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Supervenience: how emergent minds and money seize power over matter


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This is a first step towards a needed “book” on Supervenience that briefly introduces nineteen candidate “chapters” in quest of early input into the eventual structure.

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Supervenience: how emergent minds and money seize power over matter

  1. 1. SUPERVENIENCE how emergent minds and money seize power over matter a preliminary exploration Tony Smith Melbourne Emergence Meetup 9 August 2018
  2. 2. RetrievingtinnyswampedatHentyReef,Marnego,bywalkingweighteddownacrossthebottom. DrawnbyRicciJohnVicenti15/1/1963–31/3/1982,aboriginalblackdeathincustody,fosterbrother. TheGadubanudwhocaredfortheOtwaycoastweredispersedtohelpLatrobeputalightatCape. WemeetonthelandoftheWurundjeriandpayourrespectstoElderspast,presentandemerging. the land was invaded and people who weren’t here were killed Myron Lysenko Cumberland River Poet 1 August 2016
  3. 3. This is a first step towards a needed “book” on Supervenience that will briefly introduce nineteen candidate “chapters” in quest of early input into the eventual structure. It will tie together a few earlier topics from Melbourne Emergence, though far from all, and go beyond. It is in part a “where I’m up to” on complex systems and emergence that has motivated the more recent half of my life and needs to be better shared. SUPERVENIENCE how emergent minds and money seize power over matter
  4. 4. Too Funny for Words Australian Fur Seal Entertaining Diver Henty Reef, Marengo
  5. 5. Too Funny for Words Sharing a story with occasional reference to mathematical concepts aiming to convince you that cultural reliance on words and numbers both facilitates and impedes our experience of the world and our capacity to act. Words oversimplify. Words can underpin inflated expectations. Numbers more so. Cognitive dissonance. Humorous surprises. Story-based cultures. Surprise definitive of complex Emergence. Plenty to laugh about.
  6. 6. Multiple Paths to Emergence
  7. 7. Multiple Paths to Emergence To study Emergence is to look at things which could not have reasonably been predicted based on prior knowledge but which can subsequently be seen to be clearly within bounds. Major mechanisms include: •synergistic/symbiotic pairings, •larger population organisation, •formation of persistent patterns within a dissipating gradient.
  8. 8. Better than Out of Control
  9. 9. Better than Out of Control Kevin Kelly’s 1993 book was the first popular account of growing interest in Complex Systems. Misconceptions about the roles of emergent Order and Chaos motivated an unproductive search for a boundary between, obscuring the possibility that they are partners in creating the universe that begat life and us.
  10. 10. Here Now Succession Process Traces Time Causation? Track-edge vegetation Cumberland River
  11. 11. Here Now Succession Process Traces Time Causation? While we make productive use of treating time as a dimension, this may have been overplayed in ideas like the Block Universe. We live in the here and now, though life developed pattern recognition based on traces that persist in condensed matter which DNA and neuronal networks dynamically encode.
  12. 12. Towards Healthy General Knowledge Brimbank Park
  13. 13. Towards Healthy General Knowledge The amount of accessible knowledge is growing rapidly. It is way beyond an individual to be across most fields. We need to respect others’ areas of focus. We and they also need knowledge grounded on foundations that stand scrutiny. I might have wider and deeper knowledge across the broad sweep of sciences, but only fragments about popular entertainments.
  14. 14. Abstractions, Category Errors, Epistemic Cuts Kosciusko Range approaching Corryong on road from Albury
  15. 15. Abstractions, Category Errors, Epistemic Cuts Thoughts about something, not even detailed descriptions, can do no more than represent that thing incompletely. Thinking is assisted by recognising what kind of thing you are thinking about and not accepting a contestable placement. Laws governing behaviour emerge with the entities concerned, enabling focus to be kept without spurious back reference.
  16. 16. Constraints and Degrees of Freedom UNDERGROUND LOOP FLINDERS STREET-VIADUCT UPFIELD LINE SYDENHAM LINE BROADMEADOWS LINE MELBOURNE-MURRAY RIVER SOUTH KENSINGTON-WEST FOO DOCKLANDS MELBOURNE KENSINGTON NORTH MELBOURNE WEST MELBOURNE CITY OF MELBOURNE J J Holland Park Eades Park North Melbourne Recreation Reserve SOUTH KENSINGTON STATION NORTH MELBOURNE STATION Map Projection: Transverse Mercator Horizontal Datum: GDA 1994 Grid: GDA 1994 MGA Zone 55o Date: 15/05/2017 WEST GATE TUNNEL PROJECT PROJECT BOUNDARY Sheet 24 of 31 WDA-WDP-LFWD-0024Data Source: WDA & CPBJH 0 70 140 210 28035 Metres Legend Project Boundary Proposed Road Alignment Proposed Other Structures Property Boundary Melbourne Laverton North Yarraville The unfairly maligned West Melbourne lagoon was a salt lake refreshed by flood waters from the Chain of Ponds that were modified to form lower Moonee Ponds Creek.
  17. 17. Constraints and Degrees of Freedom Concepts which are formalised in mathematics sometimes provide insights into worldly behaviour. Too much choice can be as inhibiting as too little. Given a blank slate, identifying external constraints can help discover a productive path. Mathematically, adding constraints correspondingly reduces degrees of freedom. This translates well to physics and to life. Seek sweet spot.
  18. 18. Information, Maps and Territories
  19. 19. Information, Maps and Territories Late modernity is so obsessed with information technologies that even serious scientists have proposed that the world is built on information. More productive to see information as useful abstraction while allowing usual philosophical disclaimers. Don’t confuse maps with territories. Treat the patient, not the clipboard.
  20. 20. Codification and Communication St. Kilda Pride March during lead up to 2015 election
  21. 21. Codification and Communication Our proliferation of coding systems are one more variant on an old trick for collecting and using knowledge, preceded by DNA and neuronal nets. Lynne Kelly explained monumental transition in oral memory methods needed to support agriculture. Bill Hall explained post literate growth with climatic impact.
  22. 22. The Inside View knowing when you're dreaming
  23. 23. Science is casting off its behaviourist blinkers in important areas but still averse to doing a lot with subjective accounts of mental processes. So for now we are stuck examining our singular experiences informed only by general worldly awareness. Noting our own transitions to and from sleep and dreams may help. The Inside View knowing when you're dreaming
  24. 24. Life on an Active Planet Australian Reed Warbler Cumberland River
  25. 25. Life on an Active Planet The idea that ‘Life’ should be defined at the component level is challenged by suggestions of seeing it as whole. The biosphere interacts with other planetary systems: tectonic, cryonic, hydrological, atmospheric, orbital. Across many millennia humans have sought separate validation, denying interdependence, ignoring others.
  26. 26. Birds and Others Early arrivals for Musical Interpretation at Qdos, Lorne
  27. 27. Birds and Others Tim Low in Where Song Began asks re the Lyrebird as model for the first songbirds: “How could evolution create the best musicians first, with thousands of younger lineages producing simpler and weaker sounds?” The answer requires us to abandon the notion of microevolution as progressive and accept that most innovation comes from deletions. The overriding need of thousands of songbirds was to distinguish their kind from others.
  28. 28. Urban Hydrology out of Sight Stony Creek diversions right via Anderson Road left via Kororoit Street
  29. 29. Urban Hydrology out of Sight Endless recent water, coastal and waterways policy development has brought deeper understanding of the complexity of urban systems. Such things rarely penetrate public awareness because they are hidden from view beneath ground or water. Often the maps and other records can’t prevent the need to dig to see.
  30. 30. Exploit Dissipating Gradient creaming, trickle down
  31. 31. Exploit Dissipating Gradient creaming, trickle down Stan Salthe’s rule of thumb says you can use no more than half of any dissipating gradient you tap into. The flow of words in and from our minds is effectively uncoupled from energy and material flows, powering emergence of rules and regulations. Similarly flows of money/debt can be creamed by those close to them.
  32. 32. Verbal Blindness Woodlands Park Five Mile Creek North Essendon
  33. 33. Verbal Blindness Sensory systems evolve to meet the needs and opportunities of a niche. As humans became more dependent on mapping perceptions into words we lost immediacy and breadth. We became convinced that our way was the only/best way no matter how far astray that lead us.
  34. 34. The Two-edged Sword
  35. 35. The Two-edged Sword Human language has proved to be a tool of unprecedented power for understanding and collaboratively changing the world, and at accelerating pace. But it has proved to be even more efficient at spreading nonsense and mischief, yet abysmally inadequate at spreading corrections. Rhetorical performance too often overwhelms its capabilities for analysis, negotiation and independent verification.
  36. 36. Interweb to FacebookFirst and for a long time only post to Facebook
  37. 37. Interweb to Facebook Are we becoming even more dependent on digital information and communications technologies than we have been on words? Interweb fit the dream behind our Public Information Communications and Access (PICA) System effort of the early 1980s, later Conversation Piece and TransForum. Facebook is as close as we have got, great for digital photos but weak at curation.
  38. 38. Dystopian Utopias and Science Fiction Closed mouth of Aire River Gadubanud massacre site
  39. 39. Dystopian Utopias and Science Fiction Perfection is the enemy of good. Imagine there's no heaven. Your Utopia won't be my Utopia. The idea that we are on a one way march of progress is as dangerous as any. Yes there can be win-win moves, but accelerating into the unknown is not recommended. Science fiction has become a great testing ground for failed utopias, even while absolving itself from inconvenient trappings of reality.
  40. 40. Accepting Cosmological Responsibility Full Moon
  41. 41. Accepting Cosmological Responsibility There is no persuasive evidence that we are not the first space-capable society in our light cone, or beyond. We have developed an aspiration to know all that can be encoded in our media, collectively not individually. So we must assume that we are the metaverse’s best hope of knowing itself and try harder not to stuff up.
  42. 42. Suggestions! Questions?