Born to do Math 166 - I Dreamed a Dream
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
April 22, 2020
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let's talk about dreams.
Rick Rosner: Okay, if we're going to talk about dreams, when we're asleep, our brains are still doing a bunch of stuff. We're only vaguely aware of it. Only if you happen to wake up in the middle of a dream and try to figure out what happened, you've got enough of a record to have some idea. But mostly, the sleeping life of your brain is unremembered and vague. You know from being in dreams. The information available to the dreaming brain is really patchy, really incomplete. Often, a lot of the action in dreams is being confused because the information is missing or the brain is building new imaginary structures to make sense of things. Your brain is struggling to make sense of incomplete information. If IC is correct that there is a physics to the information in personal awareness, then the physics has to fit the mechanics of dreaming, where your brain is only half on; there's a logic to dreams. You have some information. Your brain tries to plug in the information. Dreams are a combination of partial information and the brain trying to struggle with not having all of the information.
Jacobsen: For those reading this, the main idea in IC is a technical, non-mystical consciousness. That which can be discovered by science in principle.
Rosner: There's two ideas of IC. One is the information within an information processing entity and often a conscious information processing entity has physical principles. That information, the world in which it exists, looks like our universe. The physics of information within an awareness or a sophisticated information processor looks like the physics of the universe.
Jacobsen: Within dreams, though, it's experienced randomly or uncoupled from sensory information.
Rosner: In dreaming, at least, your dreams are coherent enough to read as thoughts. You are conscious. In that, you can think and experience things, but the memory is crap because it is so not connected to your waking world. It's hard - unless, you try really hard to record it in your memory upon waking what you dreamt. The information in your awareness while you're dreaming has to, somehow, fit in with the physics of the information in your awareness when fully awake, whatever state you're in. One way of looking at it, assuming IC is correct in some way, is the changes that dreams make in your memory don't have to be as thoroughgoing because what happened didn't really register. It was virtual mental events as opposed to real mental events. You can only make mental events real by making them accessible to retrieval by having them impact the structure of our information world. So, if they didn't make changes, they didn't happen. If your dreams don't make any changes in the information map of your brain, then they didn't happen to you experientially. You could argue. It's not the best argument. Because the dreams happened, but they didn't impact on you.
Like when you get a colonoscopy, but when you hit your 50s, you need to get a colonoscopy. They put you in Twilight Sleep. You're awake and relaxed. You don't remember. They tell you, "You're not going to remember." I've had 2 or 3. The last one, I remembered most of it.
Jacobsen: What was in the dream?
Rosner: It wasn't a dream. You're awake with a tube up your butt. You're relaxed. I'm in my little gown. I've got the camera in my lower intestine. I'm looking at T.V. what my intestines look like; it's pink, which is pretty good. I wasn't too embarrassed. It would be embarrassing if not a clean out done beforehand with poop around.
Jacobsen: [Laughing] Have you read stories of how colonoscopies can go wrong?
Rosner: Some guy got poked. You probably have to be rushed to surgery. One guy had to cut it short because they rammed the camera too fast.
Rosner: Anyway, a mathematics that can embrace a conscious awareness or sophisticated information processing. The math, the physics, has to be able to handle the phenomenology, or something like that, or the physics of thinking when your brain isn't entirely on. Then similarly, it has to be able to handle the physics of information as when you descend into dementia or go insane. There has to be a physics of the remaining information in a fucked up brain. Otherwise, the theory is likely to be bullshit. I think, you are able to have the mathematics and physics handle the information in an incompletely turned-on brain. You look at the changes made in the information world by the thinking that's being done in the half-on brain. If it creates changes in the information world, then it is recorded and counts. Then you have to also look: if the universe is made of information, what does the universe look like when it's made of information that's being processed in a half-awake brain. It is going to be less of a turned-on universe. I would guess.
Jacobsen: Can I take on the opposite view? Why don't you buy these mystical, spiritual answers of the universe with synchronicity, Jung, magical entities, extra dimensions, non-falsifiability, and so on?
Rosner: One, for the last 50 years, people didn't use to have theories of how science is done. That's a recent thing in the last 50, 60, 80 years. One of the principles of the theory of science. You can do science without a theory of science. Kuhn and Popper had studied science itself. One of the principles was Falsifiability. It is not science; unless, it can make claims that can be proven or disproven via experiment.
Jacobsen: Is this related to Verifiability?
Rosner: Yes, same stuff, a lot of that stuff is usually unfalsifiable. A bad theory is one without the ability to falsify it. A half-awake brain is only a thing that happens if it leaves an impression in the information world and, by extension, in the hardware. At this point, I am guessing one of the units or mechanisms or changes in the brain that reflects memories being formed is dendritic. Do you agree by the way? Dendrites forming and falling away are the recorders of memory in the brain, of learning and experience.
Jacobsen: I would take one step back. Insofar as we know, we have a neuron with three parts. It has a dendrite or dendritic connections. It has a soma or cell body. It has an axon. Those have individual parts. Axons have the myelin sheath allowing rapid transmission of signals, as in white matter. These can contain 1,000 to 10,000 connections per neuron. These are acting dynamically with each other. You're probably talking 86,000,000,000 neurons times the 1,000 or 10,000 individual connections. Dendrites and axons, axons are the output. Dendrites are taking the input. So, they're both acting dynamically, but the axons appear to be more active, longer while the dendrites appear fatter with little tendrils. Dendrites tend to cause problems in the older with dementia when they develop fibrillary tangles. Their branches start getting messed up.
Rosner: Dendrites are the ones that can bloom and fall away, more transient and changeable than other parts of the neuron.
Jacobsen: I don't know. I know dendrites and axons are extraordinarily dynamic.
Rosner: Let's say it is the growing, shrinking, and tuning of those connections that record memory and experience. It is probably not a whole mini-computer in the neuron itself.
Jacobsen: Yes. It basically has a summative action where it takes in all the outputs from external axons into its own dendrites and it, if and only if, hits a particular amount of charge; it will fire. If not, then it won't.
Rosner: I don't think stuff is super-duper complicated within the individual neurons.
Jacobsen: I would look at neurons, in this model, as statistical engines with binary output. So, it's 1,000 to 10,000 inputs, and then it fires or doesn't. It is a statistical network in the neuronal networks too. Even more so, it is interesting. The gap junctions between the axons and dendrites don't contact. They are a train station or gaps for the neurotransmitters to be released through the axons to the dendrites as the basis for the summative action for firing or not firing to the axons to the other dendrites.
Rosner: I am saying the information is in the tuning and creating, and destroying, of those junctions, is where most of the information lies or is stored.
Jacobsen: That's an interesting point. It is a bit like a bowl or a wheel. The functional part of the bowl important for human beings is not the bowl; it is the half-sphere that you put the soup in. It's probably the same as the brain with its networks and gap junctions. It hosts information. It is in a reasonably rigid structure that allows changes in response to the environment and in its own internal environment with thoughts.
Rosner: You're saying the bowl itself, whether acrylic or wood. It is the shape, as long as you have an inner surface. It doesn't much beyond that.
Jacobsen: Yes, it is a way of saying, "Substance independence." It is a simple way of putting it.
Rosner: It doesn't matter what the bowl is made out of and as long as you have a concave shape that allows gravity to keep the object in place in its shape.
Jacobsen: Yes. Let's say you have a silicon solid base and electrons, some recent research with photons, which is interesting. They are at the speed of light and processing things rigidly. It is only different from coding and how to process things. It is silica and solid. I am ignoring external things like Brownian Motion entirely. With carbon-based forms, you have neurotransmitters. Those are shotgunned across the gap junction to the dendrite. The brain is solid. Its large gross anatomy is very observable from birth until death. Its microstructure is what matters and has lots of change. There's more flexibility there. But it's a lot slower.
Rosner: We have so many junctions. You can probably encode a lot of information by tuning the junctions. Creating new junctions, letting bad junctions disintegrate, and adapting in a machine-learning type way, it evolves over time.
Jacobsen: In the case of the carbon model, you have brute connectedness. In the silicon model, you have brute linear or serial-parallel processing.
Rosner: If your brain is experiencing only white noise...
Jacobsen: ...you're having an epileptic seizure [Laughing]...
Rosner: ... you can tune the brain with electroshocks. Let's say, your sleeping brain having no coherent thoughts. Incoherent thoughts, non-thinking brain activity lacks the machine learning function. It shouldn't make any changes in the connectivity to the brain. It shouldn't leave a trace. You can make the argument without axons and dendrites and junctions. Let's assume this is where the changes would go, it is not learning anything. So, there shouldn't be any changes to the junctions or whatever it is encoding. In a dream, your brain is awake enough to think and draw conclusions. You're dreaming lost in a museum, in your underpants, and trying to solve the problem of being in public in your underpants. What do you do? Your brain is trying to learn, but the stuff is bullshit. Because not much external inputted, but not entirely as it is from stuff that you've learned. Anyway, as your brain tries to problem-solve and analyze in the dream, it has the potential to make changes in your brain. I would guess; everything, in the IC sense, that happens in an awake brain and a dreaming brain should obviously be reflected in changes in the information world and other changes in the brain wherever information is encoded. I would guess this is associated with the junctions.
Jacobsen: In both models, an electron jumping between transistors. Same with the brain. It is the same general model.
Rosner: You can get into trouble talking about bits in the brain. I have a sense information isn't stored bit-wise in the brain. It is not stored with each junction acting in some computer-like way, but, rather, all the junctions acting in concert are storing information in what may not be a binary on-off type way.
Jacobsen: It may be both-and. The summative stuff feeding into a neuron. That's a lot more than binary. It is pluralistic. Its action potential is binary. It happens or doesn't. The networks layered on top of that are statistical and multi-logical.
Rosner: Although, the firing of a neuron may not be, even though it fires or doesn't. That firing may be more like running water through pipes or electricity along wires. It is doing work. The work it's doing needs the electricity firing and hitting the junctions to power the tuning of the junctions, to pass information from neuron to neuron. As it does so, it signals that something is there. Well, you may be right. It's both. It signals this neuron went off. Its relation with other neurons signals something. At the same time, the electrical energy in the brain flowing may do work. There used to be sending signals from hilltop to hilltop with guys with two flags. They would signal different letters or something with different arm configurations. It would be signals. If you had elastic bands attached to the guys' arms to power a generator while moving their arms around, then they would be signalling with the flags and providing the energy by moving their arms; that would help some machine to record their arm positions. Not only are they sending signals, but powering the device that records the signals.
Jacobsen: This is almost like cognitive momentum. It is as if the brain offshored or biology offshored future thought potential on what is currently being thought. The momentum of that is feeding into the future. The idea of energy, electrical current, flowing from next thought to the next thought to the next thought. There should be a predictable or expected outcome into the near future of the actions of the brain of more electrical current flowing in certain patterns.
Rosner: I am thinking of something else. When we talk longer, I get wronger and wronger. There are two types of information. There's the binary of individual neurons going off. Although, the network of neurons may not be connected; so, they're not connected like computers.
Jacobsen: That would certainly explain the strength and weakness differences.
Rosner: Also, the flow of electricity and neurotransmitters may be information; in that, as the fluid or the electricity as fluid flows among these connections, the connections are tuned and changed. So, it's a bunch of guys running with flags or flashlights making signals, but their stomping around changes the landscape and the landscape has its own information.
Jacobsen: Like deers marching making a long-standing path.
Rosner: Yes, like the cobblestones in Boston, London, or Paris, that are weird because they are cow paths in the past.
Jacobsen: It reminds me of escape velocity. You can get more and more energy pumping into a rocket. The rocket can finally escape into orbit or out of the orbit of the Earth. Either you're out of orbit or in orbit.
Rosner: It is a neuron built to notice other things based on connections with other neurons. In a sleeping brain, to get really simple, you will get see many neurons going off because neurons are systematic and are built to notice patterns. If you don't see patterns, and if no neurons firing, then no neurons firing in the normal systematic. way.
Jacobsen: We have the bottom layer of statistical summation. The statistical summation is binary and so not statistical like a light bulb getting enough juice to fire. Then the statistical networks with everything contextualized. If you're awake, it is bound to the world and makes more sense. If you're asleep and dreaming, the sense is uncoupled from regular awareness. Yet, you have regular connections. It explains why common structures come up, e.g., grandma, a puppy, etc. It is uncoupled, so free-play, but makes less sense because it is not contextualized.
American Television Writer
(Updated July 25, 2019)
*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*
According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing here, Rick G. Rosner may have among America's, North America's, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher Harding, Jason Betts, Paul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. 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 Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main "Genius" listing here.
He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmys, The 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. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. 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
(Updated January 1, 2020)
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