hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Oct 9 22:06:53 UTC 2007
At 10:01 AM 10/9/2007, you wrote:
>At 12:26 AM 10/9/2007, James Clement wrote:
> >If the brain can be looked upon as a combination of interconnected
> >running many programs and subroutines, most of which are inherited from our
> >reptile, mammal, and primate ancestors, what can we do to override or
> >reprogram these?
>This a topic of great interest to me. The inherited reptilian program is
>dangerous in many environments.
Our line parted ways with the reptiles a *long* time
ago. Psychological traits that were not conducive to reproductive
success in the last few million years when our ancestors lived as
hunter gatherers would have been bred out of the line. (Keeping in
mind "inclusive fitness.")
>One decidedly noticeable environment is
>when humans interface with machines, especially automobiles. If you
>sharpen your focus onto the body language and facial expression of drivers,
>it is exceedingly apparent that they perform like tightly wound aggressors
>vying for position, as if the urgency of their need entitles them to make
>abrupt and savage behavior.
I have not noticed this, but I seldom concentrate on the drivers
inside. It has been my experience that most of the time people are
fairly cooperative in traffic. There may be wide variations
depending on the geographic location though. But given that your
observations and inferences of the internal state of drivers are
correct, how was it that genes that contributed to this behavior
contributed to reproductive success in the lives of our ancestors?
>Of course it is necessary to have internal and external warning systems but
>I think that humanity cannot overcome many of our current foibles unless
>and until we manage the hyperemotional disarray our inheritance and enhance
>our sensory awareness.
I see your point. I don't think we are going to get far with either
unless we understand at least the evolutionary origin of our
psychological traits and perhaps it will take understanding even the
However, consider "hyper emotional disarray [of?] our
inheritance." Whatever emotional traits we have come from
selection. They are not likely to be in disarray in the environment
of evolutionary adaptiveness (EEA), at least when considered from
the viewpoint of the genes that construct our emotional circuits. If
they are in disarray today, it's because the environment (material
and memetic culture) has changed and genes have not kept up. How has
culture changed? Is the change permanent? If we could, what changes
should we make in these traits? (We will have the ability to do it
soon, so thinking about this might be rather useful.)
"[A]nd enhance our sensory awareness." We are not aware or conscious
of everything that goes on. Why? I suspect awareness is a limited
and precious mental resource. We probably have a lot of hardwired
circuits to focus it on matters of pressing importance, and I think
there are mental illness states involving awareness. If we were to
enhance our sensory awareness, what would it take? What might it
cost in terms of other mental features?
>I remember back in the late 1960s when Maharishi suggested that if 10% of
>humanity repeated a "Om" mantra, that there would be a rise in
>consciousness for all. I feel quite deeply that the consciousness of
>humanity can only be raised if we engineer our brains.
An analogy that might help is that we have engineered our immune
systems since the invention of inoculation.
You could say that education is brain engineering in the same
sense. However, while cowpox really does confer immunity to
smallpox, I know of no such programs (even "critical thinking") that
have been shown in a scientific test to confer immunity to cults or
other kinds of irrational thinking. If anyone has an idea of how
such a program could be designed *and* tested, I would be *most*
interested. If you want to know why testing is so important, read
the criticisms section here:
>More on this if
>anyone is interested, but I think my paper "Wisdom through AGI / Neural
>Macrosensing" says it fairly clearly.
Is there a text version or a recording of your talk?
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