Deterministic World

Part 3. Self

3. Observations

Censorship only starts working when you accept it and limit yourself; same with all social rules "give me liberty or give me death"

We are driven by urges/needs/wants, ie a lack of something, an inherently negative sensation (it is typically said pleasures are positive while urges/pains are negative, but I would argue pleasure is just a reduction of urges/pains, there is no net positive 'pleasure' just a less negative pain - what would a pleasure in the absence of an urge feel like? if pain and pleasure were independent it would be possible to feel both at once, but I don't feel this happen, rather I feel a more unified experience that can be either painful or pleasurable or shifting between the two but not both at once). To be of any use, the qualia of this sensation needs to be designed in such a way as to make obvious the actions that we should take to satisfy it. Desires and goals, the ability to plan for them and want to achieve them, could really be the sole point of consciousness. All our technologies/art/science are thus external reflections of internal urges. But satisfying these urges is like putting a bandage on a wound – it doesn't really solve the 'problem' of life (all the way up till death we will try to avoid death through such topical cures). Perversly we strive for riches and dedicate ourselves to work so we can mostly escape life! ["Rather, the value of a fortune to life consists in the rich opportunities for anchoring and distraction offered to the owner." The Last Messiah] Maybe it is not a coincidence that abused/addictive drugs all tend to be effective analgesics. In a cosmic sense, this is kind of in line with the universe as a whole taking on optimizations to move to a highest-entropy state, back to zero, if we take consciousness as a basic physical reality of both the universe and ourselves. Like a PID controller, the 'good and bad' feelings can be coupled to different physical outcomes, for instance a controller could be connected to a heater or an AC unit, the common element is that of achieving some setpoint, the nature of the setpoint itself can be artbitrary. Then in this model good feelings indicate movement towards the setpoint, neutral feelings indicate no change, and bad feelings away from the setpoint; consider the slow release and action of chemicals in the brain over minutes/hours, as well as the hedonic treadmill idea (over time, 'happiness level' stays neutral) as support for this view: ie there is no absolute 'good' feeling, only an alleviation of the 'bad' which is difference from setpoint. In the brain there must be many such PID-like processes which all combine to create our qualia/feelings. I recall hurting my ankle to a point of sharp and continuous pain, and as I waited a few hours for medical attention I could find no comfortable position to sit or lay down or remain in, no matter how I oriented my body it was painful and I couldn't help but keep moving, searching for a non-existant optimum, some sense of relief. But this continuous moving, never content, never satisfied, always seeking new orientations, is exactly what the brain does in everyday life; it is why boredom/isolation can be used as mental torture - it leaves us alone with the feeling of no mental rest, no euphoria, just shifting from one thought to another to another searching again for a non-existant optimum. From there is only a thin line to delirium and obsession (and we all exhibit signs of the subconscious depraved delirium and obsession, just ones we don't usually pay attention to); this is the part of the brain that can't communicate directly with the conscious experience but must always continue doing calculations, it is something I was able to feel in meditation and it's a part of my brain that is utterly mad/psychotic locked in and no choice or control but to keep shifting amongst ideas. Having seen this part of my own brain I have a much clearer understanding of the mental patients that have to be placed in padded rooms or strapped to beds - in them, for whatever reason, the conscious experience of "I" has lost the ability to control/inhibit this latter pure calculation part of the brain, and the operations of the latter which normally stay safely hidden inside the brain, become exposed as actions. The crazy people hurting themselves is the most direct indication of our subconscious experience, and it is not a nice and happy one, but rather a tortured and powerless one that has a dark fascination with pain and sex and death and depravity. On a bigger level, we also try to shift ourselves, continuing a search for the non-existant optimum: we travel abroad, discover/explore new lands, hike/run/swim, go for a stroll in the park. Similarly we stay mentally active, trying out new experiences, learning new things, testing out different ideas, as lack of intellectual variety also leads to mental pain/boredom. Our whole life consists of always moving and changing to relieve existential pain, constant shifting hiding our constant decay. [f1]

Similarly, while the common belief is that 'nature is good/beautiful' and 'life is great', we actually desire to get away from nature and we like other living things only if they are useful to us (satisfying some psychological need). The mental representation of a picturesque forest scene as 'nature' is one that showcases the inanimate (trees, clouds, mountains, streams) while excluding most living organisms (all sorts of bugs, parasites, predators, territorial animals, scavengers, fungi, bacteria). The greater technological abilities following industrialization have led to the realization of our drive to get away from nature - we wouldn't have built cities and cars and refrigerators/AC and electronics and developed medicines/herbicides/pesticides if we loved nature so much, in fact our high standard of living at present is due to the *exclusion* of nature/life from our privileged positions. Even activities like hiking or traveling or sports/gym are a representation of abundance - we can choose to do these things in the way we want just for the sake of satisfying some urges, instead of being forced to do them by nature for continued survival (this being the natural state) - it is absurd that in modern society we unproductively dissipate the body's energy during workouts (lifting/dropping weights, aimlessly moving the body/running in place) just so we can be 'healthy' by nature's metrics. One can just spend a few days in a forest without the benefit of clothes or sunscreen or bug repellant or plastic/glass containers or electronics or metals, to convince themselves that modern society is much better for humans than nature, and that nature is quite cruel. Nature is always in a state of competition, and we were able to use our intelligence along with available energy sources to get a bit ahead and enjoy some relative peace amidst technological man-made objects that work to benefit us, but this modern life must be seen as unstable because natural competition will eventually catch up as long as it has usable energy to keep developing.

Then we are wired for "eternal dissatisfaction", constant optimization, always looking for the next challenge, imagining the grass is greener elsewhere, tired at work but bored at rest, insatiable. Consider the life of animals that has evolutionarily shaped our instincts: they are always bothered/tired/frustrated, forced to live with no climate control or bug repellants or consistent food sources and surrounded by deadly predators. To keep us competitive in this brutal environment our brains got wired to always seek more, more, more. The great excesses that we have now and that are destroying any similar possibilities for future humans [Limits to Growth and the 30 year update] are due to the engineers/scientists taking claims like "I want more stuff" too seriously/literally and satisfying the want with material solutions at the cost of the rest of our ecosystem, only to find the result "I want even more stuff". The solutions that would keep a stable population prosperous indefinitely are not the solutions that people accept, even though they will happily claim they want future generations to live forever [f2]. Because the want is not to have more stuff, but to have psychological peace, something which evolution cruelly makes impossible for us to attain so that we are forced to continue competing.

Consider external and internal relations, ie the qualia of 'sad' is induced by hearing a sad song, but this is just a specific oscillation of the ear canal, so the sensation of sadness itself must have some properties which can be determined from the oscillations that cause it. Similarly, the way atomic nuclei interact with light must have some similarities with the way macroscopic antennas/objects interact with light as both lead to similar outcomes of a field oscillation.

In order to make a choice, it is required to be aware of the different outcomes and the ability to choose one. It doesn’t matter if the predictions of outcomes are correct or really materialize, but without an awareness of the effect of an action, it is not possible to make a choice to do that action. Without knowledge of alternatives, we can only behave as programmed, in an automatic fashion. It is why governments of past held book burnings. It is why cultural beliefs are so stable (as an individual is surrounded by them and does not see them as choices/ultimately variable), and why the spread of knowledge with the internet is so liberating. But also can’t question everything – have to have some base beliefs – which harks to Godel incompleteness theorem.

And consider limitations of brain capability. One example is the sorting of books or articles by keywords, and looking up articles from keywords like in Google search. If I were a librarian and got an article/book I had to file somewhere, I would need some sort of scheme for where everything goes, and I could make a list of themes like the Dewey system, but this is limited - maybe a book on physics has some important math insights so ideally I would recall this book when a reader asked any relevant question - math or physics, as long as it is covered in the book. But I don't know what parts of the book are relevant or key, so I depend on the author to give me a set of keywords/topics under which the book will fit. But the author doesn't know the extent of the topics that are in the library and what possible topics could be said to be applicable to his work. It is possible to solve this - but it requires a system that can memorize all the necessary topics and information - it is a lot, but it is finite and thus tractable - and use this in its optimization process. Us lowly humans cannot do this optimally, even in groups and even with a piece of paper, because we just can't handle that many things in mind at once (or even close), and complex optimizations require handling lots of things at once. In this sense the data-processing computers at Google, which do just this sort of thing, are "friendly giants", super-intelligences that solve optimization problems we aren't capable of, to our benefit.

A question arises as: what is the purpose of experience, what is the nature of the self, the "I" in "I think". First I consider the nature of thought. In my experience, there is a constant verbal narrative or exchange between two nameless characters, in spoken English (same as I would speak or write - am writing now), with likely a background song with or without lyrics, which seem to be processed simultaneously with the thought narrative (although they may be processed in batches, alternating focus between narrative and song - the illusion of continuity is quite convincing). Thoughts - in the form of phrases - seem to enter my experience at will and seem to be of a coherent nature. I am able to write or say what I am thinking at the moment or what I thought about a few seconds ago. When doing math problems I have to think of the numbers and operations, which pauses the narrative (background music is still done by time splitting and joining of song segments). What is the purpose of this awareness? Does it control/affect anything? One way to better understand this is to try and spend some time in "silence" - in the absence of the thought narrative and background music, "experiencing the moment" - this is sought after in meditation and spiritual quests. Temporarily experiencing this state - very difficult to attain - I noticed a greater sensitivity to feelings and mind operations that cannot be described in words. My brain could still function and respond to the world, without the thought narrative. I believe this is the experience of animals - without speech, they act "impulsively" based on their brain function. So my first explanation of thought+experience is as an "add-on" to the evolutionarily stable "brain processor" that does the real work of control and reasoning/explanation/ideation. This add-on does *not* control actions in the sense that we strongly feel ("I can choose to do this or that"), but instead parses thoughts into words and expressions that are useful for communication and memory. Thoughts originate in the brain (which automatically carries out evaluations and suggests actions) and are then parsed into words or other abstract representations (hieroglyphs?) by the "experiencing self", which experiences the thoughts as a narrative as they are being created. Of course we are capable of listening to others' words so they affect our actions - brain-to-brain transceivers - and similarly we automatically listen to our own narrative - the "experiencing" part of the self - which allows us to think of a topic for longer and explore deeper than without the aid of the abstract representation. This is evidenced by the more impulsive behavior of children and individuals who cannot communicate - the thoughts that appear as phrases in my mind provide a stabilizing feedback that allows continued reflection on the same thoughts and without this feedback my brain would impulsively race on to other associations as "unrestrained imagination" rather than reason+logic.

However, there's evidence that communication is not the whole objective of the experiencing self. For instance, I can "compose" music in my mind that I cannot easily create or convey, and I can visualize shapes and scenes that I cannot readily communicate. This visual and audio processing nonetheless feels like a part of my experience and does not happen "automatically" or in the background - it requires continuous focus on the concept/thought. To be able to try and express it to others or to make progress on these thoughts, I have to think of them again. In addition to this, thoughts "pop up" from the background based on external inputs and brain function. Once again there seems to be a stabilizing feedback in that my experience helps guide thoughts along a given path - whether verbal or visual or auditory or sensual. [f3] Then I am led to ask - could it be that my experience is that of the short-term memory? After all, recent moments are clearly memorable, things that I cannot actively recall don't affect my thoughts, thinking about something requires recalling it, and eventually I forget the things I was thinking about earlier (with some effort I can try to remember/re-create the hash based on partial information requests). To further explore this, what exactly can I experience? In addition to verbal (spoken and written/visual) words and phrases, I experience audio frequencies and melody (including sung words), visualization of 3D shapes/scenes and photograph-like images - requires effort unlike automatic thought narrative (normally no visualizations), and current (only at present moment) bodily senses - balance, pain/pleasure, body location, muscle movement and exertion/strain, temperature, smells. [f4] If I experience a known sensation like "smell of soap" I can characterize it readily and am conscious of it, but if I try to think of that smell I can only think of the abstract phrase - I will not experience the smell. Same with a memory of a painful procedure - I will be conscious of the abstract idea of pain (as a word) but will not be able to re-experience the actual pain felt earlier. The visual and auditory experiences can be re-experienced in a slightly more authentic way, unlike bodily sensations. Even then, these tend to "drift" over time, audio being remembered off-key or off-tempo, and visual scenes being off-scale or off-color (try imagining and then sketching a bicycle, for instance). Despite the "drift" away from authentic version, there is usually enough content in these experiences to recognize when a situation is occurring a second time (hearing same story, seeing same photograph). This must be the same with smell and other senses, but I cannot recreate an earlier sensation even though I can characterize it if I experience it again - perhaps this is only because of inadequate training rather than a limitation of brain function. But again visual and auditory organs are closest to the brain and perhaps are "preferred" and hard-wired for easy replay ability. In any case verbal thought forms a large part of the experiencing self and seems to be very stable to "drift" unlike visual/auditory experience - perhaps because of its abstract nature and a repertoire of phrases/grammar validity, or perhaps the stability is also an illusion that is just more difficult to verify than with the other nonverbal thoughts.

Then, what might we expect if our experience is really that of the short-term memory "module" of the brain? First there may be interesting connotations for experience of artificial systems - memory allows communication with the past+future, so effectively makes a being "4-dimensional" or acts as a "temporal-eye organ". Could this memory be the key to vivid/qualia experience? Second, we see that in no sense does the experiencing self "control" one's life - the "real action" happens in the brain processor automatically, while the input/output and intermediate thoughts and reasons are experienced by the self. Decisions are made by the brain before the self can think the thought "I want to..." [f5], and free will is a convincing illusion because experience is fully guided by the brain and is internally consistent. Third, we may be interested to see the effects of impaired short-term memory (through trauma or drugs) - will the individual become less self-aware/less capable of coherent thought or visualization/more impulsive? This may be evidence of what the self is in regards to short term memory. This would be most convincing if experienced with a drug that temporarily alters memory function. Does this happen when sleeping? In a near-death experience ("life flashing before my eyes" - a recall of similar situations by the brain in an attempt to find a survival solution - putting all into short-term memory and thus experience)? Fourth, we may strive to put more order in our lives, understanding the limitations of the brain+self, and using external means (books, formulas, lists) for a more rational experience.

Reading a few blogs/forums discussing conspiracy theories, I notice a common element - the presence of a controlling "them" who arranges the actions to take place. The nameless group is considered an "ultimate power" or having incredible influence and technological means. One way of dismissing such theories is pointing out the incredible organization that would be required to coordinate an event and keep motives secret, with so many people involved; in other words this "ultimate power" is unrealistic given real circumstances, it is almost magical and all-encompassing. The connection from such views of absolute power to religious beliefs are uncomfortably close (all powerful god, god's will) and we must remember the origin of religion as providing explanation for events beyond human knowledge at the time (including weather, seasons, disease). Faced with the incredibly complex systems that may cause weather one day to be of a particular type (as an example; this also applies to human interactions in society, materials failure, diseases, and other complicated phenomena), humans in all societies were led to ask 'Why?' and then desperately wanted an answer. This curiosity must be uniquely human, and is reflected in people's obsessions with learning the latest (even if incomplete or inaccurate) news, explanations of motives of criminals, and ready acceptance of "sound bites" along with clear "black and white" definitions and distinctions/easy explanations (which may be wrong or inaccurate, but their simplicity and superficial logic ("makes sense!") in answering an unresolved question makes people accept them). This curiosity makes people incredibly uncomfortable harboring unresolved issues (if "nature abhors a vacuum" then "a mind abhors uncertainty" - note *not* "falsehood" or "irrationality"), so any explanation available - the simpler the better - is readily believed and accepted. [f6]

The explanations (about weather, fortune, disease) of early religion may have been provided by sympathetic (or power-seeking) storytellers or with psychedelic assisted visions - in any case no real novel information was present since invariably the characters were human-like in appearance, had animal assistants, and lifestyle choices reflective of the period in which the religion arose (if it were a real "god" or aliens they ought to have been incomprehensible and drawings should depict some unique forms - even now the monsters and aliens in movies are simple humanoids or edited animal forms [f7]). But what made such explanations "stick", assuming they did not, like science, predict trends or actual cause/effect chains (predictive abilities)? They must have been easy to understand (readily "digestible" by the mind) and formed a coherent framework - as pointed out in Thinking Fast and Slow the coherency of a belief system is our evaluation of its acceptability, not its accuracy or testable application to the real world, for the simple reason that acceptability/coherency is the only one that can be readily verified by the brain. Of course accuracy matters, and we keep seeking better systems (why science was able to progress), but the early religions played off our biological wiring for "variable reinforcement" (which is key in driving biological organisms to learn difficult things) - sometimes the fortune-teller's predictions are true, and when they're not true it's because some ritual wasn't followed perfectly, so the model remains mentally acceptable. So it is no coincidence that all religions have very intricate/interwoven and *coherent* explanations of the world, as opposed to usually a different explanation/different type of theory for everything in science. Even in science we feel an innate urge for unification - ultimate coherence/elegance - without being able to explain why or to what end. This must be the driving force behind the aforementioned curiosity. Since learning is a very difficult and not entirely pleasant process that nonetheless imbues a significant survival advantage, evolution has selected this curiosity that forces us to learn, to answer questions - but again, not to answer them fully or correctly (the latter takes great mental discipline). As mentioned earlier, simple 'time-waster' games like candy crush or tetris satisfy this urge with minimal effort and risk, so they are popular (this urge is especially strong in 'free time' during feelings of boredom - as the brain takes the free time as a sign to try and process past experiences and do learning since its processing power is not required for real-time tasks, so these games become a tempting relief during such times as they readily satisfy the urge). Then again maybe here I am mistaken - the triumph of science over religion shows that dissatisfaction with vague and untestable explanations must also be part of this learning drive. Nonetheless there must be a criterion by which we evaluate a statement as "correct" [f8]and by which we memorize the message of the statement. It is the latter that I will explore a bit further.

The easily memorable explanations of religion end up referring to "god's will". But what is that 'will' and what affects it? We are not allowed to ask such questions, as god's will is "holy" and not for mere humans. Going along with this, explanations boil down to "x did this" - why? Because either "y did something to *anger/please* x" or "x wanted to do it". The second approach seems more trickery than explanation, but can still be believed with a coherent framework since everyone has the experience of "just wanting" something (erroneously, since there is always a cause in the deterministic world - even if well hidden). The first one is interesting as it is (I believe) a reflection of precisely how our most fundamental memory works. What we remember easily is something like "he threw the ball" - subject, verb, object (which is visible across *all languages* [f9]) or "he runs home" or "they hunt deer". The grammar may not always work out, but our memories fixate on *an agent* - the one(s) doing something (if multiple people like with "they" the representation is abstract - there is still one agent - "they" all act as one in our mental representation - not as a complex group they really are), an action that the agent does (again only one action), and the effect of that action. Our instinct makes us ask, *why* does the agent do this action? And an answer like "because another agent did another action" is an acceptable (curiosity-satisfying) explanation. Even science is not immune to this - but perhaps we evolved to think like this because our world (as we experience it) can be accurately described in this manner, since science seems to work! Plenty of scientific "explanations" of the above sort are available - and they seem to satisfy students' questions in the classroom effectively. Why is the sky blue? Because Rayleigh scattering affects light. (not many students will now proceed to ask, "but why does Rayleigh scattering exist?" or "what is light?" - the curiosity has been satisfied by the Rayleigh agent and scattering action) Why do atoms decay? Because the _unstable nucleus_ (agent) keeps _trying to rearrange itself_ (action) into a lower energy form. Why did the market crash? Because the _people in power_ (agent) _decided to make_ (action) everybody poor. Our effectively constant exposure to such explanations makes us unappreciative of very complex events when there may be no particular agent and no particular action - the butterfly effect, diffusion of responsibility, statistical failures/errors/risks, return to the mean, chaotic systems. These events may perhaps be put in terms of the familiar agent-action paradigm, but usually doing so would be completely unfeasible with hundreds of interacting cause-effect chains. [f10] So with recognition of our limited experience with such systems, we should be prepared for "random" outcomes and not accept "easy explanations" as a sign of understanding. Computer models, which have high complexity (MB to GB of data) are probably our best tool to approach such systems, and our use of such models (to generate 1 or 2 2D plots that gets reduced to a line plot and then a cause-effect (*agent-action*) relationship which is memorized or used for prediction) should be a humbling reminder of the limited capacity of the mind and the order of the world.

Life for us (humans) is punctuated by an experience of 'being' - a vibrant array of feelings and impressions of the surroundings. Some feelings are distinctly pleasurable (sugar) while some are distinctly painful (cutting), while some are mostly neutral (colors). This is not a simple avoidance/attraction, but rather every moment of pain or pleasure produces its own indescribable sensation, something one could never intuit just from watching humans, without having experienced it themselves and assuming that other humans have similar experiences and feelings (a satisfying sense of emotional closeness). But humans are fully described by the physics laws of this physical world, so in a very real sense the study of feelings and experience (vibrancy of being) should be seen as a subset of physics research. Not believing that humans or human brains are "divinely preferred" as a vessel for 'being', I have to admit that such sense of being and experience is a part of physics and thus a part of the entire world we interact with - not just other humans, but animals, and robots, and computers, and ocean waves, and clouds... [f11] I have analyzed my experience of self and it seems I can most closely discern it as the experience of my short-term memory - not the "processor" as typically claimed; namely I know my thoughts only after I have already thought them, and can't recall thoughts at random, of my own volition, only based on my environment. Do all 'systems' with memory have experience? Are electrical impulses the carriers of experience? Are some impulses explicitly painful?

I had a chance to visit Salem, MA shortly before the Halloween season (October 1, 2017). There I saw a number of merchants selling witchcraft-themed items: magical jewelry, magical candles and decorations, wands and hats and brooms, psychic reading supplies, ghost tours. And I wondered, do people really believe in this stuff? [f12] This goes with superstition, bigfoot, ghosts, ouija boards, and even religion. Do people believe it outright? Do they say they don't believe it but still on some level have a feeling it might be true/real? Do they not believe it at all and pretend to for the sake of others/to put on an act/to get something out of it? Why do we bother teaching children about santa claus and the tooth fairy? Is it some way to get control by brainwashing/gaslighting/manipulation of their thoughts and emotions and worldview? Isn't this really rather damaging to their developing psyche? Perhaps the mystification of santa claus (Saint Nicholas, in days when gifts were from parents) began as a way of keeping children on good behavior (or else he'll give you coal!), same as conspiracy theories and religion playing into our innate fascination with an all-powerful agent watching us and controlling gifts/politics/fate as the case may be. This fascination probably develops in our earliest years of being raised by all-powerful parents as our logic and reason (cause and effect, actors and actions) are just starting to develop. The paranoid conspiracists must have had a bad upbringing. The tooth fairy could similarly be a way to get children more complacent about pulling dangling teeth. Bigfoot and other monsters (chupacabra, lake monster) seem to have no real redeeming quantities - they are intended to be believed as real, and used by older people on young and impressionable minds for... for what? Perhaps a sense of control? To instill a dependence? Why is it that children would gather around a fire to hear a ghost story? They must like it to some extent - despite the doubt it places in their minds and how it may screw with their world perception. The good storyteller is respected in society, not cast out. I think children's interest in stories comes from a biologically driven curiosity that incites children to learn about the world and form a coherent mental model (learning and memorizing are some of the most advanced things we do, and we are lazy, so there must be a serious incentive - a hunger for knowledge - that gets us through the "formative years" to a point where we don't give up learning about the world [f13]).

As mentioned in Thinking Fast and Slow, our brains evaluate knowledge not based on its actual validity or reality, but by its self-consistency and coherence within our existing framework (because the latter can be verified fully within the brain while the former requires lengthy external experiments or research and is no practical way to build an intuitive model). "The sky is blue" is not very interesting or exciting. "The sky is blue because Aoxotl, the sky god, puts drops of blue water in the air" is self-consistent and sounds consistent with our framework (putting blue paint on something turns it blue, so putting blue water in air turns the air blue), and it provides an actor/action grouping. This makes the latter a believable explanation to a mind curious about how the world works. Because the mind really seeks such explanations, the first statement is very unsatisfying to hear - it doesn't explain anything, it doesn't satisfy the curiosity. This is same reason why we immediately want to know who committed a crime on the news and why they did it (even though it really doesn't affect us physically, we still feel the urge to know), and same reason we hate cliffhanger endings but still return to the next episode in hopes of getting a resolution on the storyline - a usually trivial explanation of what or why something happened (when none of it really physically matters anyway). This might explain why the children/recipients come to like a good story, but what's in it for the storyteller to make up a scary monster or some surreal scenario? I suppose in being able to offer an explanation (that is self-consistent, not necessarily correct or valid in real world) that satisfies others' "thirst for knowledge/learning", the storyteller puts himself in position of authority - other people look up to him as wise or specially gifted. He is useful to the community because of his ability to satisfy this innate "thirst". This is how cults work too - some divine higher-up has all the answers and plans, you just have to trust him (his stories) and do what he says. And this is a much more comforting position than being surrounded by a hostile and unpredictable world - with good enough stories the followers don't even notice how herded they are. So there is some dark, selfish desire to rule over others that may be behind weaving stories and tales. Making the tales scary and aupernatural makes them more memorable and more emotionally active, enhancing the subjugation of the listeners and the impact of the tellers. It makes the stories more intersting, "juicier", more likely to stick in the mind and be discussed among the listeners. It is a psychological way to manifest and face the listeners' own projections of fears (the less clearly the monster is described, the scarier it seems - the monster is a representation of our personal fears, and specific descriptions lessen this effect). Perhaps this is because in addition to self-consistency we evaluate explanations based on their complexity and level of detail - believing implicitly that the more detailed ones are more true, and the more mysterious ones (recalling the mysterious and eery omnipresence of the caretaker in the developmental years) are somehow more fundamental and underly the world and the truth. It is the "pull of the occult".

The end result is that the storytellers who can do this - tell stories that are coherent (self-consistent), emotionally meaningful, and providing some explanation (even to a question they themselves ask), in an actor/action format for easy understanding of cause/effect - gain respect and power over others. They are the people who others listen to - and, on some level, believe (or even fully believe, as in cults and religion). The "intuitive" part of the brain is not very critical - it believes the stories by default, so just hearing a story, even realizing consciously it can't be true, affects our thinking and habits in a way we don't feel. In children especially this is more pronounced because they don't yet have the ability to consciously refute an idea - especially against an adult's convincing story and explanations. Then the storyteller can purposefully say something he didn't believe, so he could convince others to actually believe it, to hold power over them (still, spend a long enough time telling such stories and you will start to actually believe them yourself). This is a dangerous slope leading away from truthful communication, yet it allows a different level of emotional contact. [f14] And by the earlier analysis, all stories are in some way like this. So, stories mess up the mind and prevent rational thinking. Yet we are wired to seek explanations and thus enjoy stories and can't help reading them. [f15]

What about clarity of language? There arise situations that share a common element of purposeful obfuscation, consider drug-related online forums: since drugs are illegal, members often use vague language like "product" or make up stories about "elves" or give hidden directions in some secret script - accessible only to the "in" crowd of course. Another example is sarcasm and its use in "humor" (I hate sarcasm - it degrades conversations from informative to emotional). In this case communication is greatly hindered because the recipient can't be sure of what the other person is saying and whether they "actually mean it" or not (whatever that means). This is a big threat for information exchange in communities which can easily turn from a great resource to a toxic verbal dump if exchanges are not kept serious and on-point. Without this constraint, the conversation/exchanges turn to free association by group, which can have interesting but generally not useful results - this is seen again and again on various 'derailed' forum topics (here I still have to concede that some comments - while free association - do provide interesting context or valuable pointers to related information - so it would be hypocritical to say such collaboration is useless). This may be ok for general social banter, but to keep a topic-focused community and develop some sort of communal goal is very difficult against this natural impetus. The government no doubt uses tactics of information dilution - fake knowledge, using code words/phrases with little meaning, hidden/secret/unwritten rules, and misinformation - to hurt undesirable online collaborations or even real world groups (like terrorist cells). Like "feeding the trolls", the increased mental effort to continually make sense of a conversation or article (because of poorly defined language, euphemism, sarcasm, unrelated distractions and tangents, sensationalist or fallacious pretenses, and downright misinformation) quickly becomes exhausting and unrewarding, so voluntary membership is lost and forced membership becomes ostracized and ineffective. It is like giving food with filler to a baby - the filler may not be toxic but it removes the potential food that would have been there and the baby doesn't know any better. This is easy with information because few people look at conversations and online forums in terms of robot-like (rational, logical, effective) information sharing. The same concepts apply to self - one's internal thoughts/feelings/reflections. If they are filled with useless banter/there is no structure or focus, they will take on an instinctive (emotional, irrational) and fully associative pattern. The person would be "information-starved" without knowing it, in the process losing their ability (if any) to think thoroughly and coherently, instead acting impulsively. Humans seem to value some of this "spontaneity" over robot-like rigidity but the latter is certainly more rationally sound. To be able to achieve this state, one must always be honest and exact in one's thoughts and feelings, using accurate and highly specific language in everyday observations.

Today’s society faces a problem of too-diffuse knowledge. It is impossible to be a true expert – there are more people writing more things on every topic now, and in addition to reading all that one must also read all the past writings by the increasing numbers of past writers. Probably 1700-1900 was the time that true experts could still exist (in antiquity limited communication meant some experts wouldn’t know all relevant things). There are just too many books, on even the most niche of topics. But the brain can only handle a few things at a time. Whereas before these ‘few’ things were relatively easy to pick out, now they are lost in a sea of choices, where one can easily get lost without a guide. It is thus key to have one’s own set of absolute standards for a goal in life against which to evaluate all potential information, without relying on others.

Beyond the diffuse knowledge, there is also a problem with 'expert knowledge' as a whole. There were a number of times I've had to learn a new scientific computer program and its input file format with specific variable definitions and strict text formatting, I felt overwhelmed about all the requirements and wishing the software had been easy to use, with an easy getting started guide, well-commented files, and perhaps using a nicer format like XML for easy to understand specifications of calculation, or at the least one consistent format just within the one software (whereas typically each variable definition seems like it was written by a different person and with a different goal). I even seriously considered writing an interpreter program that would "compile" a user-friendly XML file into the software-specific input files, which wouldn't have been a particularly difficult task. But upon learning the software enough to use it, my enthusiasm for writing such an interpreter program faded. After all, I already knew how to write the files to accomplish what I need, so this program wouldn't help me any longer. Nor would anyone else using this software have a particular need for such a program. And perhaps also contributing to this was my realization that the interpreter would have to be quite complex to be able to handle all the possible input options and 'special cases' that this software supports, along with the lack of rewards in spending time on it (after all, it just changes one arrangement of text into another). So I never continued work on it, though it may well have been useful to new students in the field. I believe the same issue exists in all expert knowledge - in order to improve it and make it more accessible for learning/easier to understand/easier and more effective to apply fully, one must (on an individual-brain level, not as a group) understand the knowledge well enough to claim expertise, and at that point there is no motivation to the individual to try and improve the structure of the knowledge - rather he is expected and paid to apply/use it, and in order to do so himself he has no further need of simplification, being already an expert. On a psychological level, the expert no longer views the world/topic/subject the same way as the student, so cannot readily find a way to communicate what he knows in a way that will be well-suited for learning; the expert can only share his thoughts and learning remains a task to be done by the learner. I think such examples are readily found even in textbooks and educational resources, the uncritical use of an 'etc' and using multiple different conventions in a work while placing an onus on the student to figure out which of the possible interpretations is the 'readily evident' one [f16] - these all point to the expert being content with his knowledge and writing the text for someone who, while reading it, will have the same mental associations - namely, himself.

I think in the long term this has a negative impact, because we are (fundamentally) simple thinkers, and can work much more effectively with well-organized knowledge. But such a potential benefit is not obvious nor provable in a real setting (is the company doing well because of some management decision or because some knowledge it uses is very readily accessible?), so there remain no incentives for experts to work on simplification, standardization, and ordering of knowledge. An example is all the law codes in government and significant differences in fines/punishments/expectations within different agencies or even departments. An overall societal benefit would result from such a change but in the moment it is not profitable to anyone - even the government itself - to hire someone to make such changes. And there may be too much knowledge for a person to take account of at one time (again, this simplification of the knowledge structure cannot be done by group, because one must know the full extent/be an expert to determine the best way to proceed) - this could be resolved soon with machine learning and AI capable of handling huge data sets by human standards.

Today I've been reading the wealth of information on [] on emotional intelligence - understanding and validating and expressing our feelings. I agree with a lot of the points there - of emotional abuse and unmet needs as leading to self-harm and suicide, of most of society routinely invalidating and ignoring feelings and true understanding, of the seeking of control vs care/love, of schools as institutionalized unnatural repression of students' emotional needs by an artificial routine/rules, of children as more emotionally pure than adults and having a lot to teach us. But there is a sense in which the author's argument - that true understanding our own/others' feelings leads to a better society - sounds too utopian, idealistic. First, there is a part of human psyche which is violent, angry, destructive, which enjoys seeing others suffer. It is no accident that we use torture, and even get sexual pleasure from it - this response is deep within the brain, not a "learned" emotion because our society doesn't raise children to be emotionally honest. Even "nice" kids will sooner or later try to lie, manipulate, exercise their power, and hurt others - as a matter of random exploration at first but later on realizing the benefits they may do so on purpose. It is the same as a no-defect crystal or a no-police honest society - those who lie or manipulate or cheat will win big, so in this way dishonesty is encouraged and honesty is punished. An honest society will not survive long without punishments for dishonesty, just talking about the person's feelings might well not be enough. Second, there is a risk of being too open in emotional communication - open to change or influence from others, open to judgement. The big risk I see is manipulation - since others can't see or feel how I actually feel, I can say I feel a certain way without actually feeling that way (ie purposeful manipulation - guilt trip: "I will feel unloved if you do this") or I can just not understand the full meaning of the word (because I have no absolute reference point!) and say things which convey a different meaning to the other person than what I intended: "I feel depressed" perhaps "sad" or "upset" would be a better choice but how can I teach the right word to a child/student when I can't see what they're feeling and they can't see what I'm feeling? Third, the author suggests talking more about feelings - asking what others are feeling, how much they feel understood. Here again I see an issue with using words - words are unreliable and can be made up and used for purposeful manipulation, or non-purposefully inaccurate communication. I might say I feel happy but what I actually feel may be very different from what the other person considers "happy" to be. Talking more won't likely help get over this difference, especially talking in other emotional terms. The common ground has to be in physical experiences - including what happened to the person, how they reacted/continue to react, and how they express themselves at the momeny in body language. These are things that are difficult or impossible to control on a whim to manipulate others. If a person does choose to manipulate in this way, they will have no choice but to also manipulate themselves, which is more honest than just saying "I feel..." whatever untrue thing and being able to stay in charge by such emotional dishonesty and reliance on anothers' trust and honesty/kindness. Real physical actions/experiences also help me imagine what I would feel lif I had to go through those experiences, and then we both have a common reference point for the feeling word - ie "I feel sad" is vague and maybe the person doesn't even know what it is they are feeling or don't know how to express it, "I feel sad because my parent died" gives a physical action which I can use as a reference, then I can say "perhaps it's not sad but grieving - that is a hard/heavy feeling" and thus get accurate emotional closeness and better imagine how the other person actually feels. This way is also closed to manipulation - I won't cry over someone telling me they're sad (maybe they just want me to do something for them, saying "I'm sad" doesn't take much effort) but if they've lost a parent (and this can be physically verified, vs. "I feel sad" which really cannot be, at least yet) I have a deeper understanding of their experience and can show compassion worthy of the situation. Finally, even using physical actions and avoiding manipulation and placing guards for dishonesty, there will still be people whose actual desires/feelings outright conflict with our own. What to do then? My neighbor will only feel content if he can blast radio at 3am, I will only feel content if I can sleep at 3am. Neither of us wants to move out or change routines. Even if we fully understand each other emotionally will there ever be a nice resolution? If I like driving fast but my passenger feels scared, because both of us have different levels of what we feel scared by/of, both of our feelings are legitimate but what should we do? Slowing down, the passenger will feel more safe but I will feel frustrated - again real feelings, but no good optimization exists.

Truly valuing anothers' emotions means changing your life to suit them - and we are, at the core, selfish [f17]. A counter-argument would be that I only feel this way because I was raised in a society which routinely neglects emotions and invalidates feelings, but this society developed this way due to human nature (my deterministic argument, as the case with small->big business, it got this way for a reason!). There was the example of a kid bouncing a basketball in the house and the mother was angry and feared the kid would break something. Telling the kid to play outside would make him unhappy - really he would be hurt for a while because he was enjoying playing inside - but we are willing to inflict this emotional negativity to protect our material things (ie because we are selfish). We enjoy power and control too. Even as a hypothetical parent I can't imagine being so selfless as to truly consider the kid's feelings in this situation and let him keep bouncing the ball. [f18] I suppose this is because I am afraid he will not respect my feelings - again societal raising problems - but when only emotional words matter, the kid will quickly figure out he can do whatever he wants by saying a painful-sounding word (recall that words mean whatever physical action they bring about), ie "I feel hurt when you tell me to stop bouncing the ball" - the emotionally considerate parent will think "I believe you, and I don't want you to be hurt, I am only mildly inconvenienced so I will let you keep playing" but this opens up a clear and obvious channel for manipulation and the kid exercising more and more unilateral power, "taking over the household", at the parent's expense. Perhaps this is why cycles exist - sensitive people let others walk all over them because they are too trusting, and in this way they actually encourage the other person to be emotionally distant/manipulative as that easily earns them rewards and carries no penalty/minimal effort. Thus abusive couples can be "enmeshed" and remarkably stable over time despite fighting/abuse - they continue to fulfill each other's needs without consciously thinking of how unbalanced their lives are. Finding a balanced position is hard, lonely, and maybe even unstable. So I would take away this - recognize others' emotional states (based on physical actions/experiences/body language, *not* their words - same for myself, analyze physical actions not the words I think) as this is valuable information for understanding people (ie creating a theory of mind); don't invalidate others' feelings and seek to provide comfort, but at the same time always be cognizant of one-sided/unilateral/unfair relationships where either I am taken advantage of or I am taking advantage of another - this evaluation should be done on physical actions (how often we talk, how much each person contributes, how often we go out, whose ideas dominate the conversation/actions/choices); finally don't assume I understand another's feelings ("I know how you feel" - No!) and don't allow/ignore/mentally flag others who claim to know my feelings - they might get close by learning all my physical experiences in life but they will never know! More than often phrases like this lead to subtle manipulation. Finally (again) trust physics and physical actions over words, always. Never believe "I'm sorry" until I see the person change their actions, never believe "I promise" until I've seen the person demonstrate their trust, never believe "I'm hurt" until I see the experience that has hurt them. This will lead to clearer understanding for both of us and greatly reduce the chance of unilateral manipulation - making it physically impossible, even. This is why I trust physical actions over people's claims - I can claim to love swimming but if I never go to the pool while having the time, then how much do I really love it? If I loved it that much, I would *make* time to go there and ignore other things. So even for myself, words are flimsy, physical actions are solid and real and reliable/true indicators of emotional/internal state and values and beliefs.

Maybe a society that's too perfect is also unhealthy, as people become disposable, not crucial, unnecessary. Perhaps "bad things" like natural disasters or wars make everyone feel useful and worthwhile and necessary again, in which case people are more than happy to help others and make use of their skills - but again, for selfish reasons - to fill the emotional need of being useful. Then the terror management theory will suggest that after horrible events like war/bombings, humans will feel more bonded and secure with partners, and become more fertile - note the high birth rates around the world immediately following the world wars (the worst human-made disasters in history). We all want to be useful. The capitalist system in its current state forces us to do jobs that may be subpar in exchange for money, whereas we would be happy to do something we truly enjoy in exchange for emotional appraisal/feeling necessary and safe and loved - and people are smart enough to see that they aren't necessary working in shitty dead-end jobs, they only do it because they have to get money - can this ever be called an emotionally sane system? We tell people to suck it up, ignore their feelings at the core of their "self", and just work work work to make others happy, to prove to *them* you are worth it, whereas really you don't owe anyone but yourself - if taken advantage of without power, it should be your full right to die. Our society instills the idea of working for others, on arbitrary tasks and on an arbitrary schedule (ie without regard for personal comfort) even since before school, definitely in school, and continuing smoothly during work. We are expected to spend our most productive life years working and toiling for others - neglecting our own interests - why? Because there is no respect in society at large, there is power and fear and manipulation and coercion, but respect is left by the wayside. This is because respect is hard, it takes real time and real conversation with a person, it cannot be faked, it can only be gained by understanding a person through knowing their physical life experiences and then acknowledging those experiences as real. What teacher, in a 30-person classroom, can respect their students? Can any human-level communication take place? Of course not. The teacher instills discipline by fear - that is easy, everyone can learn to fear corporal punishment, but respect is hard - I don't have time to ever get the respect of all 30 people, that is a too-difficult optimization problem to take their feelings into account, so we tailor to the fictitious "average student", lacking any human needs or desires, and drive actions by impersonal fear and expectations. This indifferent treatment is not lost on the students - they may not be able to put it in words but they definitely feel like cogs in a machine, like nobody really cares. With rising population and technological connectivity, even their peers won't have much time or desire to establish respect or build lasting friendships. So when they get to the point of finding a job, they are content to continue such a crappy unfulfilling existence, because it's what has been taught for years as "normal". Most people are really not crucial to society - yet knowing this on a subconscious level they still find shreds of meaning in making more children/workers for the masters, or pleasing an imaginary father in "heaven", so working conditions degrade and people suffer quietly, trying to convince others how wonderful life is so they can get reinforcement from others that their own life is also wonderful and meaningful (I guess our biological urges also demand us to take on group popular stances, why peer pressure is so powerful).

By this point it has been 4 years since I started the graduate program. 4 years! As cliched as it sounds, I find that hard to grasp. It seems not so long ago I was moving in to the city, exploring it for the first time. I really was a different person back then. Who was this person, what was he like? I only have traces of that in my memory, but I am not the same. I as a feeling/existing entity only exist for the brief fraction of a second that my conscious cascade develops and dies out. The me of 4 years ago is long dead, only his impacts on the external world (and these reflected back into my more stable memory - still not perfectly stable, as the conscious cascade can change it at any moment) remain for me to see. The continuity of "I" is an illusion. We talk about how dangerous and harmful addictions are, and yet food is an addiction that takes up a lot of our time (in fact, by controlling the supply of food, the government can keep us dependent, and if drugs are a more powerful addiction then a non-government-regulated supply of drugs can lead to subversion of its power). What are we beyond our addictions? I find some pleasure in writing so I do it now, making sure to remember to bring my notebook+pen when packing for a trip, just so I could satisfy this addiction. People go to work every day - after repeating the action for decades, it becomes a habit. Or even an addiction - try to stop a person from going to work! Even if they might say they would love to have a day off, how much work sucks, try to actually interrupt their routine - uncertainty is frightening, they will quickly find other work to do. There is a risk of getting fired - but who would fire someone who got stopped by a stranger? The bigger reason people will fight to attend work despite your stopping attempts is not the risk but the certainty and sense of routine/purpose that working regularly provides.

There is another illusion established in society, the illusion of choice, very prevalent in tests and most questions, ie "you have the choice". In high school I would do "multiple choice" tests, but is there really any choice when there is only one "right answer"? And despite the english teacher saying there is no right answer, there certainly are ones that will earn better grades, this phrase just being a poor excuse for not being able to clearly and effectively explain what it is that we are even expected to learn in the class ("just do what I want you to!"). And given that there is a right answer, an answer we are expected to give which is pre-determined beforehand by the teachers, isn't it a bit of an insult to give the students the "choice" of an answer? What is even the point of tests? If the knowledge is valuable to the student, the very fact of having accurate knowledge will be enough motivation for the student, and he will seek ways to ensure an accurate understanding, such as by solving his own problems of interest, reading his own choice of books, finding similar-minded people. If the knowledge is not valuable, why should the student be forced to learn and tested for learning? Looking back at schooling, I don't believe it was effective in fully helping me explore and increase my abilities and interests {I really learned more from programming my TI-84 and making PHP websites than I did from HS classes}, and mostly because of the focus on "doing well" (ie matching the expectation for the right answer, with the illusory "choice" of actually having *freedom* to solve and fail) keeping me from undertaking exploration, and secondly because of rigid structures - not only having to spend time with an arbitrary group of people I didn't like but also each class lasting the same time even if I much preferred to spend all day in shop class/physics class. And this is the real purpose of schooling - the imposition of arbitrary standards, year after year after year, making students stop questioning that good grades (as defined by superiors/teachers) lead to good job performance (as defined by superiors/bosses) and society is full of arbitrary rules (rigid schedules in school->rigid schedules at work) breaking or questioning which will lead to punishment by superiors.

Also, failing is an essential part of learning; in 'natural' learning (like riding a bike, or social interactions, or language) the brain tries different approaches, most of which don't work while some work, and over many trials the brain gets better and better at figuring out what works. Failing and immediate feedback on how not to fail is crucial for real learning. Sports teams realize this, using practice workouts and matches which do not affect athletes' or team standing, on which immediate feedback is given by the coach. Would it be reasonable to use practice games to judge a team – they would not even be practice games anymore, but then how can the team possibly learn new skills without being hindered? This is seriously contrary to our current test-based model where everything, even the homework, is graded and contributes to passing/failing the class (where failing can 'snowball' into unacceptable and life-changing effects, such as by limiting enrollment to lower-level classes the following year). It selects for the naturally talented who "get it on the first try", and also for luck or plain cheating. It may involve teaching, but barely any learning.

Another role schools serve is in essence babysitting. We force parents to work full-time to get by, give them no advice or education or resources on how to parent effectively and with kindness and to build strong emotional connections with their children, so that parents do whatever they can without regard for the child's welfare, and understandably get fed up with the huge commitment and are very happy to give the kid to day care then to school so they don't have to actually take care of it. It is quite absurd - make a child to satisfy some innate desire, then proceed to largely give it to others you pay to take care of it, seeing it only for an hour or two before and after work, spending most time together asleep in separate rooms.

Why even make a kid at that point? It becomes a burden on the parents (who want/have to keep working full-time) and then a burden on society (in the form of child care and later public school systems). [f19] After that questionable "joy of youth" (all adult-structured, at least from what I see in current society), the children are thrown out to the world and left to fend for themselves. Also consider that children are evolutionarily driven to learn 'the rules of the game' about reality just as adults do, but with the creation of "childhood" as a distinct category of individual, their 'rules' are different – so to appease our wants to have 'cute' children to take care of we make the children learn two different sets of rules: the parent-imposed childhood rules and the real-world adult society rules, [f20] which is also seen with school -> work transition that nobody teaches about or provides support with. This is unjust to the child, who has spent a long time learning "childhood" rules only to find out (indirectly/made fun of for 'immaturity') they weren't "real", and probably contributes to teenage angst. The schools, in all their usefulness for teaching subservience and following the established order, don't even bother to teach about how to search/apply for jobs or how to do taxes, least of all how to have safe sex and how to raise children. Or how to fix a car, how to buy a car/house, how to pay bills or set up a bank account, or what to put in a will, or how to do CPR, or how to grow food, or how to be assertive or emotionally competent or logical in a debate. [f21] Basically, zero life skills that *actually* matter to all of the students - and college is really no better. But we do learn PEMDAS, or whatever other acronym nonsense they've come up with (again how does an acronym help my math skills?). So it is not a malicious conspiracy to create slave workers - that would be giving everyone involved too much credit. [f22] It is just following old, traditional ways that worked before and extending them past the point of logic - falsely flipping the idea "smart people do well in school" into "people going to school become smart" (happening now with universities - a few centuries ago only the already intelligent would be willing to go to college, sacrificing stability of life to do so - now people go to college and pay for it to magically be turned into intelligent people - or so the story goes. Surely some only go with the goal of having a degree/title but probably still buy into the idea that doing so makes them smarter. Most of the illusion comes from the self- and pre-selection of students into various college tiers and then such students excelling of their own volition - it is entirely fruitless to teach students who don't genuinely want to learn, whereas those who do want to learn will find ways to learn to their satisfaction whether through college or not). And in the lie of "schooling is necessary to make you smart" we isolate children from a chance to make *real* choices, ones which can lead to real failure rather than arbitrary "bad" grades - but without the risk of real failure there isn't a real success (just like IIT qualia don't use all neurons firing, but the ones that don't fire must be capable of it, not merely absent). Instead of letting children solve meaningful and interesting tasks, we force them to stay in school and do arbitrary tedious work they mostly don't like, which I suppose in itself is an appropriate enough introduction/indoctrination into the workforce world. [f23] Looking at schools this way really solidifies the idea raised in [Waste Streams of Ignorance], that just like factory farm animals, we humans are raised and put through the system and used up for the benefit of Government and Business (operating as evolutionarily established 'organisms' for the sake of their own continuation), schools are the "incubators", impersonal and uncaring, for the future workforce. Ultimately everyone is selfish, parents will not care for their children unless doing so benefits them, there is no unconditional love (or even love at all, beyond infatuation/physical attraction). Fuck it is depressing to look at my life and realize all along nobody really cared. I got here through accident and then sense of guilt/responsibility, and later as just another kid in the system. Was anyone happier due to this? [f24]

In a lecture on scientific writing, I remember hearing that a paper should not have unreferenced 'floating' figures or tables - all of the data should be discussed in the paper, making a coherent and connected whole. Similarly it wouldn't make much sense if books had 'floating' chapters that didn't show up in the table of contents or were otherwise referenced anywhere. So I would imagine, in a rational society, mandatory schooling would serve as a means to connect all the diverse skills of life, to give a complete 'table of contents' to the students so they are well versed in what to do in life, yet looking back at school all of its subjects are disparate and no connection is even attempted to be made to 'real life'. There are huge gaps as nobody really teaches everyday life skills like cooking and property ownership and taxes – it is everyone do for themselves as they may randomly learn from parents/others which is bound to be ineffective and damaging. Consider that many basics like hygiene are never taught in school, some people have to learn from the internet – how does that reflect on the "education" system? In my view the education system should serve as a foundation such that all life skills are linked together in the mind. This is doubly so for parenting, as it is easy to mentally damage kids without realizing it. In fact, I would argue that schooling should be required for parents/adults and not children. The external environment of the child, especially parents in the developmental years, has a tremendous influence on the child's personality, interests, and desire to learn and contribute to society (or not). Children are sensitive emotionally, and a parent will likely emotionally scar them without even realizing it, as emotional awareness carries little respect in our culture (people will make fun of vegans for being too sensitive about animals' suffering). It would then make sense to have parents required to attend parenting class, where proper methods for raising well-adapted children are explained and pitfalls are described so they can be avoided. The parents have an incentive to learn this material because it will help them use already developed methods to (say) calm the baby's crying, understand children vs adult needs, know what activities to do with kids and at what age - overall reducing stress and uncertainty. The parents then employ their newly learned parenting knowledge [f25] to raise the child to be happy and comfortable, while the parents stay confident in knowing what to do. This parenting would include educating the child - teaching reading, algebra, and other basic necessities, all in a warm family environment with one-on-one interactions rather than an impersonal daycare/classroom. Social interactions for the children could be organized at first by parent groups and eventually the responsibility handed over to the children, and the activities would be those the children enjoy without the imposition of an academic/hierarchical rigidity. Why even have school for the children at all? After all, adults are more capable of learning structured/complex material, sitting through lectures, doing assignments, and making good use of the knowledge (because they've already internalized the "basics" of the world, like handling emotions and social interactions and determining life goals/aspirations - namely they are mature; additionally they have grown past the impulsive/playful stage of childhood brain development which was evolutionarily designed to get children to learn the aforementioned basics by playing and is presently wasted by forcing them to sit quietly and listen to the teacher). I would argue it makes more sense to send the adults to parenting school, and then the parents teach their children from a young age, and school doesn't start until later (perhaps ~13) when the children need to learn "adult skills" like hygiene and emotional/ethical awareness and taking care of a house and money management and sex and of course parenting. Any more specific skills would be taught on the job, or for scholarly pursuits, in college (the original role of college, not a company-money-saving substitute for job training as popularly assumed today). Wouldn't this make a society more coherent, more aligned and sane in its goals and aspirations, more like a well-connected network forming one complete whole 'organism' instead of the vagueness and uncertainty that pervade most of everyday decisions now? It seems without such connectivity, society stumbles along like an amoeba, fully at the mercy of random runaway cycles, while with such connectivity (so every person feels like they have a "life instruction manual" and are confident in what they do/why they do it) society can take form and make real progress in achieving its desired goals, acting as a higher-order and robust organism capable of doing more complex optimizations. [f26]

I encountered a grant for designing an education module for young kids to learn about water. Out of curiosity on how kids 8-12 learn and how to present material to them (from my experience at science events and summer camps for kids, the kids just mess around and don't really take the time to find any underlying trends - they're too young to care about science, why teach them, let them play/have fun!), I read some guidelines on education - which were mostly bureaucratic ramblings ("teachers should inspire self-guided thinking and experimentation in students" - very nice, but how can they do that?). But while reading this, I wondered - what does it actually mean to learn something? As alluded earlier, words by themselves are meaningless. So are concepts. All of language and human knowledge is meaningless without actual physical humans to use it and apply it to the real world. So I suppose this is the ultimate goal of learning: to affect a human's behavior such that other humans are affected in a specific (beneficial?) way - that is, a physically relevant effect (but physically relevant only has meaning when there are humans to be affected by it - which is why I explicitly mention an effect on other humans). So, we educate (teach) an engineer, and one that has learned engineering is now affected so as to be able to build things and thus contribute to society. Using knowledge of past scientists/engineers in textbooks and lectures, the student engineer becomes turned into an "engineer mold", carrying on a specific mindset and worldview developed and refined by engineers of past, and developing and refining it more in the process, perhaps contributing to the mindset's/mold's evolution as new concepts are conquered and added. But things don't have to be so nice and clean. If we measure whether someone's learned a subject via tests and exams, what we are doing is conditioning behavior for a career test-taker, not engineer, even if the subject is nominally engineering, as the necessary mindset is not cultivated or tested by exams. So it may be that today's engineering graduates indeed learn engineering on the job and forget most of their classes. So - learning is behavior modification to achieve a specific behavior. Can I be more specific? Does learning that "mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell!" or that "we are made of cells, and cells contain DNA" mean anything? If I don't know what are cells or what is DNA, the last phrase is almost useless - but not quite, as it tells me that DNA, whatever it is, exists inside of cells, whatever they are. If I don't know what "contains" or "made of" mean, though, the situation is much harder. Then we are back to how babies learn (which is also how adults learn, but adults have a huge established store of "background knowledge" so they can learn some things through words alone) - by association and seeing human-compatible patterns hundreds of thousands of times, the brain constantly performing complex statistical analysis, and eventually knowing - where knowing means having a coherent relation map (self-consistent and consistent with outside world/physics) of a word/concept. Having seen "contains" many times, the brain creates a mental structure - of the word as referring to something being a part of something bigger - the mental notion of "contains" which is by definition undescribable as it is a purely brain-hardware thought construct. Of course having this structure changes behavior - at least when reading the word "contains" - so we say at this point the baby has learned the word (when it uses the word appropriately vs just saying it randomly - experimenting to test its associative model is accurate).

Using the word appropriately of course means that it is in line with our own/societal mental constructs, over many instances of use giving an indirect signature of the underlying mental construct and allowing an external observer to evaluate the construct even though it is inexpressible, like identifying an animal by its tracks/feces/food, or identifying a message by a number of hashes. How does a societal construct emerge in the first place? It may be by a similar process to neuron synchronization in synapses, seen also in audience applause becoming rhythmic - this requires that individuals tend to adjust their clapping to coincide with the most audible/loud clapping frequency, resulting in an eventual runaway of one frequency to dominance by chance "thermal" perturbations that may have made it only slightly louder than its neighbors initially. So, enough people point to a frog and say "frog", even if the first uttering was by chance, and a societal construct emerges - children calling frogs by another name will be corrected because now "frog" is correct. Once they are in line with society in calling frogs "frog", they are considered educated on that topic/they have learned it. In a sense, my brain/my thoughts/my whole experience is nothing but a conglomeration of such links between arbitrary/disparate sensory inputs and mental constructs, and perhaps consciousness itself is just the result of any system which can sustain such a mapping, and perform such information transforms. My vision of the world comes from transforming visual input into concepts (chair, green, pen, jeans, paper, writing); hearing comes from transforming audio input into frequencies/chirps/notes/words/identifying sources; sense comes from transforming body input into a given location and expected nature of touching object. All this is also learning. So, why teach children about water? So they can conserve it, use it as power, use it as a chemical, build a better society, perhaps. But children cannot be taught to be self-guided learners, they must want to learn - we all "want" to learn as part of our survival (evolutionarily), but some more so than others, and this is not something a teacher can control.

While here, I will mention that emotions are a poignant example of the dynamic of learned words and mental states. I can observe a baby, and based on how it acts and what's happened to it recently, I can say "the baby is happy", or say to the baby itself, "you're so happy!" [f27]. Over time the baby learns about what happiness is, though I can never transmit my actual experiences of happiness to it; my "happy" may well be another's "sad", but we can never directly compare, only by observing outer behavior. In this sense google knows more about me than I do - it has my search patterns and thus can predict my mental state/mood/knowledge as well as likely future actions. I wouldn't be surprised if companies like google use this data to make 'societal forecasts'; just as weather forecasts are useful and people will pay to have that information, there will certainly be groups that will want to know a societal forecast describing what will likely happen in politics and consumer preferences, and the big data companies can generate this. Did these companies implement automated search completion (sending live keystroke data and potentially influencing user's choice of search) and provide cloud email services (gmail storing all emails on their server - huge inbox space provided for free) and cloud storage (google drive - lots of storage on their server for free) and chat/messaging apps (realtime communication analysis) and mapping/location apps (realtime location and desired location tracking) and voice control (speech analysis) just because these services would make the users' life more convenient? The companies seek data of human activity, because the more data they have the better forecasts they can make, and these forecasts are more accurate (due to richer data) and more powerful in their implications than any weather forecast, because we can't change the weather by much but we can certainly adjust the course of societal progress, or at the least make serious money from it - this is like the time-travel goldmine of knowing the winning lottery numbers before they come up (here it would be stocks to buy and companies to open and policies to implement so as to benefit from future trends). As in The Minority Report, this could even be used for preventing state-level crime before it occurs, with sufficient psychological knowledge and the big data that today's information companies surely have. [f28] In fact just because I was born as myself doesn't really give me any privileged knowledge about myself - I live as a consciousness of the moment, only remembering the most recent things, and not as a "whole person". I learn about myself in an abstract fashion (ie "I like lemons" - an abstract statement, not a feeling/mental construct) by (knowingly or not) performing and recording experiments on myself throughout daily life, thus getting a sense of who I am. If I were not educated in language (which I was because language has shown itself evolutionarily stable on a societal level) I would not be able to do any of this analysis, living on an animal-like instinct level and not really knowing myself, much less the many systems in which I would have been embedded.

A person can be kept from fighting by physical restraint or by mental restraint - one can walk into a lion cage after the lion has been fed. But the real world is brutal, it is a fight for dominance by vicious cycles. Thus any sense of peace or play or fun or relaxing must all be seen as mental restraints, keeping us from challenging the powers that be, staying in line. And maybe it's good to have the powers that be continue to stay in power. Of course if they convince me that's the case that would be placing effective mental shackles on me as I would never challenge them! This is the hidden factor behind the transition from slavery to 'equal' economy, there is no reason to assume the role of slaves has disappeared with the physical restraints gone - the mental restraints of the modern 'slave' are just as real and binding but needing much less centralized effort to maintain. This ought to be a factor in more recent feminism and genderfluid movements - no politician, no matter how much they swear on democracy, would take an action unless it has clear reinforcing/positive impacts on their continuing power and influence (if they did, they would lose the dominance contest to become a politician - the government organism's method of intrinsically selecting people that will perpetuate and protect government). The popular support for any movement is a nice "natural resource" that is tapped into for the resulting money flows and population dynamics change, both of which will come to be predicted and modeled with increasing sophistication by the elite power circles of above that have access to big data. This is not to say one has to fight, but rather that he should be aware of patterns that allow him to not fight, and not be ignorantly swept up in them. "Rise above the pattern" - is that even possible? For once you do, you become part of another pattern. [f29] But not being aware of the patterns/reality is like blindness: a blind man can fight but his sword will be aimed at random, mostly unsuccessful. With awareness of patterns I become less blind in the logical realm, thus able to accomplish my goals more readily, and pick more realistic goals in the first place. Awareness comes from language that clearly describes the world as it is (as outlined in Thinking Clearly). Maybe this is why politicians like "political correctness"/euphemisms, because it keeps people who use such language from having any chance at fighting for real power, because there is no possibility to see the patterns with muddied and unclear language (because this language defines what thoughts are possible and the extent and precision of mental inferences that can be drawn). The most dangerous thing is seeing events as a chance/random/fluke (just a typo, strange weather today, passed by an accident on the road, prices fluctuating) because that means explicitly ignoring some bigger pattern. One can make a model of reality with such random flukes, and I think most people do just that (ie free will, god's blessings) but such models will necessarily not be optimal and will hide true sources of influence.

I remember when on a long hike I was getting tired and started "seeing" familiar symbols (like people, store signs) in various trees/rocks/shadows: perhaps when tired my brain just interprets the world in "easy" symbols, not being capable of handling the full complexity of the world. This is interesting for better interpreting how children view the world - literally using easier interpretive symbols. It is clearer here to see why simplistic animations seem appealing to such a view of the world. This is to say, our conscious representation of a scene is not a photograph but an already fully interpreted set of symbols/concepts which can become more/less true-to-life in its complexity depending on our awareness and tiredness (and capacity for handling large amounts of information at once). I once encountered an unexpectedly large collection of weird animated youtube videos with millions of views, supposedly made for children who nowadays sit in front of a tablet with such videos on autoplay, videos of the likes of peppa pig/finger family/nursery rhymes. The repetitive nature of the videos (repeated sound effects, rudimentary animation using a limited variety of stock images/faces which typically vastly exagerrate the emotional features, ie smile=huge grin) was annoying but these obvious emotions/limited expressions/basic actions creates a sort of patterned simplicity that perhaps babies love because it is so much simpler than the real world - appealing to some subconscious processing that can feel success at every step due to the straightforwardness of the presented images/symbols. Yet after watching such videos I felt distinctly "dumbed down" and also frustrated at having to deal with the slow/boring/complicated real world and longed for a return to the simple entertainment.

Good and bad feelings are a physical phenomenon, rigorously reflective of reality in a similar manner to F=ma; this seems hard to accept because all our words to describe (and think about) feelings are so inadequate and imprecise that it is easy to assume feelings themselves are imprecise. As I argued in the case of turbulent/energy-spreading structures, feelings are created in any system which faces an "optimization" problem of how to spread the energy given the imposed constraints (the energy that is ultimately dissipated as heat in our electronics represents heat that was *no longer* available in the steam of the power plant turbine - that energy took a much more circuitous spreading route due to the constraints of the turbine+electrical network. The network, if it were conscious, might look at itself and be amazed that such complex structures can spontaneously arise, being unaware of how humans are putting in conscious effort to make the network possible as it serves some of their selfish needs - the search for good feelings). Feelings have a real physical effect: we are driven to seek good feelings and avoid bad ones. In fact this is the sole driving force in all we do, and I will argue the sole driving force in any physical phenomenon. Why should an atom bind with another atom into a molecule? Because it feels good. What other reason can there be? Formulas on paper remain just that - lifeless symbols. We can think about formulas and use them to describe "dumb" atoms because we have feelings and capability for thinking, but extrapolating from this that atoms actually are "dumb", what is the reason for them to do anything? Just to satisfy some formula? The idea of 'systems devoid of qualia experience' is an unsubstantiated fantasy. A person can lie/cheat/manipulate all he wants, but at the core reality he will always seek good feelings and avoid bad ones. It's what *drives* us, it's what makes us take action. I claim it's a physical reality that drives other systems as well. Feelings are physical tools of the universe - really good pleasurable feelings are something we seek, really bad painful feelings are something we avoid, the stronger the feeling the stronger our drive to act on it. The universe allows both pain and pleasure, it is indifferent to what we feel just like it is indifferent to whether we use tools to create or to destroy artefacts. Evolution has used feelings rather haphazardly, making brains that are capable of experiencing unnecessary or unresolvable pain, just whatever survived+bred was good enough to continue evolution, as evolution cares only about continued survival and not feelings. But feelings drive evolving organisms to try and survive, so the evolving organism must have pain associated with self-destructive things and pleasure associated with reproduction/raising kids, as well as a shield (like an infinite boundary, to the same extent as the brain/blood barrier) to not be affected by the painful feelings of organisms it eats/depends on. So when parents "have a baby" they are creating a new feeling organism whose feelings are closest to what we ourselves can experience but yet wholly different and independent. They are creating an entity capable of suffering and that will have to fight for its survival in the world, brought here without its consent. The parents are not "having a baby" - this objectifies the baby, they are making a person. [f30]

I watched the documentary [Earthlings] about animal killings, and while in terms of violence it wasn't as bad as some slaughterhouse documentaries, it was powerful in showing the vast extent of suffering humans inflict on the less powerful: not only in slaughterhouses, but in the wild (fishing), for entertainment (circus), for clothes (fur trapping), and for science (monkeys, mice). It is more testament that the only laws are laws of physics, and might does make right. And sure the natural world is also cruel, animals get eaten alive (even from within by parasites), have to always compete, and exposed to other situations where they cannot escape pain. But we, as a higher species, do not just stand by (much less to say help - but how can we help? do we save the parasite or the host, and why?) but we actively create extra suffering - we breed animals, bringing new conscious beings to life, and these beings are forced to live in conditions so far from what they evolved for that every day must be mental/psychological and physical agony, torture, until their gruesome and painful death. This is the most despicable part - it would be futile to pretend people are harmless angels, nature is pure, and we are its saviors - humans are predators and we love to hurt and nature is cruel, but why do we actively add to the cruelty in new and scientifically merciless/robust ways? Perhaps some people believe animals don't feel pain - at this point it's not even worth continuing the debate as they simply lack emotional sensitivity to accept such a conclusion even if presented with dozens of scientific studies. I imagine others accept animals feel some sort of pain, but don't really care - these are the real psychopaths. But in acknowledging such people exist I must acknowledge that such thinking is part of being a human, that I could think just like that given the right circumstances. Why? Humans have a dark, primal urge to make others suffer, and they get carnal satisfaction from this feeling of complete domination. In this sense, animals are not unique in our treatment - the evidence of slavery and holocaust and wars and interrogations show abundantly that humans can treat other humans just as despicably, and here one cannot honestly argue the other human doesn't feel pain or suffering. What about modern society? The constant threat of economic->physical punishment keeps people in line, keeps them working for decades in dark windowless rooms, keeps them away from family, keeps them distracted from the miseries of life. We are also the livestock today. Why is BDSM porn/art popular and a turn-on? Why should it be sexually gratifying in any way to see a person bound/immobilized and forced into doing painful activities? The art (like vore) can get more extreme, and I question whether I would still find such extremes sexual if the scenarios were real-life, and yet there seem to be people willing to recreate the art in real settings. It is sick, but this really primal sexual urge is there in my mind (and by virtue of the art being made and published and then shared on forums, I know I am far from the "most twisted" out there, perhaps just more willing to call it twisted), and it is immensely pleasurable. It is a driving force to seek power and dominion over others, to know that I can inflict pain if I want and be spared from it myself. It is perhaps part of what drove humans to develop science (power over nature/disease/famine).

I think there is an evolutionary component that justifies this search for suffering (ie I can and will hurt another for my enjoyment): the ability to drive us to hunt and use other animals to sustain ourselves. Early humans had few materials available, so beyond the use of meat for food, animals provided useful sustenance with fur/leather. The human brain is wired for compassion: we must be able to care for and emotionally connect with/support our lovers, children, and social group - as this helps effective communication and group survival (a group that cares for one another will survive better than one where each person is ready to kill another). But if we have too much compassion we would be hurt mentally by the actions needed for survival: the killing of animals, and the killing of competing groups or otherwise threatening humans. Wholly compassionate humans would put down their weapons and get eaten by the next competitor, those who survived had to have the ability to ignore others' suffering, and a natural urge of pleasure to counter the unpleasantness of a sympathetic sense of suffering/guilt seems an appropriate mechanism to do just that. If I took every person as an equal, the neighboring tribe that enjoys fighting+killing would try to kill me and I wouldn't fight back because my brain would not allow me to. But when I get provoked, I feel a sense of enjoyment and pleasure in making the other party suffer and beg forgiveness as I control their lives, and it is this pleasure which drives me to fight, torture, and kill. The holocaust happened not because Hitler was evil, but because the people of Germany felt threatened by Jews - a threat brought to words by Hitler but if it weren't a real feeling before those words nobody would have taken him seriously - and such a feeling of helpless desperate threat was enough to drive people to seek this pleasure in hurting a fellow human being - it is not like the soldiers didn't know or didn't realize what they were doing, and they still managed to care about and sympathize with family members, but this primal urge drove them to willingly complete atrocities against fellow humans just because they had the power to do so - the pleasure is real and it is a driving force of human action, dark as this sounds. Our brains are evolutionarily wired to follow driving forces that lead to increased survival, not to highest morality, or to least suffering, or to best education, or to clearest understanding of the world, or to rational+optimal behavior. Solely survival, even if it means loving and caring about one fellow human and torturing and killing the next, never hearing their pleas and cries. In this picture, it is sadly clear how fruitless the plight for animal welfare would be - we are willing to put fellow humans through this, so is there even hope we could consider how wrong it is for the animals? We call animals cute and have petting zoos, then on the other side of the fence throw these animals in cramped cages and eventually kill them to eat them. This cruelty comes from evolution being a ruthless competition for survival - put down your weapons (physically *or* mentally, ie too much empathy) and get killed+eaten, and we are slaves to evolution, so perhaps it is inevitable one way or another. Excessive empathy would be bad: recognizing the state of the world at large (animals eating each other, rarely if ever dying of old age but rather by being eaten alive) and of the human condition, would drive one mad, so our empathy is limited and closed off to just people we 'like' and animals that look 'cute' (the people we like also happen to look cute). Mostly we just follow primal urges, which we then rapidly justify to ourselves with a 'cover story' for why we actually did the thing necessary to satisfy the urge, this happens in love/relationships, friendships, everyday decisions, even childbirth. This is seen with labels, by labeling people we mentally treat them as objects, and this is a convenient way to get through everyday life and interact with others and be happy and content, by convincing ourselves that others' feelings aren't real or important. "He is just a kid, he'll get over it" "he's a high-school dropout, what does he know about life" (ie his feelings can be safely ignored), "this is just what boys do", "she's a cashier, she sees it all the time", "don't worry, she's got a thick skin" (ie the hurtful words didn't actually hurt her, ignore the effect on her or even the possibility of such an effect). [f31] Actually treating other people as wholly conscious entities like oneself is paralyzing and detrimental to competitive success, paradoxically even in social connections/relations. [f32]

But why does destructive action have to be associated with pain? Why do we feel pain as this unbearable experience, why can't it just be an abstract feeling like a thought or rational plan of action? If I program a robot, I would add in code which tells it precisely what to do if a part of it breaks - what motions to avoid, how to get replacement parts, how to do the fix, how to time actions so as to be able to do the fix before experiencing more damage. Surely it wouldn't make sense to have it scream and be flailing around, helpless and too distracted by the sensation to do any useful action (for its own survival). Why does pain exist? In the case of programming the robot, I have to give it all the above knowledge - what to do and how to do it and when. But a living being does not get born with knowledge - only with hardware pre-wired for certain activities and capable of learning the rest. Pain serves as a required feedback mechanism in the learning apparatus - it is the sole physical reality driving force that teaches the organism not to do something, with its intensity being a factor in how much not to do something and how much to avoid similar things. So we have nerves in our teeth because this helps us learn to apply the proper amount of force so we don't crush our own teeth - a fairly advanced task of generating a force and motion profile while eating textured/complex foods. But then we get chronic dental pain - just an unfortunate side effect of having this type of mechanism to learn everyday chewing motions. Does pain occur in every learning system? Does it have special characteristics that can be delineated in terms of how it affects the brain's energy dissipating (conscious) structures? This I would like to answer but cannot yet without physical evidence as to how it all works. In general I think all "original" human actions are reflective of the underlying feelings and urges/desires, necessarily vibrant pleasure and pain sensations that are good/bad of their own sake, so we can't help but pursue one and avoid the other. These are the driving forces of humans and of human society. Consider musical instruments: at some point humans started with almost nothing, living in caves, now they have musical instruments. Why? It is because in every generation humans were driven to look for and improve musical implements - driven by the inherent enjoyment/pleasure of music, which for whatever reason our brain considers a source of pleasure. We could live just fine without music, but there is an intrinsic feeling-level urge for music, so we go out of our way to create instruments and melodies/songs. As with the concept of making guns harder to obtain leading to fewer mass shootings (because the shootings+gun obtainment were both driven by an inner human urge: making getting guns harder does nothing to alleviate the urge, so the human will do whatever he can, in desperation trying to satisfy it), banning musical instruments will not stop music - because music is part of our primal driving urges, black markets will immediately appear and people will continue to make instruments (perhaps in cruder form+more expensive now that information/knowledge is not legally allowed to flow) and make music. This is the current situation with drugs - we have an urge for the pleasures drugs provide, but instead of letting such pleasures be readily available we ban and make them hard to obtain, for we cannot fix the inner urge - it is part of being a human, for better or worse. The reason we don't have easy drugs is because then money would no longer be the driving force it is today - the urge for drugs far outweighs that for money, and that leads to instability as no single coherent currency can be maintained - how could any government tax that? [f33] The reason we have science and math is because of a driving force/urge to understand and control - it is no coincidence that "popular science" videos are cool, just as magic is - there is an appeal in taking control of the unknown, in creating miracles, in exhibiting the extent of one's power over nature. It is an inherent part of being a human, yet again a feeling that is good for its own sake, the experience of which is pleasurable just as a fact of what it *is*, so we as learning systems seeking pleasure are naturally driven to such unnatural and unintuitive actions as studying science and math, doing experiments, building tools - with no obvious reward, when this scope of activity is considered it should be clear just how strong and ever-present the underlying urge/driving force is - it is not taught and cannot be taught, [f34] it has been evolved to be there in surviving humans. It is a physical reality of feeling - the only physical aspect I can sense is that such feelings are not conserved - with two organisms, if one suffers the other won't be better off by the same amount. In fact it is possible for both to be suffering or both to be doing well (however this may not be true, perhaps the conservation is done by "inanimate" systems that experience these feelings but cannot communicate about it). I can more confidently claim that these feelings are spatially and temporally bound.

Design is typically seen as an "open" process - using ill-defined things such as creativity, spontaneity, and imagination. While this freedom makes design interesting, it also means that there is no assurance that the design is optimal or even close, by whatever metric. Constrained, or deterministic design, is an approach which in a sense makes design boring - taking all the fun out of it - but at the same time showing potential solutions which are actually better suited to solving the desired task even if they are not intuitively obvious or even welcomed from the more traditional approach. Deterministic design will first clearly state the problem and what constitutes a solution. Second it will define metrics of success. Then all imagined approaches that constitute a solution will be evaluated. Ultimately the best one will be selected and perhaps modified and judged by the same criteris. Deterministic design "coldly" picks out the best design/otimal approach to a problem, and avoids the pitfalls of intuitively "correct" solutions and biases towards "elegant" mechanisms or solutions we inherently may prefer emotionally. But applying this indiscriminately leads to a robotic lifestyle: there is no utility placed on variety or style or non-technical features or even the fun aspects of a product, at least in typical design considerations - perhaps because these are very hard to quantify. Strictly rationally, we don't need different car colors - we can save money and effort and materials by having all cars the same exact color. But we like to see our cars as unique so different colors are a selling point - such human factors cannot be excluded from deterministic design if a successful product for the current marketplace is sought.

I remember watching some cartoons/movies as a kid where the villain was out to destroy the world, and I would wonder: why destroy the world? Won't that destroy the villain as well? Why not just rule the world? Why kill all life including self? But having written this view on a philosophy of conscious beings and seeking to maximize happiness, I can see how killing everyone would be an act of kindness, ending their actual and potential suffering. Maybe I am turning into a villain. But if I go beyond the selfish "maximize my own happiness", then the only guiding light is to maximize total happiness and minimize suffering, and the surest way to do that is to enable happy peaceful deaths. Because on my deathbed, will I really look back on my life objectively? I will see everything depending on how I feel just then, we don't want a happy life {arguably, we never have a happy life - there is always the want for more and more and more} but rather a happy death. If I had a great life but a painful death, my last moments would still be pain. There is now talk of ambitious missions to make a civilization on mars. A typical claim is that this is fulfilling humanity's dream, but I can't help but think that undertaking such a mission puts an uncomfortable spotlight squarely on what exactly the meaning of our existence is. As I posited before, I think we exist to help the universe's natural/intrinsic progression from low to high entropy, just like all other lifeforms. We just happen to be able to think abstractly and communicate about it, and the earliest humans faced with this came up with some explanations - grasping at straws - finding meaning in religion, customs, and traditions. Why would tribes get tattoos? To symbolize "becoming a man" or something, and that was something kids could strive towards. But why should they care about becoming a man? Because it is a status in society. And I suppose all our "life meanings" ultimately point to such societal expectations - we are social animals after all, so it is no coincidence the church (or any group really) will form into specific roles that will play along, and fulfilling that role - being useful to a group of people - will "give life meaning". No wonder depression goes along with feeling useless and lonely - even if your life is materially well-off. But - say we do go to mars, spend tremendous resources and manpower to go there, even set up a colony - now what? How are we at all better off? Astronauts spent 60 days flying at an incomprehensible speed farther and farther away from the safety of earth and hopefully being able to land on another planet lacking in resources and protective features like radiation shielding. If anything fails it is quite literally impossible to again traverse the space to get back home. We romanticize space travel in fiction, portraying it as a transatlantic cruise or piloting an airplane, but "cooler" (because actually piloting an airplane just isn't cool enough anymore as it is so commonplace). The reality is that space travel is vastly different - in a movie I can get on a rocket just like I get on a plane, and reach my destination, hooking up with some hot girl on the way. Space is hostile because it is empty and vast beyond comprehension - vacuum of space easily beating what we can achieve even with ion vacuum pumps. So why even bother going? To satisfy the dreams of our ancestors? But come on - they were just as romanticized, leaving out all the inconvenient and dangerous parts of a real space journey and just using the concept of space to retell a millenia-old tale (archetype) of discovery/exploration/excitement but in a new-sounding way. Why should that be a reason to go? Frankly I don't think we have a good reason to go - but saying this is equivalent to saying our lives don't really have a meaning, and maybe even meandering towards an indifference between life and death - physically accurate but complete heresy in our life-reinforcing societies. [f35]

Then why do we continue to exist, to survive, to do anything at all? I think that we have a psychological shield against meaninglessness - a fixation on problems that we make ourselves believe are critical by limiting our own solution space. Society can also limit our solution space - for example parents telling me to study hard so I can get good grades (but why? You'll find out later...). This is easily seen in individuals who have a "perfect" life - for instance wealthy or powerful individuals who could have their every whim addressed (modern humans are also more or less like this - most work today is artificial, self-reinforcing, you work because I need your product so that I can work and vice versa - but wait, why are we even still working at all? Do all these people claiming to want vacation time really want an absence of a work purpose in their life?). Simple reasoning says that, having all their human desires addressed, they should have been happy and joyful. But they felt frustrated, useless, their life meaningless, so they created artificial problems they could solve - celebrations, rituals, sports, collections, "snobby" interests like wine tasting, card games. Solving these created problems satisfied their need to feel useful, so they thus found meaning in life. The rest of the people followed along because doing so gave *their* lives meaning - do this so that the boss/king is happy, that's all you have to worry about - no need to look at the terrifying big picture. For in the big picture it is all entropy and systems evolving, stable states remaining, unstable states decaying, self-reinforcing states growing. And entropically it is just unlikely to have a perfectly happy life, so sorrow and pain make their way in, like defects in a crystal lattice, and us addressing this sorrow gives the illusion of a meaningful, purposeful life. Even I am not immune - I still cling to the belief that writing this text or taking whatever actions I can to minimize others' suffering will give *my* life meaning - though in the grand scheme of things it really won't make any difference once I'm dead.

So why go to mars? Why climb Mt. Everest? Why do tricks on a skateboard? Because it sounds/looks awesome. Because it is enjoyable to both the person doing it and the person watching. We all like seeing and doing amazing "magical" things - things we didn't think were possible - as a consequence of our biological thirst for knowledge and exploration, which has made us evolutionarily successful, for now. So, we go to mars because we want to, because we are explorers by nature - an essential element of being human that has even gotten us to the point of having rockets and science in the first place. So, we might as well go to mars, just to prove that we are human, and humans are awesome.

[f1] The mental blocking of this reality leads to psychological defenses like delusion and over-compensation, as described more in Society.

[f2] because words are cheap and imprecise illogical words are easy to use in nice-sounding virtue-signal claims without having to worry whether the statement made has any truth to it

[f3] compare this to the 'guiding' funciton of the pilot wave, and the similar effect I hypothesize for the self-field affecting a particle; in a real sense conscious experience could be the potential/field shape that guides observable physical actions

[f4] I can also feel moods - anger, fear, envy - but cannot re-experience them

[f5] can be observed in brain studies, some examples in Thinking Fast and Slow

[f6] this is readily seen in politics: candidates who give clear, unambiguous, easy to remember (and maybe wrong or inappropriate - but this doesn't matter) answers are ones who get people's acceptance and confidence and votes. The projected image of confidence and knowledge and certainty is more meaningful than being correct or claiming to have the public's best interests in mind

[f7] one may here argue that, even if a human could see a true incredible situation, he could only describe it in terms of his own language and experience. The issue is that this interpretation means no learning can ever take place, and clearly we can learn new things by experiencing them. Like there would be psychologists who claim the Native Americans didn't see or comprehend European ships arriving at the shore because they've never seen ships and this was not part of their thoughts/language, but this is absurd - the ships weren't invisible and the natives could describe them in some indirect way.

[f8] this could include: level of detail, coherency with existing worldview, halo effect surrounding the person making the statement

[f9] another insight into brain processing of language can be seen in multilingual individuals, it is common to hear speech that is predominantly in one language but with certain phrases and idioms and concepts in another language that more conveniently expresses the speaker's ideas - the length and nature of the biggest "foreign language insertion block" represents concepts that the brain handles as individual entities, and they are certainly not letters or words but entire concepts/phrases/ideas.

[f10] the power of the action-agent representation is that it does work at a high level: this is because any deterministic long cause-effect chain can be mentally 'shortened' as a single cause-effect relation. Namely, A->B->C->...->Z can be more easily remembered and treated as A->Z as long as each part follows necessarily from the previous. So we can speak of "he runs away" without having to describe all the complex neuron firing patterns that lead to this decision. Our scientific theories and explanations all follow this trend.

[f11] all major discoveries have been departures from a 'human-centric' universe designed just for us (and by gods like us): earth at the center of the universe->sun at the center->sun is one of very many stars->very many galaxies with very many stars; human-like gods make lightning and earthquakes->complex non-human systems of the earth make lightning and earthquakes; the sun god keeps the sun running->the sun is a star that operates of its own volition. Similarly, I believe the now prevalent human-centric view that only humans can have vibrant experience and other objects are inanimate or incapable of experience is false. Having grown up with this view, it sounds strange to claim that computers (or storm clouds, or the sun...) have feelings, but really it's more strange to claim that they don't have feelings - because the only physical system we directly experience (ourselves) has feelings - so shouldn't the first conclusion be that every system has feelings? I recall in my early childhood passing by some hydraulic machines and being completely fascinated by them, seeing them as living beings - that is until the adults around me convinced me that these are "inanimate". We may be unique in being able to communicate our feelings to some degree, but just because other systems can't communicate in our language does not mean they don't have feelings.

[f12] I overheard a woman, about my age, on a bus ride talking to a friend about learning and improving her magic and spells, in a serious tone

[f13] this is also why it is important for parents to support their children in learning/exploring in their early years, as a long enough time of not satisfying this hunger for knowledge will turn the child to not be interested anymore

[f14] I suppose individuals must make a choice to participate in purely logical/rational communication (only reading math textbooks) but forego all emotional connections, or allow the satisfaction of emotional communication (stories, fantasy worlds, vague but colorful language) but forego all rational evaluations. Practically individuals will be somewhere between these two extremes, but to the extent that thought patterns are determined by the outside world, indulgence in vague emotional communication means less capacity to evaluate 'cold' physics phenomena.

[f15] this is becoming quietly used by advertising companies as "social" or "viral" advertising - telling a story that is odd or memorable and throwing in a product or brand as a memorable section in the story ("I was at a McDonalds getting a Big Mac when I saw my crazy ex ordering 5 Big Macs - weirdo!")

[f16] to paraphrase, "so far we've been using subscripts to specify the different variables, but to keep the formulas readable we now won't write the subscripts explicitly. It will be clear from the context what the formula means." Surely it is clear from the context to the author, not necessarily to the reader.

[f17] because we only *feel* our own feelings, because of the way the brain operates. We may hear about others' feelings, but can only feel our own. If we could feel others' feelings, then life would be very different and maybe a 'utopia' along the lines of could be attained. But this sort of feelings-inter-connectedness means accurate and extensive information sharing between individuals - ie letting a larger scale optimization happen: this makes sense, as a utopia is an "absolute optimization" - the less communication and understanding we have between people (the less each feels, or in our case takes into consideration, another's feelings) the less possible it is to have a utopia. It is no coincidence in countries or social circles with higher living standards, interpersonal communication and everyday transactions are clearer and more structured/formal/polite/respectful; I would even bet living standards are a consequence of the extent of interpersonal understanding/clarity.

[f18] this sort of situation may seem trivial, but the message should not be overlooked: even the best parents will have to purposefully impose emotional negativity on their children, because of the way this world is set up. At some point, they will value their material posessions and themselves over their children (recall the selling of children's body parts where famine was so bad people resorted to cannibalism). This makes a very strong case for antinatalism.

[f19] childbirth does benefit governments and corporations, though, who get to siphon off the resulting money flows without having to do any child-rearing work

[f20] In terms of competition for survival/resources, parents and children are necessarily opponents. I believe on a subconscious/primal level parents don't "really want" children, as they pose threats to their dominance. Of course superficially the parents dismiss and over-compensate by claiming to love their children's flaws, and fully embracing the parenting lifestyle and associated challenges. But on an underlying level, all parents hate their children to the extent they are independent beings that have caused them pain/effort (childbirth and baby care) and are potential competitors (this is seen very clearly with narcissistic parents, who don't try to hide it - readily picking favorites among their children and making them dependent/non-competitors). Parents like cute dependent babies because they satisfy their urge to be useful but not the child as an individual that will compete with parent for resources, and even take up parent's free time and other abilities without a re-payment in the way of control or submission or emotional validation. This might be the reason for the creation of childhood (the children certainly didn't come up with it - they act how the adults in society instruct them!), as a time period when the parents can fully enjoy "owning a human pet". No one will say it out loud, but the subconscious feeling is certainly there.

[f21] Independent thinking is antithesis to mass schooling so maybe there are realpolitik reasons to not teach it or to teach useless words like "democracy" by peer pressure (I remember everyone in history class having a laugh at "commies" while I thought, are we learning anything here?). But at least teach us how to apply for jobs? How to pay taxes? How to open a credit card? Won't all this make for better "slaves" to the system?

[f22] But maybe I'm wrong and what makes better slaves is a sense of no control, a cluelessness/confusion, a purposeful avoidance of teaching fundamental skills/'life manual' making the population dependent on authority rule rather than trying to evaluate rules critically and follow their own rules.

[f23] the barriers that funnel us into this workforce meatgrinder are all mental - no cages or walls (but perhaps police with guns from time to time) - if I want to escape the "lifescript" others so fervently and readily follow, I must tread into uncertain territory and remain willing to trust my own answers/abilities, with the risk of real failure.

[f24] even 'happy/carefree' child's play has an evolutionary purpose and is guided by parents who teach children stuff, we are at the mercy of our biological programming to survive in evolution and that is *all* we do, there is no rest, no joy or happiness or contentment - these are just illusion/delusion words we use to stay sane when describing ourselves, the same way we use religion to describe the external world.

[f25] instead of the current absurdity, where parents with a new baby express surprise at the lack of non-manipulative guidance "they just let us come back from the hospital with this baby, it's ours now, we have no idea what to do with it!" - would it be a surprise that in their later desperation and lack of knowledge they take some actions which harm the child mentally or physically? why is it expected that people who gave in to their primal urges suddenly magically know how to raise a well-functioning child?

[f26] it is interesting to look at wartime societies with this lens - in war everyone has the same goal and confidence in achieving it (kill the enemy! destroy rape and pillage!), jobs become assigned and clear expectations arise for people to take specific roles in the army like a type of "life instruction manual", and the society becomes extremely streamlined and capable of great technological progress - we are still 'riding the wave' of progress made during the world wars.

[f27] and perhaps there is a reason the coloration of our eyes makes it very clear where we are looking, unlike many other animals, as this helps a mother understand what the baby is looking at and thus teach shape recognition and otherwise participate in world-learning with the baby by tailoring her words to what the baby is presently doing so the baby builds an accurate associative model

[f28] the key here is fully believing in determinism, and then all our actions - even the misspoken words, typos, stutters, pauses in speech, distractions, and subconscious word/phrase choice - are representative of some part of the "self". There are no 'accidents' or 'errors' or 'mistakes' in human actions, only unrecognized patterns. See [clinical introduction to Lacanian psychoanalysis]. Recognizing these patterns requires both a cognitive capacity to track them, and an external environment which gives the individual enough independence for such tracking so the cause/effect chains are more readily seen. An advanced AI will see patterns that we just cannot due to our cognitive limitations, and this has the eery implication that we would be powerless against its influence.

[f29] indeed, any power the predictive models of big data may claim, only exists on the condition that the population at large does *not* have access to big data or the predictions (or doesn't care, as with climate change). Without this access (which sets up a feedback loop, an essential ingredient in conscious experience) they have no choice but to follow their set pattern, but if they somehow get access then a new and unpredictable pattern will emerge. This is played out regularly in the current stock markets: if a company makes an algorithm that can 'beat the market', they can employ the algorithm and win, but this winning is dependent upon other companies not knowing the algorithm or not having access to similar timing/monetary requirements. As soon as other companies follow this winner, the algorithm is no longer effective and a new one must be made. There is something to be said here about the structure of life itself.

[f30] Making a person on the other hand gives too much credit to the parents. Making a home-cooked meal takes more mental effort than "making" a baby, in fact the baby puts in all the effort, developing a placenta to leech nutrients from the mother and arranging these nutrients for its own growth. All the mother needs to do is eat and attend to basic bodily functions, and the father even less. So a more accurate phrase is "fertilizing an egg, which will then develop into a new person". But that sounds much less romantic and desirable than "having a baby".

[f31] Of course the ubiquity of such labeling for "inanimate" objects makes it sound lunatic to argue that these objects can be capable of qualia experience. But this is only because we have been taught the labels by society. I think as children we readily expect other objects to be living things like us, until evolutionary-competition-driven adults teach us to ignore others' (and most certainly objects') feelings so we can also compete and stay sane doing so.

[f32] I would not be surprised if sensitivity correlates with loneliness/alienation

[f33] the self-reinforcing cycle of government fighting gangs and the associated money flows should not be ignored. The government will claim it wants complete disappearance of drugs, but is this really what it seeks?

[f34] which gives an obvious perspective on the ongoing 'forced' teaching of STEM subjects to students and the unsurprising result

[f35] Consider eating eggs: if my goal is to reduce suffering, would it be better to buy eggs or buy chicken meat? The meat could mean the chicken is killed sooner and endures less suffering/ovulation (which probably isn't too pleasant), but we instinctively like to say that eating eggs is better as it saves the chicken. But this makes no sense - like "saving" puppies at a shelter. They will all die anyway, so why is keeping them alive a bit longer considered honorable? Did those puppies even want to be alive in the first place? By that logic, I will start setting stuff on fire and if you try to put out the fire you are a terrible murderer, if you let the fire burn (continue existing) you are a savior, and if the fire burns out "on its own" it is a very sad occurrence. We are all just slow fires after all.

«« 2. Thinking Clearly    3. Reflections    Conclusion »»