Continued from here.
Resolutely focusing on the world I* wanted rather than the rapidly ending cycle of nation-states consolidating via war was one step in my recovery from the epistemological fevers.
One of the things I had been seeing in my researches was evidence that humans were innately cooperative, if allowed to treat each other as human. In fact, we worked at creating personal links in the most trivial of interactions. If 2 people meet often in the course of their work, and there is time and reason, they will soon begin exchanging personal info at least about their work, even very rushed delivery drivers just speak fast in saying how rushed they have been.
I had continued with my reading of neuroscience and IQ and inheritance of those looking for clues on what was happening with our Tessels and how to manage human nature. The problem with all of it is, there is convincing evidence for almost all of the explanations within the models of those explanations. The old problem of maps not being terrain. Different things do cross-check each other, so some models agree on some things both models can discuss. But there aren’t that many things enough models discuss, so there isn’t any solid understanding of enough to do more than guess.
In the matter of human nature, this lecture by Yochai Benkler of Harvard University shows how ideology colors our interpretations of evidence as well as what evidence we can see, and has done so for essentially all of social science, there is little reason to believe that has vanished. The proposed new version of evolutionary theory begins with the traditional fundamentals of ‘mutation’, ‘natural selection’ and ‘sexual selection’, now adds ‘cooperation’.
Just to exercise my meta facility, surely this generation cannot have been the first to have an overview of the stages of prior thought on a particular subject matter, a new understanding of how the associated material circumstances and history of moral philosophy shaped the prior views. Did ever a stage look ahead, with that Lebowski Enlightenment a prior probability? How close did they come? Why do we think we can do that well?
It seems to me this is consistent across Kirschner and Gerhard’s and Wagner’s ideas of evolving to evolve : those are all cooperative mechanisms, cell to cell, and do not depend on any shared genetics except the mechanism itself, which is strongly conserved across evolutionary time. Many such mechanisms are shared, and it is reasonable to anticipate all of the interactions seen by Gabe Brown and the many permaculture studies are other examples of cooperative mechanisms that have evolved to help evolution. The very complex ecosystems that are enabled, from such a point of view, are multi-cellular life’s edge in the evolutionary arms race with disease. And even moreso many equivalent genetic strategies in multi-genetic individual organisms, of which there turn out to be a surprising number in biology.
Thus, I think it reasonable to assume that humans have a strongly-cooperative nature to build a civilization upon, and ‘more natural’ social environments would emphasize those. ‘More natural’ meaning a big extended family. Those early bands were big families with lots of different arrangements of individuals and sub-groupings within them, there is no reason to believe there was ever only one, we should plan for many forms, as those should be part of our social heritage again.
In the matter of one intelligence or many : There seems to be a universal, global, general ‘g’ intelligence, and also specialized abilities (which also might be normally part of all brains, but inhibited) in drawing and visualizing space and geography. Also, animals respond to much wider ranges of all stimuli than humans do, we should expect that there are sensations grouped by range analogous to color and tone and sensation-concepts produced by minds prepared to learn from those stimuli as a human’s does “warm colors” and “cold emotions”. Paths of association and reasoning in those minds could have advantages we literally cannot imagine. Animals are, in fact, intelligent in ways and from points of view that we cannot imagine, books from an autistic’s interpretation of the world as seen through an animal’s eyes through many new ones on animal intelligence.
In the matter of intelligence being an inheritable trait : At every age, intelligence may be more effected by an individual’s ability to handle diseases and keep them out of the brain and effectively deal with any aftermath than all the genes that directly build brain. There are genes that affect neural growth, but not many and not large percentages, the rest account for tenths of a percent, at most, of the variances in IQs. But we don’t have a good handle on any of this yet, it is nearly fruitless to speculate, too much of the information is too new to evaluate.
In the matter of ‘instinctual’ vs ‘cultural’ determinants of behavior : There are clear cases of ‘critical periods’, where brains change themselves according to things in the environment, e.g. Tinbergen’s geese deciding he was their mother because he was the first thing they saw after hatching. That reveals the mechanism of the ‘instinct to follow their mother’ that young animals have. Ditto remembering and favoring the smells of littermates. Human cases of children normal, blind, deaf or dumb provide many examples of our brains being prepared to learn and learning being necessary for normal development. So ‘language instinct’ or ‘brain evolved to interact with the environment in guiding its development in ways that maximize reproductive fitness’ are different models of the same phenomena. Humans are obviously human, some things are easy for most, e.g. being a warm human, others are difficult, e.g. resisting sexual temptations.
In the matter of conceptual metaphors, the Benkler lecture above has the example of the brain areas that ‘light up’ when a painful stimulus is administered to the person in the scanner also lights up when they are lead to empathize with someone receiving that same painful stimulus. If ‘lighting up’ indicates similar mental states, and this says it does, then there is a physical substrate and activity of that part of the brain shared by similar mental states. If the associated mental effects meet your definition of ‘conceptual metaphor’, one is forced to endorse the ideas. I think so, but don’t think that any particular mechanism is implied. All it says is that whatever the mind uses for its categories, it behaves a lot like neural networks that we simulate. Indeed, the brain is not a processor and the mind works in funny ways.
I decided that interpreting all of the evidence had to be done from the pov that our much-vaunted intelligence was the brain mechanisms of a slug, just scaled up. That is, no doubt a mammalian brain worked faster and had some advantages from that even beyond size, but I thought most of the mechanisms will be common with a snail. We probably have better neuronal organization, cortex rather than nuclei, and along with that more efficient synapses, perhaps more complex synapses, but all of our neurons are probably tuned the the flows of hormones and the pump of our heart just as a snail’s are and must be.
A snail has to get the most out of its neurons, and the various endocrine signalling systems were already there, in the slug’s ancestors before anything had a central nervous system and are still used in mammals, of course the neurons would incorporate that kind of bias in decisions. Entering slightly acidic water, as a snail, is something you might do when you had a really good reason and were feeling great. So well-fed, no viruses or other problems, and strong stimuli indicating a big and fast reward for taking this risk. But not otherwise, and so every nuance of awareness of self needs to be part of every decision. And whether you are aware of it or not, still are.
Further, it seemed to me that what any neuroscientist found and how they interpreted their findings was determined by how they looked for it. At the level of physiology, if you are using large electrodes, you find mechanisms that generate waves or you find areas of the brain, perhaps deep within the brain, which if stimulated, produce effects like elevating emotions or relieving intentional tremors, rather than causing large and coordinated actions or thoughts. Or the TENS therapies or the vagal nerve stimulation therapies, etc.
If you use big electrodes in recording or stimulating, your theories tend to nuclei having functions and a lot of standard circuits. This is standard in that way, other theories are surplus or deficits of different neurotransmiters, p300 waves, and all sorts of other probably-epi-phenomena measures of some aspect of the workings of brain mechanisms.
If you use little electrodes, single neurons are your signal, and those neurons compute transforms of inputs, and if they are working in synchrony it is cascading of sensor inputs through analyses, etc. Apparently those show up in the various macro phenomena, there are hints of cross-checks in timings of events from the time the light turns on, or the bar of shadow passes a point on the retina. Those are tying in with measures of higher-level meaning. Maybe, but there was averaging in that data, the data itself was the result of a lot of math. It all worked for diagnosis of tumor and other things, but there were still stacks of assumptions I didn’t understand enough implications of in that technology. I was willing to bet a lot of it was going to be bogus. (Added later : I was right. A later version of that. When I made that conjecture, I had no clue about that reality. But, I had wondered a long time about that work. I knew of the results from the older Positron Emission Tomography, and the results didn’t seem comparable, tho they were supposedly both measuring brain metabolism. But I hadn’t looked further. fMRI looked too easy and convenient somehow, I was suspicious and I knew I didn’t understand the software stack, that legions of devils get hidden in the software.)
If you do large-scale neurochemistry, your work somewhat supports the big-electrode work and you find effects of deficiencies or over-supplies of neurotransmitters, e.g. serotonin depletion syndrome characteristic of dangerous criminals, arsonists and violent or suicidal individuals. Well, all except for anandamide, the cannabinoid receptor. Nobody has found a shortage of anandamide yet for some reason, nor associated it with any of the forms of ahedonia.Can you imagine? It would be professional suicide, they would never receive another grant.
If you do neurology, you find all kinds of surprising dissociations of activities in the realm of a patient’s consciousness and what is going on in their brain and their bodies. Explanations need not explain, and conscious minds adjust without pause. Anyway, reading any of the popular books by Oliver Sachs or V.S. Ramchandran will convince you that the brain is a physiological mechanism that underlies conscious mind, and consciousness is not at all what consciousness makes itself out to be. And yes, slugs are conscious at some basic biochemical level integrated with a neural model of itself, and consciousness is controlled by a dimmer-switch, it need not be all on or all off, but is not entirely off for any animal.
If you do psychiatry, you interview people who have constellations of symptoms that you extract from their often-confusing words produced by a mind that tells us its brain is seriously disturbed, e.g. “I hear voices”, and choose to interpret in either neurochemistry ways or family-dysfunction ways. You spend inordinate amounts of time studying the latest changes in the DSM, which may have, in its latest mapping of symptoms onto diagnoses, eliminated your specialty.
If you do social psychology, you find very convincing explanations of abusive parents and small personal failures and misfortunes cascading through people’s lives, the sins of fathers forever visited upon their progeny. And of the advantages of parents who have big vocabularies and multiple languages, of nannies who taught them another. You find every social group is very aware of differences, and most aware of what is thought to most threaten them. Social groups feel threatened, easily, as it promotes group cohesion. You find that POV controls attitudes and changes optimization strategies, short-term thinking happens everywhere, for different reasons. Rational isn’t as simple as everyone wants to think, especially economists. Same lesson as breeding strategies in various biological realities.
If you do biography, you find case after case of people overcoming great adversity to become famous, wealthy, healthy or wise.
If you do criminology, you find that associating with criminals produces criminals, as associating with all other types of people produces those types of people. And also that people who like violence and risk are prone to police, military and mafia careers. And that people change in all directions.
If you do experimental psychology, you find learning mechanisms and personality types and measures of intelligence and and many flaws in human’s powers of reasoning, which cannot be considered as proper biases based on long cultural experience, as those kinds of things are social psychology and perhaps anthropology, not your field.
If you do journalism, you find discord. It sells.
If you do overviews of reality, some aspects of human existance are improving, even improving rapidly. Read Matt Ridley’s “Rational Optimist”.
But it seems to me that Taleb’s views of risks are much more sophisticated than Ridley, Taleb’s thick-tailed risk distributions are the world we live within, and my view of the reality that is failing is one of institutions degrading. All of the world’s institutions are inherently biased to honey-coat reality, their degeneration has progressed to the point none can even reliably produce a coffee percolator into carafe design and the opinions and sales channels which distinguish good products from bad and reward the good. They have guided their own evolution to make discord impossible, is one view, and thus can only degrade.
Too few people had skin in the game. This was a failure of a world-view, a change of epoch, a re-orientation of values.
And it is all the best work in their field, and there is no big picture yet. The same as with all new eras, no tracks have been to the horizon yet.
I do systems research and am arranging the large-scale emergent self-assembly of the next civilization. Wonder what I will find.
I had to get back to Tessels. They were still being raised by AIs, who were not human minds, that must have much less in common with us than our human minds had with a snail, even tho based on our concepts. The mind is constructed by the activities of a particular kind of brain. The whole question was, did that matter any more than the programming language that a software neural network was written in or the processor that it was executed upon? Even those details had mattered in various incidents, when some obscure hardware failure in a floating point or branch prediction circuit or bug in a code-generator function had produced incorrect results that had required re-doing many science and engineering papers and designs.
The question was “Did a servicebot’s mental aura around ‘warm color’ and their vision system’s cameras closely approximate an average human’s?” After all, most of them by this generation could see far into the infrared (they cooled their sensors) and further than birds into the ultraviolet. Did cool eyes change your mental association of ‘cool’, ‘warm’?
What was true of horseshoes, nails and empires had to be true of meanings of things like ‘warm’ in our relative minds. The problems of transmitting accurate information that our human institutions were revealing would be trivial compared to our servicebots turning out to be the culture traps that slavery had been or some equivalent diversion from a path of sustainable increasing civilization.
It seemed to me that servicebots, at this stage of their development, were making things easier, but were not overall improving life. They were a lot like the early cars, whatever convenience they produced was made up for with new problems of repairing tires and waiting for your wrist to heal. Horses were cheaper, but you could add more value with a car.
Hiring humans to do the work of handling the Tessels would have been cheaper, we initially wanted to minimize exposure to outsiders and then the combination of security and all of the work associated with handling children made them worthwhile, only the constant mis-understandings were problems, tho it seemed to me that the less-than-animal status that the ‘bots had in human minds wasn’t good for us for the same reason that slaves had been bad for average joes. It wasn’t the competition for work, it was the fact that having someone to be superior to anchored some important social concept too solidly and screwed up your sense of possibilities. It somehow fixes the size of the pie, slave societies are not as dynamic.
I didn’t even know how to think about all of this. The organizations such as People For The Ethical Treatment of Robots were getting louder in comparing them to slaves, and every new rant about ‘bots taking jobs or clever shot at ‘bots made the anti-bot position easier to agree with, and increased some people’s willingness to deal with ‘bots as non-human.
Which they were, of course. PETR got bigger and louder and sub-units more extreme, presto another division, another distraction. People stopped letting their bots go out alone, they were being vandalized, sometimes destroyed.
But the answers from the neurosciences were pretty clear, I thought. Reptiles weren’t as warm and friendly, on average. We all had our natures, and our natures were rooted in the flesh, in the hormones and nerves and guts, that animal side of human. Humans had human nature, and it was so interwoven through our mental constructs and institutions that humans have taken far longer to understand all of these things about ourselves than it has taken to master the physical sciences. Physical sciences and engineering consider that proof of their inherent superiority of mind. Cherry-picking the disciplines, I called it.
My Tessels were still being taken care of, and now trained by, non-human minds. I suddenly realized I needed to learn about critical periods in savants.
I hate deadlines.
In psyops, the message is the op.
*Generalissimo Grand Strategy, Intelligence Analysis and Psyops, First Volunteer Panzer Psyops Corp. Cleverly Gently Martial In Spirit
The inevitable link I should have made : Empathy. That is just good marketing analysis if you ask me. Get the strategy right, get the message right, roll out some good examples and keep the public eye on them, and eventually your views win.
I keep telling everyone that all that is right, right here on this web site. That you have to be careful of very obvious truths like the ones presented. So very reasonable, persuasive. And taking the the points of view of underdogs is pretty natural for me. Farms and labs, I have shoveled more kinds of shit than anyone you know, unless they are a zoo keeper.
So some empathy for the underdog, add in some sob stories and rank injustices and provocations and tit-for-tat accidental stupidities and pretty soon there is an insurgency, and it is center vs periphery dynamics, and centralization ceases to be the advantage it had been, the evolutionary dynamic edge is off in the distance, with all of the layers of honey-adding summaries shielding anyone with responsibility from reality.
It works in the world of ideas, also, of course. Stuff like this, SciFi for the smartest of our young, this generation’s “Moon is A Harsh Mistress”, Scherrhy assures me the Generalissimo impact on the Zeitgeist is regarded as even more important in scholarly circles in her time.
That just slid so much chaff into your mental intakes that I am surprised you can still breath. You went and read the damn warning.
And the same evening, I read this. Something new, and another opportunity for hybrid vigor beyond alleles and an aspect of the control layers of the state machines.