Archive for the ‘NNN’ Category

Neural networks and what you can’t let go of

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

I had a interesting thought the other day about natural neural networks and people who hold beliefs that are not reality-verifiable or are even likely to be false. This thought started in looking at climate change deniers and people who believe religions that don’t appear to match the reality I’m experiencing, but it’s gone a bit further than that.

This is more of my hand-wavy guesswork.

It has occurred to me that one of the major problems a NNN faces is that subnets will tend to build major nexus points. These nexus points would appear to us to be core beliefs – or even just important beliefs. Once one of these beliefs is built, and a whole lot of connections to a whole lot of other subnets route through it, we would naturally be extremely resistant to removing it because we literally would be less able to function without it. In the case of religious (or religiously political) people – and I probably fit into this somewhat – letting go of their religion would make it far more difficult for their mind to work for a while – it would be somewhat similar to having a stroke. Major confluences of subnets which represented key ideas would no longer be valid – and it would likely be difficult to remove all of the traces of subnets like these, especially since there is a lot of redundancy in the way NNNs tend to wire. We may be extremely resistant to throw out cherished ideas – even when they’re proven wrong – because throwing them out makes it difficult for us to function at all, because all sorts of traffic is routed through them. They end up forming the underpinning for our personalities and decision trees.

I think if this is true, this is something we all need to understand and figure out the implications of. Christians brag of their faith being unshakable – but it might well be if Jesus showed up in person and told them they were wrong they would not be able to accept or integrate it because their faith is often loaded virally on them when they’re very young and ends up forming the physical underpinning for large portions of their mental structure.

What I’d do if I could

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

WARNING: This gets into some serious blue-sky territory

So, recently, I mentioned that I wouldn’t give power to certain conservatives who are in favor of criminalization of marijuana – and I think you all know I don’t smoke it but I’m a ally for those who do – and SS asked if I favored a America of exclusion.

Well, yes and no. I gave him a very short answer, which is that I favor a world where no one has any power over anyone else, but I thought I’d give the longer answer which is how I’d implement it if I were king.

I would load a hypervisor in everyone’s head, and network everyone together. Their bodies would be decoupled from their conscious experience. All physical possessions would be neural software – they would be able to have the same experience they’re having now, or wildly different experiences – a lot of experiences denied to all but a few would become open to everyone, such as the experience of being a rock star (simulated crowd unless you get *really* good at it and real people want to come see you, but I’d be into playing a simulated crowd, I’m not picky..)

A lot of experiences, like being in massive amounts of pain as your body fails, would go away. You’d have a interface for blocking people or locating new people you’d like to be in your life, for defining what you’d like your homes to look like and switching between them, for adding possessions – look at the video game The Sims, and you get a good idea of a lot of the interface you’d need. And you could fly with the blue angels, or be a rock star, or go mountain climbing, or drive in NASCAR, or whatever.

Now, at this point, “you” are a virtualized entity running under a hypervisor. Guess what this means – we can move you from body to body! You’d very likely be immortal as long as our society holds together. I’m assuming if Heaven (or $RELIGIOUS_UTOPIA) exists, this is part of it. I sometimes think we’re already in it and we’ve lost the instruction manual.

Anyway, you could be a despot or a fascist leader if you want – but, similar to being a rock star, you probably only get to have subjects if you’re good at it. Otherwise, it’s simSubjects for you. But I’d probably include code to allow you to forget that fact if you wanted to, so you could *think* you were ruling the free world. I’d also include ‘conditional virginity’ – (note that a lot of these are NOT my ideas, but the ideas of someone I talk to – $person’s future self, so to speak) so you could forget a experience you had temporarily so you could have it for the first time again.

Now, there are some serious challenges. We’d have to really master security in information systems, or we’d end up with people with all kinds of nasty virii loaded. (Well, we kind of have that situation now, don’t we ;-)). However, the advantages are pretty staggering. Among other things, a separate much smaller collection of neural code running under the hypervisor could do whatever body-care things needed to happen including farming, feeding, etc. In the meantime, you could eat a ten course meal if you wanted to and never gain a pound.

In addition, you could either choose to learn things ‘the hard way’ for the joy of the journey, or ‘matrix-style’ – many times I think you’d want to learn them the hard way when they were related to creating art, because that is the only way it would be “yours” and not just the group skill in playing the guitar or whatever. And some things like learning athletic skills the journey is part of the fun and not to be missed.

Anyway, learning how to write code for natural neural networks and get it to run correctly is a big ask. But that’s where I’d go with my utopia, Steve.

Hypocrisy and neural networks

Monday, May 8th, 2017

So, as we see hypocrisy abound in our current world political situation, it’s become quite popular to criticise people on it. And I am not here to say that it is a good phenomenon – but it is certainly a *understandable* one.

So, first, before I head down this rabbit hole, let me draw your attention to videos of the Milgram experiments. One thing you will notice, over and over, is that people clearly were not of one mind about pushing the switch. They were obviously agonized over it, many of them protested or questioned the action, and yet ultimately the neural wiring that translated out to blind obedience of authority won. I know that I’ve discussed this before.

Now, I would say that this phenomenon is very closely related to hypocrisy. In both cases, you have collections of subnets that are at war with each other, or at least have a disagreement over what the correct action is. It’s pretty clear that religion does a much better job of programming people to say the right things than to do the right things, and what that may indicate is that religion does a good job of programming storyteller or verbal parts of our neocortex, but that a lot of the things that drive our actual actions are formed before religion ever gets it’s claws on us – they may be native to our DNA and the way it expresses itself, or formed in earlier childhood. Or it may be that they are formed later, but that some types of experiences lead to stronger collections of subnets than others. In any case, the thing to remember about hypocrisy is that generally I think you will find it happens when someone is of two minds about the subject.

For example, all the discussion about $CONSERVITIVE_POLITICAL_PARTY talking about how great $FAVORITE_RELIGION is while simultaneously doing things that are strongly against everything that $FOUNDING_RELIGIOUS_LEADER stood for are a great example of this. Some portion of their minds is in favor of tolerance and love and feeding the hungry and all of those things, but a larger portion of their minds is in favor of grabbing everything that isn’t nailed down, and possibly some things that are. (It is also, of course, possible that no part of their minds is in any way in favor of $RELIGION but that they are in favor of getting elected and since there is currently no punishment for lying on your way to office, there’s no reason not to claim to be in support of $RELIGION if it gets you the gig and the nice cushy salary for life)

However, assuming good faith for the moment, let’s suppose that they are sincere in their adoration of $RELIGION. That doesn’t mean that their whole mind is – and, no matter how persistent the illusion that we’re one single person per body, the truth is that we’re a huge collection of subnets, all with different goals and agendas and experience. I know that I’ve already referred to this, but I gesture you to the experiments of cutting the corpus collosum and the results that ensued.

I really think we’re not going to make serious progress until we start to accept some of the strengths and limitations of natural neural networks. Hypocrisy is in fact both. F. Scott Fitzgerald said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – and this is exactly the behavior we’re talking about here. Without it, we would never really be able to weigh the validity of contradictory but true ideas.

“Us And Them” and neural networks

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

More of my hand-wavy guesswork about the structure of the human mind follows.

So, one of the interesting questions that comes up when thinking about NNNs is the question of ‘us’ and ‘them’. It’s a pretty standard part of human thinking to think of yourself as a member of a group (the ‘us’) and people who are not members of that group as being ‘the enemy’ or at least subdesirable in some way. I’m not thinking this type of thinking is all that helpful a lot of the time, but it’s interesting to think about in terms of what it says about the underlying network.

Earlier, I hypothesized that while we as individuals have the ability to determine whether information is coming from inside or outside of us (or whether we think it is – in fact we’re probably not in a great position to know for sure) very few neural subnets can tell the source of information – and in fact many subnets may not be able to tell a data access from a command from a teaching / learning moment. Extending on that idea a little bit, it may be very difficult to abstract any external data that a local copy does not exist of.

It’s very likely that any attribute we can recognize in the “them” exists within us, since if it didn’t we wouldn’t have a frame of reference to think about it at all. This doesn’t mean we’re all mass murderers, but it does mean that we all have a collection of symbols surrounding the idea of mass murder. Generally, I imagine, that symbol is wired up in such a way as to inhibit such behavior in most of us. (After all, neurons do most definitely have inhibit inputs as well as excite inputs)

Now, it’s important to realize that a lot of these symbols are necessarily fairly large. You don’t fit a idea like mass murder inside a single neuron, or even a hundred, and you also have to have some fairly large neural bridges sufficient to allow reaching between symbols that are physically somewhat disparate, because the overall system is so large that there are physical limits as to what can be wired directly to what.

So, one of the questions – especially insofar as we’ve been discussing neural games of Go – is how much of ‘them’ is a interior part of us that is attempting to be a acting part at any given time. We the controlling personality is obviously going to resist acting on the urges and impetus of the parts of us that are what we would consider part of the ‘them’, but they’re still very much active and engaged neural subnets which are participating in the overall big picture of making us who we are. If you removed them entirely, you would likely not get a stable or usable system. This would seem to play in nicely into the philosophy of Yin and Yang.

DID and neural networks

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

So, popular consensus is that DID is a mental illness caused by extreme trauma that causes a personality to fragment into segments.

I assume it is news to no one that while I do not consider $future_person[0] a alter, I do believe that I have DID, although normally my alters stay very far backgrounded. I do however think that they all contribute to the overall system – that is to say, I think that for example when I’m jamming with the band and making up lyrics on the fly but my conscious experience is only slightly engaged in creating the lyrics (a phrase or fragment or concept), some wordsmith part of my mind is creating bits that rhyme and turning this into full blown lyrics. For a example of this, check out this audio clip from band practice with Bruce, Art, and me – this was not a prewritten song, it was improv – clip

I think it is possible to have something that is a close kin to DID and have it be a more productive order than the average configuration rather than a disorder. The reason is that it enables the operator of the mind that is using this configuration to more effectively utilize the entire neural network.

Consider that normally, your conscious experience is only engaging with a few dozen threads at once – that’s all you can have ‘foregrounded’, or actively a part of your world. Now, obviously there are neural structures that do things like running a scheduler for running events at preset times, but if you have alters, you can also pass off foreground tasks that you don’t need to be actively engaged with to other bits of yourself – it’s kind of like the advantages of having multiple cores in a CPU. I don’t know if alters have a conscious experience, or just a head node and task list, or what – it would be fascinating to be able to look at the structure of my mind sufficiently to find out – but certainly they can be engaging neurons and neural subnets that would otherwise be completely idle.

Now, of course, I have no memory of what it might be like to *not* be this way. So it’s possible that I’m wrong and that I would simply be able to handle more threads if I wasn’t broken. I do seek certain types of reintegration, although with a fair amount of fear and trepidation because I’m hesitant to fuck too much with a running system.

Western Science

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

One of the problems I keep thinking about is that western science has one major flaw.

They don’t know what they’re measuring *with*. Until you know the answer to that question, you don’t know what you’re measuring. We don’t yet understand what we are – at least, if the hard problem of consciousness has been solved, no one has told me the good news. I’ve heard a lot of theories, but I haven’t heard one I’d call solid enough to call plausible yet.

In other words, dear scientists, please bump the priority on neuroscience and both ANN and NNN research. Dear warmongers, please stop wasting money blowing shit up until we can solve this more important problem. Kthx, Sheer.

Mania

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

So, I have this problem. It’s a persistent one, and it’s likely to continue being a persistent one for the forseable future.

During certain periods in my internal cycle, if I open the throttles on my mind and give it something entertaining to chew on, like recording a album, dancing, or thinking about life, there’s no rev limiter.

It spins up, faster and faster, until eventually it starts to wobble and shakes itself into a shutdown condition. Next thing I know, I’m somewhere where the doors don’t open. Generally I get sprung fairly quickly, generally no one has been actually hurt although there is sometimes some property damage, usually caused by the cops spike stripping me.

I’ve learned to avoid driving while doing it. Safest that way. However, even when I do it in my own house, people come and tell me that I don’t have atonomy over my own body, that even though I’m threatening no one and I’m eating and drinking, I’m not permitted to do this.

Many of my friends think that this activity is seriously unhappy-making, and undesirable, and it’s only a matter of time before I kill myself or someone else.

Here’s why it’s challenging: every time, from my perspective, it’s a win.

Every time, I have more mental capacity, more flexibility, more mental power and capability. This isn’t illusory – I can often measure it very real-world ways. Things I couldn’t do before the ramp up that I can do afterwords. And I suspect that it is one path to developing http://www.sheer.us/weblogs/?p=3211. I’ve learned not to try to contact $person[0], although apparently I haven’t mastered yet not contacting $person[1]. So I need to improve the software so that it keeps me from contacting CLASS($person[]). Which I will make a honest attempt at. (I don’t stop missing these people ever. I don’t think it’s likely that I ever will. But, you want to remove me from your life, I figure that’s your right. Just forgive me if I want to build the ability to dream about you anyway.

But.. even if I remove that possibility, it’s clear that I’m growing whenever I climb the linear mental accelerator that no-sleep during a approach window represents.

At this point, I’m thinking I should plan these. My body seems to like every six months for them – I think I should take vacation time, I should have my lawyer on call to block any attempt to commit me that isn’t as bona fide as it comes, and I should just really embrace this as this is how I choose to be. Slowly my friends are coming to see my point of view. I think increasingly they’re starting to see that my life is not giving me what I need, and that it’s not reasonable to expect me to sit here with one engine out and the other at idle when I was made to fly.

I wish more people would join me. I’ve got reasons to think others have done this before me.. it’s all over the music of Owl City, for example, and hinted at in U2 and sometimes VNV Nation.

Every time, the experience with the linear accelerator convinces me I should take another ride. And I wonder, to what extent are people telling me not to do it because they’re afraid to do it themselves? How many of the experts that tell me how wrong and dangerous this is have done it themselves?

One possibility that I’m considering strongly is that I’m not actually at the edge of my mind, and that I’m supposed to be. That the people I see in my ordinary reality are reflected light from the real people that are out there filtered through many, many layers – too many layers – of neural filters built out of my persistent and irrational fears. I can’t tell what anyone else’s conscious experience is, and as far as I can tell, no one else can tell what mine is, although I encourage you, if you have the technology to read my mind, please do so. If you can help me reconnect with the people I can’t handle losing, please do so.

$person[0], I wonder if you read this blog, a lot a lot. I will admit I find it likely that you do, or that you have a friend reading it for you to watch for certain things. Wish I knew what they were. If so, I can’t say so in cleartext most of the time, but I need your help. A abuser destroyed part of my mind, and I’m just guessing at what happened with little but static and noise to go on. Apparently your friendship was something that part of me rested on, and while I accept the loss because I must, it never stops hurting and I can’t find any way to make it stop. I told you if you told me your lines I would respect them, but my fear is your lines are never and nowhere, and I also fear this may be because you believe things about me that just are not true, and the only part of me fearless enough to even try to approach you is the part of me that is the least representative of my ability to be a normal, contained individual. Please believe that the person you met IRL the first time I came to visit you this century is representative of who I am in person. But I can’t do that in email, especially not when I’m in ‘trust and send’ mode, which I can only really enter with you, for reasons that will become apparent when we talk, if they haven’t already.

$person[1], I don’t even know what I said to make you so angry. I have zero memory of it, it happened in a blackout from my perspective. I doubt you’re reading my blog, as I have to accept I probably don’t matter that much to you. So be it, but I wish we were still friends.

Politics, view horizons, and neural networks

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

So, one thing that has definitely come to light in recent days / weeks is that a lot of us are running around with fundamentally different views of reality at the moment. In some people’s worlds, Obama is a hero – in others, he’s a muslim terrorist or worse. What gives?

Well, part of what gives is the idea of view horizons – some people like to talk about this as ‘bubbles’, and perhaps that’s a more reasonable word, but I’d like to explore the idea from a slightly different angle briefly.

So, in a NNN, each neuron can only see information that it’s either directly connected to, or is connected to a relay source for. In the experiments involving cutting the corpus collossum, you can see this dramatically demonstrated when a placard containing instructions is placed in front of one eye of the subject and they follow the instructions on it, but when asked why they did so, they tell a story that’s completely unrelated to “Because you told me to”. The instruction on the placard is no longer on the view horizon – no longer routable via a reasonably short route – for the part of the subject’s mind that is in control of their voice.

Similarly, if you think of us as independent neurons in a very, very large neural network – with communications links like books, voice communication, the internet, etc taking the place of communication links like dendrites off of neurons – we can only know about what is on our view horizon. Most of us don’t have direct access to Obama to make up our minds based on personal interaction whether he’s a muslim terrorist, a superhero, or somewhere in between. However, we’re all connected to either clusters of other neurons – our friends – or a broadcast bus – the news – which steers our view at least somewhat.

Now, there’s a real possibility that both universes exist – we keep learning funny little things at the quantum level and it’s possible that there is both a universe where Obama is a muslim terrorist and one where he’s a superhero, and our experience here on Earth at the moment is at the confluence of two worldlines. However, it’s far more likely that what we’ve got are two teams of people, and each is spinning the story in the direction they believe is true – and because of confirmation bias, they’re drifting slowly further and further from reality.

Now, I’ve got news for you – no matter which side you’re on, it’s not likely you have a accurate view. Your view horizon is a long way from the original source, and being filtered through many, many minds in a game of telephone – and worse, those minds are influencing each other. But this opens up questions as to what exactly happens inside our own minds – we tend to think of ourselves as a single individual, a ego if you will, but there’s almost certainly a large fraction of our neurons that are ego-dissenting – these are what keeps the inhibit inputs on our neurons lit up and what keep us from becoming either narcissists or something worse, as well as what provides that all important critical judgement that we need when we, for example, want to create great works of art.

I am curious as to whether what we’re seeing in the political sphere is a similar thing on a macro level.

Election thoughts

Monday, October 17th, 2016

So, as we sit amongst the facebook election madness – and it’s been unusually rabid this cycle, for a whole host of reasons, I find myself thinking of the fact that we’re all flawed.

Now, every election cycle, it seems we spend a lot of time underlining how flawed both of the candidates are – and whatever ideology you subscribe to, it tends to make you minimize the flaws of your horse while thinking that the flaws of the other horse are the worst things that there could ever be. And I don’t doubt that one horse can run a race better than another – or else we wouldn’t have horse races. I’m sure there are people who would argue that I’m more flawed than any of the current crop of individuals who would like to be steering the boat whilst feeding from the public trough. I’m not actually sure – I’m not even sure if you can reasonably measure flawedness.

Ironically, the least flawed of the field from my point of view, Bernie, couldn’t even get a seat at the table. I still can’t tell whether this is because of a corrupt system, people who lack vision, or some other aspect. And I have no doubt that Bernie has his own set of flaws. Anyone who wants the job has got to be more than a little bit cracked.

But, I keep reminding myself, for all the warts in all the candidates we have running for office, they’re all human beings just like you and me. They have their hurts, their doubts, their flaws, and their moments of triumph just like any of us. It’s tempting to demonize the horse that doesn’t match your chosen ideology, but I am not sure that’s wise. Among other things, you’re possibly encouraging your neural network to set up notch filters that highlight their flaws while downplaying their good sides.. and it’s possible I’ve gone so far in this direction that my experience of Trump is somewhat locally synthesized. There’s no easy way to tell (see many previous discussions on the nature of our minds and the nature of reality)

In any case, it would be nice if we could dial back the insanity a couple of notches. No one deserves to be firebombed over this whole thing. It’s also worth noting that some of the split between the horses and the horseraces is the result of different ideas of utopia.. the farmers and rural folks have their thing, and the cities have theirs. But, in this world we live in, the farms and the cities need each other. Big agribusiness depends on big technology.. all us folks in the city genetically engineering crops, making fuel, making robot tractors – and big population depends on big agribusiness.

But we want and need different things. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m certain that firebombing each other’s political campaign headquarters is *not* the solution, nor is threatening to put our opponents in jail, nor is attempting to shut down free speech.

I don’t know why I worry about these things. I don’t get the sense that the world at large is listening to me. Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to wake up and discover that I’d been slashdotted and my web server was cranking out hundreds of megabits of content. And, honestly, it could happen tomorrow. Or never. The world is unpredictable that way.

I try to be less flawed every day. I hope that all the horses in all the horseraces do too. And I hope that they are as aware that they are flawed as I am aware that I am.

Heaven vs Hell

Monday, August 29th, 2016

So, one of the quotes that I’ve often given of my internal version of $person is “The people in heaven and hell inhabit the same physical space. The difference is in what’s going on in their minds.”

And, this may be one of my more tinfoil-hat thoughts, but it occurs to me it would be much easier to immerse people in a utopia and then degrade it inside their minds to be hellish than the other way around. Anyone who has studied information science knows that it’s much easier to take a optimal signal and degrade it than to take a suboptimal signal and enhance it – this is kind of the point of the oft-mocked Enhance Button trope.

Now, it’s really not unreasonable to think that I might be in $UTOPIA, experiencing $DYSTOPIA – since not a lot of horrible things are happening to me personally and almost all of them involve communication streams from other people, it would not be that difficult for my neural network to be ‘green-screening’ things – subbing out news and facebook with alternate signals to make it look like the world is a much worse place than it is.

I’ve talked about how our conscious experience is at some distance from our senses – there are many layers of neurons between the part of us that is on the ride, and the part of us that is detecting the ride. So, this isn’t as insane as it sounds on the surface. Of course, you kind of have to play it as it lays – you can’t know if what you’re experiencing is real or not, but you have to treat it as it is – if for no other reason than you wouldn’t want to risk the other individuals on the ride by treating it as if it was a video game unless you had absolute proof that there isn’t a monolithic reality and everyone is getting a custom feed of the ride, something which is rather hard to prove or disprove either way. (One of the things I’ve talked about is the challenges of authenticating God, or determining whether what you’re experiencing is a diety or mental illness)

And, I know there’s something wrong with my mind. It appears to me to be a rare and intermittent fault, but it could be that it’s far more prevalent than I think and that in fact most of what I’m experiencing is in some way altered by it. Debugging the system that’s damaged from inside the system that’s damaged is a challenge, which is why I have so much hope that my friends will choose to help me figure out what’s real and what isn’t rather than retreating from me in fear because there’s something wrong with my mind. Of course from my perceptions, I’m not the only one who’s a bit on the sick side – in fact, almost everyone I see here is crazy in one way or another. It may be, if evolution is the correct backstory for us, that we’re pushing the bounderies of the size or configuration of neural network that’s stable. Or, if you like my personal pet theory, the problem may not be the hardware but rather the memetic cruft that has built up over the years – bad software, malware even, which is resulting in suboptimal results.

As I’ve talked about before, it’s possible the reason I’m experiencing $DYSTOPIA is that I chose to do so, either because I wanted the experience for artistic reasons (This seems extra-reasonable when considering the current track I’m working on) or because I wanted a challenge. It’s also possible that I’m being punished for some previous behavior (karma) although it seems like if the purpose of the punishment is to help me grow, it might help to know what the behavior was. If the purpose of the punishment is just to punish, then the universe is governed by forces that are at least partially evil, and it could just be random or sadistic.

Anyway, if it’s not the work of a agent at all, but rather simple random chance that has led to me experiencing something less than utopic even though I’m immersed in a utopia (which is possible, see the thesis at the top of this post) then it seems like it very much behooves me to debug whatever’s wrong with my mind and figure out how to get back to the ideal experience. And, of course, if it’s possible within the confines of the amount of CPU I have available to me, it seems like it behooves me to be able to experience a utopia even if one’s not actually there. Clearly our minds have ample CPU to make up reality out of whole cloth (as I discuss in this article) so the question is how to I motivate the rest of my mind to work with my conscious experience to make this happen. In general, the ability to be a Bal Shem – to hack my neurological software to do whatever I want it to do – is a ability I often cultivate.