Tag Archives: Psychotechnology

We Each Have a GPT4 Within Us

Powerful Mind Part 39
Created December 8, 2023

Read Powerful Mind 38

No computer system before the current Large Language Models (LLMs) has been able to fool humans into thinking that the computer is human or the intellectual equal – which is the Turing test, proposed by one of the pioneers of modern computers, Alan Turing, in March 1946. What is amazing about the LLMs is how human their texts sound.

What is even more amazing is that all they are doing is a version of autocompletes – when your computer or smartphone fills in the next word or words you are going to key in. GPT4 and the other LLMs are gigantic versions of the same algorithm. The vast amount of training data is what makes them sound like us and be right so much of the time.

Unbeknownst to us, we have always had a similar function in our own brains. The reason it remained unknown to us for so long is that it passed the Turing test. We took it as our own words to ourself.

This function predicts what we will say next, based on what we have said in the past (which are the training data), and on what we just said to ourselves a moment ago (which is the prompt to be autocompleted).

On occasion, the robot (as I call the inner biological AI) might escalate what you just said to yourself (the prompt), using terms you had used in the past (training data) in association with that word you just used. “Escalate” means taking your prompt and making a more extreme statement as a follow-up. In this way, the inner AI may contribute to our recognized collective leanings into extremism throughout recorded history and never more so than today.

The problem is we take all of our thoughts at equal value. The ones we ourselves say to ourselves, and to the ones that are predictions by our robot. We didn’t know about this robot thing, so we presumed that any thought in our mind was propelled solely by our own free will. However, we find this to not be the case. There is another word source which accesses memory systems and – like today’s LLM chatbots – predicts/suggests what to say next.

Why is there such a system? Apparently pro-survival, it reminds the self how to promptly respond to incoming signals of each specific type. However, it will tend to self-past-consistency and so it will potentially underestimate where the self has evolved to at the current moment.

In Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), otherwise known as the default network, these snuck-in inputs will be taken as the self’s own.

In Observer state, otherwise known as the executive control network, the self senses that it is now going off a bridge too far and pulls itself back.

However, even in Observer state, for the past few millennia we have not known that the human brain has these predictive abilities, and they are right now being discovered by science. Using introspection, I discovered the robot and wrote about it in my 1976 book Mind Magic.

From my own direct experience, I link the robot with Freud’s concept of the Ego. In Civilization and its Discontents he writes that the ego first arises when the baby feels needy and frustrated. It acts as the self, but it is actually a self-protective layer of mind on top of the id, the original self. In childhood I was able to understand my own actions through this lens of distinguishing the different voices in my mind.

Science is now confirming that the robot, as I wrote about it in Mind Magic, is a real thing, not just a metaphor. It’s as if a cosmic chunnel is being built from two ends, science and introspection, and they are actually connecting.

The verification for these psychotechnologies – the 12 Keys among others – by science is coming at just the right time. The upcoming generations feel handed a raw deal and fearful about their future, and they spend most of their time in EOP like the majority of us, ill-equipped for the likely challenges. Psychotechnology can achieve maturity of thought processes relatively quickly.

When Observer state is achieved it enables objective formal operational and systems thinking. One starts from understood and believed-in goals, then proceeds ethically and thoughtfully to achieve those goals. Each individual in this converted state is on a Mission with a known purpose. Having a Mission makes the individual less willing to give in to useless inner negativity and more self-disciplined about taking prompt but unhurried action aimed at carrying out the Mission.

The individual achieves meaning without the same constant dependency on media diversions. Moving toward of a future of one’s own shaping, life is exciting enough on its own. In Observer state, each challenge is a learning experience on the way to the goal.

Further psychotechnology balances this drive with resilient nonattachment to outcomes. Yerkes and Dodson proved that optimal arousal causes superior performance vs. maximal arousal. Czikszentmihalyi proved that there is a state above Observer state which he famously called Flow state. Yale’s Neuroscience Master Chun notes that the random chatter between lobes disappears in Flow state.

Spiritual psychotechnology opens up the individual to the possibility of cosmic connection, and how to recognize and work with it.

Worry and Fix

Two little words. And yet a philosophy can be built on them.

A 50,000-foot view of what goes on in our minds is a mix of these two things. We’re always either worrying or fixing.

A great many people worry almost constantly. This appears to leave them little time for fixing.

A few of us have learned to minimize time spent worrying and maximize time spent fixing.

The two strategies are poles apart in terms of success rates. And inversely poles apart in terms of popular adoption.

But why would people choose to waste time worrying when they could be fixing?

People generally do not believe they have the power to make a difference in their own lives, let alone to change the world. They feel swept along by forces much stronger than themselves, some coming from the outside and some coming from the inside.

The traitorous thoughts coming from the inside are the ego, the aspect of self which resists community mindmeld; it is always in a cold war against the others perceived to be separate beings, essentially competitors, rivals. Everyone else is the potential rival.

Everyone else is also the threat vector coming at the ego from the outside. Inside and outside sources appear to agree on the dangerous nature of the others. Everyone else.

In higher states of consciousness – specifically Observer state and Flow state – these paranoid delusional biases are identified instantly by a person. In Observer state one is conscious of one’s own judgment swings and even fine tuning adjustments taking place from moment to moment.

In the higher states there is no worry because every challenge is accepted with valor and all time is spent on fixing, building, creating. Worries streak in, and last only fleeting minutes, while the focused mind dissects them, and establishes new rules of engagement (fixing).

The present environment is geared toward producing hyper-over-stimulation/distraction. This is the result of Acceleritis over the past six millennia. We became stimulation junkies and invented technodrugs to feed that addiction.

At one time not so very long ago, in the West we felt very confident and competent. In the East and South, where most of current growth has come from, there was great hope.

Now uncontrolled thoughts and feelings have stampeded the herd. This is all utterly unnecessary.

We have the skills and resources to fix everything, even at the advanced state of ruin we have already made of the planet and its species.

But not without working together.

If we continue to wallow in delusional hate fantasies while Rome burns, well. You know how that ends.

Can we all please wake up from the nonsense and get to cooperating to fix the mess we made?

Further methods of attaining inner clarity (Key #10) in the next post.

Happy Holidays!
May the lights of Chanukah usher in a better world for all mankind.
Happy Chanukah.

 

My best to all,
Bill

If You Assume the Worst, You Yourself Will Bring It About

Powerful Mind Part 36
Created November 10, 2023

Read Powerful Mind 35

The latest findings of neuroscience suggest that we as individual human beings interpret our own emotions as they happen. The physical signals we receive may suggest not only the degree to which our emotions are aroused, they may even suggest the valence as either being positive or negative emotion, but then there is a cognitive interpretation layer we impose to further characterize to ourselves the emotions we are feeling.

In my own introspections I had also come to that same conclusion long ago, that my mind had the ability to clarify the emotions I was experiencing. In some cases I felt overwhelming arousal and initially took that to be fear and panic, but then applying Observer state (metacognition) I was able to refine that classification into positive excitement and anticipation rather than negative fear. This was the way I learned to deal with stage fright when my showbiz parents put me on stage at age 4.

The general reason why it is important to be able to bring emotional self-interpretation into play is to avoid making things worse.

There is a proven feedback loop between our expectations and the results we get. If we fear failure, it increases our probability of failure.

This goes beyond psychology. In physics the greatest theorists including Einstein, Wheeler, and Hawking have postulated what Wheeler called the Anthropic Participatory Principle, the ability of consciousness to collapse probability waves into concrete objects. Einstein did not go quite as far but could not describe relativity without including an observer (consciousness) in his equations.

Knowing that our inner emotional content has significant impact on the outcomes in our lives, and that we have the interpretation layer at our disposal in order to clarify exactly which emotions we are feeling, we face the choice of either:

A. Continuing to relinquish control over how we interpret our emotions, leaving that up to our brain’s default network to settle that as it will, and accepting the consequences.
B. Exercising our will power to focus our minds on self-observation and clarifying our emotions based on the pragmatic principle that outcomes will be better to the degree that we classify our emotions more positively.

The ideal mental framework if we choose the “B” option is (1) gratitude for being alive and for the life we have been given, despite perceived imperfections (2) resolute confidence that we shall attain our dreams someday so long as we stay positive toward ourself and toward everyone else.

That’s the gratitude attitude that gives you the greatest chance of success at whatever you do. The word “someday” implies that we ought not be impatient or overly attached to the experience of success, but instead should enjoy the passage of time, the journey rather than the destination. This total package of attitudinal viewpoints is the master cocktail for maximizing success.

The implication is that in any given moment, if you sense your own emotions, the interpretation of those emotions should be the priority. If you are also besieged by your own tumble of thoughts and questions in your mind about various subjects, you might write down the fewest possible trigger words which will serve to remind you of those questions so that you can tackle them later on.

When I was very young, I took a very different path. I greatly esteemed thinking over feeling, for a very long time, and so I paid priority attention to my thoughts and questions of an intellectual and rational nature. I considered my emotions more as animal instincts to be conquered than as valuable signals. I was in my late teens by the time I realized that many of my intellectual questions reduced to aesthetic preferences, i.e. feelings.

My undervaluing of feelings led me to take on a general preference for melancholy in the form of “glamorous cynicism”. I actually felt most comfortable being in a negative mood. Later on this became a hard to break habit but one which I eventually overcame. I had to see the way the negative mindset had ruined a number of great opportunities before I could wake up to, and bring in, the feeling side of the game to my self-recommended life systems (“psychotechnology”).

As we begin the description of Key #10 here, we are entering into the complexities of what goes on in the mind, from the subjective viewpoint of you, the experiencer. In this environment every instant is besieged by qualia (subjective inner phenomena) some of which purport to describe the “outside” world (perceptions) and some of which report signals from the “inner” world (thinking, feelings, intuition, memories, imaginings, images). Operating according to the current norm for homo sapiens on Earth, all of this washes over you and what you pay attention to and do about it all, seems to do itself without much help from you, even when some of it is stuff that you do consciously but automatically, like saying thank you. But some of it riles you up and you over-react negatively and some of it peps you up and you possibly over-react positively… all of it feeling fairly out of control, but you’re used to it, so it doesn’t induce panic most of the time.

Key #10 is completing the granular dissection of Observer state so that you are more fully prepared to deal with life with a far greater degree of conscious control.

We started with the feelings because they are the most powerful and least controllable qualia we experience. Remember the Gratitude Attitude in order to not be overtaken by your feelings, but to leverage your feelings so that you may channel their energies in the directions of your ultimate dreams.

Best to all,
Bill

Speak to the Other’s Saliency

Powerful Mind Part 32
Created October 13, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 31

The amount of learning available in each instant of life mostly goes untapped. Looking at life through a variety of observation lenses helps capture more of that nascent learning.

One way of looking at life is that it’s all a big reconnaissance. Looking at it that way defers the feeling of urgency to achieve closure on some solid pro or con position on every little thing.

Every conversation is a potential spike in learning, typically even richer than most other times, though “alone times” can reap the most surprising revelations.

Many of us live lives focused around day jobs in some sort of business or another, sometimes in the public or nonprofit sector or academia or science, but it is still “taking care of business” on a day to day basis. This affords us many conversations, sometimes specifically goal directed, and sometimes off duty.

In our interactions while taking care of business or at other times, often each person brings some hoped-for outcome. Say for example you attend a small group meeting or a one-on-one. The other person probably has one or more things they are trying to achieve and wants your help. You may be in the same position. It may not be obvious from the outset what the other person wants. You may not always be aware of your own expectations or desires, they may be hidden from you, you may not have done your homework.

The networks in the brain we have discussed before include the salience network, which is responsible for prioritizing what to do next, what is most important in the present moment, and which has the key role of switching from the default network to the executive control network, which is an overarching theme of our body of work within what I call psychotechnology, the pragmatic optimization of mental/affective functions.

Saliency as a concept refers to that which stands out in the foreground against the background of everything else.

When you are with someone it is polite and considerate to try to discern what the other person’s saliency network is prioritizing at the moment. For example let’s say it is in a business environment. You may be there for a very special reason of your own of which you are well aware.

The normative way of proceeding in today’s world culture – at least in the west – is to go for the jugular. Take the initiative to make your pitch.

However, you will learn much more and increase your chances of success if you start by helping the other person further the implicit goals of whatever is currently the focal point of their salience network. It’s also kinder, nicer, and – if my theory of the conscious universe is correct – the “force will be with you” if you do it this way.

In order to do this you need to listen and observe carefully, without presuppositions.

You also need to avoid pigeonholing based on your first impressions. “Aha, they want X!” might occur to you but keep an open mind.

Within the conventional bounds of whatever context you are in, of course you are allowed to ask direct questions to find out what the other person is most concerned about.

This next thought is very much about the present-day reality and may not be so important in other eras. Prepare to be shocked because nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear a person say something that is strongly emotionally charged and deeply wedded to some political or anti-group position. If you don’t already know this about the person it could flip a switch inside you that has the effect of feeling that this is not your sort of person. You may start to think about how to depart. Observe those reactions in yourself without ratifying them and let them drift into the past. Continue to be open minded and compassionate.

someone's day-what we see-what we assume

Once it becomes more clear what the other person wants, work on that first, and hold back what you are there to accomplish.

If it’s a group meeting, before putting forth your own agenda, observe carefully to see if you can make out what is salient to each person in the room or zoom.

Work creatively to help the others accomplish their aims. Doing this before putting forth your own needs is a better pragmatic approach in terms of actual achievement of your aims.

Of course, if there is a natural linkage by which your desired ends can serve theirs, without contortions or fakery, then it’s a win/win.

Here are some helpful observational lenses lifted from my book Mind Magic which may facilitate learning during the reconnaissance.

    • If I look at this this situation as a child might, what do I see?
    • Be aware of the emotions radiated by each entity including yourself.
    • How might I turn this to everyone’s advantage?
    • Unstitch yourself from the moment by looking down at the whole scene from the ceiling.
    • Question your own possible biases which may affect what you see.
    • Strip away your own interpretations to get back to the things themselves.
    • “Just the facts, Ma’am.” (Dragnet’s Joe Friday)
    • Remember that words have a physical impact on you, so that you must guard against being influenced by them.
    • Toy with alternate explanations for events. Allow your imagination free reign to propose the most unbelievable such explanations.
    • Look at everything as if seeing it for the first time.
    • Why did I notice that?
    • Why did that happen? What is it trying to tell me?

Love to all,
Bill

 

 

How Did We Become So Distracted?

Updated April 24, 2020

Although we are staying home now, and the amount of overstimulation we receive from our environment is therefore considerably lessened, with the screens in our home and the audio and (if we’re lucky) other people and pets that are with us, there’s still an awfully lot going on and coming in through our senses.

We live at a discontinuous point in history.

Most of us know that the human race started evolving from primates, coming down out of trees over 1,000,000 years ago, but it’s only been the last 200,000 years that we’ve been homo sapiens.

We’ve written things down for only 6,000 years out of those million years so we have no written record of what went on before those roughly 6,000 years.

Key Survival Characteristic

My hypothesis as a social scientist is that in the last 6,000 years, written language changed the way we use our minds.

It actually started with the cave paintings, some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, using symbolism — we started to be able to look at abstract symbols to represent things like animals that we were going to be hunting.

When we moved to written language, we could see the language — the granular bits of information. Pictures don’t have chunks to them like words do.

Though nowhere near digital yet, we started to get into granular chunk thinking as soon as we got into written language.

This development marked the beginning of a revolution in the way we use our minds, and this has been accelerating for the last 6,000 years.

We started inventing things — first tools, then weapons and then media — and all of those things have contributed to the fact that we now every day are subjected to a deluge of stimuli that exceeds our ability to answer all the questions arising in our mind second-to-second.

We get into a habit of just sweeping things aside. “I’m never gonna answer all this stuff. I won’t try to answer all this stuff. I won’t even try to answer the basic question of what is life, what is the meaning of all this, what is my purpose? It’s just too many questions. I can’t answer them.” I call this condition Acceleritis™.

We see things like increasing ADD and ADHD and we see people who are supposed to be running big countries acting like high-school kids and not getting anything done.

This deluge of stimuli all the time is not good for any of us. In the face of the hugely distracting environment of Acceleritis, we are being distracted from Flow state, which I believe is our natural state and which occurred a lot more before 6,000 years ago.

This is why I consider psychotechnology, which prepares people with techniques to stay focused through complexity, to be so important. No matter who we are, the quality of our life depends upon our effectiveness in meeting challenges, whether as a parent, an executive, an athlete or a world leader.

Shutting out distractions

Most all of the techniques I use to increase focus and creativity are included in my book, MIND MAGIC, and I also share them here in this blog space — techniques like mindfulness, meditation, self-awareness and letting go of attachment. Learning to become the observer more often and not getting caught up or reeled in by all of these distractions, we can find greater clarity and reach Flow state more often. Learning to stay focused in an ever increasingly distracting world, we can ultimately increase our creativity and improve our decision making.

Best to all,

Bill

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