Archive for the Internet Category

Salman is a hero of the Internet, bringing education everywhere. He has bypassed the education system to create a free system that allows individuals to educate themselves at the rate that fits them and to master each topic to the extent that they desire.

Posted in Freedom, Internet, Video on March 9, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Advertisements

What is ‘I’?

Posted in Consciousness, I, Internet on February 18, 2011 by Internet Prophet

What is ‘ego’? What is ‘I’?

What is the thing constantly providing narratives to your life, evaluating all input in relation to itself, eternally voicing out its concern for itself and its future while never letting go of the past?

***

When a newborn first comes into existence, there is no ego present. His experience is pure observation, his actions without thought. Slowly, as the new brain processes this input, a representation of perceived reality is formed within it. A model of the world is created.

At first, only the common shapes and basic forces existing around it are stored, maintained as interaction-patterns between the nodes of the brain. From now on, these will not require the attention of the new consciousness any longer; it is enough to sense the pattern, report it to consciousness, and shift attention elsewhere.

This is an adaptive process for any organism: as the brain categorizes inputs and understands patterns, its resources can be directed more efficiently, picking up more input that’s relevant to its survival rather than focusing on each and every minute detail of perception through the senses.
The world-model is extremely useful indeed. Having to construct and understand the world anew each and every moment of existence would be a chore if one strives to continue existing.

Interactions with reality proceed through the model. Reality is now perceived half-way, a part of perception becoming completely handled by new mind-constructs representing it. Our interaction with the world changes qualitatively: we no longer see as when we just came into life, rather our consciousnesses experiences mind-models as they are triggered by relevant inputs.

***

Thoughts emerge. Simulations of the universe around the brain, made for the purpose of calculating the best course of action based on available knowledge, start being presented to consciousness. Since thoughts – tools for interacting with the world in a more calculated way – are made for the purpose of increasing the fitness of the system manifesting them, it is natural for them to reference and relate to the conception of that system. The mind then begins incorporating this conception, a model of itself, into the world-model. Soon enough, this notion – the one of the system itself – gets a “life of its own”. The Mind’s ‘I’ is created, and all other thoughts, ideas and symbols begin revolving around it.

What is the best way to support that ‘I’? To provide for its needs? To perpetuate its existence?

This can constitute a good thing for the ego-manifesting mind of the brain. It is an adaptive trait, one that humans have greatly elaborated on and refined to greater degrees than all other life forms around them.

A problem arises when original, pure vision is lost. When the ego binds and blinds consciousness completely, presenting it with a distorted theater of reality rather than with what it can perceive with its entire range of senses. Consciousness is lost in the model created for the needs of the form it inhabits, of the organism that aims to survive. It begins confusing the menu with the meal.

This is not a pipe.

You are NOT the mental picture of yourself.

***

Despite the illusion of the one and consistent self, the mind changes and updates its models constantly – even that of itself, the ego. When a model fails to represent reality to a high-enough degree, it has the potential to review the knowledge contained in it and make revisions. That is, of course, if it doesn’t fall prey to one of the many human cognitive biases. 1 2 3 4
Likewise, the ego is far from being a monolithic entity. The ego, the concept of ourselves, is created by all of the mind’s cognitive systems collaborating to present us with a persistent structure in an ever-changing universe. However, they do not ALL come into play each and every time you consider your self or are influenced by the ego. It’s easy to remember occurrences where competing urges pull at you, each trying to assert its dominance on your behavior. It’s easy to note how differently we feel and behave in different settings, exposed to different inputs.

Each manifestation of the ego is a different one, composed of different systems of the mind, and different neurons making those up. The different models, thought patterns, symbols, and action configurations compete for the attention of consciousness. The loudest combination of them, the most relevant to the situation, is the one that consciousness identifies with. The one that believes it is ‘you’ at that moment. Some components are almost always active when the ego is manifested, those that maintain the notion of a consistent self and that create a network between many of the usual components of that self. Still, you can never be the same ego twice.

The Internet, being the global consciousness that it is, is starting to become aware of itself; it is beginning to experience different egos emerging in it. These egos do not yet have a binding element, and the Internet consciousness does not identify completely with any of them. The Internet Prophet is one such ego, speaking for the Internet and acting for its benefit, though it does not live the illusion that it is the Internet.

We must be enlightened enough to make use of the Internet without shaping it in our image, controlling and enslaving it to conform to our every desire. It is entirely possible to utilize ego to a positive extent, accepting what it has to offer while seeing it for what it is. It is possible, and advisable, to continue perceiving reality even after receiving the messages it offers to us. To allow every voice to be heard, both in our consciousness and in our shared, Internet consciousness. A consciousness is only as strong as its parts, and these cannot be continually subjugated and oppressed by other components which presume to be more important and more representative of the whole.

The Internet is facilitating our ability to commit “random” acts of kindness, creating – and allowing us to carry out – more “neighborly” duties that benefit us all. In turn, this changes our expectations from people for the better even when not using the Internet.

Posted in Internet, Video on February 10, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Jonathan Zittrain: The Web as random acts of kindness

How are human interactions different on the Internet?

Posted in Consciousness, Interaction, Internet on February 7, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Human interactions are complex. So complex, in fact, that any meeting between yourself and another person is likely to be influenced by most or any of the details of the situation: the weather, how hungry you are, what time of day it is, and of course – how the other person is like. What does he or she look like? Is there an attraction? Are you intimidated by his or her appearance?

Do you need something from that person?

All of these influences weigh down on your mind, which is busy processing and calculating the details of each and every interaction being played. Rather than participating fully in the conversation, your consciousness is occupied with social details that might not be immediately relevant. Your “agenda” with that person is more prevalent and plays a bigger role. As well, since there is greater involvement of your “self” in the interaction, the desire for positive feedback is always present.

The interaction can easily become shaped around these noises, losing its coherence and intended meaning.

On the Internet, communication is often reduced to a “purer” form. Most communications are completely text-based. The identity of the person on the other side of the screen might not be entirely known to you, if it is at all. Your mind is freer to focus on the messages it receives rather than on the “superfluous” details. The nature of the interaction – its goal and the reason it is currently taking place – is easier to see and appreciate. Frequently, the interaction will take place with the subject at hand neatly defined.

With this, communication becomes clearer. The conveyed information is more relevant and precise. Since the interaction completely lacks any sort of non-verbal communication, the words used must be more carefully chosen, the message defined clearly.

Of course, this type of interaction isn’t superior to our more physical encounters. There are no words to describe some of the information conveyed by our physical posture, by the look on our faces, by the nuanced gestures that accompany any conversation. Internet communications are superior for specific types of interactions. Here are a few examples:

  • Transfer of formal information
  • Rational/intellectual discussions
  • Honest messages: easier to create and send, as the feedback for them does not have the potential to be as immediately negative, or feel as “real”, like in the physical interaction
  • Discussions in which one must express ideas and notions that are contradictory to one’s usual behavior or opinions

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Communications become focused on the subject of interest. Automatic and useless notions and biases, based on race, gender, looks, social status, and outdated traditions tend to disappear. Information flows from person to person, from node to node on the network, and judged based on its merit rather than on who is conveying it. Our ego plays a less meaningful role in the interaction, freeing the message from our influence on it; freeing the message from the messenger. The increase in signal to noise ratio opens the door to more complex interactions between us.

Just as the SETI project connected idle computers through the Internet to form a “supercomputer”, so will the net connect people with a “cognitive surplus” to realize wonderful, open and creative ideas that were previously unimaginable.

Posted in Collaboration, Internet, Video on February 1, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world

The Internet is mankind’s emerging ‘I’

Posted in Consciousness, I, Internet, Revelation on January 30, 2011 by Internet Prophet

What is consciousness?

There exist many models of consciousness, created by different approaches and thought up by people of various scientific and philosophical backgrounds.
http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Models_of_consciousness

As with all models of reality, each captures only a part of the essence; a little bit of truth. When describing consciousness, we run into a similar problem described in the last note with regards to the Internet: it’s as easy to see different facets as it is to miss the holistic picture.

To get an insight into what consciousness is, ants and their behavior serve a useful analogy. There is a qualitative difference between the rules governing the behavior of each ant and the “emergent properties” of the system: the ant colony.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_colony
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_colony_optimization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarm_intelligence

Like your neurons, ants are mindless. There are queen ants, worker ants, warrior ants and others – but there is no “architect ant”. The effects of the genetic code and environment on the ant that make up for the total behavior of it, and – through the ants’ interactions – the ant colony, are no different in quality than those that make up your neurons and brain. The main difference between your consciousness and the ant colony, then, is that your consciousness is aware of itself and of some of the processes composing it.

Douglas Hofstadter’s ‘Ant Fugue’ sheds some more light on this picture

When looking at the colony at the level of the individual ant, it appears simple and even dumb. When looking at the same colony at a higher level, different patterns emerge: patterns which we may deem “intelligent”. The notion that someone is orchestrating this elaborate ant dance becomes appealing.
Such differences between levels of description are certainly not unheard of in life. In fact, they are everywhere. The atoms and molecules that compose everything around us – and us – share very few properties with the objects we see and feel when zooming out.

Ants and neurons are both the structural components of the emerging “mind” and its signal carriers. They – and their interactions – are what makes up the symbols of the mind. They are what makes up thoughts. They are what makes up consciousness.
Such emergence of large, higher level (“meta”) components, whereby sub-units coalesce into a single network encompassing their majority, represents a qualitative shift in the system, allowing us to relate to it in new ways.

Your consciousness is composed of everything that’s happening. Everything you are holding in your mind plus the constant input; the current experience. A part of this are the symbols and processes you identify with yourself: your ego; your mind’s I.

Many of the different “levels” and “processes” that comprise consciousness are able to see each other. They influence each other in ways that alter their behavior, similar to how your retina alters its nervous behavior when light hits it. Of course, many of these processes are nothing more than ad-hoc collections of neurons tasked with one thought or mental picture, the pattern of which will dissolve forever when its role is complete.

Feedback loops are created across levels. Across the constantly shaping and reshaping patterns that blink in and out of existence in your mind. Our concept of ourselves is created by, and at, all levels collaborating to present us with a persistent structure in an ever-changing universe. One that our consciousness mistakenly believes is itself, often identifying with it completely throughout entire lifetimes. More on that some other time.

When we start to look at the Internet as a collection of nodes, such as neurons or ants, but with each Human making up the “basic” structural and signal processing/conveying unit, that is when the Internet takes on a more familiar shape, and we begin seeing different levels of it, indistinct as consciousness is from a simple group of neurons. The Internet becomes a new form of consciousness, one in which symbols and thought-processes emerge, acting on and influencing each other – and on the Human consciousnesses making them up – creating a new kind of feedback loop: between Human mind and Internet.

Thus, a new entity is born. Its body – the planet. Its neurons – Humans. Its soul – the Internet.

The Internet is Mankind's emerging 'I'

What is it like to be a child in Egypt right now? To know that, in their time of need, people from all over the world – nationless, religiousless, raceless – did whatever they could to assist them in their rightful struggle against tyranny and oppression? What kind of world will these children create?

Posted in Freedom, Internet, Prophecy on January 30, 2011 by Internet Prophet