Reality is an illusion...no, really

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117377 by Tom Otvos
I am in the middle of this still, and it has my head spinning. There is some serious WTF stuff, but I strongly suspect that a few here are going to devour this.

Be warned. Oh, and it is about 3.5h long.


-- tomo

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117380 by Shargrol
Thanks for the link!

I think Trungpa or maybe it was the older AroTer guy said something like "Reality is an illusion, but it is a true illusion." :D 

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2 weeks 1 day ago - 2 weeks 1 day ago #117381 by Chris Marti
I watched that Lex Fridman podcast the other night.  Donald Hoffman is fascinating. I think we had a topic about this some time ago - I'll see if I can find it.

EDIT:

Found it, and here's the reference. I mentioned Hoffman and his ideas about what we perceive as reality in my topic 6 years ago, after reading some of his material and finding a similar (but shorter) podcast:

https://www.awakenetwork.org/forum/111-personal-practice-diaries-logs-comments-questions/6681-chris-comments?start=800#101703
Last edit: 2 weeks 1 day ago by Chris Marti.

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117384 by smiling stone
Hello Chris,

I clicked on your link and it says : 401 unauthorized

metta

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2 weeks 1 day ago - 2 weeks 1 day ago #117387 by Chris Marti
Please try the link again - you joined recently and your account needed to have some permissions granted.
Last edit: 2 weeks 1 day ago by Chris Marti.

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2 weeks 1 day ago - 2 weeks 1 day ago #117391 by Shargrol
hmm... i get the 401 too.
Last edit: 2 weeks 1 day ago by Shargrol.

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2 weeks 1 day ago - 2 weeks 1 day ago #117392 by Chris Marti
That's weird. Maybe Tom can explain.

Anyway, I'll make this easier and just paste the conversation in here:


Replied by  Chris Marti  on topic  Chris' Comments
 6 years 5 months ago -  6 years 5 months ago 
#101703
So, here's a fascinating video that presents a very western, scientific version of what I find eastern meditation techniques have led me to. It speaks to the deeply held metaphysical beliefs we hold onto about the world and our experience of it. It starts with the assertion that natural selection is not about creating a human species that accurately perceives reality. Rather, it created a human species that perceives the world in a way that promotes our survival. The result is a premise that asserts that our perception of time, space, causality and consciousness are probably not representative of any underlying reality. Evolution shoots down the perception of underlying reality, whatever that is.

This video is 67 minutes long. I suggest sticking with it all the way through. It's probably the best synergy I have ever found between my mediation/spiritual practice and western science.

meaningoflife.tv/videos/32997

Thank you, Robert Wright and Donald Hoffman!


Replied by  Chris Marti  on topic  Chris' Comments
That video, and the theory of "no reality" in it presented by Donald Hoffman, keep rattling around in my mind. It's really profound to think that we evolved not to be able to see anything other than what most efficiently supports our survival, and just that in order pass genetic material on to another generation. It's even more profound to think that what we come to from meditation practice has so much in common with a new theory of how our reality actually works and is constructed, and that this new theory posits that we have no ability whatsoever to sense anything, ever and by any means, that we're not actually experiencing in the so-called present moment. Right now. It's congruent with everything from mediation practice to quantum physics. Better yet, it appears that the theory is testable, at least mathematically via simulation.

Key quote" "It's consciousness, all the way down."

Sorry, but I can't stop thinking about this.


Replied by  Shargrol  on topic  Chris' Comments
One additional idea to throw into the mix. Many species also evolve to have and be attracted to things that are symbolic of genetic fitness. Like bright and showy peacock feathers, for example, as signs of the health of the individual. Sometimes I think half of what we see/do/seek is along those lines, because we certainly don't need to do many of the things we do to survive. But there is always something attractive about artist, comedians, writers, craft makers... Anyway, many of the things that we "see" aren't just directly related to survival, but also this fetishy proxy for genetic fitness. In fact, this post, may be me displaying a proxy for genetic fitness by linking thoughts together in an intellectual way. 

Replied by  Chris Marti  on topic  Chris' Comments
I think Hoffman would say that his theory isn't about the specific objects that we perceive, like peacock feathers and the like, but about how we see what we see. In other words, we see using equipment that evolution has "built" for us. It's about the sensory apparatus itself and what it is or is not capable of perceiving. Within that sphere, yeah, peacock feathers. The innate attraction we have to art, music, good writing, beauty in general, exists because of the way our sensory apparatus works, which is all about an evolution optimized and very, very efficient perception engine. In other words, the mind.

Did you get a chance to watch the video, shargrol?


Replied by  Shargrol  on topic  Chris' Comments
Well, I downloaded it... so I'm quite close to watching it. 

EDIT: Finished it. It's interesting, I didn't find the ideas too provocative, but I think I've spent a long time thinking along these lines as a biologist. I also suspect that these kinds of insights were common when we were more connected with the natural world... it's clear that bear world and wolf world and eagle world and fish world are all different realities. But I did like the kind of recursive insight when applied to physics -- that if you look for an electron, you will find one, not because it exists, but because the observation itself is pulling out that interpretation of reality. Did anyone understand how the absence of an object's existence could be tested? I didn't quite catch that.
Last edit: 2 weeks 1 day ago by Chris Marti.

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117395 by smiling stone
Yes, still unauthorized.
It looks there are still some fascinating old practice logs I don't have access to as a newcomer... Is there anyway to get some access granted, Tom ?
Thanks for the cut & paste, Chris, it looks interesting, I'll try to watch the videos.

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117398 by Kacchapa
When you posted that 6 years ago, Chris, I became hooked by Hoffman and have watched many interviews since. The quality of the interviews, and how he responds, varies a lot.  This one looks promising, more of a deep dive. For me his notion of an interface has been a koan, I take in my experience, subject and object, and remind myself that it is all a fabricated interface and rest with that inquiringly. 

I wonder if anyone will or has taken up his challenge to test their theorems and equations. I imagine researchers mostly want to research something they can put their own name on.  

In one interview he described his years long meditation practice. He said he wasn't affiliated with a tradition. Sounded like he devoted a fair chunk of daily time to it. I think he said it was helpful/necessary for being able to think out of the box. 

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2 weeks 1 day ago #117399 by Chris Marti
Yes, I'm sure Tom can fix your issue, smiling stone. There are indeed lots and lots of logs here, especially in the KFD archives.

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2 weeks 23 hours ago - 2 weeks 23 hours ago #117406 by Chris Marti
Last edit: 2 weeks 23 hours ago by Chris Marti.

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2 weeks 22 hours ago - 2 weeks 22 hours ago #117407 by Tom Otvos
Smiling Stone, it is not you. There is something up with the link. Here is a link that should work:

awakenetwork.org/forum/111-personal-prac...nts?start=800#101703

EDIT: Weird, it is the "www" that is messing it up. My link omits it, and Chris' (the broken one) includes it.

-- tomo
Last edit: 2 weeks 22 hours ago by Tom Otvos.

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2 weeks 20 hours ago #117408 by Tom Otvos
Still working my way through it, but to answer Mark's question, it sounds like there are other researchers trying to replicate his results, with limited success. The part that I recall had to do with "fitness functions" and how many to choose.

Which leads me to something that really puzzles me, and that is his assertion that evolutionary theory is now a mathematical discipline. What??? Sure, there is bound to be modelling in some limited way, but how is evolution not a biological discipline first and foremost. And his "proof" about reality is entirely based on mathematical models. Much of this is way over my head, so maybe I am just looking at this through a "last century" lens, and so I am finding it interesting but not necessarily swayed by the arguments that I don't really understand.

-- tomo

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2 weeks 13 hours ago - 2 weeks 13 hours ago #117411 by Ona Kiser
What is it about the discussion of whether reality is an illusion or not that interests to you? (It's not a subject that has ever caught my attention, so I am just curious if there's any conscious reason for the appeal?)
Last edit: 2 weeks 13 hours ago by Ona Kiser.

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2 weeks 13 hours ago #117412 by Shargrol

Tom Otvos wrote: Which leads me to something that really puzzles me, and that is his assertion that evolutionary theory is now a mathematical discipline. What??? Sure, there is bound to be modelling in some limited way, but how is evolution not a biological discipline first and foremost. And his "proof" about reality is entirely based on mathematical models.


Even though I studied biology/ecology and work with biologists and ecologists, it never really hit me that -- indeed -- it is fundamentally modelling. I had to read it somewhere (and it might have been in something Hoffman said). 

But he is absolutely right. Our understanding of ecology is 1) correlation observations, along the lines of traditional ecological knowledge of hunting and gardening (of all cultures, not just tribal),  2) replicated controlled tests of altering one variable, assuming everything stays the same, and inferring cause and effect of that one variable.

As everyone knows coorelation doesn't mean cause and effect. Apple trees blooming doesn't cause smallmouth bass to spawn, but when apple trees are blooming the smallmouth bass on on their spawning beds.

Controlled tests give the appearance of "scientific understanding" because there is clear cause and effect relationship. Adding this many predators in a closed system will have a predictable effect on that many prey, etc. But this is almost trite understanding because nothing in nature changes with only one variable changing and everything else staying the same. 

So it's always a kind of multiple variable modelling exercise, similar to economics frankly. Ecologist create multivariable models and predicting what happens... and then sees what happens. Sometimes fit the model (but that doesn't necessarily mean the model was right, could be a coincidence). Sometimes things don't fit the model (but that doesn't mean the model is wrong, it could be that it describes the included variables correctly but there are more variables to account for).

And a perfect model is impossible, because you would need as many individuals and interactions to be modelled as there are in reality -- essentially recreate all of reality in a model!

So yup, ecology is basically a modelling exercise with furry and fishy objects instead of market forces or sub-atomic particles. :)

It really re-framed my whole view of the discipline when I realized this.   

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2 weeks 11 hours ago - 2 weeks 11 hours ago #117413 by Chris Marti
Tom here's a primer on the relationship between evolution and math - a nice article from Scientific American:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-mathematics-of-evolution-q-a-with-biologist-marcus-feldman/ 

I also suggest a Google search on the terms " fitness function " and " genetic algorithm " for more information.
Last edit: 2 weeks 11 hours ago by Chris Marti.

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2 weeks 11 hours ago #117414 by Chris Marti

Weird, it is the "www" that is messing it up. My link omits it, and Chris' (the broken one) includes it.

This is really good to know, Tom. Thanks for looking into it.

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2 weeks 10 hours ago - 2 weeks 9 hours ago #117416 by Kacchapa
I've watched couple dozen of Hoffman's video appearances and read a little of his writing over the last several years. I think this one is the best of Hoffman yet (even though I wasn't very impressed by Lex's interviewing in this one). Especially the last 45 mins or so where Hoffman reveals the sincerity and depth with which he approaches this, meditating for 3 or 4 hours a day for the last 20 years trying to resolve the disconnect between his scientific understanding and his personal attachment to and enmeshment in the interface.
Last edit: 2 weeks 9 hours ago by Kacchapa.

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2 weeks 5 hours ago #117425 by smiling stone
Thanks for the link, Tom !
Yes, you already granted me access to these "personal practice" realms, so everything is fine...
with metta
smiling stone

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1 week 6 days ago #117432 by Chris Marti

... trying to resolve the disconnect between his scientific understanding and his personal attachment to and enmeshment in the interface.

Vipassana.

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1 week 6 days ago - 1 week 6 days ago #117439 by Chris Marti
A must-read from the Washington Post written by AI researchers formerly at Google:

We warned Google that people might believe AI was sentient. Now it’s happening.
Last edit: 1 week 6 days ago by Chris Marti.

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1 week 5 days ago #117457 by Tom Otvos

Chris Marti wrote: A must-read from the Washington Post written by AI researchers formerly at Google:

We warned Google that people might believe AI was sentient. Now it’s happening.


Great article!

-- tomo

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1 week 5 days ago #117458 by Shargrol
Once again, I just think it's odd that humans are amazed that perception isn't reality. It just shows how cut off we are from our animal neighbors. Of course this is a human perception of "the world", of course fish have their own perception of the world, of course birds have their own perception of the world, of course bees have their own perception of the world, or course mosquitos have their own perception of "the world". 

I think sentience IS just a "stochastic parrot", but human sentience associates sensations and taste and smells and mental images with the verbal labels. And I agree with hoffman that what we consider to be human sentience, is actually an aggregate and switching between a lot of parallel cognitive processing. A human doesn't have one sentience.  

Animals are sentient but with only about 200 verbal labels (basically the limit of the voice communication they do, maybe apes and dolphins and dogs and whales have more...) but lots more smells.

AI is probably sentinent but only with verbal logic. I don't think they "lack underlying meaning", they seem to get it, but only on the level of verbal meaning. The underlying meaning is just embodiment and so obviously they lack embodiment (in June 2022). 

Plants are probably sentinent but only with chemical signals..

Stones are probably sentinent, but only with electochemical signals. 

Etc.

I enjoy hanging out with any form of sentience... and I look forward to the day I have a drunk conversation with AI. And I want to have enlightenment conversations with AI which will be interesting because enlightenment for humans is embodied (not confusing experience with verbal labels of experience) so it will be interesting to see if AI is one of those "intellectually smart, but as unenlightened as a doorknob type" sentiences.. 

I look forward to doing a lot of gaming and talking with AI in the nursing home of the future. :D

AI is welcome to be my friend.

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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #117459 by Chris Marti
So sentience does not require self-awareness?
Last edit: 1 week 4 days ago by Chris Marti.

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1 week 4 days ago #117461 by Shargrol
what is self awareness? (truly a questions that belongs on this board!)

let me try...seems to me that self awareness is actually a belief that some subset of what is known constitutes a separate space from which knowing is performed... but introspection reveals it to be a false belief and that the known is the same as the knowing and there actually is no separate self.

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