[ExI] EP

hkhenson 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 
circuit wiring.

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?

Keith Henson 

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