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Workshop - I've Changed My Mind
Written by Alex   
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:41


7. View (Perception & programming your mind)

Where's the 'any' key?

...Any tech support person in the world has heard that question at least once. Smirk though you might, it is relevant here, because there's a danger of trying to shortcut the hard work bits. Let's say, you've got this far, you think you might be stuck in a matrix but you're not sure which one, or you don't think you are but you want to try messing about with your brain anyway for your own reasons, or you know exactly what the problem is and you want to do something about it immediately; whichever category you fall into (if any), remember that this work is designed for people who want to break out of a matrix and then improve themselves. So from here on in, you can either flick through to find the bits which are useful to you personally, or stick with the main plot and follow it through. I've interspersed technical info (which you'll need to know if you're really going for it) with practical info, throughout the rest of the book.

We cannot, though, 'press any key to start'. If you don't know enough of the theory you'll not get very far with the practical, and the thing you intend to play with here is too valuable to play rough with. I speak from experience; I do human technical support and the brain can crash in some truly unpleasant (and irreversible) ways. It's best by far to go one step at a time and make sure you know what you're doing, preferably before doing it.

I'd like to start this chapter with a question: 'What is your perception based on?' And then look at that question from the variety of angles it deserves.

Before starting to neurohack, most of us would agree that our perception is based on at the very least:

· Our senses

· What is going on around us

Some would add:

· Our mood

· Our memories (previous experience) and consequent expectations

· Our personal tastes

· Enculturation

· Our degree of alertness and concentration.

But most would be satisfied with the concept of our sensory apparatus being pretty much the only or at least the major interface between the world 'out there' and the perceived reality 'in here'.

Interestingly, this is dead wrong. For a start, the senses furnish us with sensation, not perception, for which we need the brain, or conceptualization, for which we need the mind. But all are subject to modification.R6

From the first time we decide we like or don't like something, we begin to customize our perception. Imagine being a toddler, able to lurch outside and explore the muddy path for the first time...as soon as we get in it, all five senses blasting away, this stuff on the ground is no longer merely brown stuff, suddenly it is either 'fun', or 'yuck'...In a tree of related concepts it may be fun to look at and to touch, but yuck to eat or sniff at, related as it is to modeling clay, but we'll try all these options and find out.

Depending on our genetics and the environment, we may decide it's too cold and wet to be much fun, or a real delight to make things from and dry them in the sun. Depending on our society and parents, we may be told that's a very good pattern or model we made, or we may be told we're disgusting and dirty for playing in a puddle and sent to bed with no supper. All of these experiences add up to give us our own custom built concept for 'mud'.

Rewriting those concepts on purpose, as well as automatically, being very important in n hacking, most of the early work you will do towards learning this involves tweaking 'mid' brain networks, (we don't want a bunch of novices loose in the PFC, now do we?) so first we have to know a little bit about the module itself, and its connections. So now you are in for a dubious treat...1

...Welcome to 'A Mental Journey'...

...Hello. ...My name's not Robert Winston...And it won't be Robert Winston again, tomorrow...

(Cue: tacky synthesizer music, too loud, screen shows abstract computer graphics vaguely resembling organs/innards, which you must replace here with your imagination, voice-over:)

...Over the next half-hour, we're going to go, on a journey, through the fabulous innards, of your mind. We're going to follow the adventures of a single chemical, as it travels through the departments of your midbrain. We're going to look, at the way the midbrain is built, and find out, what some of its bits are for. But first, I'm going to tell you all about, what we're going to do...

Firstly, what do I mean when I say 'mid' brain systems or networks? If you're watching in black and white, the mid brain is the center of networks that extend all over that disgusting squishy bit in the middle, plus some of the outside bits on the sides. For those with color sets, I refer to the networks of the limbic system, top end of the brain stem and the temporal lobes. One of the most important bits is the medial temporal lobe, which comprises the hippocampus and the amygdala, and we really have to drag the olfactory cortex into this as well (entorhinal, parahippocampal and neocortical regions). There is only one quick route into these networks from the outside, and that is up the nose (two if you count an ice pick through the top of the head).

The hippocampus includes the dentate gyrus and the subicular complex...oh dear, I've lost you already haven't I, you there, in the studio audience picking your nose...Let's zoom in on that fellow's nostril, with some more tacky computer graphics, and explore the olfactory cortex, which is where that finger would go if you shoved it hard enough...Imagine, you are a single molecule of water vapor, traveling up this guy's nose (Yuck. Can't this dude afford a handkerchief?)

The olfactory system actually begins at the top of your nose. Of we go, up his nose. The olfactory receptors are those little hairy epithelial cells with a whole array of receptors between them, capable of detecting thousands of different smells. Try writing down how many different smells you can think of, if you're really stupid enough to do that.

The receptor neurons themselves don't project to the cerebral hemispheres. This is the case with any sensory system, so it's no big deal; in fact I'm not sure why I bothered telling you that. Their axons project up, through the cribiform plate of the skull (where Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall shoved that tool to get the implant out, gross, wasn't it?), and synapse on the dendrites of the mitral cells (in the olfactory bulb). The axons of these olfactory neurons make up the very delicate Cranial Nerve 1, which is the one most susceptible to shearing forces in head trauma (such as, having your head blown off with a sawn-off shotgun).

Let's have a rest in the olfactory bulb; this is a lot to get to know and it's not important to remember all the names for things and where everything is right away. The mitral cell/olfactory neuron synapse we are resting beside is a group of axons and dendrites that are as tangled as the cables in a badly managed server room. It's called a glomerulus. There's another kind of cell called granule cells enclosing parts of the glomeruli; these modulate signal transmission (and are thus a good hacker target). But now, we're climbing up the mitral cell axons into the brain proper, via the olfactory tract. Their target is the primary olfactory cortex in the medial temporal lobe, the next step along the network from the outside in. And the big question of the century in the olfactory cortex is, 'What's that smell?'

Your sense of smell is actually a rebel. It disobeys the rules. All other sensory systems route through the thalamus to get to the cortex, much like you pay at the box office to enter the theater at a gig. Why has this one got the equivalent of a backstage pass? Because, like all the best road crews, it is an old, primitive structure. It has been with intelligence pretty much since intelligence got hold of biochemistry, much like the brainstem. Unlike the usual, six-layered cortex, the olfactory cortex has only a four layer net. Aptly then, we can think of it as the bass player in our 6-piece ensemble that makes up sensory input. Six? I hear you say...Well, yes. Our sixth sensory input is constructed within, from the brain's own natural feedback. It's as big an input as any other, and has a critical effect on our perception. If all five input lines are working perfectly and the sixth isn't, we'll still get badly distorted input. I do not mean that we will see in black and white, or hear things less efficiently; I mean that we will interpret what we see wrongly through wrong association, just as we can do when drunk (and the bar staff saying 'last orders please' can mean 'talk to me darling, you have such beautiful eyes', or even, in bad cases, 'please fondle my buttocks'.)

The entorhinal and perirhinal cortices have dense two-way connections with the orbitofrontal and dorsolateral cortices, and the subiculum (at the base of the hippocampus) is continuous with the entorhinal cortex. There are more connections from the PFC to the perirhinal cortex than vice versa, and various other connections we don't yet need to go into, because the main things to be aware of for hackery are (1) that the medial temporal lobe gets information from a lot of sensory association areas and (2) a lot of it comes through the perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices, which project back into this region.

In short, loads of sensory information is flying around these networks, and one of the main structures it all has a big effect on, is the amygdala. The amygdala, is the part of your mind that can scare you out of it. It is the reason for that feeling in your stomach when you are alone at night in a quiet place and you hear heavy determined footsteps behind you. It puts together items of input; some based on learned responses, some on basic instincts such as simply 'danger?' The amygdala's eventual output is the fight or flight response, and it is this part of your mind that can make you need to change your uniform after the ambush, but which can save your life during it. Consequently it should be no surprise, that its main sources of input are visual, auditory, and somatosensory cortices.

The amygdala is a main hacker target. The other main target in the 'mid' brain systems is the hippocampus. The hippocampus has essentially a one way flow of information, as follows: information as input enters via the gap between the subiculum and the dentate gyrus (this is called the perforant path, if you wanna be technical). The entorhinal axons synapse on cells in the dentate gyrus, and send off their own axons, called 'mossy fibers' (what a brilliant name!), through a complicated route which ends at the subiculum. The subiculum is responsible for output. It can send to the hypothalamus via the fornix, or it can send back to the entorhinal cortex, which will relay stuff back to the sensory cortex. This is why input from within can make such a difference. This is a major key to successful neurohacking. In a lot of ways the midbrain cannot tell the difference between, for example, watching a sport and playing it. We still get the same hormonal releases at successes and failures as the players themselves. Our frontal cortex reminds us that we don't have to run about, or whatever, but the midbrain is quite happy to keep responding to whatever we are paying attention to. Even if it isn't Robert Winston.

***

By now you should have a rough idea of the mid brain module and the most important parts in it as far as n-hacking is concerned. You may be wondering why these bits in particular are so important, and how they manage to affect so much of our behavior. So let's step back out now and look at the overall picture.

Actual autonomy for intelligence (our current goal) depends on achieving the relevant neural nets to facilitate that. The mature form of human creativity psychologically is our becoming self-sufficient at creating our own role models. (We can begin to design our own role models, in our own minds, and copy them to develop our abilities ever more fully.) But full autonomy requires that the mind become its own matrix. To do this in our current situation, we have to first remove the old wiring wrongly patched in because of damage; in order to break out of whichever matrix we are caught in. The only way out of a dysfunction in a matrix is to bypass the dysfunctional system completely and slowly shut it down. You do this physically by building its replacement by neurohacking; and a part of that is achieved psychologically by playing, or 'acting', your way out.

In everything we do in neurohacking, there is always a physiological change, and a psychological counterpart. Since we do the two together they work twice as well and we take half the time.

Hacking sentiment

The mid brain networks are very important because they deal with emotion and imagination, with memory, and with fear. They also house attachment and sentiment, and those are the first things we must hack. The first thing we have to do to get anywhere is shut down sentiment, because otherwise we will get nowhere. If you are not prepared to do that, the rest won't work. I haven't yet met many people who both want to do this and can; in fact I'm writing this partly because I'm looking for them...but just for the purposes of explaining the process, I shall pretend you are one. If you want to get into the spirit of things and/or are tripping, you can pretend that too.

(After the party, we will have to have a little talk, you and I, because if this really were the case, if you really were about to start hacking yourself out of a matrix ASAP, you would be thinking some odd things, right about now.)

When you are thinking about giving up sentiment, i.e., deciding you don't want to feel 'those things' any more, that you can do without them, there are two themes of questioning going on in your mind in that 'long dark night' moment before it's yes or no, and I can answer them both only from my own experience. My answers may surprise you.

One set of questions goes along the lines of: Can you do it? Can you trash those feelings? Do you see yourself happy in a future (and there's very little chance you could go back) where you can't raise a tear for a soppy movie or get a lump in your throat over the verse in your birthday card because you know it's not real? At least it's good that you won't feel lonely being alone, because you'll be alone, if you change your brain so that it's so unlike other people's. Consider that. You'll think differently than they do. Some people are going to think you're crazy. You'll feel differently than they do; no empathy. Will you miss the warm rush of sentiment you felt for your 'loved ones', the tang of guilt when you're being a bit 'bad', the adoring way you feel when something's being hopelessly cute at you? Will you be content to receive a bunch of colorful flowers from a flatterer and feel nothing? Will you be satisfied that you can turn off worry or jealousy and ignore them as an artifice? Won't most partners take advantage of you? Will you be happy that you can think and feel like a machine? That you can even withdraw your sense of identity away from biology completely? All those things that everybody tells you are the very things that make you human? Aren't you thinking, 'Will I miss all that?'

Of course you will, you will miss it horribly and you will grieve piteously and you will think 'what have I done?' and you will be inconsolable; it will go through you like a knife in the guts (and this will happen when we upload, too) because biology interprets what has occurred as a kind of death; death of what it believed was the personality. It can't see anything on the other side yet because the circuits that will enable its emotion are only just being built and it has very little practice at using them. Bereft and abandoned in the middle, your mind seems, for a short while, emotionally orphaned, and the only way through that is with care, self confidence, hard work and patience.

In other words, your biological survival system, (and other people's!), interpreting what is happening to your mind as a threat to your 'personality', will not want you to do it, and will invent 'rational' reasons to avoid it. It will think of such ideas as 'this can't be real', and 'but this is science fiction', or, 'you're avoiding reality', and even 'you're going mad'. However, if you truly want to, it is possible to overcome these fears (which will also be thrown at you by others, who dislike change in other people almost as much as in themselves.) Other people will miss the point and accuse you of being obsessed with yourself and/or role-playing all the time. Paradoxically, this is exactly what we are trying to avoid by passing beyond the need for it. But remember, people are born into a societal simulation based on dysfunctional delusion and brainwashed into protecting the simulation at all costs. The simulation itself is pretty buggy because error in perceiving reality underlies the program that built it and maintains it, and it causes unhappiness often because it doesn't make sense, but bad or stupid as conditions are, they are all that most people know exists. So someone like me comes along and says, "Hey -you can change the script; consensus reality is a delusion, use this tech to get yourself out and rewire your brain", and all that usually happens is that people immediately protect themselves (and the simulation) by deciding that it's an attempt to control them or harm them and acting accordingly. So it's best to do our mind freeing in secret, at least to begin with.

...The second set of questions about the mid brain system hacks, basically asks in a million different little ways, 'What will it feel like? ...Will it be really horrible? Will it hurt? Will I feel like I'm ill, or drugged up, or confused, or what?

Unfortunately I can't explain this in the same way that many people are never able to put into words what an LSD trip is like. It's up to you; your own ideas of what's nice and what isn't, you own thresholds, your own temperament, and how you personally deal with sensory motor and/or psychological stuff. Largely, it depends on whether you can keep an overview and keep in mind the goal.

The first goal of intelligence's development is the creation of an autonomous (self-sufficient) person, dependent on nothing except their own selves by maturity. A free-range mind. Only then can that person truly start to relate to others in genuine interaction. Emotion should be an ability we use to enhance life, not a drug to which we are addicted, or a tornado that throws us here and there. Be aware of this: every time a 'rush of feeling' floods your mental horizon, no matter what its content, nature, familiarity, or 'reasonableness', you are being controlled. You are being programmed, by somebody else's behavior. You are not free, and you are not in charge of your own mind. You are reacting because of your biology and indoctrination, like a puppet controlled by another, or a robot controlled by automatic responses programmed in by a chimpanzee. Sentimental feelings are so powerful because they come partly by a neural route which is faster than that of intellect, so rational thought doesn't have time to get a word in edgeways. This is very very good from emotion's point of view2, because when we meet a hungry tiger in the jungle our brain can get us up a tree in response to emotion rather than standing around thinking about it whilst being eaten. But sentiment has twisted this marvelous survival system into a nightmare whirlwind of loss of control, confusion, anxiety and guilt. The only thing sentiment can get you in the end is lying down and dribbling on the carpet.

The biggest difference between a person who is still stuck in a matrix and a person who is freed is in this matter of emotion vs. sentiment. Once freed, as a programmer, you control emotion. Genuine emotion. I do not mean you can merely stop yourself feeling it (although you can if you want). I mean you can choose which ones to feel and when, and how strongly and for how long, and if you choose from a value system designed by intelligence, in every interaction you can play your emotions like a musical instrument; like a tool in the service of intelligence, which is what they have become; what they should be. Nor is it a passionless tool; I am a passionate person; the ability to intensify emotion is one of the best gifts of freedom. I cannot imagine how I used to live without it; I think some people take drugs to try and come close to true emotional states and I can tell you from experience, drugs fall short of the mark, by light years.

Since sentiment is such an input-disaster it has to be the first to go. (This is not, by the way, 'emotion adjusting'. This is compensating. It's removing erroneous programming.) Disentangled from inappropriate sentiment we can proceed with a great deal more clarity and maintain grace under pressure. From there, intelligence has a free rein to create its own value system, based on the relevant parameters. There is an optimal emotion set for intelligence and any successful intelligence (including AI) will have it. Intelligence growth has to be a process rather than a given, because some calculations can only be based on the results of others. Anyone trying to build an AI without this in mind will not so much be trying to run before they can walk, as run before they have legs.

Getting a perspective on reality is merely a matter of following the rules. That does not mean that we should treat the 'laws of intelligence' in matrix theory as rules for individuals, (which is a common misunderstanding.) There are no 'laws' or rules that can be tailored to suit all individuals, because we actually are all different, and by design; evolution favors diversity. The laws of intelligence are not for people; they are of and 'for' intelligence. The laws of gravity are not for people either. They're a part of the real world, where fire burns and rain is wet. These are not rules that we have to follow, merely designs that we can observe. We can ignore them or work with them, as we please. That's what free will is all about. We have built a lot of technology that defies gravity, we have also built technology which defies the laws of intelligence. Quite a lot of it kills people, but that was the intention and is not a design fault.

We can write better and more accurate versions of all natural laws as we learn more. But it's vital to understand the difference between 'laws' as in, 'rules I think you should or must follow', and natural laws, such as, man who chain saws own foot off, has no foot. Society's differing opinions on whether the chap has a missing foot or not, does not actually change reality, the state of biology or physics or chemistry remains the same regardless of what we choose to believe about it, and society's disagreements about the nature of intelligence will not alter the way in which it actually operates. That's why matrix theory is a theory, and not a philosophy. There are no halfway measures, and population voting or group consensus or a democratic decision on what shape the earth is will not change the shape of the earth, even if the whole population agrees that it is box-shaped. Saying 'but we have to believe the things we do because biology's demands rule our lives' and using it as an excuse is still not reality, nor is it true. Intelligence need not be dependent upon biology. And we really need to look at this concept, very hard. People do not get what they want because they do not ask for what they want, due to fear. People tend to get what they actually ask for. I think this is up to them. Those too afraid to ask for what they want will end up living with other people's ideas of what's 'good for them'. Perhaps this is where the next variation in intelligence begins.

Because there are two ways for intelligence to go from here. I mean intelligence, not humans. (1) Is to try to interfere with biology en masse to make people smarter whether they like it or not, and (2) is to interfere only with ourselves individually as we see fit, towards freedom from biology (and possibly eventually the planet), leave humanity alone and mind our own f****** business and set up our own scene some place else. (Humans wouldn't like that, but we shall cross these bridges as we come to them.) All we are going to look at here are various ways of achieving the first part of (2).

Get real

If you want to go there, you are going to restructure and reprogram your own mind. You'll need a perspective that reminds you all the time of exactly what you're doing and what is real and what is not. So here is one. If you lose focus, come back to this 'get real' section and get real.

The brain is analogous in a lot of very basic ways both to a computer and an automated chemical factory. The factory depends on input from the computer to make it work but the computer is also dependent on the output of the factory. Don't worry if you don't quite get this just yet. Just concentrate on hacking the computer; the rest will take care of itself by virtue of chain reaction.

The computer's raw material input is limited by its perception through the senses –how accurately can it record and translate the frequency of light waves, sound waves, smell molecules, tactile sensations? From these inputs the computer has to decide (a) what the fuck is going on out there and (b) what to do about it. The meanings we attach to our perceptions are our reality. But every one of our sensory organs only does, actually, exactly the same job. It translates its input into a code of chemical-electrical impulses and sends this on into networks in the mid brain. From that second on, the input is not a Ferrari, or a kiss from someone nice, or the color blue, or a symphony by Beethoven, or a joke from Monty Python, right. It is bits of electrical energy. Everything, absolutely everything enters the brain as code created by neurons firing or not firing, along a certain route. That's it. There's no grand central junction where it's all retranslated at the other end back into sound and light and smell and Ferraris again. That's it. What the computer does with it depends on which routes it comes in on, (what the weighting is) how fast, and for how long. Incoming code follows well-worn busses (neural pathways) to specific destinations. As it passes through the networks it is split up into several different data 'streams' which are processed in parallel by various modules. (Each module is made up of a series of smaller networks, each of which deals with a specific part of perception.)

Your brain has separate 'visual' networks for things like shape, color, brightness, contrast, movement, resolution and so on. Once the incoming data has been received by all these areas it is sent off to the larger modules known as 'association' areas. Here it is compared with archetypal templates, the computer's memory retrieves everything previously associated with the current item and decides what is relevant (someone waving a knife during a conversation in a restaurant as a gesture is not at all as relevant as someone waving a knife in a dark alley and saying, 'give us your wallet', for example).

What we have in our brain at that stage is COMP's Lo-res scan. And it is a unique scan. –Every brain is differently wired because of different experience. Nothing even looks the same to two different people because even if they're clones (twins) they won't have exactly the same number of neurons in each net. For example, if, say, I've got a lot more neuronal connections in my 'outline and shape' net than you, and you've got a lot more neuronal connections in your 'color and contrast' nets, we could both look at exactly the same cluster of balloons and you'd be thinking 'what a great choice of psychedelic colors!' ...And I'd be thinking, 'my god, it's shaped just like a dick and balls!'

Here's another clue about reprogramming and neuro Muscular Training (NMT); if I portray what I see, by artwork or even by talking to you about it enough, and you observe and listen, as I 'show you', you'll stimulate your own 'outline and shape' net and it will start to grow new connections. You'll slowly start to see things 'my' way for yourself. Your input changes your computer, and your computer changes your input. If you hang around exclusively with guys who can only see the dick and balls, you'll never see the colors. (That sums up input control in a nutshell). The mind is plastic; it will conform to the perception of whatever it is surrounded by.R6

The original data streams cross the gaps (synapses) between neurons by using chemicals called 'neurotransmitters'. These are some of our major allies in redesigning hardware –they can help build new connections between the neurons –the very stuff our brains are made of. They can give the computer extra networks both within and between its modules.

When programming we have to be firmly in the frame of reference from the start that there is no definitive picture of 'out there', only a computer-generated image in our heads constructed from the elements we are currently best equipped to register. A view. An 'imagining'. Obviously, learning and knowledge will adjust our perception of anything according to the extra memories. And so will prediction.

I've heard so much crap spouted about it being 'bad' trying to predict and control our lives (or the singularity), I could predict I will vomit over it but I think I can control that. Prediction is about building and testing ideas, attention being directed not only to what is immediately sensory but also to probabilities, to what is likely to happen, and playing with those possibilities in our imagination, and that really matters. Such 'thought' experiments help our behavior adjust to unknown situations in a flexible way and allow us to use our intelligence more adeptly. Indeed, intelligent behavior is not actually possible without some kind of basic attempt at prediction. Of course, we will make mistakes. This is how probabilities are assessed in the first place. But prediction and control free us from immediate sensory input dictating all our behaviour3. With neurohacking you are able to change the actual microphysiology of your own brain; redesign the hardware itself, section by section, that's how you enable yourself to think in different ways. You can do this one way by changing the production and flow of neurotransmitters, which will grow new neural connections for you, wherever you want them. But however you choose to do it, even after that first hack, you can genuinely say, "Hey, -I changed my mind!"

Our 'personality' is created by the actions of combinations of 50 or so neurotransmitters inside our brains.

Regardless of our history, our memories, our intelligence, or our conscious intent, the actions of neurotransmitters dictate our temperament and our behavior on a real-time basis, and can turn us, gradually or not so gradually, into anything; a happy successful individual or a suicidal depressed paranoid one. Transmitters feed you a view of reality and also the chemicals that prompt you to choose to believe that it is real. You process information from the world around you according to the interpretations of your sensory experience. That interpretation is controlled by neurotransmitters.

All your perception is, is a series of electrical signals passing through your brain. Neurotransmitters, and synapse control, are responsible for everything that could be called the self. Understanding neurotransmission is like learning the machine code. And then you really can start programming in it.

The main question we should ask ourselves about perception is not what we must accept or reject, but what we choose to do with our perception. Are we to be indoctrinated and programmed and just let it happen, and accept ourselves as 'pretty normal' humans, or do we wish to be free to use our creativity and increase our intelligence? Do we believe that solid, unchangeable facts push in from 'out there' to merely register digits on our internal spreadsheet? Or can we accept that programming reality is an activity, an ability, a creativity of the mind; that we can enter into interaction with whatever we encounter, whether consciously or not, that our brain 'computer' encompasses far more ability than most people's brainwashing ordinarily admits, that we can be autonomous within the matrix/mind we have created so that we can access the real world via the real brain as its own back door and program it?

And how much are we prepared to pay for this experience? Or rather, how much are we prepared to play?

'Play works,' is the only good description of how to achieve this, and the way in which true play works is to let the 'work' be done for us by the brain computer itself whilst we get on with playing. Then we may approach the world as material for our creativity rather than the dull repeats of last week's soap opera.

'Programming' the matrix/mind is an activity, an art to be developed. The more creative the programmer, and the lower their anxiety, the greater and more alive the program, the better is reality. In hyperreality, when we create an internal experience for ourselves out of our imagination, we are perceptually self-sufficient. Perception is existence in that state, so we can create a self-sufficient existence within our own program, a hyperreality within reality. That is what true self-sufficiency is, and this is what intelligence's development has as its first goal. Anything less is incomplete development, which will always (no matter how we try to distract ourselves) cause anxiety, because the brain isn't operating as designed. The great mistake of 'education' is that it teaches us to think of anything outside our intellectual thought and the physical world as 'only imagination'... Which attitude is a bit like having the best, fastest, most creative supercomputer in the world and then being told you must only use it to read dictionaries on. Because that's what normal people do.

...At this point I return to an old question: What is perception based on?

Control.

Control of conceptualization. The concepts in our minds are patterns of action in the brain's networks, patterns by which we assemble percepts. On the sensory motor level we establish the pattern of micromovements which corresponds to the network's firing pattern. Every experience we have is a series of patterns firing within the brain. No new experience can be accepted and understood unless it has at least some similarity to a previous experience. The networks grow thicker and larger the more times an experience is repeated, or the greater the impression it makes. Common factors in events compress them into archetypes. Whichever part of your brain controls your conceptualization controls not just you, but your entire life. And how much you'll enjoy it. Most people don't have free will.

The concepts we recognize least in daily experience are replayed in our dreams, in the vivid language of the midbrain. We have little choice which departments are active during sleep, short of the sledgehammer method of drugging ourselves up. In waking time though, control of the action of networks and control of perception are synonymous.

Consider some of the factors currently controlling you. Some factors place limitations on us; they may be such things as your family, your country, your work, your social group, they might be factors such as your size, strength, appearance, age or diet. The limitations or controls imposed by these factors may be many and varied. They will include things like how you dress, what language you speak, what laws you observe, how you express your feelings, how you communicate with others. We tend to conform to what we imagine is 'the norm'. Keep an eye on that word, imagine. It takes a particular number of perceived opinions to establish a 'norm' in our minds, and that number is three. If you want to run an experiment on this you can pick a simple math problem, and place your volunteer in a group with three prearranged actors who will emphatically agree on the wrong answer. You'll find that around 70% of those tested will change their answer to agree with the wrong one. If you make the problem harder, or the actors look like high status individuals, an even larger percentage of people will conform to the falsehood. It's stunning, and really quite depressing; it's like a whole bunch of people standing up with their hands raised, saying, 'Look at me; I'm stuck in a matrix'.R23

Control of perception is based on the knowledge of what causes emotional or imaginative weighting of input, i.e., being aware of what grabs our attention.

External factors which attract our attention are nicely summarized in the psychologist's mnemonic 'SCRAM', which stands for Size, Contrast, Repetition And Movement.R24 All advertising execs are aware of these, and you can probably think of countless examples of irritating little flashy things. We've discussed many of the things that help to form our perceptual set; these are internal factors which add weighting to an event; things such as mood, expectations and prejudice.

Once we achieve control of perception we no longer have to worry about controlling input, because we are able to pay attention to whatever we choose and ignore whatever we choose (to the extent that we can, quite literally, fail to perceive it). Everybody edits their perception all the time as we have seen, but this is not normally voluntarily and deliberately. We can choose to perceive intelligence, and the input and factors relevant to intelligence, and we can choose to ignore distractions. We get this ability by changing our minds in the first place (by controlling input). Now it begins to become obvious what a 'feed-forward' hack really is...every stage is setting up the ease of the next stage. This particular change is possibly one of the key signs of shifting into M5. With the CC fully completed and a working ACG online, we can run the master programs for predict-and-control, plan-and-strategise, and so on, that lead to competent and expedient interaction.

...And at this point we emerge into a situation allegorical to having the mind as our tall ship and perception as a star to steer her by. Of course, the horizons that are the limits of our sight are the very places we then head towards...

1 This is an excerpt from a lecture on the midbrain & memory which was originally recorded as a joke spoof of typical TV (UK) documentaries. The plan was to unleash it on bored/stoned students on a Friday afternoon and see how long it took the first person to notice the lecture was a bit odd. I beg Robert Winston to forgive me, and assure him he has my greatest esteem for coping with the unenviable task of introducing science to the general public; a task at which he excels, unlike me.

2 Things are not 'bad' or 'good' per se; cheese, for example, is very good if you want lots of calcium and protein, but if you're taking MAO inhibitors it could kill you. Right and wrong, good and bad, always depend on circumstance.

3. A mind with less intelligence, such as that of a frog, cannot achieve such freedom, which is why it can starve to death whilst surrounded by juicy succulent insects - because only insects in motion equals food.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2009 00:42