Thank you Brent, and very much agreed! In fact, I waffled between phrasing that as "digitized angels" or "digital angels" - guess I should have stuck with the former. There is a broad difference between representing life using numbers, words, and bits (high/low voltage potentials really) in a mechanism, and being part of the emerging urgency of life moment to moment. Often we cannot think at all, when we are completely aware. We become speechless.
My background was initially software programming, databases, information, yada. But everything we were doing seemed so empty. The world around me did not seem like a problem to be solved, or a quantifiable system that needed us to keep it from destabilizing. I like how you said it - "Abstract intelligence is abstracted away from real physics". Yes. Physics and existence are intertwined. I have studied the idea of prosthetic limbs, quadriplegia, and robotics, and even contacted Pentti Haikonen to ask him. I asked him, how can I know where "I" end and the world begins? I love his reply.
"If it hurts, it's you"
If you worry what happens to it, it's you. This can become far more than just your head, your body, or yourself. It can include your wife and kids. It can include your world. But digital things do not "hurt". Ideas cannot die or even begin to identify with our infirmities. How does one learn to identify? Here's an example:
Have you ever flown inverted above the cockpit of another jet, while both of you were going supersonic? Have you? You may be able to *imagine* it, but you will never know what it *feels like* until you *do it*. The thing about humans and most living things (plants too), is that none of what we are made of is "structural" - everything about us is alive. The containers are alive too, such as the tissues that hold in our organs or blood and conduct our neurotransmitter activity. None of that is structure. When I read Hubel and Wiesel's work, it changed me. Neurons do not want to die either.
It remains a big problem in prosthetics (and robotics) to make the entire structure feel, like we do. Part of the dilemma, is that if it doesn't hurt our limb more than it hurts our brain, our brain will go ahead and hurt the limb (it's very selfish). Living things are not like that. We aren't separable from our structure like robot minds are. Every single cell is alive. More crucially, every single cell *cares* whether it lives or dies. Program code cannot do this, because if I have to check how I feel on every cycle, I can't get anything done. Yet all living things do it. And Life gets an awful lot done.
I even sat in on a neuronal dynamics course at edX (Lausanne is great), and the professor admitted that no mathematics could possibly achieve what life achieves in the same span of time. Yes, we can write equations that approximate it super well. But like he said, they aren't realistic, because nothing could solve them fast enough to do anything useful. Chance is faster. Heuristics is faster. Lived memory is faster. If any of your cellular makeup already knows the outcome, it is much faster to ask your body if it still hurts from last time, than to use a big brain to calculate it abstractly - yet we cannot survive things that hurt, in order to choose options that are more survivable. We really get just one chance.
The problem with intellectualizing life, is that we try to imagine life after injury or death. As a result, we care less and less about the living structures that keep us alive - because what we mainly care about is our mental story, not this colony of cells (or planet) which has been our physical companion lifelong.
Thanks for replying Brent - the buzzing in our heads is just a tiny part of all we are, I feel. When I stand on a mountain top and look out on the still untrammeled world, my entire being seems to be involved in contemplation, even if all I do is tremble in every cell.
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