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 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.

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.

December 8, 2008

Interface Components

Filed under: Ch 09 User Interface — Tags: , , , , , — insomniac @ 2:01 pm

So, how are we all connected? Is it by a holographic universe? Is it by our shared molecules or just our shared DNA? Is it simply our needs that bind us together? Or is it our shared consciousness that connects us all? However one views our connectivity, there is one thing for certain: by definition, all interactions pass through our personal interface with the system.

Conscious of Consciousness

As i have noted before, it is hard to find a good definition of consciousness, the subconscious or any of the other related processes. There doesn’t seem to a model we can all agree on. So, i’m going to use a version that makes sense to me. It is built from my “what it looks like from here”, personal experience and from viewing our mental attributes as functions within a system. I’m lumping all the functions of consciousness together as elements of the user interface.

Consciousness is but one part of the interface between the agent and the system. An agent functions as an individual unit within the environmental system. Although all agents act through their own interface with the system, a human being is the one we are looking at here. After all, that’s the only agent with which we have first hand experience.

Sub-subsystems

The agent(human being) is a subsystem, composed of a huge number of interlocking, interdependent and intercommunicating sub-subsystems. These subsystems are all involved in one kind of information processing or another. Isolating one subsystem for analysis is ok if you just want a static view, but when you want to observe its functionality, isolation is not possible. The volume of material, information and energy that flows constantly through all living subsystems blurs the boundaries between them to the point that it is difficult to tell where one begins and another ends. All the subsystems function as a single system and must be understood in that context. In other words, mind and body are interlocking subsystems that cannot be understood as stand alone units; their inter-connectivity permeates their functionality. However, when viewed as separate components of the same functioning system, i think we can settle on some functional components.

Components of the User Interface

User/Observer-The part of the Self that views the scene and listens to the narrator. A point of awareness that views itself as a free agent; a separate entity from the scene. The who your name refers to. The pilot of the free agent’s vehicle, the body.

Body-The vehicle that the user/observer uses to navigate the Scene.

Scene-The view provided by the senses and projected as external reality. This isn’t reality, but the version of it presented by the sensory subsystems. What is most amazing about this scene is that it is composed of input from billions of sensory cells that each collect a specialized kind of information from the environment. Just in the eye alone, there are many different types of nerves in action. Some are sensitive to color, movement, edges and other details and each has their own pathway into the brain. Hearing is another separate subsystem that supplies environmental input. The senses of touch and smell, likewise have their own separate subsystems that gather external data. The magic is that all these diverse sources are conveniently combined into one integrated display that is so seamless, so masterfully executed, that it is easily(and often) mistaken for reality by the user/observer. In fact, if we were to reverse engineer such a capability, it would appear that keeping the use/observer ignorant of the reality of reality may have been an original design criteria.

Narrator-Internal Voice(s) The train of thought, stream of consciousness and/or flow of ideas that accompanies the scene as it unfolds. Environmental cues trigger response from the observer and the narrator.

Emotion-An evaluation subsystem that assigns levels of importance to objects and events. The subconscious manages the evaluation process and informs the observer through neurotransmitters.

Screen-The Observer’s imagination. A view where images and ideas merge into a simulated environmental situation that can test proposed solutions to environmental puzzles. The imagination is like a flexible view of virtual reality, where new behaviors can be proposed and tested.

Flow of Consciousness

What we call our conscious mind is the flow of information made available to the observer. That includes the scene, any and all voices, along with emotion and the imagination. All of that flow is managed by what we call the subconscious mind. The observer has some free will, to be sure, but it is the subconscious that assembles and displays the available options.

Thinking

This where we do the kind of information processing that we are familiar with: thinking. The various components of our interface interact to provide us with the ability to observe reality, form expectations based on the past, plan and execute appropriate action. We like to think that thinking is our own domain, that no other creatures are so endowed, but it was experiments on monkeys that uncovered dopamine neurons, and others that follow this same procedure of forming expectations. These abilities are active at the cellular level in monkeys, therefore human intelligence is not the origin of such mental behavior, rather a higher level refinement of what is a more fundamental attribute. Using sensory input to learn about the environment and adapt to it, seems to be a function of Life itself. Enhancing that capability is certainly an important function of the subconscious.

November 6, 2008

The Brain as a Computer

Filed under: Ch 08 System Components — Tags: , , , , — insomniac @ 10:51 am

We want to go deeper into the computer/brain analogy than our surface observation that there are similarities. To say that the brain works like a computer may be a gross oversimplification. One way that a computer,(with programs) is very similar to a human brain is that they both limit the user to a narrow band of choices for any situation. The computer programmer decides what options to present to the user based on what actions may be needed during the specific task. The subconscious makes similar choices, presenting the conscious mind with what it deems appropriate for the situation.

Although we like to think of the subconscious mind as belonging to us, it really belongs to the system. We the users, also belong to the system, even though we are individual agents. As such, we are supplied with onboard intelligence that limits, organizes and prioritizes incoming data into an integrated three dimensional virtual model, consistent enough to be routinely mistaken for reality. We are indeed very smart animals, but it is the system that is responsible for that capability, not human beings. We have amazing abilities, for sure, but the system provides a similar integrated three dimensional virtual model, to every mobile species. It makes it possible for birds to fly and animals to run. This is the heart of the user interface.

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