Giulio Prisco comes down to the core of the argument regarding “God” and ‘Evil” and Life itself in the brilliant article below.
Here is the very beautiful core of his argument. I am highlighting those points I find most interesting:
“If reality is a computation, it is probably an incompressible computation with no shortcuts: the only way to know what happens at time t, is to run the computation until time t. Besides some very simple initial configurations, the Game of Life is incompressible: if you want to know what happens at time step t, you must run the program through all intermediate time steps.”
IOW, in order to know what’s going to happen, you must run the program.-Ralph
It makes sense to assume that reality is an incompressible computation, and the universe is the fastest computer that can compute itself. In other words, a 100% complete and accurate prediction of tomorrow’s weather cannot be done in less than 24 hours, and the only way to predict the future with complete accuracy is waiting for the future to happen.
This assumption makes sense because the existence of a faster-than-the-universe computer within the universe would lead to logical contradictions. Suppose you could compute the state of the universe tomorrow faster than the universe itself. The results of the computation will include the color of the shirt that you will wear tomorrow. Then you can invalidate the prediction by simply wearing, tomorrow, a shirt of another color.”
Here is the core of an argument I presented earlier, regarding the “superorganism”:
“That is the hierarchical order of forces that make us as humans part of a “superorganism” composed of a neural net that contributes to our part as a “massive learning machine”. But as Bloom illustrates, both good and evil go into this process, and we are wrong to assume that we can “amputate” evil by organizing into larger units that represent ideals. It is these ideals, in fact, as shown from several sources that contribute to the greatest evils.”
It is likely that the problem with “selfishness” has occurred because each leap in the development of the superorganism has created a corresponding step backwards. As Howard Bloom writes in Global Mind:
“As Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan point out in their brilliant book, Microcosm, multi-celled organisms lost the rapid fire external information exchange, quick-paced inventiveness, and global data sharing of bacteria. With their newly developed nervous systems and brains, multi-celled creatures made awesome contributions to the elaboration of cell-to-cell communication. And with the elaborate facilities in their nuclei, they giant stepped the powers of genetic memory. But their data was now stuck inside the body.”
The early bacteria were the processing centers, single celled, possessing an “identity” of their own. As they began to form more complex multi-celled organisms, they still obviously operated at their own level of information exchange, becoming our “inner circuitry”. The collaboration of these multicelled systems inside our own body operate below our level of consciousness. The brain did not evolved, apparently, to direct this action but to simply be aware that such actions are occurring. While the brain is a “make aware” agent, the interconnections of the tiny systems in our body are “make happen’ agents. We know by “awareness” when they aren’t working right.
It is likely that this awareness functions largely by the operation of memory. The brain “remembers” a state of “normal”, and when change occurs, memory is upset, making the brain “aware”.
“Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Lab are convinced that sometime before 200 million B.C., a knowledge accumulator gene called DCREB2 harnessed cyclic AMP for a new purpose–rapid data storage….A multicelled creature could quickly store experience in a nervous system’s circuitry. This opened the way for a swift reprogrammer zoologist Richard Dawkins calls the meme–a habit, a technique, a twist of feeling, a sense of things, which easily flips from brain to brain”.
From this ability “flip from brain to brain” comes a concept called “mirror neurons”. These neurons in the brain see a behavior from a person(or another animal), and draw instant conclusions based on the behavior of that animal. In this “mirror” experience of the neuron, there is essentially no difference between another person performing the act and ourselves performing the act. The behavior is copied on to the brain so completely that we experience “other’ behavior as if it were our own.
How do we know the difference? Because of sensitivity to our external environment. For example, if we see another, as an infant, perform an act such as splashing water on his arm, we may experience that act in our brain as if we actually did it. However, we know it never happened to us, because there is no sensation of water on our arm or body, so it did not happen. In time, we learn to differentiate between internal “mirror neurons” and the external stimuli that tell us it never happened to us.
Since each of us carry the same internal “computers’ inside our system, this is a way in which communal or social signals are quickly internalized for future relations with others. We are naturally social animals.
The problem occurs, and intensifies, when we fail to realize that our “internal circuitry”, that circuitry which develops as a result of mirroring others, is not the only possible reality. Just as the bacteria lost a bit of rapid adaptive ability when becoming part of multicelled systems such as “us”, we have lost part of our adaptability as individuals by being necessarily dependent on others for our social cues and meanings. This is further complicated by the fact that the brain is not a “make happen” agent, but a “make aware’ agent. It functions largely on data storage and memory of what is the normal state, and what decisions should be made to maintain that normalcy. That is, it will make decisions that seek equilibrium with its environment, just as the genes made the same decisions as they formed cartels to create ‘Us”. The brain as creation of this combination, represents a kind of “rest state” of the cooperative workings, and signals the body when something is no longer in equilibrium.
The brain, therefore, seeks a state of equilibrium, of rest, and will make decisions to resist change in those circumstances. This leads to the recent recognition that all disease comes from unanticipated change or stress resulting from such changes. What we call “illness” is basically the body’s “all out” response to change which threatens the integrity of the system. The brain will begin accessing its memory and try to restore equilibrium by tried and tested methods.
Recently, in the field of epigenetics, it has been discovered that nature has found ways to store memory for the defense against future invaders. Dr. Sharon Moalem in the book Survival Of The Sickest, points out that:
“….a large portion of our noncoding DNA is made up of jumping genes–as much as half of it. But the bigger surprise was this–those jumping genes look an awful lot like a very special type of virus–a huge percentage of DNA is related to viruses”.
This in the past has been called “junk DNA” but is more regarded now as a storage of viruses that once perhaps infected our bodies, only to be retained for future reference and combinations should new mutant strains emerge. Even more interesting, in relation to the newborn brain of an infant. Jumping genes, writes Dr. Moalem:
“…are very active in the early stages of brain development, inserting genetic material all over the developing brain…Every time one of those jumper inserts or changes genetic material in brain cells, it’s technically a mutation, and all of the genetic jumping around may have have a very important purpose–it may help to create the variety and individuality that make every brain unique. The developmental frenzy of genetic copy and paste only happens in the brain, because that’s where we benefit from individuality”.
In the March 2006 issue of Discover Magazine is an article about a discovery of the “mimivirus”, a large virus that may have been the precursor of all viral forms on earth. As the article states, new thinking about the virus is that:
“Viruses, long thought to be biology’s hitchhikers, turn out to have been biology’s formative force….All of them lead scientists to the same conclusion: evolution’s archvillain looks more and more like its vital formative force”.
“If this is true…then we are all basically descended from viruses”.
The virus not only acted to inform, to “cut and paste” genetic DNA across species, but it is also the “jumping genes’ within our own bodies, stored in reserve for future action against viral DNA mutations, and selected apparently by the body to form defenses against future attacks.
But, as I said earlier, the brain formed when the genes could not contain all necessary information. The brain was largely an “awareness” agent, and became a kid of general decision-maker for behaviors that would help ensure survival in the future, such as the command to “run !” when confronting a Tyrannosaurus. The brain acted as a kid of unifier, a nd it made us aware of changes, internally and externally.
However, we should realize, as Dr. Moalem points out:
“The neural network in your brain isn’t the only complex system that welcomes diversity–your immune system does too. In fact, your immune system employs what has got to be the most diverse workforce in history…scientists from Johns Hopkins have linked the immune system’s antibody production mechanism to the behavior of jumping genes”.
The brain, therefore, makes us aware of normal states, because it actions are linked to the function of the immune system. Dr Moalem writes:
“Jumping genes are beginning to look like Mother nature’s version of on-the-fly genetic engineering. The more we understand how they work, the more they may reveal about ow our very genetic structure responds to environmental stress”.
In terms of Giulio’s essay above, we have to conclude that our “internal circuitry” is composed of a biological system that must interact with other biological systems constantly, at a level we cannot consciously fathom. But we are also part of a “universal computer’ that works at a certain speed, and we can’t get faster than the computer to know absolute “good” from ‘bad”. W are biological systems, adapting to change both internally and externally, and we live in a larger system that runs a certain speed and no faster. There simply is no collective process by which we can organize ourselves and know what will happen either biologically or universally before the program, in all its complexity, has run the program.