Viser arkivet for stikkord brain

Separating yourself from instinct and genes is impossible.

It is a commonly held belief that as you becomes more intelligent, you manage to separate yourself from the evolutionary, irrational instincts that are hard wired. But this is impossible.
It is like trying to float on water without water.

The hardware of my body and brain dictate my behavior, if I somehow separate myself from a part of my body or brain, I lose an ability, I don’t gain an ability. If I separate myself from the genes that make me like bread I lose the ability to like bread. I do not gain some new profound intelligent ability. I will whatever I do, not like bread, the same way I don’t like to eat sand. No matter how rational it is to eat bread, I can not make myself like bread without the genes that make me like the particular features of bread.
Same goes for the genes that make us reproduce, fight, feel pride, etc. Even if we manage to rid ourselves of the reasons that make up these things, we don’t gain intelligence or wisdom, we only lose an ability to reproduce, fight, feel pride, etc.

If you wish to somehow gain a level of intelligence by separating yourself from your innate instinct then your best bet is to learn what your instincts are. Learn about what genes do what task, how you behave in behavioral economics experiments, how you have behaved previously in life, etc. If you look back and find all sorts of stupid actions and thoughts and ideas, then you must admit it. If you merely rationalize away your previous behavior as the right thing to do so much so that you would do the exact same today, then you might as well be an Alzheimers patient who read this article, forget you read it, and then you read it again, forget you read it, and then you read it again, etc. Because you will never learn from your actions and your current level of wisdom is as far as you will go on the ladder of wisdom.
I Hope you now find lots of memories of your own actions that make you facepalm so you can improve.

PS: Floating on water without water, but with air, or some other liquid or system, is not “floating on water”. I know you were thinking about cheating.

Our views and beliefs

When I do something, it is because my brain somehow assign most value to that choice. When I choose 2 slices of bread over 3, somehow, 2 slices of bread is of the higher value to my brain.
This affect everything we do, also religion and views about the world.

The most logical argument in the world presenting the best evidence in existence can not convince anyone of changing their minds if their current belief is after the argument still considered more valuable than the belief being offered in the argument. In essence, if you want to convince someone that God does not exist, you just have to provide the feelings/value believing God exist provides, and the belief in God will fall away as a superfluous dry piece of skin. If, to make the example simple, the belief in God provides only the feeling of security, then all you need to provide in your argument against the belief in God, is security without God. In reality, we probably get between half dozen and a dozen feelings (or naturally occurring chemical highs as they are on a neurochemical level) from each world view and belief. We also on a neurological level get a high from various neurons firing more or less, but that is another article.

I get value from having agnostic views, just like an atheist and theist get value from having their atheist or theist views. It is a comfort to me that I can know something if we really work at measuring it, and that purpose of mankind is not imposed upon us from the outside, but that it is something we ourselves can decide from within humanity. It is a comfort and value to me that what is right and wrong has evolved in most if not all species (rats give away 30% of the food they find, even if they’re still hungry, and humans pay taxes, apes usually don’t kill members of their own group, humans usually don’t kill members of their own group, and this without imposed law or morals). It holds meaning to me that for us to exist today, 4 billion years of evolution had to happen, stars had to explode, new solar systems had to form, every single dice had to land just right. It is meaningful that we’re standing on the top of a house of cards that took 13,7 billion years to stack, which fell down wholly or partially several times. When I understand one more thing about humans, like experimental results from behavioral economics, it enrich humans. It makes humans more than just a free-will-entity-that-does-whatever-it-wants-because-it-wants-to-do-what-it-does. It means something grand to me that we do not have free will, but act in such a complex way still, almost as if we had free will. When you as a theist look at atheists/agnosticists you should know our path without theism makes us feel just like you feel because of theism, the only difference is, if we really want to, we can measure that our path exist and we can measure that our path is as we think it is (I am perfectly able to take back that statement if any theist can provide something for us to measure, that measures the existence of their described God (If you can measure God, you also have to be able to measure that it is not a God from another religion, but the God from your religion)). But equally, atheists and agnostics must realize that theists, atheists and agnostics have their beliefs because it gives value. In order for someone to reject their own beliefs in favor of new beliefs, the new belief need to offer the value the old belief offers, and more.

A bad argument you realize has value is accepted even if it is a bad argument, but a good argument you do not see the value in is not accepted even if the argument is perfect. When you wish to make peace in the middle east, or cure the aging process, it is about conveying the value of what your argument tries to convince them of, not about trying to convince them that your argument is correct or not. When you convince someone to cure aging, you convince them that living forever young is indeed good. When you convince people to go to the moon, you convince them that the result of doing it is good. When you convince Israel and Palestine to once and for all stop shooting each other, they will do it because they know the value of not shooting each other (They shoot each other because it gives them value. The belief that they are correct, revenge feelings, politicians win elections by using the “I will provide security/revenge”-card etc. And they believe not shooting each other will provide less value because very few if any have ever provided them with the full list of value present in not killing their neighbor).

PS: If you misunderstand my use of “value” as it works in your brain or something else, that’s on you. Don’t put meanings in my mouth that you extrapolate or interpolate from my words and what you think my use of the words meant. Ask me if anything is unclear or deemed negative by you.

What is consciousness?

The conscious mind is something philosophy have struggled with for a long time, but today it is solved conceptually because of an understanding of neuroscience. I do not know of a source where it says what it actually is, therefore I must write one myself.

Consciousness consist of a few needs to qualify as consciousness. To be conscious of self, that is you can move your arm, sense it as your body and mind doing the moving, and to determine a reaction accordingly. And most will also demand consciousness needs the ability to compare past events with current events and project what the future might hold. On some level or another.

To be conscious of self is something apes, dogs, humans and a vast amount of other species show strong signs of doing. We don’t punch an apple when we reach to grab it, the brain determine the intent to grab the apple, the brain determines how we need to move from comparing past events to current events, but more importantly by projecting how the future will be without further intervention, and then the brain projects what have to happen for us to successfully grab the apple. The brain then determines how much the arm has to move, signals muscles to move, the brain senses the actions of the muscles moving the arm, the eyes and other senses see how far the arm has come on its journey towards the apple, the brain compares it to past events and projects what will happen in the future with this trajectory of movement, and determines to change the speed at which the muscles move the arm. This is repeated several times, but seeing as humans generally only see about 24 frames per second, humans probably don’t go above 24 such cycles most of the time, though one cycle is probably a tad more complex than this example (Only in number of actions, as there are 85 billion neurons, so there can be trillions of firing actions in a single cycle). I will refer to each such cycle that happens in 1/24 of a second as “1 cycle” down the line.

Clearly consciousness is something that is common. Consciousness of self in the traditional sense, as in “I can think”, does not exist. It is merely an extension of the previously explained cycles, but with more sensory input sources, and more ability for comparing and contrasting, and last but not least, more ability to selectively choose what is and is not relevant to remember down the road.
For example, chess grand masters use the perhaps 1 cycle long reaction of a well-trained skier or fencer, and knows the optimal thing to do instantly. Those that are not good at skiing or chess, or not good at fencing, will have to compare and contrast with very few relevant past events, and subsequently a very low ability to project what will happen in the future with and without intervention, and especially bad at projecting what the body needs to do to get a positive future outcome. For example, a bad fencer or skier might know immediately that something bad will happen, like getting struck by a sword or falling down, and might even in spite of little experience be able to project which body part it will impact and how he will fall down on the skis, but it will be almost impossible to successfully determine how to react in a way that stops the impact of the sword, or which stops him from falling down while skiing. This can be shown in any number of ways in any number of species. Practice makes perfect, and just as you don’t remember every stone in the road, but lets say faces, a bee or mouse will only remember something relevant to its survival, like the smell of other mice, color of flowers with nectar, but it will forget most everything else, not because it does not have the capacity to remember, but because much of what the brain does is to forget unimportant things, things that have not improved chances of survival for any individual mice, bees or humans that remembered those things (it is about efficiency, life naturally evolve to not spend energy on that which costs more than it gives in survival ability, bees only do what bees do to survive, they don’t have board-room meetings or vacation days. In the case of humans such things have flourished because it did not decrease survival in later decades).

How this becomes more complex is for example by adding a sense that senses past negative outcomes, or more specifically, the actions that lead to negative outcomes. Then it is far more likely that you will not repeat an action that lead to a negative outcome twice, even if the action can be relevant in many scenarios. So if an action leads to a negative outcome in one scenario, you are hesitant to perform that action even if it is a rationally sound action in another scenario. So if betting on red at the tables in Las Vegas lost you a lot of money, you might be hesitant to choose a red car for no particular rational, intelligent reason. We observe this every day, when we choose one brand of shoes over another it is not unlikely it is because we irrationally hesitate to choose the other options because of memories from our past. We have an opposite sense, or perhaps it is considered the same sense, which sense what actions that lead to positive outcomes. But seeing as positive outcomes is slightly more difficult to sense, simply doing a thing today, and if you are here tomorrow, that thing you did today might be perceived as a good act more often than is healthy for us. So for example, if you ski at an early age, chances are higher that you will ski again in your life, even after accounting for variables that affect the statistics like having skis or living near snow. Even though skiing in itself give very little positive outcomes, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, simply doing something and not dieing will in some cases be more positive than negative. My hypothesis on the matter is that many species have evolved some form of actions that increase psychological well-being (skiing and many other physical activities make the brain release lots of reward-chemicals and subsequently increases what we define as happiness, and happiness is shown to increase level of activity, which means it helped the species with happiness to survive by making them have a high level of activity which made them happy which made them have a high level of activity). And familiar routines might be part of that, so that is likely much of the reason why you for example drink coffee, tea, neither or both, when you do and not when you don’t.

In consciousness there is often the “we can talk and communicate ideas” argument. But it is also an expansion of the cycles in the third paragraph. We say things that brought positive outcomes before, hesitate to say things that brought negative outcomes before. That is why we avoid certain words and use of language, like curses and certain subjects like tabus, and also why we often use certain words like greetings and subjects like the weather, that almost never give a negative outcome. The only difference in an ape doing this, by avoiding falling off a tree or avoiding to make the alpha male aggressive, and a human doing this, by avoiding to fall on the ice and to avoid making the boss aggressive, is only in that the language we use is different. As apes and many other animals have the larrings to form sounds like human language, they lack that genetic trait in their brains, to group feelings, images, groups of images, as remembered sounds, so they have far more reliance on body-language (though humans have more body language) and think by feelings, pictures and some sound, instead of words. For example, when they see a fruit, their favorite fruit, they probably have the ability to think “that is a good feeling, I must take it before someone else”, only it does it more in images and feelings than sounds of words (many, not all, humans think sounds, in the form of words, as well as pictures and sound like notes and noise). The ape also has the ability to think how it can get that fruit from its current location, where it must go, climb, who it must not alert etc.
The gorilla Koko could also communicate ideas, for example, it tried to claim it was its pet cat that ripped a sink off the wall. So it is apparent gorillas can lie too, which is far more complex than simply communicating a concept.
By the way, grouping feelings, actions, scenarios etc as sounds, what we call language, has a genetic basis in humans because we at some point began to make slightly less offspring if we had less ability to communicate, not because we’re somehow special or smarter, but simply because we were lucky some cultural phenomenon took hold many thousands of years ago.

Speaking of cultural phenomenon. Some use culture as evidence for consciousness, but young apes play, and cling to their mothers when their mothers gather food, that’s education. The apes spend much effort finding food, that is a job. Some look for dangers while others look for food, then they switch, that’s an economy (though not capitalistic I know, perhaps a bit communistic even). Give them several million more years to evolve, and they might think they’re the center of the universe as well, because that is after all how it looks to your perspective everywhere you stand.

To summarize, consciousness is a simple concept, a simple causal physical line of reactions, but its results are complex and you can probably continue to add angles to it for a thousand years. Like fractal mathematics, extremely simple, but if you let it run its course millions of generations it will form an image of borderline infinite complexity. But given the efficiency of life, since inefficient have a tendency to have a worse survival rate than what is slightly more efficient, it will never gain the kind of complexity we often believe about ourselves. Unless it is artificially imposed. In the future, we will make ourselves so intelligent and genetically superior to apes as we like to think we are today. But until then, we must realize why we avoid some things and seek other things. Like trying not to think about for example aging. If we thought about dieing every day, and talked about dieing, and what can be done to stop it, then politicians would not treat health nearly as a taboo. Scientists have working theories on how to stop almost 98% of the causes of death (2.84% of deaths in 2002 were intentional, war, violence, suicide, etc), and working theories on how to begin to stop aging as we know it from existing.

But even I, who often know exactly why I find some things uncomfortable, find it uncomfortable to mention life extension to those older than myself, those with less life left than myself. Because if I somehow make them snap out of the delusion that they have a soul that will live forever after they are dead, they might go bananas (and arguably ironically sometimes realizing ones own mortality leads to becoming suicidal, which I have close to zero understanding of thus far). I have not managed to find a way to make it ethically right to do such a thing. So that leaves my consciousness to trying to get politicians (most older than me) to focus on life extension, without making them realize they are mortal beings without souls or some form of eternal life after the bank account is empty.