One of the interesting topics that we bandy around from time to time is the question of whether humans really have free will, or there’s just a very persistent illusion that makes it look like we do. Now, I find the idea of us not having free will at all rather sinister, and prefer not to believe that it’s possible that we have none, but I also find the idea that our decisions are simply the product of our minds equally absurd – this especially grates on me insofar as we humans love to punish each other – sometimes for the most abysmal things (I gesture you to Loving vs. Commonwealth Of Virginia for a example of this) that we later come to realize we shouldn’t have been punishing anyone for – but sometimes for things that are clearly suboptimal but still might not be definable as choices that people are making with their free will intact.
Jumping back up to the head topic for a minute, our minds structurally change as we learn new things, or have experiences good or bad. If someone is physically abused, the resulting physical traces in their minds – the wiring in their lion / no lion subnet – will change the decisions they make for the rest of their lives – and even something as simple as learning about a new topic will inform the decisions that we make in the future. So clearly our free will does not exist in a vacuum, and often when we are engaging in suboptimal behavior, you can trace the source back to suboptimal things that were done to us – and you can trace this backwards in time, generation after generation. Some of it is probably legacy all the way back from when ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ was the law of the land and we were extremely violent because we had to be in order to survive.
For all our religions that advocate forgiveness, we are not a particularly forgiving people. In addition, as I’ve talked about in previous articles, when people behave in ways we don’t like, we toss them into a system that is designed to be abusive – thusly breaking them worse. Frequently, when they come out, they behave in even more suboptimal ways, and we blame this on them rather than on ourselves as a society because hey, blaming people is fun, and enables us to feel superior.
But, beyond my dislike of the criminal justice system and indeed every system we have in place for fixing broken people (most of which don’t, and many of which break them worse, suck all the money out of their bank accounts, or both at the same time) I do think the question of how much of us is free will and how much of us is the inevitable, state-machine like responses to stimuli is worth examining, probably even with some hard science. I don’t think that we’ll find that we are entirely state machines, but I also am fairly sure we will not find that we are entirely creatures of free will either. However, we’re such good storytellers that even when we are responding to a series of signals lighting up clusters of subnets in ways that leave us very little choice (because there’s only one really good response path) we can tell ourselves stories that make it look to us like we are acting perfectly inside the world of free will.
Another possibility that I have considered is that in fact time doesn’t work the way we think it does – that while we perceive time as a linear experience, all of the decisions actually happen all at once, at the top of the tape so to speak, and then we experience them being played out in linear time.
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.
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 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.
hought: both your lover and the devil will explore giving you exactly what you want.. but they are very much not the same thing
the devil wants to tease you with what you want, to demonstrate your exact flaws as a individual, perhaps even to enslave you
your lover wants to literally give you what you want, to make you feel good, perhaps even to set you free
How, if you’re in a turing test with the two of them, can you tell the difference?
So, I discussed in a earlier article a inevitable neurological war that I see set up entirely too often. You can find that article here if you’d like to review the bidding.
I submit to my audience that Christianity as I see it implemented on Earth, at least amongst a number of it’s adherents, sets up a similar inevitable neurological war. Subnets have to decide whether they’re going to submit to the idea that God is Love, and Love keeps no record of past wrongs, or submit to the idea that God is Justice, and will torture you for all eternity for the mistakes you make here. Both messages are contained within the same religion – along with a very nice bit of code to make it both viral, and not self-updating.
In other words, it’s malware. It sets up a neurological game of Go, very likely in order to make it easier for the Powers That Be to control us by limiting the amount of use of our 10^11 neurons we can make.
Now, I don’t deny that some people manage to transcend this feature of it. I don’t doubt they are the ones for whom the idea of God being Love is the important one, and them as have a broad and complex definition of Love. I wouldn’t deny that Love will occasionally deliver you a difficult lesson. I do continue to insist that the only way that Love would place you in hell for all eternity is if you A: asked for it and B: continued to ask for it, repeatedly, for all eternity, knowing that that is what you were asking for.
At this point, I’ve got my eyes out for neurological games of Go in general. I’ve come to suspect that the operating system loaded by entrainment into most humans has a very high suck factor and that A: we can do better and B: we should do better
So, one of the things I’m weeding out in my own mind is neurological games of Go that have no end and benefit no one.
As I’ve talked about, I’m pretty sure that you can experience amazing things – and quite desirable ones – if you get the *correct* neural operating system loaded on your minds.
New from Sheer, angsty prog rock. Almost Floydian:
Drums: Bruce DeGrado & Sheer
Everything Else: Sheer
Day after day
Things fade away
How am I supposed to be okay
With the things you say?
And night after night
Things aren’t quite right
The fading of the light
Dark is bright
So many holes
Will we ever be made whole
Over and over we’re forced to let go
Of the things we love and know
So, I can’t remember if I discussed in a previous post my working definition of evil. Understanding that it should be possible to give anyone any experience they would ever want to have in simulation, without needing any fancy VR gear – just needing the proper configuration set up on their mind – evil would, in my view, be the people who would not be satisfied with the *simulation* of control over other people or hurting other people, but who would want the experience in which other people are actually being hurt – and people who don’t want to be hurt, even though this gains them nothing but the idea that someone else is being hurt.
It’s probably too sophisticated a definition.. I mean, it certainly isn’t something that you can define quickly.. but it forms a working map for what, when I find in myself, I will root out and remove, mercilessly. It’s a special type of stupidity that I don’t think should exist. Not just cruelty, but cruelty that insists that the target of the cruelty be someone who doesn’t want to experience pain.
Now, we all know that it’s possible you could end up with a ideal universe just by matching up the masochists with the sadists. I haven’t heard any reasonable provisions for doing this, which is yet another argument in favor of the universe not currently being run by a intelligent designer. If we needed another argument for that. Of course, it’s possible that the universe *is* and my *experience* of it isn’t, see previous discussions on the topic. Which is just one of a number of reasons why rooting out evil in my own mind seems like a worthy goal.
So, here as a work by Fraud In France Lite, we have a old John Prine cover, Angel From Montgomery:
Keys, synths, vocals, percussion, and guitar: Sheer
Drums: Bruce DeGrado
Bass: Art Day
Additional Lyrics: Sheer, Mike Mesford
So, I’m still working Angel through the process. Still haven’t managed to get vox tracked for it.