Archive for the ‘Neurology’ Category

Those Who Don’t Meditate Don’t Creatively Think

August 8, 2017

 

Thus meditation is at the core what it means to be human, let alone civilized.

This being said, there are many ways of meditating. Many  more ways than is usually considered, or believed.

The root of the word meditate, is the Proto Indo-European “med”: “taking appropriate measures”. Hence the Romans “meditari”, to reflect, consider, think it over.

The basic argument of some meditators is that they can put their mind in a different state, and logically and emotionally approach things anew. Calm and rest, slowing the heartbeat can do this. Right. It’s most appropriate, especially to hot heads. Those who tend towards road rage, ill-considered relationships, depression for shallow reason(s), drug, tobacco and THC addiction, abusing others, etc.

However, for more perfect, PC types, slowing one’s already supine mind will not bring mental perspective. The problem is the exact opposite to that of hot heads. The average, rather sedate and conformist Commons need to put their minds in different state(s) to reach greater perspectives, hence higher wisdom, through excitement, not anesthesia.

Hence violence and passion can lead to higher wisdom. Yes, they won’t slow down the heartbeat: that’s precisely the point. Indeed the human brain needs oxygen, nutrients, blood flow: the brain uses between 20%, 25% and 43% of a human oxygen… To try to change the brain by starving the brain of blood flow sounds more akin to hanging by the neck, than of conditions conducive to creative thinking.

Extreme situations can provide with extremely different perspectives, which, well interpreted, can provide with extreme wisdom as nothing else can.

For example, thinking about the same subject under very heavy exertion gives very different approaches and results than doing it half asleep in one’s bed as Leonardo Da Vinci, and quite a few other mathematicians or physicists have recommended to.

One can be swimming in the sea, and watch a giant shark pass by, and this will put oneself in a very different mental state. Irreversibly, most probably. I was personally caught in a giant rock avalanche, the largest rock avalanche I have ever seen, even on TV, and miraculously survived (meaning I won’t believe the story if someone told it to me). That changed me very deeply (not just the avalanche itself, but the near impossible survival)   

Actually, putting one in a completely different meditative state is the main advantage of extreme sports, and why they capture their practitioners so well. (Contemplate me!)

Enthusiasts sitting in a room, with high ceilings and a gong, can talk about approaching meditation through measured breathing all they want. Diving so deep in the sea, with just one’s lungs, so deep only the sandy bottom of the sea shines, FORCES one to master one’s breathing (and heart, and peripheral body, and brain). Meditate, or die. What could be more motivating, more thorough?

A human brain is a marvellous thing. Pain is generally experienced only when it’s profitable to do so, in light of the overwhelming necessity of survival of self, or significant other(s). The French solo sailor Alain Colas once calmly operated his giant sailboat with a nearly sectioned foot. He didn’t experience disabling pain (until he was in a safe situation). I experienced several torn tendons and two fractures on May 11. After the event, I calmly jerked back a finger which was out of its articulation. I learned that in B movies, but it worked. Then I started running again, as rescue was distinctly not on the mountain. I knew the pain was manageable if I got into action answering the situation. I did the same (on the same mountain!) when I was stung by more than 40 wasps.

The best, or at least the deepest, way to be reminded how powerful, and correct, the human mind can be, is to go extreme. Sitting in a lotus position without moving a neuron, won’t do it. Confronting the world will. It will not necessarily make you look, or sound, nice. But it will make you wise and good deep down inside.

Generally nastiness comes from sectarianism, and that, in turn, provides with comforts which, wisdom shows, should be denied.

Patrice Ayme’

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Mentality Trumps Logic

November 30, 2016

Mental States Trump (Local Linear) Logic

TRUMP MADNESS MENTALLY ENLIGHTENING, thank you, all of you, clueless fanatics, for providing us with not just entertainment, but insights on how insects think.

How do people think? When thinking about thinking, intellectuals tend to go back to Plato describing the mythical Socrates ponderously going from a) to c) because a) implied b) and b) implied c). Well, this is NOT how the brain works. The brain has basically two systems: Local Linear Logic, and Topological Logic (TL = emotion, so we will call it ES, the Emotional System). LLL and ES are entangled. For example, ES, the Emotion System, shuts off, and opens, various sub-systems in the brain. Moreover the ES directs consciousness into these subsystems. Each of these systems comes with its own logic. So there is no such a thing as “logic” per se. 

Actually modern axiomatics in logic considers that any Logic L comes with its own Universe U (in which it sits, so to speak). Varying U varies L. Thus a Logic L in the brain, sitting in subsystem S1 will be different from one sitting in subsystem S2, because they constitute different universes U. (An aspect of that was long known, as thinkers argued that various drugs, from alcohol to THC enabled them to reach various stages of consciousness…)

Thus what Plato talked about is basically irrelevant to foster wisdom. What is relevant is mental subsystems selection, how, and why. And even subsystem management. Instead, Plato explores logic, LLL. And recent events have been enlightening: LLL is mostly secondary for directing people’s behavior. 

I think, Therefore I sting. At Least, Sometimes, I Feel That Way.

I Think, Therefore I Sting. At Least, Sometimes, I Feel That Way.

By “Trump Madness” I do not mean Trump is mad, far from it: after all, he is the next president, and already causing more change than Obama did in 8 years (see Europe dumping “austerity” within 30 hours of Trump’s election). Clearly, there was a very smart method to Trump’s madness, and it was highly successful for him, as he obtained the loftiest job in the world (at least as far as conventional wisdom has it; in truth the loftiest job is mine, but never mind…). Thus “Trump madness” was anything except madness, on the part of Trump… Or his supporters (who also got what they wanted).

The real madness has been the flow of insults and indiscriminate violence on the part of “Clinton” supporters. Innocent thinkers were called “unscholarly, uncouth, anti-semitic, racist, xenophobic, judged to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,  and compulsive liars”. This was just a sampler of the most polite insults directed at me… by “friends”… and I am NOT a Trump supporter. Just thought to be so, because I rolled out all sorts of graphs depicting demoncracy (from inequality, to incarceration, rate, to life expectancy, to government investment, etc.).

Never mind that this was all for positions I held sometimes for decades, they are all extremely progressive, and I am just culprit of having Trump embracing them.

Insults directed at Trump were often obviously more insane than grievous. Trump was called “xenophobic” (the evidence is, the exact opposite, that is, Trump is an extreme xenoPHILE). Trump was called “anti-semitic” (his beloved and trusted son-in-law is an observant Jew). Trump was called a business failure (he grew his “organization”, now in 60 countries, from 17 million dollar to somewhere around ten billion…)

How come Clinton supporters became so abusive? OK, they were surprised. Not just because people were scared to reveal in the polls that they would vote for Trump, skewing polls (pollster Nate Silver discovered this a week or two before the vote, so he “unskewed” the polls, and revealed the chances of Trump were significant; I knew for months, just talking to people, that people were hiding their Trump preferences).

Clinton supporters did not turn abusive and insulting just because what they worry about turns out not to be what most of the country worries about. But, mostly, they hated, because it turned out that they had become strangers to themselves, and the world. Part of them rose in fury, and took over their persona, because they wanted to lash out, so great was the pain that uncomprehension caused..

The Clinton supporters had no idea how neurohormonally entangled with (their idea of) their candidate. Precisely because they were deliberately ignored the (left, leftist, liberal, progressive) case I have made for more than eight years (with all those graphs), they had turned into fanatics, Jihadists, because they had rejected (the unsavory) reality.

The mental order in the brains of these self-described progressives, supposed to address politics, had become hopelessly disconnected from reality. For example, in judging Obama, they judged his brown skin, but not the fact Obama was led by the nose by Lawrence Summers, the Harvard-Goldman Sachs surrogate who had dismantled, under Bill Clinton, the Banking Act of 1933 (“G-S”). And this, seven months before Obama reigned. And they ignored hundreds of other indicators which were flashing way more right, and corporate fascism, than any other president before.

Thus the mental subsystems Clinton supporters activated over the years made them not just unreal, but incapable of activating anything else. One of my prefered game these days is to question Clinton-Obama fanatics about Quantitative Easing. I generally draw a blank. The self-perceived) most clever ones tell me it was a good thing. So here you have so-called progressives saying that giving more than ten trillion dollars to the world richest, most corrupt people and institutions was… a good thing.

Guess what, you dummies? It was a good thing only for plutocracy, also known as demoncracy. The only person who could understand what I was talking about, and agreed with me, before meeting me, is Senior VP in a major bank.

People think first with their neurohormones. Tell me their neurohormones most active, and I can tell you where their Local Linear Logic delves. Obsessions leads and localizes reflection.

Is there experimental evidence for the preceding? Yes, there is, from… insects. The theory of consciousness is starting to rise. It involves making flies play videogames, or seeing if, like American students, they can get scared. Flies can be put in a state of “scariness” and wanting to get to a “safe space”.

Insects have a rudimentary ego, though very different from Narcissus or classical literature would have it. Insect ego appears as the ability to act and mentally concentrate on certain environmental cues thus ignoring others. “They don’t pay attention to all sensory input equally,” cognitive scientist Andrew Barron of Australia’s Macquarie University declared.

When you and I are hungry, we don’t just move towards food, as bacteria do. Our hunger creates a particular feeling (an emotion) which, in turn rearrange which subsystems are activated in our brain. Such a state is called a “subjective experience” in traditional philosophy. Do insects have the same? Obviously they do (I can say from anecdotes, and thus as a philosopher; scientists will verify and make sure).

Insects can be led into mental states which do not fit reality. So can humans (humans even do this deliberately, when they play or make jokes). Once in such a state, a particular logic, the universe of which is that precise mental state, flows. That Local Linear Logic is particular, yet it leaves (neural) connections behind. If suddenly precipitated, for real, in a situation calling for that mental state, the LLL is ready to kick in. That’s why humans play, and make jokes.

This election was a joke. So were the mental states most citizens put themselves, or let themselves been put, in the last few decades. Time to wake up.

And time to wake up to the reality that it is moods which create logic, even more than it is logic which creates moods.

Patrice Ayme’

SEEING IN THE DARK

August 19, 2016

Seeing in the Dark, and from the Dark

Human beings are not cats,
They don’t see as well in the dark.
Still they do see in dark.
In the dark, new shapes appear.
I giant scree slope I know well,
Looked at in the dark, seemed to flow as a glacier,

Glistening below Mars and Jupiter,

Swooping around a mountain.

I was amazed how clear it was.
And you know what?
That may well be what it is:
A rock glacier, as they are called,
Rock flowing on top of an ice mix.

In the dark, we see things we could not see in the light.

In the dark, we see things we could not see in the light.

In the dark,
What was never seen before becomes luminous.
What was seen, but not observed,
Suddenly because completely different,
And calls for attention, description, explanation.
We can change angles on things
To bring forth different aspects,
Or we change luminosity we bring to bear.
How come?
Lowering luminosity, intensity,
Enables to forget the details,
Which fogged the mind.
Explode the light, to see the dark.

To see anew,

New ways.
Patrice Ayme’

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SOON ALL TOO HUMAN

March 10, 2016

What Characterizes Human Intelligence?

HOW DO HUMAN & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES DIFFER?

We had a president Obama running amok with his “signature strikes” with half-blind drones with pixelated vision killing civilians, far from battle fields, in far-away lands. These crimes full of technological arrogance gave a bad name to Artificial Intelligence. Are we far from robots running amok? It’s clear that the Obamas of this world will have to be reined in.

The (Korean) world champion of the famous Chinese game “Go” was beaten by a Google computer: “I am very surprised because I have never thought I would lose. I didn’t know that AlphaGo would play such a perfect Go.” The champ looked a bit frazzled, but not as angry as Gary Kasparov, the world chess champion, when he was beaten by an IBM computer program, DeepBlue. Kasparov stormed out of the room.

Kasparov’s anger was not an intelligent reaction, because it was obvious, all along, that chess is not such an intelligent game that a simple machine cannot do better. If you want a really  intelligent game, try to become really ethical (vote for Sanders, not the corrupt one). Ethics? A supremely human game where my friend Obama failed miserably. He and his toys, armies of drones and plutocrats.

The Artificial Neural Networks We Build Do Not Grow Naturally. And Their Neuronal Nodes Are Simplistic Relative To Real Neurons. Real Neurons Are Environmentally Sensitive Self Building Micro Computers.

The Artificial Neural Networks We Build Do Not Grow Naturally. And Their Neuronal Nodes Are Simplistic Relative To Real Neurons. Real Neurons Are Environmentally Sensitive Self Building Micro Computers.

“Go” is 3,000 years old. A Go board is 19 by 19, a Chess board, is 8 by 8. People who love to sound scientific say: “Go has more combinations that there are atoms in the universe” (reality check: we don’t know how big the universe is, so we cannot know how many atoms are therein!)

DeepBlue used brute force to beat Kasparov. With “Go”, the breakthrough came from using neural networks. Neural networks can be made to learn. The computer used a program called “Alphago” (devised by my whipping boy, Google, which I congratulate, for once!)  “Alphago” had to use something closer to “INTUITION”, some even say, imagination.

***

Does Patrice “Make Things Up”? I Hope So!

A few days ago, I pointed out to some would-be Stoics that the trite rejoinder of his admirers that Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor “with a natural born son” was a grotesque lie. I rolled out counterexamples, complete with the names of various sons…

All these sons were not named emperors-to-be, by their doting fathers. Only Marcus Aurelius did that This is of considerable import, because Marcus Aurelius is viewed as a pinnacle of wisdom by a large following (Marcus is the Muhammad of Stoicism).

Whereas I claim that, when Aurelius named his five year old son second in command in the empire (“Caesar”), contrarily to all Roman tradition, Marcus Aurelius showed he was anything but wise. Insane maniac, would-be king, violating the Republic is more like it. In particular, the two emperors just prior to Marcus Aurelius had more than three sons and grandsons, yet nominated none of them as successors when they were children. Although Marcus did. (Even the kings of Saudi Arabia don’t really do this!)

That, in turn, shows that Marcus’ followers have a serious problem evaluating reality. And sure they do.

A philosopher with a prestigious chair reacted angrily, accused me in public of “MAKING THINGS UP”. Even as a self-described “stoic” he could not take the reality of all these sons anymore.

Of course, I did not make anything up, in this particular case. I shoot vicious minds to kill, or, at least, maim. It’s best done with the truth.

But accusation got me to think. Do I make things up? That’s one beautiful thing about nature and its dangerous animals: even rattlesnakes can help me to think. Especially rattlesnakes.

The obvious glared back to me: even to find the truth, one has to make things up. First make things up (that’s imagination, which is most important, as Einstein pointed out). That’s making a theory. Or, in the deep cases, making a new neural networks (this is the part where intuition, that is emotion enters, as it is exactly what builds the network). Then checks that this new theory fits the truth (that’s the part where the network learn).

In the case of Aurelius, after revering him for a few decades, I came across facts and quotes which changed my emotional disposition relative to him. Instead of staying a psychological prisoner of his “Meditations”, I became an hostile witness, and explored facts which would demonstrate Marcus Aurelius’ viciousness. I found plenty (including the “natural son” story).

***

HUMAN HIGHEST INTELLIGENCE IS ABOUT MAKING THINGS UP:

My theory of the mind is simple: impelled by genetics and epigenetics (both in the most general sense imaginable) plus the environment, neural circuitry gets elaborated in an attempt to make mini models of pieces of nature within the brain. So mental circuits are (SORTS OF) answers to the environment.

“Sort of” is crucial: it means the neural circuitry elaborated in reaction will often NOT be (capable of being) a faithful (enough) model of the environment. That’s literally impossible, but that discrepancy is precious.

That discrepancy is the difference between what the neural circuitry impelled by the (perceived) environment and said (real) environment, is human creativity.

(I say “human”, for ease of conceptualization, but actually I should say “animal intelligence”.)

What is going on with Artificial Neural Network machines? They learn, as we do through what is called the Hebbian mechanism.

How to explain neural network learning in the simplest terms? Basically, in very rough first approximation, imagine the neural network is a canal system (made of canal which can be eroded). Suppose one wants an output: more water through a desired exit gate. Suppose one augment the flow there (say by lowering that exit gate). The canal network will adjust itself to maximize output.

However, we, very intelligent animals use a META-HEBBIAN mechanism of neuronal network genesis. In Artificial Neural Networks, the network is given, and then it learns: the neural circuit is provided presently by humans to become part of a machine.

The machine does not make it itself. But we do.

Human brains literally make things up, because we objectively, physically, make our neural networks up. We do not just tweak our networks. The networks which characterize our highest intelligence are themselves answers to the environment we are in.

To make a neural network we use emotions: it is known that emotional activity drives dendrite growth, thanks to glial activity.

These neural networks’ construction is tightly controlled from the outside, not just by the environment in the most general sense, but, essentially, by what we call culture. Culture is the set of schematics of the networks which work.

***

So, when we want to explore if machines could become as clever as human beings, we have to ask: could machines be devised to make things up? Could machines be devised which would make their own artificial neural networks?

Many of our fundamental neural networks (such as those controlling breathing) from “genetics” (in the most general sense). Those arise semi-automatically (with minimal back and forth with the environment). However, we make our own most sophisticated neural networks from the emotions which guide their architecture. Emotions are organized topologically, with NON-METRIC topology.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, and certainly worryingly, yes, we could make machines which have their own emotions which build their own neural networks. There is no reason to think we could not build such machines. They probably would have to use artificial neurons, etc. (And why not real neurons?)

The superiority of the human mind comes from making things up, or making ourselves up. Such machines would be similar.

Technologies, the special discourses, are our genus’ genius. Technologies made our genus possible, for at least three million years. Artificial, creative intelligence is more of the same, generating what we become. Not only we are becoming gods, but gods we cannot even imagine.

Imagination is when we make things up. It entails the construction of neural networks which will constitute what future knowledge is made of. This is why imagination is more important than knowledge. Because, without imagination, all the knowledge we would have would reflect neither creativity, nor even will.

Oh, by the way, should we panic? No. But it means that clueless individuals such as the ethically challenged Obama should not have the powers he had under stupid and Nazi-like technology such as drones used to kill civilians. It’s not a matter of replacing Obama by Sanders (although that would be a good idea).

We need a revolution (as Sanders say). We are going to get, in any case, a technological revolution. Intelligence is going to become a science.

But that intelligence revolution has to be about direct democracy fed by the best information possible, that is, total transparency, the exact opposite of the world the malefactor manufacturer Apple is proposing to us. And Obama in all this? He has only a few months to atone for the crimes he committed with the wanton usage of high tech he made. But first, he would have to realize how egregious they were.

This goes well beyond drones. Having the correct ethics will be fundamental for the safe and effective deployment of all too human artificial intelligence.

Patrice Ayme’

Hard Wired? Not So fast!

March 3, 2016

Swallowing is self-taught. Anything else a bit more sophisticated is taught by others. We are cultural animals. Discuss.

Massimo Pigliucci, a (Roman!) biology PhD cum philosophy PhD teaching from an elevated chair in New York, objected to my tweeting aphorism above: “That is contradicted by a number of well established studies in developmental psychology, as well as by research on other primates.”

OK, Massimo, relax, I was a bit quick, thus simplistic in my formulation. Any discourse is incomplete, I was pointing at a direction. Indeed, I am a great advocate of ethology. Ethology, the experimental study of behavior, is an experimental field. That means its fundamental architecture is made of experiments.

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don't Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don’t Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

[All scientific fields are like gravity, they are experimentally driven. We basically know, experimentally speaking, not much more than what Newton knew already, as far as gravity is concerned (with the further twist of gravity being a field at speed c, like electromagnetism, hence, waves, etc.). A true revolution will happen in gravity the day we find something completely unexpected (the fact that gravity at this point is also equivalent to a space curvature theory is a triviality consecutive to Bernhard Riemann’s deep differential manifold theory). Some say we already found something unexpected, the phenomenon known as “Dark Matter”]

Ethology is also experiment driven. And our experiments are not as sophisticated as they soon will be. Differently from gravity, the progress in ethology is going to be quick, and very deep.

Ethology discovered already what writers of fables for children, and “primitive” “savages” hunting for survival, have long known: advanced animals care, have a sense of justice, are observant, loving, etc. More generally, advanced animals,, and others, not even very advanced are endowed with many other sophisticated behaviors we used to attribute to humans exclusively, etc.

Ethology has now gone further: ethologists also discovered that sophisticated, virtuous human-like “instincts” are not universal, even in a species which exhibit them: exploiters and freaks are not just a human phenomenon. In prides of lionesses, the same particular individuals tend to do all the work. Worse: lionesses have been observed having no maternal “””instinct”””. Other, experienced and caring lionesses had to intervene.

So animals have been observed to have altruistic behaviors, or behaviors making group life possible. (It’s quite a bit a chicken and egg situation: without apparently “hard wired” behavior, group life is impossible; the “group” could be just mother and child, such as a leopard and her kitten, or a mother orangutan and her child…)

However, ethology has not yet determined systematically how much is learned from others, and from the environment.

Hence the role of other animals, and how much is self taught is not clear at this point (insects such as wasps and bees “think” at least seven times faster than humans, so they can learn fast, and it looks like “instinct” to us!). In either case, when there is learning, there is no “hard wiring”. Or more exactly much of the “hard wiring” comes from the neurological life of the individual, as it does in any… creator. The creature being created by itself as creator of itself. God inside.

Learning is essential for survival of bees. Honey bees make repeat visits only if said plant provides enough reward. A single forager will make visits to that type of flower for most of the day, unless the plants stop producing nectar or weather gets adverse. Honey bees practice associative learning, and standard classical conditioning, which is the same in honey bees as it is in the vertebrates.

In other words, if even insects learn much more than a few tricks, as I have long suspected, we don’t know what “instincts” are really made of. This will have to be determined by further, much more refined ethological studies (differently from gravity, where it’s not clear what new experiments to do, and how to get results, although LIGO and VIRGO may well bring breakthroughs… In ethology, new experiments are just matter of financing, considering the progress of micro-electronics).

A famous example of what I am talking about is Lorentz’s geese (he got the Nobel for that). Young geese were imprinted on Konrad being their mom, and thereafter followed him everywhere, at some point of their development.

Why can’t that happen for all behaviors, and all species with advanced brains? In other words, could not just all our behaviors come, to a great extent, from some sort of imprinting?

Hey, one can self-imprint. When I want to eat more correctly, I starve myself a bit, and then eat the correct foods (say apples, carrots, tofu). Then I repeat a few times. Then I long for apples, carrots, tofu…

So south American monkeys have a sense of justice. But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard-wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

Standing up, and being able to run, is crucial to the survival of herbivores. A casual look at how a new born herbivore stands up shows that it learns to do so in a few minutes. Some moves are learned in a few seconds. However, today’s most sophisticated programmers could not write such a program. Nor does the brain of a small antelope contain a large computer loaded with such a software. Thus the truth: the antelope learns to stand up. That means it hard wires itself through the learning process. The environment in the most general sense imprints it with the appropriate circuitry.

Ethology will enlighten neurology, and conversely. Both fields are just getting started.

Patrice Ayme’