On the delightful coherence and simultaneous incoherence of epiphanies

Woke up early this morning and in the world between worlds where some of the best insights come into view, I discovered one of the greater epiphanies of my decades-long study of ternary logic, infinity, zero, and world peace. I was striding through the fields of pure light and clarity — the miracle of clarity — which surrounds such an insight, and even had a hard time settling my mind during morning meditation because I was so excited to share the revelation with the world. The insight had arisen out of a philosophical/mathy type conversation on social media the night before, but it was much larger than that small thread, since it bridged two previously-separated worlds in a profound manner. For years I’ve intuited these two worlds were related, but could not tell precisely how until this morning.

So there I was, suffused in the joy of epiphany, when I opened up social media to add the new insight to the existing conversation. I did so and went on researching around the topic for a while, taking notes, preparing to write something deeper on the subject than the brief comment in social media forum. After a couple hours I went back to the comment I had written, and found it to be almost completely incoherent.

I knew what it was trying to say, but was astonished to find how poorly it was written. Not only was there a completely missing word that made the first sentence unintelligible, but the whole sentence was inside-out: I was talking about a transition from one idea to another and used “to” the originating idea, instead of “from” it. The next few sentences were more grammatically coherent but equally insensible in meaning. The only part that made sense was the footnote after the insight, where I was reflecting on its importance:

I have just as of 5:00 a.m. today bridged two very separate lines of thought experiments, both of which I have been pursuing for years, knowing they were related but not knowing how. This is exciting! When Archimedes did that one time, he leapt out of his bathtub and ran down the street naked hollering Eureka. I fortunately have my clothes on, but am nevertheless excited to realize I’m definitely on the right path here. Right paths.

I’ve had this experience many times, too many to count, where the initial written notes around a given epiphany are almost perfect gibberish. I know why it happens, too: intuition organizes information in a completely different structure from rational thought. I would say intuitive information operates like the middle of the ocean, and rational information operates like the land; in one, there is a completely three-dimensional awareness with no reference to floors or ceilings, and gravity isn’t very important, in the other, there is a vast 2-D reference plane dividing heaven and earth, and gravity is of more importance, holding everything firmly to the plane except the birds who live in a hybrid world which is kind of like the dolphin in the ocean and kind of like the lion on the Savannah.

I carefully edited the comment on social media so that it read more coherently, thankful that I was up early enough it may have escaped anyone else’s notice, and it took me 30 minutes to do so, the final result bearing little resemblance to the original comment.

Intuitive insights do not make sense to the rational mind until they go through a process of being broken into pieces and stitched back together again almost linearly, like turning a balloon into a pencil. Imagine a dolphin sitting in the middle of a Savannah, with no ability to move, stuck firmly to the ground by gravity, desperately seeking the nearest pool of water for relief. Or a lion, 100 feet below sea level, all his regal splendor to no avail as he flails around, trying above all to get his head above water just to breathe. Two worlds. Poets have fun with blending these worlds with language, as metaphor gives us the ability to see one world from the other.

I suspect that I travel between these two worlds of intuition and rational thought more often and more deeply than the average bear, because I experience far more of these moments where I am incoherent to others than I see others experience, in general. I suppose it’s part of the way artists engage with the world, to have these moments of madness which are not so much mad as they are… a very different way of seeing things… creativeness…

Anyway, I have SO MUCH to write about the actual epiphany itself, as well as another long-awaited one from yesterday, so I’ll get back to that, but wanted to throw this note out there while I’m at it, perhaps to smooth over my earlier incoherence a little better.

On discovering my thoughts have a hint of Informational Structural Realism in them

Well this is interesting. After I wrote the post talking about a way of perceiving that was beyond quantum, I discover that there is in my thoughts plenty of similarity with an existing idea called “Informational Structural Realism.” The original article by Luciano Floridi is abstract-only, but this article on arxiv.org discusses it in good detail.

While skimming through it to understand if there was any similarity to my own ideas, I find indeed there is plenty of overlap. Not sure yet if the article entails things I don’t like, but I may have found an anchor in the lingua franca whereupon I can stand to weigh in on such conversations.

For informational ontology instead of against digital ontology?

We must be careful that we do not mistake artifacts of the tools we use to investigate ontology with the ontology itself. For example, we all understand now how the Ptolemaic model of the universe was us projecting our egos outward on Nature and inventing epicycles to explain things so that we remained at the center of everything, which remained true until someone had enough data to prove a more elegant theory, wherein we were no longer at the center and all the colorful drama that developed around accepting this truth.

In another example, Boolean logic, which pervades language at such a deep level that we learn to “see” the world this way by the time we have acquired language, is dependent on the abstract concept of excluded middle (which was invented to strengthen Aristotle’s proposition that all statements are either true or false, not because there was any evidence of excluded middles anywhere). I see the advent of Western culture as the advent of binary logic, and thus it’s hard to find a place where its implicit “digitalization” of everything hasn’t invaded.

In short, the idea of things being separate from things (i.e. digital) is embedded in language at a level beneath ordinary conscious awareness — within language itself — and thus we don’t even realize we’re projecting a binary way of seeing onto Nature which is not in Nature herself. Digital ontology therefore may simply be us projecting our way of seeing excluded middles onto an analog reality and coming back with digitalness.

I believe underlying the myriad manifestations of the natural world is a singularity which operates beyond spacetime and matterenergy*. The more deeply we study these binaries, the more we find they are, one by one, merging into a singularity which operates in ways our language is not yet qualified to speak, because of its implicitly digital nature. We must develop a logically polyvalent language in order to understand reality as it is, or else keep projecting digitality onto it. The concept of superposition from quantum physics is a prime example of something non-binary which we do not yet understand on its own terms.

*and possibly beyond cause/effect, too, if David Hawkins’ quantum physics can be extracted from his spiritual claims, but this one is new and still speculative to me…

The title of the following article is “Against digital ontology.” It’s headed in the right direction (beyond digital ontology), but perhaps it should be framed as “For informational ontology” since the for/against structure is digital/binary in nature.


False is always composed of partial truths

I long imagined that the essential flaw of binary logic lay in its foundation axioms which exclude middles by asserting everything is EITHER true OR false with no inbetween. (This results in paradoxes which are considered to be unimportant by most people when compared with the overall value of logic.)

Recently discovered that this flaw is resting on a deeper one still, more subtle and even better hidden: There is no “single thing” which is completely false, because falseness is ALWAYS composed of at least two half-truths. One or both of these “half truths” is being interpreted out of its proper context, and therefore being assigned a truth value which it cannot sustain permanently, since eventually “truth will out.” So to assert anything is categorically false converts a duality into a singleton, which is then asserted to be equal in strength to truth when it is used in the definition of logic. A more precise definition of logic would include this, because it affects how logic is used.

This insight occurred to me during a particularly focused meditation a few weeks ago, where I finally realized there was something wrong with falseness itself, and then traced this further. I am unaware if anyone else has chanced upon this insight, although I know that there are others who see excluded middles as problematic.

Apparently you can’t convert base2 to base3 without an intermediary

I assume this is relevant to the ongoing quest to fully understand ternary logic, its strengths and limitations, but do not yet know what to do with it. So here it is:

You can’t convert a base2 number to a base3 number without loading it into an integer. The reason is that 2 and 3 are coprime – they have no common factors. If you were working with base2 and base4, or even base6 and base9, then the set of integers up to the lowest common multiple of the two bases would be represented by two isomorphic sets. For example 13 (base4) = 0111 (base2), so converting 1313 (base4) = 01110111 (base2) – it’s a find and replace operation.

Also of note is that the conversion from binary to ternary takes more effort. Makes sense, but just being precise here.

From: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3400420/binary-to-ternary-representation-convertion

“Causality is in the mind”

I started transcribing a video because Dr. David Hawkins was talking about quantum mechanics in a way very similar to what I’ve been researching — and he’s spot on — but then he took it in a completely different direction than I expected. This transcript is from the end of the first video linked below. The sequel is even more interesting but no longer about quantum mechanics, so none of it is transcribed. I will say I’ve personally had unusual experiences similar enough to what Hawkins describes in this interview, that I really like how mellow and rational he is about all this, since some of it’s well beyond rational consideration. He’s also good at casually steering the interviewer away from a hagiographic tone, which is entertaining to watch. Have fun…

Hawkins: The world looks to the average human mind like a world of causality, a Newtonian paradigm, where there is a ‘this’ that causes a ‘that.’ It doesn’t really work that way. What happens is that a potentiality becomes an actuality. That is witnessed sequentially and therefore you think there is causality in the world. Causality is in the mind. So the most important thing I try to teach, in transcending identification of the ego and the mind, is the difference between what Descartes called res interna — that means ‘that of the mind’ and res externa, ‘that of the world.’ The illusion is that one thinks that what one sees in the mind, then they project it on the world, and they think that that’s in the world. So causality makes sense to the mind, so therefore it’s ‘out there.’ It’s a presumption. The ‘out there’ has no concept, so causality couldn’t be out there because that’s only a concept that only exists in the head.

Interviewer: But there is a world that we’re interacting with…?

Hawkins: Very definitely is.

Interviewer: What is that world, there’s no way to know it?

Hawkins: We don’t really know it, except our subjective experience of its phenomena. We are processing sequences of phenomena, that’s what our mind is doing all the time.

Interviewer: What’s the point of that, if that’s an illusion?

Hawkins: It’s not necessarily an illusion, because the subjective reality is a subjective reality and there’s an external that’s also an external reality.

Interviewer: But it seems like the subjective reality is an illusion, the fact that there’s a me and a you…?

Hawkins: That’s a presumption. So what we try to do is transcend the presumptions of the mind and the presumptions of the mind that come about because of the structure of the ego. So what we try to do is go back in time to see: how did the ego arise? We see that the field of consciousness itself is infinitely powerful, and when it interacted with matter on this planet, out of that arose life. Life arose out of the infinite field of consciousness itself, which alone has sufficient power.

Interviewer: You could say infinite field of consciousness, you could also say God…

Hawkins: Buddha said it’s bettter not to mention God because people have all kinds of conceptions about God. But consciousness sounds a little safer. Then you see the evolution of consciousness up through the animal kingdom. In fact you can calibrate the energies, calibrate the levels of consciousness throughout the animal kingdom, and it eventually comes to man.

Interviewer: And as we head back to the infinite consciousness… so man is the bridge, from the spark of life back to the infinite consciousness.

Hawkins: He becomes the bridge. So then he has this protoplasm, the body, and he has the animal brain and animal instincts, and that’s the basis of the structure of the ego.

Interviewer: It’s the animal side.

Hawkins: Yeah, that’s the beginning of it. And we share many things with the animal, territoriality, all that. On top of being an animal, we’ve developed a prefrontal cortex. We were doing okay before we got a prefrontal cortex. Up here, we have the capacity of the angelic awareness, of spiritual reality, and back of the brain here, we’re still an animal. So man has the unenviable position of having the instincts of the animal and the forebrain of an angel, and so his life is very very difficult. At first, you just have the physical prefrontal cortex, and then as you start to become spiritually awakened, the spiritual energy changes the way the brain functions, and you develop beside the protoplasmic physical brain an energy brain called the etheric brain. The etheric brain is more like an energy field. The spiritualized person actually processes things differently; they see things differently, they experience them differently…

Here are the links:

Power vs. Force – Dr. David Hawkins Interview part 1

Dr. David Hawkins part 2 – Maps of Consciousness

Now here is the third video, actually the first one I was watching til I read one of its comments directing me to the above. Both interviews (i.e all 3 videos) are excellent, but this one is entirely focused on Quantum Mechanics and mathy stuff, in case the preceding link is getting too spiritual for your tastes.

Mind and the Wave Function Collapse, John Hagelin in conversation with Henry Stapp

Learning advanced math without any formal training

Here I find myself in the middle of an example of how hard it can be to learn mathy things without having gone through years of training. You might say “So, go through years of training.” And then I would say “No, that training comes embedded with a way of seeing the world that confines native curiousity into the sword-like shape of a polarizing ego pursuit oriented around competition driven by greed and power as an end instead of a means, and I’m studying math in part because I want to deconstruct that approach, not so I can strengthen it and get lost like every other mathematician except Grigori Perelman who escaped the trap only by extreme asceticism.” And then you might say “Who is Grigori Perelman?” And then I might tell you a fun story.

But first, this present story, which begins as I randomly find myself here.

Because I sometimes think of quantization as though it was some kind of chopping up space into a grid or something, I find myself intrigued by the first paragraph’s bold “You are thinking of quantization as though it was some kind of chopping up space into a grid or something. But that’s not the way quantization works.” So I’m drawn in. In the 2nd paragraph I find these words: “Quantization fundamentally amounts to switching from ordinary numbers (representing a classical universe) to noncommuting variables (Dirac called these q-numbers) that obey different rules of arithmetic.”

Wait, what? I want to know more about a new kind of number I’ve never heard of before; I thought there was only one kind of number, and I have already found some issues with how numbers work. What’s a noncommuting variable? What’s a q-number? (I already see a hint of useful information toward my ongoing pursuit to define ternary logic in a way that is more ternary than binary, since our current understanding of all logic, even ternary, is essentially binary in nature.)

I search on these terms “noncommuting variables (Dirac called these q-numbers)” and find only a few salient hits. Refine the search: “Dirac q-numbers” still hoping I get a quick idea of them before continuing with the conversation. While those pages are loading, I also search “non-commuting” and thankfully there is a simple definition for this term. Perhaps I finally have a place to apply this basic mathematical concept (commutability = ability to change order) I’ve seen hundreds of times and promptly forgot because: 1) it had no immediate practical value and 2) could be easily found in any math textbook if ever the time came to use it.

At this point I don’t want a simple, trivial, dictionary idea of non-commuting but “why” and “what” such things are — albeit quickly, because I’m already in a tangent from the original discussion on measuring space. I find this: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/240543/is-there-something-behind-non-commuting-observables

Cool, but within moments I’m wondering “now what is a Hilbert space?” Another term I’ve seen mentioned dozens of times but never needed to know… let’s track it down.

Soon I have a dozen tabs open in my browser, and Hilbert space is proving to be even more elusive than non-commuting q-numbers. So I add “intuitive” to my query on Hilbert spaces and finally find some answers that I can begin to understand. However, scrolling through a dozen of the intuitive answers, I’m fast discovering Hilbert spaces are so abstract that even simplified descriptions are indecipherable to me. Lots of terms I will have to search the same way I’m searching “Hilbert space.” But along the way I did see the line “once you discover Hilbert spaces, you’ll never go back,” so maybe it’s something I do want to understand finally. Keep digging.

Finally I find this:

Well it’s tough to explain in complete layman’s terms. You require some mathematical knowledge. It helps particularly if you know some linear algebra and the notion of linearity. 3D space has 3 independent dimensions, which we can combine in different amounts to address any point in space. So to address the point (2,4,5) we say go two units in the X-dimension, go 4 units in the Y-dimension and 5 units in the Z-dimension. Now with Hilbert spaces the dimensions can be arbitrary. Consider the set of all sine waves which fit an integer amount of times on a string. You can create an arbitrary function by combining these together with appropriate coefficients. So we can consider each sine wave to each be an independent dimension in a Hilbert space. The function is now a point in this abstract space.

Ok so now I can see a vague outline of what I’m looking for, and can also see the oft-mentioned affinity to Fourier transforms, something I learned about long ago but appears to be unrelated to my current inquiry. Let’s go deeper… except now Quora won’t let me surf the question further until I log in. Bother, I’d rather end the browser session so Quora thinks I’m a stranger again, and continue. Meanwhile, the next answer to the layman question helps a little more, but this one is an example of what DOESN’T work:

Basically it’s an Euclidean space generalized to infinite dimensions. The same operations with vectors that can be done in Euclidean space (measuring distance, angles, scalar product) can also be done in Hilbert space. It is also complete, which means that we can work with limits of sequences and stuff like that.

Avoiding “intuitive answers” that have, in the first 3 sentences, a half-dozen words I need to define is part of the art of finding what I’m seeking. Remember, I’m an artist, not a mathematician… yet.

Ok, time to go back to the original query and see if the vague ideas are enough for me to move forward. Back to Is there something behind non-commuting observables? only to quickly find I still don’t know enough about Hilbert spaces, but I do remember this: “If you look at this condition the right way, the resulting uncertainty principle becomes very intuitive” and still in skim-quickly mode, I see this comment: “this is a truly excellent answer,” and this: “As a lay enthusiast, I think this is one of the best answers I’ve seen on PhysicsSE” so I know that if I do figure out what is being said here, I’m on solid ground. Looks like I should stay in this thread…

But then it hits me. I’ve just spent 30 minutes getting through a couple sentences, at this rate it’ll be another couple hours before I’m done. I’ll have to figure out what Hilbert spaces are some other day. Let’s see if I can muddle through Viktor Toth’s answer on measuring space without knowing about q-variables, Hilbert space, completeness, or scalar products.

Conceptually, Wikipedia or Quora or PhysicsSE or any of the others should have made this much easier (they have, but I mean even easier) but Wikipedia for example only adds fuel to the fire with answers that seem intentionally obscure even if technically accurate, as though written by committee afraid of liability for speaking in simple metaphors.

Coherent Extrapolated Volition = how the best of us think

Just stumbled upon this while reading the wiki article on Friendly AI.

Yudkowsky advances the Coherent Extrapolated Volition (CEV) model. According to him, coherent extrapolated volition is people’s choices and the actions people would collectively take if “we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, and had grown up closer together.”

Rather than a Friendly AI being designed directly by human programmers, it is to be designed by a “seed AI” programmed to first study human nature and then produce the AI which humanity would want, given sufficient time and insight, to arrive at a satisfactory answer. The appeal to an objective though contingent human nature (perhaps expressed, for mathematical purposes, in the form of a utility function or other decision-theoretic formalism), as providing the ultimate criterion of “Friendliness”, is an answer to the meta-ethical problem of defining an objective morality; extrapolated volition is intended to be what humanity objectively would want, all things considered, but it can only be defined relative to the psychological and cognitive qualities of present-day, unextrapolated humanity.

Wow, I love it! I love the seed concept also, and have contemplated such things myself many times. Let’s do this.

(after googling a bit) Hm, not so easy. Apparently it’s a lot of effort (from: https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Coherent_Extrapolated_Volition). Let’s still do this, I have some ideas!

Learning to see the hidden layer in neural nets

No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.

Could be? It definitely is. I’ve thought about this problem for years, ever since it turned up in my private meditations on Cybernetic Intelligence more than a decade ago (back when I was inventing ideas like the Parableizer Engine long before I even knew such a thing was already being discussed theoretically by others). Now, people are writing about it, and it really does present a problem to which there is no obvious answer yet. As the article says: “How well can we get along with machines that are unpredictable and inscrutable?”

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI

The article starts with some background illustrations to frame things and then gets into the problem:

We need more than a glimpse of AI’s thinking, however, and there is no easy solution. It is the interplay of calculations inside a deep neural network that is crucial to higher-level pattern recognition and complex decision-making, but those calculations are a quagmire of mathematical functions and variables. “If you had a very small neural network, you might be able to understand it,” Jaakkola says. “But once it becomes very large, and it has thousands of units per layer and maybe hundreds of layers, then it becomes quite un-understandable.”

The problem may end up being so hard that people take the easy way out and ignore it, which may work for a while, or forever, but is also potentially dangerous. What we really need is a way to ensure what is happening under the hood of an AI is ethically and morally solid: modeling on human behavior is not necessarily the best approach since even the most virtuous humans have all kinds of minor character flaws which could be misinterpreted by AI. We need a way to model on principles that guide behavior toward the betterment of all, respecting core attributes like free agency, etc. I am pleased to see this in the article:

There’s already an argument that being able to interrogate an AI system about how it reached its conclusions is a fundamental legal right. Starting in the summer of 2018, the European Union may require that companies be able to give users an explanation for decisions that automated systems reach. This might be impossible, even for systems that seem relatively simple on the surface…

I’m writing this post today partly because I was surprised to discover I hadn’t written it already, since I read this article when it came out and knew I should comment on it. As usual, I’m posting this here for the dual purpose of expressing some fragments of thoughts on the subject and as a bookmark I can come back to in the future when I have the time to bring all these threads together into a larger narrative, like a book or a website.

Google researchers noted that when its algorithm generated images of a dumbbell, it also generated a human arm holding it. The machine had concluded that an arm was part of the thing.

Also wrote this post today because I’ve been visualizing how to measure this hidden layer, and think I may have a few ideas how it could be done. Lots of math, lots of data, some over my head stuff, but I think we can do this.

Metformin AKA Goat’s Rue, Ancient Remedy for the Plague, Extends Life

Really didn’t expect this. Apparently this medication derived from an herb, known since ancient days to help with diabetes symptoms, has an effect which improves quality and quantity of life. Pretty safe, too, minimal side effects for most people. A Google search of this life-extending aspect of Metformin turns up less hits than expected, so it’s nice to have this article from Wired floating around out there.


And also there is a related TEDx video from this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsA4SHhUzt4

Nah nevermind. Just watched it, and the video isn’t as useful as the article.