Born to Do Math 189 – This Little Piggy Went to the Slaughter: “Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?”
October 15, 2020
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, we’ve talked about the colour red and perception and a certain universality in the perception of red amongst everyone. Let’s re-open that a bit here.
Rick Rosner: There is an age-old philosophical question about talking about the colour red. How can what they picture as red in their mind is the same in each person’s mind? The argument that you can’t prove it: You can’t go in somebody else’s mind. I believe a very effective argument against that – and, since it’s good, many people have thought it, which comes from modern brain science – in addition to a predictor, your brain, which sets you up for the things to come. Brains are association engines. Consciousness throws stuff into the conscious arena. So, you can get the widest spectrum of potential associations. Things that might be helpful. Stuff that is semi- or un-conscious is stuff that doesn’t need a lot of analysis – walking, breathing.
But novel stuff as we have talked about a zillion times before needs to be analyzed. It is one of the more efficient ways, as proved by what conscious is, to analyze things is to see what associations it brings up. This isn’t a good example William Shatner who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek put a picture online of himself from the original series put through a girl filter, turned him into a woman. He said, “I’d do me.” This caused a lot of consternation on Twitter. A lot of people agreed lady Captain Kirk was highly doable. It went around a lot on Twitter. She looks fuckable, but looks like William Shatner. It is a weird thing capturing your attention, or actively enters consciousness. It is a weird thing, which you’ve never seen before. Unless, you’ve seen the app before.
Your consciousness thinks it needs your attention and generates a bunch of associations. So, the argument about why two people probably roughly picture the same thing when they talk about “red.” Both people come from the same age, a Western country, then their associations – the things that they have associated with “red” – have a big overlap, between each person’s associations with “red” – assuming each person’s perceptual apparatus are functional. Some might be unable to see “red.” Assuming each perceptual systems are at par, each person has the same background, and their mental ‘definition’ or “red” are the same, e.g., for an apple or a corvette (terrible example because they come in a number of colours, but people think of the Prince song), a zit, and blood, these will be associated with “red.”
They are not perfect. My wife wanted me to paint our doors red. They were painted red. They seemed too Chinese red or tomato-y. She didn’t like it. I went to paint it more. She made me repaint it. I painted it with 5 different colours with hints of blue and cranberry. She doesn’t think it is red, but some type of weird pinky thing. So, there is room for disagreement. Anyway, that’s my argument.
The other thing I want to talk about is the question of reversibility. In physics, there are these subjects for lay people in physics, but professionals are too busy looking at other stuff. Like Schrodinger’s Cat, it gets a lot of play among non-physicists, while physicists got over thinking about it a gazillion years ago. Another thing that used to come up, I haven’t seen it a lot lately. It is the problem of reversibility, where all the equations in physics – that I know of at least – are time invariant.
The equations and the physics that describe simple interactions can be run in reverse. There is no arrow to tell you which way things are going. To have an arrow, you need macro events. That is, the standard example is the tea cup falling off the table and shattering off the ground involving 10^25th atoms. It is a lot of stuff happening and is irreversible. But the paradox is that any of the single or two or three atom interactions going into the 10 to the 20-something interactions that go into the breaking of the cup, and when you zoom into the little interactions of one atom with other atoms. You could turn back the clock and not violate the laws of physics.
Extend that to the entire cup, there’s nothing against the laws the simple physics of running the timeline of the cup backwards and have it form on the table. All these shows like Nova, and so on. The broken cup is probably shown a dozen times in different shows. The thing that makes the breaking of the cup irreversible is thermodynamic and statistical because it involves a lot of stuff. One thing I would argue, probably tautologically, is that reversible processes are reversible because they don’t contain any information. They don’t leave their mark on the universe.
We’ve talked about long-distance photons and neutrinos that travel for billions of lightyears. They escape their local solar system, which makes it extremely unlikely that they will run into anything as they traverse the universe, but, in traversing the universe, they lose energy to the curvature of space – which is the same thing to interacting with the universe for billions of years. A photon travelling across th universe for billions of lightyears has been interacting with the universe for billions of years.
Although, the photon travelling at the speed of light doesn’t perceive time passing at all because of the equations of relativity and the universe is relativistic. The universe perceives the photon for traversing for billions of years, but the photon not perceiving any time passing. That’s a good way to contain information. That is a good way for the information the photon contains to not decay. That photons that traverses for billions of years has become entangled in a big chunk of the universe. That’s not reversible. It means information has been generated. The information or the mass the photon lost is added to the universe in the form of information.
You could add the same argument for the broken cup. It is so complicated and so irreversible that information has been added to the universe because we know for sure. It is such a big set of interactions, the cup broke. You fire an electron at another electron. You say, “A bounce and then electron 1 went left and electron 2 went right.” Somebody could say, “Are you sure? Did they? You can’t tell the difference between those electrons.” In certain collisions, you can’t tell which electron is which after the interaction.
Oar maybe, they didn’t interact. They bounced off each other and changed trajectory. There is less discernible information there. It is less definitive. Look at photon interactions in the center of the Sun, where the energy released from two deuterium nuclei fusing into a helium nucleus, that releases energy in the form of a photon or, maybe, more than one. It is in the form of light. The light takes a long, long time to reach the surface of the Sun. That energy is in the form of who knows how many – more than 10^20th photons, as that photon gets emitted by the fusing nuclei and gets absorbed by something and then emitted, again, within 10^1/100 trillionth of a second. This happens for 500 years. Until, that energy has slowly percolated up to the surface of the Sun, where it is emitted in the form of photons.
Most of which will go for billions of years. In the center of the Sun, you have these short lifetime photons. The idea that any one of those photon interactions being absorbed and emitted within 1/100 trillionth of a second would have durable information is completely unlikely. Each of those little interactions contributes very little information to the universe. The Sun shining, the information that it is contributing. We’ve talked about information a lot over 6 years. We still don’t have a clear idea about it. The universe is not a good enough book keeper to keep track permanently or for more than an instant of all those mini-interactions; that it takes macro-interactions, e.g., the Sun shining and generating events on Earth to generate information that is discernible to the information processing system that is the universe.
If we’re right, and if the universe is both material with time and space and matter & an information processing system, the systems have to be loose enough to permit each of those levels of existence to co-exist, which means the information involved with the universe perceiving and defining itself needs some looseness where, on a moment-to-moment basis, there is no durable record of the individual mini-interactions that take place within the center of the Sun. There is an aggregate picture of the processes, but the universe doesn’t have enough information to create a record of the interactions that are happening in the center of a star.
It’s Schrodinger’s Cat every billionth of an inch, of a centimetre, across the whole guts of the Sun. There are things that have to have happened. Fusion has to have happened. There’s no record or information impact of these gazillion individual interactions. There’s only information generated in the aggregate. Sometimes, it’s not even then. But there’s something there in the shaping of the universe. We know that in our information processing system. If we experience something, and then we never think of it again, we never remember it for the rest of our lives. We just never remember it.
It has very little impact on our overall consciousness and it’s pretty much as if it never happened. You can take that to the most grotesque extreme. Once we die, it is as if we never thought anything in terms of our experience of the world because we have been obliterated from the world. We left impacts on the world. But in terms of our thought patterns, it is as if it never happened.
Jacobsen: There is a lot of philosophizing about substrate independence with a carbon-based evolved consciousness and then a silicon constructed intelligence. In either case, you could change the substrate while having the same consciousness more or less. In other words, I think we have touched on a principle of existence with consciousnesses, but I think have another one now.
Rosner: We have talked about how consciousness is a little bit free. We have never talked much about the manipulation of consciousness. It feels as if our consciousness is free. We have talked a little bit about it. The manipulation of consciousness is the same as the simulation of consciousness. That kind of manipulation is via a substrate. We haven’t talked about that, but could at some point.
Jacobsen: Yes, so, the idea of substrate independence is a fundamental issue. In fact, I think it so fundamental as if to be a principle of existence. No matter the universe that you have or no matter the fundamental particles and table of elements that arise, if they arise, in that framework, you should have something like a principle of substrate independence in existence to the kind of consciousnesses that could evolve. I think a corollary to this is not something I have seen, which is structural dependence.
The idea that you can change a substrate while producing a similar consciousness is a reasonably premised idea. You should have structural dependence. No matter the architecture or armature that you have, if you have a similar architecture or structure that the armature represents, you should get a similar consciousness. That structural dependence is similar to substrate independence. It seems like structural dependence is related to substrate independence and vice versa.
Rosner: Computers are not conscious. People who are reasonable would argue the computers aren’t conscious because it’s a different architecture in the computer than people, which is that something in the architecture of the brain permits consciousness and is different in the computer to the point that computers don’t think and humans do. That’s a structure-based thing, which is what you’re saying. To the extent that you have substrate independence, you have information working according to the rules of information. Those rules are very close to, if not equivalent to, the rules of quantum mechanics.
So, if you set up an architecture that is sweet enough, capacious enough, to allow consciousness, then you’re going to see information within that consciousness interacting with all the other information in the consciousness appear frictionless, superconductory frictionless, independent of the substrate. So, what happens in a computer is super highly tied to the substrate; it’s all determinate. Everything is going to get executed. There’s not a lot of wobble in computer processes. Unless, it has been built it, but it is still deterministic wobble. A computer executing a program is deterministic. A substrate that allows for information to interact independent of the substrate is indeterministic in the same way that quantum mechanics is. That’s what I think what you’re talking about sits.
I want to talk about another thing, which we don’t like to talk about readily or apply to ourselves. But we readily this to animals. That we eat, or just in general. When we think about the lives of animals, which we don’t think go to heaven, that is, people who are soft on dogs and cats like to not think of cats and dogs not being snuffed out when they die. But sentimental people like to think of dogs and cats as having some transcendental existence. But when we think of chickens and cows, and pigs, maybe especially pigs, we think that when they get slaughtered it is game over. These smart animals having terrible lives doesn’t matter because their brains have been wiped. They’re dead. They have more thoughts. The misery they’ve experience has been wiped from the world.
There’s that. If you think that about the pig you’re thinking, then it is hard to sit down and then not think this about anything else with a brain.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
(Updated July 25, 2019)
*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*
According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing here, Rick G. Rosner may have among America’s, North America’s, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher Harding, Jason Betts, Paul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main “Genius” listing here.
He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmys, The Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the “World’s Smartest Man.” The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named “Best Bouncer” in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.
Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. He came in second, or lost, on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time-invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.
Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceVersusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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