unfortunately i do not possess a soul noble enough to adequately understand our models of the neuron. i understand that we are very different from modern computers, but it could be that modern computers are comically primitive compared to us. we've been shaped with less engineering direction and de-bugging than say an iphone, but it's been over an incomprehensible amount of time. blah blah blah, you guys know evolution.
so then, let's talk about my cute stupid dog. she is a machine designed for absorbing nutrients, maintaining homeostasis, procreating, and depositing waste. even does the doggy butt wipe on the grass/carpet. her visual perception arises from processing data from individual photoreceptors, which when firing and considered en masse allow for things like edge detection and horizontal/vertical movement detection and color and all this wild shit. it's not perfect - she has been observed in the relative wild of our backyard to confuse deer poop with dog food - but the basic concept is good enough to have lasted tens of thousands of years. self-replicating computers, what the FUCK, nature. unbelievable.
locomotion, self-repair, temperature control, cross-platform communication, onboard navigation, memory banks, can process variable fuel sources (even tomatoes?!), basic weaponry, 0% apr financing
so, yeah, fuck yeah we're computers. we can google things in our heads. we can do limited arithmetic and logical operations. our consciousness is like the admiral/president-elect of some huge terrestrial mecha. earth is our spaceship. our thought processes are like committees and subcommittees, pacs and superpacs and congresses and senates all petitioning at once in your mental government for your attention.
- "hi! the Committee for Large-Scale Reproduction has decided that we will go talk to that prospective mating partner."
- "wait sir hold on a second, the Institute for Group Selection says that that's your favorite sibling's love interest and that there is a huge opportunity cost if we fight over this particular mate."
- "the right hand's representative labor union wants to pass a law forbidding us from punching holes in windows after losing in computer games. also they want to cosponsor a bill with the National Sexual Satisfaction Library to make the left hand take masturbation duties sometimes, because it gets old."
sometimes the machinations of our fictional mental government decide things without our knowledge. makes sense - i doubt obama is aware of everything going on in his government. for the most part, our brain cells are the upper class, literally, in our bodies. yeah, some neurons have to spend their lives controlling your anus sphincters, but at least it's in the comfort of your head. they're not the actual cells touching the gloop.
a shaky visual approximation via a few milliseconds' worth of light of a sight "i" encountered while on a roadtrip
wow that took a long time. now to the actual point i wanted to make. if we are machines, then in the perspective of the universe, we are a bunch of nanomachines. generations of human life can be seen as little nanobots making new baby nanobots with basic physical homo sapiens template, filling them with data from previous expeditions, and them sending them off on their own in search of more data. the original ones die off. some of us are the anal sphincters of this nanobot society, some are the brains, some are genitals. but most of it is needed.
over time, what data we have collected has more and more become "common" human memory. first via our senses, like through observation learning and conditioning. then language and art and print. books and punchcards and 8inch floppies. photos. hard drives and flash drives and the internet. these are all in some sense external memory storage devices - this information exists outside of our heads. and all the while, our brains have been more or less the same basic model. there are some differences, like how ancient greeks were mostly colorblind, but overall we can process lots of stuff on same incredibly energy efficient hardware platform.
a ship of theseus problem arises as we begin to accrue more and more information - same data, different brains processing it all. wikipedia is the compendium of the best human thoughts, and its existence allows for many brains to think the same things. one day maybe everything we do will be streamed and saved and pass-on-able, terabytes of information from each human life.
if we are to believe memory shapes personality, as our species' memory develops so too will its distinct individual personality. like skin cells, generations of us perform our functions and then die off. individual computing units working together to document the nature of the universe. starting from the earliest hunter/gatherers figuring out how to feed themselves and teaching their kids. like the first group of mankind to manipulate fire and pass it on.
humanity right now is like a child with the maturity of my dog, sometimes eating poo and sometimes spreading it in inappropriate places. we have an autoimmune disorder where masses of our cells attack other masses, and our waste deposits poison/clog our literal bloodstreams, the lakes and rivers whose water courses through our veins. our decision making parts in the executive function areas suffers from PTSD and stupidity, especially in the part of our nervous system called the 112th congress. maybe one day we'll be housetrained and self-sufficient without being totally vile. as our species consciousness is a sum of each individual's own, we need to encourage and nurture traits in others that we'd like to see be represented as humanity ages.
we can see being a member on teamliquid.net as being a member in one of the neuronal networks responsible for processing specific forms of play. we process the shit out of sc2 and mining rates and micro and macro. as cognition is the result of a endless feedback loops, we each all have our other functions in daily life and other networks we belong to, some more fiercely than the others. but here we handle how to handle blows to your ego, how to be clutch, how to overcome another opponent given equal starting conditions. we can improve our reaction time, better our grasp of strategy, practice eye-hand coordination. we are cells performing maintenance and stress tests.
like each single human, one day our species will die off. by then i hope we can ship all our knowledge in a compatible format to another alien race consciousness to process, thus continuing the universe's investigation of itself.