Re: 2C Mary - How minds perceive things and "not things"

From: Bretton Vine <>
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 2003 23:25:54 +0200

Been lurking a few weeks, feeling a little overwhelmed by how much more
everyone seems educated on the topic than I've managed to absorb through
my own casual readings. Internet geek, psychonaut from South Africa, no
formal education. :-)
(Apologies for length - so much I want to cover)

R Hlywka wrote:
> Think of a brain more than just an intake valve, reacting
> to similar stuff, and not so similar stuff.

Yes it may be more than an input valve in the sense that it's an
information processing organ, but it's still largely just an automation
organ governed by rules, filters and prior knowledge (genetic or learned
through bumps on the head as we stumble). A key factor here is the
automation element. I don't have the references at hand (but it's
available online) in which some researchers (well one in particular
whose name escapes me) theorises that as humans we are 99.999%
automation, with the only real stream of conscious thought being the
0.001% clean slate we start off with if you take away the predisposed
starting conditions of genetics and nurture.

My point may not be directly relevant to the thread, but it's useful to
remember in the context of the simulation argument. It's much easier to
code an automated system (even a self-learning one) than it is to code
conscious thought. Given enough processing power and computational
cycles, it's possible to accept that the output may so closely resemble
conscious thought that it can be defined as such, even if it's only a
self-evident to the program itself (i.e. as a starting condition, when X
= Y, consider self as Z(en) :-)

> But that is merely predisposed grow pattern.

There is an interesting paradox here though. While we could write off
everything we think/do/feel as merely iterations of an existing
predisposed grow pattern, and that all external input in addition to the
predisposed grow pattern as the same process occuring to external
things, we are still faced with the perception (illusion?) that we are
conscious and that we can influence the direction in which our lives
move forward (or consciously adjust our pattern matching techniques to
better suit survival)

Then there is the added element of randomness or perhaps entropy ...
even in a 100% controlled simulation experiment, with every possible
starting condition being accounted for, something new can still enter
the equation. In turn this leads to more knowledge about starting
conditions, which affects the next simulation, which in turn gives rise
to a new random element.

What is this random element exactly? I don't know (besides unlearned
knowledge). Seems like the more we learn about the universe, the more
questions we don't have answers for. In this sense, an infinite number
of simulation programs only serve as a filter for discovering a more
complete set of starting conditions for each iteration. (Assuming you
have an existing 'reality' to compare the simulations to).

Anyway, my point is that any predisposed grow pattern is just a filter
technique for finding out what has been missed from the initial starting
conditions, even if the predisposed grow pattern is an entirely random
biological process. (life continues even if the organisms don't)

> but this is where you get a smart
> galaxy. it can learn to filter out what it feels it does not need to PAY

It's much harder to consiously learn filteration patterns than it is to
unconciously learn them. Just observe any child growing up - they take
on more of their parents behavioral patterns through unconcious
behavioral duplication than anything else. (Kinda in direct opposite to
"Do as I say, not as I do")

The fact that an organ can replicate the filtration processes of other
organs in it's sphere of influence does not mean it's smart. Parrots can
fool people into thinking they're conscious of the meaning of the words
they replicate, but they're not much smarter than any animal that
realises it can have an easy ride to food and protection. I'd say that's
more instinct than 'smart'. Ditto for humans. Instinctively we replicate
the behavioral patterns and learnings of the other humans within our
sphere of influence because if we don't - we get rejected (or in some
cases killed) because we don't resemble our family/tribe/community
closely enough.

(You want cultural diversity - come to South Africa - no matter how PC
you may feel you are, integration is a massively difficult task for any
species, even within the species itself. Even a conscious attempt
demonstrates just how preconcieved our thinking patterns really are)

> We code our memory by the continious rearangement of pathways.

This is an entirely unconscious process, born of millions of years of
accidental combinations of chemicals and environment. Working just on a
sort of game theory principle, even the most simple of single celled
organisms would find it beneficial to colocate as a multicellular
organism for the simple purpose of reducing the number of functions each
single cell needs to do. In the same fashion, the re-arrangement of
pathways in the brain may just be the most effective survival pattern
for the individual cells themselves, with the survival of the overall
mass (within a larger biological sphere) just being a useful extra
occurence. But then I'm guessing here - my biology knowledge is sorely
lacking :-)

> you would have to develop a way for the brain to learn to accept and
> digest incoming brain knowlegde.

That's easy - just bombard it knowledge. In response it does one of two
things: filters the bombardment out, or recognises existing patterns in
that bombardment. The ability to recognise apparently new patterns may
just be a combination of conditions allowing for a very old pattern to
be re-recognised as a new one.

Or to look at it another way, all possible patterns can be recognised,
but only at the relevant time in which they are meaningful.

> mean, our brain has evolved to the point to where it is now, and it has
> learned to coded certain things certain ways now BY INSTINCT....

I wouldn't say it's learnt to code to the point that coding can be done
instinctively. I'd argue that instinct pre-exists the code itself. I
don't buy into higher being arguments, but I do find the existence of
life in all it's forms to be very interesting, even though subsets of
those forms exist for incredibly short instances compared to the whole.
I'd argue that given any number of starting conditions, there would be
an instinctive development process from unorganised matter into
organised matter, into complex organised matter, into still more complex
organised matter, while at the same time there is a process of
deconstructing organised matter in all it's forms. Something causes
matter to come together, and something governs the decay of whatever
comes together. It's the level of complextity that can be reached that
is governed by starting conditions, not whether complexity itself will
exist or not. (imho)

> but what if we could use our actual processing ability, to realize the
> step in eveolution, and train our brains to make the change itself?...
> The only reason why were aren't doing it, is because we aren't forced
> to. If we can find it. then offer the brain a route to form around it,
> who knows what could happen...

Here's the most obvious example to me (and perhaps a tad eccentric too):
Let's take look at our own reproductive cycle. Firstly we have a rather
long and uncomfortable gestation cycle which only sex has to endure.
Secondly, the birthing process itself is painful for both the mother and
child. Thirdly, it's only in fairly years that the men have been
participants in the actual birth process. Can you imagine stone age man
watching a women give birth? Screaming and shouting, bleeding, and then
something emerges from within her? They'd be picking up stones and clubs
and beating both the women and child to death. (Mind you even today I'm
sure that sort of reaction is instinctive to many males even if they've
been trained to be willing participants)

So, in all our years of 'conscious' thought and the comfortable
illusions of free will, why haven't the males adjusted their genetic
input in the procreation process to make allowance for bigger birthing
canals, and less painful births?[1] It's not that easy some may say - we
can't consciously choose the genetic changes of our own evolution - but
isn't that exactly what we do when we 'choose' a mate? That one is
suitable while that one is not ...

If we can so successfully convince ourselves that we can 'choose' then
why aren't doing so on a deeper level? Either the perception of choice
is an illusion, with every choice just being the reaction to a prior
actions, leading back to initial starting conditions, or choice is
something that only exists in non biological space. i.e. seperation of
mind and body, with mindspace being an interesting yet largely
irrelevant bonus.

[1] Yes, I'm aware of the jokes this could give rise to and the effect
on the fragile male ego larger birthing canals may have *grin*

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Received on Sun Jun 08 2003 - 17:36:22 PDT

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