our civilization, the more we decapitate everything of value that it can contain.

*This is already becoming a reality: https://theconversation.com/is-the-dao-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-conventional-chief-executive-60403

Information Theory 1.1

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

1/25/2016 Information Theory Update

Here are some notes which I hope will provide a more concise understanding about the nature of computation, logic, and mathematics.

Information theories such as those offered by Shannon and Turing give us cause to see an underlying universality of information which is rooted in simple Arithmetic truths such as addition, multiplication, and integers. These arithmetic truths are theories with can be applied successfully to computing machines without regard to their physical substrate*. While this offers a method to deploy universal principles to the control of a specific mechanism, the control which is offered is different in kind from the literal (motor) control of the hardware. Motor control of computer hardware can be accomplished electromagnetically or classically (as with analog clocks with gears powered by spring tension or a gravity pendulum), and now quantum-mechanically to some extent, but not directly by math. Mathematics cannot turn a computer on or keep it running, it can only provide a non-local set of rules which can be localized through motor control.

This is critically important to understand when considering the possibility of Artificial Intelligence: Computation can only be absolutely general or absolutely specific. When we implement a logic circuit, we are not literally imposing philosophical logic on a circuit, rather we are only interpreting the physical changes of a device metaphorically. In short, a logic circuit cannot literally represent a state of 1/0 or True/False, it can only literally present a concrete state of being switched to Stop (Off) or Go (On). This is the territory of computation – what is known as Layer 1 in the seven layer OSI network model**. All higher layers are not physical territories but logical maps – human abstractions projected by software engineers and application users.

osi-model

For this reason, no computing machine can represent the middle ranges between the absolute generality of mathematical theory and the absolute specificity of a machine’s physical condition. It’s all above-the-line of personal awareness (oceanic metaphor) or below-the-line (granular semaphores). We can get a lot of utility out of these devices, however we can’t get any empathy from them. They can’t care about anything or anyone, since ‘they’ are purely in our imagination.

The philosophically relevant part of what I’m proposing applies to the prospects for generating natural intelligence artificially. AGI that feels as well as thinks is not necessarily desirable, but if my view is on the right track, computers becoming sentient is not something that we need to worry about. It won’t happen. Why? Because mathematics is not accessing the Physical layer from the top down but from the beneath the bottom layer. This means that even though we can use a computing device to validate truth conditions, we can only validate those truths with refer literally to the concrete states of the machine, and those truths which refer figuratively to the universal arithmetic relations. Nothing that a computer does needs to be *about* anything beyond the machine’s physical state, and so any appearance of emotion, intention, sensitivity, etc are purely hypothetical and would violate parsimony. Church-Turing Thesis lays out the framework for universal computing, but in saying that all functions of calculation can be reduced to a-signifying digital steps, we are also saying that all semantic meanings shall be reduced to blind syntax. It cuts both ways.

Isn’t the brain just a biological computer?

No. This is an obsolete idea, for a lot of reasons which I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say, the brain is an organ within a living body which developed organically from a single self-replicating, self-modifying cell. Machines, by contrast, are assembled artificially from naturally unaffiliated substances and parts. That’s not a reason to discount the possibility of sentience through silicon, but it is a reason to go beyond knee-jerk presumptions that continue to dominate thinking about AI. While Turing’s genius is only now beginning to receive the appreciation it deserves, the shortcomings of his Imitation Game approach have not yet been widely understood.

Alan Turing can be pardoned for his reliance on mid-century Behaviorism as a psychological model, since it was very popular at the time and also because, along with others, I suspect that his natural instincts were quite systemizing/autistic. This carries over in modern populations, with autistic-masculine influences far overwhelming the psychotic-feminine influences in computer science and engineering fields. As a result, we have a lot of strong, controlling voices which insist upon reducing psychology to mechanistic terms, and all dimensions of consciousness to processing of logical information. This is so pervasive that any casual conversation online which challenges the supremacy of first-order logic will tend to erupt into a firestorm that ends with something like “Yeah I’m done here. You’re just spouting nonsense“.

To this end, I find this pyramid model for debate at least as important as the other models of information networking:

argument_pyr

My call for civility in discussion is not mere political correctness or over-sensitivity, but rather a purely pragmatic consideration. Unlike a computer, the human mind loses its capacity for curiosity and fairness when it falls into aggression. People talk over each other and assert their opinions ever more rigidly and repetitively rather than thinking creatively. This mirrors the action of computation itself – recursive enumeration masquerading as communication.

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. – William James

*Not entirely true. The physical substrate of a machine requires precision and solidity. We cannot build a computer out of clouds or fog, it needs to be made of something physical which stays put and which has at least one absolutely persistent read/write capacity. Traditional logic circuits must be implemented physically through a rigid skeleton of readable coordinates.

**It has been popular in recent years to proclaim that the OSI Model is dead. The feeling is that TCP/IP is the predominant protocol suite being used in the real world, and it doesn’t match up with OSI, so we should dump OSI in favor of something like this:

hybrid-model

I do see the appeal of this, however, agree with this author that “OSI teaches more of the reasoning behind making multiple layers and what they do. Collapsing the traditional model for the sake of making it look like TCP/IP is going to cause more harm than good.” – Tom Hillingsworth

Notes on Philosophical Incorrigibility

March 25, 2015 3 comments

No, this is not about philosophers behaving like unruly children (although at times, they can). Incorrigibility is a term that refers to “a property of a philosophical proposition, which implies that it is necessarily true simply by virtue of being believed. A common example of such a proposition is René Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am).“

Symbolic reference cannot ‘break the fourth wall’ – meaning that whatever words or gestures that we use to communicate about something can only refer to things figuratively. This sentence, for example, can’t address you the reader in a literal sense. I can write “Hey you! Yes, you! Stand still laddie!” but it is not really possible for these words to address anyone literally. The same words could come out of a random letter generator, or they could have been written by someone who died before the reader was born. The entire premise that language is meaningful depends on an audience who is able to derive meaning from interpreting messages from that language.

Doxastic logic is a type of modal logic which uses the terms ‘belief’ and ‘proposition’ to formalize, and really digitize the possible relations of belief and truth, including beliefs about beliefs, possible beliefs about possible truths, etc.

Accurate reasoner: An accurate reasoner never believes any false proposition.

Bp→p

Normal reasoner: A normal reasoner is one who, while believing p, also believes he or she believes p.

Bp→BBp

My beef with modal logic is that while it gives us an informative language to talk about mental states, it cannot access the quality of the state itself, and therefore is misguided when applied to the deeper conditions of consciousness itself. There is no modal symbol for ‘wakes up’ or ‘loses consciousness’ because those conditions affect the entire phenomenon from which reason can arise rather than a function of reasoning.

When viewed from an ontological perspective, I think that we would have to consider a proposition to be a kind of belief, even if it is a belief that is assumed to be shared by everyone or every thing. The proposition that “Fire is relatively hot” is itself only a message which is communicated through language. Before we can agree that “p = fire is relatively hot“, we must first agree that

p is literally a sensation: p is seen as a group of adjacent graphic squiggles, or heard as a phonic utterance. p is actually s(’p’), since acoustic vibrations or optical contrasts can’t literally be propositions about fire.

s(’p’) is subconsciously identified as a message (rather than, say decorative art) within our cognitive sense. We think that our sense of ‘p’ means something that we can understand. p is promoted to i(s(’p’)).

i(s(’p’)) is consciously understood as a particular message with a particular meaning. This promotion of i(s(’p’)) to the executive level of sense, where we personally evaluate and act on the contents of messages would be the third nesting of sense u(i(s(’p’))). It is not only cognitive, but articulated on the personal level of cognition.

It should be noted that deconstructing the foundation of classical logic this way is intentional. Logic begins with a philosophical assumption of semantic realism. This is ironic really, especially in doxastic logic when we are concerned with the consistency of reasoning, to being with the assumption of a reasonable universe as a given. p is simply p. A proposition is given, and in that presentation of the proposition, truth is considered (wait for it…) incorrigible. If we want to say that p is false, we would just say ‘not p’. Truth and proposition are equivalent because we are assuming an unquestionable solidity to this fundamental logical unit – a unit which represents facts as they simply are, unconditioned, present without any dependence on ontology. Logic of this sort can be used to diagram systems which remind us of physics or of thinking and communicating, but they begin with the fact of coherence and sense already in place.

By inverting this previously unexamined axiom, I hope to reveal the myth of the logical ‘given’ and replace it with the more skeptical, honest view that logic is derived from sense. Just as a child depends on developing sensorimotor skills prior to developing abstract reasoning skills, all logic derives from deeper levels of sensory experience. Even computer logic relies on the sense of a physical mechanism…the capacity for some substance to detect and project some tangible role in a tangible chain reaction. Abstract logic is always an intangible map that is projected psychologically onto such a tangibly experienced territory. It is this tangibility, this concretely participatory aesthetic spectacle which is doing the work and which can appreciate the benefits of having accomplished it.

In my view, artificial intelligence has a problem, not because there is something special or magical about living creatures, or Homo sapiens, but because it seeks to impose an abstraction onto reality ‘feet first’ as it were. A computer program is a set of propositions which is further proposed to be imitated by a physical machine. Instead of an a sensation which is identified and understood u(i(s(’p’))), there is a ‘p’(’p’(u) (’p’(i) (’p’(s))… a mere proposition of a proposition of an understanding of a proposition of an identification of a proposition of a sensation. Those who have a grasp of why this is different from the natural u(i(s(’p’))) don’t really need an explanation. ‘The map is not the territory’, or ‘the menu is not the meal’ should be enough. Those who do not see the difference, or do not identify why the difference is so significant, or do not understand the specific meaning of the significance are probably approaching the entire question of consciousness from the classical logical orientation. For those people, if there is any possibility at all of their shifting to the new perspective that I am proposing, I think that they would have to begin from the incorrigibility of concrete sense rather than of abstract logic.

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