Posts Tagged ‘Multisense Realism’

21st century madman’s picture of God

February 25, 2017 2 comments


In/out : Electromotive-sensory force ::
Around and around : Gravitoentropic-Magnetic a-motive field

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

July 18, 2016 3 comments


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:

I Fixed It

July 18, 2015 Leave a comment



Thesis Rewrite Project

April 25, 2015 Leave a comment

MSR’s Case Against Emergence

Within the MSR website, there are several entries talking about the inadequacy of the concept of emergence when applied to consciousness emerging from unconsciousness. Briefly, emergence only has any explanatory power when applied to two phenomena which have a logical similarity. We can understand that water molecules which are tightly packed would seem to us to have the emergent property of being ice, where molecules which are contacting each other but sliding around would have the emergent property of seeming to us like a liquid. What is meant when emergence is applied to consciousness however, is not like that at all. There is no arrangement of particles in a void that is isomorphic to a flavor, color, or feeling like dizziness. Emergence which cannot be anticipated by the behavior of the fundamental phenomenon is known as Strong or Brute Emergence, and under the best of circumstances can be dismissed as an argument from ignorance. In the circumstance of consciousness emerging from objects or information processes, we are smuggling in our own evidence of experience as the entire explanation of that experience. To claim emergence of consciousness is to answer the question of why molecules seem like flavors or emotions by shrugging it off as the way that molecules seem…as if seeming could exist in physics in the absence of consciousness.

Here’s a thought experiment to consider:

Let’s say that you have a two dimensional collection of six squares in a cross formation, like this:

Now we know that this could be folded into a cube, however, couldn’t we also have a program which treats the edges as if it were a cube, but use it as a graphic character in a 2d video game? In other words, can’t we show that just because the edges and corners of this figure behave in a way which is isomorphic to a 3d figure, no cube ’emerges’ necessarily? We could run this program in Flatland without folding it up as cube and all of the computational outcomes would be the same.

The emergentist position overlooks the difference between the squares and the cube, claiming the latter not to be anything additional added on top of the flat avatar. The idealist position is that there is a difference between a cube and the avatar, and that this difference is the most important and interesting thing…the whole point is that there doesn’t need to be a cube logically, but yet there is.

Intellectual fads come and go. Even long held scientific frameworks change over time to accommodate new knowledge. For centuries Ptolemaic astronomy was presumed accurate, so much so that when anomalies were found in the predictions of its deferent and epicycle model, the response was famously to ‘add epicycles’ to make finer tuned predictions rather than to suspect what Galileo and Copernicus later found. The heliocentric revolution changed our understanding of our position in the universe from one of divine center or paradise lost to a statistical fluke in a dying cosmos. For the 1200 years between 200 and 1400 AD, why did we stick to the geocentric model? Why was it more natural to think that the universe revolved around us?

Like the fish which has no name for water, or the Flatland square who has no way to conceive of flatness as a dimension which lacks volume, it was difficult for people to doubt those assumptions that they didn’t even know they were making. The Earth feels motionless – as stable and static as anything we can imagine. Who would guess that the very property of motion is a relative condition? Once we have that piece of information, we can find, as Einstein did, examples of it everywhere – on trains, when we can’t tell whether our seat is moving forward at a constant speed or whether the train out the window is moving past us and we are standing still. One favorite thought experiment of mine is to think of a universe in which only one object exists; a smooth, ideal sphere like a ping pong ball. In this universe, nothing can be seen to move. Without making ourselves an invisible voyeur who can look around into the void, there is no true sense of space or change. There is no difference between moving and standing still because there is no frame of reference from which to compare and see that a position has changed. Video games can help us conceptualize this also. The player who pilots a spaceship avatar has only the attitude of their ship to cue their sense of acceleration when traveling through empty space.

Notice how ocean waves stop moving when seen from high above.

(Sound gif, Source)

The shift that is proposed by MSR would twist our view of the universe, so that the universe itself becomes a kind of twisting or gyrating between different ways of experiencing.

Yeats System


Yeats, like Locke and Galileo before him, conceived of the worldly half of the universe as “Primary”, which is perfectly natural considering that when we are awake we find ourselves surrounded by a physical world which is so much larger and more durable than ourselves. MSR proposes not that we invert this relation into solipsism, where internal phenomena are primary and the external world is secondary, but to see our own subjectivity as just one tier in a continuum which is much more vast and durable than even physics. Under MSR, both the dualistic Western and non-dualistic Eastern views both exist within the total continuum of sense.


The Yeats system is multiplied so that it is realism which is emergent rather than subjectivity. The aesthetic objectives of Yeats are no longer the antithesis, but the thesis and meta-thesis.



Multisense realism = The elaboration of sense into layers and modes which objectify and subjectivity.

Nothing is an o…

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Nothing is an object in its own frame of reference.

A simple thing to say, but the implications are profound when taken literally. I do take them literally, so that like time and length, objectivity itself is relativistic*. There are no truly objective objects, only experiences which are frozen by distance and unfamiliarity. What is truly objective is, ironically, subjectivity. The sense of perceiving and participating, while nested in an elaborate way for human participants, is, in my view, the simplest possible phenomenon within which all other phenomena are described. The capacity for experience is absolute and irreducible, even though the capacity for human qualities of experience is contingent upon a Matroyshka doll nesting of continuous non-human experiences.

*I call this variation of object and non-object qualities by proximity and similarity ‘eigenmorphism’ (proper form).

Die Enge des Bewusstseins, ‘the narrowness of consciousness’

February 21, 2014 Leave a comment

To invent, I have said, is to choose; but the word is perhaps not wholly exact. It makes one think of a purchaser before whom are displayed a large number of samples, and who examines them, one after the other, to make a choice. Here the samples would be so numerous that a whole lifetime would not suffice to examine them. This is not the actual state of things. The sterile combinations do not even present themselves to the mind of the inventor. – Henri Poincaré

As part of his response, Albert Einstein writes:

… It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above-mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought — before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.

…It seems to me that what you call full consciousness is a limit case which can never be fully accomplished. This seems to me connected with the fact called the narrowness of consciousness (Enge des Bewußtseins)*.

Here Poincaré and Einstein are discussing the nature of creativity and the particular issue of how our personal awareness both does and does not generate novelty. Like the debate over free will, I see this as largely about the hierarchical flow of subjectivity. The personal level of awareness, as noted by Freud and Jung among others, is sandwiched between what could be called a sub-personal or sub-conscious range (Id) and a super-personal or metaphenomenal range (Collective Unconscious). Jung picked up where Freud left off, seeing that Super-Ego was not necessarily just a facade of social pressures against which the Ego cowers, but a living, trans-personal terrain of archetypal influences. The Jungian view looked at this terrain as being tied up in his idea of synchronicity – meaningful coincidence which can be decoded through a language of cross-cultural metaphor. Joseph Campbell wrote and spoke extensively on this language (‘The Power of Myth, ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’, etc.).

What I have not seen is a physical theory which takes the synchronicity and myth seriously. When we do take it seriously, I think that it meshes perfectly with the implications of the Theory of Relativity, and with what Poincaré and Einstein are talking about with the narrowness of consciousness. All that needs to be done is to relocate the concept of literal inertial frames of reference with a more figurative notion of phenomenal inertial framing. The idea of levels of consciousness is probably one of the most ancient and enduring concepts in mysticism. Whether they are seen as levels which can only be attained through a proscribed path or as introspective potentials which we can all access by ourselves, the desire to partition human experience as a hierarchy seems to be irresistible. Irresistible, that is, until recently. Contemporary psychology has largely moved away from hierarchies and grand schemas, focusing instead (with debatable success) on more modular, pharmacologically addressable functions.

While I appreciate many of the hierarchical maps of consciousness, like those so diligently compiled by Ken Wilber, I suggest that we begin from scratch, with an eye toward simplicity and correlation with general systems. In addition, the foundation for this view should be sensory-motive rather than information-theoretic or material-energetic. By sensory-motive, I refer to what Einstein talks about above. While the effect of creativity is teleological and communicative, the process itself is driven by what he calls combinatory play:  ‘the essential feature in productive thought — before there is any connection with logical construction in words’.

Just as this sub-cognitive sensible engagement is overlooked in modern, computational theories of mind, so too is the possibility of microsensory  phenomena overlooked in modern physics. I see this not as an accident, but rather the same oversight on a different scale. The idea that our own sensations emerge from a different source than the sensations which are telegraphed from the source to instrument of detection to scientific observer is not necessary if we generalize Einstein’s ‘combinatory play’ to the outer-shell of all of physics.

The MSR hypothesis is called Eigenmorphism. It is that what separates our body from our sub-conscious experience, and our sub-conscious from our personal experience can be understood in terms of a psychophysically extended narrowness of consciousness. There aren’t any inertial frames which simply exist, but only those which can be inferred through the combination of sensed perspectives. Modes of description, whether in the aesthetic of substances, quantities, or qualities are all ultimately narrowed channels of fundamental sense-making, which must be absolutely primordial. The various forms and functions which can be measured publicly are comparable to what Einstein meant about what is logically motivated and communicable, but what the deeper participation cannot be seen as the object of sight. Light, as a the most pervasive version of sense, is not a thing or an energy, but a participation multiplier – a way of being simultaneously here, there, and not literally here or there. I project my narrow attention through a mind which is already narrowed by a hierarchy of sub-personal and super-personal filters, each of which are also narrowed from scales of sensory participation so vast and unfamiliar that I read them only by the mechanical, impersonal traces that they leave. The universe that we live in is not a solipsistic narrowing of consciousness, but a nested universality of aesthetics – a combinatory play.

*The narrowness of consciousness which Einstein mentions is from William James:

“The sum total of our impressions never enters into our experience, consciously so called, which runs through this sum total like a tiny rill through a flowery mead. Yet the physical impressions which do not count are there as much as those that do, and affect our sense-organs just as energetically. Why they fail to pierce the mind is a mystery which is only named and not explained when we invoke die Enge des Bewusstseins, the narrowness of consciousness’ as its grounds.”.

MSR Schema

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment


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