Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Repairing Reality - Part III

Last time, we learned that memes are the base units for transmitting information in human-based systems. We also learned that culture, in promoting static thinking and belief, is an inefficient and archaic method of selecting good memes over their inferior counterparts. Today, we'll take this knowledge and apply it to some tangible problems that occur on our planet. We'll also discuss the basic methodology and tools required to accomplish the task of solving these problems.

Before we do that, though, let's define decomposition. Decomposition is the process of breaking perceived problems into functional primitives, or the smallest, most basal units possible for use in the systematic evaluation of the problems. If we decompose problems into a hierarchical set of primitives, we can much better determine from where child problems -- which descend from parent problems -- inherit their characteristics.

So what's so bad about the universe? Isn't it a wondrous, beautiful place, open for exploration and learning? Sometimes. Keep in mind, however, that without a functional purpose, we are blatantly ignoring what the unbiased, emergent systems we've constructed demand -- and what our individual psychologies as biological organisms are dictated by. We may have the capacity to enjoy our existence, but that should not imply that the universe is an inherently 'good' place to be, nor should it imply that the perpetuation of life for its own sake is in any way valuable or responsible. Below is a hierarchy chart of what I've determined to be the two most pressing problems in the universe.

The Problems

1. LOGIC: Humans are susceptible to memes and lack the requisite cognitive algorithms for filtering out bad ideas; in essence, meme agents are just as problematic as memes.

2. SENSATION: Physical sensation, desire, and emotion all distort the human animal's ability to practically filter the ideas mentioned above, and aid in the process of biological preservation at the expense of productive work. Further, negative sensations in particular are, by default, the only truly "bad" things in existence, as our five senses utilize binary determinants for survival. There is currently nothing that can be demonstrated to be more valuable than the elimination of negative sensation -- a mechanism of action that is separate from pleasure, and one that probably evolved independently. As such, pleasure is an inadequate means of compensating for the existence of negative sensation; therefore, only the outright elimination of negative sensation is valuable.

With the above in mind, it can be said that fixing 1. takes precedence over fixing 2., as 1. hinders our ability to work on 2. Repaired human logic, flowing as a process on continuous, open systems of thought free from all cultural biases, will subsequently serve as an aid in solving the second problem.

Decomposed from 1. above:

Underdeveloped mental algorithm; poor/illogical cognitive programming
I. Absolutism; assumption; definition; generalization; belief
        i. Condescension; dehumanization
        ii. Arrogance; certainty
        ii. War and other forms of violence
        iii. Apathy
        iv. Other kinds of social conflict

Decomposed from 2. above:

Physical sensation, desire, and emotion
I. Spectrum 1: Negative desire-positive desire (fear-desire)
          i. Attachment (internal)
                  i. Attachment to assumptions and beliefs
                          i. Cognitive dissonance; confirmation bias
                          ii. Personal enmity
                          iii. Selfishness
                          iv. False sense of security
                          v. Creation and maintenance of a static personal identity
          ii. Fear*
          iii. Attention-seeking and other kinds of social pretense (external)
                           i. Fame and recognition
                           ii. Sense of belonging to a particular group
                           iii. Disregard for progress or potential truths in favor of what makes one "look" the best in society
                           iv. Individualism; populism; democracy; argumentum ad populum
II. Spectrums 2 and 3: Negative sensation-positive sensation; negative mentation-positive mentation (negative emotion-positive emotion)
           i. Distractions; further distortion of mental algorithm

Note: All 3 of these sensation spectrums originate in attraction and repulsion; the actual, physical sensation of being scalded with a hot iron, when examined without attachment or reaction, is hardly different from that of an orgasm; it's just that the brain sends additional signals of attraction or repulsion which dictate the degree of pleasantness or unpleasantness resultant from the sensation, in spite of its similarity to a sensation which gets interpreted in an opposite way.

Note 2: None of the "desire" problems would exist without 1. or 2., but are directly caused by 2.

Note 3 (on the title of the second problem): Desire, which breeds fear and lack of confidence, is what causes people to cling to ideas after they've been demonstrated to be inefficient or improbable; it's also what causes people to view the search for understanding as secondary to the search for cliques and friends. When philosophy, or any facet of our lives, turns into a social event, we compromise our ability to function rationally. An example would be someone who chooses to become a Christian because his spouse is a Christian. Cognitive dissonance will act as an agent of deterrence from rationality, because, due to low self-esteem or doubt in himself, the person converting will alter his values from the most logical ones for the sake of being accepted.

* Fear and attachment cause one another. Attachment to a preexisting notion requires fear of losing whatever perceived benefit the notion provides, but this perceived benefit is itself contingent on a second notion -- in essence, a second attachment. The second attachment exists due to fear, ad infinitum. This is an information loop which terminates in an infinite regress, which may explain why humans are so prone to logical fallacies.

You may be wondering how these problems have been decomposed, or how the general process of decomposition tends to work. What methodology and which skills accomplished this basic layout? The following are all necessary in any system we come to utilize in our lives; we'll go into more detail later about how to pragmatically manage the below process, as well as what some of the key tools do..

The Process (skill set + methodology)

1. Fundamental principles of value (what - output) and data processing/information theory (how - process)
2. Scope definition
3. Pattern recognition
4. Abstraction
5. Decomposition (into functional primitives) and parameterization
6. Set theory
7. Regression analysis/relational analysis
8. Sequential logic/cause-and-effect analysis/conditional analysis to ascertain sequence of relational sets (note: conditional in the sense of non-linear process requiring preset conditions; if/thens, etc. Very useful for acknowledging the unlikeliness of the existence of categorical absolutes)
9. Risk analysis
10. Qualitative analysis
11. Logistical analysis
12. Cost-benefit analysis (opportunity cost)
13. Ultimate assessment of available prospects and potential default actions

Core Process

Initial assessment (scope, goals, etc.) > initial analysis > (if process or system modeling) design > building (if process or system modeling) > tentative conclusions > implementation (when technology comes in, where applicable)

The System (tools, hardware/software)

1. Data processor (brain)
2. Cognition algorithm(s) (high-functioning thought processes and routine questions for breaking down scenarios)
3. Operating system/mental programming/conditioning
4. Memes
5. External meme agents
6. Genes
7. External phenomena attractive where genetic predispositions exist

Goals: Maximize and minimize outputs via parameters using the above set of tools as a collective system, which runs a continuous process; assess prospects via the above tools, then decompose a problem not only into parameters, but also, subsequently, into cases in which to run scenarios.

Note: Many of the above methods fall under the heading of systems analysis.

Note 2: Most of the above methods constitute the act of solving a problem with a system/model rather than the act of building and designing a system, though some apply to both. Those that apply to both are therefore relevant not only to process management and systems development, but to data integrity as well. Process management also usually includes various meta-processes.

Note 3: All of the above methods, skills, and tools, as part of a dynamic process run on a dynamic system, are subject to change or removal. How this refinement occurs falls under process management, though in a limited fashion, as all systems will be emergent.

Note 4: Obviously, emotion also interacts with desire, but this hierarchy chart is somewhat limited in that it is necessarily linear.

Additional things to keep in mind: functionality of the system; quality of outputs; systems must be emergent, continuous, dynamic, and open for an indefinite or undefined period of time; the human brain is also a system which runs a process arising from both that system and the external agents (other systems) with which it interacts; I am, therefore, a process involving multiple systems, all of which share relationships; our brains interpret data real-time, using an interpreter as opposed to a compiler; cultural conditioning is a form of mental programming, as is any learned subprocess or subroutine

Now that we understand where to start in building our societal systems, and have a general awareness of the problems that we as sentient organisms face, in part IV, we'll take a look at the process of model-building, pragmatism, and what it means for ideas to act as maintainers of systems. We'll also go into a bit more detail about some of the above listed tools, methods, and problems.

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