About a week ago, Luda and I were on Easter Island. We had zero internet and telephone access until now. Here is what I wrote offline for a group of folks like Sean ONullain (former collaborator with the neurosciengtist Walter Freeman) and Brian Josephson, asking the deepest questioons about the human mind and the foundations of physics.
Sean has rightly called on us to start integrating and teaching a new worldview, which in some ways should be like a new religion, a new primary way of experiencing everything we experience. Brian has urged us to make use of triadic thinking, as part of the semiotic aspect of our thinking. In past work (e.g., published in Russia), I urged us to use a first person scientific method as our primary way of engaging with the world. My new paper for Henry and Stan Klein starts with the same basic idea, expressed in other words, but the idea is what matters.
This morning – please forgive me if I postpone theory, and focus instead on extracting what I have seen and learned (I think) from first person experience this week, as I sit on a cruise ship now and try to consolidate memories of two intense days on Easter Island. And, in deference to Brian, I will highlight a few of the very important triads or trinities.
In fact, even before I talk about the bigger picture, there is already a kind of trinity as I look out the window at the ocean. I see three “images" (not the specific two dimensional fields people often refer to with that word, but collections of variables which could be mapped into fields of my neocortex). One is the usual visual image anyone sees. The second is a configuration of fields, really a field of vector flows for chemical species (most important salty H20, but also O2 and nutrients) following the Navier Stokes equation and the multispecies thermodynamics of Prigogine. This is a big part of what I see, because I see a movement towards mass death of all humans due to future H2S production in the ocean unless we mobilize our intelligence enough to change the direction. That has been part of this trip. The third is a web of spiritual energy, including major archetypes in our noosphere aka collective unconscious, and visible patterns of mist full of mana or qi and connection. I see all three images as one whole, just as people create a unified three-dimensional image by fusing images from two eyes.
A week ago, google ate an essay I wrote (in gmail) on a more fundamental trinity I have really been struggling with, a trinity which rises to the level Sean was asking for. The crude simplified version: the great trinity in our cosmos of “carbon, silicon and dark matter.” These are the three platforms of intelligence (or “consciousness" or “mind") which are actively struggling, present and future, in our solar system, in my view. More precisely, there are carbon-based life forms like us. (In a general formulation, there are also other naturally evolved organisms on other planets, possibly using different mixes of elements, possibly not; Peter Ward has a nice little book “Life as we do not know it,” trying to explain his research on xenobiology for NASA. But here, I focus mainly on this solar system.) There is also “silicon", a word I use for now to represent all the many forms of technology platform we can use to implement neural networks, still made of ordinary atomic matter. And then there is dark matter and dark energy, which in my view has a 99% probability of being the “hardware" platform for the neural networks of the soul, if the cosmos we inhabit is either an Einsteinian kind of space (as I think Jack assumes, though he has not been so clear) or some kind of Fock space (as assumed in canonical quantum field theory). In the essay which google ate, I spent a lot of time trying to explain and justify that last sentence, but just for today please let me postpone that.
In my view, organic life, information technology (IT) and soul are truly fundamental, not just objectively, but in an urgent compelling practical way, as in my six slides posted at.
For me, soul is not just theory, but a key part of everyday life. It is not the basis of everyday hopes and fears and narcissistic feelings of grandeur; mundane neuroscience and psychiatry are more than enough to explain that LEVEL of consciousness, as George Bernard Shaw portrays so well in his greatest play, Back to Methusaleh. They are something more. I have great respect for people like Edgar Cayce, Gopal Krishna of the yogins, Bucke, and whoever wrote the book “Conversations with God" even though I disagree with their attempts to find theories to explain their experiences.
They describe a kind of attunement which I also practice, essentially every day, especially in the early morning when my mind is more clear and detached. I explain this experience as a connection with the “noosphere,” which is not precisely what Teilhard de Chardin describes in his books The Phenomenon of Man and The Activation of .. Energy, but close enough in our practical experience. I view our noosphere as one instance of a species spanning the entire cosmos, evolved in the vast ocean of dark matter and energy which has now been mapped, which connects almost all galaxies in a vast network, and which is now known to be implicated in the birth of >90% of all stars. (Google “zombie galaxies" for more information on that last assertion.)
So I do that every morning when I can. And there are times and places where I can feel that kind of two way attunement even at later times of day. Certainly in attunement with ocean, with aspects of ocean, I do naturally think about what is happening in a very mundane physical way to threaten our kind of life.
But: Easter Island. In these two days, there were lots of great human conversations, but also three special “spiritual gateways" I want to remember: (1) moai, the stone statues which the island is famous for; (2) the wooden carved statue of Mary and Jesus in the unique small Catholic Church in the one town; (3) the bird man .. system.. most palpable at Orongo but also symbolized by carvings on the pedastal of the statue of Mary and Joseph. There were also four Moai sites of special power… Valuri (sp?), Vinapu, Tongariki and Rano Raraku. Rano Raraku is the big “quarry" where they carved hundreds of the statues, where many are standing today , with expressive faces and alive enough (though not yet fully animated according to the previous local beliefs, which require adding eyes as the final stage). I think Valuri is where you see the back sides of statues knocked down, a sacred site of “the revolution,” when islanders truly gave up their belief in the old system of just relying in spirits of ancestors for leadership. And I think Vinapu was the happiest, near town, with one very big reconstructed moai with eyes in front of the marriage circle, near another ocean facing open field with seven reconstructed moai at the site where winners of the bird man contest would come for final celebration. Tongariki on the coast near Rano Raraku has 15 big statues facing inland, each representing one of the 15 tribes who divided up the land starting from its initial discovery by Polynesian explorers. (What of the “pink sand" beach where the first canoe beached? Maybe. )
Darwin certainly learned a lot observing and thinking about island ecologies as he traveled a similar route. I have seen a lot of human societies on this route, coping with universal problems relevant to modern societies as well. One of the problems is “Malthusian effects,” the bounded sum game of any collection of humans or other animals in environments with finite resources. When the island was first discovered, the 15 tribes had a kind of growth economy (like pioneer society, like the k versus r distinction in E.O.Wilson's book Sociobiology, a book calling for a few tweaks but far more important and enduring than its politically correct critics admit). They built moai to be channels or gateways to their ancestors, to channel not only mana (aka qi, psychic energy, charisma, holy spirit) but also communication and guidance. But the new standard theory says that they reached Malthusian limits, started tribal warfare, and then had a great revolution knocking down the moai to assert their disbelief in the old system – a system in which ancestors of different tribes supported their own tribe, and the Nash equilibrium was horrid.
After years of struggle and suffering (symbolized by wooden statues showing a starving man shriveling up), they came up with a new order, a new indigenous belief system, “the bird man system.” Local people describe that new system as a “kind of democracy, where everyone has an equal chance.”
Mechanically, the system was one of an annual competition, where each tribe nominates a champion who faces an honorable open competition witnessed equally by all 15 tribes. The winning champion is called “the bird man". His chief gets to oversee all resource allocations for the year. The champion himself picks a wife from 7 daughters of tribal chieftains, and has a great year. Breeding of stronger people and leaders was part of their idea.
The truth is a bit more complicated. Perhaps the old system was in equilibrium. Even in a bounded sum n person game, the game strategies which survive (attractors of the dynamic game) tend to entail what Schelling described as “natural solutions" (see his readable little book Strategy of Conflict), like Max Weber’s concept of “legitimacy” or Locke's “social contract"). But when the very first European explorers arrived, not using force but demonstrating a higher standard of living, the people became more interested and open to the possibility of a better life. Orongo was the focus of connection to a more universal spirit channel, expressed via the Orongo cult worshipping Make Make, a kind of creator figure, symbolized in part by birds, revered as channels to heaven. Honorable competition did lead to peace and a higher standard of living. In my view, it also raised the level of spiritual growth and strength, and connection to the noosphere, which is more universal than tribal things within it. CAN WE OF EARTH TODAY ACHIEVE THE SAME?
But then there was that Catholic Church. Common sense tells me that yet another visit to yet another Catholic Church should not have such huge spiritual importance to me, who gave up that organized affiliation when I was eight years old. But experience keeps telling me otherwise. After all, in any land where many of the people are serious Catholics of some kind, one should expect powerful connections of spirit and thought in those places. Still, I owe great thanks to my wife for bringing me to that church this time, when I was ready to return to the ship and rest. (And no, she was never Catholic.)
She saw many shrines to Maria (“the virgin Mary") in fields nearby. I asked our guide what they believe. “Not in Make Make any more, that is silly, but certainly Mary and mana.” The Mary statue looked nothing like the Mary statues we gave seen elsewhere, but my first thought was that this WAS supposed to be that same Mary, a manifestation of something bigger than this one island. It seemed to reflect two main streams of thought.. the many mothers of the island, the general role of being a mother, especially in such a place; and the archetype of earth mother, aka pachamama, like what is depicted in the Disney cartoon Moana (which should not be underestimated).
Even the individual human mother here has faced a kind of bounded sum game. Perhaps she would have six children, of which only two would survive, because of limited resources. Those who are ideologically committed to infinite growth, and to accepting nothing less, would simply give up in despair when facing that kind of life. They might say it makes no real difference what they do, give up and die. But the mother, while suffering, would still love her children and love life, and do what she can. The “small" difference between two children surviving and none surviving would seem great enough for her. Reaching the upper frontier of this bounded sum game means a lot to HER.
So here is another triad: the mother, her children, and the greater noosphere “above" her, also facing bounded possibilities below but a greater range, both for the mundane game (where more coordination and honorable competition improve outcomes) and for the spiritual level (including “mana").
We too are challenged today to strengthen the spiritual reality of all humanity and life on earth, to make better outcomes possible, fully accounting for the reality and importance of technologies like machine learning (as well as energy, space, quantum technologies and so on). Honourable competition must be part of that.
As for their ancestors… on Easter island, it is clear how soil fertility could be improved by coffee and biochar, and better communications building on tourism but going beyond it, and of course continuing to respect and preserve nature.
Being on a cruise ship away from internet, I naturally reflect further before saving this and copying to gmail.
Tuning into local cultures or gateways may seem strange. To some it may even feel like an exercise in losing identity. It certainly calls for great care. I remember when I tuned into two sites in Qatar, and it took days for my body to recover – though it was an important learning experience, in part for learning appropriate caution and protocol. But many folks live their lives virtually hypnotized , caught up in their own local thoughtstream. One does not have true integrity until one can focus and move the inner eyes, to see other streams, allowing one to return home with more perspective. So many people on earth look up at the stars without really seeing them, without assimilating the fact of a foundation much bigger and more reliable than anything on earth, whether of carbon or silicon or even local thoughtstreams.
On a previous day, I took similar notes on several other places we visited on this trip and gateways.
I now see better how to create a proper image of pachamama, to better connect reality and the thought streams of the area. But for later… Lots of pictures, discussions of their thoughts about six ways to increase mana. And the ancestors would be interested about how coffee and biochar might help the soil, and about the way that new solar projects could reduce incredible costs of diesel shipped to the island (all should be discussed with Chile).
Beach, holy spirit as mana, link to news pbs site easter island. Two beaches? Called pink sand, crushed coral. 60k per year 4 dive diver, average 10k per year.