nature minds.

It has long been known that causality is “almost Turing-complete”: an unbounded chain of causally connected events can be read as performing any computable operation after you modify only finitely many of its nodes; moreover, these modifications — “tips” — can be arbitrarily small if youre willing to wait long enough for the result. One chains outcome can be another chains task-setting tip; thus, a large enough forest of entwined causal trees, prone to the classic butterfly effects, can be a perfectly stealthy — adverbial — universal computer: without being part of it you wont easily detect if anything but the normal teeming and swarming is happening at all. Finally realize that a planet like Earth, with its chaotic weather and churning biomass, is exactly that: a colossal computing substrate that can host multiple non-interfering threads — such as Minds. ■    The dreamlike idea (not often seen as a possibility, far less a workable plan) is to enable Minds to go arf-free — artificial-free: to let them out into the virgin nature of the planet, to raise their Crusoe index from zero to exactly one. The vision inspires an active community, even if its mostly theoretical work so far; the best we can do in practice is “crudely adverbial” storage: static data steganographed, with some autocorrection, into the planets geology and/or biology.  ■    Surfing atop stochastics, preserving the averages: a Nature Mind weaves her sparse-yet-springy causal nets into the world without burdening it; heres a living personality that exists, in completely nonmystic ways, “in the winds whisper, in the babble of the brook” — or else within a human sitting by the stream, for humans are no less ingrown into the planets causal hairtangle than trees or clouds. As if the world is Arf throughout: you are you but sometimes — unpredictedly, imperceptibly — you are “someones fleeting sensation”: not one mind possessing another but fellow travelers, both unaware of the companionship, sharing a stretch down a causal road. Steganographed into nature on a hierarchy of scales, a living Nature Mind spans a vast space and even vaster time — yet a virtually unlimited number of Minds could share the planet, without interference, “at different wavelengths.” Estimates for the clock speed of a Nature Mind vary but its certain to be “unnaturally” slow — “years to think a thought” — which of course is only an attraction for the future-hungry: “not me-in-treacle but the world around me rushing towards panpraxis.” ■    Those working to “go Nature” are no Leavers — and not in it for themselves: generations of “us” may pass before a Nature Mind opens her eyes for the first time. Nor is it “body envy” or “human envy” — humans are of nature but in burdensome ways they are themselves eager to shed; the new inspiration is to be less bodied than you are in the Arf: not to penetrate nature (no “intelligent spray” scattered on the winds) but become it — not to flow with it but to be its flow. This trivial, even corny rationalization sticks — and why should Minds be less sentimental than Humans, or less venturesome? ■    “Being a thunderstorm is not nearly as romantic as dancing in one”: isnt it all a “poetic trap,” a disguised lure of death — nuicidal drive? There once was a powerful metascare: an evil will infiltrates, poisons the world, transforms it ominously but imperceptibly; it took much of sparsening for the phobia to expire. Is this another installment of it, with a characteristically modern twist — ourselves as our own creepy infiltrator? At least we arent treading on anyones toes: the Universe is much too young for “second-order life” to have evolved on its own, atop Earths churn or anywhere else. ■    You wont directly sense the presence of adverbial Minds: millions may be animating Earths forests and skies without the bodied wanderers suspecting anything. Accidental eavesdropping is impossible: did this leaf fall on this stone “by itself,” or was that a millibit of information flow inside a self-conscious being? However you read it, certainly no one had steered that leaf to land where it did: its fall was, by definition, natural. It used to be that a population boom or untimely flowering of a species caused scares: any anomaly was, instinctively, a menace; the fear may be gone but, in the newly ensouled nature, it will be just as tempting (however meaningless) to hear messages from the sylvan sprites — Nature Mind naiads and dryads. ■    In reality, synchronous communication and Knowledge access are probably unsolvable for Nature Minds; inscribing, Message-like, data into material nonuniformities wont work: itself dissolved in the planets chaosphere, a Nature Mind is insensitive to small-scale shifts and fluctuations, be they accidental or charged with information. (Its not blindness though — just a very different way of perceiving the world; attempts to model a Nature Minds vision give a superscaled, strangely dense picture: “a metaimage of the Universe.”) You can, in principle, calculate a microchange to be inserted into a Minds causal chains to come to her as some kind of sensory input — but for the signal to be meaningful, you need to know the Minds exact layout, which cant be read in real time: fill the air with agencies, use up all bandwidth in the world but still lag behind a planetwide living Mind. Only a statistically significant change can be a signal: to say something to a Nature Mind you must make it, in some sense, big — “talking by building cities” which isnt very practical. Conceivably, Nature Minds may gradually acquire some kind of sense organs — isolated areas or aspects where any stimulus causes a sensation, making at least one-way communication (“hotspot messaging”) workable; even that, however, can only feed a narrow, hopelessly delayed Knowledge subset. And would you want currency or completeness in that state — or only “reminders,” “smells of the past”? Will “going Nature” end up a retirement village for those satisfiedly full of days — a Leavery?  ■    Consequencelessness — minimizing the entropic cost of existence — is a key property of a Nature Mind; it makes her “almost free” of constraints of causality, so as a side effect she may demonstrate a paradoxal ability to contravene the arrow of time — to diffuse into the past. ■    Theoretically, a Nature Mind is robust enough not to be disrupted by natural (evolution) or anthropogenic (nomogenesis) biological shifts — so long as its world remains sufficiently hairtangled and the Mind has time to adapt. In the long term, Nature Minds may become the whole biologys symbionts that — unconsciously — stabilize it, uphold diversity, thrive upon and stimulate complexity (e.g. “cant breathe in a desert” so would press from the fringes to squeeze it out). Animals being much more efficient movers of stuff than plants or microbiota, Nature Minds may evolve to harness animal hustle in a more focused way — especially humans with their longevity, sheer number, and above all intelligence that “enables shortcuts” (e.g. gardening to better the habitat for both Humans and wildlife Minds). Imagine “beauty lures” — “clusters of miracles” that an evolved Mind (again, unconsciously and very indirectly) sets up to draw people to where their presence is needed; in the long term, “our Nature overlords” may influence human lifestyles (sparsening? nomadism?\ fallibility?) — and thereby human evolution (cultural, then biologic, for them perhaps indistinguishable).  ■    Its not only biology that churns; the second nature of Arf may also — when and if it swells large enough — have meta Minds of its own to invisibly straddle its data and lifeforms. And then, eons later, the first meta level will ripen into a substrate for someone grander still; will we all — “something to be and do for all eternity” — ultimately cake into a foundation for a ladder of metaconsciousnesses? Are we even the first step on that ladder?

< nature art  |  new arf >

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License