An optimistic view - Deepstash

deepstash

Beta

Get an account to save ideas & make your own & organize them how you wish.

deepstash

Beta

Human intelligence: have we reached the limit of knowledge?

An optimistic view

Even if we do find the answers to the mysteries, we still have to understand the meaning of the answer. Quantum physicist Richard Feynman admitted that "nobody understands quantum mechanics." According to quantum mechanics, particles can be in two places at once or randomly come out of empty space.

But mysterians forget how mindboggling other scientific theories and concepts were when initially proposed, such as the theory of relativity or heliocentrism.

200 SAVES


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Human intelligence: have we reached the limit of knowledge?

Human intelligence: have we reached the limit of knowledge?

https://theconversation.com/human-intelligence-have-we-reached-the-limit-of-knowledge-124819

theconversation.com

7

Key Ideas

Science providing anwers

Despite the advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still limited. Scientists still don't know what the vast majority of the universe is made up of or how consciousness arises from mere matter.

Some philosophers argue that we will never understand some things and that human science will one day hit a hard limit. They may already have done so.

Mysterian arguments

"Mysterian" thinkers give an important role to biological arguments and analogies.

Late philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that there are bound to be thoughts we are unable to think. Similarly, philosopher Colin McGinn claimed that all minds suffer from "cognitive closure" about particular problems. Just as animals will never understand prime numbers, so human brains are unable to consider some of the world's wonders.

Mysterians and pessimism

Mysterians present the question of cognitive limits in fixed terms: either we can solve a problem, or we will never be able to.

A possibility that eludes mysterians is one of slowly diminishing returns. We keep slowing down, even as we exert more effort, and there is no point where progress becomes impossible.

An optimistic view

Even if we do find the answers to the mysteries, we still have to understand the meaning of the answer. Quantum physicist Richard Feynman admitted that "nobody understands quantum mechanics." According to quantum mechanics, particles can be in two places at once or randomly come out of empty space.

But mysterians forget how mindboggling other scientific theories and concepts were when initially proposed, such as the theory of relativity or heliocentrism.

Mind extensions

To consider if our small brains can really answer all conceivable questions and understand all problems, we have to understand the human's ability to make tools.

  • Our sense organs cannot detect UV-light, ultrasound waves, X-rays, or gravitational waves. But we can equip ourselves with technology to detect all those things.
  • We use physical objects such as pen and paper, to increase the memory capacity in the form of notebooks or file drawers.
  • Mathematics enables us to represent concepts that we couldn't think of with our bare brains. Mathematical models and computers do the heavy lifting for us.

Cumulative knowledge

What makes humans unique is that we are capable of cumulative cultural knowledge. Many human minds are much smarter than any individual brain.

No single scientist would be able to unravel the mysteries of the world. But by collaborating with peers, scientists can extend the scope of their understanding and achieve far more together.

Turning the tables

If mysterians claim that some problems will never be solvable, they have to show in some detail why no possible combination of mind extension devices will bring us any closer to a solution.

By spelling out the problem, you set in motion the very process that might lead to discovery.

Indeed, some mysteries may forever remain unknown because human intelligence is not up to the task.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Consciousness And Quantum Physics
Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Understanding consciousness and how it fits in the universe is a perennial puzzle for decades. Some call it the holy grail of science.

Quantum physics is able to describe the atomic and...

The Observer Effect

Modern science is hesitant to talk about consciousness due to it opening a pandora’s box, putting their previously ‘bulletproof’ theories under suspicion.

Quantum Theory had a similar ‘uh oh’ moment when it was found that the behaviour of atomic level particles changes when we (a conscious observer) are looking at it, or not. This is known as the Observer Effect.

Objectivity Vs Consciousness

Physicists argue that objectivity might as well be an illusion, and consciousness has to be put in the picture of its worldview.

The two puzzles of Science, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics, might as well be closely related, with one arising because of the other.

6 more ideas

Known unknowns and unknown unknowns
Known unknowns and unknown unknowns
  • Known unknowns are the things we know we don’t know about (space travel, brain surgery, etc.) We can learn anytime about them but we’re not really expected to know about the...
Illusion of explanatory depth

We think understand complex phenomena with far greater precision and depth than we rally do. We are are subject to an illusion.

Believing we know more than we actually do can lead us to prejudice without us even knowing.

The ignorance of our own ignorance

The main reason for the ignorance of our own ignorance is that we don’t need to know how everyday things work. They just do. We are used to seeing them wherever we go.

2 more ideas

The mystery of consciousness
The mystery of consciousness

We have made advances in understanding how the brain works and how it affects human behavior. But no one is able to explain how all this results in feelings, emotions, and experiences.

Ther...

Consciousness: A unique scientific problem

For much of the 20th century, consciousness was not a serious topic for "serious science." That has changed. The problem of consciousness is a scientific dilemma.

For one, consciousness is unobservable. We know consciousness exists through our immediate awareness of our own feelings and experiences. But you can't look in the head of someone else to see their feelings and experiences.

Using observation for an unobservable issue

When we are dealing with data, we can do experiments to test whether what we observe matches the hypothesis. But we are dealing with the unobservable data of consciousness.

The best scientists can do is to correlate unobservable experiences with observable processes. For example, the feeling of hunger is associated with visible activity in the brain's hypothalamus.

But collecting correlations does not explain why conscious experiences correspond with brain activity.

4 more ideas

Pamela Slim
“We are made to create. We feel useful when we create. We release our ‘stuckness’ when we create. We reinvent our liv..."
Pamela Slim
Creativity is complex

It means producing something novel or original, evaluating, solving problems, whether on paper, on stage, in a laboratory or even in the shower.

Knowing how to think

Geniuses know “how” to think, instead of “what” to think.

People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together.

7 more ideas

Insights of Albert Einstein
Insights of Albert Einstein

Many insights of Albert Einstein are now part of popular imagination: black holes, time warps, and wormholes show up in movies and books.

Less famous, but probably the most revolutionary pa...

Some changes don't change anything

The most fundamental aspects of nature stay the same.

For example, Einstein's papers on relativity show that the relationship between energy and mass is invariant, even though energy and mass can take on many different forms.

Even though matter produces energy, the energy-matter content of the universe never changes. Matter and energy are less fundamental than the underlying relationship between them.

Relationships over things

We often think of things as the heart of reality. But most often the relationship is more important, not the stuff.

We may think "stuff" like space and time are unchangeable aspects of nature. In reality, the relationship between space and time stays the same.

9 more ideas

Our own reality

Everyone has their own reality. The concept of a “personal brand” is to let others know who you are because if you don't, others will.

But, the reality is that although you can guide peop...

We see what we look for

We tend to assume that our perceptions of sights, sounds, textures, and tastes are an accurate portrayal of the real world. But when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion, we realize that what we perceive, is our brain's best guess at what that world is like.

Different perceptions

No-one will ever view us as we view ourselves.

We should consider if we are entitled to be seen by others the way we see ourselves.

2 more ideas

The Neuroscientist Karl Friston
The Neuroscientist Karl Friston
  • Karl Friston, a neuroscientist, published a radical theory called the ‘Free Energy Principle’ that has the neuroscience field in a tizzy. His papers, published in various journals, are heavil...
The Free Energy Principle

It states that the world is uncertain and full of surprises. Our brain, through perception, beliefs and action are trying to remain stable by minimizing the spikes, triggers and surprises.

We live inside our brains, and each of us has a unique perception of the outside world. Anything we say or document is just our way to explain the world we have lived. It has nothing to do with reality.

The Beautiful Mind
  • Our mind is programmed to sample the world so that the immediate future can be predictable, as a way to survive it with minimum surprises and disruptions, and as a way to conserve energy.
  • Free energy, outside the mind, maybe incomprehensible and even impossible to grasp fully, but our mind filters and curates much of the information and presents it to us in palpable format.
  • Our mind, when seen neurologically, is infinitely vast, much like the universe, which it even resembles visually.

2 more ideas

The Hard Problem of Consciousness
The Hard Problem of Consciousness

Consciousness could be described as the feeling of being inside your head, looking out, or of having a soul.

How we learn, store memories, or perceive things, are easy prob...

Between Science And Philosophy

The problems of consciousness straddle the border between science and philosophy.

  • Some argue that conscious sensations, such as pain, don't really exist, others, that plants and trees must also be conscious.
  • A handful of neuroscientists have come to believe that the problem is about to be solved if we are willing to accept the conclusion that computers or the internet might soon become conscious too.
Ignoring The Problem

Science has been trying to ignore the problem of consciousness for a long time.

  • In the 1600s, René Descartes declared that nothing is more obvious and undeniable than the fact that we are conscious. Your consciousness can't be a fantasy. At the same time, your consciousness does not obey any of the usual rules of science. It doesn't seem to be physical. It can't be observed or really described. Descartes concluded that it had been bequeathed to us by God.
  • This Cartesian dualism remained the assumption into the 18th century. But it was unacceptable to the secular scientist that took the position that only physical things exist.
  • As late as 1989, the British psychologist Stuart Sutherland declared that it is impossible to specify what consciousness is, what it does, or why it evolved.
  • In 1990 Francis Crick and Christof Kock mentioned in a paper that most of the work in both cognitive and neurosciences makes no reference to consciousness because most don't know of a useful way of approaching the problem.

6 more ideas

Describing wonder

Wonder is said to be a childish emotion. However, as adults, we experience it when gaping at something unexpectedly spectacular.

Adam Smith, an 18th-century moral philosopher, describes wond...

Bodily symptoms

The bodily symptoms of this strange appearance point to three dimensions:

  • Sensory: The marvelous things take hold of our senses - we stare and widen our eyes.
  • Cognitive: We are perplexed because we don't have a past experience to understand them. It leads to a suspension of breath, similar to when we are startled.
  • Spiritual: We look upwards in veneration, which makes our heart swell.
The scale of wonder

At the mild end of this emotion, we talk about things being marvelous. More intense emotions might be described as astonishing. The extreme of this experiences is met with expressions of awe.

3 more ideas

Veganism

Veganism is one of the fastest-growing millennial trends. In the United States, it grew by 600% between 2014 and 2017.

Recent concern about the nutritional gaps in plant-based diets ha...

Testing the impact of the vegan diet

One study supplemented Kenyan schoolchildren with three different types of soup (meat, milk and oil) as a snack over seven school terms. 

The children who ate the soup containing meat each day had a significant edge: they outperformed all the other children on a test for non-verbal reasoning. The children who received meat soup or soup with added oil did the best on arithmetic ability.

Important brain nutrients

Several essential nutrients are not available from plants or fungi. Creatine, carnosine, taurine, EPA and DHA omega-3, haem iron and vitamins B12 and D3 generally only occur naturally in foods from animal products.

The nutrients found in vegan foods are minimal. To get the minimum amount of vitamin B6 each day from the richest plant sources, you'd have to eat about five cups worth of potatoes.

3 more ideas