April 13, 2005



This link vectors by way of the most recent post atMind Hacks. Just another of those really neat demonstrations of how a lot of our cognitive functioning consists of unconsciously recognizing and/or imposing a pattern on what's really a very small number of actual points of perception--pretty much the central feature-and-sometimes-bug of the brain.

I somewhat-recently read through Greg Bear's Anvil of Stars (in general a fun little story of murkily-righteous xenocide) was the idea that one of the tools the alien benefactors gave those who were to be agents of the Law (what is the law? To utterly exterminate any civilization which produced self-replicating planet-killing machines. That is the Law! Are we not men?) was momerath--basically using the unconscious processing powers of the noggin for the kind of mathematics needed for pseudoscience. (Named after Carroll's Jabberwocky, of course, in fine sci-fi tradition.) This is the kind of thing I've always thought of as a neural co-processor, only with no additional hardware posited. I like the idea.

posted by Gar @ 8:52 PM
momerath - kind of reminds me of the effects on Paul when he ODed on the spice for the first time in Dune. Unleashing the unused processing power of the brain to become, in essense, a human supercomputer who could actually calculate space/time vectors for jumping from planet to planet, thereby breaking the stranglehold on the universe held by the Space Guild.

Dune is an incredible book and should be required reading in any good fiction course. Yes, good science fiction is good literature in general, people. Herbert described it so well, the idea that once "the sleeper had awakened" he could perceive all the possible paths to the future and their probabilities. Those descriptions stuck with me, and now it makes me want to pick up Dune and read it again.

Now that I'm almost finished with The Godfather (review forthcoming) I think that will be next on my list.
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