The box

What is important to understand about the famous box that people think within and how to go outside of it.

First it is important to understand that the box is a hierarchical structure that is made through conventional wisdom and norms within a culture. What we believe to be correct at this point in time.

Most people carry an abstract representation of the box with them and it shapes their thinking to some degree.

A high dimensional representation of this box can be really useful which would be equivalent to knowing all the norms and rules within a society (think of a lawyer).

Thinking outside of this box could also be quite useful, because your ideas wouldn’t be hindered by previous knowledge (think of an artist).

So the million dollar question would be. Can’t we find a way to combine them?

I think the understanding that the entire thing is an abstract representation that you can use to compute things that are, at times, really useful and sometimes, not helpful at all might be a first step towards integrating these things.

The box is useful for fitting into organisations, incrementally improving and adopting a low risk strategy for life.

The box is awful for finding new knowledge and innovation because the area within the box is extremely well managed so it is much more likely that new innovations will come from what lies outside of the things we know.

So I think the best way to do it would be to find ways to integrate these ideas in your head.

Understanding that the world consists of hierarchical structures with rules that are made up but might be costly to break. It isn’t that any thing is good or bad, it’s more that it carries risk. Without any risk your life will be boring but safe and you will accomplish nothing and then die, with too much risk you will die or fail in a way that you will struggle to recover from. With just enough risk you will strive, partly because it will sharpen your senses but also because from a mathematical standpoint it is the most viable strategy.

How do we train the world simulator?

Listening to Yann LeCun. 
The biggest problem in AI today is how do we train the world simulator.
The world simulator Yann LeCun is referring to is the model of the world inside your mind that you use to make predictions. You also have a model of yourself and people and other abstractions, my favorite being your own models of your own computational models and rules you make for computations inside your mind. 
The trillion dollar question is, how do we best train these models?
This is such an interesting problem that I wanna spend a significant amount of time thinking about how we can solve it.
How do you train your model of the world?
A relevant question in life is, how do you best train these models? Meaning how can you optimise your learning and understanding of life?
This is a really interesting problem both for developing artificial intelligence and living your life in a good way.
You have absolute control of shaping your reality
What you decide the world to be shapes how you act in the world and you seem to have absolute control over shaping this abstraction of the world and the abstraction of your self.
Most people doesn’t seem to get this, which I find strange.
It is probably because their abstractions of the world are so closely tied to their self inside their mind that they can’t understand that they use abstractions when they think. I think that is kinda weird.
It is like a person arguing that you are something, because they want you to fit in a box in their mind. For me that is strange, because it is obvious that the box they want to put you in is an abstractions that removes variance. Because every person is actually unique and hard to pin down with simple categories.
The stimuli you experience is what shapes your view of the world but being a sentient being you have the power to shape that stimuli to be whatever you want.
So what should your world be?
I would argue that your world should be a place that you think is fairly good containing the highest amount of entropy (amount of disorder) you can handle without putting your life in danger or putting your mind in danger (through spending time with people who are too unstable).
Your task in life in life is to bring order out of chaos, and the best way to learn that is to put yourself in a position with high disorder and bring order in that environment.
A highly entropic experience is both work in emergency room, travelling the world and having a baby.
Stimuli and especially stimuli that is varied makes your brain compute more, and the more you compute, the more you learn (on average).
So telling you to find more entropy is the same as telling you, pick up the heaviest rock you can carry and carry it for the rest of your life. Meaning, try to do the hardest, most meaningful thing you can with your life.
Link to the video.

The math of the mind

I like math. It’s logical and fun.
You can make some fun calculations about people using math.
For instance, how ignorant a person is can be determined by a simple function using a couple of variables.
W = The perfect image of the world and all the information in it
S = The size of your own world
K = How much you know about the world
K / S
The size of your knowledge about the world divided by the size of your own world gives you the percentage of how much you think you know about the world.
However for many people this calculation gives you a false sense of knowledge, because I’m guessing you haven’t taken a diligent walk on the wild side to try to disprove your own theories of the world. Instead you have pushed your own hypothesises to fit the data and in sense ignored reality. Anything you couldn’t fit in has been simply discarded, some people are bad or crazy, people are throw your up hands up in the air confusing.
The percentage of people you need to discard in your model is how wrong you are. The less people you need to discard, the better your model is (for understanding humans).
How do you know you are wrong? You know it every time you have a conversation with another human being. If you can’t see their perspective you probably need to gain more knowledge about the world. The better your conversation are, the closer you are to understanding how people. If you have the experience that when you meet a stranger you understand them truly and completely you might be on to something.
Of course the actual computation of your knowledge is.
K / W
Compared to this we all know very little. However understanding that you know nothing is a good step toward knowledge because it’s an understanding of a rose is a rose is a rose.
It’s good to understand that understanding that you know nothing isn’t a metaphor. It’s an actual state of mind where you have explored the world enough to come back to the same place in your mind and seeing it through a different light.
This is likely true because the mind uses math to make computations so with little knowledge or with a vast array of knowledge the same underlying computation will still be true. It’s just that the array of knowledge you use for the computation is larger.
This is why it’s so frustrating to transfer knowledge sometimes. Because if you know almost nothing about a topic or have worked in it for years (I’ve spent a decade thinking and working in psychology) the same fundamental truths will be true.
The only difference is that you have an incredibly large amount of underlying layers of knowledge that helps to reach the same conclusion.
So here’s the advice.
Stop using people to feel good about yourself by making them into something they are not within your own mind. Stop categorising them into neat boxes so you can feel good about yourself. Try instead to understand them and actually listen to what they have to tell you.
A real meeting with another human being is one of the greatest things you can experience. If you let go of your own bias you will gain the ability to experience that. It will transform your life.

Self organized crititically

The idea of self-organized criticality in the brain is a powerful idea that is intuitive and can help explain many phenomenon within the brain.

Basically the idea says that the brain is balancing on a critical point between order and disorder and operates both randomly and organised.

In this view you can think of your consciousness as the the system that helps keep that balance. You get to decide the level of disorder, or entropy within your system and the goal of life is to have just the right amount of entropy.

However, something that isn’t thought of inside the model is the idea that human beings have access to unlimited amounts of nutrients while being evolutionary hardwired to believe we live in a world of sparse access to resources.

This means that by optimising the levels of the simple things we need to sustain ourself, water, food, sleep, physical exercise, human contact and information we could most likely make our brain function much better.

Add to this an interesting idea from the entropic brain theory, that the brain is actually performing on a sub-critical level (and thus is too orderly) it is likely true that to improve human functioning we most likely need to increase the entropy within the system.

You are most likely reading this on a device comfortable in a safe space, but at the same time you are a descendent of the first humans who ever lived who survived unimaginable hardship to get here. Your ancestors have survived famine, plagues, starvation and unimaginable physical hardship to make your genes carry across the eons so that you are here today.

This means that you also have the power to survive a harsher life than the one you are living right now, and by doing so you will improve the functioning of your brain.

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Conscious and unconscious memory

Memory is fun to think about.
A new study from MIT that came out today shows that when we recall a memory our brain first makes a detour inside the hippocampus.
This shows that storage and retrieval systems inside the brain are separated.
There are two reasons for this proposed by the researchers.
That the subiculum-containing detour loop is dedicated to meet the requirements associated with recall such as rapid memory updating and retrieval-driven instinctive fear responses.
In more plain language, to update memories when we remember them, and secondly to change the overall brain state based on the content of the memory.
The second paper linked is also incredibly interesting. It is a paper that came out a few months ago that shows that memory formation is actually made in two different places, in the hippocampus and in long-term storage locations within the brains neocortex.
Over the next two weeks, the silent memory cells in the prefrontal cortex gradually matured, as reflected by changes in their anatomy and physiological activity, until the cells became necessary for the animals to naturally recall the event. By the end of the same period, the hippocampal engram cells became silent and were no longer needed for natural recall.
In the basolateral amygdala, once memories were formed, the engram cells remained unchanged throughout the course of the experiment. Those cells, which are necessary to evoke the emotions linked with particular memories, communicate with engram cells in both the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.
I would speculate that the fact that memories are formed within the neocortex simultaneously as storage within the hippocampus is proof that we have a strong ability to influence memory formation consciously since the neocortex is the most advanced brain region which is linked to conscious awareness.
At the same time the hippocampal retrieval system shows that there is a secondary pathway for memory retrieval that is more unconscious that is specially related to emotion.
Meaning, we have the ability to control memory formation fairly well but we are at the brains mercy when it comes to recall.
Once a memory is stored it is retrieved through emotion or conscious thought.
I think this makes intuitive sense. I experience something and can over time strengthen or weaken that memory through recall. However once the memory is formed it is more complicated to remove it especially the emotional part of the memory that is stored within the engram cells of the hippocampus.