Monday, May 18, 2009

The Anti-Australian Manifesto (Introspection)


Expert Columns

Simulacra: Conquering History

Dr. Prakash is Lead Scientist at the Electromagnetic Exchange

I am thrilled to announce that we have succeeded in our attempt to preserve minds on magnetic tape.

Experimental subjects were selected from several casualties of recurrent revolutions and strife in the city of Sedition. Criteria for selection included the condition the subjects’ brains were in as well as drug use. Habitual smokers of manna leaves had hippocampi that were far more developed than is normal. These well developed hippocampi allowed us to obtain memory signatures even after the death of the individual. Memory signatures correspond to particular patterns of neuronal connectivity as well as the order in which these neurons fired. Patterns were obtained by probing subjects' brains for residual electricity.

Despite our best efforts, not all subjects were amenable to this analysis. Several subjects’ brains were obtained in damaged condition and the residual analysis could not be performed. Even the brains that lent themselves to this procedure could not be probed completely. While several memory signatures were obtained from healthy corpses, the number captured is only about 0.005% of the total number possible. In many cases, fragmentation poses another problem. Vital explanatory information is often absent and the lack of context makes interpretation difficult.

Within each subject we have a collection of memories but no map to navigate them. When the subjects were alive, they knew where they were going. We did not have that benefit. This made the implementation of a simple algorithm necessary.

On the basis of neuron morphology, impulse strength, and patterns of connectivity, we estimated the probability of one memory being related to another. This gave us a series of probabilities from which we constructed a matrix of weights upon which we then conducted a random walk analysis.

At this point, it is useful to think of the individual memories as islands in the ocean. Some of them are connected to each other by bridges while others are isolated. We don't know which islands are connected by bridges but we have a probability associated with the existence of such bridges. Now imagine a goat who starts on one island and begins walking, at random until he reaches another island. If he repeats this process millions of times, he will walk some bridges repeatedly while never frequenting others allowing us to estimate which bridges are likely to actually exist and which are not.

The interrelationships of the individual memories help us reconstruct a simulacrum of the individual's mental landscape although it should be emphasized that this process is not free from error. Simulacra are often inchoate but they provide us with snapshot accounts of history, in a manner that is free from intentional bias. The simulacra have significant overlap since the subjects were mostly contemporaries, and resultantly share a similar process of socialization. However, this overlap is not absolute. Differences in perception can cause two individuals' memory of the same events to be divergent from each other and recent research indicates that memories of events can be altered by changes in a person’s perspective in a feedback-loop mechanism. In summary, the Simulacra, though illuminating, cannot yet be taken literally and will require significant vigilance and effort to interpret. We are optimistic about what the future holds for our endeavor to elucidate the past.

Dr. Satyamurthy Prakash

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