Contemplation of the Ego and Self

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SashaKemper SashaKemper's picture
Contemplation of the Ego and Self

Eclipse Phase brings up many interesting questions regrading the ideas of self-identity and reality. My question to those on the Forum is: Do you seriously ask yourself these kind of questions in your day-to-day lives?

I do. A lot. So much that it bogs me down as I try to figure out if I'm even real or have been forked to do some menial task while the original wanders elsewhere. I wonder about reality, and how everything we experience translates to nothing more than the communication between sensory organs and synapses. I remember things that never existed or occurred but forget other things so easily.

I know I'm going to sound like a conspiracy whack-job, but maybe schizophrenia isn't the disease, but the cure. As we question our existence and the nature of the self, we chip away at something that is keeping us imprisoned and blindfolded.

Schizophrenics make for interesting storytellers.

Decivre Decivre's picture
SashaKemper wrote:Eclipse

SashaKemper wrote:
Eclipse Phase brings up many interesting questions regrading the ideas of self-identity and reality. My question to those on the Forum is: Do you seriously ask yourself these kind of questions in your day-to-day lives?

I do. A lot. So much that it bogs me down as I try to figure out if I'm even real or have been forked to do some menial task while the original wanders elsewhere. I wonder about reality, and how everything we experience translates to nothing more than the communication between sensory organs and synapses. I remember things that never existed or occurred but forget other things so easily.

To an extent, I think everyone does. Now I don't ascribe to the solipsistic concept that all things are an illusion, but I do know that the mind can play tricks upon itself. But that's why experimentation and reproducibility is such a fundamental part of how we define reality.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
SashaKemper wrote:Eclipse

SashaKemper wrote:
Eclipse Phase brings up many interesting questions regrading the ideas of self-identity and reality. My question to those on the Forum is: Do you seriously ask yourself these kind of questions in your day-to-day lives?

Sure. It is even part of my job description, since I work in a philosophy department. But having a background in neuroscience and transhumanism adds to the interest.

Quote:
As we question our existence and the nature of the self, we chip away at something that is keeping us imprisoned and blindfolded.

Questioning is the start, but it is not the endpoint. Good critical thinking involves both realizing that there are problems or unfounded assumptions, and then attempts to figure out what can be done about them.

Most people are surprisingly content to assume "things are as they are", which means they never investigate the correctness of their assumptions. Many people think they have a questioning and critical mindset because they play cynics or point out unfounded assumptions - but they don't care about what the real case is. To actually explore how reality works is tricky and might lead in frightening directions.

I am becoming more and more convinced that personal identity is at most an everyday psychological construct that has little moral importance, yet we cling to because we evolved to be the kind of organism where it made sense. If we change the kind of organism we are (for example by uploading) we might develop other forms of identity and ways of caring about what kinds of entities there are than we currently do.

For example, I think it makes more sense of regarding myself as an equivalence class of all sufficiently Arenamontanus-like processes, no matter when or where or how they are implemented. So I should not care about the survival of this particular instance beyond how it impacts the total number of valuable Arenamontanus-process-movements across spacetime.

Extropian

athanasius athanasius's picture
SashaKemper wrote:

SashaKemper wrote:

I do. A lot. So much that it bogs me down as I try to figure out if I'm even real or have been forked to do some menial task while the original wanders elsewhere. I wonder about reality, and how everything we experience translates to nothing more than the communication between sensory organs and synapses. I remember things that never existed or occurred but forget other things so easily.

I is the magical word, for my setting i have to chose what define identiti for my players and myself.
For game purpose the bulk of memory + specific neural pathway + goals = ego and "cogito ergo sum" is the marking line for be sentient, this is simplicistic but work well for game purpose....
For extend the game to live i can say that i don't know, i suppose the neurological process can define a person only for SF, for us today even where memory is phisically archived is difficulr (i'm updated but can have missed something). Observing the human actions and reactions i can say that an individual human is a sum of meme (part acquired by family, school, social ambient... and part chosen) and some common automatic structure, even this is partial as this view can't account for 100% of human action and reaction. I suppose we can use the term of Soul for the unknow element that make possible broke the simple mechanic of the interactions creating something new called "I".
For myself i feel my existence. Cartesio use "cogito ergo sum" as a logical mathematical proof of human existence but this can be only a second step: i must feel my existance (and must exixst), then i can think so proving my exixtence, if i don't percive my own exixtence the thought is only computing.

For this kind of stuff im' open to other opinion.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Cogito isn't even true for

Cogito isn't even true for all intelligent systems. It is not too hard to prove that the AIXI superintelligence model by Hutter cannot assign a nonzero probability to its own existence: it doesn't believe in any Turing-uncomputable entities, yet it would be a Turing-uncomputable entity (if it existed in the real world). So this would be a mind that would be provably smarter than anything, able to explain Cartesian philosophy with amazing intelligence, but nevertheless be unable to recognize itself in a mirror.

Extropian

athanasius athanasius's picture
I agree that is enotmously

I agree that is enotmously deficient as paradigm, but i don't agree with Turing test and definition of intelligence..
true intelligence (human or animal) seem have some characteristic that are behoind mere math definition:
- Intuition: obtain a result without use of necessary iteration step (similar to quantum wavefunction collapse
- Zen-state: detailed self-perception in absence of thinking (EEG of yoga during meditation)
- Observer Effect and probability alteration: the working of a mind act on external events (sorry i need search my book for articles but i post link or info later, random numbers generator are an exemple..)
- new meme: creation of completly new meme unrelated to exixting ones

The work of Jung is full of unexplicabe events that need the presence of some unconscius link to a "knowledge reserve" that he name Collective Unconscious, it's work can be considered confirmed by experiments conducted by Stanislav Grof. (i neeeed my books... more later)

AI based on pure computing are limited by the rules gived by the medium used for computing: computers are reliable in output because average errors, biologiacl brains seem use even errors for obtain coerent results....

As before, this is my observations, corrections and addendum are welcome

Decivre Decivre's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:Cogito

Arenamontanus wrote:
Cogito isn't even true for all intelligent systems. It is not too hard to prove that the AIXI superintelligence model by Hutter cannot assign a nonzero probability to its own existence: it doesn't believe in any Turing-uncomputable entities, yet it would be a Turing-uncomputable entity (if it existed in the real world). So this would be a mind that would be provably smarter than anything, able to explain Cartesian philosophy with amazing intelligence, but nevertheless be unable to recognize itself in a mirror.

It isn't hard to conceive of intelligences that simply don't have the means to sense themselves. Most animals that aren't vision-reliant tend to fail mirror tests simply because they don't use eyesight so well. A computer system that had no sensor capable of self detection (such as a theoretically existent AGI chat program) would, by proxy, have no means of defining the self innately. You could code such an AI with an understanding of self despite lack of means to sense it, but I think that a pointless effort that would not somehow create a superior sapience.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

athanasius athanasius's picture
addendum

probability alteration, see this sites
http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/ and related wiky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Consciousness_Project
They had a lot of criticism but also university money for 28 years...

For something more strange there is a Sweden reality "Backtrack Sweden" (no english sorry), they have ipnotized some people and asked them abouth previous lives and have searched for proof (marriage birth and death are in church archives and other elements can be found in municipal acts and various diary), they ave found extensive correspondences ov very old events(even 100+ years)...

I admit i'm a bit sceptic but i follow scientific method, this must be prroved but today the data look good.

Is possible that there are elements that compose an intelligence that we don't see, in EP this kind of phenomena are linked with a bio brain (PSI) and i feel it correct ;) .

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
athanasius wrote:Is possible

athanasius wrote:
Is possible that there are elements that compose an intelligence that we don't see, in EP this kind of phenomena are linked with a bio brain (PSI) and i feel it correct ;) .

But even dualist views of the mind doesn't solve the problem. So, you have some spooky non-material component - how does *that* explain consciousness or personal identity?

As for the data, it is not terribly great. I have not found anything about Backtrack Sweden despite being Swedish myself. PEAR does boast amazing p-values but their claims never seem to be replicable (and long term funding doesn't mean it is *rational* long-term funding).

If there really were something like psi it would likely be far more observable. After all, it would give a tremendous boost to evolutionary fitness for any animal if it could avoid danger with premonitions or provide descendants with helpful information: intelligence would be far less effective than psi!

Which of course immediately suggests an interesting exoplanet ecosystem where most species have well-developed psi. No species are smart, but they all act very smart because they see the future or get information from the past or present. So when the gatecrashers arrive a load of predators are waiting for them, since they have predicted that a bunch of easy targets will arrive there. As the gatecrashers fire their weapons the predators easily dodge them (they saw it coming), and even the ones that get hit get hit in a favorable way: they spread their spores and eggs in spots where there will be plenty of nutrients... including some that might be brought back and thrive behind the gate.

Extropian

athanasius athanasius's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:But even

Arenamontanus wrote:
But even dualist views of the mind doesn't solve the problem. So, you have some spooky non-material component - how does *that* explain consciousness or personal identity?

I think mind is a combination of "hardware" computing and "hardwired programs" and something more for "upper level" thinking, a "pure computing" view have serious problem for explain the reasony and the self analisys propriety of human mind (animals need training for "learn" beviors, human can use reasoning for train themselves toward a chosen obyective). AI as pure computational minds need a supposed "emergent" self organization for create sometning similar or are more like animal wich act based on "programmed" reactions, if exposed to unexpected events they can only act as programmed even if it's not the best chose.
I suppose that is possible to consider human mind as a mere program runned by a weth hardware that point toward survival and infinite expansion of itself, but i don't like the taste of a life without trace of free will.
Arenamontanus wrote:
If there really were something like psi it would likely be far more observable. After all, it would give a tremendous boost to evolutionary fitness for any animal if it could avoid danger with premonitions or provide descendants with helpful information: intelligence would be far less effective than psi

The base of this reasoning is a Darwinian view based on the "natural selection" based on a constant war between competing forms, i think this can be only a partial truth:
-the fittest form on this planet are the more primitive forms, bacteria can evolve in matter of hour (a fiew generations) and are in almost evry ambient, including the nuclear reactors coolant wather, can adapt to antibiotics and chemicals and are lethal if needed
-not photosintetic creatures have a lethal disadvantage, beeing primary energy collectors plants can use part of it to develop toxin for self defence (used by Eucalyptus that can be eat only by koala, or Strychnos toxifera poison of ingested variant)
-without an external regulator the ecosystem tend toward a limited number of super-competitor reducing biodiversity, we can consider that "best fitness"+"fecoundity"= win so the perfect Darwinians competitors expand to occupy all possible resources converging to phisiological singularity of a superpredator.
-can't explain formation of the cellular structure...

The Darwin's theory was perfect for the expanding English empire because give a justification to expansionism deleting the sins, the winner was right for Nathual Order (aka GOD) and the loser have the sin of being unfit.

In my view the "psi" is only a regulatory network that transfert general informations, for the competitive advantage there are better method for identify prey or resources, just thermal view and radio perception can pinpoint a working electrochemical organism (shark for field sense and snake for thermal).

Arenamontanus wrote:
But even dualist views of the mind doesn't solve the problem. So, you have some spooky non-material component - how does *that* explain consciousness or personal identity?

I hope there is something spooky because i't better for us, thermodinamics is a sure overkill for the universe, the end results are an uniform cooling ferrous nebula or a sinngularity that destroy all possible information in our universe and restart all. If this are the outcome even evolution is only a sadistic game for posticipate a sure death, as GM i prefer my hope, as person i search for the trut.

PS. i have see Backtrak Sweden in Italian on Sky ;)

Decivre Decivre's picture
athanasius wrote:I think mind

athanasius wrote:
I think mind is a combination of "hardware" computing and "hardwired programs" and something more for "upper level" thinking, a "pure computing" view have serious problem for explain the reasony and the self analisys propriety of human mind (animals need training for "learn" beviors, human can use reasoning for train themselves toward a chosen obyective). AI as pure computational minds need a supposed "emergent" self organization for create sometning similar or are more like animal wich act based on "programmed" reactions, if exposed to unexpected events they can only act as programmed even if it's not the best chose.
I suppose that is possible to consider human mind as a mere program runned by a weth hardware that point toward survival and infinite expansion of itself, but i don't like the taste of a life without trace of free will.

An animal in the wild is fully capable of adaptively learning without the need for a trainer. Many of the behaviors we consider to be decidedly "human" have proven, over time, to not be.

athanasius wrote:
The Darwin's theory was perfect for the expanding English empire because give a justification to expansionism deleting the sins, the winner was right for Nathual Order (aka GOD) and the loser have the sin of being unfit.

Except Darwin never actually conceived of the concept of social Darwinism. In fact the opposite is true; he felt that human beings were an optimal species because, through reason, we had broken the shackles of natural selection and decided by our own free will what constitutes fitness and how to survive. Social Darwinism came about in the late 1800s as a byproduct of the industrial revolution, and was about extrapolating Darwin's natural theories onto society as a means of improving it.

athanasius wrote:
In my view the "psi" is only a regulatory network that transfert general informations, for the competitive advantage there are better method for identify prey or resources, just thermal view and radio perception can pinpoint a working electrochemical organism (shark for field sense and snake for thermal).

Tough to say. A creature with psi is capable of sensing the presence of observing organisms, and this ability would be an absolute godsend to something that doesn't sit at the top of the food chain. It might even separate them from the standard food chain; what predator could hunt for a herd animal that knows of their presence as soon as they begin to stalk them?

Not to mention all the other potential traits that psi could provide. Imagine social creatures that can communicate thought and urge directly without the need to conceive of verbal language (it would be especially useful for swarm organisms, like ants and bees). Imagine predators that could inject the impulse to sleep or come to them in their prey. Psi has significant advantages over standard intelligence, and its existence might have superceded the latter.

athanasius wrote:
I hope there is something spooky because i't better for us, thermodinamics is a sure overkill for the universe, the end results are an uniform cooling ferrous nebula or a sinngularity that destroy all possible information in our universe and restart all. If this are the outcome even evolution is only a sadistic game for posticipate a sure death, as GM i prefer my hope, as person i search for the trut.

But how do we know this spooky stuff exists indefinitely? How do we know that when we die and become this spooky stuff, we maintain those things we attribute to ourselves as human, like intelligence?

Death without the concept of a soul does not necessitate existence being cold and defeatist. If anything, quite the opposite. An ephemeral life encourages us to make the best of the finite time we have. More so than that, it gives us the incentive to innovate and master the reality around us, so that we can bend it to our whims and make this ephemeral life potentially less ephemeral.

Even if the universe's inevitable conclusion is drawn by natural forces, it does not mean we cannot manipulate those forces and change the course of events. Shall our universe face a cold future, or shall we find a means to replenish it (or use entropy to ? Is all matter inevitably destined to decay, or might we find the means to bring new matter to existence (it happens all the time in vacuum, so it's feasible that we might be able to manipulate this universal property)? And even if the universe produced by our big bang might cease to be, who says that our was the only big bang to ever occur? Could we not go find another younger one to inhabit? Or better, could we produce another one?

Finite life does not mean bleak and sad, it means challenging and arduous.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Quote:I hope there is

Quote:
I hope there is something spooky because i't better for us, thermodinamics is a sure overkill for the universe, the end results are an uniform cooling ferrous nebula or a sinngularity that destroy all possible information in our universe and restart all.

Well, thermodynamics might well apply to spooky stuff too. After all, the rule that systems tend to move to more probable states would seem to apply to mental processes no matter what implementation they have.

Extropian

athanasius athanasius's picture
Decivre wrote:Tough to say. A

Decivre wrote:
Tough to say. A creature with psi is capable of sensing the presence of observing organisms, and this ability would be an absolute godsend to something that doesn't sit at the top of the food chain.

As i say "real psi" (sorry no better word but carry a good part of the concept) is more like a low level data connection than a collection of "powers", in my view si something like Jung collective unconscious with max extension.
As unconscious you don't have full access to it but it give clues that can be exploited, animals sixt sense or other anomlous beavior (calamity detection, migratory swarms coordination etc..) are a good exemple of this kind of information. As say before Stanislav Grof's work have good data abouth cross specie data excange.

Decivre wrote:
But how do we know this spooky stuff exists indefinitely? How do we know that when we die and become this spooky stuff, we maintain those things we attribute to ourselves as human, like intelligence?

I use "spooky" but we can say other... As i say if you see Backtrack Sweden and work with a good ipnotherapist you can collect a lot of data about "previous lifes" (sorry again no better words), this don't say you are immortal but create the possibility for people to contribute to humankind forever: even if i'm not Napoleon my life is not junk data deleted when noone remember me.
The real problem with this interpretation is that give too much power to churcs and even today it can be a destabilizing factor for the society as whole, this create a lot of resistence to scientific study around this fringe thopics, the same is happened for Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR).

Decivre wrote:
Even if the universe's inevitable conclusion is drawn by natural forces, it does not mean we cannot manipulate those forces and change the course of events. Shall our universe face a cold future, or shall we find a means to replenish it (or use entropy to ? Is all matter inevitably destined to decay, or might we find the means to bring new matter to existence (it happens all the time in vacuum, so it's feasible that we might be able to manipulate this universal property)? And even if the universe produced by our big bang might cease to be, who says that our was the only big bang to ever occur? Could we not go find another younger one to inhabit? Or better, could we produce another one?

If is possible to violate the first law of thermodinamic there is no need of foodchain or photosintesis, create the energy from notting (remember E=mc^2) and coast to eternity....
I think it's possible for myself but this topic is even wrose than psi, here i'v not even clues about a real possibility (don't use Casimir, can work but today no real experiments for it as energy source).

I have chose EP as game for this kind of dilemma, a lot of fun creating individual NPC with different views, for the "real word" i can only thank you for this different view you offer me!!! :)

We learn from our win and loose, learn more if we lose a good confrontation and survive.

Decivre wrote:
life does not mean bleak and sad, it means challenging and arduous.
Decivre Decivre's picture
athanasius wrote:As i say

athanasius wrote:
As i say "real psi" (sorry no better word but carry a good part of the concept) is more like a low level data connection than a collection of "powers", in my view si something like Jung collective unconscious with max extension.
As unconscious you don't have full access to it but it give clues that can be exploited, animals sixt sense or other anomlous beavior (calamity detection, migratory swarms coordination etc..) are a good exemple of this kind of information. As say before Stanislav Grof's work have good data abouth cross specie data excange.

Animal "sixth sense" is actually due to various senses they literally have that we don't. Magnetoreception, the ability to hear lower sound frequencies and the like. They aren't noticing anything magical anymore than seeing infrared colors is magic; it's just a sense human beings don't have. Because we actually have a very limited number of senses in comparison to other species; we have a limited light spectrum to view, a limited sound spectrum to hear, and even an extremely limited olfactory capability altogether.

athanasius wrote:
I use "spooky" but we can say other... As i say if you see Backtrack Sweden and work with a good ipnotherapist you can collect a lot of data about "previous lifes" (sorry again no better words), this don't say you are immortal but create the possibility for people to contribute to humankind forever: even if i'm not Napoleon my life is not junk data deleted when noone remember me.
The real problem with this interpretation is that give too much power to churcs and even today it can be a destabilizing factor for the society as whole, this create a lot of resistence to scientific study around this fringe thopics, the same is happened for Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR).

There is no inherent need for a magical force in order for someone to contribute to humankind forever. Simply giving to the repository of human information, producing memes, and interacting with human society is a way to leave your mark. Or you can go with the traditional system and just make kids.

athanasius wrote:
If is possible to violate the first law of thermodinamic there is no need of foodchain or photosintesis, create the energy from notting (remember E=mc^2) and coast to eternity....
I think it's possible for myself but this topic is even wrose than psi, here i'v not even clues about a real possibility (don't use Casimir, can work but today no real experiments for it as energy source).

The 1st law already needs a rewrite; long ago we realized that energy and matter are interchangeable, and recently we discovered that matter and antimatter spontaneously form in pairs within vacuum.

The law should really read "the net sum of all energy in existence can never be greater or less than 0". And once it reads like that, the production of energy becomes theoretically possible, so long as we produce both positive and negative energy simultaneously (when you think about it, producing one will technically produce the other as waste).

athanasius wrote:
I have chose EP as game for this kind of dilemma, a lot of fun creating individual NPC with different views, for the "real word" i can only thank you for this different view you offer me!!! :)

No problem. It's fun to disagree, and I'm always looking for interesting debate.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

athanasius athanasius's picture
nature and magic

A lot of my strange thinking is based on my personal history, on late 90 i'v do a lot of reseach during my university (as pesonal interest) about "cold fusion" and i'v meet a lot of professor and researcher. They were very competent and had do serious work, pubblished results but nothing, the works can't be accepted, "scientific scum" as they are outhside the current model.

I don't think there si something magic in this universe, by definition magic is an event without a cause. Logically i can't accept an event without cause, nature follow laws of this i'm sure... if i'm not in 40K!

With my experience i can say that science need open mind (rare) and a method for correlate cause and effect, if you work with some kind of study (es. quantum phisic) the operator begin to be a part of the experimentso the scientific method have some problems....

The study of human mind, self, identity, is a topic outhside the scientific method because the operathor can't be comletly separed from the subject he is studying. If the cause of an event is linked with a particular emotional state or another "spooky" characteristic even the event is outhside the scientific method. So i find intheresting peoples who try to break this barier and open mind who can discuss abouth this topics, it need a lot of courage!

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
SashaKemper wrote:Eclipse

SashaKemper wrote:
Eclipse Phase brings up many interesting questions regrading the ideas of self-identity and reality. My question to those on the Forum is: Do you seriously ask yourself these kind of questions in your day-to-day lives?

Yes, absolutely. Sometimes in a practical sense.

SashaKemper wrote:
I do. A lot. So much that it bogs me down as I try to figure out if I'm even real or have been forked to do some menial task while the original wanders elsewhere. I wonder about reality, and how everything we experience translates to nothing more than the communication between sensory organs and synapses. I remember things that never existed or occurred but forget other things so easily.

Do you also question the reality (or lack thereof) of your sensory input, given how much of what we perceive is actually fabricated by the sensory cortices?

A long time ago I came to an admittedly somewhat fatalistic decision on where I stood on this. It works for me.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:I am

Arenamontanus wrote:
I am becoming more and more convinced that personal identity is at most an everyday psychological construct that has little moral importance, yet we cling to because we evolved to be the kind of organism where it made sense. If we change the kind of organism we are (for example by uploading) we might develop other forms of identity and ways of caring about what kinds of entities there are than we currently do.

I am inclined to agree with you on this on some parts, and would also suggest that one's personal identity can be a very different thing from one's identity as perceived by others. When the two collide, some very strange things can come to pass. I do not know how easy it would be to continue experimenting with this anymore, due to how densely connected people tend to be and how easy it is to do background research on any paticular presented identity.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:Well,

Arenamontanus wrote:
Well, thermodynamics might well apply to spooky stuff too. After all, the rule that systems tend to move to more probable states would seem to apply to mental processes no matter what implementation they have.

Also, systems that seem random may not be, and systems that seem well functioning might be a mess under the hood. This is often seen when determining the quality of random number generators used to generate cryptographic keys. I often wonder if cryptographers decided to use the term 'entropy' to refer to strength and quality of randomness as a joke more than anything else.

As is sometimes said, "Random numbers are too important to be left to chance." :)