Good, brief clip on the difference between the above, and how meditation can turn altered states into lasting traits that one carries in their daily life. Aside from the physiological benefits, if we can just dump the metaphysical mumbo jumbo that accompanies traditional interpretations of what these states and traits mean then we’ll have made progress toward a postmetaphysical cultural metaphor.
eNeuro, 10 March 2017, 4(2). This might be neuroscientific evidence for my speculations on the syntegration of consciousness states and stages via meditative discipline. To be determined. The abstract:
“Unraveling how brain regions communicate is crucial for understanding how the brain processes external and internal information. Neuronal oscillations within and across brain regions have been proposed to play a crucial role in this process. Two main hypotheses have been suggested for routing of information based on oscillations, namely communication through coherence and gating by inhibition. Here, we propose a framework unifying these two hypotheses that is based on recent empirical findings. We discuss a theory in which communication between two regions is established by phase synchronization of oscillations at lower frequencies, which serve as temporal reference frame for information carried by higher frequency activity. Our framework, consistent with numerous recent empirical findings, posits that cross-frequency interactions are essential for understanding how large-scale cognitive and perceptual networks operate.”
A scene from Westworld below. Hopkins, one of the creators of the robot ‘hosts,’ discusses consciousness with a host who newly discovers what he is.
And implies an event horizon of the human brain. There’s a mouthful, a new title in NeuroQuantology (15:3, September 2017). The abstract follows, also a brainful. This will take some reading and digesting, provided I have the requisite capacity to understand it (which remains to be seen).
“Our brain is not a ‘stand alone’ information processing organ: it acts as a central part of our integral nervous system with recurrent information exchange with the entire organism and the cosmos. In this study, the brain is conceived to be embedded in a holographic structured field that interacts with resonant sensitive structures in the various cell types in our body. In order to explain earlier reported ultra-rapid brain responses and effective operation of the meta-stable neural system, a field-receptive mental workspace is proposed to be communicating with the brain. Our integral nervous system is seen as a dedicated neural transmission and multi-cavity network that, in a non-dual manner, interacts with the proposed supervening meta-cognitive domain. Among others, it is integrating discrete patterns of eigen-frequencies of photonic/solitonic waves, thereby continuously updating a time-symmetric global memory space of the individual. Its toroidal organization allows the coupling of gravitational, dark energy, zero-point energy field (ZPE) as well as earth magnetic fields energies and transmits wave information into brain tissue, that thereby is instrumental in high speed conscious and sub-conscious information processing. We propose that the supposed field-receptive workspace, in a mutual interaction with the whole nervous system, generates self-consciousness and is conceived as operating from a 4th spatial dimension (hyper-sphere). Its functional structure is adequately defined by the geometry of the torus, that is envisioned as a basic unit (operator) of space-time. The latter is instrumental in collecting the pattern of discrete soliton frequencies that provided an algorithm for coherent life processes, as earlier identified by us. It is postulated that consciousness in the entire universe arises through, scale invariant, nested toroidal coupling of various energy fields, that may include quantum error correction. In the brain of the human species, this takes the form of the proposed holographic workspace, that collects active information in a ‘brain event horizon,’ representing an internal and fully integral model of the self. This brain-supervening workspace is equipped to convert integrated coherent wave energies into attractor type/standing waves that guide the related cortical template to a higher coordination of reflection and action as well as network synchronicity, as required for conscious states. In relation to its scale-invariant global character, we find support for a universal information matrix, that was extensively described earlier, as a supposed implicate order as well as in a spectrum of space-time theories in current physics. The presence of a field-receptive resonant workspace, associated with, but not reducible to, our brain, may provide an interpretation framework for widely reported, but poorly understood transpersonal conscious states and algorithmic origin of life. It also points out the deep connection of mankind with the cosmos and our major responsibility for the future of our planet.”
Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, introduces a framework for defining types of life based on the degree of design control that sensing, self-replicating entities have over their own ‘hardware’ (physical forms) and ‘software’ (“all the algorithms and knowledge that you use to process the information from your senses and decide what to do”).
It’s a relatively non-academic read and well worth the effort for anyone interested in the potential to design the next major forms of ‘Life’ to transcend many of the physical and cognitive constraints that have us now on the brink of self-destruction. Tegmark’s forecast is optimistic.
Edward has posted some great thoughts and resources on embodied cognition (EC). I stumbled on some interesting information on a line of thinking within the EC literature. I find contextualist, connectivist approaches compelling in their ability to address complex-systems such as life and (possibly) consciousness. Wild systems theory (WST) “conceptualizes organisms as multi-scale self-sustaining embodiments of the phylogenetic, cultural, social, and developmental contexts in which they emerged and in which they sustain themselves. Such self-sustaining embodiments of context are naturally and necessarily about the multi-scale contexts they embody. As a result, meaning (i.e., content) is constitutive of what they are. This approach to content overcomes the computationalist need for representation while simultaneously satisfying the ecological penchant for multi-scale contingent interactions.”1 While I find WST fascinating, I’m unclear on whether it has been or can be assessed empirically. What do you think? Is WST shackled to philosophy?
Can one person know another’s mental state? Physicalists focus on how each of us develops a theory of mind (TOM) about each of the other people we observe. TOM is a theory because it is based on assumptions we make about others’ mental states by observing their behaviors. It is not based on any direct reading or measurement of internal processes. In its extreme, the physicalist view asserts that subjective experience and consciousness itself are merely emergent epiphenomena and not fundamentally real.
EC theorists often describe emergent or epiphenomenal subjective properties such as emotions and conscious experiences as “in terms of complex, multi-scale, causal dynamics among objective phenomena such as neurons, brains, bodies, and worlds.” Emotions, experiences, and meanings are seen to emerge from, be caused by or identical with, or be informational aspects of objective phenomena. Further, many EC proponents regards subjective properties as “logically unnecessary to the scientific description.” Some EC theorists conceive of the non-epiphenomenal reality of experience in a complex systems framework and define experience in terms of relational properties. In Gibson’s (1966) concept of affordances, organisms perceive behavioral possibilities in other organisms and in their environment. An affordance is a perceived relationship (often in terms of utility), such a how an organism might use something–say a potential mate, prey/food, or a tool. Meaning arises from “bi-directional aboutness” between an organism and what it perceives or interacts with. Meaning is about relationship.
(A very good, easy read on meaning arising from relationships is the book Learning How to Learn, by Novak and Gowin. In short, it’s the connecting/relating words such as is, contains, produces, consumes, etc., that enable meaningful concepts to be created in minds via language that clarifies context.)
Affordances and relationality at one level of organization and analysis carve out a non-epiphenomenal beachhead but do not banish epiphenomena from that or other levels. There’s a consideration of intrinsic, non-relational properties (perhaps mass) versus relational properties (such as weight). But again, level/scale of analysis matters (“mass emerges from a particle’s interaction with the Higgs field” and is thus relational after all) and some take this line of thinking to a logical end where there is no fundamental reality.
In WST, “all properties are constituted of and by their relations with context. As a result, all properties are inherently meaningful because they are naturally and necessarily about the contexts within which they persist. From this perspective, meaning is ubiquitous. In short, reality is inherently meaningful.”
1. Jordan, J. (2017). Wild Systems Theory: Overcoming the Computational-Ecological Divide via Self-Sustaining Systems. (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228570467_Wild_Systems_Theory_Overcoming_the_Computational-Ecological_Divide_via_Self-Sustaining_Systems [accessed Nov 09 2017].
BMAI members repository copy (PDF): https://albuquirky.net/download/277/embodied-grounded-cognition/449/wild-systems-theory_bodies-are-meaning.pdf
An MIT Technology Review article introduces the man responsible for the 30-year-old deep learning approach, explains what deep machine learning is, and questions whether deep learning may be the last significant innovation in the AI field. The article also touches on a potential way forward for developing AIs with qualities more analogous to the human brain’s functioning.
Several of us met on Labor Day with the goal of identifying topics for at least five future monthly meetings. (Thanks, Dave N, for hosting!) Being the overachievers we are, we pushed beyond the goal. Following are the resulting topics, which will each have its own article on this site where we can begin organizing references for the discussion:
- sex-related influences on emotional memory
- gross and subtle brain differences (e.g., “walls of the third ventricle – sexual nuclei”)
- “Are there gender-based brain differences that influence differences in perceptions and experience?”
- epigenetic factors (may need an overview of epigenetics)
- embodied cognition
- computational grounded cognition (possibly the overview and lead-in topic)
- neuro-reductionist theory vs. enacted theory of mind
- “Could embodied cognition influence brain differences?” (Whoever suggested this, please clarify.)
- brain-gut connection (relates to embodied cognition, but can stand on its own as a topic)
- behavioral priming and subliminal stimuli (effects on later behavior)
- incremental theory – “The Dark Side of Malleability”
- creative flow as a unique cognitive process
- Eastern philosophies and psychology – a psychology of self-cultivation
- neuroscience of empathy – effects on the brain, including on neuroplasticity (discussed October 2017)
- comparative effects of various meditative practices on the brain
- comparative effects of various psychedelics on the brain
- effects of childhood poverty on the brain
- neurocognitive bases of racism
If I missed anything, please edit the list (I used HTML in the ‘Text’ view to get sub-bullets). If you’re worried about the formatting, you can email your edits to email@example.com and Mark will post your changes.
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.”
The Global Consciousness Project, Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS, for which I was once Hawaii state coordinator) and Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) are collaborating to release a smart phone app, Entangled, that aims to
- 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.