Category Archives: Theory applications
First of all, I want to clarify that you should not interpret this statement as a pessimistic, nihilistic or depressing outlook of the future. This is not the intention.
I am well aware, as much as you, of the technological progress that we’re experiencing in our days and the happily increasing average lifetime duration. And I’m also waiting in line next to you for the technological singularity to come, where we’ll be able to upload our brains into the digital realm and supposedly live forever. Heck, we could even store away some backups of our brain for a rainy day; you never know when it might come in handy.
But it’s not the technological capability that I’m doubting will deprive us of the ability to be immortal. No, this is almost a given in my opinion. It’s not a matter of if, but of when.
Instead, what I want to emphasize is that in my opinion there is a fundamental principle that underpins our whole existence and will prove the blocker. There is a primordial rule that holds true across civilizations, across technological boundaries, even across the cosmos and is incompatible with immortality. And because of that, we will never truly reach this goal. And this principle has to do with Read the rest of this entry
The advancements of humanity in science, mathematics & engineering have enabled us to live better in our planet; build better habitats, secure & improve our nutrition, collaborate better, enjoy life more. In many ways we have engineered the world around us to secure our survival and to thrive in this world. For the past years and for sure in the decades to come, our level of sophistication in those fields of science will have risen to the point where we’ll be able to shift our focus inwards and start engineering ourselves. We have already kind of achieved that, with medical advances, but our capabilities and invasiveness will soon be greatly enhanced to the point that it will put under question the limits of what is still considered human and when we have started to progress to… something else.
Our current knowledge & imagination can give hints of some of the many enhancements that are to come:
- We will be able to alter our DNA, inserting new desirable characteristics or removing unwanted ones
- We already have the ability to 3D-print prosthetics for body parts, and soon it will be very effective & cheap
- We will have the capability to grow artificial organs in order to replace decaying/malfunctioning ones
- We’ll be able to create performance enhancements in many, many ways (with drugs, with wearable tools & gadgets that enrich our capability to perceive/think/act, with artificial organs that work better that the human ones)
- We’ll have brain-to-computer interfaces so that we can plug our brain directly to mechanical & electronic vehicles & devices to control them.
The humans of tomorrow
At some point in time, you won’t be so reliant on your legs & hands, if you can have an artificial skeleton that moves with your thought and is much stronger than your previous body. In fact, some workers in labor-intensive jobs might even prefer it to have artificial body parts, or exoskeletons, or mechanical prosthetics that move by thought. Their employers would certainly like it too…
And you won’t need to be too dear to your heart or any other of your internal organs; if it fails you can always grow another one, genetically compatible to your own, potentially even better! If this practice gets finetuned & works, at some point in time a middle-aged man could end up having more artificial organs than his natural ones, without this causing any problem to him.
And when someone who lost an eye now has the capability to get an artificial one with zoom capability or capability to see in infrared, or a supernatural ear that can hear all frequencies, some people will start asking themselves: If the artificial organ is better than the one I was born with, isn’t it tempting to drop voluntarily a perfectly healthy organ in order to replace it with an artificial one? (if I can afford it of course). The answer to this question is not an easy one, but it’s sure to facilitate widespread adoption of these enhancements by the human population. Yes, sometimes we’re sentimental, but many times we are utilitarian and will do what is best for us.
This transition effect will be complemented by the genetic engineering, which will start from harmless operations (changing the color of your eyes/hair) and go from there to more invasive operations (inserting genes to become taller? To increase the size of our body parts? … To become smarter?).
On top of all these alterations to what we now still call homo sapiens, we’ll have the brain-to-computer interfaces! At first, these will allow us to become one with the machines, so we’ll feel like a car & move like a car, mostly because we are connected to the car itself, we get the input from its sensors and act directly on its moving parts. Disabled persons won’t need to move a wheel-chair. Their body will be expanded with a wheel-chair, since their brain will be connected to the machine and be able to move it directly as if it was its hands & feet. Actually, in this specific example, there won’t even be a wheel-chair. It’ll probably be a robotic exoskeleton with arms & feet that get moved by the mind of the “now-enabled” person! That is, if we first haven’t solved the ability to regenerate legs & hands.
Brain interfaces will be better than drugs
But this brain-to-computer interface can be expanded to be much more. It could stimulate our senses directly, without having to move/touch. You could be having the best sex in your life by just connecting your brain to a program that will simulate a sexual stimulation experience, as if not one but many partners are touching you in just the right ways for you to climax. Yes, yes, it’s just an illusion, it’s not real life. But what if the emulation is better than the real thing? Would you choose reality over the absolute pleasure?
You see, it will be even better than drugs! Right now, some people take drugs to experience the thrill, the pleasure, the out-of-this-world experience, and risk their health by using these hazardous substances. If you can have all these, in a safe manner and a manner that is personalized to your liking… who would have the courage to say no? Anybody who would deny such pleasure-giving experiences would be the analogous of monks & nuns of our days, i.e. they will be a very small minority.
Of course there are many other hazards related to exactly this capability of humans to tap on our pleasure center on demand. It’s counter-evolutionary and can lead to addiction & loss of our willingness to be productive in life (what’s the point of “suffering” if you can live a life imbued in pleasure?). But that is a topic of another discussion. For the time being, let’s focus on the fact that our ability to understand and manipulate the driving forces of our brain (hunger, sex drive, etc) has serious implications. Normally, when you satisfy these driving forces, you get pleasure out of it. But if you have unlocked the ability to stimulate your pleasure centers directly, these evolutionary “tools” are circumvented and thus become almost useless. In other words, one of the main characteristics of man and a driver of much of its activity (the need to eat & to reproduce) will at some point be considered a relic of the past.
Can we still recognize our future self?
So where have we arrived at? A human that is enhanced & reengineered genetically, has artificial body parts, artificial organs, is augmented by mechanical & electronic tools (in similar ways to what we call a “cyborg”), is maintained by biological agents & micro-bots in our bloodstream, and can connect to the outside world by plugging in his neural interfaces directly to devices, machines & even other people. Oh, and on top of this we might need to deactivate his core driving forces (the ability to feel pain, cold, hungry, to get sexually aroused), because these were ancient defense mechanisms and we now have much more efficient mechanisms to regulate automatically his bodily functions and to give him arousal & pleasure on demand.
Is this human still a homo sapiens? Is he really just an improved version of homo sapiens? Is he a threat to homo sapiens? Does he have only a simple advantage over “ordinary” men? Should ordinary men be fearful that they will gradually be displaced by their genetically engineered overlords? Should we setup protective mechanisms in society to shield ourselves from this… evolutionary child of ours?
After all, we made it! Our human ingenuity, our progression in physics, engineering, biology made this possible. And it will come gradually. Little by little we’ll start foregoing all the bits & pieces that make a human human. And we’ll do it gladly, because… it will be a solution for the amputees. It will be a solution for the critically ill. It will be a killer-advantage for the professional athletes. It will be a solution for easy & harmless pleasure for the masses. And above all, it will be a great productivity booster in our globalized, competitive, capitalistic economy; and if one country tries not to adopt all this, the others will, and the former will need to follow through in order not to be left behind.
Is it that much different from a fully artificial human?
Several notable minds of our times (Steven Hawking, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, etc.) have expressed significant worries on the rising Artificial Intelligence, and how humans should be protected from it. So why are we so afraid of the Artificial Intelligence of the future? We are afraid of an artificial mind in an artificial body. But we’re not afraid of a genetically-engineered human mind, that is augmented by biology & technology, that interacts with its environment only by thinking, that has some of its driving forces deactivated for good reason, and sits on top of a mostly-artificial body.
And let’s not forget that this artificial mind, this artificial intelligence is not something alien to us, it’s not really a new invention. The inspiration to create intelligence, to create Noesis, will come from our observation of nature and the intelligence of living beings, and above all of human beings. The most perfect working example of intelligence that we know of is the human brain. Therefore, when through hard work & luck we manage to reproduce intelligence, the best we can hope of is to emulate the human intelligence, even to 100% if possible. And it won’t be a cold-blooded computer intelligence that most science fiction is used to depicting; it doesn’t work that way. AI will have feelings & emotions, will be fuzzy, will make mistakes, will learn gradually through its mistakes, will have affinity for all the stuff that give it pleasure, etc. This is the model we have seen working in nature (in animals & humans), this is the model that is our best bet to emulate and make it work. In my opinion it is too arrogant to think we can outsmart millions of years of evolution and design an AI equivalent or better than that of a human being, have all the smarts of a human but none of the drawbacks. Right now we have only ONE algorithm that represents the pinnacle of intelligent life on earth. Instead of trying to circumvent & outsmart it, our best bet is to try to understand it and emulate it to the best possible degree. I’m saying all this to conclude that when we will have working Artificial Intelligence in front of us, we will come to realize that it more similar to a human than to a computer! And for sure it will have feelings.
So coming back to the original question… we are afraid of an artificial mind (that will be quite similar to a human one) on top of an artificial body, and we’re not afraid of a genetically/biologically/scientifically enhanced mind (that will be quite dissimilar to our current human ones) on top of a mostly artificial body?
A boundary that fades and disappears
Instead of this false dichotomy, I want to counter-propose another thing. Let’s agree that the limits of what is human and what is not will start becoming more & more fuzzy as time goes by. Our body, as a house for our mind, will start becoming gifted with all the benefits of scientific progress. Our minds will start having less & less of their biological limitations, that served them well for millions of years, and have improved abilities to perceive, to think, to remember, to interact. And in parallel we might be able to decrypt our own thinking process and attempt to emulate this algorithm by building it on a… non-traditional housing.
All this is good progress. We should not be fearful of it or try to block it. It is the inevitable next step. We need to realize that the mind is the only body part needed to define a living being, and that’s because the mind is the tool that implements an algorithm of Noesis and allows this being to perceive, to think & to act. There can be many minds and many different implementations of Noesis, with various degrees of success. There already are! There are smart people, not-so-smart people, creative people, smart animals that are almost as smart as some less-privileged people. And we might be able to create Artificial minds that are almost as smart as people… The ability of all those different beings to implement a Noetic algorithm in order to think, to perceive, to live is what binds them all together as one, and what needs to be protected. Their diversity needs to be acknowledged, accepted & safeguarded. Diversity of nature is one of its undeniable characteristics and it works well; it’s even our source of inspirations for new drugs, for new inventions, for art, for progress in general. Every diversified being with the ability to Think should have an equal right to life, whether it is a privileged, rich, genetically enhanced human, or it is a poor “plain vanilla” human that doesn’t have the money or the capability to get enhanced, or a smart animal, or a not-so-dumb AI, or a brilliant AI.
As humans, we have gotten used for many millennia to be the sole smart occupants of this planet, ever since homo neanderthal took himself out of the equation and left us alone. This won’t be true for much longer. A great variety of smartness (either pure-human or like-human) will start emerging from many different places. Thus, we’ll need to expand our view and be willing to make room for everybody. And if this all leads us to start wondering what in the end is a human being, an answer could be found in extracting some of the highest morals & ideals that humanity gave birth to (like liberty, equality and kindheartedness) and solidify them as the basis for harmonious coexistence of all Thinking beings. These will enable us to live in peace and continue thriving in the same way we have done thus far, and hopefully even better.
“Why” is one of the basic questions anyone can ask. One would say it’s one of the most fundamental and usually most difficult to answer. It is the epitome of curiosity, and also the foundation of science & progress in general. It is what makes Homo sapiens stand out. And it’s no accident that you’ll probably hear it a million times from your children as they grow up.
But I would postulate that in the mechanisms of the mind (and here I generalize; I don’t refer only to the human mind) why is not the most basic of the questions. In fact, I would say that it comes 3rd in terms of priority: after What and How.
“What” is the first question that our mind tries to resolve, always at an emotional level first. So, you see a pattern and you automatically ponder “What is this for me? Is it good? Is it bad?”. In other words the first question that your mind needs to answer is what kind of pleasure or pain should I expect to receive from the pattern/thing in front of my eyes (or in my ears, etc). Of course you will use your previous experiences to derive the answer to this question (what did it feel like the last time we crossed paths with something similar?). But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a detailed answer from your pondering. It will not bring to mind a series of past experiences like a movie passing through your mind with all the best and worst highlights of the past. No, it needs to be fast, in order to be effective. So you’ll get a gut feeling, a simple emotion (or a Driving Pocket as I like to call it in Noesis Theory terminology) that will combine the most relevant past experiences, to guide your next steps towards your pleasure hunt & pain avoidance.
This means that you might see a new person with a face that looks familiar, and you will automatically get a positive or negative predisposition towards him/her depending on what type of feelings you had connected with those persons of the past that looked like him/her. And you may not even stop to notice that your behavior was altered because of this. Or you might see a food that had caused you a heck of a stomach ache some time in the past. Immediately you will get a strong feeling of disgust, but this doesn’t mean that you mind will automatically explore the “Why” you are getting this feeling. It might even be unable to bring back the full memory, but the feeling has remained, in order to be able to swiftly answer the What.
“How” is the next question that your mind will tackle, and it’s usually action-oriented. Ideally the answer is a walk-through of how you need to act to deactivate your Driving Pocket that was activated by answering the What, i.e. how to avoid the pain or reap the pleasure. Usually you have a series of action sequences that you can activate on demand to cope with your most common action needs; you built all those during your lifetime, you don’t need to revisit them. They may need some finetuning along the way, but you can start acting and you’ll adjust as you go along (what I call Fuzzy routing in Noesis Theory terms). What is important to note here is that you can jump from the What to the How without ever questioning the Why. This is very meaningful for survival, but also thought-provoking (and a bit disappointing) if you generalize for what it means for the human nature.
It is meaningful because investigating the Why (i.e. thinking about it to bring the full past experience to mind) will certainly need time and there are many cases where time is of the essence and can translate at minimum to a lost pleasure opportunity (the deer I was hunting escaped) and at worst to the loss of your own life (I paused to think what this ominous sound from behind might mean and got eaten by the lion). Thus it really makes sense to connect the How directly to the What, in order to forward to action directly as your Driving Pockets get activated (with the prerequisite that you have a suitable action handy).
But this is also a bit disappointing for the human nature in general. Because it means that once you connect a feeling, a need, a pattern with an action, then you act without thinking of it too much or doubting Why you are actually doing it. This is very worrying because it translates to a huge manipulation potential for the human race. Actually, it may be happening already! If “the system” convinces you that this is the proper way of reacting to things to cover your needs, then you’re set for life. You might not even question them again, and act in the same way, day in and day out. Go to work, take the kids to school, pay the bills, watch tv, etc. You are welcome to replace “the system” with any other word of your choosing (the government, the religion, the capital, the Illuminati, your parents, your spouse, …) and built your conspiracy theories 🙂 But the fact remains that once you connect the What with the How, if you don’t receive external stimuli to break you out of this loop, you can continue looping ad infinitum without really questioning again the Why.
Finally, let’s look at the “Why”. I didn’t want to mislead you that this question is not important. Indeed it is, and it’s the main way with which we build new knowledge. It is asked when we know the What but don’t know the How. Or similarly if a How we know more-or-less matches but it doesn’t perform the way we expected it to (i.e. bring us pleasure or stop the pain). Only then is the time to sit down and think, to explore better the memories of the past, investigate into our own experiences, try to combine different thoughts & concepts together to devise a new How. Therefore, Why is an important question, as it promotes learning and enhances survival, but it has to take the third place behind What & How which are prerequisites for survival.
That’s why I mentioned at the title that Why is overrated. We tout to value it above all else, but in our day-to-day lives, we rarely use it. Most of our activities are a programmed sequence of stimuli->reaction (What->How) and to pause and think about it is a notable exception. We live the lives we were taught to live, we provide pre-baked solutions to all the problems we were taught to handle, we limit ourselves to the boundaries we were taught that exist, and seldom do we pause to really ask ourselves.
The question should be stupidly simple to answer, right? After all, as human beings we have all seen the wonders that the brain is able to produce, with the epitome being the human civilization with its many wonders and scientific accomplishments.
But the brain is common for all living beings, not only humans. I.e. yes, for humans it is useful for thinking, for dreaming, for idea generation, for creating… But what about animals? Do all animals produce complex thoughts? Do all animals converse? We need to find a common answer that is simple yet holds true for all living beings of the present, of the past and of the future.
We know from the theory of Evolution that the brain is useful because it helps us survive & reproduce. But this answers the Why and not the How.
We also know from Evolution that since our current brain originated (although in less evolved forms) from more primitive living beings, this “How” should transcend the millennia in order to be common from human to birds, to mice, to dinosaurs, to snails, etc. So it needs to be extremely simple to suit all of those kinds of organisms of varying sophistication.
I will provide my personal answer to this How. In my opinion it is very simple but also very concrete. And it elegantly summarizes in a succinct way many of the key points of Noesis Theory:
The brain for the living beings is a predictor & alterer of the future. It
- uses up sensual stimuli from the present environment,
- capitalizes on past experience to produce expectations for future sensual stimuli (i.e. what will follow what I am experiencing now; what is the future),
- performs an “emotional coloring” of those expectations to decide whether this future is for good or bad
- focuses on the most important (good and bad) of those future outcomes and tries to come up with alternative futures that will maximize the pleasure or minimize/negate the discomfort
- For the most promising of those preferred future outcomes, it starts visualizing them and thus begins to alter the environment (through physical action), in order to make this alternate future the new reality
- Finally, it compares the actual future with the visualized (preferred) future, in order to recognized whether it succeeded in producing this altered, better reality, or it needs to try even harder.
In the above description of simple steps, you can try to picture either a snail doing it, or a human. It should work the same for both…!
To summarize again, in simpler words: I perceive my environment, I decide whether I like what is happening now and what will happen in the future, I try to come up with the best ways that can maximize my pleasure & alleviate my discomfort (current or future), I act upon them and compare the expected results of my actions with the reality, to adjust accordingly.
So there you have it, this is the utility of the brain. It is a tool that came up and evolution favored, because it offers to all living beings a capability of altering the future to their benefit.
A series of external stimuli that is in-context when it comes at a certain speed can also be out-of-context when it happens at a greater speed.
This can be easily explained by the traversal speed of the inner loop! Let’s think a bit about it: when you see a pattern, some current from the battery is used to expand this signal through the inner loop and bring some more patterns in your mind. This traversal through the inner loop is limited by the speed of your neural impulses. This means that if the next pattern in the series arrives in your sensory area before you have managed to “guess” it through activation of patterns via the inner loop… this new signal will not be negated by the selector (because the selector does not have something from the inner loop to compare and subtract it with) and thus will enter your brain whole as an “out-of-context” experience.
And this is how it can seem as out-of-context for us something that we’re quite used to it, but at a significantly slower speed. Examples are many, like speaking a language much faster than normal, but the most characteristic one is: speeding with a car. The faster you go, the quick the new stimuli (of surrounding environment) arrive to your perception and thus the more out-of-context they appear and thus… exciting (or fearful, depending on whether the DPs will be positive or negative ones).
How would you give a description of what “difficult” is? Wouldn’t you say that it is something we cannot easily do or comprehend? Something that is unfamiliar, that we have not exposed ourselves with, that needs skill and non-ordinary effort? Something complex?
Noesis Theory can consolidate all those definitions/explanations into one that has to do with the workings of the brain and one that… is actually quite simple 🙂
Difficult is any external stimuli that is out-of-context and that is governed by a level of complexity significantly larger than the one represented by the current state of our brain neurons that are tasked with “handling” these incoming signals. In other words, whenever the complexity of our environment is greater than the internal complexity we have managed to build inside our brains, in order to comprehend what is going on (in order to be able to predict the incoming signals and thus turn them into in-context), this is what we call difficult.
Even simpler “if complexity outside the brain is greater than complexity inside the brain => difficult“. Simple, isnt’ it? 🙂
The truthfulness of the above statement can be easily deduced by thinking of the methodologies we’re using in eliminating difficult: we explain, we train, we experiment, we repeat… What is the purpose of this? It is an attempt to build inner neural complexity! Somebody can explain you a set of rules of how this stimuli occurs (explain)…. can showcase you specific occurence and the patterns it follows (train)… or if no rules are available can let you experiment or try again and again until you stumble upon the pattern by chance or method. In all of these cases, the end target is the same: you are trying to understand the rules of how this external system occurs and construct an internal representation inside your neural networks of the same type of complexity, in order to be able to predict at any time the potential expression of the external system. In this way you have transformed the out-of-context to in-context, you have PA links ready to send signals from input directly to output and you can handle this stimuli without thinking (i.e. without creating Driving Pockets and stealing Battery power).
One additional thing to note is how specifically this translates into signal traversal: since one of the basic rules that we have discussed in Noesis Theory is that “similar incoming signals traverse by default to neurons that are in the save “vicinity” (few hops needed to go from one to the other) this means that “easy” would be something that for minor alterations in input would require small alterations in the output needed!!
And reversing this (de morgan style), we have an even more specific (but possibly not of full coverage) definition of difficulty!
Difficult is a set of stimuli that for small alterations in the input require significant variation in the output.
So if you were tasked to translating Chinese and you were a European, you would need from an input of a set of vowels and consonants that are the same in both cases, produce as a translation a completely different word, depending on the pronunciation used! I.e. for a small variation in input (different pronunciation of the same syllables) you need to produce a significantly different output… This is difficult! And you need training and effort to construct a system of neurons inside your brain to match this complexity and be able to distinguish between these small input differences.
Do you want another example? If you’re playing with a Pro tennis player, he can quite easily insert some significant spinning into his throws towards you. But the exact amount of spin (and thus the final direction that the ball will travel to) is not easy to distinguish because you have very little input to judge (a slight variation in the trajectory of the ball until it bounces on the court, as well as possibly a slight adjustment in the hand positioning of your opponent when hitting the ball) thus it is quite difficult for you to adjust significantly your output to cope for the different responses you would need to give, depending on the spin of your opponent’s throw. And the fact that you have very little time to react increases the difficult even more because more intense action might be needed, i.e. more adverse output for these small input variations.
Isn’t difficult simple now?
One big misconception that is well justified but dates back to Asimov’s days (or even earlier, I’m not that knowledgeable in the history of science fiction) is that robots do not have emotions. It seems pretty reasonable if you come to think of it. In the mind of everybody they’re made of algorithms, chips & metal, and a very structured language that leaves no room for emotion and inspiration. The essence of the human psyche cannot be fitted inside this pile of metal. It would be inappropriate and even degrading for the human nature.
In other words, according to public opinion, it’s ok if we manage to replicate our intelligence and rationality into another kind of existence (after all, it will be our creation, an expression, a copy of our mind), but only if it had no feelings, no true emotions. We would still have an edge over it. And we know from countless creations of literature and cinema how much we value our emotions and how useful they can be in overcoming difficulties and managing to surmount circumstances where pure, simple logic may be lacking. Emotion for us humans, even for hard-core science fiction fans or AI researchers, is a temple that should not be decimated. It is the ultimate boundary between what is true and what is artificial; a differentiating factor that sooths our mind when it would feel threatened by the AI manifestations that traverse and trespass into our realm of humanity.
Well, guess what: we were wrong! And it was not easy for us to figure it out… The road we had taken thus far when trying to create AI clearly indicated towards the inexistence of emotion. But if you look at Noesis Theory and you also believe that this is the correct way towards “true” AI (yes, still this is just a belief that has to be proven), you will see that emotion is everywhere. It is an integral part of the algorithm. And its name is… “Driving Pocket”.
Driving Pockets are the emotional responses of the Noesis algorithm. Think of it: what are the 3 key elements of an emotion?
- It must have something to do with me (affinity of the incoming signal)
- It must be different from what I expected it to be (out-of-context)
- I should not have an easy way to alter it and make it the way I would like it to be (because in that case, the out-of-context experience would diminish and I would stop dealing with it)
The same 3 factors are also applicable to a Driving Pocket: it is produced by out-of-context stimuli (factor 2), it is produced by “agitating” a Driving Force to promise us some pleasure/discomfort (factor 1) and we have no easy way to turn it off, i.e. we have not created some P-A links to spring into action and resolve this out-of-context experience (factor 3).
The conclusion: Driving Pockets are the “emotions” of a brain that implements the Noesis Theory model. This means that any Artificial Intelligence that would be built with NT would automatically have emotions as an integral part of its operations. Even more specifically: it would not even be able to operate normally without experiencing emotions! And as the babies are full of emotions and as they grow up they learn to control their emotions, the same would hold true for this AI. At first it would be full of Driving Pockets (emotions) and with feedback and linked learning it would gradually transition into a state with less emotions, just like grown-up humans. But the emotions would always continue to be part of its normal functioning; it would always be its incentive to act, just like the same is true for humans.
I don’t know if this frightens you, but it is what the future holds and it is the only known way to create a sentient being. So whether we like it or not, true AI and emotions will go hand in hand, and we’ll have to find another edge for us.
There is a Greek saying that says “Κάθε πέρσι και καλύτερα” which in a literal, word-for-word sense would be translated to “every last year is better”. The meaning of this saying is that as years go by, things get worse and worse. Thus, the previous year is better than the current year which will be better than the next year, and so on and so forth.
This is certainly true in the current economic crises and most certainly in Greek, where things are quite bad. But this saying was not invented recently; it has been with us for many, many years. So its invention can certainly not be attributed to the current climate. So what is the source of this proverb? Is it simply a pessimistic approach to life that should be discarded? Or there is actual truth behind this?
Come to think of it, there are many other similar opinions that are expressed in a different way by many different people. I have heard many people say that they wish they could return to their teenage years, or even the childhood years, the years of innocence, where they could play all day and have fun. Is it the burden of work and responsibilities that pushes us to disfavor current reality and reminisce our early year? Well it certainly does play a part, but I would argue that most people would say that they preferred their early years than their adulthood, even if they are well endowed and don’t even need to work at all. Some might also go as far as to say that they would rather go back to the early years, where fun was just around the corner and emotions were true and strong.
I am going to use that last phrase and built an argument, saying that this aversion towards current reality and preference in the past is not just a pessimistic view on things and not localized only to some people or groups. It is a general wish that originates from the inner workings of the human mind and thus it is unavoidable to occur in all people, but of course in different intensity to each… And of course I am going to use Noesis Theory to prove it 🙂
In a few words, the “proof” is this: with years we build context and thus turn out-of-context experiences to in-context, which means that we have less signal getting into the brain and agitating the Driving Forces and creating Driving Pockets. And as you know, Driving Pockets are the emotional responses of the brain, which means that we have less & less opportunities to feel emotions (both good & bad). So every year that passes by, depending on how good we are in converting our experiences into knowledge and “context”, the less capable we become of experiencing new things and feeling intense emotions. Because the things that happen from then on are not new to us; they have a “been there, done that” sense and thus our reactions and emotional responses are smaller. We know how it feels when breaking up, we know how it feels when losing somebody, we know how it feels when failing or getting rejected, we know how it feels when going broke… In your first break-up, you might have been crying for a week. On your most recent one, you maybe just shrugged of your shoulders and moved on.
And it’s just the way it is. Your brain is built in a way to capitalize on any new experience and integrate its key points into its wirings. The next time you experience something similar, it is not that unexpected any more. You probably saw it coming. The third time, you already knew it was coming before it “hit” you and maybe you managed to take action before. This quality of the brain is extremely useful for survival, but it is catastrophic for your happiness! Face it, we are not built for being happy!
So cherish your moments of happiness, because you will never get the same opportunity again. Be happy for today and make the most out of it. In a way, today is better than tomorrow, and although you will not avoid saying that “every last year was better”, but you might as well be able to complete the sentence with “and boy what fun did I have last year, indeed!”