RE: Maybe make a brew for this one (or ignore it)

From: Price, Ilfryn (
Date: Wed 18 Jan 2006 - 16:06:02 GMT

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    From: on behalf of Chris Taylor Sent: Wed 18/01/2006 13:42 To: Subject: Maybe make a brew for this one (or ignore it)

    Well if there's one thing I love it's a flippant remark that actually hides a mighty philosophical payload :)

    The accumulate/recombine thing, with your twists, suggests maybe the biological mode switch occurs earlier in the very bright child..? There must be physical correlates of this if we were on to something. It does suggest that careful handling would be required for such a precious and fragile analytical mind
    (lacking as it probably does a really robust self-image).

    Actually I wonder (counterpoint): I have in mind that universal curve (think species diversity, tool diversity over palaeo times or whatever) an incredibly slow climb for aaaages then once the gradient increases there's a 'take off' phase -- tools make tools -- (and depending on the system an asymptotic topping out to give a sigmoidal curve, the curve may also be puctuated). That would mean that recombination (of memes) would not become the norm until you reached that take off (maybe the meta-meme that memes are malleable/_divisible_ if that's not oversimplistic?), which would be _entirely_ dependent on input and not biology (but would work well given the time frame, suggesting a mature evolved memepool or lifestyles and biology that have adapted around that meme-driven timescale). I dunno it's an either-or or a both ;)

    The biology one is easier... And given that 'gifted' kids can come from all sorts of backgrounds it is clearly not just a case of super-stoking the poor buggers to critical mass, much to the chagrin of the private prep schools, although that doesn't clearly distinguish between programmed and emergent; oh well.

    As for the 'loss' of the process; as they say one is never too old to learn (barring neurodegeneration, but even Alzheimer's patients have demonstrated some learning ability) but I think a stable mental ecology takes a lot of perturbation to shift much. I don't think the switch flips off, but the resident memes reinforce each other's primacy (back to orthodoxy). Anyway I think this is a meme thing not a bio thing. Then consider the crises people have when some foundation stone of their psyche crumbles and it all comes down.

    So anyway what I think is the upshot for parents who want their kids to be a certain thing is that they should basically forget it! A bright, balanced kid that has seen a little of everything within certain bounds (just like diet advice really) will make sensible choices and will come back for counsel if the parents have a history of being open, tolerant and supportive; and if one never makes mistakes or bad choices how will one know that that can be bad (the old Jap puffer fish dilemma)? You have to learn for yourself for lessons to carry real weight (more on this below). And anyway ffs drop the ego and let your kid be what it will be! (As I'm sure you'd agree). Tiger Woods may be a great and very rich golfer but I bet he'd rather have had a nice dad (he actually slagged of the Williams sisters' Dad for not getting all he could from his kids!!!). What is truly of value? Consider Edward the 8th or something. Sorry, waffling.

    And on the Asperger's spectrum and empathy (linked issues); both the ability to predict and the ability to empathise I think stem from the same thing, and the meme-only-mind model I keep pushing gives both for free: What I have suggested before is that there really is the facility to generate a toy 'other' in one's mind. When you model others you really do model them. If one's own mind is just an assemblage of memes it is not so hard to imagine that mini-minds could be constructed and 'run' in that same brain (note that these models would reflect ourselves strongly as they would be made of us, recycled -- an effect of the issue of what is the 'same' meme in two different heads). Now obviously we are talking a lot of compute crunch to run such a simulation in detail. We are pattern seekers fundamentally and I think that is because we are _always_ trying to model (with memes) as a biological fundamental of what we are so that we can predict the world in simulation (BIG survival value for proto humans there!!!) and most importantly, to predict the behaviour of others (even BIGGER survival value for a social organism both in cooperative endeavours and in competition -- think game theory, coevolution of the social ape blah blah -- not just brain size increase through intraspecific competition but brain meme-friendliness).

    To exemplify the theory with some instances:

    1) Empathy: Seeing as models of others will be made of the same meme-stuff as your'self' then effects manifesting in the model can 'bleed' across from the model -- you can _quite literally_ feel others pain once you have internalised them, so being nice is not altruism, it is selfishness, cos their pain _is_ your pain as their joy _is_ your joy. I'd argue that a core part of the meme-machine is a biological link that ties forebrain-based mind stuff to emotional midbrain centres and that that mechanism is at work here (this link must exist -- I've been so 'gutted' by events at times in my life it has made me nauseous for example -- but god knows what the physical mechanism is -- some sort of pattern resonance -- I can't be pulled up on this though as we don't even know why pain hurts!!!): Self-meme-mind patterns can clearly fire the emotional centres (pain, pleasure etc.), so given that the models are so similar to the 'main event' (i.e you) I'd argue that _they_ can actually trigger those same centres through the exact same effect. That's the nub of it. And as I say when people 'assume' others are like them what is happening is that the models really are (as I mentioned above) just recycled bits of you plus whatever you may have observed and captured from others, so in the naive it is obvious why the 'assumption' of 'like me' occurs and why it is so unpleasant when the model turns out to be misleading as a result. We do not like our models to fail (that's axiomatic -- as fundamental as physical pain -- an a priori part of the meme machine along with a handful of other things).

    2) Where developed models of others cannot be formed empathy cannot obtain:

    2a) In the young (bless 'em) the ability to empathise is limited to the ability to model others, which must develop at different rates as anyone who has observed the normal range of emotional development in kids will attest. The ability to model others is something we learn to do (more deep structural meta-memes of which we are probably not aware) and god knows how many factors govern that -- a few to do with the substrate (all brains are physically a little different, just consider myelination thickness for a start), most to do with experience. Empathy with others, with non-human life (and for some, even with objects -- gone a bit OTT there though imho unless in fun -- kids try to find the line by anthropomorphising teddies, dolls etc.) probably depends on the ability to resuse memes from one's self
    (by which I mean the actual self in your mind not a model of that) with those models, which means for free those new composites get to trigger the midbrain stuff; this effect likely as not comes from seeing others equate these people / animals / things with _them_selves, in a sense fostering that reuse (okay I'm BSing a bit but only a bit).

    2b) In Asperger's sufferers, the brain is just not quite good enough in some special way (or if one is waaay down the spectrum, nowhere near good enough) to model others -- that sort of simulation modelling requires a fully-functioning mind. Therefore two outcomes:

    (i) inability to predict others' behaviour (and to prepare for unexpected behaviour of objects in the world to an extent), hence fear of others (seen as unpredictable as a rule), love of the mechanical and regular patterns in general; but on the
    'plus' (a _very_ thin silver lining) side, an awful lot of
    'spare' mental capacity (the brain does a _lot_ of maths as anyone who has looked at AI will attest, although it is done in a completely different way to computers, by a form of approximation -- you learn to catch a flying ball on the run from repeated experience, you don't learn to _calculate_ how to catch a flying ball on the run).

    (ii) inability to 'feel for' others to a varying degree -- no models = no empathy (no selfish avoidance of models triggering your emotional pain circuits, or selfish seeking of internal-model-vicarious joy).

    2c) If resources in childhood are expended in a futile attempt to model an abusive parent, for a start the self is stunted (no
    'room' for it), and importantly the ability to model others is completely frustrated cos no models ever work, so going forwards models of others cannot develop and empathy is impossible, as above, but for a completely different reason (training/victim confrontations _may_ reverse this). All that can fill the gap is a form of Pavlovian obedience training not to stab people, take their stuff etc.

    3) There's another one from this that is potentially a bit more controversial but just pops out of the meme-mind theory: Why do the abused abuse? Surely they should be the least likely to repeat that behaviour having suffered it? It's because memes can be swapped from model to self -- they are all the same fundamental stuff! It is that simple. Given that you find yourself in the situation that the abuser you modelled was in when you modelled them (maybe as simple as reaching that age), the memes once resident in that model suddenly have huge fitness in your 'self'. They claim the niche and you become your abuser, even in some sense abusing 'yourself' in that they seek victims of the age they were when they were a victim. Often we can find testimony where there was initial resitance to the behaviours as the niche is competed for, and even as the behaviours manifest they feel they would like to resist but cannot -- this is so simple of we just are made of our memes, but a real pain for a normal psychologist's view of the mind. The mind is whatever dominant bits are there, cobbled into a self and licensed by the linearising machinery of consciousness.

    4) How to think in a tricky world. As I said one important part of the meme machine is to linearise a massively parallel ecology into a plan. We can process lots of information in parallel and if relaxed can allow stimuli to affect the whole of our minds to search for a response. Again only a model where the memes are the meaningful objects can do this simply; senses encoded the first memes (there are _a lot_ more than five btw) so they are made in a sense of sensory info, therefore new sense info speaks to the fundamental informational stuff of memes and can stumulate them (and they can stimulate each other). Then the dominant ones (some sustaining each other over the long term in what we know as a personality) are the seeds of behaviours. The meta-representation idea is useful here to fill 'gaps'; if a compound concept has a whole, we can produce a meta model where the whole is filled and even think what might fill it (either one thing or another composite -- this is a whole other area of theory itself -- what are your building blocks made of) and that can lead to volition as the back propagation from the happy-me-with-this-done model feeds behaviours of you finding the answer, which is decomposed ultimately to motor programs.

    And multiple personality; constructs gone wild. Another whole thing; where what should be models get licenced by the linearising machinery as legit selfs.

    Dreams are where you turn this lineariser off and allow free mixing; waking, we reapply the linearity and then automatically try to rationalise the afterimage of what was going on but really we dream massively in parallel and it is not the same as consciousness (note how little volition one has in dreams).

    Yeesh. I have books of notes expanding this stuff but I have to stop before my mail program dies and I have to top myself.

    On learning from one's own mistakes: To feel the effect of a mistakes oneself has greater impact than to rely on the diluting empathic transmission of the feel of making that mistake from others (especially unknown others).

    On a tangent, this meme mind is the kind of mind evolution would build imho. Starting with senory info impacting on a simple brain, which is easier, to build a von Neumann / Turing information processor or to somehow just reflect the world internally?

    Cough. What do they pay me for again...? Oh yeah, work :(

    Cheers, Chris.


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