Day 152: Not waving

Working too hard lately has given me a disconcerting new perspective on a lot of things.  In a brief moment of downtime I was staring out to sea, looking at the waves forming up and breaking, and I thought: that’s all deterministic.  The moment after the Big Bang, it was already established that at this moment in time, that wave there would appear and then disappear moments later.  Suddenly I had this peculiar sense of looking back in time, as though if I were to stare for long enough at the observable reality around me I would end up accidentally learning about how everything came to be.

Work, on the other hand, is, if anything, worse than that.  This is a special case – reconstruct (it transpires) aspects of a person’s self from some fragmentary recordings of neural state.  Well, I think they’re fragmentary.  The people who set me the task (incidentally, without any discussion of the ethics involved) think their recordings are pretty outstanding.  Which they are, compared to, say, having somebody’s diary and a photo to look at.  But a lot of people seem to make this mistake with neuroscientific data.  A lot of the time we reconstruct things from that – like we reconstruct a set of electrical impulses from a 2D map of the potentials involved, or we reconstruct neural activation from subsequent bloodflow to the areas activated.  These are statistically optimal guesses, but they’re still guesses.  I try to explain that, but they don’t seem interested.  I suppose if you don’t know someone at that level to start with, who cares whether Them 2.0 is the same?

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