Complexity explodes in neural networks

Some neologisms

I call Diversium reality as a self-organized structure (self-organization diversifies reality as its complexity increases). We know several sections with this complex dimension. From the elementary to the sophisticated, I call them: Quantum (quantum vacuum > subatomic particles), Matterium (atoms > neurons), Stratium (synchronous neural group > self-awareness), Societarium (consciousness of others > holism).

I am not sharing mystical illuminations with you. You will easily assimilate these terms by analyzing reality in the form of levels of information. Advances in physics have diluted and then eliminated the notion of substance. Reality is no longer descriptible only by information. When I touch something, information from a touch sensor is transmitted to neural networks that make my image of a solid thing.

Although my finger and the thing are essentially vacuum, they do not cross due to the information exchanged by the atoms that forbid it. These interactions are gathered quantitatively and qualitatively separated. It is not possible to mix data from atoms and neurons. So there are several levels of information involved in my experience of the solid thing: quantum, material, neurological. My experience has an inseparable complex dimension but I can designate the components by scientific observation.

Self-definition of a level of reality

These components do not have the same extent in the complex dimension (which I call Surimposium,the surimposition being the superposition of these inseparable levels of information in a complex entity). A level is self-defined by elements with properties that allow them to interact together. They do not always have the same constitution. At the bottom of Diversium, the elements are particles, twins and easy to classify. At the top, however, digital networks based on silicon chips interact with biological neurons in the same layers of information. One level remains fuzzy, because chips today do not simulate the same number of neighboring strata as neurons (they do not generate the same degree of consciousness). Let’s talk about a complex attractor rather than an arbitrarily fixed level. As with systems, it is the related elements that define it.

The Quantum

occupies a small extent of the Surimposium,the complex dimension. The levels described to it by physicists currently begin in the quantum vacuum and then there are a limited number of energy levels created by subatomic particles up to the atomic stage.

The Matterium

is more extensive. The so-called inert matter occupies only the atomic and molecular levels, but then the living multiplies them generously: biomolecules, micelles, cells, organs, organisms. Each of these terms brings together several levels that it would be too long here to detail. We are already dealing with a tree structure rather than a single building. From each level can rise several piles of variable height, likely to branch out in turn. But the difference with a tree is that when they reach a certain height, the tops of different stacks can recreate together a common level, for example the chips and neurons already mentioned.

The Stratium explodes the complex dimension

Neurons have this extraordinary property of being able to quickly increase the depth of the information they process. They can form hundreds, thousands, millions of levels if they are in number and have a sufficient variety of signals to process. An environment that is both complex and relatively stable makes them gradually build a complete representation whose evolutionary advantages are obvious. The sophistication of neural representation rises beyond that of the material objects that surround it. Nothing prevents it from simulating interactions that have not yet taken place. Imagination.

The limitation of these capabilities, however, appears when networks have to simulate others, performing the same operations. A human being seeks to know a congener. The picture becomes approximate and coarse, to a point that we can never be aware enough. We are deceived by the fact that the congener has a material appearance quite close to other inert or living entities. The complexity of his Stratium is not exposed. We start to get a vague idea when he starts talking.

The Societarium

Because of these difficulties, the neural networks have continued to build additional levels, dedicated to relations with congeners: Societarium, a vast expanse of hierarchical social circles. The Societarium has a variable geometry according to the culture and density of inhabitants sharing the same territory. It has grown considerably in the complex dimension in the last century, with the extension of cities, knowledge and specializations.

It tends to shrink today with social networks. Paradoxical, in view of the increase in knowledge? Not. Certainly knowledge is shared more, with the effect of smoothing between individuals. Perverse effect: individuals are increasingly reluctant to accept the hierarchies and delegations of power that accompany it. Another effect, unfortunately, of this difficulty in correctly imaging the Stratium in others. It’s easy to claim omniscience when you don’t know how to simulate it effectively in others.

2 conditions for increasing complexity

The important message of this article is that the Surimposium is capable of a dazzling extension from the moment complex signals reach relational processes capable of rapidly increasing their depth of information. Our mind is a temporary outcome. This dimension could continue to expand exponentially, under two conditions: 1) Increasing complexity of the signals available in the environment. The Matterium reaches its limits in this area, but virtual worlds can easily surpass them. 2) Extension of hardware networks generating the appropriate processing depth (increase in intelligence).

The second condition is technical, easy to solve. The first is extraordinarily difficult. Humans have so far managed a proposed environment, resulting from a principle of natural selection. How can they create their own environment, by changing its fundamental principles, without the whole organization collapsing? How to continue an adaptation when one has become the God of his creation? How to become external to oneself?

This immensely delicate question can only be solved by recreating a strong mental hierarchy, based on the most advanced fields of the human sciences: philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology and history. Hierarchy that is not closed to anyone. But it cannot be replaced by a majority consensus. Consensus is formed in the middle of the Societarium, not at the top. It will always be a lower synthesis in complexity, less close to what can happen above.

Our best role, individually? To move our mind up this hierarchy. The booster is to recognize our deficiencies, not to hide them in a very high opinion of oneself.


Surimposium, the double look
Surimposium, the double look (Paperback)

Hierarchy synthesis

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