Politics, view horizons, and neural networks

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.

One Response to “Politics, view horizons, and neural networks”

  1. Alderin Says:

    I’ve been doing some NNN and ANN thinking during commutes (San Francisco Bay Area commuting: such lines of thought help me avoid boredom and road-rage). I’ve been pondering a couple of things.

    One, I think that at some point in the future, with technology and “biotech” going the ways they are, biology and technology will become a merged science. The line between “artificial neurons” and biological neurons will blur or be washed away as we use the much more efficient model. We may even find adjustments to our biology that enhance our processing, but that wasn’t the direction this post/response was intended to go.

    WITH the merging of biology and technology, we will likely be able to directly connect to our computer networks. One concept I had was an “auto search” where, when you form a question in your mind, a subroutine/subnet searches the network for the answer, and presents it back into your brain as knowledge. Thus: we all have all of the information we have all learned and posted. However, such an auto search has its scary side effects, similar to search logs and browser history privacy concerns. As in, what if you were just pondering the construction of a small bomb that could be hidden in luggage, for a story you were writing. The search record only knows that you searched for bomb construction, and without a fictional application context, this can be quite worrisome.

    If such a technology is taken to the next step, removing the conscious aspect of “posting” to the network, so that everyone’s experience and knowledge is connected to the network and available, we end up with a groupmind. While the “writing” aspect to the NNN is limited by using the auto-search, so that only information the individual wants is “downloaded”, this directionality is similar to NNNs, allowing the processing of a vast number of neurons to be presented to a smaller number of neurons. Having direct access to the experience of others would, I think, move us forward in more ways than imaginable.

    Of course, such a system would break so much of society and economy as we know it, and bring sharply into question many ideas including individuality. It would also create a Neural Network that combines Natural and Artificial, and we would be a part of it. This would be the largest NN, with vast processing ability, and vast resources of human imagination and creativity. (also a self-organizing distributed storage knowledge database, as “downloaded” knowledge is stored everywhere it is downloaded, and knowledge that is not accessed for an entire generation’s lifetime is lost with the previous generation’s life (unless artificially stored)).

    I think it would be a good direction, if individuality is not suborned in the process.

    As for relevance to your post, such a network would have “subnets” that represent your “bubbles”, but their horizons would naturally blur at the contact boundaries, because the question, “how can you think that?” would be answered as experiential knowledge downloads, in both directions. The hard-boundary bubbles we see today, due to the inefficient NNN to NNN communications we have now, would become gradients. Majority consensus would then, statistically, form from the average of the gradient in the position where the hard boundary was, because more “nodes” would have full knowledge from both sides of the boundary.

    We can’t predict the time-frame for when such tech+biotech is developed, but, the sooner the better in my opinion, for vast numbers of reasons.

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