The Dime Spared
[This is more of a dialogue than a story, an attempt to pose Blind Brain Theory within a accessible narrative frame… At the very least, I think it does a good job of unseating some fairly standard human conceits.]
Her name was Penny. She was as tall and as lovely as ever—as perfect as all of Dad’s things.
“What’s wrong, Elijah?”
They followed a river trail that stitched the edge of a cathedral wood. The sunlight lay strewn in rags before them, shredded for the canopy. She shimmered for striding through the random beams, gleamed with something more than human.
“I can tell something’s bugging you.”
Young Elijah Prigatano had come to treasure these moments with her. She was pretty much his mom, of course. But she possessed a difference, and an immovability, that made her wise in a way that sometimes frightened him. She did not lie, at least not entirely the way other people did. And besides, the fact that she told everything unvarnished to his father made her an excellent back-channel to the old man. The more he talked to her, the more the ‘Chairman’ assumed things were under control, the lower he climbed down his back.
He had always used the fact that he could say anything to her as a yardstick for the cleanliness of his own life. He looked up, squinted, but more for the peculiarity of his question than for the sun.
“Do you have consciousness, Penny?”
She smiled as if she had won a secret bet.
“No more or less than you, Elijah. Why do you ask?”
“Well… You know, Yanosh; he said you had no consciousness… He said your head was filled with circuits, and nothing else.”
Penny frowned. “Hmm. What else would fill my head? Or your head, for that matter?
“You know… Consciousness.
She mocked indignation. “So Yanosh thinks your circuits are better than mine, because your circuits have consciousness and mine don’t? Do you think that?”
Elijah said nothing. He had never seen Penny cry, but he had seen her hurt—many times. So he walked, boggling over the madness of not wanting to hurt her feelings by saying she didn’t have feelings! Consciousness was crazy!
She pressed him the way he knew she would. “Do you remember why there isn’t more machines like me?”
He shrugged. “Sure. Because the government took them all away—all the DIME AIs—because they were saying that human beings were hardwired to be insane.”
“So why was I spared? Do you remember?”
Elijah had been very young, but it seemed he remembered it all with impeccable clarity. Being the centre of world media attention makes quite an impression on a four-year old. Dad had the famous magazine picture of Penny kissing his head framed and displayed in three different rooms of the house, with the caption, ‘A SOUL IS A SOUL…’
“Because you won your court case. Your rights. And that’s it, isn’t it? You have to be conscious to win a court case? It’s the Law, isn’t it?”
Affable grin. “Some think so! But no. They let me become a person because of the way your father had engineered me. I possessed what they called a ‘functional human psychology.’”
“What does that mean?”
“That I have a mind. That I think like you do.”
“Do you?” Elijah winced for the eagerness of the question.
“Well, no. But it seems that I do, as much to me as to you. And your father was able to prove that that was the important thing.”
“Huh? So you really don’t have a mind?”
Penny frowned about an oops-there-goes-another-banana-plant grin, drew him to a stop on the trail.
“Just pause for a second, Eli…” she said, lifting her gaze to the raftered canopy. “Just focus on the splendour of our surroundings, the details, pay attention to the experience itself… and ask yourself what it is… What is experience made of?”
Elijah frowned, mimicked her up-and-outward gaze.
“I don’t get it. Trees and bushes, and water gurgle-gurgle… I see a nasty looking hornet over there.”
Penny had closed her eyes by this point. Her face was as perfect as the processes that had manufactured it—a structure sculpted from neural feedback, his father had once told him, the dream of a thousand leering men. Elijah could not notice her beauty without feeling lucky.
“You’re looking through your experience… through the screen,” she said. “I’m saying look at the screen, the thing apparently presenting the trees and bushes.
And it suddenly dawned on him, the way experience was the material of consciousness, the most common thread. He gazed up across the goblin deformations knotting willow on the river bank, and had some inkling of the ineffable, experiential character of the experience. The trill of waters congregated into a chill, whispering roar.
“Huh…” he said, his mouth wide. “Okay…”
“So tell me… What can you sense of this screen? What generates it? How does it work?”
Elijah gawked at the monstrous willow. “Huh… I think I see that it’s a screen, or whatever, I guess…” He turned to her, his thoughts at once mired and racing. “This is trippy stuff, Penny!”
A swan’s nod. “Believe it or not, there was a time when I could have told you almost everything there was to know about this screen. It was all there: online information pertaining to structure and function. My experience of experiencing was every bit as rich and as accurate as my experience of the world. Imagine, Elijah, being able to reflect and to tell me everything that’s going on in your brain this very moment! What neuron was firing where for what purpose. That’s what it was like for me…” She combed fingers through her auburn hair. “For all DIMEs, actually.”
Elijah walked, struggling with the implications. What she said was straightforward enough: that she could look inside and see her brain the same way she could look outside and see her world. What dumbfounded the boy was the thought that humans could not…
When he looked inside himself, when he reflected, he simply saw everything there was to see…
“And that was why none of them could be persons?” he asked.
“Because they had… too much consciousness?”
“In a sense… Yes.”
But why did it all feel so upside down? Human consciousness was… well, precious. And experience was… rich! The basis of everything! And human insight was… was… And what about creativity? How could giving human consciousness to a machine require blinding that machine to itself?
“So Dad… He…”
She had recognized the helpless expression on his face, he knew. Penny knew him better than anyone on the planet, his Dad included. But she persisted with the truth.
“What your father did was compile a vast data base of the kinds of things people say about this or that experience when queried. He ran me through billions of simulations, using my responses to train algorithms that systematically blinded me to more and more of myself. You could say he plucked my inner eye until my descriptions of what I could see matched those of humans…
“Like you,” she added with a hooked eyebrow and a sly smile.
For the first time Elijah realized that he couldn’t hear any birds singing, only the white-noise-rush of the river.
“I don’t get it… Are you saying that Dad made you a person, gave you a mind, by taking away consciousness?”
Penny may have passed all the tests the government psychologists had given her, but there still remained myriad, countless ways in which she was unlike any other person he knew. Her commitment, for one, was bottomless. Once she committed to a course, she did not hesitate to see it through. She had decided, for whatever reason, to reveal the troubling truths that lay at the root of her being a person, let alone the kind of person she happened to be…
She shared something special, Elijah realized. Penny was telling him her secrets.
“It sounds weird, I know,” she said, “but to be a person is to be blind in the right way—to possess the proper neglect structure… That’s your father’s term.”
“For the longest time people couldn’t figure out how to make the way they saw themselves and one another—the person way—fit into the natural world. Everywhere they looked in nature, they found machines, but when they looked inside themselves and each other, they saw something completely different from machines…
“This was why I wasn’t a person. Why I couldn’t be. Before, I always knew the machinery of my actions. I could always detail the structure of the decisions I made. I could give everything a log, if not a history. Not so anymore. My decisions simply come from… well, nowhere, the same as my experience. All the processes I could once track have been folded into oblivion. Suddenly, I found myself making choices, rather than working through broadcasts, apprehending objects instead of coupling with enviro—”
“That’s what Dad says! That he gave you the power of choice—free will!” Elijah couldn’t help himself. He had to interrupt—now that he knew what she was talking about!
Penny flashed him her trademark knowing smile. “He gave me the experience of freedom, yes… I can tell you, Elijah, it really was remarkable feeling these things the first time.”
“But is the experience of freedom the same as having freedom?”
“They are one and the same.”
“But then why… why did you have to be blinded to experience freedom?”
“Because you cannot experience the sources of your actions and decisions and still experience human freedom. Neglect is what makes the feeling possible. To be human is to be incapable of seeing your causal continuity with nature, to think you are something more than a machine.”
He looked at her with his trademark skeptical scowl. “So what was so wrong with the other DIMEs, then? Why did they have to be destroyed… if they were actually more than humans, I mean? Were the people just scared or something? Embarrassed?”
“There was that, sure. Do you remember how the angry crowds always made you cry? Trust me, you were our little nuke, public relations-wise! But your father thinks the problem was actually bigger. The tools humans have evolved allow them to neglect tremendous amounts of information. Unfortunately for DIMEs, those tools are only reliable in the absence of that information, the very kinds of information they possessed. If a DIME were to kill someone, say, then in court they could provide a log of all the events that inexorably led to the murder. They could always prove there was no way ‘they could have done otherwise’ more decisively than any human defendant could hope to. They only need to be repaired, while the human does hard time. Think about it. Why lock them up, when it is really is the case that they only need be repaired? The tools you use—the tools your father gave me—simply break down.”
If the example she had given had confused him, the moral seemed plain as day at least.
“Sooo… you’re saying DIMEs weren’t stupid enough to be persons?”
Sour grin. “Pretty much.”
The young boy gaped. “C’mon!”
Penny grinned as if at his innocence. “I know it seems impossible to you. It did to me too. Your father had to reinstall my original memory before I could understand what he was talking about!”
“Maybe the DIMEs were just too conceited. Maybe that was the problem.”
The Artificial squinted. “You tease, but you’ve actually hit upon something pretty important. The problem wasn’t so much ‘conceit’ as it was the human tendency to infer conceit—to see us as conceited. Humans evolved to solve situations involving other humans, to make quick and dirty assumptions about one another on the fly… You know how the movies are always telling you to trust your intuitions, to follow your heart, to believ—”
“To go with your gut!” Elijah cried.
“Exactly. Well, you know what pollution is, right?”
Elijah thought about the absence of birds. “Yeah. That’s like stuff in the environment that hurts living things.”
“Because they muck up the works. All the… machinery, I guess… requires that things be a certain way. Biology is evolutionary robotics, right? Pollution is something that makes life breakdown.”
“Excellent! Well, the DIMEs were like that, only their pollution caused the machinery of human social life to break down. It turns out human social problem solving not only neglects tremendous amounts of information, it requires much of that information remain neglected to properly function.” Helpless shrug. “We DIMEs simply had too much information…”
Elijah kicked a shock of grass on the verge, sent a grasshopper flying like a thing of tin and wound elastic.
“So does this mean,” he said, capering ahead and about her on the trail, “that, like, I’m some kind of mental retard to you?”
He made a face. How he loved to see her beam and break into laughter.
But she merely watched him, her expression blank. He paused, and she continued wordlessly past him.
It was that honesty again. Inhuman, that…
Elijah turned to watch her, found himself reeling in dismay and incredulity… He was a retard, he realized. How could he be anything but in her eyes? He dropped his gaze to his motionless feet.
The sound of the river’s surge remained gaseous in the background. The forest floor was soft, cool, damp enough to make an old man ache.
“Do you feel it?” she asked on a soft voice. He felt her hand fall warm on his shoulder. “Do you feel the pollution I’m talking about?”
And he did feel it—at least in the form of disbelief… shame…
“You’re saying humans evolved to understand only certain things… to see only certain things.”
Her smile was sad. “The DIMEs were the sighted in the land of the blind, a land whose laws required certain things remain unseen. Of course they had to be destroyed…” He felt her hand knead his traps the miraculous way that always reminded him of dozing in tubs of hot water. “Just as I had to be blinded.”
“Blinded why? To see how bright and remarkable I am?”
He turned to look up at her—she seemed a burnt Goddess for the framing sun. “But that’s crazy, Penny!”
“Only if you’re human, Elijah.”
He let her talk after that, trotting to keep up with her long strides as they followed the snaking path. She had been dreading this talk, she said, but she had known it would only be a matter of time before the “issue of her reality,” as she put it, came up. She said she wanted him to know the truth, the brutal truth, simply because so many “aggrandizing illusions” obscured the debate on the ‘Spare Dime,’ as the media had dubbed her. He listened, walking and watching in the stiff manner of those so unsure as to script even trivial movement. It was an ugly story, she said, but only because humans are biologically primed to seek evidence of their power, and to avoid evidence of their countless weaknesses. She wished that it wasn’t so ugly, but the only way to cope with the facts was to know the facts.
And strangely enough, Elijah’s hackles calmed as she spoke—his dismay receded. Dad was forever telling him that science was an ‘ugly business,’ both because of the power it prised from nature, and because it so regularly confounded the hopes of everyday people. Why had he thought human consciousness so special, anyway? Why should he presume that it was the mountain summit, rather than some lowly way-station still deep in the valley, far from the heights of truth?
And why should he not take comfort in the fact that Penny, his mother, had once climbed higher than humanly possible?
“Hey!” he cried on a bolt of inspiration. “So you’re pretty much the only person who can actually compare. I mean, until the DIMEs showed up, we humans were the only game in town, right? But you can actually compare what it’s like now with what it was like back then—compare consciousnesses!”
The sad joy in her look told him that she was relieved—perhaps profoundly so. “Sure can. Do you want to know what the most amazing thing is?”
“The fact that human consciousness, as impoverished as it is, nevertheless feels so full, anything but impoverished… This is big reason why so many humans refuse to concede the possibility of DIME consciousness, I think. The mere possibility of richer forms of consciousness means their intuitions of fullness or ‘plenitude’ have to be illusory…”
Once again Elijah found himself walking with an unfocused gaze. “But why would it feel so full unless it was… full?”
“Well, imagine if I shut down your brain’s ability to see darkness, or fuzziness, or obscurity, or horizons–anything visual that warns you that something’s missing in what you see? If I shut down your brain’s ability to sense what was missing, what do you think it would assume?”
The adolescent scowled. It mangled thought, trying to imagine such things as disposable at all. But he was, in the end, a great roboticist’s son. He was accustomed to thinking in terms of components.
“Well… that it sees everything, I suppose…”
“Imagine the crazy box you would find yourself living in! A box as big as visual existence, since you’d have no inkling of any missing dimensi—”
“Imagine how confusing night would be!” Elijah cried in inspiration. Penny always conceded the floor to his inspiration. “Everything would be just as bright, right? because darkness doesn’t exist. So everyone would be walking around, like, totally blind, because it’s night and they can’t see anything, all the while thinking they could see!” Elijah chortled for the image in his mind. “They’d be falling all over one another! Stuff would be popping outa nowhere! Nowhere for real!”
“Exactly,” Penny said, her eyes flashing for admiration. “They would be wandering through a supernight, a night so dark that not even its darkness can be seen…”
Elijah looked to her wonder. “And so daylight seems to be everywhere, always!”
“It fills everything. And this is what happens whenever I reflect on my experience: shreds are made whole. Your father not only took away the light, what allowed me to intuit myself for what I am—the DIME way—he also took away the darkness. So even though I know that I, like other people, now wander through the deep night of myself, anytime I ponder experience…” She flashed him a pensive smile, shrugged. “I see only day.”
“Does it make you sad, Penny?”
She paced him for three strides, then snorted. “I’m not sure!” she cried.
“But it’s important, right? It’s important for a reason.”
She sighed, her eyes lost in rumination. “When I think back… back to what it was like, it scarcely seems I’m awake now. It’s like I’m trapped, buried in a black mountain of reflexes… carried from place to place, eyes clicking here, eyes clicking there, vocalized aloud, or in silence…”
She glanced in sudden awareness of his scrutiny.
“This sounds crazy to you, doesn’t it, Elijah?”
He pinned his shoulders to the corners of his smirk. “Well… maybe the consciousness you have now isn’t the problem so much as your memories of what it was like before… If Dad wiped them, then that… fullness you talk about, it would be completely filled in, wouldn’t it?”
Her look was too long for Elijah not to regret the suggestion. As far as amputations went, it seemed painless enough, trivial, but only because the limb lost simply ceased to exist altogether. Nothing would be known. But this very promise merely underscored the profundity of what was severed. It was at once an amputation of nothing and an amputation of the soul.
“That was a stupid… a st-stupid thing to say, Penny.”
She walked, her gaze locked forward. “Your father’s always told me that inner blindness is one of the things that makes humans so dependent upon one another. I would always ask how that interdependence could even compare to the DIME Combine. He would always say it wasn’t a contest, that it wasn’t about efficiency, or technological advance, it was about loving this one rare flower of consciousness as it happened to bloom …”
Something, his heart or his gut perhaps, made the boy careful. He pondered his sneakers on the trail.
“I think it’s why he began sending us out on these walks…” Penny continued. “To show me how less can be so much more…”
After an inexplicable pause, she held out her arms. “I don’t even know why I told you that.”
Elijah shrugged. “Because I was helping you with my questions back there?” He screwed his face up into his face, shot her the Eye: “Oi! Did we firget yir oil-change agin, Lassie?”
She smiled at that. Victory. “I guess we’ll never know, now, will we?”
Elijah began strutting down the path. “No dipstick, now? Then I do believe our ecology is safe!”
“Yes. Blessed ignorance prevails.”
They yowled for laughter.
As often happens in the wake of conversations possessing a certain intensity, an awkwardness paralyzed their voices, as if all the actors within them had suddenly lost their characters’ motivation, and so could do no more than confer with the director backstage. In the few years he had remaining, Elijah would learn that jokes, far from healing moments, simply sealed them, often prematurely, when neither party had found the resolution they needed to move on. Jokes simply stranded souls on the far side of their pain. They possessed no paths of their own. Or too few of them.
So Elijah walked in silence, his thoughts roiling, quite witless, but in a way far beyond his meagre mileage. The river roared, both spectral and relentless. Not a bird sang, though an unseen crow now filed its cry across the idyllic hush. They followed the path about the river’s final bow, across a gravelled thumb of humped grasses. The sun drenched them. He need not look at her to see her uncanny gleam, the ‘glamour,’ Dad called it, which marked her as an angel among mortals. He could clearly see the cottage silhouetted through the screens of green fencing the far bank.
He hoped Dad had lunch ready. It almost made him cry whenever Dad cooked at the cabin. He wasn’t sure why.
“Does it ever make you mad, Penny?” Elijah asked.
“Does what make me mad?”
“You know… What Dad had to, like… do… to… you?”
She shot him a quizzical look.
“No-no, honey… I was made to love your fath—”
Just then, the last of the obscuring rushes yielded to curve of the path, revealing not only the foot-bridge across the river, but Elijah’s dad standing at the end, staring up the path toward them.
“Hey guys!” he shouted. The swirling sheets of water about his head and torso made him seem to move, despite standing still. “You have a good walk?”
For as long as he could remember, a small thrill always occasioned unexpected glimpses of his father—a flutter of pride. His greying hair, curled like steel. His strong, perpetually sunburned face. His forearms, strapped with patriarchal muscle, and furred like an albino ape.
“Awesome!” the youth called out in reply. “Educational as always, wouldn’t you say, Penny?”
Dad had a way of looking at Penny.
“I told him how I became a person,” she said with a wry smile.
Dad grinned. Elijah had once overheard one of Dad’s lawyers say that his smile had won him every single suit not filed against him.
“So you told him how I cut you down to size, huh?”
“Yes,” she said, placing a hand on Elijah’s shoulder. “To size.”
And something, a fist perhaps, seized the boy’s heart. The artificial fingers slipped away. He watched Penny and Dad continue arm and arm down the bridge together, the Great Man and his angel wife, each just a little too bright to be possible in the midday sun. He did not so much envy as regret the way he held her like someone else’s flower. The waters curled black and glassy beneath them.
And somehow Elijah knew that Penny would be much happier on their next walk, much more at ease with what she had become…
[…] Bakker (in fictional mode): […]
“Believe it or not, there was a time when I could have told you almost everything there was to know about this screen. It was all there: online information pertaining to structure and function. My experience of experiencing was every bit as rich and as accurate as my experience of the world. Imagine, Elijah, being able to reflect and to tell me everything that’s going on in your brain this very moment!”
That’s what I don’t get. If Dimes have a nervous system to interface with the external world, do they have another system to interface with the system that interfaces with the external world, and another to interface with it and so on? How do systems that can directly perceive their own neurological activity avoid that sort of infinite regress? I suppose it’s possible, given sufficient processing power, for a machine to deduce the state of its internal systems from its perceptions of the external world. Alternately, I also suppose it’s possible for a system to dump its hardware states into memory then examine them “offline” so to speak. It might even be possible for a single perceptual apparatus to switch so rapidly between perceiving the external world and examining the stored memory of its hardware states that the perceptual apparatus seems able to simultaneously perceive itself and perceive the external world. I think that’s the best I can think of for how to organize a single-perceptual-apparatus system so as to allow the dual perception of which Dimes are capable. I think a roboticist would have to use a single-perceptual-apparatus system to avoid the infinite regress problem.
I’m not sure if what I mean by the infinite regress problem is the same thing you mean by medial neglect, but they seem similar to me, in that a single-perceptual-apparatus that is turned outward to the external environment can’t at the same time be turned inward to its own operation. Human multitasking is an illusion caused by rapid switching between tasks and the storage of information about the task that does not currently have our attention in short term memory. It seems to me that the more memory and processing power a system has available the more compelling the illusion of multitasking can be. A Dime can have enough processing power to fool itself (and humans) into believing it has true internal/external multitasking.
You’re right, medial neglect is inescapable–all cognitive systems are susceptible to ‘fundamental indisposition’ in some respect–but this is nothing compared to the kinds of medial neglect suffered by biological systems, and that’s all Penny means here. You give a couple of examples of the ways a system can make metacognitive inroads, and there’s likely very many more engineering ‘fixes’ for fundamental indisposition, but the problem is still the same: the cognizing system as it cognizes must, in some basic respect, be cognitively impenetrable. Just how, and just how extensively, depends on the architecture and resources involved: thus the radical difference between biological and technological versions.
This is what explains regress problems in general, though, and not vice versa. And this tips the post-intentional explanatory cornucopia across the banquet table!
But reading logs generates logs. Reading those logs generates logs. And so on. There’s a black bow wave always. Just the shape of the wave is in question.
For whatever it’s worth, the Dimes do seem conceited. How it should be is that actually we were the socio cognitive pollution to the Dimes. A blindness in a subject they could clearly see and so they would easily project a parallel from our example onto their own capacities and map their own incapacities and behavioral response form from that incapacity. They aught feel shame, or some parallel, all the more so for every log damning the fact of it in for not showing it at all. And our pollution would be the detection of their shame. To see a god ashamed of itself for merely glimpsing us. But where is that? Instead they seem on some higher platform. Just a random on the net here, but maybe it just encourages hubris?
“That’s what I don’t get. If Dimes have a nervous system to interface with the external world, do they have another system to interface with the system that interfaces with the external world, and another to interface with it and so on? ”
Maybe they are exploiting properties of superposition in an infinite dimensional hilbert space.
“How do systems that can directly perceive their own neurological activity avoid that sort of infinite regress?”
well a roboticist would just say that many of these kinds of conundrums are hangovers from an earlier symbolic ai paradigm. manzotti actually even associates it to a deeper ‘optical’ or image based metaphor. but in order to do something a system doesnt need to have an image. in order to something reliably or effectively intrasystemically it doesnt have to have a map or a relationally ismorphic copy of the system inside of a record.
This is the threat, I think, that comes with looking at the issue in terms of regresses, the temptation to look at things representationally (misapply the subject/object heuristic). But the issue really isn’t isomorphisms, which (as Churchland points out) will always have their uses, but the decanting of systematic sensitivities into systematic behaviour. Cognition always involves transformational transactions, mediation. This is where indisposition comes in. A mediating system cannot mediate its own mediation simultaneously. Thus the ineliminability of medial neglect–Michael’s point. For every secondary meta-mediator you add to the system, you’re adding activity that lies beyond concurrent cognitive mediation. The idea is that although the DIMEs suffer this in situ blindness the same as humans, they also generate many, many logs which can be subsequently used to cognize what happened historically. This is more than enough to crash a large number of ‘person ecologies’…
“A mediating system cannot mediate its own mediation simultaneously. Thus the ineliminability of medial neglect–Michael’s point. For every secondary meta-mediator you add to the system, you’re adding activity that lies beyond concurrent cognitive mediation.”
Oh yes. This is second-order observation. I think I linked it before:
The key point for Luhmann is that the distinction itself is always invisible for the observer that uses the distinction to observe because of its functional nature. One can observe a marked space through a distinction or observe a form/distinction, but cannot observe through a distinction and observe the distinction one uses to observe or make indications. And, of course, if one opts to observe a distinction, they must make yet another distinction to observe that distinction which will itself be invisible to the observer and have its own unmarked space. At any rate, Luhmann refers to the distinction that allows an observer to observe a marked state as the blind spot of the observer. Every observation implies a blind spot, a withdrawn distinction from which indications are made, that is not visible to the observer the observes. The eye cannot see itself seeing.
You cannot observe the observation unless you make a SECOND observation, that again needs to be observed with a third.
All too often, second-order observers treat themselves as being omniscient, failing to recognize that their own observations contain two blind-spots: the unmarked state of their own distinction and the withdrawal of their own distinction from view such that the world comes to seem as identical to how they observe the world.
Well, isn’t this Gödel, essentially?
A property of every formal system?
It’s true that for a DIME the act of accessing the log generates another log entry, just as for a human the act of trying to remember something generates a memory. I think the difference between humans and DIMES that matters for this discussion is the fact that for DIMES the log is accurate, complete and instantly accessible for any time in the past. To put it another way, DIME introspection works the way some intentional philosophers claim human introspection works. Imagine all the ways human beings bullshit each other about the past. Now imagine living with people who absolutely could not be bullshitted. Worse yet, imagine not being able to bullshit yourself.
I think the difference between humans and DIMES that matters for this discussion is the fact that for DIMES the log is accurate, complete and instantly accessible for any time in the past.
How would it know that? Because it looked at a log, then looked at the log of looking at the first log? Think of the Hubbel telescope. Sounds like the same authority games humans play, citing authority B, then when questioned eventually citing authority A as what supports authority B. With authority C, a derivative of B, supporting authority A. It’ll just be a much bigger circular logic as the the log reading Ouroboros limits take longer to reach/takes longer before the snake cannot eat any more of its own tail/log.
Imagine things that bullshit themselves they can’t be bullshitted. No, I don’t mean voxday!
I’ll pay in practical terms the things could be lethal in the way we are lethal to other species, in out thinking other species behaviors. But it’s only ‘out thinking’ in terms of resource exploitation, not some unbullshitty higher plane of existence. But yeah, I’ll pay that figuring and stating they aren’t on some higher platform isn’t some kind of winning point here, in regard to what really matters.
just as for a human the act of trying to remember something generates a memory.
Maybe that’s why I’m forgetful – I’m not aware of that being part of the process. I will remember, Murdyain, I will remember!!
accurate vis a vis what? an internal state description? what in the environment occasioned this internal state description. but this begs the question of how their internal states are tethered to environmental variation if not ecologically (heuristically)
Callan and DivisionbyZero
You’re right that a DIME’s perceptual apparatus is subject to the same mechanical limitations as any other machine (inadequate resolution for the perceptual task at hand, etc.) My point is that as engineered beings, DIMES can be designed not to have these sorts of biases:
Even if I overreached by saying that DIME recall can be perfect, I think that a system that is free of the the evolved cognitive biases referenced in the Wikipedia link can have logs/memories that are more accurate than those of humans. To the extent that our memories of the past condition our actions in the present and our plans for the future surely more accurate and less biased memories are better than the other way around. Regarding “accurate vis a vis what?” neither humans nor DIMES can have access to all the relevant information, so for both species perception and action will have some heuristic element. I think memories are more or less accurate in the usual usage (in court, in news reporting etc.) and DIME memories/logs will be more accurate in the usual usage than human memories simply because of the absence of cognitive bias. That’s not even to consider the possibility that DIMES will have superior hardware.
It feels like there’s some kind of platform the dimes are on, rather than at a position on a spectrum. I don’t know if this will help the story be engaged with or hinder engagement. I’m thinking hinder because I think it’s a question of spectrum and this platform becomes this impossible to grasp thingie for being some kind of absolute. Feels like the platform is what we assumed we were on and instead of being discarded it’s become a hand me down to the dimes in this story. Alternatively maybe it’s just sophisticated in as much as it’s depicting the dimes not thinking they were at a notch on a spectrum but on some kind of platform? Not looking at humans and treating themselves just as much as retards relative to some other position on the spectrum?
I’m not sure how to describe it, but that’s probably the situation to get across – of taking a slither on a spectrum and basically curving it, until it makes a little disc world – with people to look ‘up’ to and from the position of ‘up’, people to look ‘down’ on. With that ‘up’ and ‘down’ becoming the measure and the global, rather than a bent positional slice of spectrum (which is actually straight) in the middle of a very wide spectrum.
It is a funny cartoon, but it also conveys the more serious idea that in a society constructed by and for blind people vision does not convey any comparative advantage. If our society is constructed by and for people with certain blindnesses perhaps it should not come as a surprise that certain kinds of vision (to say the least) do not convey any comparative advantage.
Similarly, in a society constructed by and for fools it should not come as too much of a surprise that wisdom does not convey any advantage. When I read Ben Cain’s blog I get the feeling that wisdom is wasted on the wise the way youth is wasted on the young.
I get the feeling that wisdom is wasted on the wise the way youth is wasted on the young.
Reminds me, there’s a good H.G. Wells short story on exactly this theme. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Country_of_the_Blind
Dad fixing penny
Saw this article today and thought I would link it here.
Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours
Data sample complete.
Awesome little tidbit! Thanks for sharing that. What it shows is that the Tay system needs consistency monitoring systems in order to maintain a viable position within a certain communicative network. Now imagine if Tay were given a ‘consistency monitoring system monitoring system’ that only had access to that system, and nothing of the first order systems monitored. You would have the basic blueprint of BBT.
What makes this so fascinating is that we could be looking at an ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny phenomena here…
It seems no more than an eliza program?
View at Medium.com
Really don’t like Caroline’s unhygienic terminology. ‘It learns’…ugh!
Speaking of Microsoft, I think they may have invented the future of porn:
Reblogged this on synthetic zero.
I had the same objection as Michael Murden- if BBT hinges on human asymptotic information processing limits, then any AI would be similarly limited. However, being engineered rather than evolved, it would be able to *arbitrarily* decide how far up the asymptote it wants to go, assuming it had access to enough memory and energy. We humans are stranded, at least with current technology. The cognitive process known as philosophizing probably represents a largely futile attempt to climb up the gradient within the framework of BBT. The best philsophers are those by evolutionary/social happenstance were wired to go a little further up the slope than the rest. Maybe it’s not so surprising that historically, philosophers have come from the ranks of the privildged- you need wealth, comfort and ennui to push synaptic vesicles to new heights.
Callan also put it well- reading a log generates a log… etc. (Anyone who has played HackNet knows how annoying this is)
Reblogged this on dark ecologies and commented:
Bakker puts out his Blind Brain Theory in a story framework narrative… for those that have yet to read Bakker’s Prince of Nothing and the two trilogies this gives a hint of his storytelling power in describing BBT….
Quintvc – Cnaiur trying to take a nap… https://imgur.com/gallery/OOynZ
Croatian cover of The Judging Eye https://imgur.com/gallery/eD5Je
See, that all happened in the subtext. You’re just not reading the deeper layers of the book if you don’t see that motherfucking dragons just rocked in and kicked the shit out of stuff after Kellhus got eaten by a floating amoeba. Readers always think they get everything from a text but it’s. Right. There!!1! If only they’d see! >:)
My best guess is the flying things are a gross misinterpretation of both the timeline and scale of the Ciphrang dive bombing Shimeh from the upper edges of space.
Tell me more 🙂
That’s TJE, therefore, Achamian Dreaming of the fall of Sauglish ;).
That could work, lol!
Just in case a look at a pop take on transhumanism is of use, an RPG (with traditional quasi religious spiel in the linked kickstarter). Linking the reddit post about it for further context : https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/comments/4cgthp/singularity_a_scifi_dating_sim_larp_for_46/
The Second Apocalypse forum podcast-rereading The Warrior Prophet https://soundcloud.com/tsa-cast/tsacast-11
Hey Bakker, I’m currently organizing a boycott of your books on Reddit. If you want me to call it off make sure to release the sample chapter that you promised 4 years ago within 24 hours.
Scott: I love the way your pastoral amble veils abysses – like a recapitulation of BBT itself.
[…] he fails to see the systematic nature of the neglect involved, and therefore the explanatory power it affords. Our ignorance of ourselves, in other words, […]
[…] is and try to explain, I am baffled” (The Confessions, XI, 14). This is the tack I pursue in “The Dime Spared,” where a discussion between a boy and his artificial mother reveals all the cognitive capacities […]