Should it surprise us that human biases find their way into human-designed AI algorithms trained using data sets of human artifacts?
Machine-learning software trained on the datasets didn’t just mirror those biases, it amplified them. If a photo set generally associated women with cooking, software trained by studying those photos and their labels created an even stronger association.
I was reminded today of this seminal paper by Evan Thompson with the above title. The premise:
“Human consciousness is not located in the head, but is immanent in the living body and the interpersonal social world. One’s consciousness of oneself as an embodied individual embedded in the world emerges through empathic cognition of others. Consciousness is not some peculiar qualitative aspect of private mental states, nor a property of the brain inside the skull; it is a relational mode of being of the whole person embedded in the natural environment and the human social world.”
When the group looked at each individual brain scan, however, they found that very few people had all of the brain features they might be expected to have, based on their sex. Across the sample, between 0 and 8 per cent of people had “all-male” or “all-female” brains, depending on the definition. “Most people are in the middle,” says Joel.
This means that, averaged across many people, sex differences in brain structure do exist, but an individual brain is likely to be just that: individual, with a mix of features. “There are not two types of brain,” says Joel.
Ted Talk by neuroscientist Anil Seth. The brain processes the outer world via the senses, then organizes it and projects that organization back on to the world. Perception itself is an active, constructive process. It is a controlled hallucination. Reality is just an agreed upon hallucination. And so is the perception of our self a controlled hallucination.
Below is a summary of recent topic suggestions to consider for the next meeting.
Paul – We should revisit, at some point, dfn’s of consciousness, components of consciousness, and what human style consciousness is for, i.e., its evolutionary adaptive function(s).
Edward – Since human development is a key to understanding higher consciousness, I suggest a new topic for discussion: developmental cognitive neuroscience.
Nomalanga – Media effects. Brain behavior and Media. How do media selections and information processing shape our perceptions and responses to news?
Michael – The concept of memes – a term of course first articulated by Dawkins in the Selfish Gene in 1976 just as an analogy for how genes work and are spread.
Brent – Promoting brain health from a neuroscience perspective. Degrading brain health is a perpetually increasing problem. Dementia projections (and the associated costs) for US citizens are ominous at best. Neuroscientist Lisa Genova stated to a Ted Talk audience: imagine we are all 85, look at two people in the audience one will have alzheimers…and you will be a care giver. Frightening prediction.
Monitor your mind’s influence on your physical environment
Let you take part in large-scale consciousness experiments
Support ongoing development of a”consciousness technology” platform for developers and artists
Monitor global consciousness data in real-time
Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, let me explain that I gently stepped away from IONS after nearly 20 years because I did not see enough focus on or progress toward their stated goal—scientifically researching consciousness. I fully enjoyed their practice-oriented emphases on intuitive, embodied, mindful living, but while they remained ‘entangled’ in New Age phenomenalism and esoteric speculations, true scientific programs at many universities and research organizations have made steady, sometimes frustratingly slow progress (which is how science typically works). So, please don’t take this post as a tacit endorsement of any of the sponsoring organizations. They each raise interesting questions and do some work of scientific merit or promise, but (in my view) if you’re interest is in verifiable, repeatable, causally intelligible phenomena, you must stay vigilant of the unscientific chaff.
That said, the spike in non-random streams in random number generators immediately prior to the 9-11 atrocity remains one of the very few well-documented phenomena that could be taken to imply a correlation between a specific objective event and human transpersonal consciousness. In the view of the Global Consciousness Project, by collecting large samples of the right sorts of data, they can test their hypothesis that “Coherent consciousness creates order in the world. Subtle interactions link us with each other and the Earth.” As I understand it, they are extrapolating to the transpersonal level how an individual brain achieves coherent, self-aware states. Also, they would say we’re aware of the apparent precognitive 9-11 phenomenon because someone was collecting the relevant data that could then be recognized as correlated. The Entanglement app aims to collect more of such data while also providing users real- or near-real-time feedback.
If truly well-designed scientific research programs can show significant evidence of direct, entanglement-like correlations between objectively observable phenomena and consciousness (shown in brain functioning), I’ll be excited to learn about it. I think this is a monumental challenge.
We’ve frequently discussed how self-aware consciousness likely arises not from any single brain structure or signal, but from complex, recursive (reentrant), synchronized signaling among many structures organized into functional regions. (Did I get close to accurate there?) That a giant neuron provides another connection path among such regions can be taken to align with the reentrant signaling and coordination view of consciousness (ala Edelman and Tononi).
In line with our July joint meeting with the NM Tech Council, I’m reading a fascinating book (Stealing Fire) on the variety of ways humans can experience states of flow (optimal states of consciousness and performance). The authors, Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal, explain the significance of flow and introduce their Flow Dojo concept in the videos linked below. Applying methods for achieving flow is often categorized in the consciousness hacking movement, also called brain hacking.