NARRATIVE first draft version 28 minutes

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NARRATIVE first draft version 28 minutes


For 20 minute presentation at


TOWARD A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS


Conference
in Tucson, April 13
-
17, 2010.


Scheduled for Concurrent Session #20, 4:40
-
6:35pm


April 16, 2010


Dr. Laurence J. Victor



SPECULATIONS ON

THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS




Intro

-

.75 minutes.


AWAKEN !! for one more stimulating talk.



They call me Larry.



Living in Tucson, I've attended these conferences from the beginning in
1994. My poster session was recently boosted to live performance
-

the first
I've given in over a decade.



For merit badges, I have four old college degrees: two PhDs, in physics
from Yale in 1965 and in educational psychology from Minnesota in 1970.



I speak no truths, I can only speculate.



As our "time is short", I have

eliminated this phrase from its many places in
this presentation.




Part 1
-

From Prairie Dogs to African Galapagos

4 minutes.


When did "we" begin? I use "we" metaphorically, like the author Italo

Calvino, to
represent our species living in earlier lives far back in evolutionary time. "We" didn't
begin with Ardi or Lucy, but as bacteria becoming algae. But in 20 minutes I will
skip to when "we" romped as little prairie dogs under the feet of thunde
r lizards.
"we" were social beings then, some 85 million years ago. More recent humans
didn't invent interpersonal relationships and community
-

it goes way back; and
social perception and social organization are unique neural sub
-
systems in all
mammals,
from earliest times. "We" quickly distinguished "our own kind" from
other things in our environments.


I relate to prairie dogs since first observing them when moving from
Minnesota to Arizona in 1971.


Thousands of prairie dogs stretching to the horizon. Ne
arby a fellow popped up
from his hole, stretched and then looked around. About 20 feet away another
prairie dog was preening by another hole. The first fellow was obviously attracted
and slowly crossed the space between the holes. But, before the gap was c
rossed
another prairie dog came up from the first hole, looked around, immediately
spotted the first fellow
-

rose up and squealed. The first fellow immediately
stopped, turned and ran back to his hole and was scolded.


Is this just stimulus
-
response behavior, with no associated experientials? Their
experientials are quite different from ours, but I am not to assume they are
inferior experientials.


We humans didn't recently INVENT community. And, as to our highly touted
i
ndividualism and free will, we need only look at recent antics of CEOs, jihadists,
militias, militaries, mercenaries, drug gangs, tea baggers and politicians of all
strips to realize that we humans are not that different from the ants and termites.


Leaping

ahead to about 7 million years ago, the Rift valley in Africa had been
emerging for some 20 million years, and the chimps, bonobos and we began to
differentiate. Here I introduce my African Galapagos Hypothesis.


There was great flooding in the Rift Valley
. "We" ended up isolated for a
considerable time on islands while our chimp and bonobo cousins retreated to
other higher ground
.
Islands with trees would have given human
precursors TWO developmental environments: arboreal and aquatic,
having potential inf
luence for cognitive development. Islands might
have been free of predators, giving early humans freedom to develop
child development strategies. Watching from trees they could have
warned of the potential predator arrival and fish schools. Bipedalism
occu
rs in all primates when wading. Fishing and other aquatic activities
would strengthen bipedalism. Feet for climbing would have been an
advantage working crude nets and gathering food from the lake floor.
Diving may have developed greater breath control imp
ortant for the
evolution of human speech. Hairlessness may have emerged at this
time; later useful for heat control when hunting. Eventually the water
receded and the new humans precursors migrated to other settings in
the Rift region.


This may have been a

unique, punctuated evolutionary moment in "our" history
were many or our uniquely human traits got their initial push. For reference Ardi
lived about 4.4 million years ago and Lucy about 3.2 million years ago.




Part 2
-

The Emergence of Experientials

4.33 minutes.


I must skip over many interesting events in our travels from then to now: our
emergent technologies and brain growth, our migrations and near extinctions, and
the development of advanced cognitive processes.


I wish to present some alternative

queries for how and why our current
experientials emerged.


AN ASIDE: I avoid using the term "consciousness".


Why is the latest to emerge used as the reference to all others?


Do we talk about trees as leaves, sub
-
leaves (branches and trunks) and
un
-
leaves
(roots), in analogy to our sub
-
conscious and un
-
conscious?


Leaping over the interesting nature of the mammalian and primate minds, let us
speculate on the emergence of our contemporary condition with an "unobservable
observer observing explicit experientia
ls
-

gestalts of figures and grounds".


What if our first explicit experientials were dreams and hallucinations, that intruded
into our normal mammalian/primate minds?


What if dreamer artistic savants first painted cave walls, sculpted figurines, danced
and

sang
-

later to be imitated?


What if the beautiful and the grotesque came from within, not as attempts to
represent perception or external reality?


Might all this be consequences of enhanced cognitive processes needed to
organize more complex data and to
plan for activities over larger time spans?


Might some neural subsystems have been cloned and applied to new data
sets; such as patterns of brain activity (in analogy to retinal patterns)?


Might spirals of alternating analysis and synthesis emerge, some wh
ich may
occur between brain hemispheres?


Imagine languaging (in Maturana's sense) and symbolic expression emerging
from this.


Might images and word
-
sounds intrude as experientials from new symbols
used in advanced brain computation?


Might we have continued

to function behaviorally in most waking life as we had
as primate/mammals, while new explicit experientials intruded as dreams and
hallucinations?


Might our everyday communication with others continued primarily by
gestures, and other older systems of exp
ression; which soon were employed to
share our dream and hallucinatory experiences in rituals?


I have long pondered on why the corpus callosum is the last major part of our
neural system to mature (and why this fact is often not mentioned in articles on
th
e corpus callosum).


Why is it important that communication between hemispheres be limited during
early life?


Might this very late maturation protect us from early confusion between primitive
mammalian cognition and the new emergence of experientials and la
nguage?


Might many of our current difficulties with language acquisition relate to this
issue?


In summary, I speculate that what we view as human "consciousness", or what
I prefer to call "experientials" emerged from our dream states, penetrating the
earli
er systems of primate mind, and these two forms of mind continue in their
dance of integration.


Might the awesome diversity of human cognitive and experiential competencies
have resulted from this dance; and providing humankind with a potential not seen
in

most other species: a diversity of minds as great as the diversity of biological cell
types
-

both diversities essential for viable organizations of multiple diverse
components?


But, such diversity has its dangers, as our contemporary Crisis of Crises att
ends.




Part 3
-

Deep Features Contemporary Humankind

9.5 minutes.


As our time is short, I must again leap over many exciting adventures of our
ancestors: living near the great ice sheets and in the vast tracts of lowlands (now
covered by ocean water), living through the climatic tumult of the great warming
and torrential

floods, learning intimacy with other species through
domestication, exploring variations of culture and language, participating in the
emergence of agriculture, trade, cities and then civilization, war, empire and our
contemporary era. The fields of ex
perientials probably expanded and further
diversified during this time, through a process we might call cultural epigenetics.


In this PART I will briefly cite some important characteristics of contemporary
"state" of mind, consciousness, and world. In the
following part I will speculate on a
positive alternative future for our continuing evolution.


CONSIDER 3 FUNDMENTAL QUERIES:


[1] WHERE ARE THE PHYSICAL COORELATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
[EXPERIENTIALS AND MIND]?


Maybe as neural
-
molecular resonances, or even qu
antum processes in
microtubules?


But, maybe PCC is in the holarchy of nested biological systems, not located in
one holon.


The rapid increases of consciousness in humans may not be found only in our
brains, partly "caused" by our living in cultures, but ca
n only be fully
comprehended as an emergent holarchical phenomenon, from organelle to
society.


In this case, the most recent evolution of consciousness must be cultural as
well as biological.


[2] WHAT IS MORE FUNDAMENTAL: "SELF" OR "WORLD"?


Time does not
permit an explication of this challenging distinction.


I AM A WORLD, which contains a SELF. An autopoetic world.


All that "I Know about everything" is of/in my World/Self.


I have no direct access to an external reality; but I do have evidence of OTHERS.


[
3] MIGHT "WORLDWEAVING" BE A PROCESS MORE BASIC THAN
"PERCEPTUAL
-
MOTOR"?


"WorldWeaving" is a self
-
sustaining process (as a pendulum swing is
self
-
sustaining).


WorldWeaving weaves World/Selves, assimilating and accommodating to
sensoria activity, keeping r
ecords of past states, and outputting to behavior and
consciousness.


WorldWeaving is modulated by input and involves memory.


This is a figure/ground reversal on our contemporary paradigm where memory
and internal processes modulate the perceptual
-
motor
flow.


In this speculation, the content of mind, and our experientials are integral to our
comprehension of the process and its origins and evolution.


CONSIDER 3 FEATURES OF THE MODERN MIND:


[1] CONSIDER HOW DISTRIBUTIONS ARE MORE REAL THAN AVERAGES.


Distr
ibutions must replace averages in our models, if we are to comprehend
contemporary reality.


Significant human variation can no longer be viewed as deviations from means.


[2] CONSIDER THE VAST GAP BETWEEN SAVANTS AND THE DISABLED.


Individual difference in
Cognitive Competencies in the contemporary human
population may be as vast as the differences between all mammals in their
means for surviving in their biomes.


Vast individual differences occur in the "quality" of our experientials, such as
our ability to
experience and manipulate mental images.


A PERSONAL NOTE:


After discovering, at age 22, that I had no visual imagery I went on to
discover that I lacked mental imagery in all sensory modalities. To date I have
encountered no persons and no reports of any
person as deficient as I as to
mental imagery. I've been informally researching the phenomenon since. As
my discovery was at the time research into mental imagery was escaping from
the prison of behaviorism, my claims for having no mental imagery resulted
in
virtual rotten tomatoes thrown at me from audiences of students of mental
imagery. Yet, most of my closest friends and soul mates have extraordinary
abilities with mental imagery, and their individual differences (observed from
the null point) demonstr
ate great diversity.


The distribution of persons lacking mental imagery in different sensory domains
needs to be resumed. Roe's primitive studies in 1952 indicated that 3% lacked
visual imagery, 7% lacked auditory imagery, etc.


This cognitive diversity is
essential for sustainable viability of global humanity
in balance with Gaia.


[3] CONSCIOUSNESS CAN EVOLVE DURING ADULT LIFE.


This is one of the most neglected phenomenon of science.


Citing past contributors:


Michel Foucoult: THE ORDER OF THINGS on
historical epistemic shifts


General Semantics


Holarchy of Cognitive Tools
-

Kieran Egan


Spiral Dynamics Model (Graves, Beck & Cowan)


Robert Kegan (Subject/Object Model)


None of these researches relate to any significant extent with each other and
their fin
dings are ignored by everyone else.


These early models propose about 5 very distinct "stages" of human
epistemological processing.


Primitive measures show a distribution where only a very small percent are at
the highest stages.


High intelligence and creat
ivity can exist at all stages.


Also, most leaders of social institutions are not at the highest stages.


Civilization greatly retards adult stage development.


Facilitating adult stage development remains a challenge, but nothing says it
can't be done.


Very
recently I summed up my 5 decade study of humankind with:


CIVILIZATION IS A SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES DEPRESSED PHENOTYPES.


Genotype vs Phenotype
-

crude definitions:


Genotype
-

is the distribution of variation in the DNA or genes of the living human
population.


Phenotype
-

is the distribution of developed features of humans, in the living
human population.


I know of no living species where the action of the species, itself, so
depresses its phenotype, from actualization from its genotype.


External fo
rces can greatly depress phenotype actualization, a common cause of
extinction.


Any species that would do so would quickly become extinct.


The negative vital statistics:


1/3 of humankind are starving, many more are malnourished, including the "well
off" in

the USA.


Psychologically many are stunted and the vast majority are severely retarded re
their potentials.


Higher human cognitive processes (from our genotype) are actualized in less than
1 % of the population.


Primary decision
-
makers, everywhere, have li
mited cognitive processes and lack
useful access the the archives of human knowledge.


"Contemporary Civilization" is collapsing.


which cannot be stopped, nor reformed or fixed.


Contemporary societal structures/processes prohibit any resolution


The positive

vital statistics:


The vast majority of healthy human new borns have fully actualizable genotypes.
Civilization represses their actualization.


Distributed in the archives of human knowledge are data and competencies
capable of leading us to an optimum actu
alization of the potentials of the human
genotype into a fully viable (distributed ) human phenotype.


This is NOT YET REPRESENTED in any "school of thought".


I "grok" it is there. I, personally, don't have access to it
-

and possibly NO
individual human c
an.


Viable models and scenarios already exist in primitive form for alternative
futures.




Part 4
-

Future Evolution

8.5 minutes.


We now leap from our contemporary Crisis of Crises, within the era of civilization,
to speculation on the future evolution of

human consciousness, primarily for the
near future. Unfortunately, this leap glosses over what may be some of the most
significant changes in human mind/consciousness as diverse brains adapted to
equally diverse social and cultural settings
-

all in chang
e, from beatifically
flowering to energetically turbulent..


Given we have much yet to learn about the relationships in the molecular,
cellular, physiological, neural, and socio
-
cultural domains we cannot say that
little to no "evolution" occurred in histor
ical time.


Possibly evolution of mind is now in it greatest acceleration ever!


I believe that the future of humanity is critically dependent on how we navigate our
contemporary Crisis
-
of
-
Crises.


IMHO the impacts of Kurzweilian fantasies, longevity extensio
n, DNA
manipulation, cyborging, AI Singularities, extra
-
terrestrial fusions, space
colonization, spiritual transcendence, etc. are all moot
-

if we don't quickly resolve
our current difficulties.


I doubt that any these can save us.


I will first cite a few
FACTORS relevant to our situation and then propose a few
ACTIONS we may take to move us on a better path.


A Few Factors


CIVILIZATION IS THE PROBLEM


I define CIVILIZATION as a social paradigm where a small elite manipulates the
vast masses for the benefit o
f the elite.


Bureaucracy is a social technology to achieve the temporary success of
civilization.


Civilization is the default paradigm if no other alternative is available. Only
TODAY is an alternative available.


All civilizations appear to be unstable, a
nd to eventually collapse.


CIVILIZATION DEPRESSES PHENOTYPE ACTUALIZATION (already
mentioned)


THE TRIVIALIZED QUARTET
-
>> FOUR PARADYMS FOR DEPRESSING
PHENOTYPES


Teaching, Studying, Planning, and Managing


If the human mind/brain is the most complex system in the known universe,
then
-

in conformity with Ashbeys 2nd Law of Cybernetics, The Law of
Requisite Variety
-

any process for facilitating meaningful change in such a
system, especially in social/cultura
l systems where mind/brains are active
components, must match that complexity.


Consequently, these four basic processes have been grossly trivialized in
Civilization.


Formal education, at its very best, has features intended to depress phenotype
actualizat
ion.


Independent learning has severe intrinsic limitations;


as quality learning is ultimately a social process


Education will never be viable until quality learners are the primary deciders of
policies and practices, not instructors or knowledge domain
experts.


In 1978 I proposed a process called Learners for Quality Education to take this
into account.


In honor of Donald Michael I have re
-
defined "education" as:
Organizing
-
4
-
Learning & Learning
-
4
-
Organizing.


Critical Actions


UPLIFT


UPLIFT is a label I g
ive to the process that enables the "proper" phenotype
actualization of our contemporary genotype, so we can create a Nu Era, to replace
the Era of Civilization.


One characteristic of this Nu Era is that human mind and consciousness continue
to express the
ir creative emergence.


We ordinarily approach comprehending the evolution of human consciousness
in terms of new [N_E_W] knowledge about what was.


And, by not knowing of any better than ours, we naturally believe our type of
consciousness is "near completi
on".


That we expect this level of consciousness to continue "forever to eternity" in
our afterlife testifies to this delusion.


Contemporary human consciousness may well be embryonic. If so, we might
look to what it might become as much as to what it was
and where it came
from.


I use the term NU N
-
U to define a perspective where novelty in the
Here&How has primary reference in potentials, as distinct from N
-
E
-
W, where
that novelty has primary reference in the past.


What is "PROPER" will need considerabl
e effort to determine, but we can easily
establish some important objectives and limits.


In a creatively enabled, Action/Research process we shift the distribution of human
cognitive competencies from that of today to what can be optimally achieved as
rapi
dly as possible. THIS IS UPLIFT.


One feature of UPLIFT is BOOTSTRAPPING via use of SCAFFOLDING and
Scripting/Performing Spirals,


which by alternating, integrate intuitive flow with engineering design.


Another feature of viable UPLIFT is the social enzymat
ic effect of SEAFing,
accelerating personal and social change by orders of magnitude.


SEAFWEB: A network of NU workers Supporting, Enabling, Augmenting, and
Facilitating individuals and teams in their learning and collaborating, what they
are unable to do
for themselves.


Un
-
Trivializing the Quartet can provide tools for rapid BOOTSTRAPPED UPLIFT.


Liberating Information and Computational Technology from commercial and
military constraints will unleash a blossoming of new tools and techniques to
synergize sy
nchronous & asynchronous interactivity and energize holarchical
collaboration.


Most of this can be started and be globally significant in less than a decade, and
under the radar of potential oppressors.


To succeed, the goal of UPLIFT must be the REPLACEMEN
T of
CIVILIZATION, not its REFORM.


Two Metaphors for UPLIFT are useful"


Societal Metamorphosis:


Caterpillars don't TRANSFORM into Butterflies.


Butterflies emerge from self
-
organizing imaginal buds, small cells within the body
of the living caterpillar.


Cat
erpillar/Butterfly cells carry TWO genomes!


It is up to us to creatively invent the menome for our societal butterfly, and quickly.


The collapsing Caterpillar of Civilization must be accounted for, but it can't be
reformed to sprout wings, new eyes, or
spindly legs.


The emergence of Eukaryotic from Prokaryotic life.


How the world of VISIBLE LIFE emerged as "hair" on the microbiol world of
INVISIBLE LIFE.


Nu
-
Amphibians: From the biological to cognitive.




Part 5
-

My story is far from complete, but I have pushed my
allotted time.
.5 minutes
.


I have not talked about the origins of the "unobservable observer".


I speculate with the panpsychics that this may be a cosmic primitive and that our
search for its origins
in ourselves is misdirected.


Text of this talk, and an expanded & annotated outline are available online and I
welcome comments.