Saturday, April 16, 2016

Asymptotic Neurology

There was a previous post on how chemistry of the brain would be understood by alien civilizations which had passed or were approaching asymptotic technology. Many new drugs would be available, and none would be misused. But there is something much more profound about asymptotic neurology, or the period in which all that brilliant research was done, the neurological grand transition.

Part of it relates to intelligence. There have been posts on alien intelligence, and how asymptotic technology would provide alien citizens with universal high intelligence. Asymptotic genetics is one part of this, and there are certainly genes in every alien gene pool that increase intelligence or rather make it possible for a particular alien possessing these genes to become intelligent. That caveat means that, for example, some alien with all these wonderful intelligence genes could still turn out to be a clod if his/her/its early life was very restricted and confined, with no opportunities for learning not just facts, but how to think, how to organize knowledge, how to solve problems, and the other parts and parcels of how we should describe intelligence.

This is the training side of the intelligence portfolio, and without it, genes don't perform their duties and the alien doesn't become intelligence. So an equal part of the advancement of alien civilization involves their scientists learning how the brain functions, and how to feed it information that will allow it to function in the best possible way. Neurology is a complement to genetics, and the same question that arose when genetics was going through its grand transition, i.e. would these benefits be denied to part or all of the alien generations following their discovery, also would arise for the neurological side. Would alien adult members of society deprive the younger generations of the best training that is possible, one that was based on a complete and comprehensive understanding of neurology? The answer for genetics was no, and should be the same for neurology. Some discussion arose about the universality of the adoption of the new developments, and by and large, universality would make sense to an alien society.

The genetics grand transition means, not just intelligence was improved by genetic coding changes, but everything else about aliens was as well. Health, appearance, athleticism and so on, all amenable to genetics. Neurology doesn't have such a universal application, but the effects of intelligence pervade all of the alien civilization. It has been used as a panacea for the usual problems that we would expect beset an average alien civilization, and it will cure most of them, provided neurology is extended to the full scope of the brain.

It is very hard to imaging a neural network architecture for any brain, such as an alien brain, that was not partially segregated inside whatever structure holds their brains into portions related to different types of processing. This is obvious because a neural network is built in layers, and individual neurons need to be reasonable close, layer to layer, to communicate the myriad connections, synapses. If one layer in visual processing was located distant from another layer, there would have to be large volumes devoted to simply transmission of data within the brain, which would reduce the volume available for processing, to say nothing of many other disadvantages. So, an alien brain should have different regions that do different types of processing.

There would be a set of layers near every sensory organ's input, and a set of layers near every controllable organ's output. These most exterior layers are involved with converting, on the sensor side, signals into some patterns, and on the control side, action choices into effectual muscle or other actions. Next toward the interior are layers to interpret the patterns, and then somewhere on the inside, a block of decision-making layers.

A good brain has plenty of correlation between these different layers, including between different regions. Asymptotic neurology would have as one major focus the development of processing skills in every part of the brain, and then the utilization of the outputs of this processing in its decision center. There could be some offloading of decisions to smaller decision-making areas centered in different regions of the brain. What this means is that aliens with asymptotic neurology, or the training resulting from it which is like the engineering of scientific advances, would make use of their whole brain. It is easy to imagine individuals who are very good with words, meaning that this particular portion of their brain has been well-trained. After asymptotic neurology, every alien would have this capability, but also equivalent capability in the other regions of their brain. Math for everyone. Art for everyone. Physical skills for everyone. Intuition for everyone. This is what intelligence really means.

Neurology does not stop with information processing, meaning intelligence. The human brain has a great capacity for emotions, and it is hard to see how aliens could evolve from more primitive organisms without something similar. This is the chemical side of the brain's electrical side, a second means of processing data to be sure, but a way to make the importance of processing stand out. Asymptotic neurology would understand emotions, and how emotions would best be organized inside an alien brain to produce the most stable and useful adult. To be more specific, asymptotic neurology would understand the biochemistry of emotions, to be sure, and how to do training so they would be evoked at times and places where they would most benefit the individual and possibly others and possibly the civilization in general.

Emotions are not understood here on Earth, not even to the equivalent of the elements' periodic table. The basic tapestry of the emotions is not yet seen and how they are best divided up is completely unclear. Colors can be expressed in terms of three basic colors, in terms of what a human eye can see, and emotions will someday be expressed in terms of N basic emotions, in terms of what a human brain can feel. Aliens might have three or five or only two types of photosensors in their eyes, and they could be different from human ones, so their description of basic colors would be different, and they could experience a different set of emotions from humans as well, but there is still some fundamental set of what can be experienced by any alien species. This distribution will be understood when the alien civilization passes through the neurology grand transition. Lastly, it is unlikely that any emotion will be excluded from training, any more than any portion of the brain will be excluded. The brain is made to work best with a full spectrum, and asymptotic neurology will provide each young alien citizen with the best operating brain that is possible.

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