The Pattern of the Individual Intelligent Mind

If one views the world as patterns among patterns among patterns ... then each of us, as individual minds, must be viewed as a pattern as well!

What kinds of patterns are we?

There are many ways to answer this question; here I'll give one answer that has proved useful to me in my science and engineering work designing AI systems and analyzing human mind/brains -- and that seems to also tie in with what various wisdom traditions have said about the individual mind.

What is an Individual Mind?

An individual "mind", from the view of Third, can be thought of as the set of patterns associated with some intelligent system.

And what is an intelligent system?

An intelligent system can be thought of as: A system that is capable of achieving complex goals.

The broader the collection of goals the system can deal with, the more general its intelligence.

Subjectivity of Intelligence

"Achievement of complex goals" might seem a profoundly limited conceptualization of intelligence, given the limited role that explicit goal-achievement plays in real intelligences.

But if one thinks in terms of implicit goals -- the goals that a system looks to be working towards, based on what it is actually doing, regardless of how it conceptualized itself -- the perspective starts to seem more broadly applicable.

One arrives at the notion of an intelligent system as one that can sensibly viewed or modeled as seeking to achieve complex (implicit) goals in complex environments, using limited resources.

This emphasizes that intelligence is in the eye of the beholder -- because it takes some beholder to assess what are a system's implicit goals.

What looks intelligent to A may not look intelligent to B, depending on what implicit goals A and B respectively are able to recognize.

This characterization of intelligence highlights the vast variety of intelligent systems that are possible -- which derives from the vast variety of goals that may be pursued by different systems, in a vast variety of possible environments.

Generality of Intelligence

We humans have a certain degree of general intelligence -- but we are not wholly general minds. We are a wild mixture of general and specialized capability.

Our brain has limited capacity, so there are many things our brains -- in their current forms, or anything similar -- can never understand or do.

It seems unlikely that any absolutely general intelligence can ever be created using a finite amount of (computational or energetic) resources. Any finite system is going to have some biases to its intelligence -- some goals and environments it does better on.

Much of human intelligence may be understood as adaptation to the specific bodies, goals and environments in which our minds evolved to operate -- though as we advance culturally, psychologically and technologically we are progressively generalizing our intelligence.

But our brain also has the capability to expand itself by augmenting its "hardware" infrastructure -- which means that, transhumanistically speaking, it's not so limited after all.

Given that we have the capability to flexibly self-modify, there are no clear limits to what we may become. Limits may be discovered as we progress. And, even if there are no limits to what we can become -- there may well be limits on how generally intelligent we may be come and still be considered human.

No Known Limits

Our individual minds may appear strictly limited -- if we view them from certain limited perspectives (the "consensus" perspective of modern Western society, for example.)

But such a perspective is itself a construct of the individual mind: it is something the individual mind learns and builds for itself, just as the individual mind builds its understanding of the "external world."

The wisest perspective is one in which individual mind and external reality create each other. This is the only view that reconciles the inner experience of existing, with the apparent presence of entities like rocks and snowstorms that are difficult to morph via mere power of thought.

As John Lilly eloquently put it:

"In the province of the mind,
in the inside reality,
what one believes to be true,
either is true or becomes true
within certain limits.
These limits are to be discovered
experimentally and experientially.
When so determined these limits are found to be
further beliefs to be transcended."

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