HemiHive, in Hiding

If you’ve been following my writing for any length of time, you’ll know how fascinated I am by Krista and Tatiana Hogan, of British Columbia. I’ve cited them in Echopraxia’s end notes, described them in online essays; if you caught my talk at Pyrkon last year you might remember me wittering on about them in my rejoinder to Elon Musk’s aspirations for “neural dust”.

Not entirely sure who gets the photo credit, but it's someone at the CBC so it's taxpayer-funded.

Not entirely sure who gets the photo credit, but it’s someone at the CBC so it’s taxpayer-funded.

Can you blame me? A pair of conjoined twins, fused at the brain? A unique cable of neurons— a thalamic bridge— wiring those brains together, the same way the corpus callosum connects the cerebral hemispheres in your own head? Two people who can see through each others eyes, feel and taste what the other does, share motor control of their limbs— most remarkably, communicate mind-to-mind without speaking? Is it any wonder that at least one neuroscientist has described the twins as “a new life form”?

If the Hogans don’t capture your imagination, you’re dead inside. I’ve been following those two from almost the day they were born in 2006 (the year Blindsight came out— and man, how that book could have changed if they’d been born just a few years earlier.) I’ve been trying to, anyway.

They don’t make it easy.

Bits and pieces trickle out now and then. Profiles in the New York Times and Macleans. Puff-piece documentaries from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, heavy on saccharine human-interest and cutesy music, light on science. Eleven years on, the public domain will tell you that Krista processes input from three legs and one arm, while Tatiana processes input from three arms and one leg. We know that they’re only halfway to being a true hive mind, because there are still two of them in there; the thalamic bridge carries lower bandwidth than a corpus callosum, and is located down in the basement with the sensory cables. (We can only speculate what kind of singular conscious being we’d be dealing with if the pipe had been fatter, mounted higher in the brain.) We know they share thoughts without speaking, conspire nonverbally to commit practical jokes for example (although not in complete silence; apparently a fair amount of giggling is involved). The twins call it “talking in our heads”. Back in 2013 one of their neurologists opined that “they haven’t yet shown us” whether they share thoughts as well as sensory experience, but neurons fire the same way whether they’re transmitting sensation or abstraction; given all the behavioral evidence I’d say the onus is on the naysayers to prove that thoughts aren’t being transmitted.

We know they’re diabetic and epileptic. We know they’re cognitively delayed. We know that their emotions are always in sync; whatever chemicals provoke joy or grief or anger cruise through that conjoined system without regard for which brain produced them. We know Krista likes ketchup and Tatiana doesn’t. We know— and if we don’t, you can be sure the documentarians at CBC will hammer the point home at least twice more before the next commercial break— that they’re God’s Little Fucking Miracles.

If you look closely at the video footage, you can glean a bit more. The twins never say “we”. I frequently heard one or the other refer to “my sister”, but if they ever referred to each other by name, that never made it into the broadcast edit. They sometimes refer to each other as “I”. They must have a really interesting sense of personal identity, at the very least.

But that’s about it. After eleven years, this is all we get.

We’re told about MRI scans, but we never get to see any actual results from one. (The most recent documentary, from just last year, shows the twins on their way to an MRI only to cut away before they get there; I mean, how do twins conjoined at a seventy-degree angle even fit into one of those machines?) There are plenty of Hogan references in the philosophical literature (for obvious reasons), and even the legal literature (for more obscure ones: one paper delves into how best to punish conjoined twins when only one of them has been convicted of committing a crime). They’re all over popular science and news sites. Some idiot with the Intelligent Design movement has even used the Hogans to try and put lipstick on the long-discredited pig of dualism (i.e., souls).

But actual neurological findings from these twins? Scientific papers? Google Scholar returns a single article, from a 2012 issue of the “University of British Columbia’s Undergraduate Journal of Psychology”— a student publication. Even that piece is mainly a review of craniopagus twins in the medical literature, with a couple of pages squeeing about How Much The Hogan Twins Can Teach Us tacked onto the end. A 2011 NYT article describes research showing that each twin can process visual signals from the other’s eyes, then admits that the results were not published. And that’s it.

Eleven years after the birth of the most neurologically remarkable, philosophically mind-blowing, transhumanistically-relevant being on the planet, we have nothing but pop-sci puff pieces and squishy documentaries to show for it. Are we really supposed to believe that in over a decade no one has done the studies, collected the data, gained any insights about literal brain-to-brain communication, beyond these fuzzy generalities?

I for one don’t buy that for a second. These neuroscientists smiling at us from the screen— Douglas Cochrane, Juliette Hukin— they know what they’ve got. Maybe they’ve discovered something so horrific about the nature of Humanity that they’re afraid to reveal it, for fear of outrage and widespread panic. That would be cool.

More likely, though, they’re just biding their time; sitting on an ever-growing trove of data that will redefine and quantify the very nature of what it is to be a sapient being. They’re just not going to share it with the rest of us until they’ve finished polishing their Nobel acceptance speeches. Maybe I can’t blame them. Maybe I’d even do the same in their place.

Still. The wait is driving me crazy.

And if any of you are on the inside, I’d kill for a glimpse of an MRI.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday July 25 2018at 01:07 pm , filed under neuro, sentience/cognition . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

65 Responses to “HemiHive, in Hiding”

  1. I can only guess that maybe the parents wanted to allow them a less medically invasive life, and pulled them away from studies. That could be why the research came to a sudden stop.

    I find myself agreeing with you. It would be interesting if they did discover something scary about the nature of consciousness with this case. What do you think would be frightening enough to try and cover up?

    I’m fascinated by the instant thought transmission the twins are said to have. I have to wonder what it’s like to experience. Sharing other sensory information is something else, too.

    I’ve always felt sympathy for people born conjoined in such an irrevocable way, and how they must struggle to live life. I can’t imagine being attached to someone and not being able to have my own individual life.

  2. I think the researchers and parents may be quite afraid of inviting in a gawking public. They may be keeping their discoveries private for the protection of the children, even if the basis of their fears is poorly defined and uncertain. I would be cautious if it were my responsibility. I imagine they have to be as cautious as the most paranoid person on their ethical review board.

  3. This reads a bit like stuff from UFO disclosure folks. “We just know the government is hiding all the good stuff just to spite us, the bastards.”

    Obviously what we need is proper work on scaling particle accelerator technology up to macro scale, so we can finally start applying the finely honed methods of modern physics to meat popsicle phenomenology by smashing people together at close to the speed of light and collecting enormous amounts of data on the configurations of the resulting grease smears. If we start with Republicans the media will probably help snowball public support, and we can auction off their stuff to pay for it. Win win.

    Alternatively, we can ooh and ahh over the future potential of scribbles made with sticks in clay that allow us to ponder thoughts that once sprung from minds other than our own, with no flesh-to-flesh contact whatsoever. If only our floating amoeba-like enclosures were attached to some sort of tendrils we could use to manipulate our environments! Since we do not possess them in reality, we must imagine ourselves curling them into quasi-spheres and vibrating them at a low frequency against the mad injustice of blind evolution.

    Friends, comrades, fellow empiri-intox-o-nauts, let us never abandon the highest standards of rigor. Let us not stop to ask the purpose of our quest, for we have transcended all primitive delusions of meaning that fall below the standards of cold hard data. Sensuality speaks for itself. Information is the grist of all neural activity, and what is best in life if not the throbbing pleasures of luminous neural activity? And that for the sake of imagining a yet more thrilling brightness! We choose to flutter towards the lightbulb, not because it is easy, but because, as soon as we get there, we will immediately lose interest in ever going back again.

    Pardon me, I have a text message that I simply must read right at this very moment.

  4. Angela DeRiso: I can only guess that maybe the parents wanted to allow them a less medically invasive life, and pulled them away from studies. That could be why the research came to a sudden stop.

    Oh, they’re being studied all right. The docs make that quite clear. It’s just that none of the results have been peer-reviewed or released in any form other than vague generalities.

    Nelson: I think the researchers and parents may be quite afraid of inviting in a gawking public.

    I’d find that a bit more plausible if said parents didn’t keep inviting journalists and documentary filmmakers over to gawk. Compare to the Hiigan’s exclusive deals with National Geographic and the Discovery channel, a couple of papers in Science or Nature would be pretty much invisible.

    Bubo: Pardon me, I have a text message that I simply must read right at this very moment.

    You really should have led with that, Bubo. And then texted back. So we’d be spared the awkwardness of telling you that the bipolar support group is down the hall and to the left.

  5. Perhaps they not only eye the Nobels but also the possibility of making a billion here and there from the commercial applications

  6. As I see it, the “I” is mostly an administrative unit, referring to „the stuff within the skin“. If you look at yourself closely, you’ll soon realize, you’re completely different beings at different times, what links them is common memory, common subroutines and the feeling of „I“, which means no more an individual, than the word „state“ or „family“ . If you want to see inside the collective mind of semi-joined, semi-independent creatures, look inside your own.
    Another example is, well, everybody. Just go out for a drink with your friends and watch thoughts circulating among several brains, fusing them together into one organism. Darwinist rules apply to all information, communication is memetic sex: You plant your seed into the head womb of others, where it grows into thought babies. This mixture of procreation and cloning turns you into relatives. It works the same way on all levels of our fractal universe – the same mechanisms that fuse us into states fuse us into in/dividuals. Information wants to survive, and likes its own copies.
    Consciousness seems to travel around inside our heads, or is handed to the ruling party. There’s a Congress, there’s neural politics on all levels and there’s the guerilla of the repressed subconscious. It’s not a well-governed state, tons of haphazard bureaucracy wasting resources and doing more harm than good, but it gets by.
    Apart from that the one’s happening inside a head, and the other outside, what’s exactly the difference between coincidence and intelligence? Self-organizing systems are self-organizing systems, same laws, similar results on many different scales. There’s a reason so much coincidence looks more like intelligent conspiracies than actual conspiracies.

  7. Are we really supposed to believe that in over a decade no one has done the studies, collected the data, gained any insights about literal brain-to-brain communication, beyond these fuzzy generalities?

    You haven’t heard anything because each successive researcher has been integrated into the growing hive mind.

  8. PhilRM,

    You don’t know how right you are.
    My typical conversation with a scientist goes along these lines:
    „The Emperor is naked!“
    „Are you a tailor?“
    „No, but look! Just open your eyes and see for yourself!“
    „No I won’t, because you’re not a renowned member of the Tailor Guild. Only studied tailors are able to see if someone is dressed or naked. Everybody else is clothes-blind.“
    „But look, you can see his balls!“
    „No, stupid, it’s a jockstrap. Balls aren’t purple.“
    „Yes, because they’re freezing off! Get him some pants, fast!“
    At that point, they give up, shake their head at my idiocy and walk off to discuss purple jockstraps glued with fudge. Legions of researchers have been absorbed into an autistic hive chicken mind.

  9. Is there really a mystery here though? It’s like asking at what scale quantum effects stop applying. We can already guess the answer: there is no maximum scale. There’s no operational problem, despite the philosophical problems. We understand the physiology here, and the consequences are fairly straightforward. If you are wondering what is the nature of their consciousness then, as Laplace might say, we simply have no need of that hypothesis.

    I’m mostly just wondering how they put on those t-shirts.

  10. What if they are keeping the information a secret until they are 18. So they can consent into releasing all the information/location etc. That seems like the ethical thing to do.

    In regards to the other commenters talking about researchers that don’t want to talk to them. That is because there are a lot more nutcases in the world that want to waste peoples time than there are people that know what they are talking about. Researchers are already super overworked by the university systems. They don’t want to (nor have the time) have to teach people the basics for free.

    That is why it is hard to talk to researchers, they don’t have time, they have incentives to not talk to you (cost energy, and outsiders don’t understand anyway, get an education first basically), and a lot of outsiders are hostile. People who accuse them of being a hive mind for example.

    I haven’t had problems talking to researchers myself, but only if I knew them irl, or if I spoke part of the language already because I have some education in their field. At least I think, I can’t know the moments people who did know things just rolled their eyes and didn’t interact, because I was so wrong, I ‘wasnt even wrong’.

  11. For fuck’s sake, man. Bet you the girls have a much longer list of issues beyond epilepsy and diabetic problems. Right now the focus is probably on getting them to live to adulthood. Even getting these two through puberty is going to be a challenge, the bone growth alone is a head-scratcher.

    The parents of these girls have a hell of a job, and they’re probably the information bottleneck. I can’t blame them.

  12. paul z: Just go out for a drink with your friends and watch thoughts circulating among several brains, fusing them together into one organism.

    The difference, I think, is that when the two halves of the brain talk to each other they speak with a latency of under 400msec; people at a bar speak somewhat slower. And while we still don’t know what consciousness actually is, one of its strongest correlates is synchronization between the parts. Neural pathways flickering back and forth in a brain are fast enough to cohere into a self: folks at a bar, not so much.

    The Hogan twins are fused at the thalamus, which is pretty low-bandwidth as far as brains go. Because it’s a sensory relay (among other things) they have access to each other’s senses, but the feed is too skinny to allow the two selves to cohere into one. Still, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if they’d been fused at the neocortex instead…

    paul z: My typical conversation with a scientist goes along these lines:
    „The Emperor is naked!“
    „Are you a tailor?“
    „No, but look! Just open your eyes and see for yourself!“

    I’d question that analogy. Being conversant with the inner workings of a brain takes somewhat greater expertise than being able to recognize clothing when you see it. Your metaphor can be invoked to discredit any kind of expertise anywhere, by its simplistic assertion than good ol’ God-fearing common sense is just as good (or even better!) than all that fancy book-learning.

    Granted, it’s a popular line of argument among climate-change deniers and Trump supporters. But if you’re going to weigh in on a subject as arcane and complex as neuroscience, I don’t think it’s out of line for someone to ask about your credentials.

    Paul Harrison: If you are wondering what is the nature of their consciousness then, as Laplace might say, we simply have no need of that hypothesis.

    The difference is, Laplace made that zinger with regard to an invisible sky fairy whose existence remains, unto this very day, unproven (or even unsupported). Consciousness, on the other hand, is something that I know absolutely exists— it is, in fact, the only thing I know exists, since everything else could be illusory for all I know. I for one would welcome a hypothesis or two.

  13. Soy: What if they are keeping the information a secret until they are 18. So they can consent into releasing all the information/location etc. That seems like the ethical thing to do.

    Yeah, a few folks mentioned that over on facebook. That could well be it, and it’s something I hadn’t considered. But I’m having a hard time squaring that implied desire for privacy with the fact that the Hogans have invited reporters and camera crews into their lives (and it’s not as though they need the money to cover their medical bills, this being Canada and all). It might have something to do with liability/consent issues at the journal-publication level.

    :-Daniel: The parents of these girls have a hell of a job, and they’re probably the information bottleneck.

    You’re right, of course. How silly of me to have expected those parents to have the time to analyze the MRI results, and write them up for publication, and make all the inevitable edits demanded by academic referees. If only there was some kind of— I don’t know, some kind of system where specially-trained people could do that separately, so the parents wouldn’t be stuck in the role of informational bottleneck…

  14. Speed and efficiency of the link don’t change the basic principle. The link between you and your friends is good enough to fuse you into a „we“. It already has a feeling of self, if a member would die, everybody would feel the pain. It’s not the same, but a stage on the way. Self-forming is a property of matter, not only of brains.
    By the way, if two people watch pictures from the same camera, they have access to each other’s senses. The twins are fascinating, but the basic rules of self-forming apply always and everywhere.
    The other thing: I’m not questioning experts, I just question the scientists’ ability to see the obvious. I’m usually talking simple, basic things everybody can see, but which are denied by science. Usually physics.
    Just yesterday, I had to explain to someone, that in the real world, speed is a two-dimensional movement: not km/s, but km x s, because, if you’ve moved 100 km in 1 second, you’ve moved 200 km in 2 seconds, not 50, and if you write Einsteins formula E/m=1s^4, a lot of things fall into place. I also had to explain that the Planck constant limits perception, not reality, as it’s common in real life that an unlimited chain of causes and events acts together as a singularity. You see such a singularity each morning in the mirror. Likewise, when I look at the quantum world, I don’t see fairies, I see time running faster. The cat doesn’t really dissolve if Schrödinger puts his little paws in front of his eyes and doesn’t see it. Quantum physics is based on thinking most of us gave up with diapers.
    I don’t question science. I question magical fudge factors so obvious it hurts my eyes. Photons look weird? They’re bodiless ghosts. Quantum looks weird? It’s a fairy world. Gravity? Fat guys develop vacuum cleaner voodoo powers. Can’t explain it? It’s God’s will, who can deny the Almighty Coincidence, the God of atheists? Don’t feel like explaining it? It’s a heresy: illusion. Bullpooh.
    Well, in Einstein’s days, people didn’t discriminate much between physics and occultism, but today? Even worse, I don’t only doubt the smoke and mirrors, I also can provide alternative, rational explanations. They’re probably wrong, but witchcraft and science don’t work well together. Unless your name is Lovecraft.

  15. Saw this and thought of you: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/25/the-bleeding-edge-netflix-documentary-medical-devices.

  16. For someone who says he would “kill for” an MRI result, you’re doing remarkably little to make sure these guys can afford a customized car seat, or a full time nanny, or even the time to go to more MRIs than they absolutely need to. Medical bills being covered doesn’t mean they don’t have a shit ton of other bills. Everything is more expensive when you have to get everything customized.

    I bet those camera crews paid good money while the researchers didn’t.

    The parents are the information bottleneck because they have to be super defensive, struggling for every bit or semblance of normalcy they can get. Camera crews cost normalcy but can help pay the bills. Scientific publications cost normalcy but don’t.

    I’m saying offer these parents 5000$ for a copy of their latest MRI scan and you’re probably in business.

  17. To become one with others, may be don’t need to speak faster dude, maybe we need to think slower. 400msec has to be relative to some base rate. Physical constants aren’t going to be the answer, this is a philosophical problem.

    Beyond going on about how great it is all the time, I’m not sure what behavioral consequences consciousness has. Evolution will give rise to individuals that act as though they make choices to maximize the expectation of some quantity. Such an individual has the model that it has made choices in the past, and will make choices in future, and takes this into account when making choices in the present, and it calls this model “consciousness”. I think that’s all it is, and if so it’s rather mechanical.

    Nevertheless I assign such mechanical individuals value. I also value trees and such. This as far as I’ve got.

  18. :-Daniel: For someone who says he would “kill for” an MRI result, you’re doing remarkably little to make sure these guys can afford a customized car seat, or a full time nanny, or even the time to go to more MRIs than they absolutely need to.

    In my defense, I didn’t say what I’d kill (evidently “the mood” isn’t enough to do the trick.)

    Camera crews cost normalcy but can help pay the bills. Scientific publications cost normalcy but don’t. I’m saying offer these parents 5000$ for a copy of their latest MRI scan and you’re probably in business.

    You do raise a point I hadn’t considered. Thanks to you I can now imagine a scenario— all too plausible, I fear— in which Krista and Tatiana have to face cruel taunts from schoolyard bullies who saw their MRIs in Neural Plasticity: “Your corpus callosum has the bandwidth of a Nokia Flip-phone!”;”How’s that thalamic bridge doing, Anterior-cingulate girl?” Why, the normalcy loss from mere camera crews pales in comparison.

    That said, your whole $5K idea is probably a matter of pocket change, given the take-home pay of your average Vancouver neurosurgeon. I wonder if someone’s made the offer.

    Paul Harrison: Beyond going on about how great it is all the time, I’m not sure what behavioral consequences consciousness has.

    Um, you do know where you are, right? The whole unsure-of-what-consciousness-is-for thing isn’t gonna provoke a whole lot of pushback hereabouts.

    Paul Harrison: 400msec has to be relative to some base rate. Physical constants aren’t going to be the answer, this is a philosophical problem.

    I don’t know. I mean, you’ve thumbnailed the hard problem well enough— I can’t see any way that physics can explain the emergence of subjective experience from purely mechanical processes, and as far as I know no one else can either (which is, I guess, why Roger Penrose says we’ll never explain consciousness until we come up with a whole new kind of physics). But I bristle a bit at relegating the problem to philosophy. It seems too reminiscent of the strategy religious fundamentalists use to justify their own beliefs: find something science hasn’t figured out yet, then point to it and say “Your Science has no answers to this; the only alternative is the God o’Abraham!”.

  19. Bubo,

    XD Indeed.

  20. “If the Hogans don’t capture your imagination, you’re dead inside. I’ve been following those two from almost the day they were born in 2006 (the year Blindsight came out— and man, how that book could have changed if they’d been born just a few years earlier.)”

    Since it’s too late to change Blindsight, is there any chance that they can inspire another future story?

    Our brain is hardwired to communicate with language, and direct thought transfer between two minds is probably because of our brain’s flexibility. Most likely they don’t use any form of grammar, since they started to communicate with each other before they knew how to speak.

    That really makes me curious how that wordless communication works. If one of them asks “do you want to paint with colors?”, in what form does the other receive the thoughts? As a series of abstract images, or in some form it is impossible to imagine. After all, it is impossible for those who are born blind to know what colors are like, and many blind persons have no idea how visual perspectives works. Guess it is just as hard for humans to imagine how pheromones detected by Jacobson’s organ in some animals can tell them about the age, social status and other facts about those who have left the pheromones behind.

    So what if it was possible to simulate their ability by implanting a radio transmitter/receiver inside the skull or something, allowing us to communicate directly with someone close by? If the surgery was done on every infant for many generations and was exposed selective pressure, the speech center in the brain would gradually shrink and become vestigial. Leaving behind the ability to still being able to use the written language, enjoy music and understanding humans sounds like laughter, rage and other primal emotions expressed vocally.

    (If direct communication was possible, then what about neuro-linguistic programming?)

    And a little off topic, but since we are talking about voices in your head. It is impossible for two separate minds to exist simultaneously in the same brain. And yet there are people who hear voices and music inside their head, and for all I know, they are even communicating with the voice like Gollum and Sméagol.
    That can only mean that the brain is simulating another personality in your brain, which is neither sentient or conscious (and which most of us experience every night in dreams). Like language, so much else about our consciousness is so hardwired in our brain that it is able to produce something that can be difficult or impossible for those who experience it to tell the difference between what is real and not. If all these patterns and rules in what we see and hear is produced by non-sentient processes in the brain, then I guess the sentient part of who we are only makes up a very small part of the whole experience.

  21. Ok, I guess I’m echoing sentiments from the Crown of Thorns’ representative in Blindsight. I would give value to the Crown of Thorns’ inhabitants. From this viewpoint, it’s a joyful novel about greeting a universe full of life that has inherent value.

    Ok yes, I do feel like I exist, but a machine would process similar concepts by a mechanical process of reasoning and produce similar claims. Insisting I’m special is what seems to me like religious fundamentalism. I can’t point to any consequence of this feeling, so I don’t know how to apply science to it. There might be other intelligence-related phenomena that are measurable though, which we might be able to see in a system larger than a single person. We might end up discovering an interesting distributed algorithm that allows rapid computation.

  22. Hansen,

    When you talk to paranoid people, you hear sentences like: “I have to control myself all the time, because the voices try to control me all the time”. They are not the only ones with a Hell’s Door in their minds. On the one side, there is you, pushing against the door with all your power, trying to keep the demon from breaking out. On the other side, there is you, pushing against the door with all your power, trying to overcome the demon that’s keeping you imprisoned. The result is a You who feels squeezed between two doors and two demons. Any kick you send out goes around in the neural Karma carrousel and hits you later on, changed beyond recognition.
    The brain is a giant, monstrous structure, with a lot of selfish sub-selves. And most of them can’t distinguish between neighboring neurons and the outside world. The best analogy for me is a state of neurons, with a government, political parties with contradicting aims fighting for control, tons of superfluous bureaucracy living off the work of others, and a pissed-off and hungry guerrilla that hides in the slums and jungle of the repressed subconscious. And there’s the crazies linked to the eyes, ears, nose and skin, preaching an outside world with totally different rules, without any evidence they could show for it.

  23. Soy,

    There’s a good reason our genes produce so many nutcases: Different thinking, different point of view. Thought mutation, same as genetic mutation, lots of waste for one success. And as a nutcase, I don’t know which one I am, unless I go out and confront the environment.
    I don’t distract researchers from work. I only write in public forums and blog comments sections, places that invite everyone to come in.
    Science shows you a duck and tells you it’s a tomato, because ducks are impossible within the Big Tomato Theory. OK, I’m a moron, they go to Mars, I apparently got something wrong. But the feathered quacking tomatoes keep coming. Atoms only look as if time was running faster there, it isn’t. Gravity only looks like movement, it isn’t. It only looks as if we were moving through time, we aren’t. Vacuum only looks like hell-hot pulp under enormous pressure, it isn’t. OK, I’m still a moron, they go to Mars.
    But I just keep thinking and a Big Duck Theory forms in my mind all by itself. It incorporates the working parts of the Big Tomato Theory, the ones that bring you to Mars. When it’s next to ready, I try to talk to physicists. I never expected a moron like me to get that far, I’m unprepared: I can’t talk to them without a dictionary. But after using the dictionary, I realize: I’m talking to utter morons, even bigger than myself. Education and mathematics can’t replace a functioning brain, and a functioning brain can compensate the lack of the former. So I don’t shut up, and the Big Duck Theory keeps growing and getting stronger.

  24. What’s the function of consciousness? To do exactly what you see it doing.
    In theory, a philosophical zombie could act just like a human. In practice, you see zombies only as part of automatic, mechanical structures, like religious groups. Even there, zombification is limited to the choices that have already been made: You can’t talk to them about religion, but you can discuss Coke or Pepsi: Which one tastes better?
    The purpose of consciousness seems to be evaluation: Without it, feelings are impossible. And you’re governed by feelings: good, bad, neutral. Without pain, you’d burn to ashes without caring about it. Without emotions, 2+2 isn’t 4, because there’s no motivation for arithmetic operations. All available data, all the brain output is pooled together in front of King Consciousness to decide: Does His Majesty like it, shall we get more of it? Does it hurt, shall we run away? Or ignore it at all?
    According to the G-String theory, the universe is made of mingled spheres and lines, that can transform into each other (you see it on the beach quite often). If you phone while you’re driving, it’s multi-dimensional movement, that might quickly turn into explosive multi-dimensional movement if you continued it: Linear and multi-dimensional don’t work well together, so matter switches from one mode into the other. Decision-making is multi-dim: You explore possible directions, your energy is used for research. Once you’ve chosen, the energy is focused on getting ahead until you hit something that makes choice necessary again. When you sleep, there’s a time dilatation between your body and your mind, your mind jumped, while your body still had to interact with a reality that went on at its own pace. And here’s where psychology merges with physics.
    Everything in the universe seems to operate on the same rules. I’m a particle of matter and I sometimes have consciousness and sometimes not, so I may cautiously assume, consciousness is a property of matter that it sometimes has and sometimes not. The theory that consciousness is limited to humans, or things they perceive as alive, contradicts logic and known data, and should be disregarded until further proof appears. What the hell is scientist’s problem with panpsychism?
    Did you notice I can’t ever shut up and I have one day off? My co-workers surely needed the rest. Please tell me, if I’m talking such bullshit that you’d like me to leave you alone.

  25. Peter Watts: That said, your whole $5K idea is probably a matter of pocket change, given the take-home pay of your average Vancouver neurosurgeon. I wonder if someone’s made the offer.

    All ethics boards and all research budget reviewers I know would be horrified, disgusted and insulted at the idea, so no, the neurosurgeons sure didn’t make the offer. I’m serious, you could give this an actual shot nobody else has bothered to take. I mean how hard can it be to find these people.

    Of course if they research you they’ll be worried you’ll turn their daughters into a monster for one of your horrid novels. But at least you don’t seem like the type who really only wants to know what happens to one daughter when the other one orgasms.

  26. :-Daniel: All ethics boards and all research budget reviewers I know would be horrified, disgusted and insulted at the idea, so no, the neurosurgeons sure didn’t make the offer.

    Daniel, meet the Industrial Medicopharma Complex. Industrial Medicopharma Complex, meet Daniel.

    He’s innocent as Pollyanna on a summer morn. Be gentle with him.

    :-Daniel: Of course if they research you they’ll be worried you’ll turn their daughters into a monster for one of your horrid novels. But at least you don’t seem like the type who really only wants to know what happens to one daughter when the other one orgasms.

    Of course not. I found that out years ago, while studying the step-pones; the other one yawns.

    The Industrial Medicopharma Complex paid for the research.

  27. paul z,

    Yes those stupid moron Scientists, looking for the truth with their fancy schmancy particle accelerators ans scratching their silly little heads at the results, when you have the unified field theory all worked out, even without those pesky maths. Gee i wonder why they are not correcting their textbooks right now.

    Any chance you let me see your perpetuum mobile once it is ready?

  28. Right in. It is certainly easier to wait for Neural Plasticity to do your research for you. You can still be the one to connect the dots and see that from the perspective of the hive minds of the future, selves are artifacts caused by insufficient bandwidth.

  29. The K,

    As for the perpetuum mobile, you are part of one. Look at E=mc^2, it says it right in your face: Energy and matter never expire. They just get shifted and transformed.
    I don’t doubt science has mastered the complex art of rubbing two sticks together much better than I ever could, and keeps getting better at it. But I’d still say, my friction theory explains the sparks better than their jerking-off-the-Volcano-God-theory. And if they stopped wasting their time on worshiping the Volcano God and reading his will from burning farts of the High Priests, they’d have much more time and resources to develop matches and lighters. If science can build the Taj Mahal out of shit, spit and cheat, what could it do with decent bricks?
    Just recently, someone finally admitted that I might be right with the Planck constant, because his own mathematical calculations showed the same. Which means, a scientist won’t notice something visible always and everywhere for everyone in the world, until his own calculations and research show it. It’s called ignoring data: physics has ceased even to glimpse at the physical world it claims to investigate!
    Thousands of years ago, people figured out that the universe is made of lines and dots (geometry) and developed a language to describe them: mathematics. Today, with the help of this language, supercomputers and tons of highly intelligent thinking, science has come up with the theory that the world might be made of lines (strings). I guess the guy who’ll find the dots will get the Noble prize. In order to unite 3D- and 4D-space, you just look around and realize, the answer is 3.5: Three dimensions with two directions each, one with just one. In order to come up with 7/11, you have to turn your head quite often, which results in a lot of curler dimensions. If people don’t even recognize foreshortening when they see it, it’s just sad. What a waste of true genius, necessary for better things. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if particle accelerators just smash pebbles until they accidentally get a splinter that fits some theory.
    Me, I rely on observation and logic. The basic idea from observation is that the universe is a fractal, an endlessly self-repeating structure with a drop of chaos for variety. Which means, if I find a rule that applies always, everywhere and to everything, I can use it to explain phenomena I don’t understand yet. Which means, I look for laws of physics and insist that they apply without exception, even if I don’t encode them in math. And of course, I use data from science, I just don’t stuff holes with magic.
    In any case, reality doesn’t give a damn about you, me or science. It works as it works. So let it decide.
    Of course I have a unified field theory. I developed it watching a field of wheat. And if you think that’s stupid – when was the last time you’ve studied a field of wheat?

  30. paul z: my friction theory explains the sparks better than their jerking-off-the-Volcano-God-theory.

    Paul, you gotta learn the difference between making an assertion and making an argument.

    Some of the stuff you say is reasonable; the idea of the mind being a parliament of squabbling subroutines is widely accepted in neuroscience. If I kinda squint I can see where you’re coming from with the curler [sic] dimensions; kind of a string theory vibe there.

    But some of the stuff you say is just wrong: the way you shit all over on the “theory” of quantum mechanics suggests that you don’t realize that quantum mechanics isn’t a theory in the conventional sense. It’s a series of equations that predicts what comes out of a black box when you put something into it— but those equations don’t address how the black box works. Copenhagen and Many-Worlds interpretations are both consistent with what those equations tell us, but neither is an intrinsic part of them; they’re just attempts to try and parse counterintuitive (but extremely reliable) results into something we can make sense of. (I get the sense recent forays into holographic theory and digital physics are doing the same thing.) Likewise, “Without pain, you’d burn to ashes without caring about it” is just bullshit— nature doesn’t care why we pull our hands away from the fire, it only cares that we do so. Natural selection doesn’t act on motives or perceptions, only behavior— and it’s trivially easy to imagine a nonconscious computational circuit that initiates withdrawal from damaging thermal stimuli. If natsel hadn’t had consciousness to play with, it would have shaped nonconscious behaviors (in fact, it already has; it’s not uncommon to pull your hand back from the flame before you consciously feel any pain).

    Also you ask what the hell scientists’ problem is with “panspychism” when there’s a whole school of scientific thought called “physical panspsychism” that’s churning out peer-reviewed papers faster than I can read them.

    Most problematically, though, a lot of the stuff you say comes across as simply incoherent. You throw off this verbal tossed salad about people and causality all being “singularities”, you seem to think (judging by your rearrangement of e=mc^2) that c^2=1s^4 (whatever “s” is in this context— you previously used it as a unit denoter for “seconds”). And all the while you deride scientists as morons who believe in Quantum Fairies (I have no idea where you got that from; I’ve never heard of quantum phenomena described that way) and who subscribe to diaper-age thinking.

    I got news for you, Paul. Those guys did more than send shit to Mars. That fairyland Tomato-God Quantum bullshit you keep dumping on gave us everything from GPS to laser pointers, and if was really just dumb luck you’d think at least one of a million pieces of tech based on quantum equations would have failed by now. In fact, that stuff keeps getting proven and reproven to 15 decimal places and beyond. So it’s gonna take more than your unsupported assertions about diapers, Big Duck Theories, and “atoms only looking like time is going faster there” (which, after three readings, I still don’t know what the hell that even means) before the rest of us are ready to throw over the principles of empiricism.

  31. :-Daniel: You can still be the one to connect the dots and see that from the perspective of the hive minds of the future, selves are artifacts caused by insufficient bandwidth.

    Um, no. Selves decohere when constricted by limited bandwidth. Selves are caused by a fusion and synchronization of processes enabled by sufficient bandwidth. (Unless you don’t consider the hivemind a “self”. But I’m not sure why you’d conclude that.)

    You could always reread one of my horrid novels. If you’re having trouble keeping up.

    Hansen: Since it’s too late to change Blindsight, is there any chance that they can inspire another future story?

    They already have.

    Hansen: That really makes me curious how that wordless communication works. If one of them asks “do you want to paint with colors?”, in what form does the other receive the thoughts?

    I dunno. Apparently they can plan the logistics of practical jokes nonverbally, though. If that isn’t just a function of looking at a potentially-jokeable situation and independently coming to the same conclusion, though, why wouldn’t they use language? Theire initial connection was preverbal, for sure— but then, our brains were preverbal before they learned to talk. Should we expect the Hogan twins to be any different? (And if not, how does a nonverbal sensory impulse passed between brain differ in appearance from a string of neurophonemes?)

    Hansen: That can only mean that the brain is simulating another personality in your brain, which is neither sentient or conscious (and which most of us experience every night in dreams).

    I think the word for those is “tulpas”. I really gotta learn more about those things.

  32. Well, I deride scientists, because being nice and humble didn’t work. It takes a solid kick to turn the frozen zombie brain into a liquid, conscious, thinking mind, convert mass to energy. When I first posted here, I was so shy I could barely get myself to read your answer. I got maybe two or three sentences, and no reaction to my answers. Now, I get a whole wonderful, angry paragraph that I can refer to, a basis for a discussion (if you want one. As I said, just tell me, and I’ll leave you alone). If you’re trying to start a serious conversation with a scientist but don’t wear the colors, you need all the arrogance you can muster, lesson from experience. And zoology. Thank you for confirming it.
    I really admire scientists. But even if you’re a genius, if your frozen prejudice is, the Earth is flat, you’ll waste your life with really impressive, complicated calculations few people understand, proving that it isn’t round. It won’t stop you from shooting satellites into space, your world view will just get really confusing. I prefer Ockham’s razor, it works well when applied to basic, general things. I don’t even care if I’m right or wrong, I just want to find out. Scientists losing touch with reality – happens often enough. Some stranger just passing by and pushing them ahead with his totally different point of view – as well. So let’s find it out experimentally.
    Here’s your glimpse into the black box: 1 actually means second. Do I need to be Einstein to know that 2×2=4? No, it even helps. We’re moving through time at light speed, at least related to our jump phase’s clock. And time at quantum level must run at an extremely fast pace if it allows for light-speed rotation in three dimensions. It’s all a bit more complex, but that’s the basics. I never questioned the equations, I said, there’s no black box beyond our understanding. I want to figure out the bricks, before I take a shot at architecture. And as I mentioned above, I’m not exactly a master in scientific semantics. I use the term “theory” in the colloquial sense.
    „…nature doesn’t care why we pull our hands away from the fire, it only cares that we do so.“ Exactly. And without consciousness and emotions, it would lack the tools to make us do so. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have a Darwinist function.
    „…imagine a nonconscious computational circuit that initiates withdrawal from damaging thermal stimuli.“ Any evidence that a computational circuit is nonconscious? Logic speaks against it. It doesn’t take much data for simple decisions, so its consciousness won’t have much content, but the difference between “none” and “next to none” is the one Hamlet asked about. Same principle with drawing your hands from the fire – you, as the cell of a state, don’t have to ask permission from the king to do so, you report the incident afterwards. We get fused into particles by energy flows, aka data flows. Same principle here as everywhere.
    As for panpsychism, I was referring to your NF article. The data I got from there differs from the data you give me now.
    As for the diapers stuff: I stick to that. Schrödinger’s cat is something like a joke, but it can be read backwards. Then, “superposition” just means “possibilities”, “quantum collapse” just means “decision”. Any bus moving relative to you appears as a wave (unless you use a highspeed camera to synchronize your time flow – Heisenberg’s observation can be summed up as: As in space, so in time). In a fractal universe, even the smallest particle can carry an infinite amount of data, a few ships tunneled Europe’s cultural data across the ocean and built a copy, after being motivated by involuntary borrowing energy from other particles. When a family meets at Christmas, you don’t consider it a quantum miracle that it can pass through the door, even though it’s too big, do you?
    As for tachyons carrying the information, the formula is simple: E=m(Ä/x)^x=mä^x. Ä is the movement of all particles of the mass, added up into one 1-dimänsional line (sorry, the good letters were all gone). Then, you divide it by x, the number of dimensions in which they move, and get ä: Movement per dimension. In this context, Ä equals the basic energy of the universe, pushing it through timespace:
    4D: E=m(Ä/4)^4 ::: You get an energy hypercube with 1s for time speed and 3s for rotation.
    1D: E=m(Ä/1)^1 ::: You get an energy line without any rotation, all energy used for speed (why we don’t see its movement in time, is a longer story, has to do with phases of the time jump and closing circuits). Both the fractal and all of its components obey the Energy=matter x timespace formula.
    Architecture is complex, and I don’t deal with that. But bricks are simple, and reality never signed a contract with science obliging it to be understood only by them. That’s empiricism at work.

  33. Thanks for the consideration. Your novels are clear enough even for me, but I do have trouble keeping up with the various iterations of your hive minds talk. At least I don’t see how to square them with your statement here in a way that makes sense.

    I thought you were saying, quite reasonably, that in patients where the corpus callosum is cut, each hemisphere develops its own personality. If one is religious and one an atheist, that does seem like there’s two of them. So the extra self was created by the precise opposite of what you’re calling the cause of selves here. You argued that if the cause of having two persons in one brain is low bandwidth communication between hemispheres, then the cause of two persons in two brains is low bandwidth between the two brains. So in any (sufficiently powerful) landscape of computational hard- and wetware, evidence of multiple selves is evidence of regions of low bandwidth. Meaning persons are created by insufficient bandwidth. I thought this was your position. Is it not?

    The thing is, at the psychiatric clinic where I do research, our least functional patients have no shortage of selves. On its face that statement seems like semantics: like the decision to call Somalia either a failed state with no government or an area with too many competing governments, the decision to say a psychotic person has either a too poorly developed self or too many competing ones is probably arbitrary. But that’s only true as long as you shy away from the question of whether the voices screaming at our patients to kill themselves are sentient like tulpas. In psychotherapy, they do seem to respond markedly better to being treated with the kind of respect afforded to sentient entities. I guess if anybody manages to unfuck Somalia they too will do it by addressing the AK toting tribal warlords as respectable governments. Is it true if it works?

    I suspect the hive minds of the future will view us like we view these patients – as failed versions of themselves. They’ll think we were all one thing, just as they are obviously all one thing, but we were too distant from each other to notice we were the same process running in a distributed fashion on lots of brains and other computational systems. They’ll have records of us slowly growing suspicious about personal identity and awkward about consciousness, but not quite figuring it out because each one of us keeps anthropomorphizing ourselves.

  34. Their initial connection was preverbal, for sure— but then, our brains were preverbal before they learned to talk. Should we expect the Hogan twins to be any different?(And if not, how does a nonverbal sensory impulse passed between brain differ in appearance from a string of neurophonemes?)

    The different between them and the rest of us is that we were never able to communicate with preverbal thoughts, unless screaming and crying counts. But they were able to actual communicate, so it could be that it could be maintained somehow. Or maybe constant exposure to language affect their way of thinking. If less exposed, we could have a phenomena similar to the twins “Poto and Cabengo” who invented their own language.

    I think the word for those is “tulpas”. I really gotta learn more about those things.

    I knew tulpas were some creatures from Tibetan mythology created from your mind, but didn’t know neuroscience had adopted the name to describe this.
    It appears the tulpas can take control over the brain for a short period of time. Or at least a phenomena related to it. As a kid sleeping over in a tent I once woke up in the middle of the night when by brother crawled in after having been somewhere else for a while. I sat up and asked him why he was so crusty. The sentence didn’t make any sense, and I have no idea why I said it. And it was not related to any dream I just had.
    (The brain is even a composer. I have never played any instruments or studied music, and yet I have sometimes heard music in my sleep and the place between sleep and being awake.)

  35. Hansen,

    You’re a tulpa. Your brain creates the personality necessary for reading this by constructing a sub-brain out of the necessary components. When you turn to other tasks, it will construct another. Genetic evolution takes generations to adapt species to new environments, but humans, with their amoeba bodies and amoeba brains, can switch from environment to environment and from species to species in split seconds. The I is a feeling, necessary for administrative purposes. Feelings describe reality as it’s useful for survival, not as it really is.
    What creates a feeling of I is egoism, common Darwinist aims. You have a national I, a community I, a family I, and they all overlap and compete for dominance. The hive mind in your head can’t survive without your body, that’s why you consider yourself a single unit. But within this unit, the law of egoism also applies. Which means politics and economy, the stronger suppressing and exploiting the weaker, the weaker stealing, plotting and turning to terrorist attacks.
    Right now in society, you’re witnessing a war between genetic and memetic egos, communities based on racism and communities based on learned data. Both types of information can form alliances or fight to death, depending on their interests. Darwinist rules of evolution and survival apply to all information, not just genes. Information=patterns=matter.

  36. The brain may put some restrictions on who you are and what you can do at every given moment, but my impression was that a tulpa in this context mean a personality without a consciousness or sentience that can co-exist with the conscious self. Maybe even more than one, in case we are talking about distinct personalities with their own voice.

    It if was possible for a tulpa to take over your brain and body, shutting your consciousness completely down, you would probably have a human version of the scramblers from Blindsight. If a tulpa can exist all on its own, or if it requires a consciousness for them to exist even if they are not conscious themselves, I don’t know.

  37. Well, then the classic example of a tulpa is the Freudian subconscious: A second personality existing beneath the conscious one, influencing its decisions. Another example is conflicting feelings: Two “people” with different aims fighting over control over your body. The winner takes over, controls body, brain resources, actions and aims. The loser goes into standby, waiting for another chance. If you look at your consciousness closely, it doesn’t do any thinking and deciding itself. It just watches results of tulpa work, evaluating them. Its only perceivable function is to see and feel. We’re not talking “ifs” here, all you’re thinking about is so normal and common, you don’t even notice it. Just observe and analyze: What do I see?
    I guess you can have a neural bureaucracy: Decisions within a circuit, with minimal sparks of consciousness necessary for mini decisions at local levels. It can already act like a thinking thing, but not very efficiently. A good example on a larger scale is mankind, small, coordinated teams of egos may show extreme intelligence, but as a whole, it’s hard to recognize as life, an external observer would call it some sort of acid slime poured over the planet. A bureaucrat lacks the emotional triggers to take actions benevolent for the whole organism, you need efficient communication that turns a kick to the butt a kick to the whole body. Especially to the decision-making circuits of your brain. Not only whole people won’t move a damn finger if you don’t kick their asses, parts of people won’t, either. You’re a state, an ecosystem, a society, the internet, whatever you call it – a self-organizing system.

  38. Yes, there is always some sort of struggle for dominance going on in the brain:

    https://brobible.com/life/article/speaking-foreign-language-after-coma/

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180116-the-mystery-of-why-some-people-become-sudden-geniuses

    But that’s not the topic here. The tulpa(s) is making itself heard by the conscious mind. It even tells you to kill yourself, or kill others. And most incredibly; people can have direct conversations with the voices inside their head. The voices can be angry, polite or children. And they have a mind and will of their own. Perhaps it is even possible to recognize their presence through their personality. Again, it can to some degree be compared with dreams. When I meet someone in a dream, it is impossible for me to predict what they will say or do. And they often have fleshed out and complex personalities, or at least that’s the impression one gets.

  39. And as already mentioned; it’s all going on in the same mind simultaneously. In a brain that never has room for more than a single consciousness at any given time.

  40. Minor subjective input to the current discussion: I learned to read before I felt like I had a “consciousness” in the way it is conventionally described. The former occurred at the age of three; the latter at the age of six. I remember the latter being quite a shock — it happened in seconds, when I was walking to school and running my hand along a fence. “Shock” not necessarily in any positive or negative way, it just happened.

    I don’t remember myself thinking in “language”, except when analyzing language itself until quite late, maybe late teens/early twenties; it was a gradual process, and I still don’t a lot of the time. I developed “stress-induced” epilepsy when I was around thirty; it seems to have gone away, but before episodes I would have what seems to be Markov chain intrusions into my language subroutine. I still get those when I am half-awake and not having had enough sleep.

  41. I meant I still have Markov-chain-like intrusions into my language subroutine, not seizures, while I’m half awake (or half-asleep, actually). But I have not had seizures for a while now.

  42. This is all rather impressionist work, based on the „it seems to work that way, and if compared to dozens other things that look similar, it should, in theory, work that way“-assumption.
    As I said, consciousness is a passive observer. Look inside your own head: Thoughts, pictures, ideas, words, just pop up from nowhere and disappear into nowhere, you never know if they come from your own brain, or from Mars. There’s a strong feeling there’s an “I” doing all this, there’s a „you“ that focuses on things, makes decisions, but that’s all there is – a feeling. A certainty which may or may not be true. Just a status report from an unconscious computer.
    Thinking is not a conscious process of the I. There’s probably consciousness involved, but it’s the consciousness of a single neuron, a bureaucratic bacterium, reacting to stimuli, not knowing what it does, besides a general feeling of „this good, this bad“. Nevertheless, such a network is enough to build a true human personality – on standby. They work fully automatized, constructing personality modules out of genetically programmed archetypes, blueprints.
    When you grow up, your brain is slashed in two by the environment. There’s the Jedi-side, made out of the stuff that’s reinforced and developed, and the Sith-side, the dark hell of the subconscious. Nevertheless, the brain’s brainless bureaucracy works as if nothing happened, each neuron doing whatever feels good at the moment. Networks that aren’t in use pale with generations, but there are some that can’t – either because they’re physical roots for something necessary, or because they’re still needed in a repressed form. My own logical thinking feels a lot like being a serial killer, but I’m a peaceful vegetarian in real life: The serial killer works in here, he is not the boss.
    The details, complexity, strength, interactions of the modules vary from person to person. If the serial killer inside you gets strong enough, he’ll try to take over consciousness, the nexus of all brain activities. If he wins, it depends: If he tells you what to do by feelings, you’re sane and get executed. If he gains control of your speech and commands you by voices, you’re insane and get locked up Lecter-style. Which means, the sanity of the UNA bomber depends on whether he sends his bombs by UPS or American Express. Sanity is just the currently fashionable variant of mass psychosis, even among shrinks.
    Which means, most of you is a zombotic bacteria colony, and tulpas are zombies that only turn real if they gain control of the nexus. The thing that limits the number of nexuses to 1 is probably just brain architecture: All the roads lead to Rome and from Rome, and all the zombie armies don’t have a clue there’s a world outside them.

  43. Also, I’m not on the autism spectrum, and I have ADHD, of the behaviorally defined “primarily inattentive” variety. ADHD was theorized to be a problem with the Cingulate cortex and executive function in general. Some new research suggest that anomalies in the Default mode network seems to be a cause of ADHD.

  44. paul z,

    Hey, did you just use “American Express” for a parcel service? There’s a reason us others of your personalities don’t talk to you any more. Moron.

  45. V,

    That’s very interesting, because we’re reaching the limits of language: Consciousness is something everybody (allegedly) has, everybody knows, but it’s hard to describe. Could you tell more about your pre-conscious state and what exactly changed?

  46. paul z: I think you are in a bad place, distrusting empirical methods. it’s not helping you. I appreciate your intelligence and I think your ideas are consistent.

  47. After successfully boring everybody out, I’ll finish by babbling about the missing link between both discussions here. For the sake of future internet archaeology only.
    Speaking of assertions and empiricism, tomatoes and ducks, the Emperor’s clothes: There’s some contradiction between scientific data and scientific dogma.
    Dark Matter, Dark Energy: Invisible stuff almost all of the universe is made of. You find it by raising your head and looking into the night sky. A scientist would now gallop to check his theories for holes. A priest would completely ignore what he sees with his own eyes and invent a whole occult Dark Fudgeverse, just to protect his dogma.
    This (intelligently designed by Coincidence Almighty) experiment shows: Modern scientists combine diamond-hard science with the concrete-clad soft-headedness of religion, and the science drags the religion along. Sound data, calculations, models, quite clearly describe empty space as hell-hot pulp under enormous, varying pressure. But to save the dogma, you are not allowed to describe it that way. You have to use a hastily made-up fantasy language, specialist newspeak that expresses the most simple things in a way even specialists barely understand. To protect the dogma, any outsider, anyone trying to infiltrate the sect without years of university brainwashing and indoctrination, is scared away with endless arrogance: The well-known hallmark of fear.
    If you treat science like religion, scientists turn into priests. Religion is the brain’s basic framework for understanding the world, if it isn’t offered one, it will make one up out of anything that kind of resembles it. And the Priest is an archetype, one of the genetically programmed personality modules I mentioned. The more triggers the environment offers, the more likely it’s to take control of the neural hive.
    Well, to explain Dark Energy, you need to expand Einstein’s theories a little: As any explosion created by a big bang, the universe is a ball – in quintupolar 4D, a hyperball, but the rules are the same as for Earth: Flat on a small scale, round on a large scale. And Einstein only works for the small scale. But, to cut it short, here’s instead the mathematical proof of science’s reality loss:
    Verified observation data: The universe is made up of an infinity of dots.
    If 1 dot has 0D, then 0D x infinity = 0D
    If 1 dot has 1D, then 1D x infinity = infinite D
    Math is an excellent tool, but it still has some bugs that need to be fixed. And if science relies on it too much, it’s bound to miss the whole of reality. Except maybe for one infinitely tiny dot, that just keeps running away (however, I’m so used to the old system, that I speak of „monopolar 0D“, „bipolar 1D“ and so on. Just my personal quirk).

  48. paul z: What do you mean by “we’re reaching the limits of language”? To me it seems like we are just starting a conversation.

  49. Well, I’d be glad to have a conversation with you. I thought I’d once again managed to have everybody running.
    Well, consciousness is, I think, hard to describe. It’s often confused with its content, as it cannot occur without some. It doesn’t matter what it is, there may be no sense of identity, no feelings, maybe just the color blue, maybe just a faint, undefined sensation, but there has to be something, anything, that makes a difference from unconsciousness, nonexistence. Personally, I’d call it a state of reality, the state of 1, as opposed to the state of 0. In the very basic, elementary system of True and False, it marks True. I don’t think anything that’s been consciously experienced can ever be undone. A thing that is true is true in all of timespace, past, present and future. It can’t be erased without the whole frame of reference and its laws.
    That’s why I’m so interested in your experiences. Just to find out what’s possible. Where I’m right, where I’m wrong. Both of us see the same things from different points of view, and this is what makes it fascinating.

  50. Mr. Watts, may I have some feedback, please? You’re the alpha male of this territory, and if I freak around here without knowing your reaction, I feel as if a silverback with your face and a big club was sneaking up behind me.
    I’m so tired of this. Today, commenting an article about the Parker Solar Probe, I explained how the energy of the corona fits the basic pattern of the Fractal: A dot with a circle around it, core, pulp, protective shell (in 4D, a line with a spiral around it, a common EM impulse, like everything else). No reaction.
    So I invited everyone to a simple experiment to check it out, one that you’re doing right now: Look, pay attention to some details you usually ignore, check your physics book, and you’ll see that we’re all living in bubbles and Euclid space is just an ever-changing compromise. Then, I got the usual expert “I don’t get it, so you’re stupid” answer.
    Used to this, I explained my position with an example, describing almost in baby language how I’ve been trying to convince mathematicians to count to 1 for three years, and the dangers of butterfly effects if elementary mathematical definitions don’t fit reality. The answer I got was basically that I’m wrong, because reality doesn’t fit elementary mathematical definitions. My next post started with a very polite excuse for losing my temper in the following.
    I want to get through with this as soon as possible. Get rid of that Frankenstein’s monster theory in my head, the tulpa dragging me along to the village and forcing me to deal with salivating peasants. I want to read all the books that keep piling up around me, paint, write stories too logical to be real, integrate Pacman Kraken into the Martian werewolf-shoggoth-ecology and find out how the rabbi and Charlie Sheen’s nanosmurfs will defeat the vampire. No science and scientists for me anymore, just a simple, logical, rational world, where morons are dealt with by the Barbarian Brothers with BFGs. I want a permanent surgical separation from the Siamese twin that shares a common brain with me. Prove I’m wrong and kill it, prove I’m right and transplant it to science’s body, or graft the organs that work and throw the rest to the dogs, I don’t care. I just want to get rid of an obsession that makes me depressively shuffle my feet among the crowds and moan “Braiiins!” with desperate longing.
    Please, use that scientific club of yours. Even though I can’t give you a glimpse of an MRI, you may keep all the brain pulp of mine that sticks. After all, isn’t the real thing better than an imperfect image?

  51. paul z: Mr. Watts, may I have some feedback, please?

    Don’t read too much into my lack of timely response here; a lot of stuff’s going on at the moment, and honestly I’ve barely had time to glance at these comments since the last time I posted one of my own. (You’ll also have noticed I’ve yet to get around to answering your email— that’s unfortunately par for the course these days, since I currently have 151 unanswered emails sitting in my queue waiting for attention.)

    Give me a couple of days. I’ll get back to you.

  52. Paul Harrison, t-shirts on kids are so common I didn’t even notice it until you mentioned it. I expect some custom tailoring may have been done to the rear neckline involving hook-and-loop closures, to allow the shirt to be drawn on from the feet. Good catch.

  53. Thank you very much Mr. Watts. It’s quite obvious you’re very busy (you’re a highly intelligent person, so the most likely explanation for your responses here was, you didn’t have much time to think), it’s my job to catch your attention, and if I can’t, it’s my problem, not yours. It’s your time alone, and I’m grateful for any bit of it you waste on me.
    I could just have said, „OK, thank you“, but I got into the habit of explaining the obvious. Sorry for those two extra seconds wasted.

  54. Kyle:
    Saw this and thought of you: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jul/25/the-bleeding-edge-netflix-documentary-medical-devices.

    We watched it. Grisly but unsurprising.

    :-Daniel: I thought you were saying, quite reasonably, that in patients where the corpus callosum is cut, each hemisphere develops its own personality. If one is religious and one an atheist, that does seem like there’s two of them. So the extra self was created by the precise opposite of what you’re calling the cause of selves here. You argued that if the cause of having two persons in one brain is low bandwidth communication between hemispheres, then the cause of two persons in two brains is low bandwidth between the two brains. So in any (sufficiently powerful) landscape of computational hard- and wetware, evidence of multiple selves is evidence of regions of low bandwidth. Meaning persons are created by insufficient bandwidth. I thought this was your position. Is it not?

    Yeah, you got it. But I don’t see how my statement that “Selves decohere when constricted by limited bandwidth. Selves are caused by a fusion and synchronization of processes enabled by sufficient bandwidth” contradicts that.

    :-Daniel: The thing is, at the psychiatric clinic where I do research, our least functional patients have no shortage of selves.

    I don’t doubt it. I wonder though, if those selves manifest simultaneously or sequentially (and if the former, how do you test for it)? Most of what I’ve read so far suggests that (I’m quoting from Sotala and Valpolla here) “the biological brain cannot support multiple separate conscious attentional processes in the same brain medium”. If you split your brain medium you get two functionally separate puddles in the same head, and you can establish that they’re working simultaneously because they each have control of different body parts and can duke it out in realtime. Someone who hasn’t been surgically partitioned wouldn’t have that kind of discrete motor territoriality, so you could just get different personae serially flickering in and out of control; even the claims of personae 1 that they’re sitting in the background, watching while Personae 2 is behind the wheel, could simply reflect shared memory access rather than simultaneous coexistence.

    You also have to contend with the fact that a significant chunk of reported multiple cases are likely to be bullshit; they tend to get disproportionately diagnosed in the wake of movie and book releases about DID, for example, and people who don’t manifest multiples have been known to start manifesting them after leading questions and encouragement from unscrupulous or incompetent therapists. (Also one recorded altar was apparently a German Shepherd, and another claimed to be a lobster, although what kind of crustacean claw-language was used to establish this claim was never spelled out in the paper I read.)

    So there’s a lot of dross to be filtered out before analysis can even begin. And then there’s this whole tulpa thing, which I haven’t even begun to look into.

    I dunno. Probably never will. But I find it endlessly fascinating. Which is why I geek out over the Hogan twins.

    What’s your field of research, if I may ask?

  55. paul z: Mr. Watts, may I have some feedback, please?

    I dunno. I’ve gone through your comments, parsed them as best I can. Some of it seems more or less on the money— as I’ve said before, your apprehension of consciousness-as-parliament makes sense. Thinking as a nonconscious process: sure. Right with you. Some of what you say I’m not competent to judge, because I’m not a physicist. And again, some of it just seems batshit.

    At least part of the problem is your scattershot use of metaphor. I’ve been criticized on a number of occasions for describing science stuff metaphorically in my fiction, so metaphorically that no one knows what the fuck I’m talking about in literal terms. I think you go me one better; my metaphors might be opaque but they at least relate to widely-recognized phenomena (even if no one recognizes them). As far as I can tell, you’re using metaphors for ideas that are entirely your own, so there’s no hope of parsing what you’re talking about until we have a literal nonmetaphorical concept to serve as an anchor. And then, some of the stuff I think I might be parsing, well…

    paul z: Any evidence that a computational circuit is nonconscious? Logic speaks against it.

    No, logic doesn’t speak against it. The nonconsciousness of thermostats is the null hypothesis here; it’s not incumbent on anyone to prove the null, it’s incumbent on the researcher to disprove it. Otherwise you get into proving negatives (“Can you prove there isn’t a God? Then there must be!” “Can you proved there isn’t an invisible hamster living in the anus of an alien having tea in orbit around Zeta 2 Reticuli? Well then we can take it as a given.”) Statements like this suggest that you don’t have a clear sense of how science operates.

    paul z: without consciousness and emotions, it would lack the tools to make us do so. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have a Darwinist function.

    This is what we in the biz call “foamy adaptationism”— the belief that every feature of every organism is adaptively significant in some way. That simply isn’t true in myriad cases (in fact, neutrally-selective traits are essential for natural selection to work the way it does); if you want to know why it’s no sure bet in the arena of consciousness specifically, read Rosenthal 2008 for starters.

    paul z: As for panpsychism, I was referring to your NF article. The data I got from there differs from the data you give me now.

    The data I give you now are “there’s a whole school of scientific thought called “physical panspsychism” that’s churning out peer-reviewed papers faster than I can read them.” The data I gave you in the NF article were “The panpsychics regard consciousness as an intrinsic property of matter, like mass and charge and spin. It’s an ancient belief— its roots go all the way back to ancient Greece—but it has recently found new life among consciousness researchers.” I’m not seeing a contradiction.

    paul z: As for tachyons carrying the information, the formula is simple: E=m(Ä/x)^x=mä^x.

    Wait, WTF? Tachyons never appeared anywhere in this post or its associated comments until you just brought them up now.

    paul z: Ä is the movement of all particles of the mass, added up into one 1-dimänsional line (sorry, the good letters were all gone). Then, you divide it by x, the number of dimensions in which they move, and get ä: Movement per dimension. In this context, Ä equals the basic energy of the universe, pushing it through timespace:
    4D: E=m(Ä/4)^4 ::: You get an energy hypercube with 1s for time speed and 3s for rotation.
    1D: E=m(Ä/1)^1 ::: You get an energy line without any rotation, all energy used for speed (why we don’t see its movement in time, is a longer story, has to do with phases of the time jump and closing circuits). Both the fractal and all of its components obey the Energy=matter x timespace formula.

    If you say so, dude. This is one of those spots where I’m not competent to comment.

    paul z: Sound data, calculations, models, quite clearly describe empty space as hell-hot pulp under enormous, varying pressure. But to save the dogma, you are not allowed to describe it that way. You have to use a hastily made-up fantasy language, specialist newspeak that expresses the most simple things in a way even specialists barely understand. To protect the dogma, any outsider, anyone trying to infiltrate the sect without years of university brainwashing and indoctrination, is scared away with endless arrogance: The well-known hallmark of fear.

    Are you talking about vacuum energy here? If so, then physicists don’t have any problem with that as far as I can tell. (There may be issues with adjectives like “hell-hot” and “enormous”, but rightly so because those are very imprecise terms and meaningless unless expressed in comparison to something.) Are you talking about something else? In that case, again, you’re making an assertion, not an argument.

    paul z: Well, to explain Dark Energy, you need to expand Einstein’s theories a little: As any explosion created by a big bang, the universe is a ball – in quintupolar 4D, a hyperball, but the rules are the same as for Earth: Flat on a small scale, round on a large scale. And Einstein only works for the small scale. But, to cut it short, here’s instead the mathematical proof of science’s reality loss:
    Verified observation data: The universe is made up of an infinity of dots.
    If 1 dot has 0D, then 0D x infinity = 0D
    If 1 dot has 1D, then 1D x infinity = infinite D

    Again, if you’re talking about digital physics and the fact that reality seems to have a pixel dimension, then that hasn’t been news since Planck. And yes, zero times anything is zero, and any nonzero number times infinity is infinity, but again: not news, not controversial, and I honestly don’t get what you’re trying to establish here.

    As chance would have it, though, I happen to be in touch with one of the co-discoverers of Dark Energy (we’re working on an opera together). I would be happy to cut and paste what you just said about Dark Energy and ask him what he makes of it. I have to warn you, though, I’ll be inclined to go with his interpretation over yours because, you know. Degrees. Formal expertise. Spending his adult life studying this stuff. No offense, but I haven’t seen your c.v.

    paul z: I explained how the energy of the corona fits the basic pattern of the Fractal: A dot with a circle around it, core, pulp, protective shell (in 4D, a line with a spiral around it, a common EM impulse, like everything else).

    Paul, I recognize none of those things as characteristics of any fractal I’m familiar with. If I kinda squint I can maybe see “dot with a circle” as a strange attractor at the center of a trajectory, but core? Pulp? Protective shell? My (admittedly fuzzy) memory of a fractal is that it’s a scale-invariant path traced out iteratively across the Complex Plane using surprisingly simple equations. Maybe pulp and protective shell are metaphors for the square root of -1 or something, but man, I can see why you got no reaction. If you are using metaphors, they are damned opaque.

    Looking back at your email, I see lines like “Time and space concentrated in one spot, one dot, the true first dimension (mathematicians are counting them wrong, a dimension is a field of force between a number of poles)”— and again, what the fuck? Are you being metaphoric again, or literal? My understanding of dimensionality was that it generally has to do with the number of coordinates required to fix a location. Wikipedia also feeds me stuff about manifolds and Hilbert Spaces, but even all those arcane variants contain nary a mention of fields of force between poles.

    And after reading all your posts— two, sometimes three times— I still don’t even know what it is you’re trying to say. You seem to have some kind of theory (in the colloquial, not the scientific sense), but what’s it about? You talk about consciousness, you talk about fractals and vacuum energy (I think), you talk about the structure of the universe and the shortcomings of mathematics. I have no clue what question your theory is even supposed to answer. There are no testable hypotheses, no predictions I can see: just repeated assertions about some kind of worldview so simple that anyone who hasn’t been brainwashed by the religion of science could see it with one eye poked out.

    But I don’t see it. And Christ knows I’ve tried. Make of that what you will.

  56. OK, thank you very much for your efforts. The thing is, if I explain things shortly, no one understands them, and if I try to explain them in detail, no one has the time to read it. I’ll read the stuff you linked to, and I hope it makes enough sense to save my screen from some more biting marks.
    As for Dark Energy, I’ll send you a little picture. If we’re actually moving through time at light speed, it might really be as simple as that, even if it takes some thinking to analyse.

  57. OK, the biting marks are there. Insufficient elementary observation. Confusing consciousness with its content. I wrote about this above.
    To start with, Darwinism is not a property of life, it’s a basic law of physics: What cannot survive, dies. Primitiveness of a rock’s adaptation mechanisms doesn’t change the fact that without being rock-hard, it would fall apart. Water doesn’t need to be alive to melt in the sun. If you push your coffee cup over your desk, you see survival of the fittest, the cup is where air used to be, the air has to look for other niches to conquer, and it does. You see evolution from the Big Bang on. The magic border between dead matter and life exists in our minds only, we filter and perceive the world as is useful for survival, depending on power and interaction. There is no magic. Just the triangle of energy, matter, timespace, and particles trying to find balance within on all levels, from quarks to universes, all playing by the same, sadistic Darwinist rules.
    And a sentence like “neutrally-selective traits are essential for natural selection to work the way it does” is a way of stating: “neutrally-selective traits have an essential function in natural selection”. But I better shut up now. Who cares anyway. I’m tired of telling the obvious to people who’ll figure it out anyway for themselves in a few decades or so, given enough computer power and a few billion dollars. Apparently, “open your eyes and see for yourself”, put observation data above any theory, is too silly as an approach to be accepted by serious science.
    Thank you again. Despite my big mouth, I highly appreciate that you’ve taken so much time to answer.

  58. paul z, no offense, but you’re sounding very TimeCube there.

  59. paul z: To start with, Darwinism is not a property of life, it’s a basic law of physics: What cannot survive, dies. Primitiveness of a rock’s adaptation mechanisms doesn’t change the fact that without being rock-hard, it would fall apart. Water doesn’t need to be alive to melt in the sun. If you push your coffee cup over your desk, you see survival of the fittest, the cup is where air used to be, the air has to look for other niches to conquer, and it does. You see evolution from the Big Bang on. The magic border between dead matter and life exists in our minds only, we filter and perceive the world as is useful for survival, depending on power and interaction. There is no magic. Just the triangle of energy, matter, timespace, and particles trying to find balance within on all levels, from quarks to universes, all playing by the same, sadistic Darwinist rules.

    Paul. No. Almost everything you just said is wrong (the exception being that Darwinian selection is, ultimately, derived from physics). Natural selection, by definition, has prerequisites. You need a variable, reproducing population. The variable traits in that population have to be heritable. You need a reproductive rate that exceeds environmental carrying capacity, so that more are born than can survive; this leads to a struggle for existence, and a selection of fit traits over less fit ones. Rocks and water and coffee cups to do not meet these conditions. You use the word “Darwinism” and it’s obvious you have no idea what that concept even means.

    And this presents a probably-insurmountable problem to further discussion. Because you make claims with such complete and unshakeable confidence, both about things I’m ignorant of and about things I know something about. When you expound on subjects in which I have a bit of expertise, I can tell you don’t know what you’re talking about. So no matter how confidently you speak in other areas, I can’t take those claims seriously either. Confidence is not insight.

  60. Thanks for the provocative Sci-fi and for the blog. I grew up on science fiction and continue to read to this day though much less. The Delany’s and Dick’s just haven’t been there. But you , Liu, Ian McDonald,Paulo Bacigalupi, China MIeville and Jeff Vandermeer have been revelations. Looking forward to your next. I wish they came in hardcover, most books I recycle but yours I keep to reread. Its a real pleasure to read science fiction solidly rooted in science that explores the unintended consequences of our technology.

  61. Confidence is not insight.
    Variable, reproducing population: How many rocks are there in the universe? Granted, they’re a bit slow on the reproduction side, but similar conditions re-create them invariably, even if you smash them into pieces, elements, molecules: convergent evolution, like sharks, dolphins and boats (information stored in the environment dominates and suppresses individual information. The stronger one makes the rules, as always).
    The variable traits of matter are heritable. Iron is iron, oxygen is oxygen, cups reproduce traits that make them survive and multiply as symbionts of humans (it’s a valid description, just a different point of view). They’re variations of the combination of just three elements, proton, neutron, electron and, once mutated, they stick to their properties, just like living things. Any atom is about as cooperative when you try to smash it as a human.
    A reproductive rate that exceeds environmental carrying capacity, so that more are born than can survive: Boil water, watch the bubbles: The most stable ones survive longest. Watch chemical reactions, compare to what you know about evolution, natural selection and so on. Watch life and compare it to chemical reactions. Compare freezing and radiation to what happens to a dead animal.
    As I said: Observation: What do I see? Does what I see fit what I believe, even if I’m absolutely certain about it? If not, belief and certainty have to go, no whining. Why do I see similar things differently, what is it that makes them appear similar, different? What if I use totally different words to describe them? What if I use the most simple language possible to describe them? Do I see common rules, common principles? Can I find them elsewhere? If things get too abstract, reality check, reality check, reality check: Anything that cannot be found in the reality around you counts as bullshit until proven. If you don’t understand something, the most likely explanation is, you’re an idiot (“you” means “me” in this context). No point of view alone shows you the whole thing, you need as many as possible. Never ever discard observation data, no matter how crazy it sounds or where it comes from. You’re part of any system you observe, and it mindfucks you. And so on.
    Confidence is poison for insight. I’m not confident. Just confident enough to test my theories against current ones in a Darwinist survival of the fittest scenario. Let the environment decide: Reality. I’m just watching my monster fight, scared and confused and wishing for it to be over as soon as possible.

  62. I’ve been thinking a bit about those neutrally-selective traits, and their role in the evolution of anything.
    One version would be parts that cannot change: Data banks. Examples are screws or languages: Standardized parts that are needed everywhere in the system, patterns that have to stay as repetitive as possible, because their mutation, useful in one place, would cause incompatibility with the rest of the lot.
    A variant would be the basic design of a claw, or a personality trait: You need a “primitive” (as they’re called in computer graphics) that can be varied to adapt to any environment. It’s obvious that our genes contain an archive of ancient patterns that have been too useful to forget: Genetic defects make people grow claws or lizard skins, human behavior includes anomalies that are totally useless in our environment, but would make a lot of sense in one or another of our pasts. And in international politics, you see the dropping of “civilized” codes that don’t work anymore for the basis code that always works, in any environment: Kill, eat, grow, multiply, repeat.
    One important thing about libraries is: They need to be preserved and kept intact, even if they have been useless for generations. You need mechanisms that protect them, until they’re needed, even though environment says, forget them. You need resources and reserves for your Amish and your natives, who keep alive lifestyles that might be needed, if one of those oil-and-rubber eating bacteria goes Genghis. You need quiet, safe places, where they’re invisible for the “civilized” code, that’s dominant and useful only here and now, but not forever: Hidden, repressed cloning factories.
    The other version would be kind of related, kind of the opposite: The experiment. Our many flaws are flaws in the sense that a shark is full of flaws in the desert, and a camel in the sea: Their properties lack the fitting environment to be neutral or advantages. Every population needs a number of mutants, misfits, black sheep, that test alternative traits, just to be ready in case environment decides, the perfectly adapted Aryan cattle is ready for slaughter. Then, only one or another black sheep gets through the bottleneck, carrying on the basic, “savage” design. Experiments may combine archive code with newly-designed code. And they create their own enclaves, niches, where their “flaws” are sustained and sometimes, turned into “virtues”.
    In both cases, you’ve traits that need to be protected from natural selection to keep evolution going.
    I won’t explain now how this fits in with quantum physics, the G-string theory and the fact that my boss is an idiot.

  63. I wonder though, if those selves manifest simultaneously or sequentially

    I think that distinction is a feature of the level of abstraction you’re using. Go down to the level of firing patterns. Here selves, being neuronal activity, can only propagate at one millimeter per millisecond plus half a millisecond per synapse travelled. (Obviously I’m grossly oversimplifying, duh.) Any neuronal activity pattern that uses most of the neocortex is going to have subpatterns running in parallel and somewhat disjointedly, because otherwise they’re physically incapable of sharing information quickly enough to interface with smaller/quicker systems and to compete with comparable patterns going on in competing brains.

    So the parts are functionally independent of each other at least for milliseconds, which of course introduces the possibility of catastrophic misunderstandings that need to be minimized and handled. The problem is fairly clear, the solution is not, but whatever the solution is could well generalize to cognitive systems involving more than one brain.

    So what I guess happens is that parts of the brain try to predict each other’s behavior the same way that we know they try to predict external sensory data (and then handle prediction error rather than raw data, which saves a lot of bandwidth). Of course communication inside the brain is far higher bandwidth than what is coming in from the senses, I’m only guessing the principle scales well. If it does, it means something vaguely like the parietal lobe has a model of the occipital lobe and vice versa, and if their models of each other are serviceable enough they can work together well enough for many things to know each other to become one thing that knows itself.

    Wild ass speculation, but that’s your thing, right?

    What’s your field of research, if I may ask?

    Mostly online psychotherapy, nothing to geek out about. But I’ve done some work on vigilance regulation, i.e. on how a conscious brain keeps itself from going unconscious again.

    In other news, a small tropical fish just passed the mirror test: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/08/21/397067

  64. This is so amazing. Right on your post’s heels comes this new finding:
    https://www.livescience.com/63441-new-brain-cell-rosehip-neuron.html

    Not that “rosehip neurons” might be responsible for inter-twin mental communication, but new discoveries like these show how very little we know about the human brain.

    One question: When the twins do communicate mentally, do they send/receive communications in the English language, or is some non-lingual “feeling” or intuition?

    I’m sure news stories like these give you hundreds of concepts for new sci-fi tales.

  65. :-Daniel,

    Carrot/stick=feel like it
    Each being does what it likes most at the moment, so if you have, say, 10 choices, the one with the highest „feel like it“ quotient becomes TRUE and is processed further, the others become FALSE and go into standby: They won’t become reality this time, but can in the future, the probability depending on how often they’re fed.
    Each neuron is an independent individual as well, ruled by this formula. It works for fun and food. E.g., if it manages to get the whole brain flooded with happy hormones, it gets rewarded with food, like any drug dealer. Food makes it grow stronger. It’s an egoist, and may be a sadist. It tries to survive within the brain environment, may evolve and learn a bit, depending on its personal situation. It has digestion. It has absolutely no clue what it’s doing and why. With other words, neurons are people, too.
    Using this simple module, you can develop different models of circuits, that may help in research. Differentiating into separate networks, personalities, prediction, communication, competition, addiction to repetitive patterns, memory and so on, all the stuff the brain usually does (I’ve done it, and it works). They won’t replace the study of the brain, but might help to get an idea of what to look for.
    Another thing not to forget: We think with our whole bodies. You won’t understand the brain without understanding the toe. They’re parts of one interactive system. And you won’t understand this system without understanding its environment. Social networks and neural networks share many features.
    I’m probably telling you stuff you already know, but I’m totally lost as to what of the very obvious people see and what they don’t for some reason. Well, I’m also totally lost at why no one notices the link between Schrödinger’s cat, the Zombie Apocalypse and 1/0=d’oh (1/0=E is one way of writing the world formula, by the way), or why I’m the only one to consider it rational to perform psychoanalysis on an iron nail.