2008.07.09 01:00 - 150 Other Small People

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    I found Bertrum waiting in the pavilion, when I entered, at 1 am that night.

    Bertrum Quan: Hi Pema.
    Pema Pera: Hi Bertrum!
    Bertrum Quan: How did your visit with friends go?
    Pema Pera: Oh, colleagues, yes, and friends too — in fact, most of my astronomy colleagues are friends as well.
    Pema Pera: That’s one of the nice things about astronomy — it mostly attracts people who have a hobby-like interest in what they are doing — and still get paid for doing so :-)
    Pema Pera: I am here in Tokyo in RL for astronomy projects
    Pema Pera: so in between my SL sessions I actually do some work in RL that way :>)
    Bertrum Quan: When do return to the US?
    Bertrum Quan: you return
    Pema Pera: in 12 days
    Bertrum Quan: That will certainly change your schedule!
    Pema Pera: yeah, will be nice ! !
    Pema Pera: now I have two drawbacks
    Pema Pera: in the evening, after dinner and drinks, I have to go back in-world
    Pema Pera: both for PaB and for MICA, my astro organization, most evenings . . . .
    Pema Pera: . . . and in the morning I have 100 emails waiting for me — and if I don’t answer the most important ones right away I have to wait a day, since everyone else is about to go to bed
    Pema Pera: Normally I prefer to do my more creative work in the morning
    Pema Pera: and postpone my email till the afternoon
    Pema Pera: but hard to do that here in Japan.
    Pema Pera: oh well, such is (second) life :)
    Bertrum Quan: Yes indeed.
    Pema Pera: From here I’ll fly to Berkeley
    Pema Pera: so then everything will be early in the morning again instead of late at night
    Pema Pera: much better for me
    Pema Pera: I’ll be working with Stim for a few weeks
    Pema Pera: in Berkeley
    Pema Pera: We meet three or four times a year
    Pema Pera: for three weeks each
    Pema Pera: for the last six years
    Bertrum Quan: Then on to New Jersey?
    Pema Pera: yeah, for three weeks
    Pema Pera: and then “back” to Japan :)

    Fael walks in.

    Fael Illyar: Hi Pema, Bert
    Pema Pera: for a month
    Pema Pera: Hi Fael!
    Bertrum Quan: Hi Fael!
    Pema Pera: Thank you so much, Fael, for taking the lead in sorting out the wiki ! ! !
    Fael Illyar: Well, someone had to :)
    Pema Pera: :)
    Bertrum Quan: How about a followup to one of your comments at the 7PM session
    Pema Pera: Six hours ago we had a meeting in which Adams said she seemed to disagree with you, Fael, about Being :-)
    Pema Pera: then she was there and not you, and now you and not her . . .
    Pema Pera: and I haven’t read the previous session in which you and she talked
    Faenik: why not?

    Oh, Faenik ! !

    Fael Illyar: Yes, I talked with her about it around 12 hours ago
    Pema Pera: yes, wanted to read it but didn’t get around to it yet — sorry
    Pema Pera: can you tell us the gist?
    Fael Illyar: no-one else was there actually :P
    Pema Pera: often smaller groups seem to give Being more of a chance to be talked about :>)
    Fael Illyar: haha :)
    Fael Illyar: but gist …
    Faenik: indeed?
    Fael Illyar: Well, Adams is thinking of Being as something greater than us which kind of goes against what I’ve heard so far.
    Fael Illyar: Although, not entirely wrong I guess.
    Pema Pera: On the one hand Being is beyond words and concepts — yet it is accessible but in a very different way than we normally think, and then it does feel like far greater than the “I” that I normally think I am, the “you” that you normally think you are . . . . .
    Pema Pera: so “greater” is one in-road in exploring
    Pema Pera: “the I that I really am” is another
    Pema Pera: “beyond all and everything” is another
    Pema Pera: beyond polarities like “bigger and smaller” is another
    Faenik: なるほど^^

    Faenik got it: “なるほど” or “naruhodo” is hard to translate, but Fael once described it as “now I see,” which is the best short attempt I’ve seen so far — it applies to when you realize something of which you then realize at the same moment that you could/should have realized before, and all that in one word :-). Japanese is full of those pithy expressions, and of course other languages have rich words too — think about translating “cool” into another language . . .

    Fael Illyar: wouldn’t the other side of the issue go like “It’s not possible to tell where I end and Being begins”?
    Pema Pera: Yes. Being is unlimited. So *if* you consider yourself as limited *then* Being is certainly bigger than you :-)
    Pema Pera: But if you see you and everything as directly given *as* (not by) Being, then you can’t say that Being is bigger than you

    I hinted at Being not being a kind of “creator”: as, not by; I would get back to that in a later session, talking with Adams, one day and six hours later.

    Pema Pera: But it is far from easy to honestly be able to say/see that second option
    Fael Illyar: oh, about the domain name. I found instructions.
    Pema Pera: ah, great!
    Fael Illyar: If you read my message, I guessed it right. Well, except for the control panel getting something to set the domain name with. That will need to be done with email to Mindtouch support.
    Fael Illyar: Kat has a nameserver, right? We can use that. It just needs to point to
    Pema Pera: okay, I’ll send an email to her and you to sort it out
    Pema Pera: it was funny
    Pema Pera: after I talked about two ways of seeing Being
    Pema Pera: you answered talking about domain names
    Pema Pera: I first thought that was an apt way of describing the difference
    Pema Pera: between seeing Being as bigger or not bigger than you
    Pema Pera: :)
    Pema Pera: name spaces
    Fael Illyar: domain name? :P
    Pema Pera: Fael.Being
    Pema Pera: Bertrum.Being
    Pema Pera: Pema.Being
    Pema Pera: But then Being.Being
    Faenik: indeed?
    Bertrum Quan: That’s the macro address
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Bertrum Quan: It strikes me there is some comfort in the way you choose to view this…
    Pema Pera: in what way, Bert?
    Bertrum Quan: To play with words: Where is the “we” in “I am?”

    Play as Being, we never seem to forget Play for very long, whenever we talk about Being!

    Pema Pera: it would be wonderful to go from words to mathematical structures, more freedom that way . .. . and just possibly more precision.
    Pema Pera: like beyond regular sets, to allow a universal set without paradoxes, something more dynamic like perhaps category theory, many possibilities . . .
    Fael Illyar: Pema, it looks like we’ll be able to use Google analytics for tracking wiki usage if we want to.
    Pema Pera: oh, great!
    Fael Illyar: once we get the custom html ability
    Pema Pera: wonderful
    Pema Pera: that will be nice
    Pema Pera: I especially like to know when we get spikes of attention which URLs the clicks come from, which redirection
    Fael Illyar: or anything else designed for that :)

    I or we?

    Pema Pera: Bertrum, can you say a bit more about
    Pema Pera:
    Bertrum Quan: Fael has been giving some of the logistics of PlayasBeing. Very specific details. There are as much a part of Playas Beings and the VERY large and abstract ideas about recognizing Being. Micro.Macro.
    Fael Illyar: You mean you haven’t noticed the 150 other small people running around in your head ?)
    Faenik is a hairy black ball with eyes and ears.
    Bertrum Quan: They are
    Fael Illyar is referring to some scientific research that found that we can have mental models of around 150 people that quite accurately predict what they will do.
    Bertrum Quan: There is only one person that houses that brain running this laptop. But what about all of thoses cells inside that brain. 1 person and many cells,.
    Fael Illyar: As such, are we really individuals or are we actually comprised of those 150 mental models of others (who would of course be similarly comprised)
    Bertrum Quan: I think we are individual humans. We share values sometimes.
    Bertrum Quan: Trying to come to terms with BEING… well there can be many reasons to think about that…
    Fael Illyar: Whether we see ourselves as individuals (ego) or Being, I don’t think it really changes that it’s actually “we” instead of “I”.
    Bertrum Quan: Yes.
    Fael Illyar: “ego” seems to me to be the sum of other people you know and have known.
    Pema Pera: in what way a “sum”?
    Fael Illyar: sum here to just put in something that can combine the others. Too simplistic to take literally.
    Fael Illyar: I’d say “function of other people” but that’s less likely to make sense to people :)
    Pema Pera: like co-dependent arising in Buddhism?
    Fael Illyar: I’m not familiar with that concept
    Pema Pera: or in Hinduism Indra’s net
    Pema Pera: in both cases pointers to how everything is connected with everything
    Pema Pera: In Buddhism more analytic, with the Hinuism picture more poetic
    Pema Pera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependent_arising
    Fael Illyar: Whatever level you’re looking at things, everything is connected :P
    Bertrum Quan: In both cases metaphors
    Pema Pera: would be a starting point for codependent arising
    Faenik: ah :)
    Bertrum Quan: A bit too technical for me…
    Pema Pera: sorry :)
    Pema Pera: but sum seems a bit too little . . . .
    Pema Pera: though I of course do get a sense of what Fael is pointing to
    Bertrum Quan: Do you agree that these are metaphors?
    Pema Pera: Ah, the wikipedia article has Indra’s net right at the start — didn’t realize that ; so the one URL helps for both :>)
    Fael Illyar: just read it as a function instead of sum. :)
    Pema Pera: okay yes, that helps me more
    Pema Pera: Indra’s net is a metaphor, yes

    I chose the concrete example of a lamp, and we went from chain to tree.

    Pema Pera: codependent arising is more like a description or analysis attempt
    Pema Pera: it can help us understand causality
    Pema Pera: like in asking “why does a lamp give off light”
    Pema Pera: and there are so many answers
    Pema Pera: because you switched it on
    Pema Pera: because there is a light bulb
    Pema Pera: because someone paid the electricity bill
    Pema Pera: because someone put in electric wiring in the house
    Fael Illyar: Yes, there is this chain of events of which if you remove a single one, the lamp wouldn’t give off light :)
    Pema Pera: and you can go in with thousands of answers
    Pema Pera: if one single factor would not be there, the light would not burn
    Fael Illyar: oh wait, not chain, tree
    Pema Pera: hehe, Fael
    Pema Pera: we think alike sometimes :)
    Bertrum Quan: Now we’re discussing complexity theory…
    Pema Pera: not quite a tree, in the sense that you can leave out a branch there
    Pema Pera: not quite a chain either, I agree
    Bertrum Quan: deifinity complexity theory.
    Pema Pera: hmmm, how about a flow as through a tree, of inhibitor factors ; if one factor reaches the endpoint (root) then no light?
    Pema Pera: inhibitors can come from many branches
    Pema Pera: Fael, are you happy with that combination of chain and tree?
    Pema Pera: Sorry, Bert, did not want to stop you!
    Pema Pera: (sometimes hard to know who is typing, sometimes typing motions are generated automatically)
    Fael Illyar: well, chain in that if you remove one link, it’s broken and tree in that there are multiple links.
    Pema Pera: so how about inhibitor flow, to make a single model of both? Or do you have another suggestion?
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Fael Illyar: No, I lack knowledge of names for more specific models :)
    Pema Pera: concretely, here is a model:
    Pema Pera: a tree like arrangement of water channels
    Pema Pera: like the delta of a river, but with the leaves higher than the root
    Pema Pera: and a candle at the end, just under the root
    Pema Pera: now if just one of the “leaves” of the “tree” of channels
    Pema Pera: carries water
    Pema Pera: the water will extinguish the candle
    Pema Pera: so each leaf can break the “chain” while the overall form is that of a “tree”

    Fael and I played a bit further with these tree like ideas.

    Fael Illyar: that’s the opposite of what I was thinking pretty much :)
    Pema Pera: opposite in what way?
    Fael Illyar: well, this one works if you assume no water means link and water means broken link
    Pema Pera: yes
    Fael Illyar: I was trying to think about it the other way around
    Pema Pera: Can you think of a similarly concrete model there?
    Fael Illyar: Only if there is some structure that only lets flow forward if it’s coming from all leaves
    Faenik is a hairy black ball with eyes and ears.
    Pema Pera: how about simply pieces in a puzzle?
    Pema Pera: they don’t form a chain
    Pema Pera: yet if one is missing the picture isn’t complete
    Fael Illyar: ah, yes, there isn’t any guarantees that the “leaves” won’t be linked :)
    Fael Illyar: yes, puzzle works better
    Pema Pera: And if you want to make a mechanical model
    Pema Pera: let the puzzle form an umbrella
    Fael Illyar: Although with less clarity on the mechanism
    Pema Pera: with water leaking through if just one piece is missing :)
    Pema Pera: so dryness is like the lamp burning
    Pema Pera: It may seem like we’re just toying around like nerds or engineering students, but in fact, it may be that this kind of brainstorming may lead us to a new type of mathematics — Bert mentioned complexity theory, which is a rather general term and not very well defined; perhaps we can come up with more specific and maybe even new ideas?
    Fael Illyar: Could be :)
    Pema Pera: naruhodo
    Fael Illyar is feeling like Faenik now.
    Pema Pera: なるほど^^
    Bertrum Quan: Engineering, however, is not well suited to explain BEING.
    Pema Pera: well, any pointer may work . . . . not to construct, though, I agree
    Fael Illyar: Mathematics could be… perhaps.
    Pema Pera: It is absolutely wonderful and stunning that the most basic part of math, its current foundation, set theory, has run into the paradox of Being
    Pema Pera: The paradox of the lack of a Universal Set
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Fael Illyar: set of all sets?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Bertrum Quan: We’re not getting closer to “knowing” it however.
    Pema Pera: perhaps we do
    Pema Pera: in the relative sense
    Pema Pera: not the absolute sense for sure
    Pema Pera: Absolutely speaking, “we” already know
    Pema Pera: but relatively speaking we think we need pointers
    Pema Pera: and math may be a particularly pure pointer
    Pema Pera: like a surgeon’s knife

    Fael describes how math for him was a hook into reality research.

    Fael Illyar: I mean, I think mathematics is what initially got me close to realizing there being somehing wrong with the idea of self.
    Pema Pera: can you say more, Fael?
    Fael Illyar: I already talked about it in another meeting but let’s repeat :)
    Fael Illyar: If we can hold that all numbers exist as in there is always a number that’s one bigger.
    Faenik: could be
    Fael Illyar: and things can be defined with these numbers. Then don’t those things exist on some level?
    Fael Illyar: and if everything can be defined by a number, then everything exists
    Pema Pera: yes, I remember reading that, very nice! — and repeating seems to be the name of the game here in PaB :-)
    Pema Pera: To turn it the other way around, perhaps: in physics everything is described as forms of information
    Pema Pera: You start with the everyday sense that there are different substances
    Fael Illyar: anyway, when I applied this to self. As in there being a number definining you.
    Fael Illyar: it’s easy to see there would be numbers defining also slightly different yous
    Fael Illyar: also future yous and past yous
    Pema Pera: but physics tells you that on one level, there are only protons, electrons, neutrons, and all the differences between different chemical elements are differences in CONFIGURATION of those building blocks not differences in STUFF — so the properties of different chemical elements are a matter of SPACE, distances and angles, isn’t that amazing?
    Pema Pera: and the in quantum mechanics it even becomes more information and less “stuff” and “substance”
    Pema Pera: so the question then is “where is the EXISTENCE in the information?”
    Pema Pera: sorry, Fael, didn’t mean to interfere with your story :)
    Pema Pera: but when matter can be mapped into numbers
    Fael Illyar: Well, it was sort of complementary :)
    Pema Pera: then when you map back, what about the existence ?
    Pema Pera: How do you see that?
    Pema Pera: existence of self(s) and others?
    Bertrum Quan: But does any of this xplain the mind? and the metaphor of the human heart?
    Bertrum Quan: explain
    Fael Illyar: does it need explaining?
    Faenik is a hairy black ball with eyes and ears.
    Bertrum Quan: For me, that is also BEING.

    I made an attempt at summing up.

    Pema Pera: May I attempt to sum up the questions ?
    Pema Pera: 1) matter mapped into numbers, information — but does information in turn guarantee existence, core property of real matter?
    Pema Pera: 2) what about mind / heart? Can that be treated similarly as matter or is it totally different?
    Pema Pera: 1) is my question, 2) Bertrum’s question — or at least that’s how I understand it
    Fael Illyar: 1) for the time being, I lack anything else that I could imagine could guarantee existence.
    Pema Pera: but existence is different from information, yes?
    Fael Illyar: Why?
    Fael Illyar: How do you know?
    Pema Pera: a music tape is different from music being actually played
    Pema Pera: a math book sitting on a shelf different from a book being read and understood
    Pema Pera: a picture of a brick different from a brick
    Fael Illyar: that’s just information transforming into different forms.
    Pema Pera: transforming . . . coming into existence?
    Fael Illyar: or to put it in another way, mixed in with other irrelevant information
    Pema Pera: existence in “here and now”
    Fael Illyar: also could considered information multiplying itself
    Pema Pera: you can write down all the information inherent in “a electron” — but then there is “the electron” the one right here
    Pema Pera: what’s the difference?
    Pema Pera: concrete vs. univeral — existence vs. information
    Pema Pera: these are enormous puzzles I feel
    Fael Illyar: writing down the information just stores it in a less efficient way.
    Fael Illyar: with more redundancy
    Faenik: なるほど^^
    Bertrum Quan: a unfied Being theory?
    Bertrum Quan: unified
    Fael Illyar: and very likely less complete

    I have long been struggling with the tension between specific and general.

    Pema Pera: Let me try a metaphor. I feel like I am a tourist in this world with the wrong guide book, like going to Germany having a French guidebook . . . . I use words that all point to universals, but I only meet concrete specific instances!
    Pema Pera: I see a fork, and say that is a fork — but I have never seen that specific fork in that specific way
    Pema Pera: yet there is a connection, very mysteriously so
    Pema Pera: we are used to it
    Fael Illyar: I’m speaking with the underlying assumption that everything is information.
    Pema Pera: and think it is “just” as it is
    Fael Illyar: there is nothing else.
    Pema Pera: but I think it is totally amazing
    Fael Illyar: sort of like the diamonds that reflect eah other in this indra’s net.
    Pema Pera: yes, but they are all diamonds, on the same level
    Pema Pera: concrete and universal — “the” and “a” seem to live in different universes . . . . .
    Fael Illyar: this universal is “meta”-information of concrete-information
    Faenik loves wells!
    Fael Illyar: you can use it to recognise collections of concrete information that are alike.
    Pema Pera: anyway, for me this is one inroad into wondering about the limitations of our usual way of understanding reality . . . suggestion that the paradox that Being seems to pose is not Being’s fault, but stemming from the fact that our normal way of talking is already totally paradoxical — we just are used to it and don’t question it
    Pema Pera: Yes, but what is this “meta” step?
    Fael Illyar: information about information
    Pema Pera: We use it, and assume that we understand it, because it works
    Pema Pera: but existence is not information
    Fael Illyar: I’m saying it is :)

    Fael and I seemed to have found a real disagreement, for once! Worth looking into further.

    Pema Pera: to go from the concrete presence of a thing to a description of it seems to make a jump
    Fael Illyar: What makes a concrete thing different from the description of that thing?
    Pema Pera: well, if I drop a stone on your foot . . . :)
    Pema Pera: (of course in second life it is information :)
    Fael Illyar: Yes, I will feel it.
    Fael Illyar: where as with description you can’t do that.
    Fael Illyar: what I’m trying to say is that the only difference is how the information is presented.
    Pema Pera: Okay, let me see how far I can go along with your way of looking at information
    Pema Pera: Still, there is a big difference between the information presented on a map
    Pema Pera: and the information presented by the arrow “you are here”
    Pema Pera: qualitatively different
    Pema Pera: The arrow has an existence flavor
    Pema Pera: the map has a very different flavor, also existence of the whole region
    Faenik loves wells!
    Pema Pera: but not here and now you looking at the map
    Fael Illyar: Of course, there are differences in the completeness of the information.
    Fael Illyar: the map is a very minimal subset of the information of the region it describes.
    Pema Pera: Or if I pick up a physics book, there is plenty of information about how objects move — but not a single word about a specific object
    Pema Pera: it is the difference between “a” and “the” that I think is qualitative.
    Pema Pera: But I guess it’s getting too late now to try to come to agreement here . . . :>)
    Pema Pera: perhaps we can continue some other day if we like
    Fael Illyar: Yes, we’ll have to continue this in another meeting :)
    Pema Pera: Bertrum, unified Being is a fun expression
    Pema Pera: given that Being is already the most unified and also ununifiable :-)
    Faenik: ah :)
    Pema Pera: Faenik grokked it!

    Bertrum added a word of caution.

    Bertrum Quan: I will end with a caution from my perspective: science cannot explain being. .
    Bertrum Quan: At a certain point, whichever way you choose to address it, you will taking a leap of faith.
    Bertrum Quan: be taking
    Fael Illyar: Yes, in my case it’s information -> existence
    Bertrum Quan: Then it might become a question of definition.
    Fael Illyar: or perhaps information = existence
    Pema Pera: “explaining” is like “causing” as in “why does the lamp shine” — there are so many different valid (partial) stories and none of them capture the whole schlebang
    Bertrum Quan: Whew!
    Pema Pera: hehehe
    Pema Pera: time for dinner and a beer!
    Pema Pera: (for me at least)
    Fael Illyar: Have fun :)
    Fael Illyar: See you later :)
    Bertrum Quan: Thanks for all the energy you both put into this discussion!
    Bertrum Quan: It’s late for me… talk to you both soon.
    Pema Pera: yes, c u !
    Pema Pera: sorry, had to pay the bill here
    Pema Pera: in the coffee shop
    Pema Pera: another form of information
    Pema Pera: money
    Fael Illyar: :)
    Pema Pera: very abstract form of possesion!
    Pema Pera: good talking with you again, take care!
    Fael Illyar: You too :)

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