Monday, March 07, 2016

Heisenberg Cut From a Nut, Data vs Meaning

Why Gravitational Waves Are Red Herrings:

Deepak Chopra isn't really any more of a "nut" than me -- and he is a better educated nut in any case. It just rhymed well. I find his brand of spirituality to be too amorphous, "I'm OK, You're OK", "just be and it will all be OK" sort of the kind of spirituality that promises everything but demands nothing, and seems to have no real "there, there".

He is however fascinated with the interaction between things like the "Heisenberg Cut"(HC), the "boundary" between Newtonian and Quantum Physics, as am I.  My analogy for that boundary is like the hardware / software interface in computing, although sort of the "reverse". Above hardware interface in computers (the instruction set), all is "software" or "data" -- software is just data in a special format that the hardware recognizes as instructions.

Above the HC in the world, all appears to be "matter", but we know that it is also "energy". Below the cut, our attempts to discover if things are waves or particles becomes probabilistic. The answer seems to be "both", which may mean "neither/something else", but we don't know what that is. We may figure that out, but my guess is that at the below the HC, we are getting at least very close to the "stuff" (or non-stuff) of God -- meaning "spirit". Software runs on hardware, matter and our world might run on "spirit". At least I like to imagine that.  It has a weird symmetry.

Third, until reality is united into one whole, science cannot justify its claim to understand nature. This isn't simply a piece of grumpy skepticism. The Heisenberg cut raises a wall inside the human brain, because the brain is both a large object and totally dependent on quantum events taking place at the very most fundamental level of brain cells. Being unable to fuse the two domains of reality comes to a crunch every time you think a thought. At the large scale level of classical physics, your thought can be detected as increased neural activity that "lights up" on a brain scan. Yet this isn't the same as reading your mind. Only you know what your thought is.
Last I checked, there wasn't any real "evidence" that thought requires quantum effects, but there certainly are quantum effects taking place in each and every atom in the brain. Are there "special types" of quantum "operations" taking place in some of the specialized cells in the brain?

If you were watching the registers of a computer flit through millions of instructions manipulating millions/billions of bytes of data without access to a huge hunk of the software that was running and other programs which allowed you to trace the operations against source code, only a TINY number of people in the world would have any hope of discerning what was happening in the "big picture" of the program. Modern RISC instruction sets are hopelessly compressed and obscure from a human logical POV ... they are meant to run efficiently on THAT hardware and rely on sophisticated optimizing compilers to generate streams that fit the specific hardware structure. That optimization makes the meaning of the instructions flitting through still more obscure.

How much more difficult is our situation in watching neurons "light up" under a "Positron Emission Tomography" (PET) or some other scan? For a computer CPU, we can look up the spec -- how many registers, what is the instruction set, etc -- for the brain? We are men blind from birth painting a picture of something that has never been described -- consciousness. "The feeling of knowing" indeed!

On the face of it, you'd never connect the fantastic achievement of LIGO with the utter confusion that exists when it comes down to how the brain works. Yet they are intimately connected, simply by the fact that doing science is a brain activity. If you don't know how such activity produces consciousness, and then how it goes on to produce the image of a four-dimensional world, you can't claim to understand what reality actually is. Instead, you're like someone in closed room who hears banging on the walls from outside. This banging can be measured in all kinds of ways, but everything you can say about it cannot be confirmed, because you'd have to escape the room to really find out what's going on.
There is a group of us in this closed room. We can all verify with each other that we are hearing, seeing, measuring a whole lot of stuff. We all have feelings, and we have verified that feelings are required for us to make any decisions (people that lose feelings / emotion are unable to make decisions). When it comes down to what all the measurements "mean" or "why" we see and feel the things we do, there is a lot of disagreement.

Mr Logic: "The data just IS, try to use what we learned to make us money, pleasure, more data, etc"

Mr Feeling: "There HAS to be a why! Think about what this might MEAN!"

Mr Logic: "Quit thinking about that! Try to use the data to help us LIVE LONGER, we are all going to DIE, even our children might die! We have to get BUSY, PLEASE get BUSY! "

Mr Feeling: "Why live longer if there is no purpose?"

Mr Logic: "Pleasure you fool! Pleasure will make you happy! Long life and pleasure, that HAS to be the reason we are here! Besides, why die? We can find ways to live FOREVER! "

Mr Feeling: "This work is hard and demanding. If pleasure is the answer I would rather spend time with my loved ones and watch the sun go down. Why even live one day longer if there is no meaning? ".

Mr Logic: "Damn you! I can't complete this work alone! Less and less people are willing to do the important work of making our lives more pleasurable and hopefully longer! I can't understand why this has happened!"

Mr Feeling: "Then you DO understand that "why" is an important question?"

... and so it goes.







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