[Paleopsych] From Eshel--A Glitch in Genetic-centrism--Joel

Joel Isaacson isaacsonj at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 29 20:58:28 UTC 2005


Your intuitions and metaphors below are generally on target.   But rather 
than the music metaphor
I have used RESONANCE mechanisms within a technically-specific CA-based 
model of visual perception.

In addition to Hawkins' book I'd recommend also Christof Koch's book on
"The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach" (2004).   Since 
Val Geist
goes today into past events at the Konrad Lorenz Institute, I also have some 
notes that may shed some additional light on my approach --

In the mid-1980s I applied for DoD support to apply my cellular automata 
to problems of automated visual pattern recognition.   I called it 
“Dialectical Machine Vision”.

I did receive that support.  Later I learned that a Program Officer from the 
Office of Naval Research,
Boston Office, took my application to MIT for informal review.  One of the 
people who recommended it was Christof Koch, at that time a visiting 
scientist in neurobiology (vision) and a groupie of the AI Lab.    Since the 
early 1980s I had been in extensive dialogue with Marvin Minsky and many of 
his grad students who took my CAs to Ed Fredkin’s CA-group for 
implementation and testing – it worked just fine, but no one quite 
understood why, or how to apply it in AI.

In 1994 I found out that Christof Koch had established himself at Caltech 
and also became
a collaborator with Fransis Crick, then at the Salk Institute.  Their 
ambitious program was
to discover neural correlates of consciousness (NCC), primarily thru the 
study of vision
and visual awareness.

My report to DoD/ONR (1986) was squarely within that direction…  so, I 
reestablished  contact
with Koch, and later sent him a copy of my report on “Dialectical Machine 

During that period Francis Crick published his book “The Astonishing 
Hypothesis” (1994),
in which he postulated a “reverberatory” mechanism between the Lateral 
Geniculate Nucleus (LGN)
and area V1 in the visual cortex, along the visual pathway.   That was very 
close to a “sensation-resonance”  process between LGN & V1 that had emerged 
from my CAs in 1986.  So, at that time I wrote this to Christof Koch:

>From jdi Wed Mar 23 23:09:49 1994
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 94 23:09:49 CST
From: jdi at cs.wustl.edu (Joel D. Isaacson)
To: koch at klab.caltech.edu
Subject: Need some feedback
Cc: jdi

Students in my graduate AI course are getting curious about your
(and/or F.C.'s) reaction to the "Dialectical Machine Vision" stuff,
and so, frankly, am I.

Tonight we reviewed in class 3 elements:  "The Astonishing
Hypothesis,"  "A History of the Mind" by Nick Humphrey, and the
"Dialectical Machine Vision" paradigm.  Some students observed that a
3-way convergence on "reverberatory" neural-circuitry as a basis for
"awareness" is in the making.

Then someone put the following triangualr diagram on the chalkboard:

                             Crick-Koch, 1990/92/94
                             [visual neuroscience]
                             Tentative hypotheses

                               /    \
                              -       -
                            /          \
                          -              -
                        /                  \
                      -                      -
                    /                          \
                  V2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - V3
              Isaacson, 1987                   Nick Humphrey, 1992
              [BIP/DIP]                        [Psychology/
              Speculative theory                Evolutionary Biology]
              supported by artifacts           Speculative theory

where the interior of the triangle hold the basic theme of

I wish to prompt you to react to these thoughts.


-- jdi

Subsequently we had more discussion, and later Francis Crick asked for his 
own copy of my report,
which I provided.    Crick took his time, but ultimately wrote to me that:

“I have discussed your report with Christof Koch.  We both
feel it is rather too remote from our view of the brain to be of
much help to us.”

Well, my report included also (indirect) criticism of the “central dogma” 
(concerning the roles of  DNA, RNA, etc., etc.) as established by Crick & 
Watson some 25 years prior.   In the “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” 
Thomas Kuhn tells us that it is nearly impossible to dislodge established 
paradigms, as long as their developers are still alive…   James Watson is 
alive and well, but the late
Francis Crick sadly passed away in July of last year...   so, when Eshel now 
writes about a new
biology for the 21st century he is possibly timing it right...

-- Joel

>Joel--What you say below sounds right to me.  If I understand it  rightly,
>time is a recursion of boundary-making, an iteration of a  differentiating 
>aggregating process, a multiplier of the voids spaced  between the nodes of
>isness, and a grower of the clusters between the voids--as  in your 
>automata model.  It makes sense.
>And it fits with the notion that time is the most critical aspect of
>perception, an idea that Jeff Hawkins proposes in On Intelligence, one of  
>the few
>new-idea-generating books I've read in a long time.  Perception  in 
>view is a flow, a music.  As in music, we spot thje  sensory world's 
>its repetitive themes and their  variations.
>In higher cortical regions, we create invariant representations of a stream
>of sensations, we sift the themes from of a parade of sense-impacts, we
>capture the pattern of a surge of  impressions that follow each other like  
>notes in a melody. Hawkins thinks of these invariant representations  as 
>that Tune"-style song-spotting.  We send the prediction that  the name of 
>tune--the invariant representation-- implies back down to  the sensory 
>level of
>the cortex.  If the song title predicts the  incoming stream properly,
>everything is fine.  If the incoming signal-surge  no longer follows the 
>predicted by the song title, more cortical regions  are forced to rush in 
>and try
>other song titles, other invariant  representations, other names for the
>possible melody.
>The cosmos is process.  Time is as critical to understanding as are
>Perception has to mirror the cosmos to work.  So perception is a
>time-process, a temporal-flow-identifier-and-predictor, a future-projector 
>that  works by
>taking what's past and flipping it forward, sometimes with a new  twist.
>Music is practice for future-projection, for identifying patterns  in the 
>New musical styles and new songs are practice for the  novelties that may 
>around the bend.  Howard
>In a message dated 3/28/2005 11:07:39 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
>isaacsonj at hotmail.com writes:
>I  actually think more in terms of an Ur-Process that leads to Ur-Patterns.
>In  my view, our cognitive apparatus is comprised of zillions of  those
>Ur-Processes, interlocked in certain ways.   The very  elemental  
>involves local recursive discrimination of  differences.   Repeat:   LOCAL
>DISCRIMINATION OF DIFFERENCES is a key.    Interlocution of many
>Ur-Processes yields global Ur-Patterns that are  pervasive in Nature, at 
>(Biology and genetics are subsumed  under these processes and involve the
>Such  Ur-Patterns come to our awareness as "snapshots" during the incessant
>flow  of the Ur-Processes.
>Howard Bloom
>Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces 
>History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to 
>21st Century
>Visiting Scholar-Graduate  Psychology Department, New York University; Core
>Faculty Member, The Graduate  Institute
>Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: 
>of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: 
>Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American
>Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological 
>Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, 
>Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org;
>executive editor -- New  Paradigm book series.
>For information on The International Paleopsychology  Project, see:
>for two chapters from
>The Lucifer  Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,
>see  www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
>For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of  Mass Mind from the Big
>Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net
>paleopsych mailing list
>paleopsych at paleopsych.org

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