Monday, 31 May 2010

The Sheep Simurg: Nobody in the Mirror

What is a ghost? Let's say is your mind cheating. Wind is playing with a bush, and your mind sees a creature. Easy. Your mind has been told there is one third of the lord of the physical laws and in fact this one third is the Holy Ghost. Easy. Now try to play a bit harder. There is nobody around, you remember a kid of your childhood. He was singing the song of the shepherd. And you think of a storm, when you are having a stroll in the mountain. It rains and you're far from home. Damn! I'll be wet and cold, not pleasant. It doesn't matter, as soon as I'll get home, whisky and milk, stroking a cat (milk is for him). Stop.

You can get home if you have one. Now say you're outside in the rain and you don't have a place to go. I'm not saying you don't see actually a shelter. You're outside, it rains and your place IS there. This is when you feel lost. It's not your mind, 'cause it's not a problem of location. The difference is that you know where you are and it's where you have to be. You're lost because your soul is lost. And your place is outside when it rains. Ouch. Do we believe in soul? Well, if you say something like my ghost haunting a castle or the immortal essence that will survive every accident of my body...Not really. But if I think of me lost in the rains, yes, I can think of this. I can think of persons I love in this situation. I can actually see them. It's not that difficult to see human beings who are lost. What is lost? Soul, mind,... They feel like a sheep, lost in the mountain. A shepherd will come?... This is a story.

The sheep doesn't know a shepherd will come. Sometimes wolfie comes before the guy. Sometimes the sheep starts to wander and find other sheep. And together they cross rivers and peaks. The herd is crying and they see good sheep-friends dying. Hard decisions and fights. But also time for a talk, in the cave. They learned how to use fire. They sing. They are not scared anymore. They reached the village, on two legs. They are shepherds. When a lot sheep finds his way, she was a shepherd. Long life to things we don't believe in.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A Cerebral Plot:

It's an Inside Job!

Neurons are connected each other, exchanging information. What is about? Well, about, mostly, other connections. You can say that the informational exchange with the environment is negligible, in comparison with the inside exchange. When a group of neurons fire,a lot of other groups react, firing.Subsequently the reaction is considered as an information by other groups; of course it's their turn to say they noticed the other guys noticed. And guess? They will fire. This is what happened when you where in the womb. No surprise that by the time you were born, your brain was in a damn activity. And now you start to have a reasonable amount of information from the environment too (yes, it is negligible but it's not zero). By the time you're 2/3, your brain is a locomotive of neuronal activity. You can see, walk, talk (!). And still the environment portion is ultra low.

When a human brain is very young, it has been already on a roller-coster of activity, and the roller-coster is starting to be mapped by the brain itself. Passing through a huge amount of reciprocal firing, neuro-connectivity is becoming highly informed about his own activity. This is called “informational re-entry”, by the Nobel prize G.Edelman.

Why is the brain involved in a such a massive scale of internal informational exchange? Well the sausage answer is clearly: because it needs to inhabit a human world and that inside activity is necessary in order to be part of a community of human brains. As usual, the sausage answer is correct. The only comment is that the answer is just turned upside down. We live in a community of human brains because we (our brains) experience a massive scale of internal informational exchange. The brain is mainly involved in representing its own representations. We are speaking of the brain, but actually is more appropriate to speak of a multiple layers of neural configurations. Dennett associates the clouds of neuronal connections with multiple drafts of cognitive representations. I'd say, (if I were a brain), that I need to hung my attention to something, in order to facilitate the projection of the representation of a representation.

Otherwise you'll spin indefinitely chasing an infinite cicle of representation of representation. Is it not happening? Sometimes in very damaged cognitive systems. But for the majority of adult human brains, attention is reasonably stable. What have we hang our internal informational representation upon? To the fictional character of consciousness. Consciousness is pretending to be a character playing a role in a cognitive constructed environment. What is she really doing? She's writing her own role as the character. Narrative re-entry.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Synthetic Cognition:

Narrating How Hot Organs Discovered Information

A rock falling is not exchanging information about the gravity attraction. The thermonuclear reactions inside a star are not carrying any information. Why? Information is always information about something for something. And to be “for” you need an interest. A star is not proud to shine neither worried to explode. You need to be alive to be interested in the game of differences. Then they become bloody important. If you are alive you need to fight a lot. Actually you are counter-balancing the entropic pressure that would like to see you dead. It's a lot of a fight!

When you are a living being, you are deeply in need of maintaining yourself in a reasonable equilibrium. But you can't stay there forever: you need food. You can be a sophisticated, posh autotrophic organism or an aggressive unicellular berserk; it doesn't matter: you have to move your ass to feed yourself. Second big problem: sex. As usual, you want to mate with everything that moves (it's in your more archaic genes...), but it's more efficient if you mate with something that will actually be able to become pregnant (from a pure logico-metaphysical point of view, spreading your genes all over the place could be a strategy; I still recommend a partner, possibly from your own species. Or at least related. Well, it just a matter of taste, I suppose,....).

OK, now you're alive, you're sated and possibly you get laid. What happened? You mapped your environment with differences; you've been able to see information in the universe. That's right. No information without food or sex (to say that sex is making the world goes round and that is the oldest job in the world are pure truisms). So now we are relaxed and we can think. Thinking is a recursive operation on several layers of cognition. Thinking is the representation of the representation activity. But in principle we can image an artificial thinking. The proposal runs this way: my thinking is a process of information, an algorithm. If you build a machine with the right procedures, the machine will be able to think. If my thinking is not a ghost but a series of procedures, it's not important what is made of. Now is a gray jam of organic matter, but it could be made of silicon. We could build the artificial thinking machine. And if this is possible, it could happen; at least in one possible world.

So let's say the happening of random facts (what a redundancy: facts are always random...) will produce information processing units. They are artificial so they are not vulnerable as living beings. In principle...Indeed they are not interested in what's happening: at the end of the day a machine doesn't care to die: it's not properly alive anyway. But for the sake of the argument, let's say that information processing units that don't care to die, will tend to die, while the same random occurrence of information processing units, with the only difference to pretend they care. Second, information processing units in mental experiments ,normally, are not particularly interested in fame, lust or whatever You are interested in. These selfless processing information units won't be bother to maintain the set of information their algorithm represents. True. Let's say a beta version actually bother: for random reason, one information is to care about reproduction of the information.

So, if for random reasons, it happens the case to have information processing units, the ones that will be around are very likely those that cares to be around and to reproduce this story. The other way: if you are around, you're a fact who cares about differences, because you can tell information about your staying around and potentially reproducing this information. In other words a fact that pretends to represents, it's alive. Or you can say that living beings are actual Turing machines, that is to say: artificial intelligence is organic cognition. Or the other way round, I'm pretty liberal about that. Conclusion: if there is information, there is representation. If you're artificial, then you're alive. If you can hear a story, then you can tell one. But most of all, remind yourself "this is a representation".

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Blueprint to write living organisms:

the Uncover Story

Reproduction of living organisms doesn't bother with authorship and copyright. On the contrary, Nature encourages on a massive scale copying: because it's impossible to do it perfectly, every variation is a chance to improve: if you don't copy you're dead (and of course Nature is quite benevolent with peer to peer exchange...). Clearly reproduction is recursive: the urge to copy again is included in the copy reproduced: if you copy, your copy will do it again.

Most of all, reproduction is not the transcript of a holy book. The message is full of trash, red harrings, jokes, curses, traps. Therefore the text always has been interpreted:that means to be ecologically situated. The hint of the genetic code must be evoked by the environment in order to blossom as an organism. In a study of 1972, the biologist Elsdale observed the behaviour of fibroblast, a type of connective cells. Their function is to be structured in a tridimentional framework, but in the study, their DNA could provide instructions only to build a bidimensional one. When there is a critical density, they start to twist the original bidimensional framework; it turns out that randomly they build the functional structure: the information wasn't in the code, but in the situation.
Another one: nowhere in a crocodile DNA you will find information about sex; besides prudery, crocodiles encode in environment temperature the information to assign a sex: situation.

More about this in the bible of Developmental systems theory: Oyama (2000), The Ontogeny of Information.

The big one: soft assembly.In 1994 Thelen and Smith studied the development of children locomotion system, from the perspective of dynamic systems theory. Strangely a child starts the sequence to walk, but after weeks it ceases, only to reappear later. They demonstrated that weight was critical to inhibit the movement (children at the stage of no visible sensori-motor sequence, in water “reacquire” the movement). Thelen and Smith went further and proved that in the genetic code it would have been too expensive to encode movement and its inhibition related to weight. The sensori-motor sequence is smply partially encoded: when it starts, it adapts on the situation. To put it clearly: the situation completes the sensori-motor sequence.

Genetic reproduction is a form of writing and we know that authorship is always headless. The process of reproducing living organism is a collective effort, where nobody is in charge. DNA plays its role, but living organisms are ecologically situated: you can't separate a living being from the environment hosting it: they are intrinsically coupled. The blue-print of life is distributed all over the world: you will find pieces of future living being everywhere. A giant story continuously involved in the process of writing itself through the deployment of recursive narration. That's it, life is a recursive narration in which it has been told the story of telling a story. You had maybe not noticed, but rising temperature is dramatically swinging to crocodile gender. Still unimpressed? I'd like to call you a stone, but actually a stone stores much future living beings that your lead heart. Fortunately you're hosting millions of micro-organism in your body, so even if you're a tosser, you still contribute to the writing of the universe. See you under different protein forms.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Headless Authorship and Stigmergic Narrativity

Stigmergy is a coordination of simple actions, producing a complex self-organization lacking central control or planning. Typical examples: social insects like ants or termites. An anthill is managed in a complex way, intelligent-like without any intelligence or mind.
Therefore is clearly a paradox to speak of a stigmergic mind: we need to change the concept of stigmergy or the one of mind. Despicably for our understanding of ourselves, we should investigate better what we mean with mind....

Mind is a process of understanding embodied in a brain. What this process understands is an environment of meanings, in which the process is able to tell a sense: this is understanding. Why Artificial Intelligence is doomed to fail? Because it is supposed that there are meanings to be understand and a mind to understand them like two pre-existing entities.

There are no meanings in the world. They are fictional projections designed by a mind to retrieve backwards the emitter of the projections:a mind is chasing the trail of herself and the hunting is called understanding. To some extent and very badly expressed, there are no minds in the world....

The paradox lies in the fact of figuring out a mind out of time (out of his time): a mind without his cultural environment. In the proper environment a mind is built by stories of other minds. The narrativity of other minds triggers the complex cognitive architecture of a human brain to deploy himself. A brain deploys himself narratively and the horizon of events narratively speaking is a mind: the singularity of narration is the author as a limit and horizon of narrativity itself.

If we don't want to change arbitrarily the meanings of our words, then: narratives self organize themselves as an author; a brain accelerated in authorship by narratives will be able to reflect the process. And reflecting itself as the process of narration is what we can call self-consciousness, that is to say, being the one who's there, being there, being a mind. Being-o.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Flashback Memoryless:

Blank Brains Obsessed by Something to Happen

Our minds are scanning the environment for our brains. This is the biological stance for our consciousness. Fair enough. The clear service a consciousness is doing for a body is made available as a complex information reprogramming and manipulation by a cognitive architecture. In other words, our bodies are benefiting from the extraordinary capacity of our minds to provide them resources. This is what our minds are made for.

But when our brains start to scan environments, they start to tag and to label things. They aggregate information and store in memory tool: a feather, a pine, a bone. A curious brain and memory tool start to interact. Bodies are satisfied by the resources provided so, minds are free to wander. And the landscape where minds wander are set up by minds, that is to say, minds wander where minds opened a space. Mindwandering can be struck by a memory tool. Let me say a couple of words about this kind of collision. A memory tool is not a storage of information: it can be of course, don't take me wrong. But this is not the way minds wander and understand. Precisely: understanding. A mind doesn't understand because is designed to do so. No evolution has selected an understanding brain. Understanding minds came for free with a complex cognitive architecture.

When a cognitive architecture has been struck by a memory tool, it generates a memory: a brand new memory, not retrieving a previous information, but creating a virgin, never happened before memory. A mind is struck by a previous encounter, which is never happened before. Here's how it goes.

A child sees the fang of a tiger in the chain of an old hunter: his curious brain starts to visualize the courage of a young man. The old hunter fades in to the projection of the wannabe kid hunter. A young man sees the old man when he was younger and sees himself when he will be older.
In shorts: the kid has been inspired, a narrative is borne. It's absolutely pointless what really happened, no matter if the old hunter is a coward who predated a dead carcass or he killed alone a giant beast. What we get now is this:a kid brain has been started, he's got motivation, he found what is bravery: he found the meaning of courage because he founded the meaning. The old hunter could have stabbed in the back the brave hero hunter, and yet, this imposture still would be the inspiration for the meaning of courage.
From bundle of narratives embodied in our brains, we put together the narration we are. Narratives open a space for an author to be. And when an author is consciously telling stories, a mind is working. A mind is the fictional memory of an author telling the story of a mind working. Fractal narrativity.