LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

April 4, 2009

Systemic Emotion

Emotion: an instinctive response to environmental situations, that is distinguishable from logic and reason.

Many folks feel that emotions are a throw back to our animal past and therefore, should be suppressed in favor of a logical state of mind. To those that see the human species as the pinnacle of evolution, emotions seem like a primitive mechanism that threatens to pull us down, impeding our progress. Our reptilian brain, favoring primitive behavior if survival is threatened, is a case in point.

Primitive or Fundamental?

Rather than looking at emotions as primitive, there are advantages to thinking of them as fundamental, performing valuable functions at all levels of biological systems. The emotional mechanism is just as important in our “advanced” civilization, as ever, it is the recorded behaviors and their settings that are primitive and need to be updated.

In the individual, emotions manage the state of readiness to meet environmental situations. The source of our emotions is definitely in our subconscious. Environmental situations, real or imagined, cause the release of a flood of chemical messengers, that reset the state of all subsystems, in preparation to react.

Security Alerts

One way to look at emotion is that it is a part of the security system, that instantly alerts Captain Self and the rest of the crew to danger or any situational change. Emotions can switch the state of readiness of the entire organism in a flash. Emotions work in real time, but are also intimately involved with memory and recall. In memory, emotions continue their role as an alert mechanism.

Not only is the emotional state recorded in memory right along with events, it also measures and grades the experience. The type and intensity of the emotion becomes a flag that marks the experience, both for a gauge to its importance and for easier recall. We know that emotional state has a lot to do with how well we remember things. So, the flow of data that our memory processes is categorized, referenced and assigned degree of importance(prioritized) on the fly.

Systems Level Emotions

Besides looking at what emotions do for the individual, we want to understand what function emotions perform for the system. From this vantage point it is immediately apparent that, as well as managing the agent’s internal state of readiness, emotions affect the external world. Emotions are part of the communications network that manages social relationships.

Body Language

In animals we see that emotions are communicated, between individuals and groups, by body language and other visual cues. It appears to be a separate channel of information from vocal exchanges. For example, the tails of dogs and cats project their emotional state to any observer. Barking guard dogs will often be wagging their tails while appearing to be vigorously defending their turf. One end of the dog is yelling, “I’m doing my job”, while the other end is saying, “Take me for a walk.”

For we humans, facial expressions and other body language communicate hidden feelings. No matter what the conscious mind is trying to convey, the subconscious is often projecting a different picture. To whom? The subconscious of other agents.

Color Coded

Throughout the animal kingdom, color is used to broadcast emotional state, especially in mating. From the red rumps of female baboons in heat to the colorful displays of cuttlefish, emotions play an important role in the reproductive process. Displays of fear serve to warn local residents of danger. Emotions serve a survival function for individuals and groups, but go even farther, providing realtime feedback to the higher levels of control, like species and ecosystems.

The Brine Shrimp Massacre

Remember the brine shrimp experiments in Cleve Backster’s lab? Death is a radical change of state for any organism. The traumatic termination of any living thing registers on all local agents, and beyond. The Primary Perception revealed by Backster’s experiments, is the core communicator of agent states to the nonlocal environment. This is fundamental emotion, highlighting, organizing and prioritizing the holographic feedback loops of all living things. How agents feel about what they are doing, is important to the system. The total of all agents states, generates the holoverse, the emotional state of System.

Suppressed Connectivity

Our attempts to suppress our emotions has hampered our ability to communicate with our local environment as well as the System at large. Many folks recognize that the root cause of much of our troubles is our separation from the natural world. We have done it to ourselves.

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January 26, 2009

Captains Eternal

Filed under: Ch 09 User Interface — Tags: , , , , — insomniac @ 10:15 am

I am usually reluctant to get into descriptions using religious terminology. Seems like a no win situation for me. However, our goal all along has been to identify common belief patterns where we find them. A reoccurring theme of religious doctrine is that humans possess an immortal essence, or soul. There is a counterpart in a systems view of human beings. The essence of an agent is its core accumulation of knowledge.

Instance of soul

In the systems view, an agent is defined by its stored information. Agents of a species are unique implementations of a “standard” model. They are an instance of a particular design package. As a unique instance, the agent accumulates knowledge, learning as it goes, navigating through time and space. This knowledge is a record of the performance of the agent within its local environment. Each individual agent within the system has a history. Included is the original configuration(DNA), and the history of the agent’s growth and actions. This is represented by the current state of the organism, which includes its accumulated behaviors, or potential states. This kernel of knowledge is the agent’s real value to the system.

This information is the essence of the agent, its personality and its performance in the real world. It is also part of the whole body of knowledge compiled by the system. When stored holographically within and alongside the state of the whole, it becomes a comprehensive memory of all of the dynamic relationships that have occurred within the field over time.

All Natural

Although the actual process of storing and applying this information may seem obscure, we can see from a system’s view that the process does indeed exist. The degree of organization and efficiency shown by even the simplest creatures can only be approached in modern supply systems by sophisticated software that keeps track of all variables. The feedback loops have to be there, and we expect they will use nothing but natural laws to do their work. There is ample room within the holographic model to accommodate all of this functionality without resorting to deity, random mutation, emergence or magic for an explanation.

This model also provides a foundation for more than a sterile, mechanical view of reality. Intelligent traits we normally ascribe to the human mind, like evaluating situations, projecting expectations into the future, intent towards achievement of goals, and emotional reactions to events, are fully functional at the cellular level in plants and lower animals. In other words, these are not special abilities of human beings, but fundamental to living organisms.

Emotions are a vital part the state of every organism, as well as an essential part of the history package. How much we care is recorded right along with what we do. At the same time, each member of the environment records its participation in the interaction, along with its emotional component. The System knows all.

Immortal Essence

The system doesn’t forget. It’s primary business is memory. In this way, the knowledge gained by each agent is eternal. The System is not going to forget what it learned from you, good or bad. However, the idea that the conscious mind of the agent goes on forever, or can go on forever, without a living physical body to express it, really doesn’t make sense. Our sense of self is just that: a feeling, probably necessary for basic navigation and interaction with other agents, but not of much value to the System.

The self is an attribute of the coherent electromagnetic field generated by the cells of a living body. Take away the living body that is the expression of a particular personality, and what you have left is a static expression stored in holographic memory. Your life history is forever stored, but you can’t add to it without a physical body to express your code in interactions with the System. There may be other advantages to being such a spirit being, but the full expression available to the living, won’t be one of them.

Forever Sundown

There is good reason for each agent not to be immortal, but to have a sundown process embedded in its code. There is the potential for agents to run amuck. They have unlimited potential to learn, which gives them the ability to develop behaviors detrimental to the system. The sundown process terminates agents after a useful life span, giving the system the opportunity to evaluate, filter and/or adjust behavior in future generations. In order for the System to be immortal, the agents cannot be.

Terminating a Run-a-way Process

It also seems that civilization is subject to a sundown clause. The planet is littered with the ruins of failed civilizations. The deeper they dig, the more they find of the same. In our written history, from team sports to governments and ideologies, it is difficult to maintain a dynasty. Everything seems to come in cycles of ebb and flow, in and out, live and dormant.

Maybe it is just as well. Just as an individual agent can run amuck, large concentrations of them can redefine the term. So far, the sundown process has worked. Otherwise we all might be Egyptians or Babylonians or worse.

January 24, 2009

Ultimate Undo

Filed under: Ch 09 User Interface — Tags: , , , , — insomniac @ 4:59 pm

In a dynamic environment the individual must also be able to learn quickly. From a species standpoint, attempted changes in the structure to meet environmental variation must be temporary. The species has to test new features thoroughly before they become permanent. What we would like is a limitless “undo” option. That’s easy when your data is managed properly.

Rewrite Old Files

Imagine you have a document you are writing in your computer. In the old days of word processing, each time you made a change to your document and saved it, the document was re-written. The code was changed to reflect your changes and a new copy of the total string of code representing your document replaced the old one.

In the old days we used different file names so we could preserve copies of major stages of development of the piece, in case an approach wasn’t working we wanted to go back to an earlier version. Still, each document was saved as a complete and separate file.

Software Evolution

That works OK, but word processing has evolved. There are more efficient and flexible ways to handle documents, that result in handy features like, “undo”. That is the ability to reverse earlier decisions. For the ultimate undo feature, we want to be able to back up through all the steps we have taken to create this document, from publication, back to the first sentence. That would be a lot of documents if you saved each step as a complete and separate file. However, if you save each revision of the original in a database, with references to position in the document and keep track of all changes, you can recreate any former version and you don’t need a lot of separate files to do it.

When you export a document, the word processing software assembles a finished version from the elements stored in the database, according to your latest changes.

Dynamic Memory

The concept we are working with here is that of memory as a cumulative recording rather than a static picture. We are talking about a dynamic memory that records changes as they occur.

DNA works like that. It isn’t just a static record of a particular physical structure, but a dynamic physical reality that is the memory of the processes and changes made to produce it. It is one of the indications that sophisticated information processing techniques are indeed operational in biological systems. The stability and robustness evidenced by billions of years of successful modification of DNA code, cannot be attributed to random activity of any kind.

Even though DNA is quite stable, its product is capable of modifying future DNA and thus de-stabilizing the entire system. However, DNA is always dynamic, never repeating itself exactly, always presenting a new design, modified for testing in real life. If successful, this new design can be compared to past designs in real time. What they call natural selection, is the final test for modified DNA. If the agent can reproduce successfully within its time limit, the improvements are incorporated into the design. If not, the test fails and the experiment is terminated. Natural selection causes the code to automatically revert to the last successful version. The ultimate undo.

January 23, 2009

Objects in the System

Object Oriented

Taking strings of binary code and calling them “objects”, is a very handy way of organizing data. In fact, the concept of objects is central to information processing. Everything is an “object”. We are talking about code here, nothing solid, but the concept of code being treated the same as a device like a printer, a camera, or a folder for that matter, is fundamental to our computer model. In the computer’s internal world, there is nothing, but code. Separating strings of code into objects, each with a location within the system, makes it all work.

It is the same technique our subconscious uses to organize data for us. Our ability to isolate objects in the environment is essential for navigation as well as for making sense out of dynamic situations. Programming objects serve a similar function, in that they allow the program to recognize the kind of object and therefore, “know” a lot about the incoming code before it arrives. Having knowledge available about objects and how they might act, greatly improves navigation and performance of tasks. Using objects greatly reduces the amount of information that has to be passed in order to determine the current state of the environment.

Nested Information

An object is a collection point for information. It identifies itself by referencing learned patterns of knowledge about classes of objects. The object collects and organizes information. Without a process that can objectify incoming data, it remains a global soup, without detail or organization.

Each object has a unique address, independent of its position within a nested hierarchy of other objects. The computer locates the object it is told to find and follows the instructions therein. Each object is made up of more objects. Each one has it’s own internal branching list of objects that guides input to the proper objects contained within. Meanwhile, any object is always able to contact any other object within the system and process that response, before it outputs to another object. What a system, huh?

Orderly Communication

Core to the whole concept is that all objects within the system communicate with each other in an orderly manner. And that every object contains the instructions for how it is to process input. The input itself may contain information that influences how it is to be processed, but the processing is done within the object itself. However, since the object is known to the system, the internal processing is done to an external “context”. This is the nature of the holographic connection between objects and the system.

In the computer model, when the program encounters an object, it is referenced by its internal environment and a context is established whereby the object and the program can interact. This is a linear, binary structure that attempts to duplicate the functionality of the holographic process. What this structure accomplishes in the computer, is carried out in biological systems by fields. Instead of reading a linear string, consciousness is presented the information instantaneously, as a field.

Expected Behavior

When we see an object, our consciousness identifies it and references the known information about it. Instantly, we have an idea of what to expect from it. Our consciousness establishes a context we will use to interact with the object. Without the ability to objectify environmental elements, life would be a blur of incoming data, just as meaningless to us as a gigahertz stream of binary code.

Objects become a way of understanding a timeslice of our environment, but the observed boundaries, and the objects themselves, change, morph and are replaced over time.

The more time, the more our object exchanges energy, matter and information with the environment, becoming a different object. While, objects are transitory, temporary and totally dependent on perception, the integrity of the code and the system that executes it remain the only consistent reality. The essence of life, the operating system, the eternal component of our existence, is not a physical “thing”, but fields of information and energy.

Robust Reality

The System is reality; objects illusion. It is not that objects don’t exist, they most certainly do, but their separateness from each other and the observer is a product of perception(imagination), at best a virtual image of reality. The code that contains dynamic content, while its structure, syntax and internal meaning have remained unchanged for millions, probably billions of years, is evidence of superior programming abilities. We see that dynamic content, that is the physical universe before us. What we don’t see, the process that reads, executes and re-writes that dynamic content, is universal, (expressed in coherent fields in all living cells), and therefore is extremely robust.

January 19, 2009

Food as Information

Waves of Information

Every movement of matter and/or energy in our society is accompanied by a flood of information exchanged between the participants. That’s the way it is in computer networks, too. A blinding barrage of data accompanies even the smallest tasks performed by a computer. In a network, the computers are in constant communication, talking to each other, keeping it all running and the content we send around is almost incidental. It is the same in biological systems; everything is information first and matter/energy a secondary manifestation of that information.

Food is energy, but it is also information. Not just a little bit of trivia, but food is ALL information. Even the energy is information. The energy is stored in matter, in chemicals waiting to react. Matter is all light energy in the first place. It is the electromagnetic structure that contains the energy we know as matter. Structure contains information. In other words, light, matter and information are all aspects of the same thing.

Attract and Repel

Besides the information provided regarding the processing and distribution of nutrients, all food sources supply information that encourages, or discourages, the continued use of their product. Most plants are very selective about their symbiotic partners. They produce an elaborate array of molecules that attract some partners and repel others. For their chosen partners they include tips on cultivation and preparation. For others, the plants issue warnings, flags and as a last resort, poison.

For example, wheat produces molecules that cause allergic reactions in some people. Why? Because the plant has formed symbiotic partnerships with humans in the past, and placed “markers” to identify their descendants. This happened over a long stretch of time in our distant past, as it is related to blood type and antigens.

Some plants skip interacting with the simple minded beasts. They simply hide their seed in the fruit and let it sprout in his dung heap. This strategy has been quite successful as it accomplishes the basic job of dispersal, while it leaves open the possibility that the simple minded beast may grasp the significance of the seed, dung and sprout sequence, and plant one. The sequence becomes information that translates into an invitation to “tend my orchard”, from the orchard itself.

Opium Poppy

An extreme case is the opium poppy, as this species does much more than just encourage continued use, it demands it. They want to make a deal. They will cover your pain in exchange for your devotion. In the wild, that devotion resulted in cultivation by a shaman. What the junky shoots in his arm has been stripped of all information except the pain killers. Besides that lack, and by not relating to the plant itself, the junky doesn’t get any clues on how to uphold his end of the bargain. All he knows how to do is find a fix.

In cultures where opium poppies are grown there is very little abuse by the workers. Their culture is built around the relationship and opium use doesn’t interfere with any part of their social or economic structure. In fact, the relationship provides for their livelihood.

Healthy Symbiosis

This same symbiotic relationship can be seen in many forms in indigenous cultures. The Hopi worship of the Corn Mother, for example. The closer one is to the food source, both physically and spiritually, the better chance one has of maintaining a healthy relationship with it. The more our food is processed, stored, cooked and otherwise stepped on, the less information is available to maintain a healthy body and spirit.

In the human body, the information supposed to be contained in the ingested food should include information about local pollen, soil and atmospheric conditions. If your food comes from far away, it won’t have relevant information for your body. If it is processed, much of that information is stripped away. Either way, the result is that your body is insufficiently informed about the environment in which it exists. That’s just more business for the makers of histamine blockers. The first sign that you don’t fit in your environment is that you are allergic to it.

Information Breakdown

Many of the diseases that plague us today are breakdowns in the information processing of our system. Cancer is cells confused about how often to reproduce and an immune system that is confused about what is a healthy cell. Others diseases are also caused by confusion of the immune system, like when it attacks healthy cells. Cells are receiving broken, damaged and otherwise insufficient information that impairs their ability to do their job.

The general malaise of our species centers around our lost connection to our environment. That connection depends on a steady flow of information between us and said environment. One way that flow has been disrupted, is by the way we gather and prepare our food.

Team Symbiosis

One of the internal command units under Team Subconscious is for the management of symbiotic relations. Symbiots are non-human organisms that provide us with specialized services. Like there is the deal we have with the thousands of different microbes in our gut to process our food. These single celled creatures live in colonies whose populations ebb and flow according to what we eat. They eat what we eat and pass on to us vital nutrients.

Our species has also made symbiotic deals with plant species for the food we feed ourselves and our microbes. These relationships are highly complex, involving multiple species, processing a regular flow of incoming environmental material, a barrage of communication molecules, informing the organism, alerting the immune system, sorting, evaluating, deciding and managing at every step and level of the processes. This is all accomplished by the exchange and processing of information.

Chili Peppers

Say you eat a bowl of green chili. First thing is that it burns the heck out of your mucus membrane. That’s enough to keep most insects and animals from eating chili at all, but there are benefits to those who can get past the initial pain.

So the team looks up the fragrance and taste in the local database and finds that the system recognizes green chili and tells the captain that the pain is a good sign. When it’s real hot, that equals good stuff. Maybe it is because you regularly eat chili peppers, or maybe your great grandfather had a long history of chili abuse, at any rate your system recognizes the fruit and is gong for the benefits. Through experience, your system has learned that the benefits of the chili pepper out weigh the pain. For the system the pepper provides nutrition(vitamin C), as well as temporary physiological reactions, like increased heart rate and improved circulation.

Captain’s Reward

The system rewards the captain for his cooperation with endorphins that replace the pain with a wave of “feel good”. The system also uses the unique attributes of the chili pepper to help manage relationships in the digestive tract. The chili plant has its own symbiotic relationships with the flora, fauna including parasites and bacteria. A steady diet of chili peppers has long term effects on digestion.

So team subconscious has decided that chili peppers are a good thing, and adds them to the list of most desirable foods. Maybe it lobbies for a few plants in the back yard. The captain thinks it is all his idea, but essentially the chili plant has recruited a symbiotic partner. The plant and team subconscious have made a deal, to insure the propagation of future generations of chili.

Targeted Communication

To accomplish this feat, the plant has manufactured highly complex molecules targeted to specific receptor sites in our nervous system. The communication has resulted in modified behavior of the individual, and benefits for multiple species. Now the current scientific model, featuring a dead universe, all of this is just a fortunate accident for everyone, but in the living universe we see that it is a strategy employed by the chili plant and an agreement made between the plant and the subconscious involving messenger molecules and learning for both parties.

January 17, 2009

Instructions and Commands

Another thing that biological systems have in common with their computer counterparts, is that everything operates on an endless flow of instructions and commands. The cycle of input, process and output to a specific outcome, is consistent throughout both systems. Some don’t see the connection, thinking of only the physical aspect of the process, but nothing is to be learned from such a stance. DNA has been characterized as instructions, but there are much more dynamic examples of the process we can verify through our own experience.

In Command

Captain Self issues commands, the body responds by acting out instructions. The instructions in a biological system consist of learned behaviors. When new behaviors are being established, the captain issues detailed commands. As the process is repeated, commands gradually become learned behaviors. What starts out as a string of conscious commands become habits, or specific instructions to reach a targeted outcome. From then on, the captain need only specify the outcome as a command, and the crew does the rest. This is the same process we would use to build a simple program on a computer.

At any rate, this biological computer model means that our main operating programs also use a system of instructions and commands that regulate our day to day activities. We know it happens on the conscious level because we participate. However, it is quite obvious that all of the autonomic, subconscious and/or instinctual processes going on behind the scenes operate in much the same way. For starters, cells and even interior departments within cells are cycling through the same input, process, output to a specific outcome scenario. The well documented flow of inter and intra cellular communication via hormones, neurotransmitters and such, can be seen as simply information circulating as commands and instructions. Within the LifeOS model, it is not just these obviously informational components, but all movement of matter or energy that is essentially the transfer of information.

Improv

When you or i encounter a unique situation, one that we don’t have a learned behavior ready to deal with, we are forced to improvise. When we do that, we call on all of the resources at our disposal: memory, logic, inspiration and such, to provide the conscious mind with what it needs to select appropriate behavior. In matters of inspiration, it is the subconscious that does all of the heavy lifting. Some of those commands are queries, requests for information from the team. Those requests are processed, the light bulb goes on and the idea arrives, fully formed and ready to implement.

As i’ve said before, the subconscious mind is fully a part of the system. No matter what label you wish to hang on the source of your inspiration, it doesn’t matter to the system, the reaction is the same; instructions are supplied. The conscious mind can either follow them or not. When the conscious mind takes off on its own, it usually means trouble. We are perfectly free to choose even the most ridicules and/or destructive ways of expressing ourselves, and often do, but no matter what ways we choose, they consist of instructions and commands to be followed by groups of cells.

Instinct

The instructions and commands that make up the behavior of animals are what we have called instincts. They are not exact instructions on how to fly, for example, rather a holographic memory of what it takes to fly, including all of the related balance and muscle coordination necessary. The memory is like a short movie of the interference patterns created by the dynamic hologram of flying. In a baby bird, the memory of flying comes from the two units of DNA memory that occupied the egg. Those two holographic strings of code represent the potential to fly. By the time cell division has produced the fledgling ready to learn how to fly, that potential has expanded to produce an information structure just waiting to be filled in with flight data. As the bird tries to fly, the holographic memory begins to fill in the details of how it is done. Each cell in the body has a copy of this, “how to fly holomovie” that plays at the same time. The first time a bird jumps off the edge of the nest, every cell is learning and recording what it has to do for the bird to fly. So, the vague holographic instructions grow into more complex instructions according to the life the bird lives.

This pattern of filling in the details in holographic memory is the same whether we are talking about the learning of a behavior like flying, or the growth of the skeleton, nerves and muscle culture necessary for flight. The fertilized egg contains a two unit expression of all the holograms that the animal needs to function. As the cell divides it increases the available memory capacity of all the holograms it contains. As cell divisions continue the holographic memory capacity expands as well. The growth of the embryo depends on the available nutrients and environmental conditions to fill in the holograms with information. So every cell learns what it has to do in each progressive stage, from stem cell to fully developed adult. The holograms needed to function, like breathing, circulation and digestion, develop quickly whereas flying can wait until the muscle culture is sufficiently developed.

More On-time Supply System

I’ve likened the human body to an on-time supply system. This system runs on information generated by all the participants. Each entity within the system orders what it needs to function by forming an interference pattern in its coherent electromagnetic field. For a muscle cell, if activity goes up, the interference patterns being created with each cycle of the cellular process begin to show a shortage of oxygen and fuel and an excess of waste. That pattern is instantly recognized by the larger coherent electromagnetic field as a need and fulfillment gets under way.

That interference pattern generated by the local coherent electromagnetic field occurs in the same medium as thought. Within a cell, that thought is very precise and focused on specific details of the field, and not the rambling process we use, but it is the same step in the feedback loop. This is the way every cell, every organ, every muscle group orders what it needs to perform the task before it. This flow of information is answered by a flow of nutrients to meet those needs.

Thought Power

The reason you have an interface, is to order your supplies and plot your pathways. It is your thoughts that control both. When you can focus your thoughts on your needs in the same way that a cell does, those needs are met with speed and efficiency. You can call it prayer, positive thinking or planning your future, doesn’t matter to the system, it will deliver.

January 14, 2009

Team Subconscious

Captain Self runs a tight ship, passing out orders left and right, but we know who does the work. Sure, we can see that there are organs that perform specific functions, but in practice, the whole organism is involved to varying degrees, in every activity. It is a team effort.

Team Management

Environmental stimulation results in the formation of ad hoc teams of organs, glands, neural pathways and muscle groups that respond with adaptive action. That is, the teams that react to environmental input, are made up of cells, the crew of your ship. There are trillions of them, functioning together as a unit. Their numbers are way too many, and they are engaged in relationships far too complex, for the conscious mind to manage. Just like in your computer, you don’t need to know what is going on inside to get results. It is Team Subconscious that manages our background processes.

Team Tradition

So, Captain Self is spared the details, leaving him free to focus on his main responsibility, relating to the big picture, the external environment. However, these teams have a tradition dating back millions, sometimes billions, of years. Their functionality has not changed significantly in many, many generations. Until fairly recently, their input had also been stable. In the last few hundred years, cultural changes, especially to diet and the levels of chemical pollutants, have placed unprecedented stress on all of the ship and crew.

This stress causes general agitation to the system. The system doesn’t like change, especially the unprecedented kind. The agitation stimulates the system to search for an adaptive response. Although the captain might be consulted from time to time, response comes from Team Subconscious. Within the team, there are well established command units that govern critical behavior.

Team Behavior

What we affectionately refer to as the “reptilian” brain, for example, gets the name from its resemblance in function to the brains of snakes, lizards and other reptiles. The main concern of this command unit is the very basics of survival of the individual, followed closely by survival of the species through reproduction. There isn’t any consideration for social relationships going on here. The so called, mammalian brain, was added later, onto the reptilian portion. This command unit features improved social interactions, like nurturing of the offspring and sharing food.

Each of these command units was developed to cope with a specific set of environmental conditions. As conditions changed, new command capabilities were added to the existing set. This was accomplished by adding new tissue, just like any other learning process.

These teams were assembled to give added functionality during earlier stages of development. However, the more primitive portions remain in the information stream and have the power to override commands arriving from later(less proven) teams.

The new departments gain control through successful performance, but the slightest hint that these newer departments might not be performing as expected and the system reverts to more tried and proven(primitive) behaviors. This is the same bias towards established routines that we see in diverse social and conceptual endeavors, like addictive behavior, paradigm shift and software development.

Disabled Ships

A good captain needs to know how his teams interact. Take that reptilian bunch already mentioned; this outfit is all sex and survival. Back in the days when they were in charge, life was simple. Life is several stages more complex these days, but in a pinch, that rowdy bunch will take over and revert to “primitive” behavior, whether appropriate, or not. Our jails are full of disabled ships, whose captains were rendered ineffective by rebellious crews, especially that reptilian team at the base of the skull.

The marshal arts, for example, are disciplines that seek to put the captain in touch with these elements and forge a positive relationship with them. It is training, practice and living with intent, that builds self-trust, self-respect and self-confidence. Once a level of trust is established, the captain can assign specific tasks and expect consistent results from the ship and crew. That’s how you build a reliable interface.

It is important to remember that both the captain and crew are part of the system. They use the same neurotransmitters, sensory processes and DNA language as the rest of the Life. Neither are in any way separate from the system.

Lonely at the Top

In spite of the obvious physical unity, the captain often feels separate and somewhat alienated from the ship and crew. A certain feeling of separation is important to the functioning of an individual agent. This perspective enhances an agent’s ability to act freely in the environment, making it better at seeking out adaptive behavior. However, when not balanced by a sense of belonging to the team, the feeling of separation can lead to trouble.

Captain Eternity

The idea, supported by some captains, that they live on forever, while the ship and crew are just temporary, is at the heart of the problem. Not only does this attitude indicate a perceived separation from the physical body, and an overinflated ego, but this is just about as separate as a captain can get from reality. Even if they were to be immortal, captains are of little use to the system without a ship and crew.

As i said before, the crew has been doing their jobs for billions of years, while it is the captain who is temporary. If there were anything worth saving about a human existence, it certainly would be more than just the captains log. It would have to include the much larger body of information gathered by the rest of the team. Only then would environmental changes be registered by the system. The captain seems blind to the nature of these environmental changes and the long range effects of current actions. It is as if the captain is operating from a different set of values than the crew. And the gulf widens.

Out of Touch

The wider the gulf, the more contentious the relationship becomes, the more the crew acts on their own, leaving the captain to rationalize increasingly irrational behavior. What the captain sees as mutiny is really that Team Subconscious has lost confidence in the captain’s ability to insure survival of the ship in particular and the species in general. Although the team takes commands from the captain, their allegiance is really to the ship.

Make Peace with the Crew

So, take a look at your own relationship with your crew. Are you a good leader? Are you and your crew working together for common goals? Do you feel good about the Team? If not, it is up to you, the captain, to improve this working relationship.

December 27, 2008

Self Help

I never intended this as a self help book, rather it was for my own exploration of information processing concepts as applied to biology. In that way it has been very therapeutic for me. However, now that i have progressed to this point in the journey, it seems to me that helping the “self”, is the only way to go. It isn’t about being selfish, but about helping integrate the desires of the individual with the intent of Life itself. It is about helping the self live in harmony.

You’ve Got to Serve Somebody

Learning to adapt is the fundamental goal of the System. LifeOS writes itself, by learning about itself. This too, is our reason for being. We are a collection point for information. We collect this information, not for the benefit of human beings, but to serve the System. It doesn’t matter what we think we are doing, the System is learning from it.

So, i am really writing about self improvement through learning how we relate to the System. Learning and living are really one and the same. It has been said by many observers that our present troubles are caused by the decline in our feeling of connection to the natural world. It is really no wonder, as both religion and science have tended to regard that connection to our animal nature, and emotion in general, as a negative that must be suppressed, overcome or denied. Nature has been seen as our adversary.

Our little self has been so overwhelmed by these cultural issues that it has forgotten it membership as a functional part of the System. It has succumbed to the self serving temptation of the shiny beads of wealth and power.

Failed Conquest

The fantasy that we can conquer Nature has run its course. We learn to live in harmony with the environment, or else. The very first step in that journey is to form an intimate bond with the crew and the ship that will take you there. From the point of view of the self, that’s the first level of the interface with the system.

The little imaginary self hiding in the back room, has to bond with the physical big body that will take the bumps and scraps of poor navigation. The ship and crew are selfless, but none-the-less, suffer the illusions of the captain. It isn’t that there is mutiny, but there can develop a loss of trust. The captain sees the environment, but the crew is flying blind. However, the crew feels the environment on a cellular level. Both are aware of the results. The object is to guide the ship through the maze of the environment to achieve specific goals. When the results of the process fail to meet expectations(no food, for example), the crew becomes agitated. Survival is the primary objective of the crew. So when in doubt, they just remove some of the responsibility from the captain, without notification, and proceed to propose and select behaviors based more on past success than the captain’s assessment. This frustrates the captain no end, but that only adds to the problem.

Deep down, the captain feels a degree of guilt, for the poor communication, and rightly so. This is analogous to a loss of confidence. The captain and crew are not on the same page. Sounds like the beginnings of a mental health issue, for sure.

Shooting Free Throws

An example of this that works for me is the shooting of free throws by professional basketball players. Here we have players that are capable of making baskets from 20 feet away, while being guarded by skilled opponents, at a higher percentage than they can make free throws at a shorter distance, with nobody in their face. These are highly paid professionals that practice for hours at a high percentage level, but can’t do the same in a game.

What’s the deal? It’s the relationship between the captain and the crew. When playing at speed, the captain doesn’t issue specific commands to the crew. The captain is busy watching the game and pointing out possible strategies to the crew chief. “That guy is open, that defender is out of position, etc”. The captain and crew have practiced this together and everyone does their job, as a team.

At the free throw line, the captain takes over and tells the crew what to do. “This is important… watch your feet… not too hard… this is a big game… don’t let the fans distract you,” and on and on. The crew isn’t left to do their job as they have practiced, and another shot clanks off the rim. Now this is a long way from the expectations shared by the whole gang, and those cells get agitated, further eroding confidence.

The successful techniques are the ones that still or occupy the conscious mind so the subconscious can get on with it. It boils down to improving the communication between captain and crew.

Make Peace With Your Self

Got to love your self before you can love the rest. The first step is to make peace with all aspects of the self. You need to feel your connections to the ship and crew to the point of tears. It takes a lot of emotional “juice” to make changes in our core beliefs. Hallucinogenic drugs, NDE’s, exhaustion, meditation, music, sacred spaces, etc. are all ways to trigger an emotional event with enough power to solidify new beliefs and behavior. They all depend on the power of the neurological “feel good” to reinforce desired behavior.

Behavior Modification

Depending on the set, setting and resident symbolism of the experience, one can be made to feel good about almost anything. The initiation rites of warrior cults, secret societies and basic military training are examples of behavior modification techniques with a proven record of success. It doesn’t matter what labels one hangs on the process, or what one believes, these are the elements involved in modifying behavior. Why not take control of the process?

When a self really feels the connection between mind, spirit and body for the first time, there is an emotional jolt (endorphins flow) that captures the moment and related symbolism as special. This is the moment when your behaviors are susceptible to change. When you have a good grip on that state, expand that feeling of love, devotion and appreciation to the environment around you. Acknowledge your connection to that which knows all, and your consciousness will be flooded with new information; sort of a welcome to the team, starter kit. Sounds like a spiritual rebirth, doesn’t it? Well, that’s what it is. It is this kind of experience that rewrites your interface.

December 24, 2008

The Point Is

little-big-body
Think about how this works. Deep inside the wetware we call the brain, resides a virtual world that matches the environment. It isn’t in one spot, but spread over billions of brain cells. Exactly how that world is created is a mystery, but the fact that it exists is right in front of us. That “us” is the little body that inhabits that internal world, the hands and feet you see when you look down. That self is also a virtual entity, complete with virtual body and virtual feelings.

Pinch the big body and the little body feels it. The little body reacts as does the big body. That there exists this connection between the mental image and the physical body cannot reasonably be denied. We can trace nerve impulses from a source of pain to the brain and the return messages from the brain. However, we can also trace the actions of muscles and see quite clearly that they react to pain before the message has had time to return from the brain. The body doesn’t wait for the brain to decide what to do in an emergency.

Virtual Self

So the little body, Captain Self, doesn’t exist as a physical reality. It is a virtual copy of the big body, used as a control element. The big body is the reality, the little body is pure imagination. The little body is not responsible for every action, but has a specific role within the system. The ship basically runs itself, so the Captain can focus on important details, like the hairdo.

The rub is that the little body, our Captain Self, is the one that feels most real. It feels separate from the big body. It feels like the one doing the feeling. It is like the senses focus down to a point.

A Point of Awareness

A point of awareness is absolutely necessary for decisions to be made. It takes an entity with a very fixed and limited point of view to act on specific information. The criteria one uses to make decisions needs a fulcrum or pivot point around which to form an opinion. That point is represented by the combined beliefs, prejudices, desires and other elements that make a personality. One must have a sense of self, an understanding of what is to be “individual”.

Captain Self is that point of awareness. In this view the self is a necessary component for the agent to do its job, but not really in charge of present behavior. The subconscious handles that, but the self has the ability to modify future behavior. The self can change.

Captain Self can plan strategically to modify behavior toward specific goals. The crew can be taught new behavior, as can the ship, but neither is able to use a behavior that has not been learned. This is where one can find wisps of the elusive free will. This is where imagination can outline the future. This is where the self can grow.

December 23, 2008

Captain Self

Viewing Reality

At first glance it seems that you and i are dealing directly with the environment. We can see it, touch it, smell it, hear it and otherwise interact just as if we were really observing reality directly. However, we interact with the environment through an interface. Why is it important to know this? Because it gives us the power to choose hidden options or even update its features.

I can remember the picture that became my view of the self for many years. It was from an old Flash Gordon comic strip. Back when i was a kid, we used to spread out the Sunday Comics on the floor, and listen to the radio. There was a guy who would go through the funnies and read with us. One episode of Flash Gordon was a mechanical football game. The players were thirty feet tall human replicas that played a brutal brand of train wreck football. Each machine had a pilot and copilot that sat inside the helmet, right behind the “eyes”. It was like the cockpit of an airplane, with gauges and dials everywhere. From there they worked control levers and switches to play the game.

Captain Self

Captain Self

That’s the way i had it pictured in my head, Captain Self, at the controls of this biological machine. Since then, control systems for aircraft have advanced, and over the years, i tended to add the same new capabilities to the Captains control room. Then there was Captain Kirk’s control room to borrow from. However, there were some problems with my model.

Learning about how the senses work and then following their information channels into the brain, it becomes obvious that there is nobody sitting behind the eyes. The senses each provide information to different parts of the brain. These different sections somehow work together to display a seamless virtual reality to the user. This is truly an amazing feat of biological information processing.

The captain of this ship is isolated somewhere in a back room, without windows and certainly no real view of the outside world. The Captain is led to believe that the view presented by the eyes is reality, but we now know better. It is all done with smoke and mirrors. The user/conscious mind is being presented with a virtual reality, that has been filtered, cropped, censored and otherwise altered by subsystems beyond conscious control. Who’s in charge, here?

Subconscious Deception

This virtual reality display has some very interesting attributes. One is the fact that this internal display is so well linked to external reality. The virtual image of my hands at the keyboard is so well linked to the external world that i am sure i am seeing the real thing. The sounds of the keys and the movements of my fingers, all in perfect sync. However, this complex display takes some time to conjure up in the brain; it is fast, but not instantaneous. There is another time lag in the decision making process. By the time i see something, some tenths of a second have elapsed. Deciding what to do takes a little time, then getting that decision out to the body uses up some more. That might not seem like a lot of time, but airbags can deploy faster. If the user were left to deal with such erratic transmissions, precise navigation would be difficult to impossible.

The subconscious clears that troublesome mismatch up by using a subtle deception. The subconscious goes ahead and makes the decision when it needs to be made to compensate for the time lag, and then delays informing the conscious mind until it matches the scenario. Clever stuff.

Virtual Persona

Then one night i was watching a TV show about virtual reality gaming and saw a guy in a suit wired up to input body movements into a computer. He was wearing a helmet that projected his virtual reality onto a screen in front of his eyes. He moved his body and his virtual persona moved in sync. That was my new Captain Self.

Gone were those primitive control levers and switches. The Captain moves and the ship moves. That’s what’s going on in the brain. It is creating a virtual reality with neurons and waves of sensory information, that matches the environment. The user interacts as if it were a direct connection to reality.

My Captain Self model also demonstrates how intelligence relates. The Captain has an intellect inside the helmet that is the user, and then there is the intelligence that manages the virtual displays and their complex interactions. This is the same intelligence that manages other, less sensual, but no less complex, internal affairs.

Captain and Crew

Captain Self is in charge and responsible for the behavior of the ship and crew. However, the good Captain is a relative newcomer, only being in charge for this lifetime. The crew has a long history of operating these ships and really doesn’t consult the Captain, except in emergencies. The crew is so good at doing their jobs that the Captain is seldom aware that there even is a crew. All the Captain has to do is think of an action and the ship responds. That makes a good interface: seamless, intuitive and invisible to the user.

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