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Stuart Dobson (M)
Melbourne, AU
Immortal since Dec 1, 2008
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We all change. The future is emergent and dynamic, evolving with our minds and our society. Technology plays a fundamental part in this evolution, this evolution of complexity. So I ask, how does technology affect society? How does technology affect our minds and then society in turn? How does our economic and political system affect society and technology? What are the products of this evolution – and what are our goals?
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    Systems of Complexity
    If we were to replace our bodies, one atom at a time, would we be the same person? One would think this would be the case. Every 10 years, every cell in our body will have been replaced at least once, with bone marrow taking the longest to renew. Most of the body renews every 7 years.

    Our bodies are an ecosystem not unlike any other. Take the sea – remove and replace it one atom at a time and no fish will notice. Replacing larger pieces will cause problems for its inhabitants, but it will soon renew itself. Replace a large proportion, and this will likely have huge implications for the entire ocean. As it is with humans, replacing one small section at a time would be easily accounted for and would not have any dramatic effect on the system as a whole.

    This is a dramatic realisation – for what are we if not our bodies?

    We are not single entities. We are systems, and we are made from smaller systems, which in turn are made from smaller systems. Cells take in matter from our food and convert these molecules to be part of us, replacing extinguished cells. We are not the matter that constitutes our body – we are its collection of systems.

    The brain, the place that for some reason is believed to house the “mind”, is almost certainly more than just a material structure. As yet we have failed to deconstruct it to any significant level, but we do know that its functionality relies to some extent on electrical configurations. However, the brain is not some simple electrical circuit which can be reverse engineered by simply following current paths and measuring voltages.

    Brain operations are less logical, hiding their true functionality in the encoding of patterns. It’s these patterns that are more of an accurate reflection of who we are.


    In fractals, an equation determines a configuration that is iterated. This type of pattern, known as self similarity, is an underlying mechanism of nature. Using fractal equations, we can now work out how many leaves and how much carbon dioxide a tree will create. It is the "DNA" of reality.

    We are all connected

    We should also remember that while we are made up of systems, we ourselves are composite parts of a larger system, the ecosystem of the universe. While we may not feel that we’re “connected” with the Earth or the Sun or the Andromeda Galaxy because we see no physical connection, we are connected in a scientific and logical way.

    All atoms are surrounded by orbiting electrons which by definition are negatively charged, meaning that every atom in the universe repels every other atom – in other words – you never actually touch anything. So, your body is not even connected to itself, yet it is, albeit by magnetic forces. Therefore, we are all just as connected to the entire planet – and each other, as we are our own arms.

    Through the vacuum of space, the magnetic forces continue but weakly, while gravity takes over to keep us connected to the rest of the universe. And every day we are learning more about how the universe is constructed, discovering phenomena such as dark matter that continue to reinforce our connected nature.

    As well as our scientific connection, from a logical perspective, we are also as much a part of the universe as it is of us. Our actions affect the universe around us, and we enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences of these actions accordingly. We rely on our surroundings to survive. The only thing holding these implications away from us is time. While we may not see the implications of our actions personally, they echo into the universe, which we are part of. Karma, in essence, is real.

    Individuality

    So we could end it here on “we are all one”, but if that were the case, why do we all have minds that “feel” like they are separate? Is it an evolutionary accident or is there some divine purpose to our individual consciousnesses?

    Perhaps individuality is a deliberate outcome of evolution, a mechanism to bring about the most efficient thought system possible? There is no doubt that humans have the ability to take over from evolution now, increasing the “power” of our consciousness, our life spans, and the efficiency of our resource usage to drive our own destinies.

    Following this thought-train, we could provoke more questions than answers. Is consciousness determined by individuality? Could there be alien species that evolved without any concept of individuality? This would depend on what would be the best evolutionary advantage.

    The big question, is could this individuality be an illusion, created in our own minds? We are, after all, not one entity, but a collection of systems and a system within a larger system.

    This begs the question, is a brain the pre-requisite for consciousness, or could consciousness evolve from any collection of systems complex enough, for example, artificial software, a complex cell, or even a star? We are, after all, just different versions of the same kind of fractal patterns that make up all of nature.

    What if we are just the dreams of stars?

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    TheUndying     Thu, Mar 25, 2010  Permanent link
    You weren't exaggerating when you said we were currently in the same mode of thought.

    Individuality is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that it's only an illusion, but a required illusion at that. A topic that's been brought to my attention recently is the notion that the future of humanity depends solely on how effectively we network with each other. Had I understood this notion earlier, I definitely would've added it to my most recent post, because it fits perfectly within an algorithmic model of reality. It seems that diversity is required in order to make such a system work. Think about our own neural networks for instance. Not one neuron and its dendrite constituents look the same as the next neuron, and not one neuron in my brain looks the same as any of yours. Neurons experience individuality too. And the analogy stretches further, to some of the largest structures in the universe: galaxies. In the macrocosm, each individual galaxy is currently thought to be nested within a glob of dark matter, and that dark matter stretches and connects to other globs of dark matter which harbor galaxies of their own. If we were able to see dark matter, we'd notice a strange networked structure similar to that of our own neural networks. Not one galaxy is exactly identical to the next, therefore galaxies experience individualism as well.

    I think individualism is an illusion generated by our theory of mind. However I believe this illusion is necessary for some intangible, unforeseen, highly speculative reason. I also think that the reason why our subjectivity runs so deep and seems so real to us is because- contrary to galaxies and neurons- we are alive, aware, and possess a profound intelligence of our surroundings, so in turn our individual selves are easily and uniquely shaped by our outside environment.

    Great post overall. I've been entertaining the exact some thoughts, more or less.
    Bright_Abyss     Sun, Mar 28, 2010  Permanent link
    we are a strange loop - a spiritual animal in an age of civilized madness.
    nedzen     Mon, Mar 29, 2010  Permanent link
    we are energy in it`s most intelligent form found on planet earth.
     
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