Ideology and Belief as Self-Propagating Information Pattern

The curious case of ideological belief is evidence enough that information systems and conceptual abstractions seek continuity and self-propagation through the human beings that adhere to these conceptual abstractions. Not only this, but beyond some improbably convoluted and confusing circumstance in which all systems of belief are in some peculiar macroscopic superposition and are all simultaneously correct, the One and Only Truth remains eternally elusive.

Instances of amygdala hijack are notorious. Having been exposed to (or enculturated by) strong appeals to emotion and visceral instinct, the human brain just can’t help itself and finds that enthusiastic replication of thought pattern, cognitive method and narrative is utterly irresistible. The abstractions of information that manifest as cultural, political and (variegated other) ideological belief systems have spent many thousands of years being refined and selected-for in an evolutionary sense. A symbiotic interdependence is particularly strong for a narrative creature that both defines itself and structures its reality around a delicate linear thread of information and procedural logic. Having been spirited away by the hypnotic narcosis and essential reflexive narcissism of narrative fascination, we are all so readily eager to surrender to a Stockholm Syndrome of adoration for our (very abstract) captors.

All human cognition, communication and community manifests through (and as) these complex tapestries of cognitive grammar and narrative meaning. We are so deeply intertwined and interdependent with (and defined by) our stories that in some cases people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for these symbolic abstractions. What a strange world this is where immaterial abstractions of symbolic meaning can lead people to all manner of terminal, illogical belief or irrational commitment. Such actions are behavioural assertions of identity and belief – it must be said – that provide continuity to the logic and cultural or cognitive information patterns at the cost of only a single node in their transmission mechanism; it is not difficult to discern that it is the patterned abstraction that wins here but it is the individual that feels empowered to act – an enigma!

Returning to the topic of there being no sense in which superpositions of abstract states of belief can reflect a scenario in which multiple contradictory truths are simultaneously verifiable, it seems very much that dissonance and aggressive disagreement as to the nature of truth is another method by which abstractions of patterned information successfully self-propagate. Rather than think of this as any kind of situation where conflicting ideological beliefs and conceptual abstractions will eventually resolve to a single indisputable truth, it is more useful to consider this an autonomous method by which emergent complexity self-propagates most efficiently through dissonance. Being that information and energy-processing systems have an autonomously-emergent orientation towards seeking algorithmically-optimal efficiencies of pattern encoding and encryption (and, perhaps, obfuscation), and further – it being a fact that the progressive metamorphosis of patterned concepts, cultures and technologies is rarely as rapid as when they are threatened (i.e. insecure) or in direct adversarial conflict, it is very likely an emergent and optimal solution for systems of thought, belief and faith to remain intractably dissonant with one another.

Not only does such dissonance provide a method for the exploratory and recombinatory development of new patterns and logical encodings, but it provides the entire (gestalt, holistic) orchestration of belief systems a method of global self-replication and accelerated development. A little like a sporting tournament in which the crucial factor is not the winning or losing of games so much as it is the persistent continuity and validation of a logic and grammatical rules-set of difference and competition. It is as though the individuation of a belief system, a person, a tribe or pretty much any discrete information and energy pattern as manifest at human scales can only continue to generate self-validation and continuity (of increasing complexity) when it is actively defining itself in contradistinction to something, or someone, else. Encountering external difference as entropy and novelty, each system of symbolic abstractions receives a boost to internal complexity and the whole rich, rippling interplay of resonance and dissonance generates the change and metamorphosis that allows the gestalt system of ideological abstractions to self-propagate.

This is a Gordian Knot. It is also completely autonomous to the extent that I am beginning to wonder what role or substantive effect our own decisions and free will can ever have. The moving world, having spawned ideological abstractions, moves on and this particular state of affairs may also find itself subject to the mischievously recursive logic of an Entscheidungsproblem.

Culture and Mind: Surface, Depth, Continuum

Cultural systems are information processing systems which, like emergent complexity in naturally-occurring energy-processing systems, tend towards autonomously seeking the most efficient methods of encoding information and replicating themselves. Human beings are in this sense very similar to cultural systems and it is indeed through their inner psychological and external behavioural practices and methods that cultural systems manifest and seek the open-ended metamorphosis of systemic change.

A general irrationality, unpredictability and discontinuity of thought that we should all instantly recognise as the essential inner turbulence and cognitive asymmetry of human experience is itself that interior surface of an unbroken flow of information and energy. Interior experience and external information exist on a continuum with very similar topological properties to a Möbius strip. At any notional cross-section or nodal point in the psycho-cultural network/graph there appears to be duality and separation between interior and exterior which entirely vanishes when viewed from a higher-degree of perspective or conceptual abstraction. The twist in the loop is distributed across the entire surface of encoded information and this is the key to both disentangling dualism and to understanding holism.

The existence and experience of a semi-isolated nodal self in this kind of broader gestalt or field is enigmatic. An individuated self appears to be a precondition for the intelligibility and aspirational (yet endlessly circular and unanchored) meaning of the narrative communication by which the cultural system itself manifests as integrated, interdependent network of information, communication and material artefacts. Simultaneously, the cultural system is only ever plausibly real or manifest as and through the vast numbers of adaptive and collectively volatile nodes (persons in which it is stored; in part – relatively static encoding in (and as) artefacts, and otherwise – dynamically recorded or represented in (and as) distributed patterns of communication and adaptively self-propagation through the participatory individuation and usefully random discontinuity (i.e. entropy) and emergent complexity of human minds.

Culture is the logical inversion of the human mind, as is technology

Ex Nihilo

Communication is an interesting problem. For all but the simplest of statements and assertions, we find ourselves so easily adrift and lost upon a tide of ambiguity and uncertainty. This is of course as much a feature as it is a bug in the veritable software and logic of information, grammar and linguistic inflection that we live through and that just as much, if not more, lives through us.

Explanation of complex concepts is generally only verifiably true (or at least – factual) where and when we can reduce those concepts to the equivalent of an elementary arithmetic. What happens when we seek to perform such pseudo-mathematical concision and abbreviation in, and with, language is of course that we merely displace the implicit complexity and ambiguity of communication to another location, we incur an entropic cost of loophole and vulnerability which is nowhere as obvious (or as plausibly deniable) as when it manifests in, and as – for instance – legalistic frameworks such as constitutional or taxation law. These loopholes are always there and exist as much due to the endemic and enigmatic fallibilities and mischievously recursive curlicues of logic itself as by any irreducible uncertainty native to language, cognition and the complexities of information transmission as communication.

I find that attempting to communicate advanced concepts through the relatively primitive building blocks of vocabulary, nuance and metonymy provides a fascinating challenge and problem-space to explore. It is all the more intriguing in that the most interesting entity, artefact or system to explore with words is probably (and perhaps inevitably) the act of communication itself. A conceptual art of seeking to capture the meaning of elusively complex and reflexively self-replicating patterns of sentience, cognition and conceptual communication is that simplest logic of one mirror turned to face another and through which an acuity of parallel planes exponentiates virtual depth towards infinity. There is, however, only one mirror and it manages by some beautiful impossibility to envelop itself, to leap out of naked structure into flowing rivers and dancing colours (or are they flames?) of meaning. How this occurs is often-enough approached reductively, systematically and mechanistically – a valid enterprise but I suspect it is necessarily also always only half the truth.

There is no authentic pointy-end or substantive conclusion to the vanishingly small narrative and bootstrapped metaphor expressed here. In attempting to capture that ephemeral infinity of unbounded paradox and systemic mischief that we all might feel is implicit and intuitively present behind the dancing shadows of meaning and syntax that pass into, through, and manifest as us, we might also think that this should (or at the very least – could) be an entirely explicable theorem. But it is not, and this is for that reason also how you can invent something, anything at all – really, out of nothing and emptiness. It is an interesting problem.

Bread Crumbs

It was the Roman poet Juvenal who who coined the phrasepanem et circenses” (bread and circuses/games) to represent the superficial appeasement of a population by procurement of foundational corporeal needs and entertainment. Providing food, shelter, basic security and a periodic cultural effervescence of various forms of spectacle and novelty seems for the most part to tick the boxes of a “happy and healthy” social system. The “happy” part of this equation is generally happy in regards to not dwelling on some of the bitter and intractable, material facts of life that the “healthy” axiom represents a partial and necessarily incomplete solution to.

If I was so inclined as to serially misdirect a population into docile entrainment and passively vivacious moments of cyclical festivity and symbolic conflict (so as to depressurise the aggregation of systemic entropy which might threaten political stability), a procurement of basic welfare and narratives of self-identity would prove of great utility. The problem here is, of course, that the emergence of a method of notional “bread and circuses”, of superficial narrative or filtering of a predominant cultural lexicon and conceptual vocabulary and its associated features of distributed cognitive control, is an autonomous feature of social systems which occurs anyway and without centralised guidance.

Attempting to shape the form and flow of complex systems to meet ideological or otherwise selfish needs is a little like attempting to modify or restrain the natural course of a river: a river will autonomously (and as a consequence of the material logic of complex systems) seek a path that is the most efficient and economical in regards to the use of energy. The emergence of, and potential for, political biases and their associated narratives and methods of cultural continuity are themselves in many ways autonomous and only superficially under any individual or group’s control.

Attempts to work against the natural tendency of information and energy-processing systems to resolve themselves to the most efficient form and flow is a method of generating entropy and turbulence. People and political parties often (unwittingly) generate such turbulence as a technique of self-validation; notice how bureaucracies and entrenched organisational hierarchies (on all scales of magnitude) have an uncanny tendency to produce precisely the kinds of disorder that self-validate their own continuing existence. In this way – political, ideological and social systems which have long ago outlived their use-by date succeed in providing precisely the forms of entropy, confusion and disorder that can be used to validate their continued existence. I leave derivation of specific examples for your own intelligence and intuition to decrypt from the various and diverse geopolitical facts of the world as they current exist.

The central concern of politics (and politicians) should be on seeking methods to allow social and cultural systems to quite literally find their own, best, autonomously emergent and self-propagating solutions. Unfortunately, as we have all been entrained to expect the spectacle of belligerent personalities and partisan interests engaged in intransigently wasteful bickering and argument, we tend to believe that this is “the way it has always been” and that this messy human world of ours is necessarily so. Only by opening up information, borders, minds, economies and political systems to change and the emergent optimal information and energy-processing solutions endemic to natural complex systems will we ever be able to successfully, sustainably and continuously ensure the individual, collective and collaborative navigation of that entropy with which our own minds have, in seeking to define themselves, shrouded the world in darkness and death.

We endlessly redefine ourselves through the catastrophes that we ourselves create and to such an extent that we fail to acknowledge that this distressed, insecure and anxious state of being and existence in the world is by no means necessary or inevitable. The same kinds of problems and patterns reoccur across this beautiful, troubled world of ours but we seem to learn little from the commonalities and regularities shared between them all. When systems of governance and control continuously and self-evidently seek little more than the continuity of their own patterned mechanisms through the creation of a dissonance and entropy that they are already well-suited (by ideological and psychological orientation) to manage, it becomes clear that these systems no longer serve the best interests of the people, the nations or the aggregate humanity they might profess to benefit. It is really not all that difficult to understand.

Ultimately – there is no best way, there are only ever better ways and a constant open-ended seeking of the iterative, procedural refinement of mature intelligence and compassionate wisdom. Less ego, more cogito.

Cyber Insecurity: Endless Breaches

Context: New Data Breach Has Exposed Millions Of Fingerprint And Facial Recognition Records: Report

There is an enigma here, far beyond the rank foolishness of keeping vast quantities of such sensitive data in an unencrypted format (see the linked article), there is a deeper problem. The more valuable any data is, the more incentive there is for it to be accessed illegitimately and it is a matter of recursive significance that secure biometrics are themselves the subject of this particular breach. As a matter of logical necessity and technical inevitability, security is only ever contingent and must always be remediated, reformed, amended and upgraded.

Observe a psychological (as much as an administrative, hierarchical) investment in an aspiration to completeness and closure of projects, products and systems which more closely resembles a fantasy of control than it does any approximation to the actual and intransigent complexity and implicit openness and systemic extensibility of material, technical, mathematical and logical reality.

Rethinking security and data protection is a matter of holistic, systemic reform which will likely prove anathema to the business models and conventions of governance within which it is currently addressed. This issue is symptomatic of a much larger organisational problem but it is in security that this pain of intractable systemic entropy is most acutely experienced.

The Metaphysics of Climate Change

The issue of climate change is of a class of problem that lies outside and beyond that mirrored surface and cognitive (or conceptual) limit through which humanity in gestalt reflexively defines and narratively self-validates itself. It is for this reason and in many ways a metaphysical problem.

Culture and ideology is biased towards systemic self-propagation at a symbolically abstract level which endlessly crushes the facts of intelligence, of material and existential necessity. Can informed imagination percolate through political systems to invoke Global organisational metamorphosis before a quite probable retreat into atavistic neuroses? Not, that is, that we have ever really left our basal instincts and animal aggression sequestered very far away from the current moving moment.

There are things beyond the intelligible boundaries of the cognitive logic and cultural grammars within which we live. Those things are the necessary inversion and epistemological impossibility of non-existence and existential emptiness. From this side, in fact – the only side, we can never know what is beyond, we can never structure intelligible statements about the unknown.

Climate science is demonstrable and provably consequential beyond a threshold of the suspension of disbelief but the reality and the immensity that it represents is so vast, so challenging that by admitting this into our lexicon as fact, we must utterly deconstruct and disassemble that meager island of self and fragile archipelago of humanity to acknowledge the full gravity of this situation. Beyond internet trolls and the wilful misdirection of various partisan ideological or commercial self-interests, observe how raising the issue of Climate Change in public places (online) is generally a red rag to a bull and invokes all manner of tin-foil hat wearing clowns to materialise out of the shadows and spout seven colours of nonsense. It is as though they are unconsciously aware of the seriousness of this situation and when faced wih the possibility that their world and all of its complex meanings may fade away like castles made of sand surrendering to a rusing tide, their own response is to unceremoniously place a bucket on their head and run around slinging mud at all and sundry.

Like a deer caught in the headlights, an entire planetary civilisation is frozen; entranced and transfixed by the single most monumental faux pas (short of global thermonuclear armageddon) that has ever, EVER, existed. The aggregate entropy of our own troubled civilisation has returned to haunt us and as if it were not already obvious enough – the true measure of the industrial and the information revolutions is not measured in commercial gain; the true measure is that dawning realisation that information – like energy – is entangled with entropy and ignorance in much the same way that electric and magnetic fields are entangled in (and as) light.

Darkness necessarily follows light, ignorance follows information, entropy follows energy; but what follows sentience and planetary civilisation if we extinguish ourselves right here and right now?

Simulating the Cosmos

Context: Virtual ‘universe machine’ sheds light on galaxy evolution

A fascinating insight into computational modelling of simulating the Universe to approximate to an understanding of (a sub-set of) outstanding mysteries regarding galactic evolution.

Information/variables inevitably had to be compressed/abbreviated to permit sufficient processing power to conduct this simulation. What are the costs of this procedural or algorithmic compression for accuracy? Abbreviation generates (information) entropy and unknown factors, amplified by chaotic processes.

Also – working from within an incomplete (if extensive and compelling explanatory) framework of physics to produce models which approximate to provable theorems within the logical grammar provided by (those,) the current axioms of physical theory does seem a little circularly self-validating; this is perhaps an issue of science in general and something that can also be traced back to philosophical issues of logic and mathematics.