Saturday 22 June 2019

Born to do Math 125 - Mind and Brain, Gaps and Gods, Structure and Dynamics, Prediction and Action

Born to do Math 125 - Mind and Brain, Gaps and Gods, Structure and Dynamics, Prediction and Action
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
June 22, 2019

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, we are talking about order, persistence, etc., etc.

Rick Rosner: The most fashionable model of brain and model, as far as I understand - which doesn't mean that it is wrong and so it is probably mostly right, is that the sensation, computation, consciousness, qualia, and so on, comes from the - the idea is that the - function is to model the external world predictively that lets the organism anticipate what happens next and then assume the best stance relative to what happens next.

Jacobsen: Also, I want to make an unequivocal statement from you. I will put it in the form of a rhetorical question to just clear the water or air if anybody is ever reading this: does the mind not exist independent of the brain and its operations?

Rosner: Yes. 100 years ago, 80 years ago, 2,000 years ago, if you asked people who thought about it all, you would get answers that indicated that the mind is not something necessarily magical or spiritual, but somehow made of different stuff and not generated by material, the physics, and the biology of the brain and the body in general.

Jacobsen: The structure and dynamics of the brain do not exist independent of the mind and vice versa.

Rosner: 300 to 200 year ago, you would get the idea that the brain is a receiver or intermediary between the magical mind stuff and the material world. That the mind was not a product of material processes. It worked within stuff separate from the material world. 

Whereas in the last 50 years, it has become increasingly accepted that the mind is a product of the physical and biological processes. Although, there might have been a few who speculated that this is the case. They were by far the minority until some time into the 20th century.

You talked about the God of the Gaps. Science keeps squeezing out where magical stuff can happen. Science operates on most of the board. There are fewer and fewer places for the mystical mind stuff to exist.

Jacobsen: Yes, I agree.

Rosner: People think that the brain works to get you ready to address the world by modelling the world, by making you half aware of what might happen next. In some instances, you're getting ready for what is going to happen next. 

You see a car coming towards you. It is two feet away, or a fist is coming at your face. You jumped off a six-foot wall. What is going to happen, the fist, the ground, the car, are going to be making contact. This is the main focus now. 

It is an inevitable event. But in general, what you're anticipating is a bunch of different possibilities along with different time scales, what you're going to have for lunch, what happens if you go in for a kiss, you need to make another rent payment.

It depends on what your focus is. You've got a kind of a rough awareness of a bunch of possibilities in different spheres of your life. Your brain tries to take the best stances towards all those events, which depends on the quality of your senses, the quality of your thinking.

That is dependent on, among other things, the size off your brain, the sophistication of the connections of the various components of your brain, your brains ability to hold onto memories and analyze new sensations, the quality of your sensory apparatus, which mostly depends on the quality of your equipment and the sophistication and durability of your processing equipment.

You've got sensory equipment. You've got processing equipment. The various measures that you can apply to this stuff will determine the quality of the model of the world. Ours is better than a grasshopper. A grasshopper has a real half-assed picture of the world.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: It is ditto for a worm. There's no way an amoeba is conscious. Unless, you're willing to extend consciousness down with some index. If our measure was 1, the amoeba's would be 14 digits to the right of the decimal point to the point where that doesn't even count as conscious. 

The quality of modelling the world is proportionate to the quality and quantity of the equipment. Then if we're looking at the universe as an information map, as a physical embodiment of the information within a vast awareness, a vast information process system, then there are measures of the material world that have something to do with the quality of that information system and whatever it is modelling, assuming that it is doing the same job that we think our minds and brains are doing. Right?

Jacobsen: Yes.

Rosner: Some of the numbers might be indicative of the scale and quality of that model are that there are 10^80th or 10^85th particles in the universe. That there are 10^11th galaxies each containing 10^11th stars with each star containing roughly something 10^60th protons or neutrons, or whatever. 

The scale of a proton, it has a wavelength of - I haven't looked it up in a long time - one ten billionths of a centimetre is its deBroglie wavelength. It is very not fuzzy. The extent to which a proton is fuzzy is space or is indeterminate is teeny, teeny. It is to one ten billionths of a millimetre, say. 

All the various matter is space is precisely located. You've got all kinds of matter. It is precisely arranged. It is clumped in a bunch of clumps - 10^22nd clumps, 10^22nd stars in the visible universe. Clumping is a measure of the kind of development of the universe.

The universe is one mushy thing is not very differentiated. A universe that is clumped into 10^22nd clumps with each clump as a star is highly differentiated. You could argue that the differentiation or the clumped upness of the matter is a measure of the degree of fidelity of the universe and the information that it contains.

So, you can also argue that in a lot of universes that order is increasing. There are processes that we have talked about that contribute to the overall increase of order or the overall increase of information within the universe.

That is the long-range sharing of information, the sharing of information across billions of light years. Because most photons, once they escape their immediate environment or once it gets out of the Sun - I do not know how long an event of nuclear fusion takes to get from the center of the Sun to the outside of the Sun. But it has to ping pong a lot. (I haven't looked it up in a long time. So, I don't know how long.)

It is going to keep going for many billions of lightyears because there is less stuff for it to run into than for it not to run into. When you look at the night sky, it is dark. I think that is Olbers' Paradox, which was figured out by Edgar Allen Poe.

The question, "Why if the universe if filled with stars when you look at the sky at night is it dark?" Because if there is an infinity of stars, then, at night, when you look at the night sky it should be as bright as the surface of the Sun.

Poe solved the riddle by saying, 'It just means that there are a finite amount of stars and the universe has only been around for a finite amount of time." By the same idea, a photon will not run into stuff. If it does run into something, it is going to be way the frick far away, because the universe is mostly empty or mostly a near vacuum.

It is comprised of stuff or space that is going to allow the photon to keep going. Assuming, and we have talked about how it is not unreasonable to think, that the universe we see needs an armature external to the universe, to keep track of the information in the universe, to store it, in the way that our minds need a brain to be the physical hardware that holds or exists in the state that reflects the information in the mind.

Assuming that the armature of the hardware is competent and is not degrading, then the processes in the universe, the large scale sharing of information should increase the amount of information in the universe and make the universe even more intricate over time.

Photons going on and on and then losing their energy to the curvature of space, which is the same as losing information is the same tacitly shared information with the wider universe. That is a fairly simplistic process.

A photon gets emitted and just goes. That is not that many steps. It is a simple process. Then you have order generating processes on places like the Earth where things become more orderly and then more complicated.

They evolve and we evolved, and life on the surface of the planet evolves across hundreds of millions and billions of years in a local fashion. A planet that was just not ordered cools down becomes an order generating system.

Then the question becomes, "What does this local increase in order have to do?" But another question before that, "What does an increase in order within an information processing system look like?"I would say that it looks like what has been going on with our televisions.

You just have a decrease in the graininess, an increase in precision, and an increase in the fidelity with which something is modelled. Right? You go from a picture that consists of a hundred pixels to something that consists of a hundred million pixels.

The model of the world becomes more detailed and accurate in the way the mind or the information processing system is not even necessarily aware of. When I was a teenager, I did a lot of a stupid shit. My model of the world was sufficiently underdeveloped that any time that I came up with a plan, then it was likely to not work in the way that I intended.

Now, I am 40 years old. My plans are less ambitious. I have a higher success ratio with the things that I intend to do. I would guess that my model of the world after 40 years of gaining experience is more accurate and more detailed.

But on a moment to moment basis, I have not noticed an increase in accuracy of my model of the world. I have not a degradation of my sensory apparatus. My eyes are blurrier. My experience does not feel more accurate, detailed, and precise than when I was a dumb teenager.

But my experience of the world and my model of the world probably has become much more accurate and detailed and informed by past experience. So, we can guess that there is a fair chance that the entity that is embodied in the information in the universe may not even be aware of a gradual increase in the information that it contains.

To get back to local manifestations or increases in order where life evolves, perhaps even beyond planets if the life on planets starts building and extending civilization into the solar system and perhaps beyond, the question, "Does this local stuff have much to do with the increase or the overall increase in information in the universe?'

My guess, "Yes, but not much, until, the local increases in order become less local." Life on a planet is piddling compared to the overall scale of the universe. Perhaps, only appreciably impacts the overall order of the universe when it goes big, which it has time to do.

Let's say life when it reaches a certain level of sophistication is likely to persist or it is going to develop ways to not be wiped out. I am reading a book called Falter by Bill McKibben, who is a writer on ecology.

He says humanity is about to destroy the world so badly that the human enterprise is doomed. I don't buy that. I think technology will save humans from themselves. I would also say that humans and the related descendants 500 years from now will be much more likely to survive for a very long time than we are.

An increase in sophistication once you get over some humps means that that civilization might go for thousands and even billions of years. It gives those civilizations time, perhaps, to involve themselves with the large scale affairs of the universe.

At which point, those local increases in order will be much less local and much more contributory to the overall increase in order within the universe, much more fine-grained in helping the universe in its reactions to information and to sensory input - and to the equivalent of thought.

All without the proposed awareness that is embodied by the information that we think the universe is made of. All without that awareness being very aware. There is not a strong coupling between the events, that matter based events, in the universe that we see on the local level.

The trivia of what the matter is up to and what the overall universe is aware of.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer
Rick Rosner

(Updated March 7, 2019)

According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the "World’s Smartest Man." The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named "Best Bouncer" in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. He came in second or lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory. 

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceversusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
In-Sight Publishing

(Updated September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:


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