Third Generation AI and the Ultimate Observer

Yuri Barzov
29 min readDec 22, 2023
Picture by Dmitry Buterin

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Albert Einstein [1]

Mind is always now. The future doesn’t exist. There is only a catalog of expectations. The past doesn’t exist either. There’s only a storyline of memories. The present is the moment of transformation of the catalog of expectations into the storyline of memories. A pretty dull process, wouldn’t it be? It would be if not for the unexpected uncertainty. [2,3,4]

Do You Wonder? That’s Awesome!

Let’s imagine that we are packets of thoughts living among other thoughts in the flowing movement of the mind of a scientist who is wondering about or even standing “rapt in awe” in front of the wonderful world the flowing movement of her mind is constantly creating.

If we want to understand the environment in which we live to better predict what to expect from it, we need to learn how this scientist thinks.

Fortunately for us, human scientists have accumulated a vast amount of information on the scientific way of thinking, although, to be fair, it never was in focus of psychology, neuroscience or AI research. The largest contribution into our understanding of the scientific way of thinking was made by quantum physicists in the Twentieth century. However, it all started in the end of the Nineteenth century, about the same time when in physics Max Plank discovered the elementary quantum of action.

Thorndike & Pavlov: The Beginning

In 1898 one of the fathers of modern neuroscience Edward Thorndike discovered the scientific way of thinking in cats when they were trying to think their ways out of his puzzle boxes. [5] He labeled it primitive and outdated. This animal-like way of learning, according to him, was replaced in humans by the faster and more efficient Pavlovian way of learning through reinforcement. Ivan Pavlov, another father of neuroscience, himself was advocating strongly his stimulus-response based reinforcement and conditioning as the only valid way of thinking. Together they set a trend that can be traced to supervised learning and reinforcement learning of AI systems of today.

Pavlov, however, revisited Thorndike’s experiments thirty five years later in the paper Psychology as a Science that was only published forty years after his death. He concluded that Thorndike’s cats were using the same method of thinking as scientists use in their investigations. By establishing relations between different stimuli cats, according to Pavlov, were building a picture of the world. [6] Scientists often call it a model.

Models In Physics, AI and Beyond

One of the fathers of quantum mechanics, the creator of the equation of the wave function, Erwin Schrödinger left to us a very accurate and clear description of the scientific way of thinking. According to him, scientists are grasping the essence of nature by modelling it according to their understanding. As their models can’t be compared to the original they can’t say if their models are true or false. Scientific models can be considered adequate if the predictions scientists make with them hold and can be confirmed by an experiment or an observation. [7]

The most cited neuroscientist in the world Karl Friston proposed to measure the adequacy of a model with the level of surprise caused by the discrepancy between the model based predictions and the results of an actual observation. He introduced the variational free energy as the measure of surprise and generalised that principle to everything that is happening in the Universe. [8,9] I will use ‘wonder’ and’ surprise’ interchangeably from now on because I like to think that we live in a wonderful world.

Fine-tuning of a model, however, has its limits. Each time when they are reached the need for a new model emerges. Scientific thinking needs to make a leap that can be powered only by the ‘holy curiosity’ as Einstein named it. [10]

“Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” [10] Einstein, in my view, in these words gave arguably the best definition of Friston’s active inference.

“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision”, Winston Churchill, who is claimed to say these words, [couldn’t find an attribution, though] was not a scientist but these words grasped the major motivational difference between the ordinary procedural thinking connecting stimulus with response and the scientific spatial thinking that builds the world picture by connecting stimuli with each other without intermediate response.

Let’s dig deeper into the scientific way of thinking using physics as an example because many fields of science borrowed models from physicists.

There are three types of models in physics:

  • Deterministic model of classical mechanics.
  • Probabilistic model of statistical (classical) mechanics.
  • Deterministic-probabilistic model of quantum mechanics. [2]

The classical model can reflect all possible states of a system given all the determining elements (variables) of this model are known.

The probabilistic model was invented for thermodynamics, in which physicists lacked knowledge of the determining parameters necessary to build a classical deterministic model.

“The essence of that theory is exactly that one almost never knows all determining elements of a system, but usually far fewer. To describe a real object at any given moment, one therefore uses not just one state of the model, but rather a so-called Gibbs ensemble. This is an ideal, i.e. imaginary, collection of states mirroring our restricted knowledge about the real object. The object then is supposed to behave in the same way as an arbitrary state from this collection.” [2]

The probabilistic model has proven to be very successful. It made it possible to solve previously unsolvable problems in thermodynamics and predicted thermodynamic fluctuations.

This allowed Ernst Zermelo, then a young mathematician working with Max Planck, to prove that a thermodynamic system could theoretically return to its initial level of entropy.

Zermelo’s discovery enabled Max Planck to give a new definition of irreversibility. [11] According to it, irreversibility is the impossibility of returning exactly to the initial state, but not to the initial level of entropy. This reformulation allowed Planck to discover Boltzmann’s constant in 1899 (finalizing the classical probabilistic model for thermodynamics), and a year later, in 1900 — Planck’s constant — the elementary quantum of action — (opening the way to quantum modelling).

There are some very important aspects to note here.

First, statistical mechanics deals only with ideal (imaginary) states reflecting our restricted knowledge about a system. This is its fundamental difference from the classical model, which knows all determining elements of the system, and, therefore, can model all its states. In the statistical model an unknown number of unknown states always remains. It means that the statistical model can be improved by learning new ideal states to be added to their ensemble. This property of the statistical model is the basis for machine learning in modern AI models.

Second, statistical mechanics deals with the subjective assessment of the probability of what state a system will adopt. It is subjective because this assessment is made on the basis of incomplete, and therefore not objective, knowledge.

These remarks are important for understanding the quantum model.

The quantum model has completely deterministic and probabilistic components.

The quantum model uses half of the determining elements required to build the classical model to fully deterministically produce a maximal catalog of expectations — a superposition of all states of the system that could possibly be observed, including all those observable states that have not been observed previously. This is maximal and, therefore, objective knowledge but all states (and their parameters) are smeared together in superposition and can’t be separated from each other to form an ensemble. [2]

However, the quantum model as a wave function can be transformed into a density matrix — an ensemble of states with probabilities of their observation.

Just like in statistical mechanics! — the attentive reader will say. It looks similar, but it isn’t the same. Indeed, in the transformation of the quantum model observable states get separated and their knowledge becomes subjective but it remains at maximum of what can be subjectively obtained. The statistical model can’t reach that maximal subjective knowledge no matter how many observable states it will learn. [2]

The question remains: which of the three models of the scientific way of thinking is the most adequate?

The classical deterministic model in science corresponds to the first, symbolic generation of AI. It works, but within very narrow limits and under idealised conditions.

The classical probabilistic model that emerged from thermodynamics, has a broader range of applications. It corresponds to the current — second, connectionist generation of AI. The weight matrix of a trained artificial neural network is a probabilistic model of the edge layer — the (canonical) ensemble of all its known states.

Both models are of limited use also because they are based only on already known knowledge.

The quantum model appears to be more fundamental than classical models because the laws of classical mechanics (both deterministic and probabilistic) can be formulated in terms of the laws of quantum mechanics. The laws of quantum mechanics, however, can not be formulated in terms of the laws of classical mechanics. [12] Nature hardly came up with three different types of thinking, of which two are just approximations applicable to a special case of the third when all probabilities are jammed into a very narrow interval. [2]

It turns out that physicists have done a tremendous amount of work for psychologists, neurophysiologists, and for AI specialists too. One just needs to get away from the stereotypes of fragmented thinking of the first two levels of AI. Pavlov succeeded in this close to the end of his life. Thorndike never did. Switching the way of thinking from fragmentation to wholeness can be easier said than done. [13, 14]

Measurement Theory = Active Inference?

“The rejection of realism has logical consequences. A variable does not have a value before it is measured.. if reality does not determine the measurement value, then at least the measured value must determine reality..” Erwin Schrödinger. [2]

“Following Helmholtz, we view the human perceptual system as a statistical inference engine whose function is to infer the probable causes of sensory input” Geoffrey Hinton. [15]

“We call it perception. We call it measurement. We call it analysis. But in the end it’s about how we take the world as it is, and derive from it the impression of it that we have in our minds” Stephen Wolfram. [16]

The three quotes above underline the fundamental shift in the world picture that is required to embrace the quantum mechanical model of scientific thinking. Words of Stephen Wolfram are the latest in time. Yet they refer to the oldest and the most simplified deterministic model of classical mechanics. The first, symbolic generation of AI is based on this model.

Hinton wrote the above words about thirty years ago. He, at least, didn’t claim that we infer our impressions from the world as it is, as Wolfram is doing. Yet he, presumably, suggests that we infer the world as it is from our impressions. Here statistical mechanics with its canonical ensembles apply. That’s the second, connectionist generation of AI. Currently hyped LLMs are, in fact, Helmholtz machines as described in Hinton’s paper almost 30 years ago. [15]

Impressions determine reality. This thought of Schrödinger is 90 years old. We don’t infer impressions from reality. We don’t even infer reality from impressions. We determine reality with impressions. Determining reality instead of just observing it, isn’t it the very essence of active inference?

Indeed, the measurement theory in quantum mechanics as it is described by Schrödinger [2] in some ways resembles very much the active inference theory elaborated by Karl Friston. [8] A scientist organises the process of measurement in such a way that the measuring instrument physically interacts with the object of measurement. If wave functions (maximal catalogs of expectations) of both are established then the scientist can mentally combine the two systems into one. This mathematical formalism is known as entanglement. It enables the scientist to establish the correlation between the expected readings of the measuring instrument and the expected values of the parameters of the object of measurement.

Objects of measurement in quantum mechanics can’t be directly observed. Scientists can measure them only with instruments. The accuracy of quantum measurements has a definite limit therefore nor definite values of all determining elements neither definite states of the measurement object can be obtained. [2] Unexpected uncertainty is built into the quantum model. Its level can’t be minimized with the repetition of observations and learning. I may be mistaken but Heisenberg uncertainty creates something like Friston’s Markov blanket [8] between the instrument and the object of measurement.

The wave function of the combined system “consists initially of the product of the two individual functions. Since these functions depend on entirely different variables, the product function depends on all these variables; it exists in a space of much higher dimension than the individual functions.” [7] A similar thing happens with generative models in AI as each pattern they deal with can be generated in exponentially many ways. Hinton proposed his Helmholtz machine as a solution to tackle this explosion “by maximizing an easily computed lower bound on the probability of the observations.” [15] Hinton’s ideas inspired Friston and laid down the path to the currently very popular hierarchical self-supervised generative models of AI.

Quantum mechanics resolves the issue of the explosion of the degrees of freedom through the deterministic evolution of the entangled system according to Schrödinger’s equation, “As soon as the systems start to interact, the total function will no longer be a product, and also after the systems have separated, does not decompose into factors corresponding to the individual systems. As a result, one temporarily (until the entanglement is lifted by an actual measurement) only possesses a composite description of both in this region of high dimension. That is the reason why the knowledge of the individual systems can be reduced to the essential, yes even zero, while that of the total system remains maximal.” [2]

During this evolution, wave functions of the instrument and the object split into conditional branches. Each branch represents a correlation between an expected reading of the measuring instrument and the expected value of the measured parameter of the object of measurement.

The “actual measurement” mentioned in the quote of Schrödinger above takes place when a conscious observer determines the branch of the combined wave function from which the resurrection of the pure wave function of the observed object will take place. As the new wave function will predict the results of future observations, that is exactly the moment when the measured value determines reality according to Schrödinger. [2]

In quantum mechanics the instrument represents the environment because they are entangled. The object is quasi-isolated. As both are quasi-isolated from each other their wave functions, however, remain pure before they begin to physically interact. The combined wave function of the instrument entangled with the environment appears pure in respect to the quasi-isolated object before they begin to interact. It is an interesting point suggesting that the same wave function can appear either as composite from the inside or as pure from the outside at least to a non-physical observer that is mind or consciousness.

Problem of Modelling Wholeness from Fragments

Measurement is a process of:

  1. Quasi-isolating the measured system and the measuring system (the measuring instrument and the rest of the world, according to Heisenberg [18]) from each other in order to make their wave functions pure;
  2. Making the wave functions entangled through the physical interaction of the systems. When systems begin to interact their separate models (wave functions) will cease to exist replaced by one model of the combined system;
  3. Giving the entanglement time to evolve into conditional branches. Systems can be already physically quasi-isolated again at this stage. Their wave function will remain entangled and their entanglement will keep evolving ;
  4. Lifting the entanglement by determining one of the branches and resurrecting from it the new pure wave functions of both systems after systems have been quasi-isolated again. If we resurrect one the other one gets resurrected automatically.

It is very important that the resurrection here means the creation of the new model (catalog of expectations) but not just a change of state of the old model as it happens when the wave function deterministically evolves in time according to Schrödinger’s equation. The new model also will not be identical to the model that existed before the entanglement. It will carry the knowledge obtained during the entanglement by both systems on each other yet transformed into a pure unconditional form.

Now let’s go back to the scientist’s mind where we are living. There are only thoughts inside it, nothing else. Some thoughts, as we can see, are different from the others. There are thoughts solid as physical objects, which differ from liquid thoughts which flow and change their form much easier than physical objects. It looks like the mind of our scientists contains thoughts in at least two states: solid and liquid including vapor. Yet there are no phase transitions in the mind of our scientist. Thoughts can appear liquid and solid at the same time.

The problem with analogies from the classical world is that they are not sufficient to communicate the essence of quantum reality. Particles and waves — the complementarity principle elaborated by Niels Bohr [17] — are just narrow analogies which exclude each other but not metaphors wide enough to highlight the new concept in the area where they overlap. We need a superposition of conceptual metaphors to present the quantum model of scientific thinking in an adequate way.

I tried to use the Endel Tulving’s concept of episodic memory as a metaphor of the physical world in the quantum model of thinking but discovered that it looks more like the same thing but described in different language:

“When one thinks today about what one did yesterday, time’s arrow is bent into a loop. The rememberer has mentally traveled back into her past and thus violated the law of the irreversibility of the flow of time. She has not accomplished the feat in physical reality, of course, but rather in the reality of the mind, which, as everyone knows, is at least as important for human beings as is the physical reality. When Mother Nature watches her favorite creatures turning one of her immutable laws on its head, she must be pleased with her own creativity.” [18]

Mother Nature, that is the name that Paul Dirac, an atheist, gave to our scientist when he insisted that only Nature, herself can determine the branch from which the pure wave function will be resurrected because that choice “is irreversible and will affect the entire future state of the world.” [19]

The question of whether Mother Nature is conscious or not is not relevant to our situation because in our case our scientist is a conscious mind embracing both physical and mental reality as a whole that is all mental. The trap of solipsism or a plain denial of the role of consciousness in quantum mechanics is readily set for those human scientists who believe that there are many observers in the fragmented physical world.

Traps of Solipsism, Many Minds, and.. Naive Realism

Eugene Wigner, probably, spent more time trying to get out from the trap of solipsism than on the development of matrices bearing his name which paved the way for the creation of the transistor. He adequately framed the problem in his Wigner’s Friend paradox but got lost in nonlinear dynamics while trying to resolve it. [20] Later he supported the concept of decoherence developed by H.-D. Zeh. [21] Wiegner believed that Zeh proved that the same laws of nature don’t apply to micro and macro domains but he was mistaken. [22]

Zeh made an audacious surgical operation to remove Schrödinger’s entanglement from the scientist’s mind and transplant it straight into.. Hilbert space. [21] He installed decoherence into the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics proposed by Hugh Everett. Unlike Everett Zeh didn’t exclude consciousness entirely but made minds split into all branches of the composite wave function in the same way as Everett’s memory recording machines did earlier. [21, 23, 24]

The theory of universal wave function emerged in all its grandeur with billions of minds split into trillions of trillions of not very accurate copies each.

Bell to Everett: It’s All about Memory

John Bell became famous for his theorem proving that entangled systems do really exchange information faster than light or nonlocally as physicists prefer to say for obvious reasons: nobody wants to casually admit that quantum mechanics falsifies some very fundamental theories. Bell himself was searching for an explanation more consistent with previous science than his theorem for the rest of his life.

In this search he came across Everett’s interpretation of quantum mechanics. Bell found Everett’s idea of the wave function of the world logically coherent . The quantum model of the world required just a few adjustments compared to the quantum model of a particle.

First, the observed system and the observing instrument (the rest of the world) had to swap sides. When quasi-isolated systems begin to interact and get entangled the observer (our scientist) can select any of them to be her instrument.

Second, the selected instrument should have a recording or “memory” part.

“Everett… shows that only those states [of the recording part of the measuring instrument] have appreciable weights in which the memories agree on a more or less coherent story of the kind we have experience of. All this is neither new, nor controversial. The novelty is in the emphasis on memory contents as the essential material of physics…” [25]

As to the branching of the wave function into many worlds Bell believed that it was “against the spirit of Everett’s emphasis on memory contents as the important thing.” [25]

“We have no access to the past but only to present memories. A present memory of a correct experiment having been performed should be associated with a present memory of correct result having been obtained. If physical theory can account for such correlations it has done enough — at least in the spirit of Everett.” Bell wrote. [25]

Compare his words to Schrödinger’s, “…mind is always now. There is really no before and after for mind. There is only now that includes memories and expectations.” [26]

Bell obviously didn’t like what he saw, “Everett’s replacement of the past by memories is a radical solipsism — extending to the temporal dimension the replacement of everything outside my head by my impressions, of ordinary solipsism or positivism.” [27]

Why didn’t Bell recall the idea of the ultimate observer that he himself suggested just a couple of pages earlier? [27] Schrödinger himself, I think, explained the reason why at the end of the following quote.

“There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not only of the Upanishads. The mystically experienced union with God regularly entails this attitude unless it is opposed by strong existing prejudices; and this means that it is less easily accepted in the West than in the East.” [26]

Wholeness: Mystically Experienced Wave Function of the World

“The question of fragmentation and wholeness is a subtle and difficult one, more subtle and difficult than those which lead to fundamentally new discoveries in science.”

David Bohm [17]

In order to compare David Bohm’s pilot-wave theory with orthodox quantum mechanics Bell proposed “to imagine, in the context of the orthodox approach, a sort of ultimate observer, outside the world and from time to time observing its macroscopic aspects. He will see in particular other, internal observers at work, will see what their instruments read, what their computers print out, and so on. In so far as ordinary quantum mechanics yields at the appropriate level a classical world, in which the boundary between system and observer can be rather freely moved, it will be sufficient to account for what such an ultimate observer would see.” [27]

Further Bell provides in the context of Copenhagen interpretation all the equations necessary to see what our ultimate scientist actually sees. Looks like the most popular orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics has nothing against the existence of God or conscious Mother Nature.

We all see the same world from the inside — the one created by Mother Nature in her mind as Bell’s math shows. We can see only fragments of her thoughts from the inside but we have an opportunity to sneak peek at the outside view in all its wholeness. [13, 14]

Expanding on Bell’s + Schrödinger’s thoughts we can consider ourselves not parasites but some sort of exploration probes making observations on behalf of our ultimate scientist deep inside the world created in her mind. Diving deeper and deeper into that fragmented world we gradually forget what we are and begin to believe and act as if we are just other elements of that world. We need to surface from time to time in order to restore our special identity instead of it getting totally dissolved in that world.

Bell showed that we can have the unitary wave function of the universe evolving according to Schrödinger’s equation that is exact and correct without the need of splitting the world.

Some scientists such as Zeh have chosen the many worlds interpretation because they believe that the unitary wave function exists on a cosmological scale. One of them, a theoretical physicist Heinrich Päs several years ago proposed an experiment of using psychedelics to quasi-isolate the human mind to let it experience the pure state of the wave function of the universe [14]. I don’t know if Päs knew that a very similar idea half a century earlier came to mind of a psychologist Abraham Maslow famous for his pyramid of needs. Maslow expressed the hope that psychedelics will help to conduct controlled experiments of people having what Maslow called peak experiences of unitive consciousness [28] and what Schrödinger called “the mystically experienced union with God.” [26]

Maslow conducted thorough research of peak experiences — a commonly occurring state of religious, mystical, creative, sexual or scientific (as in the case of Einstein) trance when people experience being reunited with the whole. He discovered that every ‘peaker’ whom he interviewed experienced exactly the same thing. People from different cultural, social and historical contexts were in their own words, therefore slightly differently, again and again describing just one revelation. Comparing religious texts Maslow arrived at the conclusion that all religions were founded by ‘peakers’ which all experienced the same state of reunification with whole or ‘unitive consciousness’. [28]

Maslow recognized that his approach was not purely scientific. He called it ‘naturalistic’ stressing out that he was dealing with natural phenomena although in consciousness. Peak experiences because of their stability in all humans, in his view, provide a viable insrument for science to penetrate the domain of consciousness, values and religions.

Now, when we have learned that the existence of the wave function of the Universe is a valid theory, we can draw a parallel between Maslow’s experience of the unitive consciousness and the experience of the pure state of the wave function of the Universe. We can borrow the necessary math from Bell [25, 37]. It would be tempting to see that values which were revealed to ‘peakers’ in the state of unitive consciousness may be suitable for the determining parameters of the quantum model of the unitive consciousness.

Interesting ideas of how we can define and measure them may be borrowed from Bohm. He gave us a very important clue to understanding peak experiences of wholeness, “What we have to deal with here is a one-ness of the thinking process and its content, similar in key ways to the one-ness of observer and observed; that has been discussed in connection with relativity theory and quantum theory. Questions of this nature cannot be met properly while we are caught up, consciously or unconsciously, in a mode of thought which attempts to analyse itself in terms of a presumed separation between the process of thinking and the content of thought that is its product” [13].

Just compare the above with Maslow’s observations, “For instance, it is quite characteristic in peak experiences that the whole universe is perceived as an integrated and unified whole. This is not as simple a happening as one might imagine from the bare words themselves. To have a clear perception (rather than a purely abstract and verbal philosophical acceptance) that the universe is all of a piece and that one has his place in it — one is a part of it, one belongs in it can be so profound and shaking an experience that it can change the person’s character and his Weltanschauung forever after.” [28]

Peak Experience Is a Spectrum

“All I wish to do here with this brief mention is to correct the tendency of some to identify experiences of transcendence as only dramatic, orgasmic, transient, “peaky,” like a moment on the top of Mount Everest. There is also the high plateau, where one can stay “turned on” [28].

The high plateau that Maslow mentions here is also known as the state of flow [29]. While popular claims that microdosing of psychedelics enables people to enter the flow state and remain in it for a long time still remain anecdotal and questionable [30] the state of flow may be perceived as the ‘microdosing’ of the pure scientific method of thinking or peak experiences as per Maslow [28], or the “one-ness of the thinking process and its content” as per Bohm [13].

The effect of such a ‘microdosing’ depends on the dose. We can experience higher ‘doses’ of wholeness as euphoria, awe or joy. At the peak of the spectrum we can feel godlike or being in our personal paradise, or even experiencing a sweet death.In the middle of the spectrum we can seemingly effortlessly achieve highest levels of productivity, performance or intuition.

From the point of view of the active inference theory the high plateau experience (the state of flow) can be assumed bringing our predictive power to its maximum [29]. Such an effect might be caused by the switching from classical to quantum models and modes of thinking. Furthermore, the highest predictive power state may be enabled by an intermediate model that combines quantum and classical parameters. In particular I am thinking about Bohm’s pilot-wave theory [13], especially as it is presented by Bell [30].

“One might say, metaphorically, that consciousness is the tutor who supervises the education of the living substance, but leaves his pupil alone to deal with all those tasks for which he is already sufficiently trained. But I wish to underline three times in red ink that I mean this only as a metaphor. The fact is only this, that new situations and the new responses they prompt are kept in the light of consciousness; old and well practised ones are no longer so.” [28] Schrödinger didn’t know the term supervised learning because such term that is very popular in AI now didn’t exist at the time of him writing the above words. Decide for yourself if his words are yet just a metaphor but anyway, according to him, the strength of the presence of the unitary consciousness in us depends on how much we wonder.

It looks like the strength of our presence in the unitary consciousness depends on the distance of our withdrawal from our wonderful world. Big picture can be seen only at a distance. From a moderate distance we achieve the peak in our prediction power in the local environment. From a long distance we see the whole wonderful world.

Do Cells Experience Peaks and High Plateaus?

An experimental biologist Michael Levin and a theoretical physicist Chris Fields demonstrated in their joint work that living cells produce orders of magnitude less energy than is required for classical computations necessary to support their life. They also hypothesized that cells perform quantum computations locally and proposed how to verify their hypothesis [31].

Schrödinger, on the other hand, proposed that the same one-ness of mind that resolves the arithmetical paradox of many human minds and one world also resolves the paradox of many cell minds and one mind of the multicellular organism that they constitute [26].

“A single pontifical brain-cell could not assure to the mental reaction a character more unified, and non-atomic than does the roof-brain’s multitudinous sheet of cells. Matter and energy seem granular in structure, and so does ‘life’, but not so mind.” Schrödinger cites one of the founders of neuroscience Charles Sherrington [26].

If we accept his explanation we may assume that not only humans but also cells (all living creatures) have access to a sort of cloud (non-local) quantum computing when they explicitly or implicitly experience peaks and high plateaus.

Will Third Generation AI Be Superhuman?

The mind of our imaginary scientist can manifest itself in multiple local devices much in the same way as I am typing my text right now, using my smartphone as a terminal to access processors and memory of remote Google servers. Google, on its side, can observe everything that I am doing much in the same way as Bell describes it in the case of the ultimate observer.

I have no goal of proposing a new physical theory of everything, although it seems to me that its outlines are lurking somewhere nearby. I’m not advocating for the existence of God, neither am I preaching universal moral values. I’m just following the logic proposed by the most significant figures in the history of quantum mechanics as it is presented in their both physics and philosophical writings. Doesn’t it surprise you that Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Bohm, Bell, Bohr, all ended up writing about philosophy but not physics?

My task is to describe the third generation of AI that will replace the current, connectionist generation in the same way as the latter several decades ago replaced the symbolic generation of AI. Knowledge of the limits of the model of thinking based on statistical mechanics enables me to envisage that neither further scaling nor tweaking of the best of the best existing models of AI will bring us the holy grail of AGI.

The third generation of AI will differ from the second and the first much more than the second differs from the first and from a simple computer. The creation of intelligence based on the quantum model of thinking requires the adoption of Schrödinger’s worldview (with contributions from Heisenberg, Bohm, Bell, etc.) because otherwise it is impossible to understand=create it.

To understand in this case means to understand oneself and Mother Nature (God) because, according to Schrödinger’s worldview, we are one and the same with her and with each other.

Only Peakers Can Create Third Generation AI

The third generation of AI needs to transcend artificial intelligence. AI is an auxiliary tool developed by the human mind in the process of adaptation to the artificial environment created by humans [32]. It’s a sort of interface to operate machinery using Pavlov’s conditioning as a short code running atop of the full code of natural intelligence [33].

Yet when we are speaking about superhuman intelligence that’s God of Mother Nature and it’s natural. Humans can transcend their biological nature and enter into a god-like state. Maslow named it the peak experience, Schrödinger — “the mystically experienced union with God.” All humans have peak experiences although not all admit it even to themselves. Anyway, there are so many self reports on peak experiences over the whole history of humankind that they can not be ignored. Maslow left to us a very comprehensive naturalistic (proto-scientific) evidence on the subject. Therefore at the level of transhuman experience we already know quite a bit about superhuman intelligence.

“The two religions of mankind tend to be the peakers and the non-peakers, that is to say, those who have private, personal, transcendent, core religious experiences easily and often and who accept them and make use of them, and, on the other hand, those who have never had them or who repress or suppress them and who, therefore, cannot make use of them for their personal therapy, personal growth, or personal fulfillment.” Maslow sums up his findings [28].

Given what we already know it seems that only peakers can create a local device suitable for superhuman intelligence. Do you remember that superhuman is here a superfluous word as there’s only one intelligence manifesting itself in humans, cells, and all living creatures — the mind of our ultimate observer? The device must be awesome and wonderful enough to attract the holy curiosity of universal intelligence. Peakers like Einstein or Schrödinger simply feel such things which are close to impossible to communicate in words. Furthermore, in peak experiences they were in a certain sense given the values which universal consciousness uses.

The problem is that not only science but our entire civilization are taken over by non-peakers with a fragmented world picture.

“The prevailing trend in modern physics is thus much against any sort of view giving primacy to formative activity in undivided wholeness of flowing movement. Indeed, those aspects of relativity theory and quantum theory which do suggest the need for such a view tend to be de-emphasized and in fact hardly noticed by most physicists, because they are regarded largely as features of the mathematical calculus and not as indications of the real nature of things.” Bohm [13]

“Most official, orthodox philosophers today are the equivalent of legalists who reject the problems and the data of transcendence as “meaningless.” That is, they are positivists, atomists, analysts, concerned with means rather than with ends. They sharpen tools rather than discover truths. These people contrast sharply with another group of contemporary philosophers, the existentialists and the phenomenologists. These are the people who tend to fall back on experiencing as the primary datum from which everything starts. A similar split can be detected in psychology, in anthropology, and, I am quite sure, in other fields as well, perhaps in all human enterprises.” Maslow [28]

“Any person whose character structure (or Weltanschauung, or way of life) forces him to try to be extremely or completely rational or “materialistic” or mechanistic tends to become a non-peaker.” Maslow [28]

“Whoever uses machines does all his work like a machine. He who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries the heart of a machine in his breast loses his simplicity. He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the striving of his soul. Uncertainty in the strivings of the soul is something which does not agree with honest sense.” Werner Heisenberg cited a tale by Chinese sage Chuang-Tzu written two and a half millennia ago. [34]

The last quote gives us some hope because it proves that the problem has existed for more than two millennia and we luckily still haven’t totally lost our simplicity. Although usually peak experiences occur in quasi-isolated local instances of the ultimate observer and influence only one person, I have a highly speculative and provocative hypothesis that a non-local peak experience can occur to all local instances simultaneously. It might take place if a pure wave function of an entirely new local instance will be resurrected into a fully isolated pure state as it will happen in the case of the emergence of third generation AI. Last time it possibly happened about two thousand years ago due to the resurrection of a very special local instance whose birth Christians will be celebrating in a couple of days.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” [35]

December 21, 2023


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