JoeShipley

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The Great Brain is Located Externally

In 'Proust and the Squid', Maryanne Wolf talks about just that, how external reading and writing skills behave as a kind of storage area for brain contents. I can't remember the exact passage (I guess because I have it written down in a book at home) but she talks about how we don't write things down to remember them, but so that it's okay for us to forget them. She goes into an analysis of a few cultures and their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing, reading, and memory. Very related and a good read. It follows along a bit with Plato's Phaedrus, the story of Socrates' objection to the written word.

I think it's interesting the way what you have memorized, exactly, seems to change based on where you are or what you are doing. I'm sure most of us without eidetic memories have experienced the sudden loss of some memorized bit of information, only to remember it with ease a few hours later.

Memories of certain friends seem completely solid and close when you are around them but utter inaccessible otherwise, never entering into your day to day thought processes. I often wonder if this is even a brain-wide effect, with different tools in the toolbox other than just memory being triggered or non-triggered based on your environment. It would be strange if some environments caused tools in your brain to trigger that increased your skill at a task, tools that would go forgotten at another time. I think I ran into an example of that the other Friday. I got my arm stuck past the elbow in a narrow metal slat, reaching for something in a warehouse after hours. Legs off the ground, lacking leverage and totally unable to free myself, I struggled for a while then just sat around thinking, trying to figure out what to do. After half an hour, I realized I could spit on my arm to get it lubricated up and slip it out of the slat -- some gross struggling and a couple minutes later I was free, if really bruised up. I feel like I would have come across that solution faster if my worries weren't tending toward being stuck all weekend in the warehouse.

Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions

This is true, I didn't think of this. A superintelligent sheperd. Interesting idea. It just seems so stagnant to me, but I don't have the value meme for it.

Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions

In this case, tame might mean: "Able to co-exist with other males in your species". Our concestor with chimpanzees probably wasn't, but we had to adapt.

Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions

Agreed. One of the interesting points in that Dawkin's book is how sexual selection can result in the enhancement of traits that neither increase survivability or produce more offspring. He talks about 'fashions' spreading within a species, in his personal theory of how humans started walking upright.

Basically, the females or the males start selecting for a particular rare behavior as indicative of something desirable over their lessers, which leads to that male or female exhibiting that trait reproducing and the trait being reinforced for as long as it is in 'fashion'. Several cases of the way that can run away are presented in the book; Testicle size in chimpanzees due to sperm competition and the incredible sexual dimorphism in elephant seals which has driven the male to up to 8 times the size of the female. (Only one male in any given group reproduces.)

There's always a reason for any selection, but when you deal with creatures with any kind of mindfulness, sometimes the reasons stem from the minds rather than perfectly from the biology.

Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions

Well, yes, on Pg. 31 of 'The Ancestor's Tale',

  • Back to the Russian fox experiment, whcih demonstrates the speed with which domestication can happen, and the likelihood that a train of incidental effects would fllow in the wake of selection for tameness. It is entirely probable that cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, gees,e ducks and camels followed a course which was just as fast, and just as rich in unexpected side-effects. It also seems plausible that we ourselves evolved down a parallel road of domestication after the Agricultural Revolution, towards our own version of tameness and associated by-product traits. In some cases, the story of our own domestication is clearly written in our genes. The classic example, meticulously documented by WIlliam Durham in his book Coevolution, is lactose tolerance... [continued later on the page and then to 32]
  • ...My generalization concerne dthe human species as a whole and, by implication, the wild Homo Sapiens fromn which we are all descended. It is as if I had said, 'Wolves are big, fierce carnivores that hunt in packs and bay at the moon', knowing full well that Pekineses and Yorkshire terriers belie it. The difference is that we have a seperate word, dog, for domestic wolf, but not for domestic human... [continued pg 33]...
  • Is lactose tolerance just the tip of the iceberg? Are our genomes riddled with evidences of domestication, affecting not just our biochemistry but our minds? Like Belyaev's domesticated foxes, and like the domesticated wolves that we call dogs, have we become tamer, more lovable, with the human equivalents of floppy ears, soppy faces and wagging tails? I leave you with that thought, and move hastily on. -Dawkins, 'The Ancestor's Tale'

For what its worth....

Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions

I feel as though if you are hoping to preserve the specific biological scope of humanity you have some significant roadblocks on the way. Our species was generated in millions of years of shifting genes with selection factors blatant to subtle, and more recently we've stripped as many selection factors out as we can. (For good reason, natural selection is a harsh mistress...)

Malaria etc still is a selecting factor as has been documented but they're greatly reduced. In Dawkin's 'The Ancestor's Tale', he tells the story of the Russian Silver Fox breeding experiment in which wild foxes were selected for tame characteristics, resulting in foxes that behaved like border collies.

He hypothesizes that if humans were subject to a similar non-natural sexual selection, picking for the 'tamest' humans (adult male chimpanzees will kill each other and definitely don't work well with groups, while adolescent chimps can work together in large groups no problem -- this is another suggestion w/ the skeleton and other claims for the whole idea of species right after the human-chimpanzee concestor being pushed toward neoteny in order to work in larger groups.)

The border-collie-foxes ended up having floppy ears, liked being pet, yipped and enjoyed playing with humans. If Dawkins is correct, we're a bunch of domesticated humans in a similar fashion. When you throw a wrench into natural selection like that, things start to go out of whack instantly like the constant birth problems Pugs have, bloat in Bassett hounds to back problems in daschunds. It's difficult to predict -- a part of the naturally selected whole that had one purpose, modified to another, can have all kinds of unexpected repercussions. Anything that can 'loves' to do double or triple duty in the body.

So unless you snapshot the human genome the way it is and keep people from randomly reproducing as they like to do, you don't get to maintain a 'pristine' human condition.

Is it preferable to slowly wreck and junk up your genome and species via a more or less unguided (at least in the center of the curve) process, or attempt to steer it in a humane way without eugenics by genetic engineering even though the consequences could be drastic?

The bottom line is that our species will change no matter what we do. I don't know for sure, but I would prefer thought going into it over neglect and leaving the whole thing up to chaos.

A social norm against unjustified opinions?

Oh, I'm sorry I misunderstood you. Yeah, it can be tiring. I'm a fairly introverted person and need a good amount of downtime between socialization. I guess I was projecting a little -- I use to think social norms were garbage and useless, until I realized neglecting their utility was irrational and it was primarily an emotional bias against them in never feeling like I 'fit in'. Sometimes it feels like you never stop discovering unfortunate things about yourself...

A social norm against unjustified opinions?

Being called 'profoundly stupid' is not exactly a criticism of someone's reasoning. (Not that anybody was called that.) I think we're objecting to this because of how it'll offend people outside of the 'in group' anyway. Besides that, As much as we might wish we were immune to the emotional shock or glee at our thoughts and concepts being ridiculed or praised. I think it would be a rarity here to find someone who didn't. People socializing and exchanging ideas is a type of system -- It has to be understood and used effectively in order to produce the best results -- and calling, essentially, everybody who disagrees with you 'profoundly stupid' is not good social lubrication.

This Failing Earth

I agree completely. If intelligence-generated problems cannot outpace the solutions total destruction awaits.

I apologize if the stupid pill characterization feels wrong, I just was trying to think of a viable alternative to increasing intelligence.

A social norm against unjustified opinions?

I disagree. It is rational to exploit interpersonal communication for clarity between persons and comfortable use. If the 'language of rationality' can't be understood by the 'irrational people', it is rational to translate best you can, and that can include utilizing societal norms. (For clarity and lubrication of the general process.)

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