VI. Theory of Attention (2016-2019)

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Research into Creative Fire

My Theory of Attention coalesced from a lifetime of research into the inspirational fire that provides the basis for all sorts of creative sessions. My inner passion drove me to investigate the underlying factors that suppressed, maintained, or augmented the heat of creativity. After decades, I was fortunate enough to first discover and then develop a mathematical model that fulfilled my lifelong quest.

Model applied to Sustained Attention Experiences

The primary focus of my original research surrounded the productivity of these sessions. It became increasingly apparent that my mathematical model reflected the significance of the power of sustained, concentrated attention. The model now possessed a far broader applicability. It appeared to pertain to the underlying structure of a wider range of experiences than those typically considered to be creative. To make sense of these patterns, a theory gradually emerged that centered upon Attention.

Pulse of Attention: a key feature of theory

A key feature of my theory is the Pulse of Sustained Attention. This Pulse exhibits a pattern that has a distinct beginning, rises to a peak and then gradually ends. Interruptions have a negative upon the ideal proportions of the ideal Pulse, shown at right. Many of our living experiences, including productive sessions, the performing arts, a meal or even a conversation, exhibit this same pulse-like behavior.

Understanding Pulse’s behavior helps to better fulfill potentials

I firmly believe that an understanding of the Pulse’s behavior enables me to better fulfill my potentials. For instance, this knowledge helps me to both maximize a wide range of experiences and escape avoidable pitfalls. Perhaps you too.

This page contains links to and descriptions of the outpouring of articles that provide support for the theory. The writings are addressed to those who are interested in taking advantage of our relationship with information. In order to fully comprehend the work and its significance, the reader must have at least a rudimentary knowledge of basic concepts of Physics, e.g. acceleration, kinetic energy and quanta.

Following is a table containing a list of recent articles (2016-19). We recommend reading the Introduction first as it provides a short, integrated overview of my Theory of Attention.

 

Articles
Year
Summary
Pages
0. Introduction: Theory of Attention
2016
4
2018
17
2. Attention, Atomic & Subatomic: Interacting Realms of Existence?
2018
15
3. Matter's Regular Equations vs. Life's Reflexive Equations
2018
18
4. Data Stream Dynamics vs. Traditional Mathematical Systems
2016
10
5. Information Theory & Redundancy Logic
2018
24
6. Data Stream Dynamics: Calculus of Dynamic Meaning
2014
9
2018
8
8. Living Algorithm: Attention's Computational Tool
2016
14
9. Living Algorithm, Number Strings & the Pulse
2016
10
10. The Pulse & Sustained Attention Experiences
2018
17
21. Data Stream Energy & Attention
2018
8
22. Open Energy Systems: Body, Car, LA System
2018
8
23. Data Energy – Kinetic & Potential: Math Proofs
2016
11
2019
17
2019
6
Totals
16
210
Scientific Manifesto    

 

Article Synopses

0. Intro: Theory of Attention

The theory includes the following propositions: Attention employs a single algorithm to impart dynamic Meaning to data streams. The Living Algorithm (LA) is the name we have given to this computational tool that transforms Raw Data into useful Information. The LA generates a probabilistic mathematical system that we call Data Stream Dynamics (DSD). DSD is the mathematical foundation of our Theory of Attention. Just as both tides and living systems align with the gravitational rhythms of the Sun and Moon, Attention consistently aligns with the mathematical rhythms of DSD.

 

1. Mind, Body & Choice: A Fresh Perspective

The prevalent Materialist Perspective holds that all phenomena are a function of Matter, i.e. materially based. In contrast, our common sense tells us that our Mind is engaged in an interactive feedback loop with our Body. It seems that we exert mental energy to change our physical world, for instance moving our arm and hand to reach for, grab and then consume an apple. Our Theory of Attention provides a mathematical foundation for this Common Sense Perspective. According to the theory, Life employs the LA via Attention to impart dynamic meaning to data streams, the informational food of living systems.

 

2. Attention, Atomic & Subatomic: Interacting Realms of Existence?

According to our theory, Attention belongs to a realm of existence that is distinct from and on a par with the Material Realms, i.e. Atomic and Subatomic. The justification is straightforward. Each realm has its own unique mathematical system that is tied to empirical data. The mathematics reveals the underlying structure of reality in each realm. The 3 realities are mutually exclusive. For instance, space and time are continuous in the Atomic Realm, quantized in the Subatomic Realm, and elastic in the Realm of Attention. Due to these extreme differences, it is more useful to view the Realm of Attention as distinct from the Material Realms, rather than a function of Matter.

 

3. Matter's Regular Equations vs. Life's Reflexive Equations:

Why is the traditional mathematics of Matter unable to characterize living behavior? Material mathematics is based in Regular Equations. This type of equation adheres to traditional set theory. Regular Equations, by definition, don't contain feedback loops, as this feature voids set theory. Living behavior is based in interactive, reflexive, feedback loops. Because they don't possess this crucial feature, Matter's regular set-based equations can't effectively model living behavior.

There is a second type of equation that doesn't obey set theory, hence their nickname – disobedient equations. Technically called recursive functions, we refer to them as Reflexive Equations, as they are by definition based in self-referential, feedback loops. As a Reflexive Equation, the Living Algorithm is ideally suited for the task of modeling Life's interactive feedback loops.

 

4. Data Stream Dynamics vs. Traditional Mathematical Systems

Why aren't traditional mathematical systems able to encompass Attention? Are there some inherent limitations that prevent them from being the Mathematics of Living Systems? The article examines the fatal flaws of Physics, Probability, and Computers and illustrates why Data Stream Dynamics is ideally suited for this role.

 

5. Information Theory & Redundancy Logic

This article develops two ideas. 1) Information Theory and our Theory of Attention are complementary. Information Theory specializes in the exact transmission of data between machines. To achieve that end, Information is deliberately stripped of meaning. In contrast, the Theory of Attention specializes in how living systems impart dynamic meaning to raw data streams.

2) Redundancy logic, first introduced in the mathematics of Information Theory by Claude Shannon, is the dominant form of logic employed by living systems. Multiple senses provide a prevalent form of redundancy for many life forms. Academia employs at least five forms of redundancy to validate theories. Multiple forms of redundancy logic provide support for our Theory of Attention. Reason combined with evidence from many disciplines, e.g. evolution, biology, and human behavior provide multiple types of cross validation for the theory.

 

6. Data Stream Dynamics: Calculus of Dynamic Meaning

The internal logic of both Calculus and DSD is based upon derivatives, i.e. rates of change. Calculus is the prime mathematical tool of the Material Sciences. Its differential equations are employed to predict the behavior of Matter with great precision. The magnitudes of the changes in Calculus are infinitesimally small as they have no dimension. Because there is no space between the successive points, there is no possibility of Choice. In contrast, DSD seems designed to accommodate the monitor-adjust process of living systems that is inherent to Choice. Further, the LA’s overlay process is ideally suited to generate dynamic meaning from raw data streams. If Calculus is the Mathematics of Matter, then Data Stream Dynamics could be considered the Calculus of Dynamic Meaning. 

 

7. Living Algorithm: Mathematics of Living Systems

Why do we believe that Life employs the LA via Attention to impart dynamic Meaning to data streams? The LA has many talents that living systems would find appealing. It is simple to use, has minimal memory requirements and weights current data more heavily than past data. It produces many central measures that would be extremely useful. They could be utilized as descriptors, predictors, filters, setting thresholds, as well as providing ongoing correlations between data streams.

 

8. Living Algorithm: Attention's Computational Tool?

Is there any evidence that Life employs the LA via Attention to impart Meaning to data streams, the informational food of living systems? Posner's Attention Model has nearly universal acceptance in the scientific community. This article develops the notion that Posner's Attention Model evolved to take advantage of the LA's many talents. (Evolution x Living Algorithm = Posner's Attention Model) This hypothesis has many intriguing implications.

 

9. Living Algorithm, Number Strings & the Pulse

The LA's sole purpose is to digest data streams, i.e. transform raw data into a form that is useful to living systems. In contrast to the closed, set-based mathematics of Matter, the LA is both open to external data and based in reflexive, feedback loops. By applying the algorithm to its results, i.e. digested data streams, the LA produces information that would be useful to any living system, for instance the ongoing dynamics and probabilities associated with any data stream, both numerical and relative. These ongoing data streams are the foundation for DSD, the mathematical system that is the heart of our Theory of Attention.

 

10. The Pulse & Sustained Attention Experiences

What kind of evidence supports these outrageous claims? The Pulse, a mathematical form of Data Stream Dynamics, provides a plausible model for Attention as energy. The mathematical behavior of the Pulse seems to mimic a Creative Session, i.e. distinct duration, rising to a peak, and the harm of interruptions. The same map seems to apply to a wide range of human experiences, i.e. Sustained Attention Experiences (SAEs). The widely studied and experimentally validated Flow Experience seems to fit this category.

 

Data Stream Energy & Attention

21. Data Stream Energy & Attention

The internal logic of Data Stream Energy seems to provide a good model for the internal logic of Attention’s mental energy. A better understanding of DS Energy could lead to a better understanding of mental energy, which could assist us to better fulfill our potentials.

Energy has the ability to change the state of a system. Data Energy has the ability to change the state of Living Algorithm’s (LA) mathematical system. Scientists have found it useful to divide energy into 2 parts, kinetic energy that does work and potential energy that is stored for later use. We have found it useful to employ similar constructs in the LA System, i.e. active (kinetic) and residual (potential) energy.

According to our Theory of Attention, active energy corresponds with the mental urge to accumulate information or experience, while residual energy corresponds with the mental urge to assimilate these experiences. The LA mathematics reveals how these complementary urges guide and dominate our lives on a day-to-day level.

Our Sleep/Awake cycle provides us with a good example. As we accumulate information and experiences during the day, the urge to assimilate (residual energy) rises. When the assimilation urge passes a certain threshold, we go to sleep. During this downtime, i.e. no more information accumulation, the residual energy is converted into active energy, thereby fulfilling the urge to assimilate. Upon waking the residual energy, i.e. the urge to assimilate, is depleted and we are ready for another round of info accumulation.

 

22. Open Energy Systems: Body, Car, LA System

The LA generates an open energy system. Does this energy system have anything in common with material energy systems? It seems that the LA's mathematical system shares a similar energy logic with our body, a biological system, and our car, a mechanical system. Each of these systems (biological, mechanical, and mathematical) has the same relationship with energy. A Transformer converts Raw Materials into Energy that powers the System. This energy is consumed, not conserved. Further external fuel is required to replenish energy else the system ceases operating.

 

23. Data Energy – Kinetic & Potential: Math Proofs

The Living Algorithm (LA), the mathematical foundation of our Theory of Attention, generates a system. This article offers some mathematical derivations regarding the nature of Kinetic and Potential Energy in the LA's system. Each iteration of the LA's process integrates new data into the system. Each new data point can be viewed as a type of energy – deemed Data Energy. When it enters the system, part of the Data Energy is consumed as Kinetic Energy. This energy is employed to change or maintain the state of the system. The remainder of the original Data Energy is stored as Potential Energy. A portion of this Potential Energy is consumed as Kinetic Energy with each iteration of the LA's computational process. After enough iterations, the original Data Energy is completely consumed, at least for all practical purposes. However, if new Data Energy continues to enter the system, the Potential Energy accumulates. The LA’s computational process is unable to keep up. The system requires downtime to completely utilize the accumulating Potential Energy. Mathematical downtime is when the data stream's content equals zero. According to our Theory of Attention, this mathematical process is related to the necessity of Sleep and our limited Attention span.

 

31. Scientific Manifesto consists of a collection of articles that challenge the Materialist paradigm from a historical perspective. Significant features of the universe's non-material component, e.g. beauty, religious beliefs, and innate nature, provided the inspiration for Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton, the founders of modern science. Scientism emerged from the Materialist paradigm. Rather than a logical imperative, scientism is a faith based belief system that provides little explanatory power regarding the features that make Life special. Due to the inadequacies of the outdated, old, stale Materialist paradigm, Life calls for a fresh paradigm.

 

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