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Illustrating (Information) Pathways

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I don't have a degree.  I just brainstormed this privately..  Previous brainstorming was locked:   (UbuntuForums, Smart Videogames)  Page three was interesting.  https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2424256&page=3

Summary:  There may be shared mechanical properties of biological pathways and other "pathways" such as my "informational pathways."  Their apprehension might be more convenient with certain visualizations.  Information flow innovations might protect humanity's social progress.  Start graphing information flow!


One day, I was imagining possible biological pathways for certain hormones, and I found that certain visualizations profoundly accelerated my thought process.  More recently, I was groggy from doxylamine succinate sleep-aid and I noticed mathematical memory lapses.  Trying to multiply through numerical decomposition (base-ten separation, separate multiplication, then addition), I found myself forgetting the numbers that would have to be summed.  I think, in the biological case, this is the function that my visualizations had served, the function of an interface.  In the biological case, the visualized interface stored the hypothetical changes to biochemical quantities, which might have made it easier to simultaneously contemplate different possible pathways without forgetting my previous thinking.  I think memory is part symbolization and part inference, and the symbols can serve as "anchors" of sorts.  We use inference to again arrive at the meaning of an old symbol, and the match-up between symbol and meaning provides confirmation that memory has succeeded.  In a similar way, these visualizations of changes to biological pathways might have served to anchor thought.  The discrete/continuous distinction might be important here.  I have been thinking that language disposes us toward categorical thinking, and without a good way to accommodate continuous variations or fuzzy set memberships.  Perhaps these sorts of continuous variations, e.g. molecular composition of cellular fluids, are more easily to represent visually.  Before I was fascinated by the possibility of a visual "language", but how this could become an alternative language is not yet apparent.

What other problems could benefit from similar visualizations?  I started working this out on UF, and since I realized the most interesting possibility, which is information flow, which I will get to later. 


With this new problem, I knew I would need time to find intersecting ideas. An important intersection might be "the trial" or "the experiment." I cannot see a difference except that "trials" are normatively described as "succeeding" or "failing", although this same normative terminology is in the binomial probability theorem. As humans, our means are usually some application of a practiced (or shaped) behavior or a conceptually guided combination of various practiced behaviors, and our ends are usually some lasting state of affairs called a "success." However, ends can be means to other ends and, at the end of the day, one's ends can be anything, including more knowledge or more practice. If an experiment is a trial, its success state is the acquisition of new knowledge within the experimenter's own mind.

In the case of evolution, each organism is like an experiment, in the broader context, or a trial, in the narrower context of that organism's own subjective success through its own trying/trialing... try-aling? Then again, "experiment" might still imply an active goal whereas "case" is a more passive term. In any case, the "trials" don't need to be conducted consciously. In the brain, a kind of individualized natural selection occurs through the process of neuronal death, but our biological pathways also utilize feedback mechanisms that establish a sort of trial. Cellular metabolism and cell signaling consist of many intertwined cause-and-effect interactions that are called biological pathways, and negative feedback isn't entirely unlike the perceptual feedback utilized by a thinking/perceiving organism. If an axis like the HPA or the RAAS is working properly, a downstream effect will trigger a down-regulation of some precursor to prevent a run-a-way process. It's like the body's saying, "It worked, you can stop now." Thus, in this sense, even non-conscious organisms can be said to have "goals" that succeed or fail or that are aligned or misaligned with a broader goal. This broader goal would be homeostatic maintenance of the organism itself, but, in the specifically human case,: sometimes we humans create self-fulfilling prophecies, perceiving our subjective success as a perceptible outcome that is actually objectively a failure in the sense that the intermediary result doesn't actually bring one closer to the ultimate goal. Social psychologists talk about the fundamental attribution error or self-fulfilling prophecies, but I think these are describing the very simple cognitive process of determining causation, determining the existence or non-existence of and the nature of the causative relationship between a person and a behavior or the perceptible result of some behavior.


Information flow might be comparable to the binding of biologically active molecules to receptor sites within biological pathways.  The potential to bind is the "affinity", but the binding of ideas might be described as "subjective utility", or something like that.  Perhaps scientists might be able to quantify and map the flow of specialized knowledge or discoveries.  In any case,

Although an understanding of language might only result in censorship or algorithmically driven surveillance, information flow could potentially be important to social progress. (Moreover, like ages past, such generalizable concepts might empower the ordinary citizen more than anyone else.)  Social progress began with our use of shared information, but now the information is too much for any individual to handle.  Meanwhile, we have other examples of what happens when more and more people are confined to a small land mass, and they include Israel, India, and the Philippines, although these people probably aren't intentionally congregating in one place like many urbanites.  Although US cities and suburban neighborhoods are left-wing strong-holds, those three countries do not show the same trendwhatever you might think of the trends they do show.  It is my opinion that these unexpected developments only intensify our need to understand how information hasand will continue toproduce social progress.

I have become guarded with the ideas I produce, but I will probably return to this IMO exciting topic.  Be sure that I will be reading any contributions.

P.S. Feel free to share what I was PMing if you liked it.

Until now, I was PMing my brainstorming to unwitting SFN users.  :D

Edited by MonDie

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That was a rushed post, but this will be more careful.  BTW, I have been reflecting on human communication for some months now, so following my links will give a pretty good overview of what topics can be contemplated through mere reflection alone.  I don't know which science requires sitting around and thinking about one's own thinking.

I have begun imagining what the information flow between scientists might look like and what its short-comings might be.  It revolves around individual observations (1), individual experimental designs (2), individual searching and collective sharing (3), and individual or collective "dark spots." (3)  Firstly, I've had this idea that we expand language to accommodate new observations that arise from the exploration of new aspects of our reality.  That is, language is like words on a map, and the vocabulary expands when a part of the map is illuminated.  Each scientist illuminates his respective portion of the scientific map.  Secondly, each scientist uses his or her (but not anybody else's) observations to formulate hypotheses, and the scientist designs the experimental testing of the hypotheses.  However, thirdly, scientific discussions probably tend to be driven by the individual's searching rather than the collective sharing, and the search probably tends to pertain to the design of experiments and not the design of hypotheses.  I explain, in my Ubuntuforums quote of myself, how we are driven to generate means toward ends in such a way that our understanding of "success" is limited by our definition of our own ends.  In science, the scientist does not know what he does not know, so his current hypothesis is probably what anchors his success and his interdisciplinary inquiries probably pertain to experimental design and not hypothesis design.  Fourthly and finally, each scientist has a dark region that will include whatever observations he has not made and whatever he does not learn through inquiries about his experimental design.  In general, the scientist should only observe what is not present if it is something that was present in other observed cases, but yet unclear might be how this could illuminate the observe-able cases that have not been observed, and not merely the missing or present features of a case that allow comparisons between observed cases.  Such a mechanism would explain how an individual illuminates his own dark areas, but these dark areas might also be illuminated interpersonally.  However, this might be limited by two things.  (A) The scientists might have a tendency to search for information rather than to share information, and those scientists might actually be more personally successful.  (B) Ideally, if the "map" is dark in some region, a new specialized field ideally should appear to fill the void, but this may or may not happen.

If I were to draw an analogy to biological pathways, I might choose a biofilm rather than a living organism because it might be a better reflection of the individualistic tendency to search rather than the collectivistic tendency to share.  Specialized cells release signaling molecules that binds to receptor sites, but this is probably more comparable to a person who shares the information with somebody who didn't know he needed it.  The receiving cell had the receptors, but he didn't know what should bind to them.  In a biofilm, the organisms are interdependent, but they are still members of separately evolving species.  This means that the pathway, rather than being branched for the sake of flexibility and adaptation to chaotic selection pressures, will probably be branched for the mere reason that it is a meandering pathway that is driven forward, from means to ends, by randomness instead of being driven backward, from ends to means, by selection pressures.  Anyway, I have to finish this post, but that is the jist of what I could come up with.  

October 4th, 10:42 AM CST

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