Thursday, December 12, 2013

free energy hierarchies and pedagogy

last night somebody was spraying the sidewalk with water to clean it. but he was doing it at 6:30pm, the busiest time. he turned off the hose whenever someone was walking past (to avoid spraying them), and this meant he had the hose off 90% of the time. he was just spraying in little bursts when there was a gap in people.

i thought, shouldn't they do this at a different time of day? it's probably just poor management. if i were in charge, i would set it up differently.

then i thought, it's possible that they know something i don't know, and the best solution is actually to do it at 6:30pm for whatever reasons.

but this made me think about free energy and pedagogy.

in order to learn, i have to take action based on my current model and see the consequences. there may be a prediction error that drives an update of my model; then i involute this structure and the model gains richness.

people who take control of all aspects of their life in this way, fully inhabiting their current model to produce action and then incorporate the updates, probably involute the most of the world.

and "teaching" should based on this. getting students to take action based on their current model, in situations where they can incorporate the prediction error.

Friday, November 29, 2013

dopamine, progress, and tantrums

the real "dual-system" issue is probably the one that plato and buddha and whoever else understood from the beginning.

virtue or responsibility, that's the hard thing that's right to do.

the unvirtuous thing is perseverating the goals of some smaller system.

the relatively virtuous thing is what o'reilly said -- you're unhappy when you're frustrated in making progress toward your goal, so the way to be happier is to let go of that goal. in a little sense that means the smaller system you're currently identifying with has to "die" or "dissipate".

the subjective experience of this is "awareness of" that smaller system. identification with a perspective which is not limited to being *inside* the smaller system. because the goals are determined by the priors of the system, and now the dynamical system in question has another hierarchical level, so it behaves as if it's trying to minimize surprise at *that* level. (still unvirtuous from a broader context, but moving in the right direction!)

that's why i was excited by o'reilly's talk about tantrums. along with karl's model it feels like a step toward a scientific view of wtf is going on...

Monday, November 18, 2013

how stuff works

As these peaks in the holomapping and their concentric boundaries coalesce, stable conscious binding flourish-develops as manifold harmonic attunement thru complexificationary unitive intraperfusilusion in dynamical introjective identity with the All as it can be 'known' as consciousness.

-- Clark Potter

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


intelligence is the ability to make accurate predictions about the
world. you can think of the mind as a *model* of the outside world. but of
course it's never a perfect model. the self is the model, and the not-self
is the aspects of the world not captured by the model. we're perpetually
afraid to relax the self, to allow the model to capture more aspects of the
world. there's a moment of "little dying" when we do this. the self never
wants to let go of the idea that *it is the whole world*, or in other words,
it is already a perfect description of the world. fundamentally, it has to
be this way, because the self is a homeostatic system that maintains its
integrity because it constantly enforces its own pattern against the chaos
of the outside world. but fortunately, the world forces little bits of the
self to relax, so the self can grow and become a more honest and faithful
model of the world (it might be fair to call this the universal principle of

that's why taking care of yourself emotionally makes you smarter. 

Thursday, August 01, 2013

I have a sheep doing roofing over at my house.

Come and drop in. We'll put on Zeppelin and eat cheddar cheese.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

free energy and suffering

the free energy framework provides a really natural explanation for what suffering is. "good" vs "bad" feels like such a basic quality of subjective experience, but neuroscience says the material correlate is dopamine or opioidergic neuron firing or whatever. that doesn't make sense, it's way too arbitrary. in the active inference framework, suffering is exactly free energy. it's the same principle for any system. to the extent that the system is trying to assert that "it is the universe", and the rest of the universe is shooting that theory down, that's the subjective quality of suffering.

of course, the concept of a "system" is just something we lay down post hoc to try to understand. you can draw a boundary anywhere you want and call the inside a "system" (although this might get increasingly pointless for weird boundaries). and then our concept of "suffering" would match up with the free energy of that "system".

this is a nice explanation for what happens in addiction, i think. when you look at the system-boundary around your relatively shallow ego, free energy actually decreases when you take drugs (or do whatever addictive behavior), because the drugs help this shallow system to live in a more isolated dream, where it's not exposed to the truth of the rest of the world which it's denying. but simultaneously, if you look at the system-boundary around some deeper identity of the individual, the drugs are making things worse -- creating more suffering. so at the same moment, there's either more or less suffering depending on what system-boundary you're considering.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


whether particular beliefs are inconsistent depends on your model of the world. fundamentally all beliefs must be inconsistent in some way because they're just partial truths. evolution in general, i think, is the process of steadily burning away these inconsistencies when they're forced to interact with each other. or in another sense, the inconsistencies remain (since, after all, they are what manifestation is), but their reconciliation also exists (which itself is another kind of inconsistency). so depending on how you look at it, more-and-more "stuff"/form is being created, or more-and-more "stuff"/form is being burned away to leave what it originally was, truth.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

the transition from not-life to life

Q: do you think the "no-life" to "life" transition... that first step to the first living cell.... was a bigger and more complex step than all of the evolution of lifeforms that has happened since?

A: the free energy way of looking at life suggests that, 1) there isn't any kind of border between life and not-life. homeostatic dynamics arise within all systems, and just progressively increase in richness when possible. there were probably lots of intermediate steps between autocatalytic RNA sets and modern "cells". and 2) each additional step is only meaningful in the context that it arose in. the organizational level of, e.g. what we call "life" is just the tip of an iceberg of systems dynamics. the right way to think of the non-living world isn't as a static or dead -- it has its own rich dynamics, upon which the steps toward life are just little nudgings that reorganize those dynamics.