[ExI] Where’s my body’s Control Panel?

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Thu Apr 9 02:52:35 UTC 2009

On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 9:11 PM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Where’s my body’s Control Panel?

I wrote something about this on my website, but I can't remember the
exact link at the moment, so it will have to wait. Abstractly, you
could say that any given sequence of actions has some finite number of
steps with a termination step "back at the beginning"- i.e., back at
the actor. This is what I was calling 'recursion'. Through recursion
path minimization, you minimize the number of steps that it takes for
some action to have some sort of impact on you- there's some "gap"
(measured in terms of the number of steps) between program, programmer
and that which is programmed (Ishq Allah maboud 'lillah).

One of the things that matters in transhuman tech issues is the
toolchain length from "programmer" and "that which is programmed"- and
in the case of transhumanism, that's supposed to be the self. But in
reality, in our day to day lives, we find that we have to go through a
lot of crap just to get back to something that might be moderately
useful in rapid prototyping of augmentations, or in acquiring tools to
deal with the small nanoscopic world internal to ourselves with these
big, bulky primate hands bestowed upon us. Path length is one
measurement that can matter greatly: some paths take too many steps to
go from one state to another state, while other paths, such as those
provided by pharmaceuticals in the water supply (admittedly, not a
really big influence) are somewhat involuntary, when in truth we would
all jump on the chance to be able to moderate that to our own
self-guided design. So to some extent, perhaps recursion involves
changing the external world, the set of tools that you have available
and the set of tools that are accessible, how these tools are made and
from what materials and resources they can be designed?

> It occurs to me that if I were to design a robot to do all the things
> a human does, it’d have a control panel, or administration interface.
> This is the equivalent of the Settings menu or Properties page in
> various software. That control panel would likely be internal,
> operated by the robot’s mind, but it would be there.

DNA. But, you might say that this doesn't necessarily effect the self.
There are two possible scenarios here. (1) You make some modifications
to DNA, and infect yourself with an adenovirus or something, and the
changes take place and something happens. Somewhat dangerous, maybe
unlikely, maybe likely. (2) You make some modifications to DNA and
spawn a child process. At this point, #2 looks very reasonable in the
sense that it is something that could have already be happening or
have happened multiple times in the past. I think that it is a natural
extension of the nuclear family to understand that #2 is part of the
typical concept of 'family'- who wouldn't want to reinstantiate their
long-lost great grandfather, or husband, or child? In terms of the
control panel, contributions from each individual being reincarnated
and their own personal modifications to the "family DNA" will make for
an interesting way to go about things, but it's no where near anything
like rapid prototyping. Oops.

> “Add Muscle mode”, or “Overclocked Metabolism mode”, etc etc. The
> possibilities are endless.

Wasn't there an individual who had six times the normal molarity of
insulin in his blood, and so he doesn't gain weight because of that?
Would you like an insulin drip, or maybe some buggers in your gut to
overproduce insulin? I have a genetic circuit I've designed for ecoli
to produce oxytocin, and I actually have some notes and people here on
campus working towards the expression of insulin in some algae, maybe
something could be fixed up. I could even tell you the protocols and
procedures you would need to implement the DNA from a synthesis house
over the net and grow a good yogurt culture (or something) to consume
and then have sitting at the bottom of your stomach. Legal issues
aside, that is.

> made weight loss into a moral endeavour. “No pain no gain”. We invoke

"No pain no gain". Sounds puritanical.

> Separately, there’s this idea that we need to “burn off” those
> calories. It assumes this dumb system where calories go in, get used
> or stored, and the only way to remove stored calories is to use more
> than you consume, like we have all the systemic complexity of a
> bucket. If that were true, then seriously fat people could just not

Isn't that a Douglas Adams?

> The corollary of this is, I expect, that if you stop the penitential
> flagelation of the flesh, the body will change back into its “store
> fat” mode and you’ll be back to weight gain again.

Anyway, I find it very weird that government websites actually talk
very little about exercise physiology. Health, being such a huge and
important issue, has very little science behind it when presented to
the public over television or in textbooks (at least the ones I
remember from high school). I have thrown together some notes on how
to automatically test muscles for what factors will enhance their
growth- like different stress/strain vectors, forces, myostatin, etc.
etc., but I'm surprised I haven't found any studies that have already
implemented it- it seems like something fairly obvious to do for some
hardcore studies of muscle physiology.

> That’s all by way of example. The point I want to make is that it
> shouldn’t be this hard. Exercise for weight loss is a hack, it’s
> tricking the body into doing what you want in an indirect way. If you
> were designing a human from scratch, it wouldn’t be necessary, you’d
> just go into Settings, and change metabolic modes.

- Bryan
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