Brain & Mind Uncategorized

Kaleidoscope of Neocortex

Demonetisation interests me as it is an event akin to a large earthquake, shock waves from which shall travel into distant future reverberating fabric of economy for a long time, but even more interesting is the debate about its success/failure, as it brings forth a strange quality of human brain.

In our chaotic reality where butterflies can cause storms, predicting impact of even a small event, at least in theory, is impossible; and yet, we seem to be doing it all the time.

In fact, the most cherished quality of being-human is intelligence, i.e. an ability to build abstract model of reality to predict future impact of an event.

Defenders of the faith of neocortex may argue that butterfly wing flapping is too small to simulate the impact of and thus belongs to chaos theory domain, but demonetisation is a large event and thus can be modelled in brain to see the impact, so I would like them to make a choice.

Who would we like to retain in our past, if choice it to be made between Hitler and Einstein?

The strange possibility is that if we chose Einstein over Hitler, we may suddenly find all the technologies we enjoy vanish; as from cars to computers to mobile phones to space age is here because World War II caused by Hitler’s ambitions that galvanised science.

So, in case of most large upheavals, the effect may be moving ahead like a wave, with good zeniths and bad nadirs (as the same technological advances may take us down soon). Hence statements like demonetisation has failed or wars are bad is just an made up understanding of reality.

But, if we can’t predict effects of small events or big events, is evolution of intelligence is just a quirk of biology with not much to offer but providing us with a chance to build make-believe stories about our life in this crazy reality bubbling with infinite possibilities?

As intelligence seems to have worked in allowing a puny little ape to rule the planet, there must be some merits in having it, but there is likely to be a catch that we need to notice.

What we may have failed in recognising is that intelligence is a great tool for predicting behaviour of reality, but only when elements or forces interacting are lacking free will.

Even if we live in a reality undermined by quantum foundation with probabilistic behaviour, our neocortex has proved to be able to find ways of predicting behaviour of all things other than humans and we have hugely benefited from it.

Unfortunately, as our brain is a modular machine that uses same templates to do many things, we have ended up using the same mechanisms to deal with events with human players who make choices as they perceive reality. As we have become confident about power of our intelligence to predict because of our success, today we could be getting mired into an illusion that we enjoy the same strength in context of human world.

This, probably is the biggest mistake we are make in how we use our brains.

The fact that we also have a brain that runs on emotions instead of reason, it is clear that it is expected to be in charge of dealing with emotional world of humans.

So, while we must allow our neocortex to observe and study reality to find patterns, we must restrict it from offering its services when we deal with humans.

So, let us allow neocortex to look for patterns in reality, but always remember that the model fabricated by it with human players in it is just another twist of kaleidoscope.

DNA: 10/9/17

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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