Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hedonism: The Essential Problem, Emotional Logic

Includes a full discussion of emotional logic versus rational logic, and a cultural critique.

I suddenly realized that I never mentioned that I want editing. I want people to tell me what's not clear, catch bad grammar and formatting, and in general do things that would normally make you a dick. Yes, please be a grammar nazi. Get up on my case for putting things in the wrong order. Nitpick the crap out of this piece, and every piece I write. Call me out on every single time I'm being vague. Because I want to write better.

If nothing else, it means I don't have to do all of this myself.

The point of the emotions is not to feel good. The emotions are a sense, a tool, or an instrument through which you determine that you are good.

Hedonism completely misses this distinction. Yes, casual sex might feel good, as do drugs. But do are they good for you? They are not, and if you don't stop at the shallowest possible view of your emotions, they will tell you just the same.

So, to say that should feel good? Very true. But that's simply because we assume that when your emotions are working properly, when you feel good, you are good. Again, you must ensure that it's a wholesome pleasure, not a guilty pleasure or otherwise mixed.

As I've mentioned before, the emotions are one of two logical systems that a human being can access to solve problems and make decision, the second being rationality. Both are valuable, but different, tools.

Now, it is controversial to say the emotions are logical. Aren't they just a sense? Don't they arise basically straight from hormones? Are you telling me that a man in an uncontrollable raging temper is being rational?

Emotional Reasoning
Yes, I'm aware that this is far from obvious. This is how it works.

The emotions are caused by something. This something is, with a few caveats, consistent. If you're insulted, you get angry. If, another day and another time, you're insulted again, you get angry. So the emotions are self-consistent, a statement I can make with no caveats; the previous one being necessary precisely because the world is messy and the emotions are consistent.

Being both consistent and evolved, the emotions have been selected to give useful information about the world. The only useful information about the world, again with a few caveats, is true information. As such, the emotions are, and in fact must be, logical.

Further, the emotions can take into account abstract concepts, like money, betrayal, imaginary humans, and so on. (The 'irrational' basic emotions, like that temper, come from the amygdala. More complex ones likes these come from the insula, a structure which I believe is just above your ear on both sides.)

Basically, if you give your emotions abstract concepts like money, sex, or really anything, they will give you a response. This response is consistent, and has been selected to be useful. As such, the emotions are logical, and this is exactly how you access your emotional system for the purpose of solving problems. (I don't have to examine how you make decisions based on emotional responses, do I?)

Note the counterfactual; if the answer to the question* "Are my emotions logical?" is 'no,' then it would be useless for solving problems; it would either be inconsistent, being no more advantageous than flipping a coin, or it would be not like truth, and cause more problems than it solves. In either case they would have quickly been selected out.

*(I'm going to use excluded middle again.)

Just from this I can see that the emotions are logical, but do clearly work differently than the rational system. Nevertheless, I will now show it explicitly, hopefully for good reasons.

The primary way to input information into the emotional system is also the primary problem with not recognizing the existence of two separate systems. To input information into both is the same; use language.

Because your consciousness uses information, it cannot use the thing itself, it must use abstractions, and thus symbolizations. Shared symbols for communication is the definition of language, and thus to direct your problem-solving systems toward anything necessarily requires that you give it language. English is an example, but you can also use pictures, pure emotions, and so on.

The difference is that the emotional system, shockingly, will use the emotional content of the sentence, while the rational system will use the rational content. But, sentences in English always have both, which means that if you analyze a sentence for logical structure that was meant for the emotional system, you get nonsense, and vice-versa. Can you figure out who you know that primarily prefers their emotional system? I certainly can. Having come up with the distinction, I immediately knew who was what.

Having given your emotional system an emotion to process, it will give an emotion back out. Hopefully an example will illustrate this.

The education system's infamous 'everyone is special' is supposed to be a purely emotional sentence. It's immediately obvious that, factually, it's just not true. If everyone is special, everyone is identical in this regard, a contradiction. Rather, you're supposed to take the feeling 'I am special' and, when you run into difficulty, ask your emotional system what 'I am special' means you should do. Note how silly this looks, rationally speaking...but, try it. Giving your emotions this 'I am special' does boost self-esteem, helps counter the urge to quit, increases energy, and so on.

The problem here is that even the tiniest hint of rationality getting into the mix fouls it up, because it is so silly, rationally speaking.

Rational Reasoning
The rational system is one I hope you're familiar with, since it's the one our culture respects more. (Ultimately, though, it does not truly respect it - more on this further down.)

As a practical matter, the rational system and emotional system can supply an overall solution to any problem you give them, but their competencies in details lie in different areas. You cannot do math emotionally - or at least nobody has figured out how to give the emotions a math question, since it needs to be in the form of an emotion. (Giving the emotions a math problem gets the solution, "You don't need math to solve your real problem.") However, since the emotions don't need to be fed information serially, it can synthesize a much wider array of facts into any given solution, often facts you're not even aware you know.

Actually, if someone could figure out how to decode emotional responses properly, it would be strictly better, as it's faster and more powerful, while being just as accurate when trained. (Untrained rational systems are just as useless as untrained emotional systems.) This difficulty is the primary reason the rational problem solving system exists.

Cultural Disrespect
The simple reason our culture hates on the rational system is because it does not respect the full power and ability of it. Yes, we have biases. Yes, for the non-expert thinker, using the scientific method, an extra-rational algorithm* is one of the only ways to reach any kind of actual truth. However, this misses the fact that our biases have also been selected, along with a second fact. They are the caveat to the fact that truth is the only useful thing. Our biases causes us to create effective ideas, not necessarily true ones. This is a kind of truth; while we should not expect these ideas to truly match a fully rational system, it is rational to use them. Especially considering that even once we give our ideas to someone else, they will still have bias, and this will affect how they use the ideas.

*(The scientific method, like all sets of instructions, cannot be called rational or irrational. It simply prescribes action. If you have a purpose, you can match the properties of the algorithm to the purpose, which is rational, but alone algorithms simply exist.)

This is how bias works; even with the truth, you get biased when you're interpreting it, causing your conclusions about how to act to diverge from the truth. But with ideas created in bias in the first place, the errors match and work out; we're taking the same shortcut. It also often takes an idea too big in its full truthness to really get your head around and distills it to an essential series of instructions. Yes, this method is not foolproof and makes mistakes. This does not mean it's a power we should castigate and neglect entirely. If absolutely nothing else, it is faster. Truth, unless you're a truth-seeker like me, is technology; the purpose of it is to improve our lives, not to be known per se. Any technique which achieves the same goal is exactly as valuable as truth is.

Of course it is critical to note that truth has some properties, that improve our lives, that are unique, which is why the original enlightenment philosophers preferred it. For one, given some truth, you can work out other truths. Given a biased, bogus 'theory' that nevertheless works in practise, you cannot. The bogus theory may have many advantages, but it will never have this one. If the purposes you're going for are related to these unique properties, only truth will do.

In connection, biased theories are often much better for matching the rational system with the emotional system; you can talk and use both at once. While this is possible with truth, it is excessively difficult, and most people don't even try. This is what I was getting at with the 'I am special' example. The feeling this sentence evokes could have been matched to the actual reason you should feel this way. It should be so matched, so that people can feel that 'I am special' feeling legitimately. Note that it will most definitely not be because you're special.

The second fact I mentioned previously is that a fully trained rational system is simply superior. It's superior to the scientific method, it's superior to a computer, it's superior to received wisdom. The human mind is, absent all the crap the education system and bad upbringings put in there, an incredibly powerful tool.

And here is the proof; look at the machine you're reading this on. This machine was made, from dirt, sticks, and stones, ultimately. A human mind turned those things into this thing. Your mind can do this too. There are only two differences between a 'genius' and a dumbass, the first being processing speed and the second simply being hard training. You can't understand? Bullshit. You're just lazy.

(Do note that it's not always worthwhile to understand a thing, but this is very different than 'can't.')

Thinking of things the human mind can't do is harder than things it can...when properly trained.

But, the ultimate point of this section is that our culture hates human beings. It hates our minds and, even more, it hates our feelings.

Now, before today I could not see how badly it hates feelings, because I was falling under the broken window fallacy; I didn't quite realize how it should be.

But it finally hit me. I watched a video to music. Now, the situation in the video is one where usually a bunch of people would be talking. Not only during, but before and after. I compared how the situation with talking felt to how it felt

With the music, it felt right. It felt full, complete. When I'm in the talking situation, it feels stilted, one-sided, missing something. What, I asked myself, was the difference?

Music is all about emotion. It is completely non-rational. And I immediately realized that this situation wasn't unique. You can find it everywhere; when people in our culture talk, it is incredibly biased toward rational discussion, even if people get emotional or start mentioning their feelings explicitly, it's all supposed to be dealt with rationally and only rationally.

In fact, having a discussion on the emotional side is completely impossible. It may as well not exist, socially speaking. I want to explore what my emotional logic is saying about situations all the time, but I cannot. Ever. Instead I have to talk about the 'practical' if I want to talk about anything. Mechanics, not flavour.

I haven't completely explained how it can be complete if instead of being rationlly imbalanced, it's emotionally imbalanced. That's simply because I'm very heavily tilted to the rational side, and I bring it with me everywhere I go. I watched the video with the express intent of analyzing it and learning something. This, combined with the music, balances the situation.

The opposite situation can be found really easily. There's a kind, which our culture denigrates an order of magnitude more than it denigrates true rationality. It's one where people only talk emotionally, my stereotypical example being the knitting circle; it's not about thinking or discussing, it's about venting and communicating emotionally. This is, naturally, just as imbalanced, which is why I feel disgust when I see it. The bad thing here is I get cultural feedback telling me I'm right, and so it seems that emotional imbalance is much worse than intellectual imbalance, when in fact both are seriously crippling.

While the point of emotions are not to feel good, serving them is still the highest purpose of every person. No matter what value you serve most highly, that value is subjective. While serving them without intellect is a very poor service, as indeed your emotions will let you know by trying to get you to think more, trying to serve the intellect purely is impossible. You cannot serve yourself this way, only other people. And if everyone in the entire culture is only serving others? There is nobody you can actually serve with integrity. If everyone sacrifices themselves, then everyone is dead, no matter how much we may seem alive.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is This What 'Education" Does to You?

Dear Richard Brown,

"Insults are not arguments. If you don't want to argue, it's fine. You're allowed! It's okay! But you do have to say so."
"This is rather poor reasoning."
Bald statements are not reasoning. They are not arguments either, and can't be subject to fallacies of argument.
"Now it may seem to us that our access is special, but that is easily explainable as an artifact of the way in which we become conscious of our first-order mental states."
Since it's easy, I asked him to explain it. He ignored this request. I take this as evidence that he never wanted to argue.

Alternatively it was a lie. At least, if it's so easy, why haven't I simply shown it to myself?
"Hi Alrenous, It is rather hard to make sense of this rambling response, but I’ll try. "
Pointless insult.
"Wow, long incoherent response!"
Pointless insult.
"The rest is to absurd to even take seriously."
Pointless insult.

Apparently 'incoherent' means that I discover one thing - the directness of consciousness - and find it matches what we know of other things - the other minds problem. Hey, I thought that was the exact opposite of incoherency, but I'm not certified; what do I know?

So obviously Brown doesn't understand my ideas. The problem is that he can't accept this.

So why am I putting the effort to post this? Petty revenge?

Disappointment. I was hoping there was a mind behind his hypocritical insults. I was hoping he knew something I don't. He doesn't.

I recently, as you can find in a link at the very bottom, had an argument with one Danny Shahar, who did know something I didn't. Brown comes off badly in comparison.

I used the exact same technique in both cases. I matched tone - respectful or not - started with a brief post, expanded to a longer post, and got a response. Shahar understood my theory well enough to prove me wrong with it. Brown could only sputter.
"This was a brief post, which is why I didn’t even glance at this, but I thought it was well-known.

Well, that’s the problem. Begging the same question that a lot of other people beg as well is not an excuse."

Brown can argue only by misinterpreting. What he's trying to say is that I'm assuming physicalists share my assumptions. What I'm actually saying is that I thought it was well known that we only know the external world indirectly through our senses.

He could have just told me I was mistaken, and I needed to explain myself. Didn't.

Once I clarified this, Brown did not deign to pretend to argue any longer.

I could go on. But, if he doesn't delete my comments, you can go see it all there

Exactly one useful thing came out of this discussion. I was unaware that the proposition that infinite regress is a fallacy is controversial. This just means I get to prove it, which is nice because I was at a loss for what to seek next.

So what I want to know is this. Brown is clearly lying. But, is he lying to himself as well as to me? Further, is he using some kind of profiling, and if I'd fit another profile (not an autodidact), he would have treated me very differently?

Was there, in fact, no way short of pure dishonesty to get a sensible response out of him?

I suspect so in all cases, but of course I'm heavily biased by now. But, to clarify, I didn't kow-tow to his expensive education by giving myself lower social rank, and thus he refused to deal with me. Hopefully I can get some independent corroboration here.


So I re-read my original remarks. I mentioned that directness may be epistemologically irrelevant, but that it seemed to me that it wasn't. Really, I should have used the fact Brown completely ignored this paragraph to tip me off right away. I did not present an argument. I certianly didn't present an argument against physicalism, a fact which he reiterated. Nevertheless he felt the need to accuse me of begging the question against physicalism. How am I supposed to do that by expressing a personal opinion?


Yes, he deleted my comments. But it's okay, because I kept copies, which I can give you if you're curious.

Incidentally, this is partially why I tend to reproduce large sections of my references, because this is the internet and nothing except scandal is forever.

Apparently 'Hope' is the opposite of 'Capitalism'

It could have been interesting. It would have been helpful if David Graeber knew was capitalism actually is.
"Is it normal for human beings to be unable to imagine what a better world would even be like?"
Yes. It's a form of the broken window fallacy; confusing what is with what's possible.

'Who will pay for roads if the government doesn't!'

This isn't an unsolvable problem. Graeber is just looking at it in the reverse; why can't people imagine a better system than his "free market" 'capitalism.'
"Hopelessness isn’t natural. It needs to be produced."
Naturally if he says something actually interesting, he fails to even try to support it. He will most likely do this again.
"that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win."
Actually, this is a good idea in general. The perception helps cut down on people trying to win, which saves a lot of resources smacking them down. Why is this good? Consider one challenge; a murderer challenges the court system. He wins. What does that mean? He gets away with murder.

Russia challenges the U.S. government. And wins. The new gulag is right this way... Or, USG doesn't foster the perception of unchallengeable power, and Russia tries, but fails. Was the cold war expensive? Would you like to have a few more?

But lets look at this in context.

"At root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, to flourish, to propose alternatives; that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win."

Again, he claims something very interesting; social movements are uniformly lawful good. (Well, chaotic good, actually.) But, er, wasn't National Socialism also a social movement? Wasn't the incredibly murderous Soviet 'communism' a social movement? Isn't even the pro-life crowd a social movement?* I don't know; Graeber declines to support his little thesis.

*(Note that since I already know that Graeber is pro-choice means he isn't a real person with his own preferences. He has just imported a standard suite of options. Don't be like this. This prediction is falsifiable, though just one mistake is probably a fluke.)

"Maintaining this apparatus seems even more important, to exponents of the “free market,” even than maintaining any sort of viable market economy. How else can one explain, for instance, what happened in the former Soviet Union, where one would have imagined the end of the Cold War would have led to the dismantling of the army and KGB and rebuilding the factories, but in fact what happened was precisely the other way around?"

And there's Graeber's bugbear "free market," as opposed to any kind of actual freedom.

The solution is easy; ending the cold war didn't suddenly annihilate socialism. To the extend the army exists instead of factories,* the government exists instead of the free market.

*(I have no idea if his claims are factually true.)

"Economically, this apparatus is pure dead weight; all the guns, surveillance cameras, and propaganda engines are extraordinarily expensive and really produce nothing, and as a result, it’s dragging the entire capitalist system down with it, and possibly, the earth itself."

Indeed, the free market doesn't produce that many 'guns' by which he means heavy military hardware, not firearms, for precisely the reason he states; it is not a good investment.

So yeah, learn what capitalism is.
"The spirals of financialization and endless string of economic bubbles we’ve been experience are a direct result of this apparatus."
Last I checked, even the "exponents of the “free market”" say this. Rather than blame a poorly defined and misunderstood term, though, we blame, specifically, inflation, and blame inflation on increasing the supply side of the supply-demand equation for currency.

"It’s no coincidence that the United States has become both the world’s major military (”security”) power and the major promoter of bogus securities. This apparatus exists to shred and pulverize the human imagination, to destroy any possibility of envisioning alternative futures."

I think Graeber is allergic to substantiating his assertions. Perhaps I have a partial cure; "Graeber, one of the reasons for doing so is to clarify your point. There are many possible interpretations, only one of which you mean."

Also, the logical leap from the first sentence to the second is more of a space flight.
"What is debt, after all, but imaginary money whose value can only be realized in the future: future profits, the proceeds of the exploitation of workers not yet born."
That's only failed debt, like pathological gambling. The proper use of credit is to increase your cashflow far beyond the extra cost of the debt. You have a business proposition that can make $100,000, but you need $20,000 to start it up. Net, $80,000 minus fees. Healthy loan activity like this feeds actual wealth creation, and gives banks a legitimate income source.

The bank 'crisis' was not caused by this. Now I'm not substantiating things, but that's because I would just point you elsewhere.

"Finance capital in turn is the buying and selling of these imaginary future profits; and once one assumes that capitalism itself will be around for all eternity, the only kind of economic democracy left to imagine is one everyone is equally free to invest in the market—to grab their own piece in the game of buying and selling imaginary future profits, even if these profits are to be extracted from themselves. Freedom has become the right to share in the proceeds of one’s own permanent enslavement."

So now you can see why 'profits extracted from themselves' aren't bad. Again, the rest of the paragraph is just wild-eyed assertions.

I guess from his crack about 'permanent enslavement' he doesn't know how to pay down his debts. Probably has a lot on plastic with no assets to back it up.

Regardless, the rest of the article is like this, except:

"Rarely has a term come to be so utterly reviled. The standard line, which we accept more or less unthinkingly, is that communism means state control of the economy"
It's the 'standard line' because that's the actual definition. If that's not what you want to talk about, you need to use a different word so you can have a different meaning.

Incidentally, communism is the very opposite of freedom, for the simple reason that if you leave people alone, you get a free market. (Go on, just try it! Science to the rescue!) You have to impose communism. This would be fine if Graeber just accepted that he doesn't value freedom, but rather control.
"But in fact communism really just means any situation where people act according to the principle of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”"
Graeber is confused. He just said, "Communism isn't pie. Really, in fact, it's pie!" Yes, that's exactly the part that "doesn't work," because if you leave people alone, you get a free market. To get communism, you have to impose it, which means you need a State. And once you have a State, you have taxation, which is theft, which means corruption, and then you don't have real communism OR capitalism! You just have a bunch of corruption.

('Social assistance.' Has nothing to do with the social network and is the opposite of assistance, the epitome of which is the term 'welfare dependence.' Throwing money at people, especially people who are bad at managing money, is not assistance.)

"“from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”—which is the way pretty much everyone always act if they are working together to get something done. If two people are fixing a pipe and one says “hand me the wrench,” the other doesn’t say, “and what do I get for it?”(That is, if they actually want it to be fixed.)"

This is Graeber humour. At least, I'm laughing, out loud no less, not just inside. 'What one gets' is a fixed pipe, so they don't need to ask.
"They apply principles of communism because it’s the only thing that really works."
"Actually you just proved the opposite. Good job!"
"But the fact is that even private companies are, internally, organized communistically."
And here Graeber shows his hand. Companies are organized as absolute dictatorships. Thus, when Graeber thinks of communism, he thinks of an absolute dictatorship. (Or possibly a joint-stock ownership structure? I hope he's not that dense...)
"Communism then is already here. The question is how to further democratize it."
Graeber really needs to learn some definitions. While we're not very good at it, 'democracy' essentially means 'the country is owned by the people.' Of course the people are not technically proficient at running a country, so it sucks. However, democracy is certainly very different than communism. Graeber seems to just be using cult words for the emotional impact; really I'm being a dick by pretending he's going for any kind of logical consistency at all.

And note, this is a perfectly valid value system. You don't have to value cold rationality if you don't want to, and people can communicate on an emotional level in preference to a logical one. Of course Graeber should stop pretending to have enlightenment values if he doesn't actually, but there you go.
"Capitalism, in turn, is just one possible way of managing communism—and, it has become increasingly clear, rather a disastrous one."
The People do not know how to run a country any more than they can do other technically difficult things like collectively design a computer or pilot a spacecraft.* The banking 'crises' has nothing to do with capitalism. "Deregulation" never happened - it was a total farce. Banks always had to comply with a stack of regulations higher than a person, and as a result can only be called 'capitalist' in the loosest possible sense. They still were supported by the central bank as the lender of last resort. (LLR)

*(I just imagined having 'the people' proscribe solutions for the astronauts to implement. Sounds like fun times, doesn't it? Great spectacle. Lots of dead astronauts, though. We'll call it the "EARAK" space plan, to better democratize space. To better approximate our system, remember that many companies supply NASA, and they all have a financial incentive to run ads... and don't forget that certain effective measures will be unpopular, and that testing astronauts for intelligence is 'discrimination.' Everyone should have the opportunity to be an astronaut!)

What happened is that some missteps caused a bank run, which is a vulnerability all the banks in the world share, as they all share the LLR. Shockingly, if you have a stack of regulations a person high and try to remove one in the middle, the stack falls over.

"This is why, as the Great Depression showed, the existence of any plausible-seeming alternative—even one so dubious as the Soviet Union in the 1930s—can turn a downswing into an apparently insoluble political crisis."

Be helpful if Graeber knew any economics at all.

"Those wishing to subvert the system have learned by now, from bitter experience, that we cannot place our faith in states."
Unless they do exactly what Graeber says.

Incidentally, 'civil disobedience' is just a euphemism for lawbreaking. The only distinction is that the disobedient think it shouldn't be a law. I may agree, but contravening is not an argument. In a democracy you can get laws changed by entirely legal means.

Physical Forces: I Got Suckered

I really thought the four kinds of charge and the four forces needed unifying. How silly of me!

Nature does not recognize multiple kinds of forces. Nature recognizes one kind of force; the kind that produces acceleration. (Actually Nature just recognizes acceleration, and their equal-but-opposite counterparts, scaled by relative mass.)

In other words, we could have predicted a priori that the forces would unify under some condition, which turns out to be high energies.

While yes there are certainly sub-types of force which interact differently with the various charges, ultimately it could be described with just a list of particles and the forces between them, without reference to charge or the 'kind' of force at all. There are not four forces. There is one force.

Having realized this, I discovered the thing I want to share with you, dear reader. There's a very good reason that Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, and it is not just the problem of what time is. The above analysis is not complete.

The accelerations described by GR are, in fact, not accelerations at all. To the best of our knowledge, when you are in free fall, you aren't actually falling. You're moving in a straight line, according to your relative spatial geometry. Instead the Earth is accelerating up to meet you, under the continual force applied by the deeper layers.

In other words, you're going straight when you're falling, and you're accelerating when you're standing still. The reason for this is a simple recognition; neglecting gravity, when you're falling your forces are balanced. When you're standing still, you have to have an upward force constantly or you would continue going downward.

This upward force continually curves your straight line, technically called a geodesic.

The reason you can transform gravity to be a deformation of space and not the other forces is simply because everything has the gravity-type charge, mass, but not everything has electric charge or colour charge. This also solves the problem of why momentum uses the gravity charge, not the electric charge or colour charge, or its own charge; electric forces must push against mass, but gravity just bends straight lines. (A full explanation is unfortunately very long.) This is also why mass cancels out during acceleration calculations for gravity.

This is why photons bend noticeably around heavy things. They're going in a straight line, relative to them, but the space they're going through is bent. Photons have no mass; applying forces to them doesn't make any sense; F=ma=0a=0. All forces on photons are zero. (This is complicated by relativistic mass and E=mc2.)

To sum that, it isn't that there's not four forces, but rather one. There aren't three, but rather one. The forces of Quantum Field Theory are all forces which cause accelerations. GR describes the bending of the background upon which QFT operates. Gravity doesn't have a charge and thus probably is not the result of some symmetry. It's just...different.

But yes, figuring out what time is would help a lot too.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mind Node: Component Confirmed in the Brain

So it is definite that the brain uses DNA during computations. This is actually independent corroboration, because I've read about this idea before. Also, the brain is immune-privileged* by the blood-brain barrier in the same way the testes and uterus are, and if the immune system gets into the testes or uterus, it finds foreign DNA and destroys it. So, come to your own conclusion.

*(In this case 'privileged' to not get the full complement.)

Methylation also affects the rate and location of mutations during copying.

So, copying a DNA strand in the brain is a pentagon with a very large set of possible states. Also, while the new strand represents the new thought, the old strand is now a memory that can be repeated. Third, note that you could change the mutation rate and distribution by using different variations on the transcription factor. (A mind node has no need for faithful re-creation.)

So, DNA is used in computation. Because the firing of individual neurons affects other neurons, which change the network, we have f_r. Feedback is not found only in the most primitive brain. Conclusion; a mind node exists in the brain. Now I just need some people to comb over my little proof for mistakes.

Score one for armchair philosophy.

""The cool idea here is that the brain could be borrowing a form of cellular memory from developmental biology to use for what we think of as memory,""

Mine's cooler.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mind Nodes: A Loophole

Or possibly just a caveat.

Also Planck probabilities, Restricted Boltzmann Networks, a technique for the indecisive, and a tentative solution to the mind-body problem.

It may be impossible in practise to build a mind node because exceeding the wake-up threshold is not possible. (The machine remains a non-determinism simulator.) I'm going to backtrack to considering the universe but first I'm going to refine the terms for the threshold.

Because probability is conserved, there must be a minimum probability, by the NIP. Because there's also a minimum meaningful time and displacement, I'm going to name it after them; the Planck Minimum Probability or PMP. (Someone who is actually well versed in the conservation of probably could give it a better name.) The number of possible states, which is 1/PMP, I shall call the Planck entropy, in that the Planck entropy is the maximum number of possible next states a particle can have without running out of probably to assign to them. (It corresponds to a possible theoretical maxima for entropy; there may also be stricter constraints.)

Notice I said "a particle;" now consider the universe. The entropy of the entire universe considered as a whole is easily many orders of magnitude above the Planck entropy. However, we're talking about conservation of probability; given two electrons, the probability of finding an electron is greater than one. As a result, I have to divide the entropy of the whole by the number of fundamental particles, and this number is doubtless orders of magnitude under the Planck entropy.

I realized this because the idea of the universe as a whole being physically impossible struck me as ridiculous. (Basically my options were: solve this problem; discard the NIP.)

So unfortunately I've learned that mind nodes may need many more possible states than I thought. Also, I've realized that the pentagon must have enough states to outpace the growth in fundamental elements as the interpreter grows to accommodate more possible outputs.

The relevant factor here are the number of degrees of freedom of the output, and not necessarily the number of particles. This means the critical number is the ratio between the dimensionality, or the degrees of freedom, of the output and the number of possible states of the pentagon. If the ratio is too high, the rate of increase of elements will outpace the rate of increase of possible states.

It doesn't actually matter what's going on inside the mind node because, given an effect with two possible causes, there is no way to distinguish which caused it without measuring the cause directly. I don't have to consider subatomic particles directly because the mind node isn't truly physical and the proof of non-determinism is entirely abstract.

Of course I may have missed something again.

Practical Considerations
There are further problems. Actually implementing f_r may be technically unfeasible or impossible. Creating a function that can meaningfully change itself repeatedly as a result of random input, without crashing, nor failing to halt, is not easy. A similar problem exists in making the pentagon accept arbitrary inputs and turn them into meaningful probabilities. In this second case, I can see that this problem is compounded by the fact that it is easy to accidentally create a trivial solution; such that many inputs lead to identical outputs. If not all inputs lead to identical outputs, it becomes very difficult to tell that some of them do. (Similarly, non-debugged halting problems may exist long after a working f_r is found. However, this is not a problem with neuron-based computing; the computations tend to damp down naturally.)

However, if my hypothesis of consciousness is true, then any inputs with identical outputs effectively blind the consciousness, resulting in a partially insane mind node. (It means there at least two stimuli that it cannot distinguish. Perhaps this will be familiar from people in your own life... Chalk up another point for 'things suddenly explained if the mind node hypothesis is true.')

Now, the mind node in its simplest form is not a very useful form of consciousness. It has no memory nor is it affected by the outside world. Making an f_r that could handle not only the pentagon's output, but the world's input as well, is something at least as hard as the Easy Problem of Consciousness.

Instead, use Restricted Boltzmann Networks. The RBN will, because of its logical nature, encode an abstract model of the world it is in contact with. Also use a memory, that records outputs the mind node has generated, that the mind node can feel out and, say, some outputs of the pentagon will replace the interpreter's output with a memory call. So, the mind node can repeat itself if it can learn how, plus it has this automatically-abstracted world that it can actually interact with. (Also, the RBN can output anything it has found as an input, which means the mind node can now imagine things if it wants, by getting it to output to the pentagon.)

(Incidentally, in the brain the hippocampus repeats new memories over and over again...exactly as is needed to get an RBN to learn nicely. Also, earworms are most likely leakage; the musical nature resonates in a way with neurons outside your hippocampus, and so instead of the usual silent repetition you get noticeable repetition.)

Here's a pretty picture:

Memory usually just records the output and sends it through, but can also repeat previous output. The RBN links the system to the senses. If you watched the video you can see why I've drawn the RBN as two circles. Also, I wanted to represent that this is like a broken-open mind node. It's not a closed system anymore; it has grown a pair of arms and embraced the world.

I've numbered the steps for clarity. The time these steps take will set the clock speed of the mind node, generating a conscious temporal scale. The ghostly grey lines are a representation of a memory call, where the output is a repeat of a previous output instead of a new one. They're ghostly because the pentagon cannot actually call memory directly; it must figure out how to get the interpreter to call memory for it.

You can also see why I called it the 'interpreter.' It is the tool the mind node uses to interpret the world, and the tool the world uses to interpret the mind node.

There's some arbitrariness to the connections. As long as something feeds the output of the interpreter to itself - altered or not - then the mind node should still work. Also, it may be handy to have two RBNs - one to encode the mind node's behaviour, and the other to encode the world. These would be questions for experimental research.

Other Objections
Consider a particular electron in the universe. The probability of its exact history is far below the PMP.

The first pin for this balloon is that it doesn't have an infinite canvas.
The second pin, which is really the same pin from another angle, is that the past doesn't exist.

It doesn't matter that this electron's exact history is hugely improbable, because its history doesn't exist. There are actually numerous ways that electron could have gotten to that same state. (This is related to entropy, though I'm tired at the moment and can't say exactly how.) Enough, in fact, that since we can't pin down a particular history for it, the probability of it being here, now, and with this energy, is more than the PMP. Because it doesn't have an infinite canvas, the probability of it getting to any present moment will always be more than the PMP. (Also, its mathematics don't match those of spontaneity.) I don't even need to prove this; breaking physics is not something that physics does, only consciousness.

Having addressed that, I now propose a solution to the mind-body problem that the mind node has suggested to me.

Preferences are a quale. They are not irrational, they are arational. And further, if I compare any two things, I can find that I prefer one over the other, though indeed often it is not worth doing any work to achieve one over the other. For instance, I mildly prefer 'i' over 'm.' But if I were in a marathon denominated by letter instead of number, I would not do very much to get 'i' instead of 'm.' Nevertheless, I can basically rank all the letters in order of preference. How's that for irrelevant!

I suspect everyone can preference everything like this.

(Situation; "I honestly don't care which restaurant we go to." Most likely you mildly anti-prefer both of them, but don't want to go to the work of finding out which one you dislike the least. [You're going anyway because of some ancillary benefit.] Sometimes, though, someone will insist that you choose one.

(If someone's on your case like this, [or indeed anytime you find yourself indecisive] try just starting a pro vs con list, but only compare the first comparable pair of features that pop into your head. "I prefer the sign Papa Mori's has over Nelther's. Let's go to Mori's."

(Note that in this situation, the problem isn't anymore which restaurant to go to, but rather someone is being an ignorant ass and you want them off your back quickly and easily.

(Similar; you can't decide which car you want, despite making an extensive pro/con list, you found each pro got checked of against a parrallel pro, and each con had a partner. "Well, from this angle, I prefer the green one's wing mirrors. Let's go." Whatever jumps into your head first.)

It appears that preferences are universal to consciousnesses. As such, a mind node in contact with a sensory arena (VR or regular R) will creatively order it.

As such, I propose a test of consciousness; consciousnesses creatively order their surroundings.

Because all consciousnesses have a system of (physically arbitrary) preferences, they will naturally gravitate to those things they prefer, and order the world, to the best of their ability, to create more of those things, and of course the opposite for the opposite.

Because these preferences cannot be predicted in advance, this order will be unique, and thus creative. No one will program these preferences, nor give them some kind of list to choose among,* instead each creates a new order, or at least attempts to.

*(Would just invoke preferences of preferences anyway.)

Technically because consciousness is direct, this doesn't fully solve the mind-body problem, as to truly measure another mind you have to know it directly, which basically means you didn't measure it, you became it. Although if the mind node hypothesis is true, you can just jack into someone else's output to see what their input is, while this doesn't stop you from just being them, and as such not solving the problem philosophsically, you're allowed to stop and at least solve the problem empirically.

Preferences; The Problem
I could not find a single example of preferences being truly arbitrary. For example, the preference for bilateral symmetry. Your legs have to be the same height, which eliminates the other options.

So it seems that aside from a bit of noise, human preferences are entirely formed by evolution. As such, building a mind node in a lab may be completely pointless, because it will lack any kind of preference-forming mechanism, and will output hypothesis-neutral noise and only such noise.

Incidentally, this is why I like to write my conclusion down in a public forum. I take them much more seriously once I've done so.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alrenous on Pavlina on Shame

Pavlina has posted an article, and since this is a post, I must have something to say about it.

"If you can’t share your humiliation publicly, you haven’t gotten over it yet. And if you’re not over it yet, you’ve still got this gaping wound in your heart, and it will always keep you from being 100% authentic."

The first part is true, the second part is vague at best and the last part is frankly obvious and unavoidable - I could even cite the 2nd law of thermodynamics as proof. Nothing is ever perfect.
"There’s no such thing as selective shielding. If you have to shield any part of yourself from being discovered and judged, you shield your entire being."
Well, fuck, I guess. We're all screwed.
"I know you think that when the shields come down, you’ll be pelted with a volley of phasers and photon torpedoes. But what’s the real worst case outcome? Harsh language? Ouch."
No! No. Also, no.

There is a reason you are ashamed of whatever it is. It's because you think, as doubtlessly Pavlina will allude to, that you've done something horribly wrong.

Letting your shields down will only seem to confirm your worst fears - your revealee will reject that part of you outright. Without question. You already know this. If you knew something different, your fear would be of an entirely different character.

While Pavlina is right in the fact that this fear is not exactly as it seems, his conclusion about how is completely broken.

So, you reject your shame, your revealee will reject your shame...and you will end up concluding that it is reasonable to reject this part of yourself. This is what you're afraid of, not 'harsh language.'

As we can infer, Pavlina does not think you should reject yourself. I don't think you should reject yourself, either.

One of the parts of yourself that you shouldn't reject is your fear. Like many if not most false conclusions, the consequences of this one lead to contradiction.
"Instead of a backlash of judgment, it’s more likely you’ll receive a compassionate response."
This is baldly untrue. Again, your fear may be arational, but is not irrational. I have personally verified this. Shockingly, we find again that while people are gullible, they are not stupid. If most people don't do a thing, it is either propaganda or a bad idea. Since there's no propaganda aside form this piece...
"Other people don’t want or expect you to be perfect. They want to connect with you and to be able to trust that you’re being honest with them."
So these people Pavlina is suggesting you open yourself to. Do they make a habit of revealing their secret shames to you? What? They don't? Then what makes you think they're capable of connecting to you in this way?

What, they're suddenly going to think, "Oh man, I was waiting for this person to tell me something horrible about themselves! Just waiting for it!"

If hiding such things were not widespread, Pavlina would feel no need to make an article about it. As you can easily see, it is not just widespread, but endemic. If such advice weren't doomed to failure (in most cases - again, check your fear and ask yourself) then all those people doing it right would have let you know that you're doing it wrong.
"People may still communicate with you on a superficial level, but they won’t go out of their way to help you as a fellow human being. Why not? Because they won’t know the real you."
Again, do you know the real them? If not, what makes you think you're going to magically change that?
"When you share your shame with others, you transform your resistance into acceptance and your sorrow into joy. You learn that there’s a reason you had to endure certain experiences, even if they were self-inflicted."
This is terrible.

Learn the reason you had to endure them? How does that happen...magic? Does anyone you might care to share it with know exactly why, and you just happen not to? Are you hiding it from yourself, but you'll suddenly let yourself know?

No, sounds like magic to me. Of course Pavlina will not explain.
"Your painful experiences can actually help you connect with other people on a deeper level than you imagined possible."
You know what I like? Bald statements of fact, with no support, with no description of what I'm supposed to be looking for or how it is supposed to work, followed by a total non-sequiteur.

"Many personal development books are written by authors who project an air of perfection — idyllic examples of order, achievement, inner peace, wealth, and so on. To me this is a form of shielding, an artificial wall, a fake standard no human being can realistically aspire to."

Apparently Pavlina endorses my blog style. Of course I want to take it at face value, (Pavlina's traffic is millions per month) but thinking about it, I can't say for sure what this actually means...

"Others have already shared their stories on these topics, which enables them to help others with similar challenges. Why not you? Do you need permission to do this? Okay, I hereby grant you permission to be human. You have the right to be a total screw-up."

I take extreme issue with this. Humans are not total screw-ups. Humans, secretly, deep down, are beautiful, shining beings of incredible power. If you are are human, yes you make mistakes, again, 2nd law of thermodynamics. But they are precisely that - mistakes. As in, when you avoid them, you do something right.

What makes humans screw-ups is not their humanity, but inhumanity that has been done to them. We have, all of us, been warped and twisted by warped and twisted cultures and warped and twisted ideology.
"Also, if someone would reject me for being who I am or for doing what I did, then I say, “Let’s get the breakup over with, so we can both move on.”"
Remember how Pavlina was being vague? Unfortunately, this is why. Notice the subtle, but incredible power of this statement. Synthesise his ideas and mine. (I later find he goes on to say many similar things.)

Now, go admit your shame to someone. If they reject it, you reject them. Then go onto the next.

Go on. How many people are you going to have left to talk to after this is over? Are you okay with that? Or do you prefer your imperfect current arrangement.

While it's true that, really, you only want to talk to people you can be honest to in this way, and by emptying people you free up space in your monkeysphere, I don't think we as a species know enough yet to know when this is a good idea, and when this is a bad idea. So, if you as a person know, kindly let me know.

Yes, you should have been honest in the first place and never accumulated these people. But you have now, and the situation is different.

But actually, I find the reality is a lot more boring. Admitting such things tends to lead change. As if it never happened.

Fear and Shame
Pavlina is right about one thing though, and that is fear holds you back. If you did not have fear, you could be free - you could really be yourself, instead of playing someone else your whole life. However, Pavlina apparently never asks why this fear exists. The answer is that there's something to be afraid of.

The fact is, if you open up to someone who can't open up back to you, they immediately realize at a gut level that you're doing it right and they aren't. This brings up all their internal shame and anxiety about sharing that shame. Since they're generally not philosophers, all they see is an event - your sharing - and a result; their pain. They take that correlation and assume it is causation, and react negatively, and indeed properly based on what they believe.

This, as I outlined above, does indeed "transform your resistance into acceptance," it transforms your resistance to the idea that you are in part a bad person into acceptance of the idea. At least, unless you're extremely careful. If you didn't suspect you were a bad person, why would you be ashamed of whatever?

And, unless Pavlina is preaching to the choir, n-1 out of n times, this is exactly what will occur.

Emotional versus Mental
So, what's actually going on here? As I'll hopefully detail in a future article, I've finally figured out this whole rationality versus emotion thing. The brain has two systems for making decisions, one rational and the other emotional. These systems are separate; you cannot engage both at once, though you can engage them sequentially on the same subject if you like.

Pavlina is talking to the emotions. The input for the emotional system is not facts, but feelings. The factual content of his sentences can be pretty fuzzy, as long as thinking about them makes you feel the right way, your emotional system will deal with them - and the world - correctly.

However, while you cannot internally engage both at once, you can write so that either can engage, by adapting your sentences to be both logically sound and have the right emotional content. Pavlina has utterly failed at this task. This would be fine if he simply acknowledged that he is talking to the emotions, and thus the logic is not likely to be correct. (Similarly, I expect traditional institutions to have effective outcomes, not be consistent or make correct predictions.)

Personal Experiment
I am willing to put myself on the line for this. I can, (and have,) gone out into the world and admitted something like this, to see what happens. I will do it again for you, dear reader. If you want, we can choose something to admit about myself, and to what kind of group, and I will do it, reporting back on the results.

I have nothing to lose from this - either I'm proven right, or else I'm proven wrong and end up connected at a deep level with someone. So.

There is a problem, of course. I have a range of shameful facets. Some of them are so horrible I can spin them into fatal admissions to just about anyone. This is a source of bias - I can decide in advance the outcome of the experiment. Even if I try not to, I may fail. As such, if you take me up on this, you need to make the first move, effectively taking this control away from me. This takes some finesse, but the upshot is you need to suggest a general category which I'll help you refine.

As an aside, I could easily use one of these facets as a weapon against Pavlina in a face-to-face debate. He would say, "You should admit your shame," and I'd respond with something even he can't respond compassionately to, both in content and in style. I would introduce permanent cognitive dissonance, because I seriously doubt he's capable of dropping this theory.

In direct connection to nothing, I have to say that if you cannot do this with a potential spouse, then either achieve it or dump them. Otherwise, at best they can be a sort of sexual business partner. More likely you'll do the common thing and pretend you have a real relationship. This is corrupt. Or perhaps this isn't unconnected - another phrase for 'corrupt' is 'warped and twisted.'