Thursday, 24 November 2011

Simulator's dilemma


The fabric of the universe is robust, yet intricate and quite tenacious. I often wonder why people act the way they do, but I find this is more difficult to decipher than first appears. Events around a person shape a person, who subsequently incluences subsequent events around him. We are all entangled in a causal loop with no definite start or end point (at least thats what the observer inside the system is led to believe). A suboptimal control over situations poses the need for predictability, but the very nature of human behaviour and the unfolding of situations is dependent on each other. And this one is led to conclude that to deterministically figure out the outcome of one situation, one would have to track back to the origin of time and solve equations all along. This leads us (me, at least) to believe that if the 'nurture' argument along with 'determinism' is assumed, one would either find the solution to every situation that could ever unfold, or none. Engineering promises approximate solutions to some situations, but if the butterfly effect is to be believed, approximations would lead us nowhere and every once in a while our approximate model would go horribly wrong and lead us to a regrettable conclusion. However, don't humans also make horrible judgments sometimes? I guess an approximating algorithmic machine can then approximately resemble a human, with encoded notions of regret and reinforcement learning.

So how does one apply insight in a situation and use intuitive or calculative predictive power to get the best out of it - either in terms of maximising reward/profit/pleasure or minimising punishment/loss/pain? Surely, we all have inbuilt mechanisms that try its best to get the best exchnge out of a situation. Arguable, some people's internal algorithms are better than others. And hence we see people with similar education, economic and social stature getting different value out of similar situations. It is certainly of interest to mankind to induce equality among masses by optimising people's decisions to make the 'most' out of a situation, given an individual's notion of best case scenario, coupled with his intellectual, economic and social capacity.

I am of the strong opinion that we would all love to possess sufficient power in a situation to have things our way, which could be as trivial as having a good evening, or as big as ruling the world. And we often act in suboptimal ways, overlooking some important details like an adamant competitor or rain or alcohol as determinants in the actual merit of our choices. The sooner do we a) start getting what we want out of situations (maybe by trying out different things), b) realising that we're doing a good job (conscious awareness), and c) figuring out exactly what constitutes the alteration of behaviour to optimise utility in the external world (i.e. noting What works and Why) can we device a code to optimise our (and maybe people's) decisions to almost always get the best out of situations.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tomatoes and Melons


This is the first time I'm pasting from another source. Its originally from the Paulo Coelho Blog (original article here), Beautiful!

If tomatoes wanted to be melons,
they would look completely ridiculous.
I am always amazed
that so many people are concerned
with wanting to be what they are not;
what’s the point of making yourself look ridiculous?
You don’t always have to pretend to be strong,
there’s no need to prove all the time that everything is going well,
you shouldn’t be concerned about what other people are thinking,
cry if you need to,
it’s good to cry out all your tears
(because only then will you be able to smile again).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tomorrow

Its vitally important to capture the moment when you can. I feel great right now, and know well I might not tomorrow. But its okay. I'm happy, I'm tranquil, and I can live a good chunk of my life right now. And hopefully, if I keep the momentum up, I'll be fine for a while. That's all that matters in life after all, living the moments and living up to them. During the off times, you build yourself up to life FOR the moments, in the past and the ones to come in the future. Life's not too big, a collection of a few moments is what define eras, some better and some longer than others. Its a constant fluctuation, momentary ups and downs that, averaged out make a zero sum game, or if you're lucky have an up slope. You are what you make out of yourself, and the situations around you. The best you can do is your best, and hope to have a good time along the way. Nothing else matters.

People come and go, experiences happen, memories remain. There's not much more to it. When an era ends, the best you can do is let it go, and move on in search of new adventures. The world's population just crossed seven billion. How many have you covered?

Oh man, it doesn't matter. All that matters is being happy and living a good life.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Attribution

You are the highest of highs
You are the reward of my toil

You are the untouchable
You are the insurmountable
You are unprotected, and thus indestructible

You are the epitome of the human spirit
Yet you're only human
That's what makes you supreme


You are the promise land... the dream destination...
You're always the goal, yet always unattained

You're the light at the end of the tunnel
Always in sight, but always far away

If only I could have you...
I would be redeemed of my sins
I would be immortal
I would be alive........

If only I could.


You're the frail beauty that perishes when possessed
But I would never know

You're the angel's voice in despair
that I have never heard

You're my saviour, my guiding spirit
The twilight of eternal youth
The elixir of life

So I'd like to believe


You're the love of my life
You're a figment of my imagination

I'm trapped in a loop of my own hope
That would never manifest, and never die.

You are the absolute
You're too good to be real
If only you were real
Are you?

But I must believe in you
To preserve the integrity of everything I stand for.

For you are the culmination of my faith
My only surviving hope.....

Before I find out otherwise.
.................................................................

"How can you ignore my faith in everything
When I know what Faith is, and what it's worth"
-Steve Harley (Make Me Smile)

Friday, 5 August 2011

That Whereby Men Live

I was about to write something stupid but thought against it. Metacognitive as I always am, I am aware now that my feelings might merely be a projection of a conscious reflection arising out of the superimposition of years of environmental conditioning, social structure and human evolution. In essence, I might just be constructing a reality that is made essentially out of nothing. But yet, these fictional realities sometimes overlap, sometimes coincide between two or more people, resulting in consensus. Consensus doesn’t necessitate correctness, it merely represents reinforcement arriving from mutual acceptance. The consented matter might be grounded in reality, or floating in delusion, yet for the consenting believers, that's all that matters. That is true, that is uncontested, that is given.  In a sense, by the very nature of human incompetence of arriving at an absolute, only the relative can be consented on. And so, every act of consented conviction must probably arise, to some extent, out of an irrational judgement of merit made by an other-than-cognitive process. And so long as the battle is not entirely fought on terms of syllogistic logic, there is always the possibility of longevity – through compromise and adjustment. Is that really bad though? Not until one finds out otherwise. And it can still be rationalised – we're all schizophrenics that way. And how long can it last, before reality takes over? Well, it lasts some people a lifetime, and that's as long as we can measure anyway. Psychology is a science but isn't physics, minds work roughly on rules but aren't computer programmes, hearts beat but aren't mechanical pistons. Not even close. We may never find out otherwise, maybe we don't want to either. Machines don't want, we do. We desire, emote, express, feel. Machines need fuel and commands. We need love.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

London is cold

Some say I'm on a quest to uncover the fabric of the universe. Others say I'm just kidding myself. Among the believers of the holy grail, there are some that believe I'm looking to discover myself, while others are convinced I'm trying to make sense of the people around me. And then there are some that believe that the self and the other are but trivial and inconsequential objects in the majestic vignette of the universe. And yet, for us imbeciles, we are our world. Life revolves around the self and the other, more pertinently, the significant other. We often spend lifetimes comparing and contrasting ourselves with our contemporaries, and occasionally with our ancestors. Yes, we are remarkably short sighted, but everybody is, so we're not made to feel the need to see otherwise.

I'm both amazed and vexed by the amount of time we spend trying to merge with the social structure, the latter of which is also incrementally shaped by our actions. In effect, we constantly shape and perfect a mutually accepted paradigm for all behaviour. We then feel good or bad or indifferent about ourselves with respect to the world, depending on how closely we ourselves adhere to the seemingly arbitrarily determined paradigm. Arbitrary being said, I must add that it is something that we (I for now) cannot or WILL not understand, as it might be too complicated for us (or me). But there might still exist a perfectly valid reason for which social structure is the way it is. Beats me.

Why are we constantly calibrating ourselves and our peers as against the set benchmarks of social righteousness and 'cool'ness? Why is it so unacceptable to be completely independent of what the cumulative wisdom of the society believes correct? I would love to specify an example, but run the risk of being judged in that respect, and then stereotyped and dismissed. Then again, being a psychologist I do understand the need for stereotypes and heuristics. However, we do need to get better and more discerning at it. Because right now, the rate of misses and false alarms is ridiculously high.

The world creates this out of us. Then again, we created and continue to create the world as it stands. Suspicion always comes before trust. A stranger always first belongs to an outgroup, not ingroup. Does it really have to be so? Can our neurons be rewired, and our preferences modified, just like they are done by commercial advertising? We need more love, more energy and more trust. And thats got noting to do with the lack of sunshine in London.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Possible Worlds: An Interpretation

(Warning: The following review contains spoilers. Please watch the movie before reading this. For an introduction, read my post HERE)

George Barber is a mathematical genius that works in a corporate firm. Due to his psychic abilities, he can 'see' himself simultaneously living out his life in parallel universes. In each of the possible worlds exists Joyce, playing different roles in George's life (a dead wife, a casual partner and a stranger).

At the beginning of the movie, George is found murdered with his brain extracted. Detective Berkeley and his sidekick try to investigate this crime throughout the film. This is interspersed with flashbacks of George's different lives.

In the end, the detectives figure that Doctor Kleber, a brain scientist murdered George so he could study and manipulate his brain. George's brain, still 'alive' and fundamentally conscious is brought back to Joyce.
In the last scene, George's brain simulates a romantic evening at the seaside with Joyce. Here he notices some strange blinking light (the light flashing on the brain apparatus) in the distance, and asks Joyce if they should do something about it. After a while, the blinking stops (when Joyce turns off the brain's life support system) and the movie ends.

Now, it is known that Kleber collects intelligent human brain to study them, and he probably got to know about George during their interview in the mental hospital. But is that all, or are all the scenes relived by George actually mental simulations, artificially created after he was killed?

Also,in the 'life' where George met Kleber, he had attacked the 'stranger' Joyce. But then, after he was killed, Joyce lamented the loss of her husband.

I will admit I didn't understand the movie entirely, and I hope thats my shortcoming, and not a conceptual flaw of the film. Any comments?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Order and Chaos

Life is as random as can be. Ubuntu is good, but the grass is always greener on the other side. Web horcruxes means that my life isn’t really my own, even in the individualist west. I’m so well connected, like everyone else, that life doesn’t really require human intervention to run. It runs almost in autopilot mode, just like the myriad tech gadgets that we now use. Sometimes, it proceeds without an administrator password, making it appear that my life isn’t my own after all, but a coordinate in a haphazard conglomeration of entities incapable of self existence, adding up to a complex dynamic system called society. I wish I could use the word robust or systematic, if only I could make sense of it.

Maybe, just like ant colonies, we're not meant to comprehend the role of an individual in the bigger picture and yet contribute to it. However, a human ostensibly possesses consciousness, and hence is constantly aware of most of the things s/he does. This is the perfect recipe for questions, self-doubt and a general feeling of randomness. Who knows, ants must feel random and pointless too, in their own homuncular way, just like us(?). I maintain, one man's random chaos is another superman's perfectly logical causal chain of events. Who's to say if we're the most cognizant, discerning creatures the universe has ever seen? We may never know...

Which is why it is terribly important to make sense of our lives the best we can, given our mortal constraints, and leave the rest to chance, probability and noise. If we didn't have any of that, academicians like me would have nothing to study. Curiously enough, systematic trends are the easiest to study, its the deviations that we take all our lives trying to figure out. Most of us, however, just (sometimes unwillingly, even unconsciously) submit to the paradigm. And yet, the paradigm is shaped by each one of us, infinitesimally incremented with each contributing member.

It hard to imagine life any other way, just like it is hard to perceive that we're moving at a speed of 470 metres every second, just like it is difficult to diagnose yourself through introspection. Its called reference frame in Physics, it is called anchoring in Psychology. Sometimes, all that's necessary is a change of reference, a little de-conditioning. The observer of a system must lie outside of it.

We look at different places for the same thing. We market ourself differently, but talk about the same things. We're all looking for the same thing; and its NOT money. Monetary motivation is just a byproduct of the system we're anchored to, and is constantly positively and negatively reinforced so as to lead us to the illusion that money is the solution to everything. Not necessarily true. Almost certainly not true. It is however interesting to study why we ended up this way... lusting money, killing brothers, living in selfish greed and coveting power over people. Something somewhere went terribly wrong... but was it inevitable? And is our fate in this world also inevitable? Where's the free will? Where's the love?

When will we get our heads out of our asses and voluntarily work together for the best of us? Come back to the question..... What Matters?
Think

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sleepless Night

6:05 AM

I guess I have nothing much to do otherwise, so I’ll just write. Such moments of paradoxes, existential or otherwise, should rightfully be celebrated by writing about them. And that being said, I do feel like a sell-out again, and the self-reinforcing loop continues. The self-loathing is strong, it always has been. An endured punishment called existence. I might sound too full of myself, but that’s not necessarily true. Besides, alternate techniques of living a life have somehow eluded me. Not that I am complaining; I’d only know what I’m missing out on if I knew what it’s like to be otherwise. But then, the design is robust, and the curtains provide good insulation from light, so I (we) might never know. This last comment was entirely uncalled for; I just pretended to rise above my own problems and generalise them to the world, thus demeaning people around for my own flaws. Nice try, Watson.

Turns out that the once sleep-hungry procrastinator has turned into a sleep-deprived procrastinator. The suffix remains the same. Ah well, at least I can say I’m working on it now. Not sure how effective the working is though. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy seems no more credible than voodoo; the latter at least has strong effects when it does (ostensibly) work. CBT is just one of those legal conning systems, just like banks.

Paradoxes are beautiful, but they’re utterly frustrating and if you dwell on them a little more, incapacitating. Yet, there exist far too many of them to lead a normal (as prescribed) life, and yet we must try to lead normal lives, walking around these paradoxes, while denying their existence. A simulator’s nightmare, I must say again.

So either I’m too stuck up with my loopy, unrealistic idealistic thoughts; or the rest of the world is stuck up in a warp of their own s***. Statistics says, I’m probably the outlier and hence must be discarded. The model has errors, but they’re on the whole not too significant. Oh we have a perfect distribution, consistent and what not; but the mean is off by a few light years. Then again, we’ve defined our own terms for consistency, but who’s to say we’ve been consistent with it? It’s all a big paradox. Come to think of it; life is a paradox, is a paradox. Nested function; infinite regression.

Recursive definitions are fun. They’re also the negation of linearity, and decomposability. Maybe God does exist after all. Ah well, let’s have another beer.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's

And so I am invited to write by my Other self. There isn't a theme in particular to write on, but then, there rarely is. Oddly enough, it is New Year's day, although by the time I publish this (if I do), it wll be past midnight. Its a fairly monumental day to write on, and hence I shall coax myself to ramble on. Its funny, the climax of 'When the music's over' is playing in the background, and nothing else (eg. blogging) can really matter, but then, here I am, a living contradiction of ideals, as I constatly violate the ideals I stand for. It's all good, I remind myself, and decide to write on, the whole idea now seeming more pointless than ever before. It would make a modicum of sense if I actually wrote about something at all, instead of being self obsessed that I am, accentuated when i'm drunk. I could write about the action packed, fun filled (?) last week or so I've had. Matter of fact, it's an rollercoaster continuum that I can't put  start and end tag to, but hey, that's what bloggers and other sellouts (tweeters, facebookers and socialites in general) do, don't they? I must be consistent with the stereotype.

So I visited Bath, Bristol, Portsmouth, Ipswich and Oxford; saw a multitude of museums, churches, abbeys, castles, mansions and other structures with pointy tops. I was in the company of ostensibly interesting people, and I had a fairly questionably good time, just like everything else I do. Question is, how is one kind of enjoyment different from another anyway? Isn't having a wonderful dream while in bed at home an equivalent high to a potential, probabilistic joy that you might receive by visiting the oldest, largest and best museum, cathedeal or university in the world? I mean, it is an elicitation of a brain state, or is it? I've had one of the best times of my (present day) life having an argument about an age-old and thoroughly impractical concept, like free will, with a bunch of psychology students. It's given me more joy than any trip abroad would ever give (I could be wrong, of course). I just don't see the point of spending tens and hundreds of pounds "exploring" the world, "being" with good people (it often ends up being just people, desperate as you are), and "experiencing" "joy" in the "feeling" of "oneness", of "connecting", "sharing" and "living" the moment. A simulator's nightmre I must admit. On a more rational and unbiased note, honestly, isn't it possible to do all this without all the hype, glitz and prodigality of a typical Londoner? I mean, how hard can it be to be in good company and have a good time? Why the whole artificial social structure? Really, why?

I know it's New Year's (just like it was Christmas a week back [and I must admit, the festive spirit did feel good]), and don't get me wrong, I did have an excellent time. But I still wonder, what really matters? The fireworks display at London Eye was excellent, but there was immense social pressure involved in organizing and attending it, all parties involved, let alone the monetary and energy costs. I wonder why people can't all just stay home, maybe with a loved one, eat home healthy food, and meditate. That's a good New Year's eve plan right there. Why the intoxication, why the long travel, why the need to belong to a group or a person? For God's sake, snap out of it. you're complete and happy, and you don't need a "successful" (i.e. something that you can brag about) New Year's eve to convince yourself that you are happy and that everything's alright in life. You are, and it is!.... Just be! Live the moment, don't make extravagent plans in the probabilistic hope of having a prospecive good time. It's all rather artificial and result-oriented. Just live now, the way it is, it's perfect, it's beautiful. See it!