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Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

The edges of existence.

Everything is an edge – an edge of an edge – an edge of an edge of an edge. Existence is an infinite regress of edges encoding, decoding and recoding other infinite regressing edge networks. The explanations for the unexplained, even in their simplicity, are infinite regresses.

A dictionary is a book of words defining words. Where does a definition end?

Human language is a loose collection of rules to be excepted and exceptions to be ruled by effect. If a communication communicates it’s acceptable?

Sensory perceptions and the instruments of perception cannot be fully perceived. Are we to believe our eyes about our eyes?

Mathematics and its objects and relations are designed to perfectly articulate all that is the case and yet hiding with infinity are infinities and transcendentals that cannot be defined, systematically discovered, nor hardly described. (http://vihart.com/transcendental-darts/)

Our science modernized from the mystics (Kepler) and numerologists (Newton) and the faithful (Leibniz) strikes out, pathetically, against leaps of faith. This science likely has led to the heating of the planet via industry which now can only be reversed by more science?

Turing conceived computers to mirror the way humans thought – conceived when our collective knowledge of brains was rather small. Ironically, within a few lines of code computers (theoretical and physical) become nearly inscrutable in terms of what they might do. Are more inscrutable machines required to create and understand more inscrutable machines?

Currency is abstracted not just from physical objects but from any tangible value other than a sustained believe that this $ will be understood and honored by some anonymous entity beyond oneself. The beliefs sustained by what most label as “the dismal science” (economics) and its backer, the state.

The desired progress of all of the above can be summarized as “prediction”. If something is predictable it is controllable is the underlying point of most modern obsessions with science, technology and information. Even though our most precise and abstracted efforts have shown prediction, by in large, is impossible. Not just for complex systems of the natural world but the very simple mathematical objects we create. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHYFJByddl8

Despite all the empirical evidence over hundreds of thousands of years and the theoretical proofs of the 20th century as a whole, our culture – primarily in the US but spreading elsewhere – simply refuses to give up control through prediction. It persists, likely, because we are limited beings in energy and time and need whatever perceived advantage we can get. Right? Seeming identification of a pattern reinforces that identification when paired with the perception of reward or advantage. That is learning itself is an edge of an edge of an edge and fully infinitely regressive to its own contradiction.

Prediction and learning and control are all about probability. For a prediction to be useful it must tell us something about the probability of conditions coming to be. For us to do something based on a prediction we must believe that prediction to be as accurate at least as much as the probability of events it predicts. That is, our beliefs should only be as strong as the probability predicted. Or so logic would suggest. However, probability itself turns out, with no surprise here, to be an infinite regress. Probability is really a statement about lack of information. (Sure some people argue that chance/randomness is implicit to existence while others say it’s an artifact of our limited perceptions. In either case our ability to say anything about the existence of things comes down to ignorance and the infinite regress of existence.)

This information remains forever out of reach. It is both at the heart of everything and is the edge of everything. We cannot know. We can only play with these edges, find more of the edges, recode edges into edges. Our struggles philosophically, scientifically, spiritually and educationally come down to this straightforward non-fact. Should we continue our answer and prediction seeking efforts in spite of their impossible hope? That is a personal question that each will have to answer over and over for themselves. For me, I will, not so I can be right or in control, but because I enjoy the edge want to live outside of control. I paint to paint, not because the painting says something about reality. “The good life” is proportional to the number of edges explored, clanged to, jumped from, thrown away, revisited, and combined.

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A Few Definitions

Culture

A collection of misrepresentations and generalizations about groups of people connected by the contingencies of localized time and space.

Knowledge

Repeatedly applied models of the world that fall apart less frequently than other models.

Data

Anything that isn’t the thing.

Color

A confusion of the senses.

Hope

A justification for doing nothing.

Possibility

A number close to zero.

Book

A device for clouding ideas in cryptic symbolism and convention.

School

A system for extreme procrastination and avoidance of real consequences.

Belief

A frequent denial of complexity.

Free Will

The best political slogan of all time.

Science

A morally disconnected accounting of destructive methods.

Memory

Sensory landfill.

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I have an hypothesis that the key ability of humankind that evolved over the millennia is learning.   Broadly speaking this means the awareness, recognition, and synthesis of patterns.   This doesn’t refer just to academic learning or book knowledge, but instead to the more generalized concept of pattern recognition.   We are learners.   

 

Everything we do is about foraging for new patterns or confirming previously learned patterns.   Of course, we forage for patterns to survive – to eat, sleep, find water, mate and avoid predation.   While in the modern world it can be hard to see how everything we do is about these basic survival aspects so far removed is our daily experience from pulling food from the ground and running from sabre tooth tigers, no doubt our homes, transportation, logistics networks and so forth have been built up to provide essentials for increasing populations.   And the one common behavioral thread from how our pre history ancestors likely lived and how we live today is Learning.   This is the biological strategy developed from our interaction with the world over time.

 

Our physiology compared to the rest of the animal kingdom favors us using our large brains and capable senses to forage for and use patterns vs. terrifying strength or built in camouflage, etc.  A baby can do very little physically for a very long time while it is learning.   Our period of growth to adolescence and self sufficiency is very long.   There is a lot to learn to become surviving human.

 

Certainly all living things learn to some degree.   The simplest creatures all of have some sorta of biological memory that helps them find food and avoid destruction – though that memory is often quite different from ours and may not even be anything we’d recognize.    The difference is the sophistication and complexity of that learning made possible by our complex nervous system.   As individuals we learn a great deal.   As a species we learn a great deal.  Over time we are able to store and retrieve an increasing amount of learning that we pass on to our descendents through culture, written records, and now the internet and digital technology.   There is simply no other animal we’ve found that does this to the scale we do it.

 

Plenty of literature suggests it’s language or consciousness or art that makes us “human” or “different that the rest of animals.”   Rather than saying learning makes us a superior life form or different than other animals I’m merely suggesting that this our evolutionary strategy that developed and that all of those other things people mention come from this ability and need to learn.   We are constantly in search of more efficient ways to discover and transmit patterns that help us survive.   Music, language, art, writing, sport, etc all of this are varied, efficient and robust ways to teach other patterns.   Yes, they often have more pragmatic and immediately practical effects like making us attractive to mates, etc.   but they also are transmissions of patterns we’ve found interesting or useful or they help unearth other patterns.

 

Now, this being per speculation as so much of evolutionary biological thinking is, it’s quite possible that everything that allows us to learn was simply evolving in response to other things than learning.   Perhaps that’s true, but the emergent effect is that we happen to be extremely powerful learnings and we have yet to devise anything that can learn more effectively.   It’s unsurprising to me that our key enterprise is developing non human machinery to help us learn and that might learn better than us.  This is literally what we must do, it’s all we do do.

 

Why is any of this important?   It is a perspective that might put various aspects of organizing our lives, societies, countries, world, technology in a new, more resilient light.   If learning is the key ability we have to survive should we not organize around this and NOT do things that reduce learning?   Should we not amplify our ability and scope of learning?   

Maybe that’s too directional of a way to think about it.  Perhaps it matters not if there’s something we OUGHT to do and rather we Do What We Do and that’s the whole lot of it.   EIther way, as an individual looking to find better ways to survive and thrive I find it useful to think through and understand what might be underlying it all.   You know, seems like I should learn.

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Well, isn’t that nice.

Unconscious plagiarism is valued as wrong by people who only see black and white. ‘Wrong’ in the sense that someone is taking credit for something that was generated or created by another person and the interloper was not giving credit for the source of the new idea or ‘thing.’

Do you know who wrote the “Dick and Jane” book series or what the best way is to grill lobster tail? How about the basics of the scientific method or the definitions of reinforcement or punishment? Right…you don’t remember. Yet you have them and you didn’t create them so you must have got them from someone and you need to give that person credit.

However some versions of plagiarism when we write may be due to inattention rather than to intention. When people who use the words or thoughts that are not their own they call it plagiarism. Those questioned about copying or using another’s words and ideas without giving them credit invariably state that their behavior was ‘unconscious.’ They were unaware of their copying when they used those words or ideas as they used. When unintentional plagiarism happens it is referred to as cryptomnesia.

This “concealed recollection,” is the name for a theoretical phenomenon involving suppressed or ‘forgotten’ memories. It refers to cases where (apparently) a person believes that he or she is creating or inventing something new, such as a story, poem, artwork, or joke, but is actually recalling a similar or identical work which he or she has previously encountered. The term was addressed extensively by Federal Judge Richard A. Posner in his book, ‘The Little Book of Plagiarism’.

Could there be any clearer case for learning?

As humans we learn at an intense rate not even closely appreciated by most academicians or those who spew content on the different media channels. We do it for all of our lives. And all the learning we do is not equal. In the thunderstorm of what is learned from before we are born and throughout intense learning periods and even during less intense periods there are millions of discriminative stimuli [SDs] that get linked with the environment surrounding the paradigms of antecedents and consequences. These morph and are reshaped repeatedly. We mix them together regularly as in a “mixed metaphor” such as “It is pitch quiet in here!”

The SDs that come to control the different elements of what is leaned become diluted differentially over time due to conflicting cues [SDs] as well as disuse of the information.

In the case of cryptomnesia the person is supposed to bookmark or otherwise categorize and account for the reading in Dr. Suez that led to thinking that there was a button maker that used the same color combinations. Or, was the person watching TV’s American Idol supposed to categorize statements [time, date, person, context] made by the stars on the show so that when a viewer’s book was written 3 years later, “Skill follows Will” credit could be given for the title of the book written about athletics?

I hope you consider the quagmire that this level of accounting requires. It may generate a set of people that refuse to write, compose, paint or speak if the logic is carried comes any more pervasive than it is.

Blogs appear to be somewhat beside themselves when it comes to references and original content. Yet the American Psychological Association has made a science out of referencing and citing what one close friend has called, “old dead men” to the point where we reinforce citing less ideas for what of having to explain where we got our more profound ideas.

Sounds like learning is the same as cryptomnesia in that it represents the case of integrating what is consumed in books, lectures, friends, movies, neighbors, parishioners, colleagues, TV or anything else. It can be ascribed to someone other than its original creator (another interesting myth) or another condition and be treated as intuitive or common sense…

Consider the following:

In a conversation with colleagues [over beer, martini’s, scotch, margarita’s or spring water] at [the office, racquet club, saloon, grocery store, etc.] you outline an idea that is not in the mainstream of the company. You go over the usual dichotomy of good vs. risks and why or what is the net of the idea.

It is considered and absorbed by the others and when appropriate, it is tied up and put into a package in some way that allows it to be identified. Comments like

“…well it is something to think about…”

“…I think it was tried in 2004 and never got a sponsor…”

“…there is good reason that it won’t work… don’t bring it up again.”

Or

“…let me have a synopsis of it and I’ll bring up at the manager’s meeting in June.”

When providing an idea or approach, strategy or process to others they often absorb it and subsequently either

  • deny its validity
  • provide its validity but question its significance
  • after time has past bring it up as if they just thought of it.

Who should get credit for the idea?

is the originator in the loop in the above example?

Do we really want to live like this when data and information grows faster than our global national debt?  Isn’t there a better way?

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