Steve Grand

Life and How to Make it

Phoenix 2001

The argument of Steve Grand's Creation:

pages 6-40

pages 41-70

pg 12

Keywords : persistent phenomena - matter, life, mind and society are simply different levels or aspects of the same thing - organised machines, unorganised machines (neural networks) and self-organising machines (life) - mind - mental processes - digital computer - serial, procedural, top-down computer: a tool to create new machines that are parallel, relational and bottom-up

persistent phenomena

..The natural world is composed of a hierarchy of "persistent phenomena", in which matter, life, mind and society are simply different levels or aspects of the same thing. I propose that this natural hierarchy can be mirrored by an equivalent one that exists inside a parallel universe called cyberspace. I want to sketch an outline for a common descriptive language which can be used at all levels of the hierarchy. In this language which shall find the basic operators of which life and mind are constructed. To create artificial life we have to understand the nature of this hierarchy, implement simulations of these basic operators using a computer (or other device) and build upon that foundation the higher levels of persistent phenomena that we seek. A computer cannot be intelligent, but did can create a parallel universe in which natural forms of intelligence can be replicated.

pg 17-25

Conventional wisdom <------> My contention

Minds can be explained in terms of physics.

Physics does not even understand matter properly, and is ill-equipped to understand mind.

Computers can be intelligent.

Computers can create spaces in which intelligent things can be built.

Control is synonymous with domination.

Control is as much an effect as a cause, and the idea that control is something you exert is a real handicap to progress.

Intelligent systems must be designed from the top down.

Intelligent systems must be designed to emerge from the bottom up.

Intellect and intelligence are roughly the same thing. The ability to reason can be separated out and implemented in isolation from other modes of thought.

Intelligence is first and foremost about common sense. Reasoning (which is only one of many aspects of intelligence) must be built upon a foundation of common sense.

Intelligence is independent of life.

A system will not be intelligent unless it is also alive.

Intelligence is a unified process and can be implemented directly as an algorithm - a sequence of logical steps.

Intelligence is a property of a populations. Although we seem to have a single stream of consciousness, it can be reproduced only through a parallel process.

The best way to design a machine that machine that thinks is to examine the structure of thought.

The best way to design a machine that thinks is to examine the process of biological systems and the behaviour of mechanisms that lie much deeper than conscious thought.

pg 27

Keywords : actors (matter - substance) - play (form - process) - left-right - sinister-dexter - tangible-intangible - matter and (for want of a better word) form - Life is an intangible concept, as is "mind -

Things that persist, persist. Things that don't, don't.

matter and form

...what we perceive as the correct way of looking at things is actually mistaking the ground for the figure. To understand life, mind, consciousness and soul, I believe we have to learn to turn our intuitive interpretation of a world inside out. In short, we need to stop looking at the actors and instead start focusing on the play.

...we need to stop looking at the actors (matter - substance)

....and instead start focusing on the play (form - process)

pg 42

Keywords: persistence - some things persist and others don't - .... the very components of which the universe is built are nothing more than persistent localised distortions of the basic field that make up all of space - hierarchies of persistent phenomena :

life, intelligence and mind

a phenomenon that persists

Everything you see around you is an example of a phenomenon that persists, at least for a reasonably extended period, and the reason the universe looks the way it does is that some things persist and others don't....

Naturalists may study where phenomenon persists (the species of animal, say). Paleontologists look when things persist, and thus how one form of persistence gave rise to others (evolution). Natural historians of all kinds used to spend much of their time recalling what persisted, classifying it and labelling it so that those answering the other questions had names to which they could refer. Why things persist is a question with only a few answers: phenomenal persist because they are either inherently stable in absolute sense, or because they are more stable than other phenomena with which they are somehow completing.

On the whole, though, the big scientific question is always how things persist: what mechanism explains the existence and what common laws underlie their ability to cheat oblivion.

pg 65

Steve Grand
Life and How to Make it
Phoenix 2001

Keywords: Life - LEVELS OF BEING - Autocatalysis - Membrane - templates (MUSTER - patterns) - navigare necesse est - Adaption - Adaptive behaviour- Intelligence - self-awareness - tower of persistent systems: photons, particles, atoms, molecules, autocatalytic networks, self reproducing systems, adaptive systems, intelligence and mind - society. - Autocatalytic networks that can move will survive better than those that can't. -adaptive behaviour can emerge from essentially the same kinds of regulatory mechanism already employed by autocatalytic networks. So this rudimentary form of intelligence can be seen as the next rung of the ladder of mechanisms for persistence - another level of being.- This ability to react to events after they have happened can get an organism a long way, but not nearly as far as pre-adaptation can. In other words, reacting to an existing opportunity or problem is not as effective as predicting it and changing one's behaviour appropriately before the opportunity has time to go away or before the damage is inflicted. Intelligence is perhaps a term that should be reserved for systems that can predict the future. - Reflecting on the future - Primitive forms of learning - At some stage in the history of persistent phenomena, something genuinely new and rather special emerged: a mechanism somehow became capable of being aware of its own existence and able to reflect on its own present, past and future. Such a capacity allows an organism to contemplate and cogitate, to rehearse and imagine, to place itself in someone else's shoes. This is self-awareness. - Use your own consciousness to reflect on this fact: mind is another persistent phenomena on - something that has come into being and now won't go away: Mind is not different from matter and yet it is not matter, nor is the property of matter; both matter and mind are made of the same non-stuff. - The Tower of Persistent Systems: We now have quite a towering hierarchy of more more sophisticated forms of persistence: photons, particles, atoms, molecules, autocatalytic networks, self reproducing systems, adaptive systems, intelligence and mind.

pg 69

pg 73

Keywords : emergence - interactions - When populations of interacting structures become arranged in certain configurations, and something new and surprising comes into existence, we call this an emergent phenomenon - Conway's Game of Life: glider - logical reasoning - prediction - we could, in principle, predict the existence of a glider from the rules of Life, but only by actually carrying these rules out, simulating the system - Matter is just one link in the chain of being . Atoms are no more real than societies or minds. Hardware is a subset of software - self-sustaining patterns in space and time - The interconnectedness of all things - self-organizing chains of cause and effect - 'problem' of how mind has influence over matter is spurious. Since the two are not distinct, the idea that one can affect the other should not be at all difficult to accept - purposeful action - cause and effect act in webs, not chains - think of the information acting upon the brain at least as much as we think of the brain acting on the information - gestalt: form, the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts - Life, we discover, is a loose coalition of selfmaintaining eddies in a flowing stream. When the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts something new and perfectly real comes into existence. This gestalt is not mysterious, but neither is it a figment of our imagination - the basic building blocks of cause and effect.

pg 130

Keywords : FEEDBACK - topological approach to studying complex systems - PHASE LANDSCAPES - complexity theory - hyperspace - an ever-changing, restless adaptive system - PREDICTION - adaptive behaviour - INTELLIGENCE - ability to learn the relationships between cause and effect and to use them to predict the future is what is called intelligence - theory of mind - mental models of the world - INFORMATION - Signals are therefore not stuff. They are non-physical, persistent patterns with a coherence and existence of their own - compressibility - 'meaning' - an observer effect -


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