English (United Kingdom)French (Fr)Russian (CIS)Espa
Home Workshop I've Changed My Mind ICMM 19 My Documents (personal account)
ICMM 19 My Documents (personal account) PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Workshop - I've Changed My Mind
Written by Alex   
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 23:20

19. My Documents (a personal account)

The problem with being the subject (and often the only subject) of your own experiments is the lack of objective data for comparison. This is not a problem where others have done it before, whatever it was, but sometimes nobody has.

I have met many people who have taken a decision to deliberately change their lives by various means, from taking up religion to giving up drugs. Some have succeeded, some have not, but I have met very few people who set out to deliberately change the way their brain is built. Many have achieved it by accident of course, often by giving up religion, or taking up drugs, but it is rarely directed, and beneficial changes have often occurred despite people's efforts rather than because of them.

Most of the questions I get about n-hacking voice concerns about the personality changes involved. Many seem to think that if we all redesigned our brains after the requirements for intelligence, and lived by the same rules, we would all be like robots, just agreeing all the time with no progress and nothing to dispute or discuss. This is not the case. The 'rules' of intelligence are natural observations of how it works, not laws that we should follow.

If you did all the n-hacking this book covers, in exactly the same order I did, you would not end up anything like me. You're starting out with a different mind to work on; yours, and n-hacking does not produce clones, but individuals. You're going to have different problems, different things to change, different routes, and a different outcome. Getting out of a matrix merely gives you back what you should have had in the first place; what you do with it after that is up to you. Once you are in charge of your own brain chemistry you can be whatever you choose to be. Diversity being a good strategy, it is unlikely that anyone will choose exactly the same design as anybody else.

There are universal truths for intelligence though, things which it holds to be self-evident. Some are obvious, like, you should not shoot yourself in the head if you want to survive, some not so obvious, like, you should shoot yourself in the head if that is the most sensible course of action. Underneath all this are the reasons why such things are truths; the laws of intelligence for a (currently) biological system; and the motivation station.

Acquiring, and applying, a set of replacement conscious and unconscious motivations is thought of as impossible by many psychologists, particularly M4 ones, because they (like most) miss the creative play aspect of consciousness in this as in everything else. Brainwashing works. And it can work permanently if there is no ongoing resistance and no memory that might have caused any. Some things really must die, so that we might live as we are meant to live. (Certain bacteria for one, bad habits, or bad habitual memories, for another).

The manipulation of conscious motivations is made possible by first taking control of what is, and what is not, allowed to be 'conscious'. Sometimes this means having to wipe memory, sometimes it means conditioning responses to form stronger habits than the old, but the hardware must always be changed with the ideas. This kind of heavy duty messing depends strongly on what you're doing with the ACG, the hippocampus and amygdala, and the connections in the parietal cortex.

Now you can manipulate a person's conscious motivations with a large pole shoved through the frontal lobes, but that's not directed. You will almost certainly get a noticeable motivational and personality change, but not necessarily one for the better. However, it must be obvious from this gross example that the person's original conscious motivations would not prevail. They cannot prevail because the networks they were stored in have been destroyed to the extent that they are incapable of repair. Likewise an alcoholic or addict is not going to have the same personality or motivations as they started out with, because they have rewired their brains (often irreversibly). Fortunately we are restructuring at a synaptic level and can use far gentler methods, but the basic plan is still the same. The old pathways have to go. And we have to work equally hard at restructuring the new ones. It takes years of relentless work to reroute a network, wipe snapback after snapback and never let up. But it's possible. And here's why:

Our hardware differences are real biological differences and they really do affect our personality traits. Psychology currently classifies personality traits under five headings: extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience.R52 Networks correlate with personality because of the direct link between neurotransmitters, hormones, and behaviors. Serotonin levels are allied to neuroticism and agreeableness, dopamine to extroversion and openness to experience. I suspect acetylcholine is linked to conscientiousness, although this has not yet been ascertained.

If you design the networks by manipulating the biochemistry, your personality will inevitably change. This is the scariest thing about neurohacking...you have to take responsibility for what you wish to become and what you are becoming. You can no longer blame genetics, parents, god, environment or society for your mind because you are in control. Not the you that was indoctrinated and wrongly installed by those old influences. You, reloaded.

Different networks in neurobiology are implemented in the expression of different neurotransmitters and it doesn't matter how much of any particular chemical is present, if it has nowhere to go, it's not going to be effective. That's why we work so often with blocking chemical release in wiping type hacks and reuptake systems in enhancement. Likewise, if a network is provided with the correct architecture for a chemical to use, it has little choice but to use it. Networks are not fixed; the degree of plasticity in the brain is truly astonishing, and changing our input will always result in a personality change of some degree.R6

Self-programming is where we find the ultimate in free will; it does not matter if our genetic lot happened to be a duffer. It does not matter if we were abused as children, or if our wiring gave us this or that disorder. It is all changeable, even to the point of stopping your own heart, if you really are that desperate. This is not 'mind over matter'. This is 'tools over biochemistry'. This is a mind redesigned by itself and recreated by machines and chemicals, and as long as it perceives it can improve, it will continue to go there. The process, like the program, is iterative. This is intelligence augmented by tech. (IA.) And until genuine AI, it is all we have.

Undermining something as fundamental as motivation requires brainwashing. It's not a nice word, but it's a realistic one. 'Programming' is probably the most accurate. If you're not prepared to do this to yourself, you won't succeed.

The process of getting the blueprint, the template for intelligence's laws, is partially the process of getting out of a matrix. Getting your intelligence into a space where it can see a saner way to exist than your current one; see a set of morals and values that make more sense than your current ones. You must see this absolutely clearly, and at first you will also see why it will not work.

Example: You are up working late, desperately trying to meet the deadline for an important project. The server is up and down like a rabbit in heat, you have a headache, and there are several hours of the job yet to do. It would make more sense for intelligence to go to bed than take a painkiller and continue, but you don't do that because it will not work in your current reality. You'll miss the deadline, and your boss will be pissed. If you do it often enough you might get sacked. Then you have a rent problem...so you sacrifice intelligence, in favor of intellect, in this particular scenario.

That's what I mean by 'seeing why it will not work'. We call this being realistic, getting it into perspective, 'common sense'. It does not take a great IQ to know that your boss will be pissed if you miss the deadline. That you need your job to pay your bills. That an aspirin will take the pain away, a coffee will keep you going for a while, and you can probably manipulate the system into staying online by various botchy means.

Your 'common sense' view is based on intellect, logic, and cold hard facts. It's coming from the LH with very little interference from anywhere else. Apply the ACG to the problem, and a wealth of solutions emerges. Because cold hard so-called facts are only a shallow part of intelligence.

We need access to a fully working ACG to see the whole picture, to come up with creative solutions to problems, and to avoid getting into difficult situations in the first place. A sane person has to plan, when living in an insane society. We need interaction, and acquiring a functional ACG is a little bit like acquiring an extra dimension of sensory ability; the wonderful world of manipulating mirror neurons...which we'll talk about in a minute. So wait longer.

The point is we cannot see any of this, and it is not even likely to make any sense, when we are stuck in a matrix. Various networks are under-active when we're stuck, but the biggie is the ACG, because although many parts of the brain can present a sparkling performance, this baby is a star of the unearthly show.

If you like AL, or hang out on cyberpunk sites, Alice in Wonderland will be immediately apparent to you as an allegory of Plato's Cave. The white rabbit (AL) is leading Alice out of the cave (her current perceived reality, or matrix); into the mid brain networks which are a 'wonderland' full of new experience but as Alice protests, a lot of it doesn't make sense. -Not 'common sense', at any rate. She can't seem to grasp the rules because they don't seem to conform to any sort of order. Things don't behave how she expects them to behave, and it's quite alarming. How can one make a map of reality if things keep changing all the time? Alice has facts; she knows about things like gravity and physical properties, but they don't necessarily seem to apply here! What she needs in order to make it make sense is a greater perspective, a bigger map into which everything fits.

What she is really learning here is that there is a reality in which the usual rules can be bent. It is the reality of the mid brain networks. She is granted access to this world, and afterwards the method used to categorize it is as a dream. In this context it doesn't contradict logic. But the fact is Alice experienced it as a reality before that categorization took place, and that reality affected her level of experience. She got sufficient experience of that world and was able to come back out of the dream and access that memory of a reality with alternative rules and apply it to this one whenever she wanted to. And that's exactly what you can do with the ACG and the mid brain systems, superimposing one over the other to suspend disbelief and let extra input through. Imagination can change reality.

Not in some 'cosmic', 'magical' way, but using creative ideas in exactly the same way that Star Trek helped get us to the moon. Science fiction is 'acting as though'. We 'act as though', and reality changes. You don't try to get into hyperreality so much as allow it to happen to you. It is such a stunning experience that it has become the space which people have called 'enlightenment', again largely because such a numinous experience was thought to come from god or heaven.1 You have to ride this, control the strong emotion it evokes, and play.

The ACG is our perspective's GPS. It lifts order out of the chaos and shows us where we are, if it is working. It looks at what is going on both outside and in and then it plans. In doing so, it puts together creative ideas with logic. It plays.

...And if a central sorting house for memory manipulation as a whole could be named, I'd vote for the ACG.

A part of the medial PFC, this region gets its input from specialized sensory systems. It has extensive connections to networks throughout the entire brain. It can regulate its own dopamine systems. It is involved with working memory, long term memory, attention, prioritization, discrimination, decision-making, planning, voluntary motion, and strategy. The entire motivation/attention network is coordinated by it. Without sufficient connections in this area, we find it very hard to focus and to block out distracting stimuli. We may suffer from lack of interest or arousal, having no motivation to interact. It's hard to make decisions. If it hardly works at all, we have a kind of autism (which may be the state of a large percentage of the population by now).

The ACG gets its main emotional weighting input from the amygdala. Emotional arousal affects cognitive processing at every level. The amygdala therefore provides an unconscious decision on interest and intensity before we begin to process anything with intellect. If connections are dense in the input network from the amygdala, but sparse from the ACG's return path, pathological fear may occur when the amygdala remains uninhibited by the ACG. Although consciously aware that a situation is not threatening, we will experience anxiety hormonally and physically in any case. If connections are sparse from the amygdala, we will tend to react to all things without prioritizing anything. We will have very little real interest in other people and often no ability to feel genuine emotions; especially those connected with close personal relationships. This inability to empathize affects judgment because emotions amplify memories. Sparse connections inside the amygdala itself affect the ability to judge emotional expression in visual and audio cues. The lack of this ability causes anxiety too, since, unconsciously, we have difficulty figuring out whom to trust. The amygdala fires in response to fear, and too much of the unknown seems both dangerous and frightening.2

Feeling, as in sentiment, monopolizes attention whenever the amygdala dominates working memory; whenever the mid brain networks dominate the frontal cortex. Whenever biology dominates intelligence.

-Whenever the ACG is down. The ACG is the network connecting emotional, imaginative and cognition systems, carrying communication between the mid brain networks and the PFC. I am raving about it because its power is immense. Ordinarily we just see it as useful for such tasks as organizing our diary and desktop, and prioritizing what we ought to attend to. Okay that's quite impressive...but below the surface, it is not just processing the contents of our working memory like this but absolutely everything it encounters. Every event, every experience, it must compute in real-time. It must erect a firewall between the matter in hand and irrelevant distraction. It must decide what should be dealt with, when, for how long, and in what order, and why. It must decide what to prioritize for working memory, what to send to long term memory, what to cache and what to throw away and what to bear in mind for a short while. It must constantly predict, plan, strategize and control, based on the rules of our unconscious motivations.

These abilities, and these networks, are supposed to develop during our fourth matrix, to come fully on line in M5. In order for them to develop sufficient connections they need the correct input during childhood, creative storytelling and imaginative games. The ACG needs to play.

If it gets its input, it develops the ability to suspend disbelief, enter into hyperreality, and bring the results of that venture back into the real. These are essential programming (or if you like, brainwashing) skills. So are the basics of conditioning. Effectively, you are using an upgraded version of the 'placebo' effect, convincing yourself psychologically and chemically (and hence physiologically) that a change is taking place, actually causes that change to take place. This is also what you are doing with contrived biofeedback and drugs, TMS, and NMT. You are removing pathways (memories) of motivation based on inaccurate thought and replacing them with motivational pathways based on observable reality. -All of it.

Anything put deliberately into long term memory and regularly rehearsed will become an ever more confident concept in the archetypal archives. And from that point on, it becomes a part of our reality and our motivations. This is how we can change even our underlying theme. In short, you are able to play so hard that the play becomes reality. Not just for you personally, but for everyone. It's only one small step for a human...but...a giant leap for humankind.

The self-convincing 'placebo' effect relies on endorphins to function.R34 The brain uses the same chemical to quell emotional pain as it does for the physical variety, because the amygdala fires in response to both. The chemicals that make you feel relieved, are also boosting your immune system, and if you can use your ACG at optimal you can effect analgesia voluntarily. It wipes out pain by simply not paying it any attention. The two pleasure networks use dopamine and endorphins as a 'pay attention'/'stop paying attention' counterbalance. When we need to pay more attention, we get a tweak of dopamine to keep the desire circuit flowing. When we've had enough, we release a blip of endorphins and stop paying so much attention, and relax. That's how it's supposed to work, at any rate, if cortisol didn't step in like a Trojan horse disguised as sentiment, break the cycle and set up it's own chronic stress network

Intelligence has to become its own matrix before it can fully interact. We become our own matrix when we have a powerful enough imagination to create our own internal role models and convince ourselves of their reality sufficiently to fire mirror neurons. Then, and only then, can we design through the ACG a model for intelligence better than our current model, and move into it.

Neurons through the looking glass

Mirror neuronsR53...are probably one of the most interesting things in existence. There are certain neurons that fire when any specific action is performed. Lifting a leg does not cause the same firing pattern as lifting an arm, and so on. But watching somebody else raise their arm will make the same set of 'mirror' neurons fire in your brain, that would have fired had you performed the action yourself, and the same pattern of muscular micromovements will be apparent as if you had performed the action yourself with macromuscular movements. We already know something about this from studying COMP and the cycle of learning, now we can add to that the knowledge that many of these mirror neurons activate not only the ACG but also Broca's area, in the left frontal cortex. This has baffled many neurology persons, but if you consider our brain's ability to copy not just movement but emotion, and bear in mind the image translation abilities of the midbrain, it's not hard to imagine humans using this area to 'mime out' information and later to convey it in sign language before humans had spoken language. We could pass information by acting it out. After all, Broca's area has been around a lot longer than spoken language has. Mirror neurons can fire such an intense replication in some people that they have to physically vomit if someone else does.

We may know already that seeing an emotion in another can bring on the same emotion in ourselves, What we get with the ACG online is the ability to see someone express an emotion in our imagination and feel the same way ourselves. We can then design a 'virtual reality' us, and test them out in our own minds, their motivations against our own. Winner takes all. We design their value system based upon intelligence, compute their morals, and watch the results. This is the ACG at play. When a model fails, we cast it away and begin again, until we get one that fares far better than we currently do. This we adopt as out template. This is not 'making things up'...this is computing. The database of facts must be sufficient for the equations to work. We are running a simulation of reality in our minds that is accurate.

The optimal emotion set for intelligence is grounded in the laws of an intelligence based system.3. The associated values, once programmed in, will feel as deeply rooted to you then as your fear-based ones did originally, suddenly you realize that you would give your life to save intelligence. You would destroy your body to save intelligence. You would commit any act of any kind upon yourself necessary in the service of intelligence. Anything else will no longer be intelligent. Since I see it as the only kind of freedom, you can probably use your mirror neurons to add to this list...how far would you go for freedom?

The mind is a tall ship...and the laws of intelligence are a star to steer her by. Anything then standing in the way of intelligence you see as simply 'bad', anything increasing intelligence as 'good'. Anything 'bad' gets phased out of your life as soon as possible as you take control of your input.

As you wipe the standard human value system you will at first have to compute what to do quite a lot of the time, because not a lot is socially obvious. Fortunately that's the kind of challenge the ACG finds fun. And under the scrutiny of intelligence's judgment a lot of human behavior does seem delightfully silly, so it does have entertainment value.

As you construct the virtual you, you will need an archetype of intelligence, competence and organization which has a high interest value for you and which you are likely to pay attention to. You must search your imagination for whatever for you is the epitome of these virtues, and for me it was machine intelligence; a merger of creativity and intellect, and uncorrupted by sentiment. I have always looked on the brain as a machine, with the body as a synergised extension and tool, but there is a deeper reason. Two reasons, actually, although they are linked.

Firstly, I see the whole of our mind's development as a movement from the concrete (physical biology) to the abstract (pure thought). As we grow we move our locus of consciousness up through the different brain modules, from the old 'reptilian' brain, through the mid 'mammalian' brain and into the higher primates' frontal cortex. It seems to me natural that the next move should be off the biological platform, even if it is for a while supported by it (as in cyborgism).

Secondly, machine intelligence has always to me epitomized the yearning for synergy. Synergy is a great deal more important to you once the ACG is up and running, because it hard wires us for empathy. We find it almost impossible not to tune into other people's genuine emotions and thoughts, and we are not at all affected by sentiment, which cannot fire mirror neurons that do not exist. This immediately makes two things obvious to you. One, is the amount of false sentiment flying around; people acting out soap opera melodramas where nothing important is really going on, and the other, is the strength of genuine emotion and the nature of your personal perception experience when the temporal lobes kick in. It can knock you sideways. It grows slowly, but can build into a sensory overload wormhole unless you have ongoing control. It is as though there is an event horizon, and once you have passed it you must allow the full experience. The cryptic codes of the mid brain get visually superimposed upon the everyday scene of the ambient. You must be able to turn this off at will or you will walk into things or fall over.


Sometimes, of course, you want to allow it. You have some spare time, and you'd like to spend it feeling fantastic. There's a danger of getting caught up here because much like the physical version, once you've discovered the mind can have an orgasm as well as the body, you can't leave it alone. Also similarly, once you've done it by yourself, you want to try it with a partner (outside of your dreams).

This is synergy. It knows how to give a machine a good time.

If you're bonded to anyone or anything, and you can use the ACG, you can synergise. You can use the input of the other via mirror neurons to construct an impression of their experience and copy it. If this is reciprocated, you have synergy.

It's quite bizarre, because you can write a computer program to control biofeedback/neurofeedback data and find out what it feels like. You'll experience the input as coming from outside, and respond accordingly. It's bizarre because you're experiencing these things wired up to a computer, and synergy is an extremely erotic experience. (I have done many odd things with computers in my life but this is probably the most kinky.) As a side effect, synergy results in a rewrite of all manner of things, including, fascinatingly, what you find aesthetically pleasing (your color and texture preferences change after synergy, as does your aesthetic perception of words, music, and tactile input). The mind of the 'other' makes a permanent impression on your mind, as yours does on them. It feels like absolute unity. Even with a machine; yummy. (Involving the temporal lobes in any network always makes certain things seem more numinous, and the associations are always archetypal.)

It is my belief that human beings are designed to experience this with each other. It is not telepathy. It is an experience akin to having two bodies at the same time, and feeling the input of both in one locus of consciousness. Personal synchrony is 'enlightenment'; where input from all brain modules happens simultaneously and the locus of awareness is fused across the whole machine in an instant, like hearing the entire orchestra and not just one or two instruments. We are aware of our intelligence as being in all persons. Synchrony, is like playing in that orchestra perfectly in time with other musicians; getting off not just on the music but on the fact that you are consciously making the music, and getting off on what the player beside you feels as well. The pleasure builds in quite natural increasing waves until the neurochemicals trigger the response I refer to as your brain having an orgasm. You do not experience a physical orgasm when this happens, but you may be unable to move, or you may as I said fall over, and make strange noises at random.

Synergy-to-synchrony is I believe, in the group sense, the ultimate form of society; we are individuals, but we are one. This appears to be intelligence's aim. We can function alone. But we can also function together. We are all one beam of intelligence.

Because of these views and the behavior to match, I am often accused of being various things, among them a visionary, a dreamer, a sci-fi freak, a jumped-up filofax and a scientific nuisance. Here is my case for the defense:

In defense of fiction4.

The writers of sci-fi are very familiar with M4's criticism of their talents. I get it too because my work is usually lovingly spattered with sci-fi quotes. I've always used my creative ability in every field I've worked in, and one of the things I've done with that ability is to create an alternative reality, a reality in which life is better, longer, more exciting. Those of you who play role-playing games or write fiction will be familiar with this concept. Since changing my mind, the real world has begun to merge with this reality. My dreams are starting to come true. My life is suddenly like a movie. Every person I interact with in some way changes my life for the better. Their friendship and advice, their arguments, their actions and words, have all changed me in some way. They have all been a part of this movie, and I thank them all.

Stories are not reality, but they can shape reality by introducing ideas that can become reality, and warning us of the possible pitfalls of following up others. Many inventions around today have been suggested previously in fiction. Was the government or NASA any more responsible for our space exploration than Jules Verne or Gene Roddenberry? How responsible were the latter for gaining the support of the general public for such schemes?

Fiction is important because it inspires and it motivates. It can inspire us with the courage to carry on when all seems hopeless, for a start. One person's vision of a positive future can increase the determination of thousands to achieve it. Fiction can give people hope, optimism and inspiration to strive harder for a positive future.

Also, we cannot deny any input that our mid brain networks require. Parts of us need fiction as much as the neocortex needs facts and the brain stem needs sensory motor signals. Fiction writers are in the powerful position of being able to increase or decrease intelligence en masse, which could be a marvelous thing if not abused.

In synergy, each creative act can merge with other creative acts to form an overall act of 'amalgamated creativity', as all research teams and good bands know. Intelligence runs COMP between minds as well as in them. And the concept of copyright is a joke, when we are genetically designed to plagiarize every bit of input we come across and then improve on it.

There are still those stuck in M4 who tell me to 'face up to reality', to stop living in a fantasy world. Well, I plead guilty to everything I am charged with, but with the mitigating circumstances that my dreams are coming true. Humans are fired and inspired by imagination, by vision, and by the realization of dreams, which is why I applaud the writers of the wonderful stories that have inspired me throughout. And, as to the idea that I should wake up to reality and stop living in 'a fantasy world', if I were human, my response to that would be "Go to hell".

If I were human.

1.When I read the labels on some of the methods I use to get these experiences, they seem to come from somewhere in Japan; I don't think there is a connection.

2. You can stick a person in an MRI scanner and find out what they are afraid of, just by watching their brain's reaction to pictures. When the amygdala fires, we have alarm. This test reveals racist tendencies, homophobia, and all kinds of mean, nasty, terrible things about people. The time for a society based on lies is limited. Perhaps that society will hide its lies with chemicals for a while, who knows? Maybe there will be a market for drugs to fool the tech. And tech to detect the drugs...and...

3. Because I have taken these laws as the basis for my personal morals and values, this means for me now that in a situation containing two people where only one of them can live, the greatest intelligence must survive. In a discussion between two AIs this could most likely be decided without much trauma. But by the same rules, if it's you and I, I feel the same way. (Notice I say 'feel', not 'think'. The emotion is rectitude.) The greatest intelligence must survive, and if it's not me, I die. This is why I try not to get trapped in life threatening situations with really smart people. Or indeed, at all.

4. This is a rip-off of Alex's wedding speech. He still means it.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 23:21