Friday, February 20, 2009

Strange Thoughts and More Like Them

The inner workings of the brain are something I can only contemplate given my severely limited knowledge.

It must be like some kind of machine.

I heard someone speculate once that there must be programs which can "crash" the brain, just as there as programs which can "crash" a computer.

I wonder what such a program would be like?

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There is an image which keeps re-appearing to me again and again, in several guises:

The lego constructions I used to build when I was very young: the elaborate manipulation of the bricks, followed swiftly by near inevitable destruction or implosion.

Numerous colonies of bacteria in a plate, consuming agar, reproducing themselves into oblivion.

A panel from the comic "Peanuts" when Linus spends a long time carefully molding a soap replica of a Navy clipper, only to see his creation obliterated by his sister Lucy.

Things arisen, things consumed, things destroyed.

And this visage repeats over, and over, and over.

What do I make of it?

I think that is a question for all of us.

2 comments:

one billion daleks said...

"What do I make of it? I think that is a question for all of us."

Below is an extract from a dalek dissertation - what daleks "make of it" :)

Given the fact that all tangible (material) objects can, without exception, be obliterated, it comes as something of a relief to daleks that the Mind is intangible! After all, "intangibles" have a demonstrated greater capacity to persist than "tangibles" ...

To take one example, the webpage you are looking at is intangible - it is not something that exists in any material sense. What's more it cannot be easily obliterated from existence. Furthermore, unlike material objects, a webpage is supremely resistant to entropy - it is unlikely to be corroded, it won't rot or fade away. This webpage could very well exist in exactly it's current form a thousand years from now.

It could be argued though, that because the webpage is founded on a material base of a computer hard-drive, it is vunerable to annihilation. However, this is not inevitably the case. If this webpage is broadcast just once - to a cellphone - then the electromagnetic carrier signal in which it is encoded will radiate out into space indefinitely. And whilst a radiowave may be subject to some small amount of entropy over vast time and distance, the amount is negligible compared to the entropy to which material objects are routinely subjected.

So it should not be difficult to imagine that a Mind, endowed with intelligence, would readily acquire means by which to counter such minor entropic effects upon it's electromagnetic essence, and thus be as easily persistent as any other electromagnetic wave.

In dalek lore, the Brain is just the organic substrate on which a Mind is constructed. So, in the same way that a radio-station can be destroyed, but the programs it broadcast can in principle exist perpetually as radio waves, then likewise the Brain can be destroyed, but the Mind it created could well persist beyond the annihilation of it's foundations.

claidheamh mor said...

"I heard someone speculate once that there must be programs which can "crash" the brain, just as there as programs which can "crash" a computer.

I wonder what such a program would be like?"

I think the closest thing to a brain-crasher is any conditioning put in with pleasure/pain-fear-of -punishment that conflicts with our nature. We are torn and frozen, not quite literally, but between what we want to to and what we "should not" do. The act/don't act splits us.

Cognitive dissonance is probably the same thing, though perhaps not dealing quite as closely with taking a direct action.