Posts tagged consciousness

What It’s Like to Be a Bot

phenomenology, AI, bots, bats, perception, consciousness, Damien-Williams, 2018

Our notions of what it means to have a mind have too often been governed by assumptions about what it means to be human. But there is no necessary logical connection between the two. There is often an assumption that a digital mind will either be, or aspire to be, like our own. We can see this at play in artificial beings from Pinocchio to the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL to Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. But a machine mind won’t be a human-like mind — at least not precisely, and not intentionally. Machines are developing a separate kind of interaction and interrelation with the world, which means they will develop new and different kinds of minds, minds to which human beings cannot have direct access. A human being will never know exactly what it’s like to be a bot, because we do not inhabit their modes of interaction.


Intro to Rally Point Alpha

Medium, Andrew Venezia, consciousness, integral practice, Blue Church

I’m here and interested because I’m fascinated with collective intelligence and have been studying and researching it for the last 7 years or so, mostly from a consciousness and identity oriented angle. I undertook a two year research project for my Master’s Degree focusing on what is called “We Space” — Intersubjective Awareness Practices, which you can find here. We Space is one name for the more directly contemplative practices of ‘Collective Intelligence’ though I also include organizational practices such as Theory-U in the rubric.


The Root of Thought: What Do Glial Cells Do?

neuroscience, neurology, consciousness, creativity, thought, glia, astrocytes

LEHRER: You suggest that glia and their calcium waves might play a role in creativity. Could you explain? KOOB: This idea stems from dreams, sensory deprivation and day dreaming. Without input from our senses through neurons, how is it that we have such vivid thoughts? How is it that when we are deep in thought we seemingly shut off everything in the environment around us? In this theory, neurons are tied to our muscular action and external senses. We know astrocytes monitor neurons for this information. Similarly, they can induce neurons to fire. Therefore, astrocytes modulate neuron behavior. This could mean that calcium waves in astrocytes are our thinking mind. Neuronal activity without astrocyte processing is a simple reflex; anything more complicated might require astrocyte processing. The fact that humans have the most abundant and largest astrocytes of any animal and we are capable of creativity and imagination also lends credence to this speculation. Calcium is also released randomly and without stimulation from astrocytes’ internal stores in small bursts called ‘puffs.’ These random puffs can lead to waves. It is possible that the seemingly random thoughts during dreams and sensory deprivation experience could be calcium puffs becoming waves in our astrocytes. Basically, it is obvious that astrocytes are involved in brain processing in the cortex, but the main questions are, do our thoughts and imagination stem from astrocytes working together with neurons, or are our thoughts and imagination solely the domain of astrocytes? Maybe the role of neurons is to support astrocytes.


In the forthcoming Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness, preceded by language, preceded by…

magic, Alan Moore, consciousness

In the forthcoming Moon& Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness, preceded by language, preceded by representation (and thus art) were all phenomena arising at around the same momentous juncture of human development and that all of these would be perceived as magic, an umbrella term encompassing the radical new concepts born of our discovery of our new, inner world.

This allows us to offer a definition of magic as a ‘purposeful engagement with the phenomena and possibilities of consciousness’. We then go on to argue that originally, all of human thought and culture was subsumed within the magic worldview, with the advent of urban society and the rise of specialised professionals gradually stripping magic of its social functions.

Organised religions first removed its spiritual capacity, while an attendant rise of authors, artisans and artists would remove its role as the dispensing source of vision. Viziers usurped the shaman’s tribal role as a political consultant. This left the still-vital functions of alchemical research, healing and the investigation of the inner world as fruitful areas of magical endeavour until the Renaissance and the advent of the Age of Reason delegated the first two of these to the emerging fields of science and medicine, and around 1910 the third was rendered obsolete by Freud and Jung’s new ‘science’ of psychiatry.

We suggest that the entirety of the culture in which we currently reside is no less than the dismembered corpse of magic (although somehow still with a seeming capacity for speech) and that this no-doubt necessary process is exemplified by the alchemic principle of Solvé, or analysis.

Our thesis is that what is now required is a complementary process of Coagula, or synthesis, in order to complete this all-important formula. To this end, we propose that art and magic should be more closely connected to the massive benefit of both endeavours, as argued in my essay Fossil Angels, and that the next step should be to enhance the existing bond between the arts and sciences, including psychiatry, which I have elsewhere characterised, not disrespectfully, as ‘occultism in a lab coat’.

The final, most important and most problematic step would be to foster a connection between science and politics, ensuring that political decisions are made in the light of current scientific understanding, utilising the advances science has made in, for example, conflict resolution, to the betterment of humankind in general.

To finally answer your question, one of the many things that magic offers is a plausible and, I believe, rational worldview in which science, psychology and all the other fields mentioned above are joined up and connected meaningfully into the all-embracing, one-stop science of existence they first emerged from. (Paracelsus, pretty much the father of most modern medical procedure, was also the first person to employ the term ‘unconscious’, some four hundred years before its subsequent appropriation by psychoanalysis.)

With magic, at least as we define it, the chief benefit in terms of relating to the world is that it offers us a coherent and sensibly integrated world with which to relate. Also, unlike the other fields of enterprise mentioned above, excepting only art and creativity, magic is centred wholly on the principles of ecstasy and transformation, things we believe to be the pivot of human experience and therefore sorely lacking in contemporary society.

Alan Moore: The Art of Magic

Redeeming the Octopus - the most remarkable creature of our nightmares

book, review, octopus, consciousness, science, non-human

It’s not surprising that it has taken us a long time to reappraise the octopus, imbued with such mythical awe, as what it really is: an intelligent animal with entwining arms so filled with neurons that each of them possesses a separate personality. In the current nature writing boom– fuelled in part by new scientific discoveries – the revision of the octopus is just one in a series of natural histories, of creatures from corvids to cetaceans, which indicate that our awareness of other species is expanding exponentially. As an interviewee in Sy Montgomery’s remarkable book declares, “It’s really only in the last 20 years we could even be having this conversation. We’re only starting to understand animals.”

Why the world’s most talented dreamers may hold the secret to a new state of consciousness

consciousness, dreams, lucid dreaming, LaBerge

When sleep scientists turned to the study of dreams in the 1950s, few considered the notion of lucid dreaming to be more than a curiosity. It was the province of occultists and parapsychologists. Not until LaBerge produced the first evidence for lucid dreams, during graduate work at Stanford University in the 1970s, did the topic gain a modicum of scientific respectability.