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Friday, January 21, 2011

The High Cost of Vision

Vision, seeing, and understanding in the most profound sense, bears an extremely high cost because it entails exploration and data gathering in some of the darkest corners of the individual and collective subconscious, and it also means returning whole, so that the experience may finally be 'seen', shared, summarized.

Exploring the subconscious requires a partial relinquishing of consciousness. Not totally, never totally, but nearly. The bright beacon of the front of our brains must be turned off, given a rest. We must repose in darkness, and then, when our third eye has 'adjusted' to the dim light, we are free to roam.

Revelations are useless, if you are about to drown or be eaten. Heroic myths of facing the beast depict in most graphic terms the epic confrontation of the one with the many. History, memory, our past, everything life has ever done or become, in fact everything that matter and energy has ever done or become is reflected in us.

How much research should we want to do?

Vision, by definition, means entering the swim of a great amount of data, and capturing something useful. A fish perhaps. Simply seeing, as in guiding a plow, or shooting an arrow, or focusing on one or two words in a book, is easy compared with the tasks of today, yet in yesteryear such tasks were difficult.

How could that task of vision integrate into something capable of making sense of the increased complexity of today's world?

Evidence abounds we do and have adapted. For intelligence to be able to 'dive down', journey into darkness, requires a new kind of ability. A temporary cessation of consciousness. Silence must be listened to. Darkness must be seen. The multiple must be admired. The many must be remembered. Consciousness must be spread out, dissipated across a broad dark forest. The key is knowing how to reassemble the light once the journey is over.

That journey back to consciousness is equally epic. An integration of things seen in the dark into notions that may be used, seen, shared, understood, pictured, or written about requires a massive computational analysis and simplification. It is almost an algorithm, the closest analogy I can come up with would be the conversion of a massive 20 MB jpeg image, into a tiny thumbnail. Our hardware extensions, the net, computers and digital cameras, with massive servers to store their images are brimming to capacity. We're responding by building more servers, smaller higher resolution, and ever cheaper cameras. We simply are not able to cope, logically, with all the content that man creates. Logos, or rationality, is useless when faced with such a deluge. What effect is this having upon the evolution of our minds?

Is the myth of Noah not about rain, but a prophecy about data?

It is inconceivable that the human brain is not evolving at an exponential rate right now. Faced with deluges of data, images from every corner of the earth, the collective unconscious has become a mindfill fast approaching galactic proportions. Somehow each of us work daily to resolve a piece of that into usable actions, conclusions about what work to do, who to contact, who to love.

If one accepts momentarily that digital cameras now represent the 'eyes' of the vast and ever growing computer network, consider for a moment the computational requirements placed on the handling of all those photos worldwide. The power consumed, the vast quantities of memory, on site storage, remote severs such as Google, Facebook and so on. And while our computer manufacturers, at the urging of our Department of Homeland security, are using face recognition software to 'offer' you a chance to tag your friends, what really is being offered is a voluntary way to help out with this, and other nation's security requirements, by scanning these reams of photos for faces. 

Yes there is software built into this very Mac that I am working on that can recognize my friends, once I tell it their names. My point is only that the cost of all this is astronomically huge, and still a human component is required. The government simply does not have the computational resources to scan everyone's photo contents and learn the details of who attended what events, what took place, and if some of the unrecognized faces in the backs of some pictures might be a threat to national security.

Understanding one's own direction in life is complicated enough, without having to compute the direction and intentions of other entities, such as companies and governments, which are having an equally difficult time coping with the new media.

All creatures make some effort in this direction, whether large or small, but for any individual being to open it's lens wider than for which it has been evolutionarily designed, is costly. What do I mean by costly?

Costly in terms of money. Costly in terms of physical and mental health, costly to the environment. The world economy has devoted huge and significant resources to computation, the recording and storage of massive amounts of data. The waste, the destruction of forests, fisheries, the health of the oceans, all of it, seems overwhelmed by this data expansion. 

What's the point of it?

Given the sacrifices all human beings are currently making, indeed the entire planet, . . . what tug of evolution is urging us in this direction? Why is humanity obsessively fattening its portfolio of raw undigested memory? What is to be the fruit of this current information age? How shall it affect our future?

Mankind it appears has placed an all or nothing bet on chaotic darkness. On data, and information, without understanding to match it. Species have died so that we may run our computers.Why? What is the pull? Now that we have found darkness, what about the return journey? What will we have left in our sacks, once we make it home?

I'll pick up this thread again in a week or so.



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