By Michael Godfrey Bell, 2015
To read Agent Human on-line, just click here.
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A fictional account, set in 2130, of what life might be like in cyberspace, based on the ideas of Agent Human. Eight young people challenge the status quo by exploring group consciousness, something forbidden by the authorities, who try to 'wipe' them and destroy their legacy human bodies.
To read We, Immortals: The Future Of The Mind on-line, just click here.
To download a copy of We, Immortals: The Future Of The Mind, just click here.
The Collective Unconscious, Quantum Mechanics and PSI
Many current researchers into the inner and outer reaches of the human psyche do not attempt to construct an over-arching theory of the mind, and who can blame them, given the confusing mass of unexplained and contradictory data they face? Still, some people try, and a surprising number of them arrive at some type of 'field' theory, in which we, and all of our compeers, exist as islands in a pervasive sea which we but dimply experience.
This book attempts to record some of the more notable recent attempts at analysis of the mysteries that surround us, and reaches some tentative conclusions based on the inadequate evidence that exists so far. They are remarkable enough.
read it on-line, go to http://www.agenthuman.com/quantum/
Consciousness Is A Slave
Recent research at US universities has demonstrated that unconscious symbolic processing carried out in response to external stimuli can be reflected in conscious contents, despite a deliberate intention that the processing should not take place.
OK, let's put that into more understandable English: you decide not to respond to a stimulus, but your brain does so anyway, regardless, and pops the result into your conscious mind.
The team of researchers, led by Ezequiel Morsella at San Francisco State University, trained participants to carry out a particular type of word transformation, then re-presented the subjects with relevant words, asking them not to carry out the transformation. 43% of them reported that, nonetheless, the results of the transformation 'popped into their minds'.
The researchers make a crucial distinction between 'reflex' mental activity, which bypasses any type of intentional mental barrier on its way to the conscious (you stepped on a nail), or input occasioning processing in the frontal cortex, which was the case with these verbal transformations, and which some people might think could be inhibited by conscious intention.
We are on our own in trying to interpret this phenomenon, since few people pretend to understand the purpose of consciousness, let alone its mechanisms. But the first and most glaring conclusion we can reach is that the contents of consciousness are not under conscious control. That satisfactorily puts paid to 'dualistic' theories of mind, in which a controlling figure determines the contents of consciousness, and so on ad infinitum.
Read previous consciousness blogs:
Talking to yourself is not crazy, 30 November 2009
The future of human evolution, 05 December 2009
Testosterone, 15 December 2009
Self, 03 January 2010
Attention, 20 March 2010
Emotions, 01 May 2010
Face 16 May 2010
Trust 25 July 2010
Dancing 13 November 2011
Copying 20 May 2012
Altruism 15 July 2012
Brain Clone 10 March 2013
Decisions 30 March 2013
Only Connect 13 April 2013
Language 08 September 2013
Unconscious 19 October 2013
Booze 30 November 2013
Tether Hypothesis 12 January 2014
Spite 16 February 2014
Mating 08 June 2014
Brainy 22 August 2014
Fire 22 October 2014
Multibrains 12 July 2015
Disentangling Entanglement 15 September 2015
Free Will 9 January 2016
Faces 09 June 2016
Reflections 28 July 2016
Download a copy of The Futures Of The Human Race here.
But we knew that. We also think we know (at least, this writer does) that consciousness is a contrivance to allow humans (and perhaps some other advanced animals) to function effectively in a group social setting. If that is the case, then the contents of consciousness would reflect both the general needs of a social actor and the individual situation of a particular social actor, which latter could vary wildly across any given group of people. As an example of a general (or universal) need (at least as regards humans) we could instance the ability to recognize another individual and be aware of their characteristics. If you can't do that, you are seriously dysfunctional. As an example of a particular need, we could instance the ability to mobilize a wide and appropriate vocabulary, which would apply for instance among university English course students or stage actors, but would not be required, or even appropriate, among construction site workers, if that is not too dismissive of them. That type of thinking can help us to understand why one person might 'reflexively' make and become aware of word transformations, while another might not.
The authors of the San Francisco study do quite rightly conclude that their results support the idea of a non-autonomous consciousness. It does not generate its own contents (back to duality, if it did!). Consciousness is an expression of the unconscious. The authors are also correct in pointing out that introspection (subjects were asked to interpret their own mental state) is a flawed tool; but while it is seemingly very challenging to interrogate one's unconscious, there does not seem to be any such limitation on interrogating one consciousness, which is only too happy to answer, confabulating as necessary.