Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Matrix I came to know about - Part II

Read the first part here.

I guess this will be just the second part of a longer series.  Before I continue, here are the disclaimers and acknowledgements.

Disclaimer 1: I can not claim ownership for the views I've presented.  They are derived from a number of sources.  The number is too hard to list, I'll try to acknowledge some of them.  I won't be able to quote like an academic journal, but if there are inconsistencies, I am responsible for them and will try to fix them.
Disclaimer 2:  The above is not the only disclaimer, more to come.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to my masters, Sri Bhgavan (Oneness University), J Krishnamurthy, creators of Matrix, the movie, computer scientists, whose insights into the functioning of the human brain that created modern computers and their software.

I was supposed to write about the lifetime of a thought, but I think history is more important.  Let me narrate the history of the Matrix.

It all started as a simple network.  I believe every species has its own network.  A network in which thoughts - or roughly information, is exchanged.  We haven't totally figured out how other species - from ants to elephants communicate.  So, let's go with an assumption that a network exists for each species where basic emotions (fear - forest fire, predator, earthquake) and information (water hole, sweets nearby) can be exchanged.  This network is used primarily for survival.

Humans too have this network, I call Matrix.  We need a name.  With this network early man could communicate and evolve his tools, before voice communication evolved.  Over a period of time, the information exchanged had enormous growth and matrix had to handle lot of data.  Humans are habitual exploiters.

The matrix had to respond faster, handle more information.  Like any other network, it started caching them, to deliver content locally.  This is nature's way of optimizing.  For someone in Africa, it is enough to access information about wild animals, forest fires and famine.  He doesn't need to prepare for the winter weather in Central Asia.  Let's call this tribal matrix or Matrix 2.0.  Tribal gods and Chieftains were like the System Administrators.  They tightly managed the thoughts - with laws applicable to their society.  The purpose of the tribal matrix is to ensure the welfare of the tribe - an attribute inherited from the simple Matrix 1.0.  A deviant or rebellious thought wasn't encouraged.  This was the beginning of the more powerful, controlling matrix.

Religious matrices must be 1.5.

Humans started communicating to this cache or the sub-network of Matrix.  This sub-network was initially geographic.   But as humans started occupying larger geographies, it  had to divide further into regions and sub-regions and so on.  So, there were village matrices and kingdom matrices, let's call them Matrix 3.

As people started travelling, exposure to different societies and their knowledge occurred.  This gave rise to theories on societies, economics etc.  These are idealogy matrices - Matrix 4.

The complex part is, the earlier versions continued to exist, wielding their powers on humans from time to time.  People could be attached to multiple matrices at the same time.  The problems of which matrix takes precedence in a situation hasn't been figured out by humans, for they have been too dependent on matrices and have given up their will to be on their own.   People's decisions are influenced by the more powerful matrix at that time.

There are Agent Smiths - representatives of the millions of matrices all over the place, controlling what we get to think.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Matrix I came to know about

The movie has been an all-time favorite of my family.  Trying to comprehend the science behind was interesting one to many.  To me, it is more about drawing parallel's to the mind and its working.

It all started when the question popped up in my mind - "Why do I get a thought, any thought and where does it go?"

A thought is usually triggered by a sensory event. For example, we see a red sign, an association happens in the brain between red and danger.  Then thoughts take over - is it the Sensex/NASDAQ/Nikki dipping sign? is the market down today? What happened to my savings? With these questions, the thoughts would linger for a few minutes.  To summarize, a thought is triggered by a sensory event, but is allowed to run given the set of facts that our brain has stored as association.  Thought survives on the past facts and is about the future.  For some strange reason, the thought doesn't survive the present.  Let's equate a thought to an execution of a software - say playing a song or execution of a program.

But sometimes, there is no need for a sensory trigger.  A thought just like that comes to you.  How do we explain this?  I would equate our brain to a radio or a computer that receives signals.  Like a tuned radio, our brain receives only "some" signals.  This is because of a set of physiological condition of the brain and some psychological conditions.  I would equate it to hardware and firmware.  So, our brain is more like a computer than a radio.

If a signal is received, the brain does some processing - strengthen it, invert it, modify it and transmits again.  The thought signal floats around to be caught by another individual.  The thought is not owned by the individuals but is survived by individuals who power it, modify it and create opposing ones.  If people stop reacting to a thought, it would have died down.

This is the reason, why a tribal like thought doesn't survive the cities, where people do not respond to it.  Thoughts about ghosts were prevalent a few centuries ago.  Popular literature around the world mentioned them often, but not anymore, for people just stopped responding to them.

What is the lifetime of a thought?  How is it born and how does it die?  Does it even die like a weak signal?What is it made of?  More on this in the next one.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The ghost that walks

"Appa, I think there is a ghost in the house.", said my five year old son.  He didn't appear scared, but said it as a matter-of-fact.

The year was 2002, we had just returned from the US and were staying with my parents' at Trichy.  My son, had too much of new things to see - trucks with hair (lorries with hay-stacks), all kinds of animals on streets, pampering grandmas, grand uncles with mustache like the monopoly man, aunts who would ask him to sing in Tamil.  I knew it was a lot for a 5 year old to handle and wanted to give a patient hearing.

I asked, "Why do you think so?"

"Because I go to bed in one room and wake up in another.  Some ghost must be carrying me and dropping me in the other room."

It was amusing.  At my parent's place, the maid servant used to come early in the morning.  In order not to wake up my son so early, one of us would carry him and let him sleep in another cleaned room.  I explained it to my son.  He wasn't impressed, my answer wasn't the cool one that he wanted to hear.  We let it at that.

The next day, when I was in the bathroom, I heard someone closing the bolt from outside.  I knew who it was.  Later, I called out and my mother opened the door.  When I came out my son was away in the living room.  When I entered the living room, he saw me, he was surprised but his face lit up and said "You are THE ghost!"