TOWARDS A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Conference, Tucson 2010 1
Laurence J. Victor 4/16/2010
SPECULATIONS ON THE
SPECULATIONS ON THE
EVOLUTION OF HUMAN ONSCIOUSNESS 3
AWAKEN !! 4
for - I hope - one more stimulating talk. 5
They call me Larry. 6
Living in Tucson, I've attended all of these conferences from their origin in 1994. 7
My poster session was recently boosted
to live performance 8
- the first I've given in over a decade. 9
I've extended my poster presentation to include 10
The Future Evolution of Consciousness. 11
For merit badges, I have four old college degrees: including two PhDs, in
Physics from Yale in 1965
Educational psychology from Minnesota in 1970. 13
You can avoid the confusion. 14
In 4 scenes, I will lob many heavy sentences at you, prepare your auditory system. 15
Some are heavy in potential.
See how many you can field. 16
I cannot speak truths, 17
I can only speculate. 18
As our "time is
I have eliminated this phrase
from its many places in this presentation. 19
SCENE 1 20
From Prairie Dogs to Our African Galapagos
When did "WE"
"WE" didn't begin with Ardi
but as "bacteria becoming algae". 23
I will skip to when "WE"
romped as little prairie dogs
under the feet of thunder lizards. 25
"WE" were social beings then,
some 85 million years ago. 27
More recent humans didn't invent interpersonal relationships and community 28
It goes way back; and
social perception and organization are
unique neural sub-systems in all mammals.
distinguished "our own kind"
from other things in our environments. 33
I relate to prairie
since first observing them when
moving from Minnesota to Arizona in 1971.
Thousands of prairie dogs
stretching to the horizon.
Nearby a fellow popped up
from his hole,
stretched and then looked around.
About 20 feet away another prairie dog
was preening by another hole.
The first fellow was obviously attracted and slowly crossed
the space between the holes.
the gap was crossed
another prairie dog came up from the first hole, 41
immediately spotted the first fellow
- rose up and squealed.
The first fellow
immediately stopped, turned and ran back to his
hole and was scolded.
Is this just
stimulus-response behavior, with no associated
are quite different from ours, 45
But, I am cannot
assume their experientials are inferior,
let alone absent.
ahead to about
7 million years ago,
the Rift valley in Africa
had been transforming
for some 20 million years.
began to differentiate.
Here I introduce my
Great Flooding in the Rift Valley.
for a considerable time on islands 50
our chimp and bonobo cousins
retreated to other higher ground.
Islands with trees
would have given
TWO developmental environments: 52
arboreal and aquatic,
having potential influence
for cognitive development.
Islands might have been free of predators, 54
early humans freedom to develop child development strategies.
Watching from trees
could have warned of
the arrival of potential
predators and fish schools.
occurs in all primates when wading. 57
and other aquatic activities
would strengthen bipedalism.
Feet for climbing
would have been an
advantage working crude nets and
gathering food from lake floors.
may have developed
greater breath control important for the evolution of human speech. 59
may have emerged at this time; later useful for
when marathon hunting. 60
Eventually the water
and the new humans precursors
migrated to other settings in the Rift region.
may have been an
in "OUR" history
our uniquely human traits
initial push. 62
For reference: 63
Ardi lived about 4.4
million years ago
Lucy about 3.2
million years ago. 65
SCENE 2 -
The Emergence of Experientials
I must skip over many interesting events
in our travels from then to now:
our emergent technologies and brain growth, 67
our migrations and near extinctions, 68
the development of
advanced cognitive processes. 69
I wish to present some alternative queries
for how and why
our more contemporary experientials emerged. 70
I avoid using the term "consciousness".
is the latest to emerge used
to all precursors and contexts?
we talk about trees as leaves,
and un-leaves, 73
analogy to our sub-conscious
the interesting nature
of mammalian and primate minds,
let us speculate
of our contemporary mental situation 75
observing explicit experientials
- gestalts of figures and grounds".
our first explicit experientials
were dreams and hallucinations;
that intruded into our
normal mammalian flow-minds?
would have been quite different
from our current dreams.
What if dreamer
first painted cave walls,
sculpted figurines, danced and sang
- later to be imitated? 79
What if the beautiful
and the grotesque
came initially from within,
not as attempts to represent
perceptions of external reality? 80
Might all this be
consequences of enhanced cognitive processes needed to organize 81
complex data sets
and to plan for activities over larger time spans?
Might some neural
have been cloned and applied
to new data sets?
alternating analysis and synthesis emerge,
some which may occur
between brain hemispheres?
and symbolic expression emerging from this.
intrude as experientials
from new "inner" symbols
used in advanced brain computation? 86
Might we have continued
behaviorally in most waking life,
as we had as mammals,
while new explicit experientials
intruded as dreams and hallucinations? 87
Might our everyday
communication with others
have continued primarily by gestures,
and other older systems of expression;
which soon were employed
to share our dream experiences in rituals?
I have long pondered
on why the corpus callosum
is the last major part of our neural system
to biologically mature,
delaying full inter-hemispheric communication. 89
Might this very late
protect children and youth
from early confusion
primitive mammalian cognition and
the new emergence
of explicit experientials and language?
in this integration of old and new minds? 91
In summary, 92
that what we view as human "consciousness",
or what I prefer to call explicit "experientials", 93
from our dream states,
penetrating the earlier flow states
of mammalian minds,
and these two
forms of mind
continue in their dance of integration. 95
Might the awesome
of human cognitive and experiential competencies
have resulted from this dance; 96
providing humankind with
not seen in most other species:
as the diversity of
biological cell types,
in methods of surviving
in their biomes.
Deep Features of
I must again leap
many exciting adventures of our ancestors: 100
living near the great ice sheets
and in the vast tracts of fertile lowlands 101
to the landmass of Africa
- now covered by water
& waiting for anthropologists) 102
the climatic tumult
of the great warming & cooling
and torrential melt floods
with other species
through domestication 104
exploring variations of culture and language 105
Participating in the emergence of
cities; and then
and our contemporary era. 106
probably expanded and further diversified during this time;
through a process we might call
cultural epigenetics. 107
will now briefly
some important characteristics of contemporary "states" of mind,
consciousness, and world. 108
Then, I will speculate
on a positive alternative futures
for our continuing evolution. 109
FUNDMENTAL QUERIES: 110
Physical Correlates of Consciousness
be "located" in
a holarchy of nested biological systems,
not located in one holon,
such as neural systems?
WHAT IS MORE FUNDAMENTAL:
"SELF" OR "WORLD"? 112
I AM AN AUTOPIETIC WORLD,
which contains a SELF. 113
All that "I Know about Everything"
is of/in my World/Self.
I have no direct
access to an external reality;
but I do have strong evidence of OTHERS.
may be a fundamental process of all life; 115
This 3-decade speculation is being now being approached by Default Mode Networks. 116
FEATURES OF THE MODERN MIND: 117
THE VAST GAP
BETWEEN SAVANTS AND THE DISABLED: 118
the extraordinary range
of human competencies. 119
Individual differences in
in the contemporary human population 120
be as vast as the
differences between all mammals in their means for surviving in their biomes. 121
differences occur in the "quality"
of our experientials,
our ability to
experience and manipulate mental images. 123
A PERSONAL NOTE:
at age 22,
that I had no visual imagery 125
I went on to
that I lacked mental imagery
in all sensory modalities.
I have encountered no persons
and no reports of any person
as deficient as I as to mental imagery.
I've been informally
researching the phenomenon since.
As my discovery
was at the time research
into mental imagery was
escaping from the prison of behaviorism, 129
claims for having no
mental imagery resulted in virtual rotten
thrown at me from audiences of
students of mental imagery. 130
Yet, most of my closest friends have extraordinary abilities with mental imagery,
reports of their individual differences
(observed from my null point)
demonstrate great diversity.
This cognitive diversity may be essential
for sustainable viability of
Global Humanity in Balance with Gaia. 132
EVOLVE DURING ADULT LIFE. 133
ADULT STAGE DEVELOPMENT
may be the most
neglected phenomenon by science.
A few early
models propose about
5 very distinct "stages"
of adult human epistemological processing.
can exist in all stages.
show a distribution
where only a very small percent 137
of the population 138
(in a sample of
are at the highest stages.
of social institutions
are not at the highest stages.
adult stage development.
Facilitating adult stage development remains a challenge, but nothing says it can't be done. 142
SCENE 4 Future Evolution
We now leap rom our
to speculation on
the future evolution of human consciousness. 143
Given we have much yet to learn
about relationships in
the molecular, cellular, physiological, neural, and socio-cultural domains
we cannot say that
little to no "evolution"
occurred in historical time, 146
or is not occurring at this moment. 147
the impacts of Kurzweilian fantasies: 148
longevity extension, DNA manipulation, cyborging, AI Singularities, 149
extra-terrestrial fusions, space colonization, spiritual transcendence, etc. 150
are all moot,
If we don't quickly resolve
our current difficulties. 151
Consider first a few FACTORS
relevant to our situation and
then a few ACTIONS we may take
to shift us to better paths. 152
CIVILIZATION IS THE PROBLEM
I define CIVILIZATION
as a social paradigm
where small elites manipulate
the vast masses for the benefit of the elite.
is the default paradigm
if no other alternative is available.
Only TODAY are alternatives available. 155
Baker and Daniel Quinn on the necessary collapse of Civilization.
CIVILIZATION IS A SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES DEPRESSED PHENOTYPES. 157
is the distribution of variation in the DNA or genes of the living human population. 158
is the distribution of developed features of humans, in the living human population.
I know of no living species
where the action of the species, itself,
so depresses its phenotype,
in actualizing from its genotype. 160
Babies of healthy mothers are
mostly healthy and ready to live. 161
Compare this with
the vital statistics of humankind today.
THE TRIVIALIZED QUARTET
are FOUR PARADIGMS FOR DEPRESSING PHENOTYPES
Planning, and Managing
If human mind/brains
embedded in cultures are the most complex systems
in the known universe, 165
- in conformity with
Ashby's 2nd Law of Cybernetics,
The Law of Requisite Variety - 166
process for facilitating meaningful change
in such systems must match that complexity. 167
is a social analog
to perpetual motion - it won't work.
these four basic processes have been
grossly trivialized in Civilization.
at its very best, has features that depress phenotype actualization.
severe intrinsic limitations; 171
quality learning is ultimately a social process.
For cybernetic reasons, 173
education will never be viable
until quality learners are the
primary deciders of policies & practices, 174
instructors or knowledge domain experts.
In honor of Donald Michael I have re-defined "education" as: 176
Organizing-for-Learning & Learning-for-Organizing. 177
Critical Actions 178
UPLIFT is a label
I give to the process that enables
the "proper" phenotype actualization
of our contemporary genotype.
What is "proper"
will need considerable effort to determine,
but we can easily establish
some important initial objectives and limits.
In a creatively enabled,
we can rapidly shift the
of human cognitive competencies
from that of today
to what can be optimally achieved.
THIS IS UPLIFT.
It is much, much more than
eliminating poverty and
giving everyone schooling and employment.
One feature of UPLIFT is
via use of SCAFFOLDING and Scripting/Performing Spirals, 185
intuitive flow with engineering design. 186
Another feature of viable UPLIFT
is the social enzymatic effect of
and social change
by orders of magnitude. 189
is a network of new workers
individuals and teams
learning and collaborating, 191
Assisting them to do what they can't do alone. 192
Un-Trivializing the Quartet can provide tools for rapid BOOTSTRAPPED UPLIFT. 193
Information and Computational Technology from commercial and military constraints 194
of new tools and techniques
synchronous & asynchronous Interactivity 195
and energize holarchical collaboration. 196
Most of this can be started
and be globally significant
in less than a decade,
and under the radar of potential oppressors. 197
the goal of UPLIFT
must be the
REPLACEMENT of CIVILIZATION,
not its REFORM. 198
Two Metaphors for UPLIFT are useful: 199
is our first metaphor:
Holarchically, from Personal to Planetary. 201
Caterpillars don't TRANSFORM
within the decaying caterpillar
from self-organizing Imaginal buds:
clusters of small cells
within the body of the living caterpillar,
of the coming butterfly.
and Butterfly cells
carry TWO genomes! 203
It is up to us to creatively
invent the "menome"
for our societal butterfly, and quickly. 204
Caterpillar of Civilization
must be seriously accounted for, 205
can't be reformed
to sprout wings, grow new eyes,
or spindly legs.
The Emergence of 207
Prokaryotic life 208
is our second metaphor.
How the world of VISIBLE LIFE
emerged as "hair" on the
microbiol world of INVISIBLE LIFE 210
can teach us much
about the more recent and ongoing emergence of cognitive life from biological life.
We are as Nu-Amphibians. 212
What is unique
about humans is
but dependent on
biological substrates. 213
My story is far from complete,
but I have pushed my allotted time.
I have not talked about
I speculate with panpsychics
that this may be a cosmic primitive
and that our search for
its origins in ourselves is misdirected.
Text of this talk, and an expanded & annotated outline are available online.
I welcome comments.
thank you for receiving