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Dr. Neil Theise Interview

December 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Great Stuff from Dr. Theise and Sean Webb (The Walrus) Starting from about halfway through, I suggest that the low level randomness of the body is a symptom of greater penetration of consciousness into the physicalized vocabulary either in an absolute sense or relative sense or both, rather than a cause of emergence by something like entropy modulation. In the relative sense, I mean that it may be the case that on a slow enough and large enough scale, even the lowest levels of randomness take on life-like appearances, so that living organisms appear to have more low level randomness to us because we are alive and therefore more sensitive to our own class of ‘likeness’. I propose that like experiences have more access and more nuanced renderings of each other, so that any experiences of a sufficiently similar perceptual sampling rate will be experienced as ‘alive’, or more alive to each other than dissimilarly timescaled experiences.

I also think that the appearance of emergent symptoms in artificial systems need not be an indication of a rich, multi-sensory experience, i.e. that a simulation has begun for the bits or avatar collection of bits, but rather reflects the ‘autistic’ ghost-limb type residuation of the isolated band of intellectualized-game theoretic sense which has put the bit-nursing technology together in the first place. The bits aren’t having an experience, we are using matter as a resonator/reflector to conjure an image of one surface or bounded slice of the continuum of universal perception. Computers mirror an image of intelligence back to that intelligence (such as ours) but are not themselves hosting intelligence. By contrast, the brain is an image (our image shared by macro scale animal experiences) of sub-personal experience that is actually bridging the gap between personal and impersonal (astrophysical) scales of experience. Brain has computational properties but is not computing anything. A computer has low level experiential properties but those are not accumulating a higher order of experience via constitutive, many-to-one emergence. I think that all experiences are a top-down divergence riding on a bottom up pseudo-emergence, as well as a center-out/in expansion. In other words, we are part beast, part angel, and part unique/unprecedented person. The beast part is, in its own context part micro-beast (cell), part sub-person  or sub-self (impulses, urges, id), and part person (its ‘God’/superego/trans-subself…how the animal’s body is influenced by its unseen master…our personal will influences our body from the top down via voluntary control over efferent nervous impulses > muscle tissue).

As far as self-organization goes, I would add that while I think all phenomena are conscious experience in some sense and scale, the way that organization emerges or is implemented may not be visible to the experiences whose ‘body’/exterior facing rendering is being organized. It may not be strictly correct to say that unintelligent agents ‘self-organize’, or that the appearance of spontaneous organization is a symptom of the micro-intelligence of what is being organized. We may be observing a teleonomy based, ad hoc statistical organization rather than a teleologically based intent to organize. There may be teleology, but not on the same level as the body appearance of organization.

A nit picky thing, Dr. Theise was talking about mass emerging from fundamental energy, i.e. particles appearing randomly in the primordial quantum context. It seems to me that this connects to what he was saying about figure/ground switching in an ambiguous image (like this famous face-vase one:


Isn’t the difference between mass and energy a figure-ground relation based on frame of reference? So I’m thinking that while from any given perspective/perceptual frame massive particles appear and disappear in a given local scope of perception, those events are reflections of overlap between one part of the scope and another which are appearing and disappearing…freckles of self-impermeability…a sense of self-spatiotemporalizing insensitivities which serve to spatialize and temporalize (objectify and subjectify) the sense of tangibility from tactile sense qualia. Maybe that was sort of implied though.

In the second half, the conversation goes into a direction that really meshes perfectly with what I suggest in MSR:

MSRchart619

The main difference is that I’m trying to replace all references to emergence of one level of consciousness from many agents on another level to a model of a kind of parallel divergence into different levels of unity and “unit-y” (disunity). This is not to say that I don’t believe our bodies evolved from biology, or that biology didn’t evolve from chemistry in a sense, but that since I think that the universe is primarily driven by the teleological saturation/signficance-seeking nature of consciousness into richer and richer subjectivity (sensation > perception > consciousness ‘phorologies‘*), the evolution of tangible objects and structures (physical > chemical > biological morphologies) is only an unintended/teleonomical consequence of the separation of otherwise united experience-lines. The ants are causing the ant hill, but the ant hill may or may not be a symptom of ant hill-scale subjectivity. The ant is building the ant hill, but if the ant hill has a conscious experience associated with it, I would expect it to be as much biosphere consciousness from the top down as it is ant consciousness from the bottom up. Yes, at the bottom and the top of the stack (quantum and cosmological scales) there is a dissolving or transcending of the subject-object dualism, but again that appearance and disappearance of dualism is itself perspective-dependent. If I change my perspective, my frequency-scale of permeability-impermeability to the Totality of consciousness, then what I can see as duality and non-duality changes. In a psychologically contracted/focused state, I see diametrically opposed subject-object (phoric-morphic) duality. In a deep trance, psychedelic state, etc, “I” don’t exist except as a metaphor for a particular expression/diffraction of human archetype. Under general anesthetic “I” don’t exist except as a particular sequence of genetic semaphores repeating within a community of cells.

2MSRandFreeWill

My suspicion is that the boundaries of any conscious experience will be rendered as being driven by quasi-random (bottom facing coincidence) or quasi-fateful (top facing synchronicities). The random/fated appearance is just our own scope’s bias, its ‘red shift’ toward the bottom of its stack or its blue-violet shift toward the top of the stack. In terms of causality, within any given experience, it is the bottom end of the stack that can be controlled by tangible means, technology and instruments which extend the exterior, body-world facing senses of touch-move while the top end of the stack controls us by intangible means…serendipities and synchronicities which open our intuitive sense modalities to be ‘touched’ and ‘moved’ by the transcendent ‘spirit’ world. There is a meta thing I’m doing there also in contrasting the literal and metaphorical sense of touch and move (see diagram above…metaphorical = high end of the stack, ‘semaphorical’ = low end of the stack).

 

*phorologies = neologism for aesthetic elaborations of direct feeling and sensation, as diametrically opposed to ‘morphologies’, which would be morphological-topological renderings of indirect feeling/sensation.

Top = Transpersonal = Metaphoric
Center = Personal = Phoric
Bottom = Subpersonal = Semaphoric

Top = Cosmological scale spacetime = Metamorphic
Center = Meso-scale objects & subjects = Morphic-Phoric
Bottom = Quantum-scale particle-wave = Semaphoric

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.

Are We Wrong About The Universe?

December 7, 2016 4 comments

wrongtoday

Are we today as wrong about any scientific fact that is widely accepted as the belief that the earth was the center of the universe and the like?

It’s not so much a particular scientific fact that we are currently wrong about, but rather the interpretation of those facts which is ultimately incomplete and inverted. In my view, the cosmological picture that we have inherited is as wrong as geocentric astronomy was, in that we presume a physical universe of forces, fields, particles, and mechanisms; forms and functions which act in the complete absence of any kind of experience or awareness. I expect that we will eventually come to understand that unconscious forms and functions cannot generate any such thing as a sensation or feeling, and that it is actually forms and functions which are presentations within a deeper context of universal perceivability.

Because we have made great use of the tools of science to objectify the universe by factoring out our own subjectivity, we have fallen under a kind of spell of amnesia in which we exclude the process of objectification itself from our picture of the universe. In the effort to dispel the ghost-in-the-machine legacy of Cartesian Dualism, we have succumbed to a more insidious dualism, which is that of “illusion” vs reality, or “emergent properties” vs physical systems. From this vantage point, we are susceptible to any kind of theory which satisfies our empirical measurements, regardless of how incompatible they are with our direct experience. As long as a legitimate scientific authority stands behind it, the educated public happily swallows up anti-realisms in the service of realism…multi world interpretations, superposition, vacuums filled with energy. There is nothing wrong with entertaining these very legitimate possibilities, but there is a deep irony which is being overlooked.

The problem is that we have taken ourselves out of the picture of the universe, but we haven’t gone far enough. We have over-estimated our objectivity in one sense and under-estimated it in another so that the universe we imagine as objectively present looks, sounds, tastes, and feels just as it would to a highly culturally conditioned Homo sapien of the early 21st century. We have failed to appreciate the profound truths revealed by Relativity, quantum uncertainty, incompleteness, the placebo effect, and the vast pool of insight provided by centuries of direct consciousness exploration. Had we been willing to connect the dots, I think that we would see the common denominator is that nature is subject to perceptual participation for its fundamental definitions. In other words, what both the empirical and rational methods of inquiry have shown is that nature is inseparable from perceivability. It is a multitude of changing types of awareness which produces and preserves all forms.

We are used to thinking that consciousness is a special ability of Homo sapiens, and perhaps a few other species, but this is as naive and egocentric as Ptolemaic astronomy now seems. Just as biology has found no hard line separating living cells from genetic machinery, the study of consciousness has revealed signs of sensation and awareness in everything from ants, single celled plants, even a ball of dough. There seems to be no good reason to automatically consider the activities performed by any natural structure strictly unconscious. Indeed, we may be projecting our own complex human experience of layers of consciousness, semi-consciousness, and seeming unconsciousness onto nature at large.

The reality may be that every frame of reference is actually a frame of afference… a trans-spatial, trans-temporal platform for developing temporalizing and spatializing aesthetic experiences. Afference is a neologism adapted from the function of afferent nerves. In this case I am generalizing that function of bringing signals in from the outside. Afference is conceived as a fundamental receptivity to experience which allows for the appearance of all phenomena including space (a sense of distance between tangible or visual presentations) and time (a sense of memory and evaluation of causality) within any given frame. Afference is a hypothetical sub-set or diffraction from the overall Perceivability Spectrum (pansensitivity, pan-afference, or even ‘ference’).

This doesn’t mean that every ‘thing’ is conscious. That sort of ‘promiscuous’ panpsychism is only the first step away from the pseudo-dualism of contemporary science. It can help us to begin to break through our anthropocentrism and consider other scales of time and body size, however it can also lead to misguided expectations about inanimate objects ‘having’ experiences rather than their objecthood ‘being’ an experience within our body’s perceptual scales and limits. The experience of a computer for example, may be limited to the hardware level where natural sensory acquaintance and motor engagement is felt on the microphysical scale and has no emergence to genuine high level humanlike intelligence.

By considering consciousness (not human consciousness, but universal perceivability) to be the source of all qualities and properties of nature, the Hard Problem of materialism solves itself. Physical forces and fields need not be sought out to explain the creation of bodies-with-awareness, which are impossible by definition in my view. In my view there is no room for any kind of sensation or participation as a mechanical product of geometry or computation. Instead, we should recognize that it is experiential phenomena alone which present themselves as bodies, images, thoughts, feelings, etc. Every appearance of mechanical or random force in our frame of perception is ultimately a feeling of participation and sense in a distant and alienated frame of perception.

Every appearance of a ‘field’ (gravitational, electromagnetic, or otherwise) is in the same way only a range of sensitivity projected into another range of sensitivity that uses spatial terms (rather than non-spatial or trans-spatial like olfactory or emotional sense). It is the sense modality of tangibility which deals in spaces and geometries: visible and/or touchable forms. With the ‘field’ model, we are presuming regions of space as domains within which effects simply found to be present by definition. By using the afference model instead, locality is understood to be a symptom of how extra-local phenomena are translated into locality-constrained sensory modes. Afference opens the door to understanding how not to take presence for granted and to see it as a relativistic, aesthetically driven universal phenomenon (or the absolute meta-phenomenon).

Supporting articles

About that first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

1-thefirstever

This article that went around last year is misleading on several levels.

1. It’s not a photograph, it’s a synthetic/graphic image generated by calculated statistics.

2. It’s a composite of many measurements, not a capture of anything like light.

3. We have no way of knowing whether we are measuring the objective ‘particle nature of light’ from electron collisions, or whether we are just objectifying the collective sensitivity of the instruments we are using.

For example, if all that we had to tell whether an object existed was experiments measuring someone’s eye movements, we could not tell the difference between an eye that was looking at a moving physical object or an eye that was looking at a graphic pattern that was purely visual. We could be looking at atomic REM patterns and thinking that we’re looking at a subatomic world.

Since there is no way, rationally, to tell the difference between a consensus of shared sensations and an object detected through sensation, it is my hypothesis that realism itself breaks at the classical limit. We think that quantum physics tells us that the classical limit is a hologram, but it makes more sense to me that quantum theory breaks realism and projects a world of non-sense non-objects in public space when we are really looking at the inflection point of subjectivity on a distant scale. It is quantum physics that is a hologram, not nature.

Theise & Kafatos Non-Dual Conscious Realism

July 24, 2016 1 comment

Thus “thingness”, the appearance of  materiality, even  of  living  things, is  dependent  on  the  scale  of observation. Note  that appearance implies  observation.  Therefore,  observation  at  all  levels  is  implied, it cannot  be  taken  out  of  the  picture  at any scale. Observation  itself  further  implies  sensory experience  or  qualia,  more  or  less  complex  depending  on  scale.

Theise & Kafatos: Fundamental Awareness

Have a look at the above video and paper published in 2016. I think that it can help answer some of the criticisms that people have of quantum interpretations which include consciousness.

The Fundamental Awareness model of Theise and Kafatos is easily the model that comes closest to my own Multisense Realism view. In particular, they lay out the case for multiple levels of description so that ‘thingness’ is not taken for granted. What looks like a body at one scale of perception is billions of cells on another, trillions of molecules on another, and so on. They also do a great job of synthesizing the work of others, such as Whitehead and other philosophers or mystics, so that their main points can be translated into modern complexity theory terms.

To get to Multisense Realism from where they are, take the idea of holarchy and self-organization and apply a Lorentzian type relation. Rather than saying that the universe is self-organizing, I see the universe as an expression of organization itself, which is the antithesis of fundamental awareness. The universe only looks like structures organizing themselves when viewed through the outward-facing sensitivities of a compatible structure. I think that the more ‘fundamental’ context of the universe is trans-structural. No structure experiences itself as a self-organizing object in its own native frame of reference. We experience our ‘selves’ as both a current set of feelings, sensations, and thoughts, as well as a boundaryless ocean of memories and imagination which has neither a relevant geometry nor a holarchic kind of nesting. Our interiority doesn’t become more scale nested like molecules>cells>bodies, it remains a single fugue of experience. Only the aesthetic richness of the experience deepens. Sensations, perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and worlds all develop more significant qualities as they feed back on each other.

To sum up, I think that Kafatos and Theise are on the right track and ahead of the rest at this point. The way forward is to more fully integrate the revelations of non-dual conscious realism within the theory which defines it. There are a lot of legacy assumptions that need to be cleared away. It’s like going from geocentric astronomy to heliocentric astronomy. Everything that was presumed to be a static ontological fact should be substituted with a Lorentz-like continuum of framingness which dynamically defines thingness. This is what I’ve tried to do with Diffractivity and Eigenmorphism – supply a hypothesis for a universe which is a totality of sense experience rather than structures. The universe of consciousness is not based on mindless re-issuing of organization-optimization formulas, or on equally mindless mutations from randomness. Instead, I propose that the true agenda of all of nature is as a conscious experience which expresses itself in novel ways for the purpose of enriching experience. Organization and disorganization are only symptoms of the masking of the totality – an appearance through tactile and visual sense modalities to provide distance and duality. We are not all agents having experiences, we are experiences of agency within larger experiences which transcend it.

 

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

Multisense Diagram w/ Causality

May 29, 2016 3 comments

Gold_Dragon9

Another shot at an improved diagram of the multisense continuum. Terms intercausal and intracausal are introduced to differentiate between the proto-phenomenal view *within* causality (i.e. intentionality/will is the active principle, determinism/probability is the diffracted reflection).

The Postcausal-Synchronistic | Metaphoric-Metaphenomenal level of description are adhesive and diffracted from absolute unity from the top down. They correspond to the metric as experience is presented in fugue-conditions which transcend space, time, and causality.

The Physical-Causal | Phoric-Phenomenal level of description are adhesive and cohesive (Cartesian Dualism). They correspond to the metric c as experience is presented as the juxtaposition of an exterior context which is cohesively spaced, timed, and deterministic (adhesive) and interior contents which are adhesive-contextual (subjective).

The Thermodynamic-Intercausal | Perceptual-Emotive
and Electromagnetic | Sensorimotive-Intracausal labels refer to translations between public manifestations of energy and private manifestations of effort or will. Any metric which relates velocity, frequency or wavelength as a fraction of c can be used here.

The Quantum-Probabilistic | Semaphoric-Sub-personal level of description refers to phenomena which are presented as either cohesive-entangled or adhesive-contextualized. An example of a cohesive-entangled appearance is a static ‘sense-of particles or objects in positions’, while an example of adhesive-contextualized appearance could be a sense of ‘dynamic waves of change in sensation itself’. The former appears as a thing which is made visible while the latter appears as an artifact of visibility itself (such as rays of light). Because the quantum level is paradoxical or bi-cohesive, the metric √c can be used to conceptualize the breakdown of natural, macroscopic conditions into quantized proto-conditions.

What Is Really Real?

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment

If everything we hear, touch, smell, see are electrical impulses interpreted by our brain, then what is real out there?

 

In my view, to really answer that question we must forget everything that we think that we know about electrical impulses and brains and look at the phenomena again with fresh eyes. We must also ask questions about sensation and what is meant when we use the world “real”. Most importantly we must ask what our own capacities and biases are and what we can guess is true about reality and sensation vs what is true about our perspective as a human.
I think that I have answers to these questions, but they may not make sense unless you have asked them yourself. I would suggest that you first try to answer them yourself, even write out the answers, before consulting external sources, including this answer. Also write down what sources you think that your beliefs come from.
Question one: Why do most dreams seem real until you wake up?
Most people have probably had the experience of waking up and thinking, ‘Why would I not suspect that Mother Theresa falling asleep in my lap is impossible? She’s not even alive anymore.’ From this can we not conclude that our sense of realism is infinitely plastic? Even though some people may have lucid dreams where they do know that they are dreaming, or who do wake up after realizing that they are dreaming, it still does not explain why we can ever experience surreal, impossible, or nonsensical dreaming without questioning it. There is nothing that we can dream of which is so weird that it would cause us to question the reality of it. From this we must conclude that either our sense of realism is as much of an electrical hallucination as anything else we could sense. Is realism actually nothing more than failing to question one’s experience, or is there more to it than that?
Question two: How can you tell when you actually do wake up?
Many people have probably had the experience of false awakening, or a dream within a dream (even within a dream, within a dream, within a dream, etc). Each time you experience waking up in a dream, you have the feeling that you are awake but you are not, yet when you really do wake up, there seems to be an authenticity which is experienced directly and unmistakably. This sets up a curiously intransitive relation between false awakening and true awakening, namely, when we are dreaming, we can experience being awake, and we can doubt that we are awake, but when we really are awake, sane, and sober, we cannot fully doubt that we are awake. We can doubt it intellectually, and philosophically*, but this to me seems a very superficial kind of doubt which evaporates the moment that we are confronted with the sights, sounds, and feelings of our waking life. This suggests a contradiction to the first answer that I have give, bringing a third question:
Question three: How can we both know that all of our perception could be deception, but nevertheless feel that this knowledge is somehow insufficient to doubt the real world?
For this question, I think that the key is to realize that we have not taken skepticism far enough. If we consider that all perception is potentially deception, then we must also consider that this proposition itself is potentially deception. In other words, since we cannot know what is real, we cannot know that we cannot in some sense know what is real and in another sense not know. How do we know that nature doesn’t contradict itself?
At some point**, we have to admit that something is ‘given’ which cannot be doubted. Further we can conclude that what is given is not ‘knowledge’ but direct experience. However weak the veracity of our perception, knowledge is an even weaker proposition. Sellars attack on the myth of the given†, therefore, is itself deriving its own authority to attack from a myth of authority to attack which is itself under attack by his argument. His reasoning seems to exclude itself from criticism – assuming that scientific theories have access to a level of sanity about themselves which dreams could not simulate.
Question four: What do we really mean when we talk about ‘electrical impulses in the brain’?
When we talk about electricity, I think that we tend to have in mind something like sparks or lightning bolt. A bright, crackling appearance of a natural power or force which is independent of material objects but jumps between them at the speed of light. Further, theories developed by scientists such as Faraday and Maxwell explain this electric force in terms of perturbations or waves in an electromagnetic field. The electromagnetic field itself is invisible and intangible, so when we see lighting, hear thunder, or feel a shock, we are actually experiencing a second hand effect of matter rather than electricity itself.
To clarify:
This is not a picture of electricity, it is a picture of ionized air molecules colliding violently and releasing photons.
In a vacuum, there are no sparks and there is no sound. Sparks require a material medium which refracts light. Sound is always the collision of matter and is interrupted by a vacuum. While light is transmitted through a vacuum, there is no way to know for sure whether light is actually present in a vacuum, or whether photons are something else which can jump non-locally from place to place.
This is my own speculation, but it is not unprecedented. The Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory postulates that “every bit of radiation must be completely absorbed somewhere” (see Landon Carter’s answer to Can you explain Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory in layman’s terms?). If this is true, then it opens the door to radiation being an entanglement-disentanglement between ‘radiators’, even to the point of seeing space-time as emergent from it. Photons, electrons, even atoms themselves may not be true particles or wave in a vacuum, or fields or forces, but are more like examples of the ability to signal perceivability on the microphysical scale.
What I am suggesting is that absorber theory is on the right track, but does not go far enough. Not only is time meaningless for a photon (because of the constancy and insuperability of c) but even the assumption that some thing is emitted or absorbed could also be unfounded. Indeed, if my view is right, every equation and observation that we have about subatomic particles could be explained in terms of directly perceived micro-phenomenology.
This is not to say that “photons can see“, but that photons have no existence whatsoever other than as visibility (and thermodynamic tangibility) itself. Quantum fields and wave-functions mus then be considered purely abstract statistical entities which do not point to a deeper layer of inference beyond detection, but to the phenomenon of detection itself – to sensory-motor presentation. This uproots the entire foundation of both physicalism and functionalism to suggest the primacy of aesthetic participation behind any possibility of physical forms or logical functions. Sense is what the universe is made of, not stuff that makes sense, or that makes illusions of sense.
Rolling this back to ‘electrical impulses in the brain’, what we are really seeing when we look at an MRI is not electrical impulses, but electrical changes in the MRI instrument itself which are synchronized with the electrical changes of water molecules in brain tissue. This synchronization is not a collision of photons but a low level perceptual entanglement (which, in my hypothesis should be understood as a re-acquaintence or re-entanglement of spatiotemporally disentangled perceptual unity).
This is how I think that the brain works – we live our lives not as bodies or brains or electricity, but as the synchronization of changes which are diffracted across those various scales (Planck, atomic, organic, cellular, neurological, anthropological). These should not be thought of as scales primarily of space or distance but first of perceptual-partcipation, then time, then space. We are not bodies, or patterns of electrochemical information, or even pattern itself, but the capacity to perceive and participate which must rationally precede all appearance of ‘patterns’. Our brain activity is a 3+1 dimensional tip of an iceberg which transcends dimension itself, and which appears as a brain only because of the way that the limits of our human perception is even further limited by the sub-human bandwidth of our sensory organs.
From this, I conclude that what we perceive as the natural world, including brains, as well as everything that we infer from our perceptions, such as electromagnetism, are neither myth nor given but ‘myth-giving’ experiences. These experiences are, like our ordinary experiences, both concretely real within their own frame of reference and unreal from a ‘perceptually distanced’ or diffracted perceptual frame. A dream is a real dream, and only becomes unreal upon awakening into another dream which is more substantial and shared by more frames of reference. Reality should be understood as the real density of phenomenal overlap, such that there is not Reality so much as “Real Realism” – a quality of significance and coherence within a particular frame of perception in which the significance of the weight of perceptual experience accumulated through the entire history of experienced time (which would include all clock/calendar time, as well as all psychological time) is felt intuitively or instinctively.
Reality is real alright, but it is only the density of the constraints imposed by our condition as a human lifetime defining itself in the context of all other lives and times. I cannot prove what I am proposing to the satisfaction of reactionary skepticism (see Craig Weinberg’s answer to Is dualism no more than philosophical debris given the advances in neuroscience?) however I think that it is possible to reinterpret all of physics, mathematics, and information science successfully in this sense-first framework. Language and etymology are a valuable tool, since we can look at common-sense associations across cultures. Metaphors link literal, public facing phenomena such as weight or gravity with private facing phenomena such as importance or seriousness. There is, in my estimation, a whole other universe of connection between the sense of what is ‘out there’ and the sense of what is ‘in here’, which I try to scratch the surface of in my writing.
*Pyrrho, the founder of Skepticism is worth mentioning here, he
“founded a new school in which he taught fallibilism, namely that every object of human knowledge involves uncertainty. Thus, he argued, it is impossible ever to arrive at the knowledge of truth. It is related that he acted on his own principles, and carried his skepticism to such an extreme, that his friends were obliged to accompany him wherever he went, so he might not be run over by carriages or fall down precipices. It is likely, though, that these reports were invented by the Dogmatists whom he opposed. ” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
** Descartes famously arrived at his cogito “I think therefore I am” as a result of taking his Cartesian doubt to its limit. Doubt, after all, cannot itself be doubted, and a belief in disbelief is still a belief.
† Another philosopher living in the 20th century, Wilfrid Sellars, was influential for his “Attack on the Myth of the Given”. Where Descartes skepticism led him to view himself as unquestionable, Sellars saw perception as inseparable from conception, so that just as an ambiguous image can appear to be a duck or a rabbit, our theory about what we are looking at cannot be subtracted from the experience of looking at it. Because of this, his view is that scientific theory can supersede the empirical reports of our senses. In my terms, he is saying that sense-making is more fundamental than sense experience.

 

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

A Theory of Aesthetic Diffraction

November 22, 2015 Leave a comment

aesthetic_diffraction

“If we split the atom cloud into two parts and recombine them after some time, a wave pattern forms” – source article

Yesterday I was looking at the sun on the water and thinking about how it is an analogy for consciousness and the brain and quantum entanglement. Each point of light reflects an image of the same sun, even though it appears disconnected and changing chaotically on the surface waves. At the same time, we can see a larger group coherence and intermediate scale, waves-of-waves coherence.

In the top image we understand that the coherence reflects a single light source onto a changing surface, in the brain we speculate on biochemical mechanisms within the surfaces which are connecting to each other. In the bottom image, we conflate the wave pattern with the surface itself, but then eliminate the surface altogether. What is being reflected or experienced is obscured altogether in the bottom up QM model.

By thinking of the sunlight as a metaphor for the mind-body problem, we can see how the explanatory gap can be closed. Using physics to look for consciousness is the same as looking at the surface of the water to look for the sun. In this case, the ‘sun’ isn’t a distant star, but the immediately present aesthetic experience of conscious.

Ready for some neologisms? Okay, this gets ugly.

A Theory of Aesthetic Diffraction

In my Multisense Realism project, I have tried to piece together some ideas about consciousness and physics. These include:

  • Light as sight. Photons are reflected incidents of ‘seeing’ or some other aesthetic acquaintance on the micro-level.
  • Aesthetic participation or sense as the root of consciousness, rather than an evolution of survival based intellect, information integration, or biophysics.
  • Local aesthetic phenomena (sense modalities as well as sense content) are like puzzle pieces of universal Pansense or Multisense Continuum which includes physics.
  • Sense as the absolute frame of reference or ‘Sole Entropy Well’.*
  • Space time are the mulitplication/diffraction of sense.
  • Sense is aesthetic content, like universal qualia, rather than a subject-object relation.
  • Significance is the saturation of sense, and its teleological function.

To these I would now add:

The brain is a Polysynchronizing Aesthetic Diffraction Engine.

(Composed of smaller, neuronal PADEs, which are in turn composed of smaller molecular PADEs.)

If we really wanted to see if this is true, I think that there might be a way to begin to find out. A couple of clues:

On the physics side, try turning Permittivity (ε) and Permeability (μ) ‘inside out’, so that we are thinking in terms of electromagnetic effects as reflections of sensory-motive affects rather than causal “fields”. The affect is not itself a field but a spatio-temporal or quantized diffraction…a temporalized, and then spatially dislocated disentanglement from the otherwise boundaryless, absolute context of Pansense.

Looking at the etymology of permit and permeate, we can get another clue in the original sense of the Latin root mittere ‘to send, let go.’ By contrast, permeate is to ‘go through’, from the root meare ‘pass, go’. The expectation of electric and magnetic fields is that they are different ways of looking at the same thing, but the difference is hard to define other than mathematically. I think that as long as we are take the concepts of force and field literally, we will be missing a critical opportunity for understanding nature.

When we turn permittivity and permeability inside out, we go from a Western concept of isolated material objects separated by a vacuum, to an Eastern-like concept of trans-material experiences which are temporarily fragmented from the totality of experience. This fragmentation or diffraction looks like distance or scale and the disappearance of the past, when viewed through the brain.

The Western model conceives of matter as complex nested fields which permit and are permeated by radiant forces. Inverting that takes us from a world of external waves oscillating meaninglessly to a world of felt affects and semi-intentional effects. Behind electromagnetic effects observed within local body frames of reference are phenomenal experiences of ‘going’ and ‘letting go’** in relation to the eternal and trans-local.

The per-mitting of ‘electricity’ translates to the fracturing or branching (think of lightning or a spark) of chaotic motive impulses to release across external frames of reference. The per-meating of ‘magnetism’ translates to a re-cycling or reabsorbing of motive impulses into what Leibniz might have called pre-established harmonies and Sheldrake might call morphic resonance. The difference in what I’m talking about is that what is resonating is not a vacuum or an aether – not a physicalized medium, but ordinary feelings, sensations, and experiences. In this way, relativistic models can be reconciled with quantum models through aesthetic participation as the final transceiving/transducting hyposurface†. This is literally ‘emergence’…the inflection point between these two extremes:

1. The information-based electrodynamic microcosm, which is reflected back to sense as its shadow. The shadow appears to its originator as polarized in terms of automaticity vs chaos-probability. The appearance of the originator can be inferred by inverting the qualities of the shadow, so that rather than crests and troughs of determinism, we can understand ourselves as that which appreciates and creatively determines the shadow.

2. The anchoring frame-based (gravitostatic?) astrocosm derived from the constancy of light speed and gravity. This is the sense of holarchy of scale as well as a hierarchy of importance. Physics can have no preferred frame of reference, so the preferring has to come from:

3. The participation-based mesocosm. Between the two extremes of mindless subatomic computation and mindless block space-time geometry is perception itself. An angle or ray of participation, illuminating and isolating ‘attentions’ while presenting the opportunity to create ‘intentions’.

For us, the mesocosm is reflected back to itself as an elaborate organic chemical hypersurface, nested within another zoological hypersurface. I think that the appearance of neurochemistry as we encounter it objectively is only a single surface or layer of aesthetic presentation which anchors the representation of the larger history of our particular experience as it grew from the physical to the chemical, genetic, biological, zoological, and anthropological frames.

On the perception side, I think that there are clues to be found in researching cross-modal perception and what I might call trans-modal perception. Cross-modal perception is an innate sense of isomorphism across sense modalities such as visual to verbal (Kiki-Bobo effect), onomatopoeia (phonetic to verbal). Trans-modal perception is a term that I propose could be used to talk about such phenomena as sounds which can be felt tangibly (i.e. high pitch sounds are highly localized and penetrating to the ear, while low, booming sounds envelope the entire room, drawing attention to the micro-personal or the oceanic shared transpersonal respectively.)

Conditions such as tinnitis, vertigo, epileptic halos, and synesthesia also seem to promise deeper understanding of sense as they point to the possibility of sense modalities as divergent categories of pansense rather than emergent properties of the functioning of sense organs. Just as physics requires instruments to push the limits of speed and detection into super-human ranges, a true study of consciousness requires examples or methods which transcend normal ranges of human experience. Autistic and psychotic spectrum conditions are especially important as a guide for the underlying axis of human sense-making, and I suspect that they can be meaningfully defined in terms of high and low permeability/permittivity (branching out of electricalimpulses, and recycling back to magnetic ground-state).

*This could be thought of as the sole/absolute ‘surface’ of aesthetic diffraction.

**This maps back to a language theme that I come back to frequently from the PIE root words ‘wag’ and ‘wegh’, like yin and yang…a universal oscillation or tessellation between push-pull (electric or sense-mitting phase) and relax-reflect (magnetic or sense-mearing phase) qualities of experience. Magnetic effects can be thought of as in between electric flux and gravitational grounding. Gravity shows us the orientation of mass toward massive frames of reference, while magnetism shows how local disorientation of mass can be accomplished through electric fluctuation (effort or kinetic energy).

† I say hyposurface to say that sense is both the larger context which contains all levels or planes of description as well as transcendent to the idea of planes and surfaces themselves. Sense is trans-spatiotemporal. Space, time, planes, frames, etc are carved out of the totality as a diffraction rather than as an emanation from fore-fields in a vacuum.

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