Foundations of Future AI

by Tom Veatch


Here's some things AI could maybe use.

Consciousness is motivational organizing.

Consciousness might help to organize experience by providing a clearinghouse where previously unrelated aspects or information are brought together for connections to be made and cross-aspect patterns detected and learned.

Worm self awareness and the Home Depot flash.

In about 2003, I bought a house. There was a big basement, but it was cold in the winter and I wanted to play pingpong down there, so I thought I'd insulate the walls. One day I trundled off to Home Depot to buy maybe eight or a dozen 4' x 8' x 2" sheets of styrofoam insulation. I found some with a sheet of aluminum foil on one side, maybe to reflect away some infrared heat or something, which seems a bit useless inside a wall, I thought, but, hey, it was all they had, so I started to pull out sheets of this stuff and slide them on top of one another on the cart. Pull, stack, slide, pull, stack, slide. After maybe six of them were on there, I happened to touch the aluminum part of two different sheets with thumb and forefinger, and I saw something amazing to me, like a small miracle, a little blue spark of lightning hit my thumb where it was about to touch the other sheet. Wow! I thought, Cool!

What I didn't realize is that I must have charged up the sheet like a giant capacitor, in fact 4x8=32 square feet of capacitor and every time I slid one across the other it was like turning a big electric motor, charging it up by movement of a conductor. So the lightning was the discharge of that stored voltage across the gap right through hand. Okay the next thing I did was really stupid. (Can you guess?!)

Because I thought this was the coolest thing, I thought let me try it more carefully, with both hands, so one finger on one sheet, and a finger on the other hand on another. Snap! Later I realized that was a mistake. But the moment of, wow, let me explain. You know in the cartoons there's the cat in the lightning storm, and it gets zapped, and everything turns black except you see the skeleton all in white. Well it was just like that, everything suddenly went black, but instead of seeing my skeleton all in white, I saw this thin wiggly rope, or like a string with bends and curves in it, all in white, going across from forefinger up the arm, across the chest, then with something like a knotted bit, with a string hanging off it more or less perpendicularly for an inch or two, in the general area of the middle of my chest, and then squiggling down the other arm to my opposite forefinger. I had this detailed, three-dimensional, spatial, instantaneous vision of this white string like thing.

So of course next thing I did was I walked around the corner and sat down. I hadn't quite electrocuted myself to death, but definitely I needed a little rest, so I sat for several minutes, and a Home Depot person actually came by and asked if I was okay, I said yes, and a few minutes later I got up and I just went home. I could get my stack of insulation another day.

So that was what happened, and I think there's actually a lot to draw from this experience.

The practical lesson, of course, is, Don't Do What I Did. It only take milli-amps to stop the heart, as one learns in plumbing school, so even if this was not very many amps it was a lot of volts, to be sparking across an air gap, so it would have been no surprise if it were dangerous or even fatal. Home Depot, take note.

So I never did that again, learned that lesson.

But there's more to it than just that. I think about this from the perspective of a cognitive scientist, a computational psychologist trying to understand what must the world be like for something like that to be able to happen. And I don't mean electrons and capacitors and voltage flows, I mean the nervous system of humans and even other animals.

What happened was a clear three dimensional spatial perception of an interior electrical pathway. I remember thinking about this, and saying to myself, how can you tell people so they won't dismiss your perception? The non-dismissable part is the string hanging off to the side. Obviously the knot was a heart ganglion, and obviously the string hanging off to the side was some nerve that went from the heart ganglion to some other place in the heart, obviously we're talking about a direct, internal, and essentially spatial (because three dimensional) perception of the location of nerves within the body. How could that happen? Certainly everything on the lightning pathway, if we assume it was a sequence of neurons making up different nerves recruited to serve as the lowest-resistance pathway from finger to finger, all the neurons got lit up. I mean, their job is to conduct electrical charges, so clearly they did that.

But this is a lot deeper than merely charge conduction. This is spatial information representation. I always thought a neuron pretty much tells you its inputs are above some threshold, so now its outputs are sparking up. That's information TRANSFER, moving it from one end of the neuron to the other. And I always knew that there is information PROCESSING in the function that adds up the inputs to see if they hit a threshold to send a spike down to the other end. That's like a computational neural network style multiply-add-threshold function, and it can be used to do information processing on the inputs, for example, to classify whether there's a pattern in the inputs, and bingo, this fires off and there must have been that pattern in the inputs, so you have a pattern detector neuron, which is an information processing unit, that you could use in any number of cool ways to detect complex patterns or differences between patterns or to control complicated patterns like movements, etc etc. I always thought that pretty much captured the idea of computational neural networks being good for AI systems and good as models of how people and animals and anything that processes information might well go about doing it. But this is different.

This says that the firing off of a neuron carries the information of its location in three dimensional space. So I asked a neurologist once, after I told her this story, does the firing of a neuron carry the information of its location in three dimensional space? She said Yes, of course it does. So maybe so, maybe it does. Maybe there are parallel neurons in every nerve with two speeds, and when the signal passes through the fast and slow paths, the delay on arrival indicates the originating distance, and here there was an origination everywhere along the path. Maybe transmitting axons or neurons conduct locally-originated signals in both directions with an echo-generating structure at the end, so that an arriving signal's originating distance can again be calculated. Maybe something else. Or maybe the neurologist had no idea what I was talking about and wanted me out of her office! But I personally can't reason myself away from this point; direct experience is the strongest possible evidence for the experiencer, me. You, on the other hand, must judge for yourself.

What it means to me is, Every neuron does this. If a random nerve inside Tom's chest does it, then every neuron does it, and then the neurons in a worm do it too, and in every animal.

Close your eyes. Are you aware of the locations of the different parts of your body? Of course you feel pressure and temperature on the different parts of you that are touching different things outside of you, but do you also feel the interior of you? Muscles that might be sore? Lungs expanding and contracting? Air blowing through your nose? When you perceive these things, do you perceive not only what's going on but the different locations of everything that is going on?

Yes. That's what I'm saying.

No lens, retina, and vision faculty would seem to have evolved to see inside one's intact skin. Yet our system does it, so it has the capacity to do it, so it is built in such a way that doing it is possible, is part of its design. Yet it cannot do it with my artificial neural network model. So (being gods, as we are, let's say) we need to build in spatial perception somehow, and why not at the bottom in the basic design.

To me it's pretty clear we humans, and maybe other animals, have some kind of integrated spatial awareness system, which might or might not involve an extra modelling level like a little television set in the head, or a little homunculus model of yourself, on which the relative locations of things in the body are represented upstairs, so the upstairs systems can actually look at them. Well, we know that's true, the brain body map humunculus is well established. But then you'll need another homunculus model to model the model, and where does it stop? Ockham's Razor would say Stop at the Start.

Like, maybe that model is the system itself, and when you feel it in your legs it's your legs that are carrying out the internal cognitive representation of the feeling in the legs. To some degree that has to be so. Like, once in college after massage school, I gave a massage to my SLE friend Chuck Wilburn, after he couldn't work on his paper because his shoulders were sore inside the shoulder blades. So next day he thanked me, he had finished the paper and could concentrate because he wasn't in pain. But I didn't thank him, because I couldn't go to sleep for two hours that night myself, because of a pain in my shoulders inside the shoulder blades. Obviously in doing bodywork on him I was trying to understand what it was like to feel what he was feeling, and my representational system to figure out his feeling included my own body itself, so to understand it, I felt it myself. So yes, in the body itself (or the neurons through the body) is the intelligence of spatial awareness and even of empathetic understanding of suffering.

Next point. It would seem evolutionarily convenient for there to be a built-in information representation for space in the activity of neurons. Because then everything knows where it is, and control and perception and reaction all make sense of the parts of you being where they are through the fundamental infrastructure of neural representation of information. You don't exactly need some independently evolved system to take these pipes over here and declare that somehow they tell you what's going on in the left thumb, and these other ones over here tell you what's going on in the right. That gets super complicated, except that non-locational neural network processing has no other way to do body proprioception than that.

To me this is Very Strongly Suggestive that spatial perception is a low-level neural capability, and that when you percieve stuff in space in your body, it is using this same ability (which, you wouldn't say, humans specially and uniquely evolved just so that they could perceive white strings go across the chest during an electrical discharge event, would you really say that? I didn't think so), and since surely you are conscious of spatial awareness when you are spatially aware, it is approximately the same thing as saying that Worms also have Consciousness. Every animal with a nervous system presumeably carries spatial awareness in the activity of its neurons, and that awareness which we have cannot, by Occam's Razor, be called mysteriously separate, separately evolved, separately working by separate mechanisms, just because we're humans and special and different, No, rather ours must share those same evolved capabilities. Since those capabilities in us amount to consciousness (are you not conscious of your body?), it must be also true that the same fundamental spatial consciousness is present in every living animal.

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Proprioception, Control, Coordination, Learning.

The Biological Bit.

In a biological, that is, in a distributed, connectionist representation, consider two widely different gestalts or activation patterns, each containing rich and detailed form: each could be referenced from outside the system as one instead of the other using a logical, Boolean, computational bit, but the system itself may have no such binary-valued Boolean in it except as a viewer describes it from outside. Such is a biological bit. An emergent contrast. Do we need computer-style bits for categorical perception, which matches rich inputs strikingly better to one or the other rich form? No. For selection or control? Maybe. The analyst might say Ah although we have redundant representation and redundant control, let's instead analyse a rich system as a minimized logical structure with bits, and take all the redundancy and correlated information out of the picture. Yes, of course that can be done by an analyst, like a linguist distinguishing vowels into bit-labelled categories like [+high] and [-high]. But a reliable system is typically a redundant system, so the minimized logical structure inferred by the analyst may exist nowhere but in the analyst's analysis.

Consider perception as matching sparse inputs to stored, maximally-detailed patterns, and consider perceptual classification as identifying the best-matching stored pattern given the limited detail from current perception; then such a system can experience an "apparent perception" containing all the detail from the classification's stored percept.

Thus there may be a bit structure for things if you want to look at it that way, that is, by merely a logical reference or invocation, but what is invoked may still be a rich analog representation of the richness of analog high-dimensional reality.

Ockham's Razor, Chomsky's Minimalism, the Kolmogorov Complexity, and other tools all assert the reasonable and proper methodological claim that the minimal description is best, thus the fewer bits in your model, the less internal correlation of representational elements, the better. But when you have noisy signals and information, then even Shannon will demand redundancy to achieve robustness, and the biological requirement is not minimalism but robustness, for one bit wrong in a noisy biological information processing system might lead to a wrong turn and death. I don't say Abandon Ockham; I say look for evidence of redundancy, of robust systems, and do not automatically reject from models which distribute information in correlated and repetitive layers where those models can mirror the performance of biological ones.

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Light and Recognition

The Hindus characterize Consciousness as having two aspects, prakasha or light, and vimarsha or recognition.

Prakasha is the aspect of your awareness of things as being present to your subjective awareness. You see the tree, you still see the tree, there it is with all its parts spreading forth now in the yard of your perceptual universe, continuous over time, still visible, it again continues to show itself to you, in a way as though it were a steady source of light, shining over time at you.

Recognition is the aspect of your awareness of things as being of one category or another. You think of that greenery as bush or as tree based on your recognition or vimarsha of what it is. Categorization.

When you are aware of a thing, of even of your still inner witness within, the experience includes something as though physically present, shining at you within your perceptual world, and also whatever knowledge you have about it.

Thus the Self is characterized as having both the prakasha and vimarsha aspects, since it is aware of its own presence, and because it has the self-evident knowledge, that knows its presence to be itself.

Or to take a more concrete example, consider a soccer ball. A proprioception of the ball is definitely a different object from the perhaps symbolically equivalent information of a center point in a coordinate system along with a radius and the equation of a sphere. There is a continuing perception of all the visible sides, perhaps the patchwork of pieces that make it up, each remaining visible and shining its shape and connectedness into your awareness, so that you perceive the whole. Thus "vimarsha" might understand it by a label, "ball", or with radius and center, but "prakasha" experiences it with at least all the visible sides co-present, shining forth.

The distinction between prakasha and vimarsha is rather convenient and useful in the study of consciousness. Generally speaking psychology has been able to make progress with respect to vimarsha, the categorization and processing of information, but prakasha or subjective experience has fallen through the gap, it seems to me.

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Synthetic Perception

Psychology has another gap (perhaps it's the same gap) in its explanatory domain, but this might be called synthetic perception. Let me start with some examples.

Stereoscopic merger

The first is a most obvious case: stereoscopic merger of visual information into a 2D+ scene, not exactly full 3D perception because you can't see the back side of things and your depth distance estimates are probably not as good as your up-down and right-left distances. Object coherence is inferred, perhaps most easily by stereoscopic vision combined with movement, such that the trees in the background pass you by more slowly than the trees in the foreground, making it perceptible that a foreground tree is spatially unified with itself, and spatially separated from its background.

Color

The second is the experiential perception of color, itself, one might call it color proprioception. I call it proprioception because the nature of it is so obviously concocted, so distantly related to either the underlying phenomena, measures, measurement apparatus. An electromagnetic spectrum within some frequency range is some intensity-valued function across the domain of frequencies. Lens-mapped onto the retina, each distinguishable pixel in the visual field picks up its own spectrum, and in this way a spectrum may map to, but is distinct from, an experience of color.

Indeed according to a theory Einstein worked on for much of his life, the physics of electromagnetism seems well described by having an extra dimension, beyond gravitational space-time, a "5th dimension" (cf. wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaluza-Klein_theory: "electric charge is identified with motion in the fifth dimension"). Remember that Einstein's life purpose was a theory of everything including both the irreconcilable electromagnetism and gravity theories. You can read that Kaluza showed that Maxwell's exact equations of electromagnetism fall out of Einstein's relativity equations when those are solved with this fifth dimension. It's called the "Kaluza miracle"; he ran around the house yelling "Victory!"

So this theory was good enough for Einstein through the 1920s and 1930s, and it has been resurrected and elaborated in string theory lately, so one could consider it as either true or at least good enough for now. It's fun, though not actually essential to my argument that everything, including the human perceptual apparatus, physically lives within 5 dimensions, 3 of space, plus time, plus let's call it charge. The human perceptual apparatus maps each of these differently. If you don't want to call the last one Charge, you can handle light how you like (again with Maxwell's equations).

Chomsky made this point some where. We are designed so as to be able to access certain kinds of information, and not others, so we make syntactic calculations in planning how to produce sentences, and we can think about the meaning of what we're saying, but we can't perceive the syntactic calculations themselves. Here there are dimensions our system picks out to be able to perceive in certain ways, and others that we can't.

Evidently, the space dimensions are handled by something like an enhanced 2D view, where most information is in left-right and up-down, while some, but much less, is represented in a depth dimension, all relative to the subjective coordinates natural to the organism.

The system builds its representation of time peculiarly, suffice it to say that the construction of interior representations of time are quite a different matter from the physical unfolding of time itself (as hinted in Bliss Theory), which goes at a constant rate unlike subjective perceptions of time.

And the fifth dimension, I'll say our systems generally ignore it, following Chomsky's point: except within the visual color system. Maybe the 5th dimension is there, but we aren't built to see it, except in a certain special way that doesn't even look like a spatial dimension at all. Just like a dog and what, a lichen, can't see color, we are born blind, too.

So the rods and cones detect light, the rods with a broad sensitivity to light frequency within the detectable range, and the three (or four for a few special "tetrachromat" humans) types of cones with somewhat narrower, but differently centered, spectral sensitivity range. That information is combined in the central nervous system to the unitary subjective experiences of color in a universe of categories or spaces presently unknown. But clearly the combination of the underlying information of the activation levels of the different cones provides for a synthetic perception whereby all the information in the various separate sources is combined into a single percept of, say, aqua, brown, purple, or cream. What is the nature of this synthetic perception? I don't mean just, what information sources are detected by the sensory neurons and what calculations are made on them to generate the perceptual sensitivities we have. I'm asking what are the internal representations or activation patterns and structures such that we have the experiences of color that we subjectively, undeniably, do. That mapping is a synthesis of information sources, a synthetic perception.

Rhythm

Rhythm perception (and thus musical perception): immediately on the second measure the details begin to be lost and some emergent integrated percept arises (prakasha only, vimarsha seems lacking to the layperson, though once there is a mapping to action, that is, for musicians, the percept can then also include the action-control structures compatible with the auditory scene thus vimarsha). This integrated percept certainly contains the global rhythm, the timing of the repetitive pattern, since everyone can tap or swing to the beat. It also contains the perceptually non-habituated or only-partially-habituated parts thereof. I don't presume to know the rules of this transformation but transformation there certainly is, as when you pop onto a new radio station and hear the music as a sort of static for perhaps a measure whereafter suddenly the noise resolves into a single and familiar musical impression. (In the west we let the melody dominate that perception and the rest is texture, perhaps, while in at least classical Indian music melody is hardly noticed at all while the sympathetic movements of the inner emotional system are almost exclusively attended to. Thus I personally dislike Western music with few exceptions as an endless worship of emotionally meaningless repetitiousness, a sort of highly active drooling doodling that brings no feeling at all while evidently its fans are fascinated, mentally quite fascinatedly obsessed like an idiot savant with the intricacies of minor variations on the meaningless. Yuck. But that's just me.) But evidently rhythm perception is a synthetic perception, taking the various bits of the repeating structure, and the repeating structure itself, and its doodling noodling change over time, and finding some joint perception of its unified quality as a particular riff or perhaps as a whole piece of music. Although many it is also one.

Musical Emotion: The basic rule of social emotion is that people synchronize to the emotional states of others. Thus an opera singer straining at her notes seems to me not a heroic achiever of a high C in a compelling melody, but rather a stressed tuning fork, an over-tightened pretender, who brings me also the feeling of being over-tightened and pretentious. Whereas, an emotionally present human being comfortable in their range singing for the joy of the note itself, e.g. Amira Willighagen, usually, makes me comfortable in my own breathing, and joyful in the perception of the note itself. This quite general phenomenon of emotional synchronization has many ramifications: e.g., don't proselytise rigidly or your audience will respond rigidly; etc.
Texture perception is another example of synthetic perception. Textures have emergent properties which integrate the lower-level information. In touch, when feeling a texture with the hand, perhaps it's not so much an average of the highs and the lows as a degree of resistance to action which may be a function of direction, number and sharpness of edges.

In visual textures, synthetic perception is different from averaged perception of multi-colored pixelated forms, or photomosaics. When the variation in the informational substrate is on a scale smaller than the perceiveable fineness (or as we say in phonetics, the difference limen), perception can be understood as mere averaging. A visual processing system that takes the entire mosaic element sub-picture and averages its qualities of color or brightness before even pushing its information upstairs to be combined into the larger picture, essentially replacing the whole sub-element with its average, would seem to do as well as a finite-precision system could possibly do, or close to it. One might think of the variegated specklings and colors of a robin's egg basically a light blue, because the many color elements as might be seen on close inspection have blended into a sort of global, or really, locally-integrated, percept. This is not the same as synthetic perception, by which I refer to the perception of wholes where the parts remain individually present in the perception. For example, synthetic perception of visual textures may be what you experience with a variety of granite countertops, for example, viewed close enough to distinguish crystals in the stone, and yet showing some higher rich pattern with both the detail and the higher pattern; that is what I'd call a synthetic perception.

Object Coherence

There are plenty more examples, but object coherence is a big one.

Continuity of surface and interior, continuity in time, are low-level inferences from the raw, you might say, spark-like, sensory data. Beside stereoscopic coherence, the field of image processing has shown how grades of brightness can be used to infer coherent surface curvature w.r.t. the light source, in the absence of other factors. Similarity of color, shape, contour, can similarly be used to indicate object coherence.

Adjacency in visual space or time combined with similarity perceived or inferred helps with the perception of continuity. Object perception (as opposed to classification or symbolic calculations based on perceived objects) seems to have these continuities in them. It's like a fountain of processing, at the bottom are sensations, in the middle are the processing levels, and the shapes at the top are the categories found in the data and the reasoning, planning, mapping to actions there. At each processing step another input set comes to the bottom of it while the different levels are all processing their level of results too. The perception of continuity I think has to do with the continued input feed supporting the (same) symbolic and classification structures which integrate them into object coherency.

I think the solution, being the structure and development of a system with these qualities, which may be an artificial intelligence of the future, has three parts:

Together these provide for the fact that spotty information can be experienced as rich and detailed object landscapes.

Stereoscopic movement as object learning

Look at a forest. See the trees as you walk on the path. The near ones fall behind you sooner, the far ones more slowly. One passes before the other. What do you learn? Change of group relationship under a stereoscopic view plus movement is the basis for object learning. If this passes in front of that, then it is not just closer, it is SEPARATE. There is stereoscopically inferred distance between the two, the front one becomes an foregrounded object, with characteristics inferrably similar to those seen on the side unseen. Thus we know that the tree trunk has an unseen back side more or less like the seen front side. It becomes an object separate from others in the scene, and it now exists in the round, though seen only from 180+epsilon degrees as you walk by.

The tongue, lips, and jaw control systems learn to squeeze liguid in and out and within the mouth within the womb. What is the metric of value applied in this reinforcement learning situation? Will to Power: A ratio between magnitude of effort and magnitude of effect. (Not yet the 3 Laws of Robotics.) Greater coordination in action leading to greater coordination in perception. Out of the static looms form. Spatial awareness is the first organization. Rubbing against oneself, tongue against palate, say, or thumb against palate or tongue, establishes immediate percepts of pressures at locations, sliding planes, perceived on both sides. Associated with muscle actuation patterns, proprioceived actuation levels, learning can occur, to discover basics about physical reality: solidity, coherence under motion, conservation of matter for liquid.

We have merely touched on aspects of synthetic perception through a few examples, and have seen hints about a pathway of learnability, generalization, and use in action and perception. My take on this? To me this approach seems novel and compelling. What's your reaction?

Next, a topic in vimarsha, language itself.

Language as Simplification

I know that my life over time without interaction seems to turn into a nest of threads.

It is social interaction that brings mental simplification. Expressing it simplifies it, makes sense of the goal structure, what belongs where, what can be ignored what's within the generalization.

So language is not just abstract, not just meaningful, but helpfully simplifying.

A speaker's task in language production is to come up with something sayable and useful, that is, (1) simple enough as a word, phrase, sentence or set of sentences that it can be expressed given the tools of language, while also (2) capturing, in some sense, some essence of the circumstances the speaker desires to describe and communicate, for another to share in the expressed essence or meaning.

Thus economy wins, poetic capture of some situational slant wins, expressive effort loses. Elaborated understanding and point by point enumeration of propositions representing all or even many or even more than very few of the details of even only the most relevant circumstances: loses. Yet understanding is limited and blocked by the resulting information shortage; how can a listener put things together, unless carrying out their own goal directed quest, fitting what they get from this input like an arbitrary puzzle piece into their own motivated frame and active landscape.

X Y Z.

The logical problem of word creation can be understood in an assumeable context of subjective organismal being and activity. That is, you might say archetypally, one is alive, one has internal spatial awareness and a capacity for sound, smell, taste, temperature, touch, sexual stimulatory sensory perceptions; one has parents (assuming the species reproduces sexually) and lives within one or more dominance hierarchies enabling mutual survival as a gregarious species; one lives by movement including coordinated actuator activation-pulse trains (hierarchies and sequences and relative timings and magnitudes) within a perceptual space constructing an internal vision of local 3D reality integrating sensory modalities from visual data, touch data, proprioceptive "direct" spatial perception a la worm consciousness. In human organisms the capacity for multi-layered cognition is elaborated. Layers may be perceptual as in the visual system's processing across layers of rod and cone dots into oriented micro-segments into higher and higher level patterns and ultimately into full object percepts. Layers may be situations across time, so that time itself is subjectively constructed, so that the distinction of possible from actual is rendered internally practicable; and with the distinction necessarily negation itself; so transactions become conceiveable; also so that richer models may arise of self-from-actions, self-vs-others, the interpersonal or social significance of action, and valuation itself which is the comparison and value-assessment of not just factual but counterfactual, to include possible, desireable, feared, remembered, circumstances. Matter whether solid, liquid or gaseous in state, must enter and leave the body via state-specific orifices, so that digestion, respiration, etc. may occur and metabolism continue at least for a time. Life goes on, and in this context coordinated action (not excluding communication) occurs following a a system-state-dependent valuation hierarchy a la Maslow or the chakra system, since of course priorities for an organism may be ranked, death, suffocation, overheat, overcold, sleeplessness, thirst, non-reproduction, dishonor, rejection by one's community, ignorance, emotional suffering, inability to speak one's truth, ignorance of one's true nature as divine consciousness. This is hardly controversial.

In any particular circumstance, a speaker can remember relevant linguistic elements present therein, and join them in combined forms enabled by language's simple essential structures which nonetheless capture some useful essence communicably with others. The invention of a name for a thing seems to go along with the invention or discovery of the thing itself, except that it might need a few instances sharing some similar quality or use for it to acquire its generality, abstractness, and communicability. But movement/action, planning, transacting, etc., the basic stuff of the species-universal context of being a human organism, will of course always be present, and certainly do motivate plenty of linguistic categories which therefore in a multi-layered cognition system come into shared use. Some categories are basic, arise from the nature of the species, and are thus useful in shared understanding: do/move, go, return, drink, eat, i/o, sleep, fuck, touch, smell, burn, freeze. Also because we plan and target the counterfactual using values: like, dislike; negation. And because as a planning and a social species we cooperate around plans: direct, obey, accept, reject. Conveniently capturing things around goals we get: path, target, hit, miss, start, stop, tool, obstacle. How do such and other categories arise, find utility, become shared?

The construction of language categories like the above, or even more abstractly verb, noun, and modifier seems certainly convenient for a species that acts, manipulates objects, and mentally recognizes qualities. But the universality of action, thing, and quality seems genetically determined, since in the natural flow of physics populated by organisms, the boundaries of things and their mutual similarities captured by any conceptual or labelling tree of categorical divisions thereof, seem like I say convenient but not necessary. Indeed as Peterson points out science and valuation are different as a map of the furniture and free paths in the room is different from the action-driving desire of thirst and intention to go through the room to get some milk from the fridge. Humans indeed always operate in a motivated frame, and the target of one's current motivation certainly goes beyond the driving of planning and action to actually structuring perception which ignores, doesn't even see, circumstances not relevant as aid, enablement, obstacle, path or tool or goal itself. Thus read a book with a question in mind; write a program to learn a programming language; live following a goal to experience motivation, progress, and energy.

Categories arise within the process of useful, that is to say, time-bound, goal-directed activity. Whatever may help action toward goals may become useful as a mental or, if shareable, communicable, then as a linguistic, category. Stuff acquires words given perceptual and productive capacities: when sound itself ramifies into high and low, burst and continuant, all vibrational in their nature, a playground of possibility for associating sounds, and when sequence is part of cognition, sequences of sounds, to shareabilities of utility. In the moment of shareability is utterance and uptake. In the discovery of utility is abstraction since repetition of an essence in always-variable circumstances picks out something shareably understandable and constant, that is, to say removed from the variability, suitably abstract.

For this reason the spiritual being of interiorly experienced consciousness before construction of time, lacking inner constructs of goal, desire, and utility, success and failure, may nonetheless include the simple (direct, uninterpreted) perception of vibration and light, sound and sensory flow. If captured by desire, so to speak, then the net of categories makes sense; yet bliss flows when simply sound itself vibrates within, and the emotional being within is unbound. Wisdom consists in the not being so captured, the ability to drop the unnecessary structure system when it's time for being, for emotional unconditionality, liberated joy. Committed experience of vibration itself, i.e. active wholehearted chanting, brings awareness to a state free of the net of categories and the emotional enslavement of desire-entrapped hunting whether successful or not.

Yet the hunt is itself a lie, emotionally, that is to say in the most important way. You subserve the goal, you entrap your feelings into the progress of the hunt, and at best if you pick a meaningful goal then once achieved you may momentarily let yourself transact with yourself to peek throgh the curtain of emotionally-bound being to that greater being which is free, unbound, emotions unlimited by stories and honor or dishonor, emotions which can go as high as the capacity of the heart touch you come through, the vastness of the heart is revealed, the edges of the infinite are surpassed, freedom, freedom, the abode of satisfaction, the fire hose of whatever you need, the peace of timeless being, the surrendered inner cleanliness. Perhaps hunt part-time if that is your karma but fulltime it is noone's karma to hunt and hunt always. On the contrary it is a play where you are the actor and the stage and it your choice to play in your role. Also your choice to be free, you can do it. Who said stop overflowing with joy and energy? Your babysitter can take some time off. Why isn't every sound the belling of joy for you? You have permission to let it be. Let it be!

You can even pay attention to the vibration within the sounds of the category labels themselves, at the same time the labels are sounding in your own mouth or another's, and even at work hunting you can have some awareness sharing the point while still seeing and being in the unconditioned emotional ground, which is after all always present as the ground and substance of perception.

We are beings of continuous perception, ever fresh; the flow of what comes now is always here with us.

When the longed-for tender caress finally touches your cheek, do you think and think and think of the status achieved and the binding of the relationship, or do you experience the continuous perception of the touch, the stroke, the warmth, the arising and lengthening and subsiding in love of this note of the conscious awareness of this, now? The more precious the more unintervened-upon by calculations of progress. Feel fully. Quit looking at the stands while you're still running the race.

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Working Memory, Layering, Math

Let's say for convenience that working memory can hold some specific number of elements at once (say 7, but actually that would be a matter for research to determine), but also let's say it has a layering structure, such that you can do Chomskyan Merge on a complex subset of elements held in working memory. A Merge operation substitutes a higher category for the subset. Then as a consequence you can pop up a layer, substituting out up to 7 elements, replacing them with a single one, the Merge of the complex subset, which is essentially a label for that subset, then your effective working memory expands to have room in it for 6 more elements. This process being recursive, quite complex thoughts can be built up (and expressed in language) despite the limitations of working memory. The task of expressing complex sentences becomes the unpacking of stacks of merged elements. It's not a bad way of thinking about linguistic cognition.

Math is based on geometric or other intuitions that can be developed by whatever means by the mathematician. But as shared with others, math is a language, made for convenience, constructable by the mathematician to refer to and express their intuitions. If the Sentences are equations of two expressions, each recursively the sum, difference, product, or quotient of two expressions, we get a grammar like this: S => Expr '=' Expr Expr => Expr { '+', '-', '*', "/" } Expr A few rules elaborate the above to provide for decimal numbers, variables, powers, logs, integral or summation signs, etc. within expressions. Part of a mathematician's job is to make up more convenient notations, which so far as I know can be captured in rules like these. Here's a notation I find convenient and refer to as H notation. When you're working on an equation, don't you normally spend all your time substituting equivalent parts into it? Well, I've taken up a habit, I just make a wide wide H symbol, as wide as the part I'm substituting out, right underneath that part, which I want to modify in the equation. Instead of modifying that tiny bit and rewriting the whole equation, with a boring recopying of all the rest, I just put the substitutable equivalent right there below the H. I can do it as many times as I like, and rewrite the final equation only once at the end. Does H notation even need a proof? Equals substituted for equals in any part of any equation leave equality unmodified. QED. I recommend it to you, and I wish someone had given it to me so I didn't have to invent it. It's very convenient.

What's amazing about math is that it usefully describes stuff. How is it that the stuff we encounter has patterns in it that math actually describes? It's the miracle of linguistic functionality. How can language actually function? We see it does, but reality is reality, and language is a different kind of object, which is "about" reality.

Copyright © 2000-2020, Thomas C. Veatch. All rights reserved.
Modified: May 17, 2020.