Monday, December 01, 2008

A whole image that gives me a better perspective of the whole image

Starting idea: We have neural networks. They work in parallel. When you see a picture millions of them are fired, thousands of ideas on a simple object, both the details but mainly the whole image. When you see a picture you instantly recognise a house, the trees, the people, the cars, whatever is in the image and is familiar. A computer would see that as a series of pixels, colored areas, shapes and not even that. We had to train it. But what would you tell the computer when it asked you: "How the hell did you managed to perceive in nanoseconds that it's a house surrounded by trees, windows, cars, people, etc and even receive ideas about how beatiful or peaceful or nice it seems plus millions afterthoughts?". Would you say that it just occured to you? That it's obvious? Or would you recollect and find some reasons: "It's a house because it has windows, roof, door". And how did you recognised instantly that something is a door or a window? Is it the texture? The bricks? The wood? And what are all these?

When you give a mathematical problem to someone and instantly he can feel which is the right and easy way to solve it and where are the traps, when he has already decided in few seconds or a minute which method to follow and you wonder how the fuck did he thought about it, it is like the same thing. I am a mathematician. I have a good picture of mathematical notions, symbolism, a visual perception of maths but I am missing one thing. In university exams it's very possible I will fail, especially when the subjects are tricky. I will read a problem and maybe follow an obvious path that leads to too much calculations or prooves to be hardly solvable this way. To solve the problem, someone might have to add and substract a new variable, draw a non obvious straight line on a geometrical problem, generally do something non so obvious making you wonder "How the fuck did he know it?". Either he has already solved the exercise somewhere else or,.. he has a talent! Talent? Btw, I have that talent in programming but never asked myself how the hell did I thought a crazy optimization idea or a non standard solution to an algorithm. People that study programming and come to me for help are wondering about specific notions of programming they can't understand or how the hell are they supposed to create anything. And their questions seems preety much obvious to me. I am the human intelligence and they are the computers. In analog, the math genious is the human intelligence and I look at him with awe as I am a stupid computer. We don't know why we know what we know. It's obvious to us human intelligences. It's unreachable, it's a talent to the corresponding stupid computers.

Roots of intelligence

There is no single definition of intelligence. It can be everything. Someone might be very good at solving Sudoku even if it's unpractical. I am very good at programming but suck at math. No, even math intelligence can be separated in subsections of intelligence. I am good at understanding the concepts especially visually. I am good at making a practical use of them. But I always sucked at solving mathematical problems just to pass the exams. I also suck at studying (The alternative path for exam success would be to solve one thousand exercises per month and have a very good memory too). Yet I am better at programming than maths. I can find in a very short time alternative solutions or optimizations to algorithms, a kind of coding intuition, people staring at me and wondering where the hell do they sell inspiration and I bought some?

Humans are intelligent at interpreting imagery. We instantly see houses, faces, cars, dogs, cats, plants and even smaller details in a blink of an eye. Computers need to be prepared with sophisticated image recognition software to achieve that. If I ask you to add all numbers from 1 to 100 you may either take a long time to make all the additions one by one (each of you may either be preferably more fast according to the means: paper and pencil, calculator or abacus) or use your intelligence to invent an equation to do it fast (like Pascal did iirc) but a computer would still do that from zero to one million in nanoseconds. That's why they are called computers :)

They say that great pianists had in such way evolved neural networks in their brains that justified their unique talent. Say that because of my long lasting occupation as a computer programmer I have evolved in such way my neural networks that I can instantly have a whole image of programming and algorithmical problem solving and is quite easier for me to read a programming exercise in university exams and know what to do. The same way it's easy for a math genious which leaves me wondering how it's possible. I am not even aware that it's a talent. Evolution is slow. It seems obvious to me, I even don't remember when there was a time that I wasn't able to grasp the primary notions. Imagine that each of us has some overdeveloped networks of neural nets that help them perform specific functions faster and better than others while we have weak or badly developed networks on other aspects. I am good at programming and optimization, bad at planning, lazy in studying, not a good socializer. Others are better or worse on various other aspects. Viewing it like this it gave me a lot of possible answers to what is intelligence, talent, intuition, habits, personality and the main questions raised are what are the reasons we have evolved our brain this way and how easilly can some things change.

I mean, I am good at programming because I was into programming for years and my brain has learned to deal with these kinds of problems before my eyes. But there must be a time I wasn't good at programming. There must be an initial moment when my skills on programming, maths, socialization or even things like my resistance and attitude to laziness, ability to plan, reaction to emotions or habits, where all set at zero. There was a time that when I should start learning how to approach girls or drink beer, I was lost into binary logic. Why maths and no girls? Why girls and no maths? Why computers and no maths? Why not everything? Why avoiding or not being interested in some? What dragged me into others?

I am thinking of two or three primary reasons. And you can add more. Questionable is how biology plays a role. Then it is our choices in the past. And then it is emotions. Someone would add social or school or family environment, inspirations from the outside world, etc. These are secondary but I believe that the whole of them can fit into one bigger image.

Brain biology: I was always a fan of this notion. I have the feeling that I am better or worse at some things no matter how I try because of this. Of course there is a possibility that this could be a delusion. Maybe, if after the years I overdeveloped the neural networks for programming and underdeveloped those having to do with socialization then it all seems to hard to change. So hard that it feels like I was born with that. But even the sole idea that everything is tabula rasa doesn't wipe out the influence that brain biology can bring to the game. Some people are too emotional and others are psychopaths. Some have more analytical way of thinking and others are more capable socialy. Even if I can't answer to the question whether this brain differences where initial or evolved. Actually what could be initial would be the biological inclination to evolve to each different path. If for example analytical thought favours certain brain parts that happened to be in better communication with each others at birth, then there is a higher posibility for certain choices or habits. It doesn't predict if he will evolve his neural networks towards being good at math or a good socializer though. But it affects. It affects the path that will bring us to now and make us think why we are what we are. Put an asterisk to that though, it's great for studying further (and I am not a neuroscientist to know).

Choices. I often wonder. What would happen if I had not taken the path to become a great computer programmer? Would I have not evolved my neural networks into that. Would I now be staring at algorithm solutions and optimizations uncapable of thinking how is this possible? Would I have instead found a purpose in my studies and become a genious at math? Would I met some other people, another hobby, another purpose and be something completely different? That initial moment when I was 16 and was teased by my classmates and thought I would proove them smarter or gain my lost self-esteem by becoming great at something nobody understands. That initial moment could have happened by chance? Chance is how I am currently thinking it. They say that evolution is not exactly chance. There is a purpose but no creator. It's more like natural selection. Of course chance exists, my attention could have been drawn by something else and snap a different choice. But in the big picture when you see all the pieces together you can see a patern. They ask me what would happen if there were no computers in the world. Would I be just like the rest? Would I just engage in regular boring activities? Most probably I would have found another geeky hobby. If I was a neandertal I would invent fire or something. I know it :). But things could slightly change, I would be good at maths instead of programming, with different friends or parents I could have evolved slightly different habbits, different ways of reacting to my negative emotions, family and society could surely play a role in the way my neural networks evolved. But the primary motive would still be here. My brain wanted to learn, to be creative, I couldn't stop analyzing things (Remember the number one reason here).

Emotions. They can make you love or hate things. Maybe it's the reasons I am not motivated to solve maths or study. And remember, some old habits, some old evolved neural networks are hardly changed if not modified. In order to be really good at maths as I am in programming I'd have to be motivated to solve thousands of exercises just to pass the exams. What if I studied computers science and had maths as a hobby? Still something missing. Motivation. I am motivated to solve problems with a practical use unlike math problems at school which are useful just to pass the exams. I use maths but for algorithms. They are not the same. Maths at exams are like sudoku puzzles, at least some of them. And the rest are boring. I could put motivation into the equation among with emotions and a sense of purpose for what we do. Emotions, there can be negative. You can hate things. They form your habbits. Maybe I always liked the idea of great scientists that dragged me into wishing to become a great computer programmer or something. Maybe that was the initial tension at 16 to follow that path which after a lot of practice evolved my neural brains in such a way to be easilly for me to fiddle with algorithms and stuff. I am wondering now if negative emotions among other people led me into avoiding socialization. Currently I believe that being too emotional makes me being extremely overwhelmed when into social situations. Emotions complicate matters too much. They form our personality, our habits, our tensions to follow or avoid any path. And when we follow our habits, that piece of neural networks which is connected with that is preserved more and more as much as it used and should be abandoned for a very long to be wiped out and/or replaced with a parallel path. That's why it's too hard to change. When you have learned to hate social situations or the people who criticise you for being weird and not having a life then how easy is to change? And why change the habit of thinking too much or programming when they are such valuable talents to most? And when they keep telling you that you are not normal and you keep reacting to the negative emotions with the same boring way then imagine what happens in your brain and how badly you enstregthen the chronic situation. A big turn has to be done there.


You have a path that split in two. At the initial point where you have to make a choice, not speaking about the different realities at stake, it seems that at the initial point you didn't have a preference. Let's say that you didn't. From that point and later, what follows forms a tendency. Say that initialy I decided to become a great programmer. I started coding slowly slowly, then I learned a little, then a little more, then I liked what I was doing because I became better at it. Then my neural networks had already evolved a little into that direction. When you walk a road you can't just go back and take another one. As long as a tendency to work on programming problems was slowly slowly formed into my brain, as long as new neural cells were infected by my engagement in programming, the more my neural nets were fired towards that direction. I could even stare at an image or hear a word having nothing to do with computers and somehow relate it to my hobby because there were more cells infected with programming specific things. I am not really into neuroscience (even if I'd like to learn more) to know how neural cells or networks work (I am even feeling I am using the wrong terms) and how they evolve, if they grow, even if it's an empty hard disk or new trees are born, I just speak out of how I feel the whole picture of what I am talking about. Anyways, the more you are engaged with something, the more your brain is filled with that stuff and the more it's filled, the more you are inclined to be more engaged with that. Kinda like a vicious circle. But there was that initial point where the skill was near zero and there was no inclination towards it just pure chance. Or wasn't it?

It wasn't. Computer programming was not a thing I was aware of once I was born. But there were other notions related to it. Somewhere I have heard that programmers are scientists. Somewhere else I have heard that scientists are smart or cool. I have also heard that computer is the future. I liked their colors and shapes. Did I always have that visual mathematician way to view things? Or did it evolve too? If scientists were cool and computers were fancy and I also needed an injection of self-esteem that would make a good match but how did I have the notions of good and cool and sexy and smart? There was an initial point where everything was at zero. I knew nothing. Pure chance? Or also brain biology?

You can say that I was an analytical brain. But what if this was a tension too? What if I decided to think too much? What if at a very early stage a primary tension/tendency/inclination towards thinking and analyzing was build up, some of the first evolved neural networks were build upon this scheme? And this scheme made me seek for knowledge and understanding? It could be with others too. I am not the only who thinks in here. But why do I think so much? Why do I think much more than others? Could we say it's just psychological? I think it's a biological difference in brain. But this part is still in debate.

Still thinking about tendecies is important. I found one that one primary reason at the time that I initialy have chosen to become a good programmer was that it snapped me that I would heal my bad self-esteem during that moment. Which didn't happened. But left me with the ability to do really spectacular things with a compiler. I am recently healing my self-esteem following a different path. Which is also snapped me. After I have seen results I have said "Wowa! How did I do this?". In the same way that I get that inspiration and I don't know why. The same way someone solves a problem and things it's obvious. Before several months it wasn't that obvious. Parenthesis here. I found that at my 16 but I later forgot I wasn't programming because programming is good but because it snapped me at my 16. This doesn't make sense but wtf.

All I mean is there are influences from my birth that evolved my neural networks one after the other and brought me into this time. Some talents, some bad habits, both can't easily change. There could be a reason, not chance but natural selection, like I was inclined to be geeky as I was meaned to be lazy. Some can change. Lack of self-esteem was not something I tried to avoid. I really wanted it. I recently feel like having it but started being build since the first time I asked for it. It took time. Or maybe? Self-esteem took time while programming much less time? Was my brain inclined towards one and against the other? One can achieve something if he really wants it but does the biology play such a big role? How can specific children at 6 or 8 years old play the piano, write assembly or solve higher maths? It all points to the brain. Chance maybe but that is changed to natural selection. Different paths are being followed but the initial inclination to chose one in favor of others are primary the brain and then aditionally social/family growth, evolved emotion (things we learn to love or hate) and habits formed. But the primary paths, the tendencies/inclinations, the roots. I'd like to know more..

Still a confused big picture?

Nah. I am used to it. I was thinking that in the same way that you instantly see the whole picture out of smaller parts and meanings while the computer needs sophisticated image recognition software to do just that, in the same way I am truly struggling to disclose the bigger image of thoughts and ideas about everything (the reason for my big texts) in order to let myself out of the cognitive dissonance I had been through all these years. And neural networks are evolving towards that direction too. Even those that let me decide a nicer way to react to the negative emotions produced by incompatibility of ideas. They are build and most of the time without a conscious plan but out of my primary motives. I was lost into thoughts of not being normal and one day I was fed up. The change didn't immediately came, just the timid decision to stop caring. Other things, ideas, happenings led me to a similar decision. All these together slowly slowly evolved into acceptance of myself and the world around me, while also killing softly my old habit of self-pitty. But it came so slowly that I wasn't conscious of it until one day that I woke up and thought I was getting better at something I thought I was lost. I felt know that what I believe is obvious. I was the stupid computer. I am the human intelligence. I evolved.

It's nice thinking of everything this way. A different point of view that I recently found important. Some of it's primary aspects are things I have been thinking in the past and someone would say that it's not something new. But here comes the part where they see doors and windows and a brick wall but they can't see the whole bigger image, they can't see the house. Here is the part where I have that greater feeling of a whole that explains a lot but it might sound trivial to many of us. It's not an entirely new view, it always combines previously written ideas because that's how evolution works. The big image inherits older ideas combined together, which each of them inherits much older ideas and when I feel so great about writting a blog post like this is when suddenly this cloud of thoughts, this confusing puzzle suddenly seems to be forming the bigger whole.

Those are very randomly written thoughts. Not exactly the whole picture. I also wished to write a new post and put the last article down (enough bashing "hackers" :P). From those scattered writtings I might privately make some notes hopefully into a good scheme of things (I never did that no matter how many times I wanted to really organize my thoughts :PP)

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