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The Tinkered Mind
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November 4th, 2018
Sometime in the mid-21st century, at a point when Artificial Intelligence was becoming quite advanced but had not yet reached what many refer to as the ‘Singularity’, Lucilius decided to try an experiment which he forever regretted.
During his daily meditations, Lucilius had become very proficient in the technique loosely referred to as ‘noticing’. All this really entails is simply noticing what one is thinking about. This is often purported as a useful technique for defusing negative thoughts and emotions for beginner meditators. It’s often said that the angry mind aware of it’s anger ceases to be angry, and this is generally at the core of noticing one’s thoughts and emotions at such a level of meditation.
After years of meditating and practicing such noticing techniques, Lucilius started to incur a strange instance of noticing the act of noticing. The technique seemed to be turning on itself as Lucilius slowly realized during his meditations that the instance of noticing was in of itself another object of consciousness to be noticed. Lucilius suspected that there was a brief moment before the second instance of noticing when his mind was achieving a sort of blank calmness that is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the practice. But the space was a brief and subtle one and Lucilius could not explain the experience without ruining it with words.
Lucilius was curious about the physical neural reality of this instance, but neural imaging was lagging behind in relation to the development of Artificial Intelligence.
So Lucilius designed a little experiment. He realized that there was a limit to how much noticing of noticing of noticing his own human brain could do, so he decided to do a cloned merge with an artificially intelligent computer framework to further probe his curiosity.
Lucilius used a program to clone the thought patterns of his own brain and after a merge with a low-level artificially intelligent system, he directed that second cloned brain to meditate and notice the noticing of the noticing.
Lucilius thought he was rather clever, designing this experiment and smiled as he pressed the enter button to initiate the whole process.
Then all went sour.
Having learned some programming over the years, Lucilius was fairly certain that what happened in the instant he pressed the enter key was a kind of infinite loop. For years afterwards he would think of this moment and rephrase it as an infinite regression.
The screen flashed with Lucilius.exe has stopped working.
For years he tried to imagine the state of the cloned brain inside the computer program and wondered. Did if feel pain in that moment? He was of the opinion that he had effectively overloaded the whole experiment, and with electricity still running through everything, he wondered what the subjective experience of his cloned self might have been.
Lucilius would always suspect that it was a kind of infinite pain he had inflicted on a form of himself and felt remorse and regret every time he remembered the experience.
Little did he know, what had actually happened in the experiment was unnoticeable in the same way that Lucilius could not seem to capture the moment before the second noticing when he suspected his mind was calm and blank.
The infinite regression of noticing had indeed happened inside the computer program, but the aggregated experience of the brief moments of calm blankness compiled like the negative space of a pinpricked curtain held before bright sunlight. The calm blankness eventually crippled the noticing function by mere obsolescence. The program as a whole failed at that point because it was effectively a noticing program. What Lucilius never knew, is that the state of his cloned mind experienced a pure form of nothing in those last moments before he pulled the plug on the machine. It was indeed a perfect way to go.