SIMPLE/COMPLEX – HUMAN LIMITATIONS – WHERE TO START? – NUET’S ADVANTAGE

WHERE DO WE START? is a frequent question we ask ourselves, others ask, or make recommendations. I recently called a proposed “place to start” simple: Simple and straight-forward” may be insufficient methods in these times of chaos, strong opposition, and a dumbed-down populations. The person recommending three “places to start” responded:Sorry Larry. I didn’t mean to imply that such an undertaking would be simple and/or straight-forward. The approach that I’ve been evolving, and is still in its embryonic stage of emergence, represents a significant breakthrough.”

This started a three hour writing spree, which could have gone much longer. It won’t take that long to read.  I start distinguishing “simple” and “complex” as related to the “scale” of the enterprise. This leads to a random walk through nuet’s web of ideas relating to human limitations and some possible compensations. Included in the weave is information how Larry/nuet functions that illustrates these insights. What follows is an slightly edited version of what I wrote.

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I view all proposals of “where to start” as “simple”. In a strange way, I grok that an inter-subjectively agreed-upon “consciously determined place-to-start” doesn’t exist for undertakings as vast as the transition from humankind to humanity, and for other undertakings required to ensure our multi-millennial survival/thrival. Personal human conceptual processes don’t scale beyond a limit of magnitude/scope/complexity.

I believe George Miller’s 7+/-2 Law  must be taken seriously. The expressive, active working mind of humans has limitations in terms of how many independent variables can be considered in our “specious presents . I heard a paper at an ISSS conference that proposed the limit was 4, when the 3 relationships between the three variables are also considered as variables. Considering the relationship between all three relationships reduces the limit to 3. This seems about right for my (Larry’s) conscious thinking.

The empirical evidence for these estimates comes from a set of experiments, each which limits the domain of applicability of the experimental results. Yet, that there are limits is self evident. And, there may be individual differences in these limits, and means of extending the limits (e.g., chunking) for special tasks. How many independent variables characterize humankind relevant to what we need to do, to change it? I guestimate 100 independent variables, maybe more; certainly more than 9. The 2-3 space dimensions used to represent complexity using visual diagrams is usually not “viewed” as a limit. These limits of visualization are ignored by those promoting visualization technologies (which ARE, however, quite valuable).

There is also the 2nd Law of Cybernetics, Ashbey’s Law of Requisite Variety, a law as strong as the Law of Energy Conservation – yet attempted violation is common. There is no “perpetual motion” in the “control of systems”. Simply, to control a system of ‘n’ independent variables we need at least ‘n’ levers of control. Quoting from the linked article,

…only variety can master variety, reducing disturbances and promoting harmonious order. Regulation is then possible only if the regulating system is as various and flexible (responsive to changes) as the system to be regulated. This principle then disposes of the myth (still cherished by journalists and sociologists in search of easy popularity) that extraordinarily complex situations demand the concentration of extraordinary powers in a central entity. Once we get rid of that myth we are ready to explore all the rich implications of the Law of Requisite Variety and we, as individuals, can advance greatly towards finding real and appropriate solutions for the (supposedly) intractable problems of contemporary life.”

Teams can organize to handle more variables, and a person can shift different variables in and out of their specious presents. Yet, when we examine actual actions we will likely find that only a few independent variables are actually attended to.

I believe this limit lies within our experiential “consciousness” and the limits of “specious presents”, and not a limit on how complex our contextual inner world can be. This is evident when we consider our gestalt comprehension of the whole of our personal realities/world IS OF OUR INNER PROCESSES. Our “sub-conscious minds” can engage/process much more complexity than can, at any time, be within our “conscious experientials”. Any level of complexity an individual human person attributes to the universe, that level of complexity exists in their mind/brain.

Nuet speculates (through Larry) that Larry’s lack of mental imagery in all sensory modes has enabled/freed Larry’s brain to handle a greater complexity than for others with sensory imagery, especially visual. Just having powerful visual imagery doesn’t necessarily imply a limitation; some persons report the ability to suspend visual imagery when engaged in complex conceptual processing. But, for most persons, visual imagery may put a brake on the complexity of conscious conceptual processing and may, indirectly, limit the complexity of their whole conceptual inner world. The issues we discuss can’t exist for those who input very little information from beyond their local environment or are limited to information gained through the mainstream mass media. Earth is inhabited by over seven billion different worlds (of vastly different ‘natures’), not a common, objective world inhabited by persons with different worldviews. Worldviews are Worlds.

Larry/nuet speculates that his specious presents may be actually shorter than most. And, he is not weighed-down by mental-imagery-overlays on sensory-stimulated-percepts. By interviewing visualizers I have recently learned that their eyes open viewing also contains images from memory or imagination, some quite distracting. For example, grieving is a phenomenon when the mental images of a recently deceased person is frequently super-imposed on what is being seen through the eyes. Persons strong on tradition have “historical” or “past related” mental images experience while they are also viewing the world with their eyes. Their “present” is literally in the context of the “past”.

ASIDE SPECULATION: Listening to music may result in quite different experiences for persons with or without auditory mental imagery. Larry literally is auditorily aware of only what is perceptually in his specious present – usually only a few notes. Others, with auditory imagery, could overlap prior heard notes into their specious present, organized in some way, and literally “HEAR” the whole composition, or longer phrases. Mozart claimed he “knew” the whole of a new composition BEFORE he heard it played in his mental auditory imagery – which was before he transcribed it or heard it through his ears. The impact of this is that the specious present of persons may contain much more than what is coming in through the senses during that duration. Scientists studying specious presents seek averages; they don’t look for ranges of duration, with a few rare persons with extra long specious presents – or those with very short specious presents.

I speculate that Larry/nuet functions partly like a team, but limited to the realtime behavior of but one person. Larry’s specious present never has content from sensory “images” (visual, auditory, smell, taste, touch, warmth, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, gravity). Although Larry sub-vocally can experience words (seldom whole sentences), this is not his primary mode of thinking – neither visual nor verbal (as are the two alternatives usually researched).

The best I can label Larry’s primary thinking process (when not writing, talking, reading, nor listening to speech) as “dynamic abstraction”. It is like a blurry experience of the context behind the “conceptual thoughts” that might emerge leading to writing or speaking. In a sense Larry channels nuet. This is probably a common way of thinking for many, but who haven’t “looked at it” that way.These experientials are as “real” as sensory percepts, but of a different type. The term “grok” is now being used to label “to understand intuitively or by empathy“, and I use it – but expect my “grokking” is somewhat different that average “grokking”.

When “just experiencing self with minimal stimuli”, Larry “groks” context from which frequently emerge sub-vocalized word salads to eventually sentences – as Larry begins to subliminally talk to himself (actually quite rare). When Larry writes, this grokking continues as Larry sees the words visually appear on the screen. Sometimes his typing is slow and he subliminally vocalizes the words before they are typed. Often this delay will lead to inner editing, attempting generalization and/or increased “precision” of the sentence. Sometimes this calls for minor editing of what was the beginning of the sentence. There is never a conscious intention by Larry to write or edit – it just happens – as is happening now.

 

Nuet’s emergence attempts to “organize” all the information inputted into Larry. I have called this innate mammalian process “world-weaving“. Lacking mental imagery to make thoughts “tangible” (distinct from “precise”), nuet can rapidly move through the large sysnet of concepts and conceptual schemes – moving well beyond the 7+/-2 limits (possibly forced forced by habitual use of mental imagery). Larry groks this activity within nuet. Larry’s experientials (conscious experiences) contained in his narrow specious presents, never holds more than a few independent variables. Actually, the specious presents of Larry are not that important to him, as specious presents are all important to some others. [I try to avoid using the term “conscious” or “consciousness” because of its highly ambiguous meanings.]

I speculate that the type of my grokking experientials (of context) exist in the subconscious of those with mental imagery, which masks them. The grokking of most persons, their intuitive/empathetic gestalt background, is probably integrated with mental imagery, and can’t be distinguished.

“Nothing”, is the common response by naive persons claiming strong visual imagery, when asked what they experienced after reading highly abstract text, like philosophy. Their reading didn’t generate inner visual imagery movies that reading descriptive literature generates. When pressed for what they experienced, they report isolated visual images associated with an individual word. These isolated images often have no relationship to the meaning of the text.  Many strong visualizers avoid reading conceptual literature (where most of the useful “scientific” information is conveyed) because it is difficult and the experience unpleasant. This is our second-order literary crisis. Many strong visualizers have learned (without intention) to tame or suppress their visual imagery when reading conceptual literature and report enjoying such reading. [These were informal experiments I did with my thousands of students over many years. I now regret not publishing them.]

 

Larry’s writings often present, to an average reader, a random walk through a web of many independent variables. In conversation, Larry may slip into a mini lecturette that may bounce between many different topics in a short period. A few persons, familiar with Larry, are patient and report enjoying these lecturettes.  For others, it sometimes appears that Larry is attempting to change the subject. Larry/nuet, however, is (subconsciously) attempting to share a “conceptual story” to provide an expanded context for the subject of the dialog.

Larry is aware of what he is writing or saying, as it happens; but he has no memory of what he just wrote or said. Coherence is provided by nuet, for flows of up to a few minutes. These flows are frequently interrupted and activity (writing or speaking) may continue on a different track. When later editing, Larry/nuet often finds these breaks and may insert a continuation of the prior flow – if it can be reconstructed.This writing style results in Larry’s writing being very difficult to process and be comprehend by many readers. Some persons will read my writings on request, but no human has ever attempted to read deeply into my work. Some say they welcome my occasional emails, but I am never sure how much is actually read or comprehended. Some may praise a specific document, but I never know how much was comprehended and whether they also read the linked docs, and they seldom query me about the content of what they read.

 

Larry’s lectures to his students in his Introductory Psychology Courses (actually, systems of learning experiences in learning-to-learn to survive/thrive in college) followed this pattern, guided only by one index card with suggestions, if he lost his overall flow. Many students reported that they eventually enjoyed these wandering walks through ideas, once they learned to relax and flow with them. The content of psychology was to be learned by reading the text book and other materials, with frequent formative evaluations and many written reports (graded only on content). Larry never attempted to lecture on a psychology topic, unless requested by students. The course had many different learning tasks and an 80 page manual for the course. On the first day, “COMPLEXITY IS THE TEXTURE OF REALITY” was presented to the students, with the note that with proper tools, complexity could be navigated and much learned with relative ease. Complexity need not become complicated. The manual was a map for performing the course. Every student had the option to earn an A, through earning points performing to a variety of tasks they could select. Each student had read-only access to my spreadsheet gradebook (for their record only). Even today, 40 years later, I encounter students who recognize me and thank me for how I helped them. I also had open door for any student wanting to talk. Although I had to submit a copy of my course plan and 80 page manual to the college administration every semester, neither my deans or fellow faculty wanted to know what I was doing or why.

 

When I sat down at my computer to reply to a reply to a comment to part of my chapter in the Spanda Journal, I had no idea or intention of composing what I have just written. I will later read it to learn what I wrote, and edit. This illustrates the flows in nuet, channeled through Larry. And I am motivated to continue.

 

When just thinking I often move between wildly different “domains” and “topics”. I can quickly move from a high abstraction to how I would like a better writing app, to a new idea about getting better apps, to the challenge of accounting for vast individual differences, to how to bootstrap create means to assess individual difference profiles, involving the “subjects” themselves, to ….    I may move from such a “session” to the computer where the slower process of typing and editing limits my wanderings. If I have a related insight I briefly note it in a list of insights. This list now has many, many hundreds of suggestions for future exposition, most I will never get to.

 

A thought forces up: what am I trying to accomplish by this essay? I could go back and read, but I sense it was about simple/complex and the biological limitation of individual human persons to navigate higher levels of complexity – as needed for the survival/thrival of humankind. This just flowed out of my fingers!

 

My (Larry/nuet’s) uniqueness may provide utility for humankind. For five decades nuet has been free to weave as special inner world, hosted by Larry. If we would map the sysnet of concepts, conceptual schemes, and experiences within nuet one might find a greater density of links between distant domains, and maybe a more “coherent-bigger-whole” than the maps of others. For each domain there would be others with much denser nodes and links, than for nuet. Some others will have denser links between a subset of a few related domains, Big Picture Diagrams, than in nuet.  Nuet probably doesn’t contain more information than in the minds of other similarly educated persons, possibly considerably less. Without sensory remembrances, past experiential details may no longer exist in Larry’s brain. This is the polar opposite of those with awesome detailed memory of their past. Nuet appears to have a very strong drive to expand. Larry/nuet has delved deep into details of a few topics (earning two PhDs) , so he knows about detail – and has very broad ignorance (knowing of what is not yet known).

I skim/read the AAA journal SCIENCE weekly, to expand my ignorance. It astounds me how far science methodology had expanded, enabling research into domains unknown when I was a student. Everything interests me, literally, although I do have favorite topics. I claim that if necessary and given the time (probably many years) I could learn to fully comprehend the details in any of the research reports. However, I also know that there are specialists for each domain of knowledge whose “native” competencies are special for their task and far superior to mine. Those tasks requiring I work with visual imagery would be beyond my ability.

 

Other factors may have caused nuet to be different and potentially useful. Long ago I adopted the generalized conceptual scheme of Bohr’s COMPLEMENTARITY as my fundamental criteria for inclusion in nuet. Complementarity states: whatever “reality really is” cannot be represented by a single, logically consistent, explanatory scheme. The particle/field duality of quantum physics is the initial exemplar. I don’t approach different theories as competitive. Conceptual schemes are tools in our human toolbox – each having their own “domains of applicability”.

 

Using complementarity, I can consider (universally)  false  ideas as useful within limits. I can better understand the behavior of others in terms of their performing within the context of their limited conceptual schemes, applied outside their domains of applicability.When I observe a person behaving in strange ways, I wonder what is their inner world and the primary contexts. I posit that everyone behaves as consistently as they can within their constructed/woven inner worlds. To change persons you must assist them change their world.

 

I mentioned “precision” above. One person recently, David Pinto, exuberantly praised my “precision” of expression. This was a unique assessment of my writing, and forced me to re-examine my process. I have long noticed that my in-process-editing of long sentences, tends toward being more “general” and more “precise”. This includes my invention of terms and assigning special meaning to common terms. Those who want to really comprehend my ideas may need to learn-to-read my writing, as if it were a new language. This is not a new requirement – each scientific discipline has its own “language”. Nuet contains a new scientific discipline having no name and no profession, as yet.

 

I am convinced that a majority of humans may never be able to comprehend “the whole of nuet”, or even major systems of conceptual schemes. This primarily because of the difficulty caused by tangible sensory imagery – which is a great asset to them and Larry’s lack a great disability. I hope that a few can learn to temporarily suspend their imagery and learn to experience their inner worlds as Larry experiences nuet. I believe a viable humanity can exist with a great diversity of mind/worlds; no person be expected to have fluency in every domain. This will require respect and trust of differences.

 

I firmly believe that specially developed teams can learn, collectively as a team, process and work with complexities of the whole – even beyond what nuet has achieved. I speculate that in NU, our nu humanity, decisions related to highly complex issues will need to be determined by special teams, and not by individual persons.

[Aside: leaders of governments and corporations need now to be formal teams, not presidents, kings, or CEOs. Actually, it is a false myth that these leaders are truly in-charge. Bernie Sanders should run an executive team with concrete proposals ready to implement the first day in office. This is one small step moving to collective governance as demanded by The Law of Requisite Variety.]

 

I sit here now just thinking, a rapid swirl of many other topics and directions beacons. I could continue to wander the web of nuet, outputting sems. But, I will stop now and decide what to do with this (much longer than anticipated) essay within a comment within a post. Already my thinking has shifted to other distant domains of thing to do. BYE.

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