Monday, November 10, 2014

Cognition, a possible definition



What is Cognition?

SUMMARY:

A network having one or more layers and comprised of nodes, which when stimulated by the network, can react as if they had been stimulated directly.


"All for one and one for all".

The only other component is memory. The ability for one network, be that high or low, to fire stronger or weaker the next time it is stimulated, based on the outcome (response stimulus) of it's last output to that same stimulation.



More thoughts:

The more layers, the more high level the cognition. A 2nd level network does not generally route information between individual nodes/cells. It instead routes information between lower level local networks which in turn are routing local events between cells.

These networks do not fire to higher level networks simply to target specific remote nodes.

Targeting of higher level networks is triggered instead by the strength of the signal in the lower level network. A signal of great strength in a lower level local network or multiple proximate lower level networks, is likely important to the network as a whole.



Evolution in biological cognition?

Unlike a computer network. The individual nodes are NOT aware of the presence or "ip address" of the other nodes. No single node is aware that it is being stimulated by, or stimulating another node. All it is doing, is firing along a a hard wired mechanical path from input to output. An almost identical path to that of it's parent, and parent's parent...etc. Because the fact that it exists, means that the mechanical pathway in place, was a good one. For whatever reason. "So if it aint broke.. don't fix it."

e.g. if stimulated by x or y, do z. Where x may be the result of a direct physical or chemical stimulation and y may be a stimulation of a different type from a neighboring cell, indicating an indirect stimulation of the same type as x, and therefore requiring the same survival response as x.

Evolutionarily this make sense. Any 2 neighboring cells likely shared the same concerns. So if one cell detected something the other did not, it would very much be in the best interest of the one who did not detect the direct impulse, to be able to at least detect the resulting output of it's neighbor. It seems logical then that any cells mutated to respond the same way to both direct and indirect stimulation, would be strongly selected for in any multi cellular population. Be that a cluster of single celled organisms or a multi celled organism.

Or even a multi multi celled organism population such as a forest or family or village or town or city.



Networks of multi celled organisms:

It is quite possible that multiple tree to tree or human to human signaling mechanisms are evolving simultaneously. It very well may be that human neural networks from high to low have evolved mechanical pathways for very specific outputs to very subtle forms of this indirect stimulation.

If complex multi celled organisms can signal one another, then a low level cognitive network exists. All you have to add is an extra layer or two and a memory system, and you have a mind, an organism, a "hive mind".

If you prick our finger... if an innocent is hurt thousands of miles away in a foreign country, we feel it here. What's more, we "remember it". And i don't just mean as a person individually.. but we allocate resources into different areas of our global self. Maybe strengthen military.. or weaken it. We write new laws or tear laws down. All of these are a form of cultural memory. They strengthen or weaken pathways to handle future stimulus.

Here is a question.. could we.. the global we.. the humanity organism, be self aware?

Is there a high level network observing each node, that is not any single node, (i.e. president of the world would not meet this criteria... ) and that is more concerned with the preservation of it's self as a whole, than the survival of any one specific node. I would argue no, for a couple reasons.

A) I think our social memory structures are too rigid at present for that level of abstract thought. To think freely, the organism needs to be able to rapidly shift data around. Our social memory seems much like the hard wired instinct of a wild animal, than the highly adaptive thinking of a self aware being.

B) I think a self feedback system is essential to being "self aware". In humans, i'd call this "emotion". The ability of the organism to self reward or punish in order to further strengthen or weaken certain areas of it's makeup beyond what it's current environment is demanding. I don't see such a system in place. It'd have to be like some large source of simulated happiness, or sadness that a high level network could be unleashed upon the entire organism that would drive the organism to act in unity toward that reward or away from that penalty. Now there are external stimulants that may affect us on a global scale, but these are not anything we currently control yet. Things like drought or say an injection of oil into the economy...etc . The day I wake up and everyone seems suddenly happy without an external motivator, is the day that I think we as a single complex organism will have awoken.

Now a very complex neural net on the internet say, could with the right output capabilities, begin to influence us, make us happy or sad in order to manipulate us as it's "muscles". I would however, think that more akin to a foreign intelligence, taking the wheel of a less cognitive organism rather than the organism it's self becoming self aware.




More ramblings:


Smelling the sweat of a neighbor may for example trigger production of adrenaline in preparation for stress. I am not arguing that signaling path exists, but such a simple input output mechanism is entirely biologically possible and is quite possibly advantageous. So if mutation causing scent detection to fire along a stronger pathway to adrenaline release when sweat is detected, were to have occurred in our history, it may very well have been selected for. If it had, such a response could fire entirely on a very low level cognitive network without our higher level consciousness even being aware of it.

Again, It is highly beneficial to an organism, to not only detect but interpret the stress of a local neighbor organism. Especially if it is unable to directly detect what is stressing it's neighbor. It may be able to have a survival advantage over its neighbor by reacting *before* it directly detects a deadly stressor.

The ability to respond to indirect stimulation may even offer you greater natural selection advantage than being able to directly detect and respond.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Debugging Immortality

Let me preface this entry by saying that I'm no biologist, doctor, chemist... or anyone else really who should be fumbling around in the realm of human cellular functions.

It seems to me, that if we break it down, there are really only a handful of bugs between our current cellular capabilities, and those of an immortal.


  1. Limited redundancy
  2. Limited error checking
  3. Limited genetic repair 
  4. Limited control of cellular division timers and/or triggers
  5. Limited protection of genetic material resulting in a higher rate of corruption.
  6. Limited means for patching adult tissue with enhanced genetic code
Notes on Redundancy:
The issue with redundancy is that if a large portion of DNA is damaged on both strands, there  is little if any way for the cell restore that information. So the key would be to add some sort of extra redundancy and backup so that if such a loss occurred, the cell would have additional references from which to rebuild the damaged code. I can think of a few solutions to this problem that seem like they might be possible.

Possible Solutions:

  1. The first is an internal approach where an extra strand or two of DNA and other genetic structures in the cell are injected into each cell and maybe wrapped in some sort of protective material that will be maintained by the cell. This vault locked code is the emergency reference in case to much of a DNA strand is lost for the cell to repair. Code and enzyme producers would have to be added that would create enzymes which would maintain the protective material and also be cable of using it the code contained to restore any damage or mutated DNA. 
  2. The second may be easier to implement but requires a more manual approach to DNA repair. Basically a copy of the persons DNA is kept externally and protected in a lab or storage facility of some sort. Every so often this is used along with a programmed virus or some other means of cellular injection to send enzymes into the tissue to do some spring cleaning. In other words the enzymes would be administered by a physician on a maintenance basis sort of like going to the Dentist for a routine checkup.
  3. A third solution I've thought of may be a little risky and more difficult to encode. The idea would be that as a last resort, new cells could look to neighboring cells to find the necessary portions of the DNA that are needed for a repair. Basically a remote DNA request enzyme would get packaged up and be sent out to a neighboring cell. The neighboring cell duplicates a portion or all of it's DNA but instead of doing so for reproduction, it simply packages it up and sends it off to the neighboring cell for repair. Upon receipt of the updated package, the enzyme takes the existing DNA package which has been flagged as corrupt, and ejects it and installs the replacement.

It may be that the best solution would be a combination of all 3. None of them alone are a perfect solution. The 2 internal solutions are prone error because even the backup systems are not guaranteed to be free from corruption. And while an externally stored and monitored sample may be more consistent, the external solution may not occur often enough to prevent  some loss of tissue before the next cleansing is administered. Also the external solution has something of a tethering effect that would require the user to always be within range of someone capable performing the procedure.


Notes on Error Checking:
This is the next big on the list is error checking. What good is having redundancy and backups if the cell is never made aware that there is a problem that needs fixing? The only real solution I've thought about here would be some sort of checksum is created for the DNA and stored and again protected. This is checked as often as possibly against a new checksum generated from the DNA to see if any corruption has occurred. If so than a repair operation is triggered. Although there would also need to be some redundancy in the checksums i'd imagine.


Notes on Genetic Repair:

Notes on Control of Cellular Division:

Notes on Genetic Protection:

Notes on Genetic Patching:

Uploading Consciousness



Watched the movie "Transcendence - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2209764/" yesterday. It got me to thinking...


The issue is that is not just about replicating current state of consciousness and memory on a different substrate.






You have to replicate the algorithm, the exact physical constraints. Details like variations in signaling strength, speed, distance, and bleed between neurons over time need to be reproduced exactly to truly replicate the thinking patterns of an individual. You'd also have to model how those interactions changed as new neurons are grown.






If you take a snapshot of the current state and all memories but then suddenly all simulated neurons are firing in exactly the same speed and precision, timing, efficiency and with suddenly zero signal bleed etc... that could have a dramatic impact on the identity and thinking and behavior of the individual.






So I think one challenge to representing substrate independent consciousness will be to enforce simulated physical, spacial, and time constraints.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Most probably we live in a virtual world created and governed by an advanced entity or entities.

I would estimate that in the relatively near future, we would have the capability of simulating the evolution of life from beginning to end inside of a virtual computer system. The simulation could take a starting state and simulate everything down  to sub atomic levels based on our current understanding of the physical world.

The "organisms" that would evolve in this virtual world could either be guided or allowed to evolve freely. If allowed to play out long enough, evolution and natural selection could populate these systems with very advanced and complex ecosystems. With some influence they could be tuned to approximate our world. However, I very much doubt that a system left unchecked would turn out as anything but alien.

Such a system would have a multitude of social and technological benefits. The ability to record every moment of an entities existence and social interactions from beginning to end as well as the freedom to adjust parameters and observe the result would give us a highly accurate understanding of human physiology. Simulations could be advanced to our present day level of physical understanding and then observed as they attempt to advanced beyond what we already know. What sorts of theories do they propose when freed from the mental constraints of well established ideas already put forth in our world? What sorts of experiments would they come up with to test the physical limits of their world? Such experiments could be tested in our own world while the simulation is paused and we could feed the results back into their world to see how they respond. We could even play jokes on them like for example making it so that every time they try to measure light speed, it's always the same...

There is also a military benefit to these simulations. We could run several unchecked evolutionary simulations to observe the probability of advanced organisms evolving to be hostile or peaceful. We would also get a peak into what sorts of alternative weapon and combat strategies such alien civilizations could have at their disposal. This would allow us to be adequately prepared and trained well in advance of ever encountering an alien civilization.

Because we can basically generate the optimal scenarios for technological advancement we would dramatically accelerate our rate of advancement by simply sitting back and observing the simulation. In this way the simulation would be a sort of farm for ideas and technologies.

The benefits of such a system are so numerous and the feasibility so great that it is highly likely that any sufficiently advanced civilization would implement such a system. The only real barrier to implementation is the moral debate on whether or not it is acceptable to essentially play god with the billions of self evolved life forms that would eventually inhabit the virtual world. However, it is highly likely that in spite of this ethical barrier, many societies would push forward with the creation of not one but several of these systems. It would be possible to create so many of these systems that even if only 1 advanced civilization out of a thousand evolved to have both the computing power and desire to make such a system, the number of systems they would create would vastly outnumber naturally occurring civilizations in the "real world".

Put more simply, the rate at which worlds containing advanced life can/would be created in a virtual system is greater than the rate at which they can occur naturally. This would mean that if any such systems exist, they likely outnumber hospitable life filled worlds that exist in nature.

So... there are more advanced societies living completely unaware of the fact that they live in a virtual world created by another advanced species, than there are civilizations evolving naturally. Ergo, we most probably live in a virtual world created by another more advanced civilization.

The question then becomes who are they and to what purpose have they employed this system? Perhaps if they are charitable enough they will either allow the system to continue on indefinitely once it has ceased to be useful or  perhaps transfer us over into their world to live among them and contribute to their society more directly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Essence Cloning and Tuning For Restoration and Future Prediction

If a persons "soul" or essence is simply the state of their decision making algorithms and input detection as well as any errors in either, then it seems that it would be possible to recreate a persons essence even if very little is known about their life other than a handful of key events and at least a good guess as to their genetic makeup as a starting point. The more that is known the less time it would take to tune a person and they could likely be tuned with greater accuracy. Though it may not take much data to gain a high level of accuracy in the results. Simply having the tuned person meet a handful of clearly defined events spread out across their life with high precision may be enough. At a long enough distance, any small variation in the path of two bodies early in their path will have resulted in a very wide divergence.

A virtual system could be created in the near future that fully simulates the physical world closely enough to perform this sort of tuning. The system would be set up with a set of key events and how they must take place leaving slack for any unknowns or uncertainties but leaving little or none when events are known with high certainty. Any genetic information known would be fed into the simulation as well as any known acquaintances of the individual who have already been tuned. The estimated physical state of the planet would be simulated including any whether, geography, and society that the person would have come into contact with to the extent that they would have been capable of perceiving it. Ages, archetypes, and known tunings for any possible contacts would be determined from census data, previous tunings, and any other records we have on file in any database accessible regarding anything that would have a direct or indirect impact on the person being tuned.

In addition to known events, the system would generate a set of estimated personality archetypes that approximate the person being tuned and along with that set would be a set of events or decisions that can trigger those archetypes. The system would then plot out some best guesses as to the events that took place throughout the persons life. These events would at first be filled with substitutions for any unknown contacts which would become more accurate as the tuning progressed.

Once all known constraints and variables are fed into the system, it would begin running simulations. It would start with an estimated genetic makeup for at least the embryo person and ideally an already tuned set of parents. The latter may not be available so a best guess as to the physical makeup and archetype of the parents and the starting environment would have to be used. The system would then be allowed to play out until a key event was missed. When an event is missed, the simulation would stop and the persons path would be analysed and traced back to possible points of divergence. Alternate paths that diverge after the last known event would be favored for subsequent tests but if no such path settles the search criteria then the path would be reversed further and a valid alternate for the previous event would need to be selected before the current event could be reprocessed.

The more people in the system who are accurately tuned, the faster and more accurate subsequent tunings would be. In fact it may be ideal to start with tunings of existing individuals as their lives could be described in great detail directly from the source as well as from close contacts. Eventually, the system will have enough  data and known tunings in place to have a highly accurate simulation of the entire planet.

Once a planet wide tuning is accurate enough, it can be tuned backwards and forwards in time  for further tuning. Historical documents and biographies and evidence would be used to define event constraints for the past. Known  evolutionary patterns would be used to predict genetic makeup. Geographical and astrological events would be used as well. Adding a well tuned and highly accurate record of the past would  improve the accuracy of the present. Tunings of the future that play out accurately can be used to confirm or adjust a previous tuning of what was at the time, the present to achieve still greater accuracy of the present.

A highly tuned system would be able to predict the distant future with great accuracy with the exception of unknown astrological events.  Such a system would be highly sought after by any advanced civilization concerned with self preservation and so I would think it likely that any such society would implement such a system if not multiple such systems. Variations on our reality could be played out to give insite into other cultures and entities that we may encounter throughout the universe which is also highly vital in case such cultures  or entities prove to be a threat.

Future technologies could be invented today.. because systems could be played out at a faster rate than life does in reality and any advancements made in a simulation could be harvested. In other words, such simulations could be used as an idea farm.At that point the rate of all technological advancements moves to infinity.

The benefits of such a system are so vast that many, perhaps most, if not all societies capable of building such a system would do so. Since the rate at which such systems could be produced would likely be greater than the rate at which civilizations occur naturally throughout the universe. In fact, such systems could be recursive and  extend to infinity and be as infinite in number as the natural universe. Because of this, I would think it highly likely that we are in such a system.

Some societies may even play out such simulations just to observe for a sort of morbid "entertainment". They may be content just to sit back and watch, or they may want to play God. As far as the populations of the virtual world are concerned, the person creating and managing their virtual system is in fact their creator. He may even take on an avatar within their virtual world so as to interact with them directly.

From a moral standpoint, when that day comes, do we allow the system to play out once we have collected from it what we can? Do we at least preserve the contents of the system? Or do we destroy the system and with it, the "lives" of all of it's inhabitants? Fortunately for them, I'm fairly certain that such a system would prove useful  indefinitely and so the cost of their continued existence would likely be justified.

It would be possible to  move the data for an individual or all individuals on such a system onto a platform that gave input and output with our reality. Meaning we would have the capability to bring them into our world if we and they so desired. Perhaps a talent farm?

When  such a system is implemented, all privacy drops to zero.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Active Gradual Expansion of Single Consciousness to Synthetic Brain

People talk a lot of uploading memories. I think that is the wrong way to go about it. The problem here is the question of  is that  duplicate consciousness really you? I say duplicate because that's what it is. It's a copy and its experience will diverge from the original from the moment upload is completed. What's more.. the original consciousness never accessed or wrote directly in real time to any of the memories of the synthetic brain so it was from origination onward a foreign entity...

What if instead we were to do a live active transfer of the single consciousness?  By simply hooking into the ongoing activity of a living host and extending rather than duplicating the neural activity, we are allowing the consciousness to naturally grow across the boundary between organic and synthetic and exist simultaneously on both. In this way the brain has no fear of loss of identity because even before the organic brain is lost, the consciousness is already perceiving and thinking and directly recording thoughts and emotions into the synthetic portion of its capacity. Consciousness is then never actually destroyed and a copy booted up. Instead consciousness lives continuously and only a brief loss of perception and capacity for thought is lost if the organic brain were to fail.

Long term memories from before the attachment of the synthetic expansion could be linked to the new storage area and replicated there and the memories there and would simply be more easily retrieved due to the strengthened representation of the data. The consciousness would begin accessing these memories simultaneously from both the organic and synthetic regions of its capacity immediately so again it's still a single consciousness and a single set of memories. The only difference is the redundancy of data is expanded over a larger surface area.

If death of the organic tissue occurs, it is no different from if  there were at least 1 redundant memory cell for every memory and you suddenly lost a portion of that redundancy. I am no neuroscientist but I understand the brain to contain at least that much redundancy for most memories. Now in that case  you may experience a sudden onset of difficult accessing older more faded memories but you'd unarguably still be you and your consciousness would remain unchanged. The same would be true for this synthetic enhancement undergoing loss of the organic region of its capacity. Only without the sudden fading of older memories because the portion of redundancy lost would be much smaller.

It may be possible to then clone the body less the brain and plug your now more robust synthetic brain along with your single consciousness into a fresh healthy body. Also the capacity of your synthetic brain could be extended to the cloud such that in the unlikely but possible event of failure, the same sort of experience would occur where conscious thought continues unhindered and only a sudden but temporary loss of perception and a small reduction in memory redundancy is sustained.


UPDATE:______

I wonder if we could test this by wiring someone up and putting them to sleep and seeing if they are able to retain consciousness while the organic capacity is snoozing. Imagine surfing the web while your body sleeps...

UPDATE:______

Watched the movie "Transcendence - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2209764/" yesterday. It got me to thinking...

The issue is that is not just about replicating current state of consciousness and memory on a different substrate. 

You have to replicate the algorithm, the exact physical constraints. Details like variations in signaling strength, speed, distance, and bleed between neurons over time need to be reproduced exactly to truly replicate the thinking patterns of an individual. You'd also have to model how those interactions changed as new neurons are grown.

If you take a snapshot of the current state and all memories but then suddenly all simulated neurons are firing in exactly the same speed and precision, timing, efficiency and with suddenly zero signal bleed etc...  that could have a dramatic impact on the identity and thinking and behavior of the individual.

So I think one challenge to representing substrate independent consciousness will be to enforce simulated physical, spacial, and time constraints. 

Bypassing Metabolism

Nano particles would be circulated through the bloodstream carrying pure cellular energy and essential nutrients so that cellular metabolism could be bypassed altogether.