Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tense, relax and dream about Brexit?

Tense, relax and dream about Brexit?

No, this won’t be a reasoned analysis of policy or strategy or science. Yesterday I decided it was time for me to relax a bit. Having been passive in a way, I woke up with a dream about the future under brexit and Trump. (“Truly relax and an image will come to you.”) So this morning, I will give in to the yin side of life, and simply recount personal experience. But: a lot of the reality of life and even of the galaxy emerges in direct experience, if we pay enough attention and scrutinize it carefully.

Tense/relax.  We all know that breathing has a rhythm, and that the rhythm of breathing connects to the mind in many ways. We all know that the heart is a pump, among other things, and that the action of a pump is to tense and relax, even if it’s too fast for us to track as much as we track our breathing. Even in the brain... I recently turned in an invited journal paper giving a new view of the well-known “alpha rhythm,” about seven oscillations per second in the brain of the rat whose data I analyzed in MatLab. A friend and collaborator, Robert Kozma, has some joint papers with the famous but deceased neuroscientist Walter Freeman, and with Yeshua ben David, discussing how these rhythms in the brain seem to connect to rhythms in breathing – at times, to some extent.

But of course, larger rhythms are also an important part of life. Years ago, I really enjoyed working with a neuroscientist on loan to NSF, Rae Silver, a friend of Kathie Olsen whom I knew better. Amidst regular NSF activities, Rae talked about her work on circadian rhythms, which include the obvious rhythm of day and night, which is also crucial to even the crudest realistic understanding of the economics of electric power. (It was nice to learn how to get rid of jet lag without drugs.) But there are also “emergent rhythms” in day-to-day life. I especially remember Nietzsche’s rhythm of “withdrawal and return.” Because we humans all have finite capacity to handle complex information and stress, it is natural for us to push as hard as we can and then leave time for us and others to digest the complex (and hard yang) things we come up with.

Yesterday was one of those days when I started with a calm clear belief it was a day to relax and digest... when I was glad to be retired (though I missed having some of the people to talk to casually)... I think Luda was a tiny bit surprised that I quickly agreed to a little trip to Costco with her. (That’s not a rare event, but over the past two weeks I have been  preoccupied with various activities only half of which were partially reflected in this blog.) But then... well... there are days when a kind of local luck (a level of qi) flows smoothly and when it flows positively (not the same attribute!)... this was not one of them. Car making door noises, and not a pleasant subject. Costco refuses to fill a prescription we have discussed for a month which they promised to fill. (Oh does daily life tell us about the US medical system!!). Incredibly long slow lines at the food court, just to pick up a Costco hot dog. So back at home, I decided to REALLY relax and withdraw that day... some minutes up in the bedroom, but after Luda came in with a tiny bit of small news to cheer me up, down to the study where I am now, but not to type. My intent was to read a warhammer science fiction which Chris and Alex recommended I read on my kindle paperwhite, and maybe do some sudoku family puzzles at intermediate times, with music in the background from the PC. But then the old speakers I had borrowed from Chris (while he used my better older ones) started going crazy, Luda could tell I was getting mumble-grumble upset, and she swapped back my old ones and got the music working. (“Chris is using earphones now anyway.” By the way, I hated the expression mumble-grumble when I first heard it a lot, from Marvin Minsky, and I didn’t empathize with it. I didn’t used to do that... but I had the impression it was really common at MIT.)

And so... yesterday... I forcibly sat in an old wooden padded chair which my parents bougt for me in my first week at Harvard... with Allen Parsons loudly in the background. I read some, puzzled some, and then sat back and just let the music wash into me and through me and so on. Well, work with music is one of the very, very classic exercises in “mysticism” (the human effort to make real tangible engagement with soul and spirit). I have sometimes thought that intense work with music, back when I was a diehard WYSIWIG “materialist” almost as bad as the Amazing Randi , played a crucial role in causing the personal experiences which forced me to reconsider my beliefs in the period 1967 to 1972 especially. So... withdrawal was not exactly withdrawal. Withdrawal away from the risk of accidentally perturbing things like folks reading my recent papers, or elections, withdrawal away from the constraints and silliness inhibiting everyday life... but NOT shutting off the mind as such... amplifying rather than shutting off qi or spirit...  unavoidably “thinking” of aspects of various themes Alan Parson talks about... and about views of another little science fiction, Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons. (I never got around to checking whether he was a former classmate from Philadelphia suburbs...)

And so, this morning, I woke up naturally about sunrise as usual, calmer and much more intelligent than I usually am at the end of the day. (Luda has gotten me to join her in watching the netflix series Limitless, which I can empathize with and she sees why. No chemicals, but clear variation in levels of intelligence.) Relaxing and withdrawing... I did none or almost none of the usual “cosmic consciousness” routine early this AM. Instead, I just woke up and mulled a new “assumption dream” this morning. (Also, a small bit of pleasant conversation with Luda, but even a small bit is a real lifeline for me.)

Assumption dream: wake up and realize that your dream records vividly the experience/feeling/thoughts of someone else, somewhere else on earth, often at present, but often in the future. This was a young Britisher, probably a student, on a trip to France after brexit.

Mulling over the dream, I noticed that yes I now understand about time much better than I did before late 2014, when I realized quite suddenly that “consciousness lives in scenarios not in reality.” Maybe I should explain that now before going further. Time and consciousness is a very serious subject, with new real science, worthy of a few new paragraphs.

Many years ago, when I was in graduate school, I had a stunning experience connected with the possibility that I might marry a beautiful young Chinese American woman going to Wellesley. Long before, I had had a vivid future dream of being married to a Chinese woman, in a way which did not work out so well. (Not anger, but unhappiness to the point of despair, but I will not go into all the details now.) I remembered it. But when I met Jeanie.. I did not remember that old dream, since she looked so different and my associative memory did not even release that memory for months. But then, one day, she changed her hair dramatically... you may remember the classic scene “how do you like the new style?..” and I tried to contain my real reaction. My real reaction was that I remembered that dream in huge detail, and suddenly I knew where I was headed. It was if I were moving fast on a road.. so fast it would be very hard not to get off... and I certainly did NOT want to cause her any unhappiness. (Never even for a moment did I have any feelings but positive towards her. ) It was a great and curious thing to slightly change the angle of motion along that road, to get off before what seemed inevitable yet without wrong feelings... and as I look back, I am actually surprised at just how positive the change in spin was for her, how I fulfilled the natural desire to make life better for her than it would have been on the previous course. (And no, that didn’t mean finding another guy for her, during the time when we were in contact, though I do hope that also worked out for her later.)

Was that dream (a dream of my own future experience) a real dream of the future? (The earlier image was so exactly like the new her it was very scary, and the destination was also strong and unmistakable.) But how is that possible, if it didn’t happen in the end?

Somehow, when I was an assistant professor at UMCP, I encountered a book on basic concepts growing out of Daoism, from MIT press I think, by an engineering professor at MIT whom I somehow ended up having lunch with at the Cosmos Club in DC. We had a great long conversation on Daoism in his understanding (much more elevated than most of what I later saw called Daoism in China). We discussed that dream, and he discussed the “standard Daoist idea” that there is “the future which is now, and then the later future.” I still also remember a meeting much later of the Planning Committee of the Millennium Project, where Rusong Wang, the head of the China node, briefly discussed that same idea, and other Daoists principles, to explain why he liked the title of their annual book “The State of the Future.”

For many years, I felt a conflict within myself, because I am still committed to an ultrarealistic model of physics (much more committed to objective reality in a few dimensions than 99% of physicists are), and I did not believe that this model was consistent with that dream or with about six or seven other graphic experiences I had had. (The most extreme, oddly, was at the hotel and van going to Singularity University a few years ago, too weird to repeat lightly.) Even in my first draft of the paper at www.werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.pdf (published in Russia), I kept making a distinction between the next big generation of physics, which should be ultrarealistic, versus the greater truth we may or may not discover later when we have additional evidence to give us a hint about its real nature. (My objection to superstring theory is not the 11 dimensions but the utterly ungrounded speculative nature of it all, motivated by a mathematical problem for which I have a much simpler solution.)

Back in those days I thought: maybe that dream of Jeanie was just a kind of dream from the noosphere, which has much more data than I do and could reconstruct and even plan and compare possibilities much more than I could with my own limited brain intelligence.  I was impressed by a hard core realistic science fiction anthology, Far Futures, including one very impressive story about a world where “Gaia” was a big computer running many, many parallel simulations to try to find a viable path for the future of humans (a highly endangered species, even the laughing stock of the galaxy).  (Orson Scott Card’s Song of Earth is an important of similar general type.)  I was impressed by Connie Willis’s two-volume novel, “Blackout” and “All Clear,” which presented an “Oxford standard model of time travel” remarkably similar to what I believed... which she and I both began to question. (There was a shorter novel Chronoliths on the same theme.)

But then came the “eureka” moment in the later part of 2014. Since that was hard core physics, I will give yet another background story.

In my last blog post, I gave you the URL of slides from a NATO workshop last week on the “predetection of terrorism.” At first, I did not plan to speak there, because that topic gets into a complex web of realities within realities involving scary players and secrets and all kinds of messes and ways to get into trouble. But I agreed to come (and gradually lightened up and revealed more about the technologies and groups) ... on the condition that I could spend at least half the time on a kind of light comic relief, something realistic enough in its own way but much less scary, entertaining to the Kurzweil folks.  And so:

“Here is a three-step plan which may well work (80% step one, 50% step two, step three almost certain if step two works).... for how to build a camera to take pictures of the future.

“Klausheinz, you talked about the dilemma of how to prosecute or even inhibit someone whom you know will commit a terrorist act in the future before he or she is actually guilty of it. But what if you actually had a real photograph of them committing a murder in the future?” (Of course, most of this group knew Philip K. Dick’s book Minority Report, or the movie, though I was the only one who actually had discussions with Dick, another story. One of our letters made it to the Dick anthology!)

Only much later did Ted Gordon ask: “But Paul, have you thought about the old grandfather paradox? What does your new physics say about that?”

My response: “Well, of course I have. In fact, think about that example with Klasuheinz. What if you see that picture of a person committing murder, and move fast enough to prevent the murder? What then?”

“In truth, my answer now is a bit tricky. Please have patience. I didn’t understand this myself until late 2014.

(Maybe I owe thanks to Magog which unwittingly gave me time and mandate to think about analog quantum computing as deeply as I did at that time. But this was unintended consequences for them, and comic relief for the eye above them.)

“Most really serious physicists today would give proper credit to Hugh Everett and David Deutsch, the real inventors of the ‘multiverse’ concept. They would say that the true cosmos or multiverse which we live in is made up of parallel ‘universes’ or threads or realities, which coexist. So in one universe, in one future, the murder happens, but in another it doesn’t. Today’s standard quantum computing is all built on those ideas of David Deutsch. But I am more conservative. I see a simpler explanation. I believe that there is only one objective reality (so far as we can tell from present evidence), in just three dimensions of space and one of time.

“However... although reality is one, I have learned a strange paradox, the hard way. Reality is one, but we are not. Our consciousness is not. We live our lives, not in that one objective reality, but in SCENARIOS for how that objective reality MIGHT turn out. It is hard to understand and assimilate this at first... I know a realistic physicist who believes that the human brain could not possibly understand and entertain such a weird idea, but I know more about neuroscience than he does, and I know that we CAN learn to adapt to reality here, just as we adapted to the idea that “down” is not the same direction in Australia as it is here.”

“everything we see and know and experience is just the experience of, and consciousness in, ONE scenario at a time from a vast collection of scenarios. It is like Plato’s image of the cave, in which we are just shadows...” (Apologies to other definitions of “shadow.”)

“And so, in Klausheinz’s example, there is one scenario in which the murder takes place, and one in which it doesn’t, and the final reality is an outcome of both scenarios interacting through mathematics. By preventing the murder, what we are really doing is weakening the scenario in which the murder takes place, such that it gradually fades away,... (like a virtual loop in some quantum physics).”

“Hey,” asked Jerry, “ Does this mean if there is something we don’t like we could somehow change it in backwards time? How would that work?”

“Well, it would work by strengthening other parallel scenarios and extinguishing the one you are in.”

“Hey,” said Jerry, “You mean we would have to be so altruistic that we would wipe ourselves from existence and from even having existed at all?”

“More or less. There would still be a brief loop in that node in the past. This really does get into very basic ethics. Do we bite the bullet and accept that ‘we’ is more than just this one instantiation of me, and that we WOULD care to create a better outcome that way?”

And so, when the head of the head of the Finland node asked me over coffee “What happened in 2014?”, I told her. I had been poring over a piece of experimental reality, something we really need to do both in real physics and in psychology. More precisely, I was trying to create a practical model of what happens to a photon when it passes  through the polaroid kind of polarizer (exactly the kind you have in sunglasses!). I found a very simple, very natural model, which works well even for strange experiments in entangled photons, based on time-symmetric physics. (See “MRF3” in my papers, like the 2016 one in Quantum Information Processing. No one understood the first draft, but Luda wrote the published version which is also posted at www.werbos.com/physics.htm.)

I focused very hard on the question: ” Just what happens to the photon, nanometer by nanometer, as it propagates through the sunglasses?” In essence, it “throws the dice” (sorry, Albert, I can explain later..)... at each instant. In most instants, it just keeps going, but has some probability of making one of two big choices:
(1) conform 100% and be absorbed 100%, losing all one’s energy, as some say Trump did in his economic speech after endorsing Ryan (NOT the same as endorsing McCain, a very different person); (2) reject the local environment 100%, and jump to exact perfect opposition (orthogonality) to it. But in every instant when it faces these pressures, and does not like them, it “accumulates discomfort” in its “Z” factor. In a way, it has a third choice, to gradually erode the very existence of this entire scenario, not only for itself but for the entire universe around us. (Yes, Albert, I can explain. It’s in the paper. Yes, it’s a lot like Feynmann’s math too, but no, I can reconcile it with your math as well. But no, it’s not baby arithmetic or rocket science.)  

In other words, the photon has the power to scream to the cosmos “I really don’t WANT these horrible two choices I don’t WANT to be in this situation in the first place. Please unmake this situation, make it so it never happens.” (There is a great British comedy movie about deadly sins or a deal with the devil, where a guy gets seven chances, and he does something a lot like what this photon does.) As I understood this situation ever more sharply and mathematically, I actually felt a bit of jealousy for that photon. “Here **I** am in an impossible situation myself, between a really big rock and a hard place, due to the evil demands of Magog. Why can’t **I*** just unmake it?”

And then the eureka moment. “Hey, I am every bit as powerful as a photon. And this Z factor is every bit a part of reality as that old J function in RLADP and in qi that I have talked about for decades. And let’s face it, consciousness or mind is a matter of pattern (what Aristotle called form), and the neural patterns we know ARE ATTRIBUTES of scenarios. “ Well, it still took some assimilating.


So back to brexit. Yes, I think that that dream was a real portrayal of a real person in a real future, a real future scenario after brexit and after the election of Trump, but with intense enough intelligence we could avoid that future. Yet it is the present future. (So much more I could say about experience of time... but not for the present.)

Really, a very simple dream. The young guy took a holiday in France, a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do. But it was ever so sad in so many ways. To get around, he needed a train ticket, but the brexit forced different classes of ticket available to Britishers as to continentals, and also forced different classes of tickets for different trains. Endless nonsense, missing trains, wasting time looking for ways to get the right ticket and handling more currencies... lots of hard feelings resulting from frustrations on all sides... not a proper vacation really... just an ugly unpleasant mess.  But he could console himself with thoughts about what happened to those poor people on the other side of the Atlantic, in Massachusetts especially. After Trumps’ election, he had to rely heavily on old style state’s rights people in his coalition, and so Massachusetts was willing and able to stage a “mexit” of its own. Now those poor people had to try to survive using their new currency, called the “wampum” (pushed through by “Pocohantas”?). There were so many funny sad stories about people trying to live with wampum or with the rest of what happened to the formerly United States.


So that’s it. That was the dream. I can say that Trump’s economic speech was part of why I felt I needed to withdraw yesterday. (It had none of the hints of intuitive insight he showed at times in the Republican debates. Intuition is a really crucial asset, but can it be hooked up to real policy with real depth? Or is it time to put more energy into diversifying portfolios? Or wilder cards, of which there are many possibilities?)

All for now.

Addendum. Even avoiding TV more, I couldn't miss the top joke of the week.

Advisor to Clinton: "Next time you talk to folks about the email, make sure to humanize yourself, to make it clear you have feelings and are not just a robot."
Later: "OK, how did I do?" "Well, when you said you must have had a short circuit, that wasn't exactly the image we wanted to project."

But... on other aspects I must refrain... 

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