Hypergraph, Brain and Mind (pt2)

Stephen Wolfram has a pretty crazy theory that the universe could fundamentally be a computational process. In a nutshell (from what I can gather),

1. The fundamental structure is a ‘hypergraph’ where every node is defined by a tuple of objects, and any two nodes are connected if they share an element in the tuple

2. There are rules for updating this hypergraph, “microscopic rewriting” of that structure

3. The connectivity of this rewriting forms a casual network, which defines the observable part of the universe at any given point

4. Time and space are thus emergent properties and do not actually exist, they are the macroscopic manifestation of this rewriting of the hypergraph

Most importantly, he ponders the nature of this rewriting rule. Is it something very simple, such being representable as one line of code?

And if so, would that be evidence of say, the universe in fact being a technological construct (IE The Simulation Hypothesis).


I have my own crazy theory of sorts, of which I yet can think of only the macro and the micro.

Firstly, to preface, numerosity has always been a feature of the human brain, as it is in other animals, but numbers themselves are recent inventions. It thus makes sense to me that whatever is the native form of computation that the brain performs, it should be framable in the context of the most early form of symbolic thought.

1. Macro: the nature of brain/mind computation. It is sometimes thought that the brain is a computer, but, that is an anthropomorphism (or maybe “technomorphism?”) Many in neuroscience believe that the brain is not a computer, as a computer is an invented concept. If there is anything the brain does which is analogous to computation, it could be of a very different sort. My thoughts are the following: that what we label as computation is in fact structures built from abstractions. For example with arithmetic, numbers are constructed from abstractions of “oneness,” “fiveness.” Some innate capacity for induction is what allows for the understanding of a general concept of number, say, integers from 1, 2…100… infinity. Memorizing multiplication tables, doing a few homework problems builds yet more abstract structure on top of the concept of “number,” and that’s what forms the calculator.

The kind of computation the brain does could be related to how the mind is guided (“conscious action”) . It should be in line with evolutionary evidence: what the earliest brains/ganglions/clusters of nerve cells were formed for. The way an early brain tracked and predicted motion, perhaps ours has more abstract perception of motion (say, a general notion of events rather than just tracking in physical space… how to think of the economy, or history, or culture, or music, dance, etc…. well, I mean, language itself).

Joseph Campbell studied mythology from every culture and found similarities. Could they be similar everywhere, perhaps, in part because they are the product of the innate form of computation performed by the human brain[1]? (which becomes input into the mind[2]… meaning that our thoughts arise from the computations that the brain performs, but that it is perceived in a way we can perceive it in consciousness, the way physical representation of information is transduced when transmitted through different mediums… just as with radio, digital, etc. there is Analog to Digital Conversion and visa versa, there could be Brain to Mind and Mind to Brain).

I am thinking of how: when I am to explain why I took an action, or summarize events, I am by definition “telling a story” — in a basic sense. What’s more, this computation results in a communicable representation. I suppose in the minds of those such as Stephen King, Leo Tolstoy, George RR Martin, etc. these… well, I have no idea how a novel would be written so I say no more.

2. Micro: the nature of concepts. All concepts (“meaning”, “understanding”, “knowledge”) could be comprised of sensorimotor information. Perhaps from mixed levels of abstraction. At any given level of abstraction this can be composed with any other level of abstraction[3], which could fit the neurophysiological observation of connectivity between cortical layers, and, connectivity between cortical layers in disparate cortical areas (Brodmann areas, or whatever form of organization, which should be corroborated by cytoarchitectonic differences IE differences in cell structure of the neurons). This could be a stretch, I comment. Abstraction comes from the meaning of similarity and difference (two sheep, two cows, and two cats all share in common a similarity of “twoness” and this defines the concept “two”).

Now, a gulf would be to connect the micro (#2) with the macro (#1). This I do not yet have an explanation for.

…maybe something like: sensorimotor information being incorporated into something analogous to a knowledge graph (the operative word being analogous), upon which which “computation” (loose quotes) is performed.

Maybe yet another goal could be expressed as the following: How does the sensorimotor I/O that an agent performs with the physical world become mind, and visa versa?

Although that itself could be a misframed question. A thought about the nature of qualia:

Consciousness is one of those ultimate questions, although is it possible that it is neither mysterious nor special?

If I consider my experience, what is doing the experiencing?

I might say a collection of neurons. Something like 80–100 billion of them (with newborn infants having more along the lines of the 100) receiving sensory input (the sight of the ocean, the sound of trap, the feel of the bass) which fans out into all of the far flung corners of the cortex, becoming neural activity here and there, and that comprises the experience of the present moment; the entirety of experience is encoded in neural activity.

That neural activity now experiences a new current moment. So, maybe the experience (of time t) is being experienced by the experience (of time t-1). The encoded experience experiences experience.

This doesn’t preclude consciousness from being a very cool phenomenon. It could be that consciousness makes groups of neurons in a certain configuration and state self aware the way the way nuclear fusion makes groups of hydrogen atoms in a certain configuration and state stars.

Perhaps there is a fallacy in my explanation of qualia, although it possesses the properties of being a simple and straightforward one.

[1] plus human universalities

[2] if that’s the “I” part of the mind’s “I/O”… what’s the Output part?

[3] the chef David Chang said this in https://www.wired.com/2016/07/chef-david-chang-on-deliciousness/

Learner, Engineer, Asker of Questions