[FRIAM] Mirror Neurons & Intersubjective Reality

glen gepropella at gmail.com
Wed Nov 15 12:03:23 EST 2023

Thanks for the links to the predictive coding paper and the mirror mech survey. What continues to drive my skepticism, even for the weaker "mirror mechanism" hypothesis is stated well in a perspective on the recent brain cell atlas:

"There is no single prototypical human; a spectrum of differences in genetic variation and environmental response exists both in healthy individuals and in disease states." https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adk4857

This seems to be mirrored (no pun intended, but I have to admit I'm abusing the word) in fMRI results we're studying for chronic pain. There seems to be reliable and precise regularity between multiple fMRI results in any given individual, but wildly variant results across individuals. I'm not very close to the data, though. So it's hearsay. But if it holds, then what drives our fanatical motive to say things like this about, say, all humans? Or all primates? Etc. Maybe *you* have a mirror mechanism that helps you learn stuff. But maybe *I* do not? Or maybe some of our brains are simply very different from others of our brains.

And how big would the experimental trial have to be in order to establish "neurotypicality" beyond so-called common sense or heuristic guessing?

It's not unrelated to the argument about downward causation. Social context grooms us to adhere to various intersubjective patterns and the brain may be plastic enough to instantiate those patterns with a variety of different mechanisms. You only get hints at that vast "robustness" (same phenomenon, multiple generators) when you reach an edge case, a phenomenal quality that one machine can generate but another can't. Any 2 mechanisms (or brain wirings, or brain cell type population distributions) are merely similar, never identical. They simulate each other.

OCEAN is, I think, the most scientifically justified of the personality estimators; and it's not even *that* justified. But we often talk about some people being more open to new experiences and others being more focused on threat. E.g. if you're lucky enough to travel as a kid, you're more likely to be socially groomed to discover/engineer your brain wiring mechanism so that your machine *covers* more phenomena than would have been covered had you never traveled and sat comfy in your small world of limited grooming. The same might be said of, say, physicists vs. biologists. The biologist might (maybe) learn mechanisms that extend empathy to, say, bugs or fish or ... whatever, where the physicist may (maybe) learn mechanisms that extend empathy to machines, planets, galaxies, or whatever mechanistic (i.e. "lawful", "law-like") phenomena that groom them.

And, as with Roger's link to Stross' argument, if you groom yourself with fiction, maybe you're building mechanisms that align more with fiction than with fact. And I'm guessing vice versa.

On 11/15/23 07:58, Steve Smith wrote:
> I have not (yet) read this critically, the introduction just tweaked my (confirmation biased) interests:
>     https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-11-brain.html
> When I first encountered the Mirror Neuron research <https://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/fulltext/S1364-6613(22)00134-6> (decades ago) it fit my own experience fairly well and in fact helped to explain (just so stories?) many of the intuitive ways I apprehended my emotional/intellectual/physical entrainment experience with others.  I suppose this is a self-referential example of the topic (i.e. confirmation bias, entrainment, etc).
>     Recent /mirror neuron/ review: https://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/fulltext/S1364-6613(22)00134-6
> In my recent reminders of the general concept of (reading Yuval Harari's "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_Deus:_A_Brief_History_of_Tomorrow>) I was left with a stronger impression than ever that so much of human experience seems to be like living in a shared dream driven or at least constrained by our "tribe". Religion, Politics, Economics, or generally "Culture" seems to be the stigmergic field that mediates that.  The role of media (print, then broadcast, now internetty) has been to broaden the scope somewhat arbitrarily or according to the interests of those who control those resources.
> Now with LLMs and text-to-image generators are becoming so capable and broadly engaged with, it seems that our "intersubjective reality" at least has a new fidelity to this shared dream offered up, if not a broader scope.   The fever dreams/hallucinations of various extremist perspectives is already problematic (but inevitable?) so this increased fidelity seems likely to only aggravate that (e.g. deepfake "evidence" for various conspiracy theories, etc.).
> My own preferred understanding of this larger phenomena is that we are on the cusp of an emergence of a qualitatively different type of collective behaviour/experience not quite covered by the various examples that fit in the ontological category of "swarm" (e.g. herd, pack, school, flock, pod ... ) perhaps by "on the cusp" we can roll back the clock 10k years to early agriculturalism/urbanism/written language (or further) but like false-summits, maybe this is just the next false-saddle in a saddle point between basins?  There is probably an existing reserved term for that, maybe I'll ask GPT?
> For better or worse we have become mythopoetic creatures and modern AI is reinforcing/accelerating that?   Some resistance to (questioning of?) metaphor, poesy, narrativity, might be an intuitive recognition of this collective/inevitable slide into a new phase of being?   Different from but somehow resonant with the anti-globalist instincts of populism?

ꙮ Mɥǝu ǝlǝdɥɐuʇs ɟᴉƃɥʇ' ʇɥǝ ƃɹɐss snɟɟǝɹs˙ ꙮ

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