minds as information machines, part 1

more portuguese gaita. as promised a long time ago, we will begin exploring the implications of this information model in minds. we will start with simple, brainless, minds. note that this means that my definition of mind is a bit broader than usual.

previously we saw how structure is a property of the arrangement of things. this structure can be quantified using information theory, which actually measures a quantity similar to entropy. we will avoid adding wholes to our parts, since after what i explained previously, that would create issues with infinite information quantities. the information of a whole is the information of its parts. we will consider this as the base principle from now on.

we discussed how complexity can be quantified, but we didn’t discuss how it can be created. this stretches back to some of my early posts. through work (in the physical sense), we can increase the structure of things, provided that this work is fed by some external energy source. gravity for example, during transitory astronomical stages (like the accretion period of planet formation), clumps these things together into more specific arrangements of things. it is arguable whether this is the first case of work or if it is just a property of reality. but in practice, besides clumping things together, it increases the information of a given region in space, versus every other. for example, in the volume of the solar system, information is present in high density areas (planets, sun) and low to no density (empty space). some excellent questions pop up, such as dark matter and so on. all principles are consistent if instead of using matter, we use some other, lower level, organization quantity. for the sake of the argument, it is irrelevant whether dark matter exists or not (but not for the absolute quantities of information).

we can hardly call gravity a mind, or our planet a mind, but it is an example of structured matter that tends to become more and more structured, and by analyzing its structure, we can know factors of the external reality. for example, if a planet could think (which it can’t), it could tell that its heavier bits were more to its center, and that its lighter bits were more to its edge. this implies that there is something that causes these differences, and that the planet actually represents information about its reality. i.e., the matter of the planet is affected by external things (e.g., gravity, electromagnetism), and this causes its shape to change, representing the consequence of these external forces. this means that a planet is a crude, but subjective, observer of its reality. why subjective? because different sections of space have different elements, and planets cannot observe (incorporate) elements that do not exist within its gravitational pull. now, it does not process it, i.e., doesn’t do work on its own structure (e.g., a planet doesn’t suddenly turn all its iron and nickel into hydrogen out of free will), yet the reality around it has consequences on it and these define its own information, versus a random arrangement. so arranged matter is a mindless observer of reality, in the sense that it only collects information about reality (the information collected is its own particular arrangement), but does not act on it (does not do work cycles to change this information).

for example, three things emerge from elements a and b, aa, ab and bb. we know that ab, thanks to the electrical force, will be able to remain together. we also know that aa and bb can’t stay together for long in their environment for the same reason. this means that in the next nearest moment, it is more likely to find the arrangement ab than aa or bb. reality has shaped the structure of these things by virtue of its own laws, and by consequence, ab not only exists, but any other group doesn’t. this narrowed (or structured) the things themselves into a more specific arrangement. it also means that ab has in it an observation of the laws of reality around it, it is a mindless observer of reality.

this brings us to the simplest, and the first, mindful observers of reality. the difference between a mindless observer and a mindful observer is that the latter can do work to change its structure or its environment’s, versus being passively changed by reality. i will start with self-replicating molecules. a self-replicating molecule has both a particular structure and the structure that causes it, thanks to external reality, to replicate. i.e., it is an observer (collects information from reality in the form of its particular constituents and their positions), and it is an agent (by being immersed in an environment it is capable of affecting its structure and the structure of things around it). this implies that its actions have a prior knowledge of reality and how to affect it. by simply copying itself and making mistakes, a molecule will optimize its structure versus its environment for the simple fact that the ones that don’t optimize their structure versus their environment won’t be able to copy themselves. these primitive minds don’t think, thinking is the act of processing internal and external information into different internal and external information. in this case, the thinking is done by the laws of nature. this might seem confusing, but let’s see an example.

two things, c and d, are immersed in reality and made of a and b. thing c, thanks to its molecular structure, can, through the physical interactions occurring around it, take its two constituents from the environment and cause them to turn into another c. thing d cannot. start with a “bath” of many a s and b s, and one c and one d. as a s and b s bump into each other and into c and d, whenever c, a and b are together, another c is formed. no such thing happens with d. whenever c is formed, an a and a b are consumed. so our soup of letters soon will have many c s and only one d. if there is any chance of d breaking down into a s and b s (dying), it will again be more likely for it to become a c than a d. what we see here is the laws of nature doing the work that represents the thought. this simple thought is no more than the information required to process information flowing from reality and back: a and b come together close to c, another c emerges. this implies that c not only has information (a and b), but also changes information around it (causes other a s and b s to turn into c s). since it is not capable of doing this on its own, the thoughts are carried by the forces of nature. but this simple thought could be written as “if a and b are close to me they will become c”, and it occurs whenever a b touch a c and turn it into c. i separate knowledge (internal information) and thought (work done on information) from each other because a self replication might not need all its information to do work. for example, it may be that only b causes c to appear, but since a is required to make a c even though it doesn’t contribute to its replication, it gets copied too, i.e., b does all the work, but needs an a to make a c.

this demonstrates the first working mind, using reality as the carrier of its thoughts. i’ll give a slightly more elaborate example, that i referred previously. a sunflower has in it the information required to make a sunflower, and its structure interacting with the environment cause it to replicate, we saw above how this works. genes and cells are like the above example, they use time as the extra dimension for their thought process. but it also has a solar-tracking feature that i want to use as an example. does the fact that a sunflower track the sun mean it “knows” where the sun is? according to my definition of minds, yes! the sunflower has: a) information about the world around it; b) does work according to that information working on itself accordingly and/or the world around it.

as an argument for a), consider an alien from a starless planet could use the sunflower as a way to know what a star is by simply analyzing the bit of its constituents that reacts to sunlight and makes it grow faster. the alien could induce that the plant was in an environment where sunlight existed, even though he never saw one. and though the alien might induce an incorrect description of the sun observed by the sunflower, he could do better than guessing.

as an argument for b), consider that the sunflower cells grow faster on the areas excited by the sun, making it turn. now, it turns because these areas grow faster when in sunlight, but the reason why they grow faster is because, by thinking using evolution, the plants that turned did better than the ones that didn’t. this thinking was done over many iterations of its structure until it reached this point, where the implicit understanding that the sun moves is can be induced from the explicit motion of the plant. if a plant didn’t understand the sun and its motion, it could not turn accordingly. now, it doesn’t fully understand the sun (neither do we), since it is still subject to, for example, being fooled by artificial human lights. but we have to understand that evolutionary thoughts take thousands of generations to reach conclusions. so it would be like learning how to read in english and then being given a transliterated japanese text and say “but they are the same letters”. the letters here are light, english is the sunlight, and japanese is the artificial light. since through evolutionary thought the sunflower only learned english, it won’t learn japanese instantly. but if given long enough, it might.

i know that observer planets and thinking plants and molecules sounds a bit exotic and silly. so i’ll finish for now. we are not dealing with elaborate thoughts. in fact, if you take the sunflower example, its thoughts would be something like “sun is here” “sun is there” “sun is nowhere”. not very elaborate thoughts, but they are proto-thoughts nevertheless, that themselves require some subjective internal representation of the world and action according to this interpretation. my opinion is that by broadening the definition of thought and mind, it might be easier to understand more complex structures. we’ll do that in the coming parts.

future stats and studies

asturian and galician gaita. CS means couchsurfing

recently CS changed their search algorithm. almost instantly i went from a couple of requests a day (1 to 3) to zero. in fact, now we (me and T) get less than 5 a week the two of us combined. this we can only explain by the changes in the algorithm. but what this means is that i can’t generate enough data to be statistically significant, therefore, i’ve concluded my studies on requests and stays. what remains is data analysis of the past (which is already a huge dataset).

this is also a reflection on the current state of CS. the quality of its members is decaying at inverse proportion with the number of members. we now live in a much nicer place and we get more people creeped out than we did in the previous two (yes, that includes the dog-shit-everywhere squat). with this change in algorithms, it’s interesting to see what will happen.

previously, there was a positive feedback effect on being a good host or guest: you’d get listed above and with it, you’d get more requests and/or more hosts. this meant that everywhere you’d find nodes of CS where you have few, very passionate and active members, with an enormous quantity of references and experience.

with the current algorithm, as far as i could investigate, they leveled the field for everyone. i agree with the idea behind it: allowing everyone to be able to host and surf as easily as everyone else. but my guess is that this will bring the average stay quality down, just by exposing guests to everyone, rather than “professional” hosts like top hosts usually are. they replaced a meritocracy with a democracy.

i expect to be slowly (and naturally) marginalized as time moves forward with this algorithm, since lisbon now has over 2000 people registered, making me a 1/2000 voter in a 2000 population, irregardless of the fact that i’m among the top 50 hosters in the world right now (in 2000000+ people, i was the 14th most experienced, considering data from today). my contribution to this community will slowly be eroded as time goes by. i have ambiguous feelings towards this that haven’t matured yet so i don’t really know how i feel about this. i guess it’s good to kick out the bittered hosts, since all hosts bitter up at some point after too many guests (any good data on this?).

i also noticed a bias towards people that choose to make their personal information public. people that show off everything about themselves to the world (including google), will get listed over other people. this is an interesting tweak that probably offsets some of the effect i described above. CS has always capitalized on ego and self promotion, so maybe this shift will upset some users, but actually make the website more usable. we’ll see. but for now, no more experiments on request rate and so on.

the transmontano tin whistle

I’ve been trying to work out a way of playing the northeastern gaita transmontana in Bb minor and until now i hadn’t found a way. now, thanks to a cheap clark D tin whistle i bought, i managed to make what i call the Transmontano Tin Whistle. all it is is a tin whistle tuned in Bb minor. here is the schematic and measurements.

The Transmontano Tin Whistle

inner diameter: 14.25 (@0.05mm)

total length: 375mm (Ab)

hole positions (from the top):

133mm Ab

164mm Gb

197mm F

223mm Eb

249mm Db

269mm C

303mm Bb

check out the video to see how it sounds, i think it sounds pretty good! now it’s time to make it pretty. and i guess this time there are no pipes in the video, technically. enjoy!

banksters turned bemperors

the swedish säckpipa, i think it’s a first here

now that my country has been sold out to the imf and the rich of europe, i think it’s time to look at banksters as a bigger group than just a rich gang. by fabricating doubt about a country that actually has no dramatic problem (like portugal), you get increasing interest and then bailouts. but what is a bailout? should it even be called a bailout?

first of all, if someone offers to buy your bonds at almost 10% interest you could just say no thanks, fuck off. that would be only if a leader would accept standing up against whoever is offering money. but this is not the case. all these countries’ leaders have been weak facing the banksters, that’s why i’m calling them bemperors. let’s see how this works:

  • create doubt about a country’s economy even though an economy of a country most of the time has little to nothing to do with a country’s deficit (US? huge deficit. japan? huge deficit. who are they kidding?), usually through the media
  • doubt created makes treasury bonds less trustworthy (what’s a treasury bond? since when are we making money off other countries taxes?), which raises interest rates that the state has to pay investors
  • country realizes they can’t pay, asks for external help
  • the bemperor offers some money, but at an insane rate that will take decades to pay, subjecting the country to harsh economic policies that enslave all its citizens to cheap labor and no worker rights, effectively leaving the country at the bemperor’s mercy

so a bailout is not giving anyone money at all. it’s not even helping. it’s making money off the poor as usual. then come the rich european countries and say “yes, we will gladly help, but policy must change and parties of the opposition must stop arguing and help”. what the fuck? i’ll give you some money so now you do as i say? what is this? what’s a sovereign state then? since when can countries dictate what parties should or shouldn’t do? they were elected by the citizens. it’s no outsider’s business to shape national politics. but i digress. obviously that’s what’s happening with my country, and will continue.

what’s happening now is the bemperors taking over of europe. all the media (especially financial media) is saying spain is next. there is no evidence for this, at all, but this is exactly how the game is played. first you discredit a country without any base for it, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! the way the global economy works, anyone can rig it with the right media machine, since the minds of the investors are as permeable to bullshit as anyone else’s. and though i’m not good at predicting anything, i suspect the propaganda machine will turn on spain next, and leech more money out of it. all hail the bemperors, masters of usury!

carvalhesa d’alcântara

i’m trying out the music typesetting (using absjs), here’s a simple song i wrote. i recently discovered that on my C major pipes it is easier to play in D minor than in C minor. so i wrote this one that juggles D minor and F major. it’s a silly folk song, so don’t take it too seriously. below you’ll find the ABC notation. the rendering is done automatically. i’m also pretty shitty at it at the moment, so i added no ornamentations, pipes suck without them. enjoy!

X:1 Q:110 T:Carvalhesa d’Alcântara M:2/4 L:1/16 R:carvalhesa K:Dm DE |: F2A2 G2F2 | G6 EF | G2B2 A2G2 | A6 DE | F2A2 G2F2 | G6 AG | F2GF E2FE |1 D6 DE :|2 (D4 D3)C | |: ECFC G2BA | G2F2 G3C ECFC | G2AG F2E2 |1 (F4F3)C :|2 F8 |]

foonki pipes

it’s alive! the foonki chanter on my transmontana bagpipe. i tuned the drone to this one. sounds really good! check it out! still working on the drones though. i made custom wood pieces to connect all the parts, but it’s hard to make a metal-wood joint completely airtight. every slight leak leads to a lot of air going away and a weird “wind” background noise. anyway, now i can carry this one whenever i can’t play too loud, and can still practice. i used wax for the airtight part. worked ok for the chanter, but for the drones the pressure is very high, so there’s still no result. the plans are at least unison and fifth. maybe soon. i also want to do another chanter in another pitch. this one is in G, i want to practice in Bb minor and C major, so i need at least these two.

abstraction and structure

portuguese gaita again. today i’ll be continuing the subject of structure and quantification. this time, i will use our concept of thing directly in the calculation of structure.

we first saw that a thing of layer l  t_l = \{ t_{1_{l-1}}, \dots, t_{i_{l-1}}, \dots t_{N_{l-1}} \} , i.e., a thing is made of things. for each thing, its information (quantification of structure), is a function of the arrangement of its constituents,  I(t_l) = f(\{ t_{1_{l-1}}, \dots, t_{i_{l-1}}, \dots t_{N_{l-1}} \}) = -log_2(\frac{1}{N^N}) = N log_2(N) . note this is only true if there is no mutual information between the constituents. if there is, we can just conjure up a higher level “middle layer” that hides this mutual information as a single entity. this makes the structure of a thing of any layer quantifiable and independent of its constituents, only their quantity and arrangement. this means we do not need to know the information of constituents to know the information of a higher level system. this is a bit mind boggling, for sure, but this means our layers are irrelevant for the calculation of information, what matters is the quantity of sub-elements.

how is this relevant? this means that to properly quantify any structure, we can either quantify it in a single layer, just like the real world, or quantify it including explicitly all the information of the parts (as we, sentient beings, define them). if we choose to quantify and include the parts, we get  I(t_t) = I(t_l) + N I(t_{l-1}) . infinite recursion, just as we would expect from a seemingly fractal definition. what does this lead to? let’s calculate it using induction (philosophers start panicking!).

 I(t_t) = I(t_l) + N_l I(t_{l-1}) = N_l log_2 (N_l) + N_l ( N_{l-1} log_2 ( N_{l-1} ) + I(t_{l-2}) )


 N_l ( log_2 (N_l) + ( N_{l-1} log_2 ( N_{l-1} ) + I(t_{l-2}) ) = N_l log_2(N_l) + N_l N_{l-1} log_2(N_{l-1}) + N_l N_{l-1} N_{l-2} log_2(N_{l-2}) + \dots

we can now group this beast using sum and product operators. this will only disguise the big beast this is.

 I(t_t) = \sum_{i=0}^N \prod_{j=0}^i N_{l-j} log_2(N_{l-i})

let’s hope nobody notices how big these numbers are. it’s obvious it is a divergent series and grows with N.

what this means is that we can expand or contract our “zoom” to define structure at any level and accounting for any layer whatsoever. we’ll need this in the future. for now, let’s let these concepts settle. when structure is quantified over a hierarchy as ours, the quantity always depends on the zoom chosen. this paradoxical result is well known from fractal mathematics. i guessed our structure was fractal, this is the proof. fractals are a consequence of abstraction. for nature, since she is abstraction-less, there is only one value for the structure of the universe: the value for the structure of the universe. nothing like ending a philosophical text with a tautology