Our Information Digestion (ID) Model was developed to make sense of the patterns of correspondence between a unique mathematical system (Data Stream Dynamics) and empirical data associated with attention. In these many articles, we have been touting the amazing features of our model. Let us now explore the nuts and bolts of our ID Model – its assumptions.
Assumptions? Perhaps ‘prime tenets’ is more appropriate. The term ‘assumptions’ often suggests mathematics and postulates. Using these terms implies an attempt to emulate Euclid’s Elements – the historical root of geometry and deductive rigor. They connote an inviolable mathematical system with deductively necessary conclusions.
While appropriate for non-living atomistic systems, this type of reductionist reasoning is inappropriate for holistic living systems. In atomistic systems, the parts define the whole. Understanding the parts results in understanding the whole. Building block logic. In holistic systems, the parts cannot be fully defined without considering their ongoing, dynamic, contextual relationship to the whole. Only by understanding the whole can the parts be fully understood. Reductionist, building block logic does not hold.
A simple example might suffice to clarify this difference. The meaning of a goal in soccer is determined by its context to the whole game. Was it in the first period? Another in a series of goals that have no particular significance? Or perhaps at the end of a tie game? Individual goals might be very similar, but their significance could be very different depending upon the entire event. No amount of study of the material building blocks (subatomics and molecules) will reveal the goal’s meaning to the devoted sports fan.
The deductive reasoning that works so well with atomistic systems relies upon postulates and assumptions to come to necessary conclusions. Postulates and mathematical assumptions are precisely defined propositions with relatively no ambiguity – no wiggle room. In contrast, holistic systems are necessarily fuzzy. This ambiguity is due to their ongoing, contextual, dynamic nature. Those that pursue a singular atomistic explanation are doomed to failure – not due to a lack of reductionist insight, but rather because of the innate limitations of this approach.
The phrase ‘prime tenet’ (not postulate) is an attempt to encompass the fuzziness of living, holistic systems. Rather than expecting a mathematically precision proposition, the term ‘tenet’ suggests a rough yet meaningful stab at explanation.
Because it relies upon precise assumptions to perform its magic, deductive logic is too fragile to adequately describe holistic systems. To deal with the innate fuzziness of holistic systems, humans typically employ metaphoric logic. By looking at pattern(s) of a known system, they uncover patterns that are applicable to an unfamiliar system. (Covered in the article Anti-fragile Metaphoric Logic vs. Fragile Deductive Logic).
Now that we’ve uploaded this disclaimer, let us examine some of the model's core assumptions – no – prime tenets.
1) Life has an information digestion system. There is a scientific consensus that all life forms are comprised of distinctive physiological systems, e.g. respiratory, reproductive and circulatory. According to the ID Model, life also contains a distinctive system that digests information. Every life form, including the single cell, requires this system to survive.
A physiological system that has a particular metaphoric significance is the digestive system. One function of the digestive system is to transform raw organic material into a useable form, i.e. a form that will provide the organism with biological energy. Similarly, the information digestion system transforms raw data streams into a useful, meaningful form, i.e. environmental knowledge that will facilitate decision-making.
Another vital function of the biological digestion system is to filter out waste products. Similarly, the information digestion process filters out superfluous input. Both elements of this systemic metaphor transform raw material into a form that is useful to the organism and also filters out the useless.
There is another similarity between the two digestive systems, i.e. physiological and informational. Both belong to open energy systems. In addition to living systems, many machines, including cars, can also belong to open energy systems.
Open energy systems have a few distinctive features that set them apart from closed energy systems. Open energy systems are open to and dependent upon fuel (raw materials) that lies outside the system. Without more fuel, the systems cease operating or die. For instance, organisms and cars require an ongoing infusion of food or gas (raw material/fuel) for survival as a system.
Further, open energy systems require a transformer to convert raw materials (fuel) into energy that powers the process. The digestive system and the engine are the transformers that convert raw materials into the energy that powers the respective systems.
Because the system completely consumes the fuel’s energy over time, the fuel must be regularly replenished. In the case of both life forms and cars, the fuel (food or gas) comes from external sources, is consumed, and must be replenished or the system ceases to operate, i.e. dies or stops. Food and gas only attain meaning within the context of life and cars respectively.
As exhibited, open energy systems require a regular injection of a particular type of fuel and a transformer to remain operational. What is the fuel and transformer in our ID System? The following tenets of our model provide the answers.
2) Data Streams are the Raw Materials (the Fuel) that powers the ID system. The ID system digests information that comes in the form of data streams. The notion of a stream can be deceiving because it suggests a continuous flow. Life, however, does not perceive information as a continuous ‘flow’. Life actually perceives data in discrete meaningful chunks – incremental rather than continuous. The countless bytes of information that constantly bombard our sensory apparatus require the digestive system to group these bytes into some form that life finds useful.
3) The transformer of the information digestion system is the Attention Synergy. The stomach transforms raw material (food) into a useable form of biological energy; the car’s engine transforms gasoline into mechanical energy. The Attention Synergy transforms raw material (data streams) into a meaningful form, i.e. useful images invested with what we will call mental energy. More on this later.
The synergy consists of the interactive behavior of a variety of components. The cooperative components include Feelings, Attention, Intention and Mind as Executive. We will deal with each of these components in a subsequent article.
4) Attention utilizes an image overlay process to digest data streams. In this sense, image does not merely refer to visual experiences, but rather to any meaningful chunking of data. All of our sensory apparatus are capable of transforming raw data into an image.
What are the features of this crucial image overlay process? The image associated with the current moment is overlaid upon the old composite image to generate a new, i.e. more current, composite image. Rather than raw data, living systems interact with this digested info - the current composite image. All living systems engage in this image-overlay process every moment that they are conscious/aware/paying attention.
5) The Living Algorithm (LA) is the mathematical realization of Attention’s ongoing image overlay process. The LA generates a mathematical system based upon the central measures of a data stream. These ongoing, time-sensitive measures include an average, a deviation, and a trend indicator. Data Stream Dynamics (DSD) is the name we have given to this system.
LA = Math Realization of Image Overlay Process
6) Data Stream Dynamics is an open energy system that is mathematical in nature. The Fuel for this system is an ongoing Data Stream(s). The Transformer is the LA. This algorithm converts raw data into ongoing central measures. These measures describe the trajectories of the current position, and in so doing, also predict the next position. They indicate the propensities of the data stream system, its potential energy. Put another way, the LA converts the Raw Data into numerical energy that both changes the state of the system and also leaves residual numerical energy in the central measures.
Data Stream Dynamics = Open Energy System
7) DS Dynamics is the mathematical language of information digestion. What is our justification for such a bold claim? Both DS Dynamics and our Info Digestion System are open energy systems. The LA is the mathematical realization of Attention’s image overlay process. Due to these significant affinities, we can understand the unknown logic of our ID System through the lens of the precise mathematical logic of DS Dynamics.
DS Dynamics and ID System = Open Energy Systems
LA ≈ Image Overlay Process
Data Stream Dynamics ≈ Info Digestion System
For it to have any utility, this abstract numerical language must be translated into a more intelligible language – one that we can understand. Our ID model provides the translation. This translation process reveals the meaning behind the mathematics. Meaning is uncovered through pattern recognition and matching.
For instance, we have identified distinct similarities between DSD’s rhythms and the rhythms of Attention. By understanding the mathematics, we can better understand the innate limitations of our attention-based behavior. With this knowledge, we have more realistic expectations – can better anticipate future possibilities.
8) The method we utilize to digest information has an enormous influence upon our attention-based behavior. An apt comparison would be the huge influence of our innate grammar upon the formation of human languages. Grammatical structures enable the rise of linguistic complexity. Similarly, the structures formed by our information digestion system give rise to the complexity of human experience. These forms permeate the rhythms of Attention, both behavioral and physiological, and likewise the institutions that have evolved to cater to Attention’s needs.
9) Attention’s rhythms (patterns) naturally align/entrain with DSD’s mathematical forms. The most notable of these are the Pulse and the Triple Pulse. For example, the Pulse provides a rationale for the nature of our limited Attention span.
Why does Attention align with these mathematical forms?
10) Aligning with these wavelike Pulses enables living systems to optimize their ability to digest information. Entraining with (tapping into) these ‘waves’ results in greater concentration, integration and connectivity. These enhanced cognitive abilities provide an evolutionary advantage. For instance, the sleep pulse appeals to natural selection because it enhances our cognitive, hence problem solving, abilities.
Why can’t traditional mathematical systems, such as calculus, provide a language for open energy systems? The short answer, calculus and open systems are logically incompatible. Let’s see why.
The prior section identified some key characteristics of open energy systems. A transformer converts incoming fuel into energy that powers the system. Closed energy systems differ significantly from open energy systems, as highlighted in the list below.
1) Thermodynamics defines a closed system as one in which no matter or energy is exchanged with its surroundings. It is a self-contained system, where no raw material (fuel) enters into or exits from the outside. Our physical Universe is the ultimate closed system. Neither matter nor energy enters from outside the Universe.
2) With no incoming fuel, closed systems don’t require transformers to convert raw materials into energy. Natural processes, such as gravity, perform the task of energy conversion.
3) In a closed system, energy is always conserved; never consumed, nor replenished. While continually circulating and transforming from one form to another, the amount of energy is constant in a closed system. The conservation of energy, the first law of thermodynamics, reflects this principle.
This first law carries great weight with the scientific community for good reason. All levels of scientists, from beginning students to top line professors, regularly employ this scientific fact as a pivot point to find solutions to multiple equations with multiple variables. For instance, physicists rely on this first law to better understand the development of our Cosmos after the Big Bang.
Summarizing the differences for emphasis: open energy systems require external fuel and a transformer to convert raw material into energy that is consumed. Closed energy systems require neither fuel, nor a transformer, and energy is conserved. The intrinsic logic of the two systems is entirely different, i.e. incompatible (≠).
Calculus is the mathematics of closed energy systems. Because of the metaphoric compatibility (≈) of their logic, this mathematical language can and does provide deep insights into the inner structure and dynamics of closed systems, such as the physical elements of the Universe.
Open and closed energy systems are logically incompatible (≠). Hence, calculus, the the mathematics of closed energy systems, can never provide an adequate mathematical language that articulates the behavior of open energy systems. These relationships are shown in the following equation-like statements.
Calculus ≈ Closed Energy Systems
Closed Energy Systems ≠ Open Energy Systems
Calculus ≠ Open Energy Systems
There is another reason for the impotence of Calculus before living behavior. Calculus specializes in permanence. Calculus provides a great language for closed energy systems like those formed by inanimate, atomistic Matter. It is possible to formulate permanent mathematical relationships between fixed components in these systems. These mathematical relationships last forever, e.g. E = mc2.
Because of their ongoing relationship with open data streams, living systems require a mathematical system that specializes in the ongoing Moment. It is only possible to formulate probabilistic relationships between dynamic components in living systems. In sharp contrast to the permanent relationships of the inanimate world, living relationships are transitory and dynamic.
Data Stream Dynamics specializes in holistic, open systems like those formed by animate matter, Life. Rather than forever, DSD characterizes the ever-changing character of the Moment – the Now. (For more detail, check out the article Calculus vs. Data Stream Dynamics.)
Calculus = Forever
Matter = Forever
Calculus ≈ Matter
Life = Now
Calculus ≠ Life
Data Stream Dynamics = Now
DSD ≈ Life
DSD ≠ Matter
Before leaving this topic, there is yet another fundamental difference between the two types of system.
Open energy systems, such as the ones we have discussed, have an express purpose. Energy is not employed randomly, but for a specific/singular reason. For instance, mechanical energy is generated from gasoline to move a car. Biological energy of whatever form is generated from food to maintain the homeostasis of the body.
Our ID model suggests that mental energy is necessary to generate Experience, the basis of memory. We employ Experience to form models that facilitate our survival as living organisms. In the case of humans, this every-moment process consists of organizing, regulating and directing the behavior of 70 billion cells, each consisting of billions of interchangeable molecules. It is amazing, even miraculous that our physiological and informational systems are able to work in concert to achieve these specific, purposeful goals.
In contrast, closed energy systems, like the Universe, do not necessarily have a purpose. Matter and energy move randomly and chaotically about without any real meaning to their mechanistic behavior. Moving to predefined laws, electrons, atoms, molecules, and electromagnetic fields don’t have any objective or aim.
The ramification of this differing relationship to purpose is revolutionary. Purpose and the words surrounding purpose, i.e. fuel, transformer and directed energy, are all mental constructs that imply the perception of time. Our model suggests that the perception of time derives from Attention’s iterative image overlay process. Like a cartoon, overlaying the current image upon the previous imparts a sense of time passing. Even the terms, matter and energy were generated to better understand the intrinsic logic of dynamic sensory input with the purpose of manipulating these fundamental features of existence to our advantage.
The Attention Synergy imparts meaning to features of the environment that have some kind of value regarding survival. For instance, our Car drives us to the store where we can get sustenance for our Body. Everything associated with this drive has some kind of value in that the food will enable our conglomerate of cells to continue acting as a unit.
Inherent in assigned value is the notion of purpose. The purpose of survival gives value/meaning to food that will nourish and sustain the organism. In such a fashion, the Attention Synergy generates or is at least associated with the notion of purpose that is inherent to open energy systems.
In this sense, Attention generates the notion of open energy systems. Without Attention, they along with their purpose simply don’t exist. Their reality is imagined/virtual. In contrast, closed energy systems like the Universe are real in the sense that they don’t depend upon Attention’s temporal projections for their existence.
One reason for this extreme divergence: Attention with its imagined reality exists solely in time’s cyclical, vertical dimension. Conversely, the physical Universe exists solely in time’s ordinary, horizontal dimension. The first is virtual, the second real.
Despite its virtual nature, Life’s open energy system sometimes exerts an influence upon Matter’s real closed system. According to our model, an accumulation of mental energy can generate an Experience. An Experience has the potential to leave a memory trace, perhaps a reorganization of Body’s molecules. This is when Attention’s vertical time intersects with Matter’s horizontal time.
More upon time’s two dimensions later. Coming shortly, a discussion of Experience. But first, Image formation in the context of Attention’s image overlay process.
According to our ID model, Attention employs an image overlay process to digest information. As the mathematical realization of this crucial process, the Living Algorithm could be considered Attention’s tool. Let us now examine how an ‘image’ is infused with mental energy.
Recall that the sole purpose of the Attention Synergy is to digest information. Digestion entails turning raw materials, in this case data streams, into a more useful form, i.e. a form that living systems can employ to both survive and thrive.
1) Attention employs an image overlay process (IOP) to digest info. IOP is an iterative (repetitive) process.
2) A quantum (discrete amount) of mental energy (a menton) accompanies each iteration of Attention’s image overlay process. As the term ‘quantum’ implies, each of these fundamental units of mental energy is of uniform size (not necessarily, but implied by results.)
3) Attention immediately attaches the info contained in the current data byte1 to the current menton to form what we call an infoton. The info that the data byte imparts is the ‘flavor’ of the menton. Infoton is name we have given to the flavored menton.
Menton x Data Byte = Infoton
4) Attention’s digestive process overlays these infotons upon each other to form a composite image (a model).
Let us elucidate. Each of Attention’s iterations generates a new infoton. Each new infoton is overlaid upon the prior infoton in endless succession. Rather than opaque, like the pages of a book, the infotons are partially translucent. All the infotons that went before combine to form a composite image. The influence of each infoton upon the current composite image decays with each iteration.
5) Rather than mentons or infotons, living systems only experience the composite images. Each iteration generates a new composite image. Living systems do not experience the individual infotons. Rather they experience the composite images.
ImageN = ƒ (InfotonN (InfotonN-1 (InfotonN-2 … )))
Summarizing Attention’s image-overlay process. Mental energy (menton) and data are inseparably fused together to form an infoton. In turn, infotons are overlaid upon top of each other to form an image. Attention infuses images with mental energy. Images are not separate from mental energy. Matter does not produce images.
Our Information Digestion system serves 2 functions: Analytics and Content Transfer.
1) As a computational tool, it provides Life with useful Analytics regarding the digested Data Stream (DS).
2) As a vehicle, it transfers the DS’s Content from Mind to Body.
Both functions are vital to the continued survival of every life form. DSD plays an important role in each function.
Let us examine the functions of our ID System in more detail – starting with Analytics.
Analytics: Every iteration of Attention’s digestion process generates a new set of ongoing Data Stream (DS) Analytics. As the LA is the realization, we can conceptualize these measures in mathematical form. The LA’s computational process reveals the trajectories of individual data streams, e.g. predictive descriptors that reveal propensities. It also provides rough correlations between DSs that can be quite useful.
We imagine that Life encodes the Analytics in a physical form, perhaps protein arrangements or neural networks. These ongoing measures change with every new data point. These ongoing composite analytics allow living systems to monitor and then adjust to environmental circumstances. These measures are registered on subliminal levels and lead to mechanistic reactions – mostly auto-pilot – stimulus-response – reflexes rather than intentional behavior.
Content Transfer via Experience: Life also derives content from data streams. According to our information digestion model, the transmission is not ongoing. Rather the content is transmitted in Attention Pulses, micro to macro. These Pulses of Attention enable us to Experience the data stream’s content. Experiences leave more permanent biological traces than do Analytics.
Let us provide a cogent example of the difference between DS Analytics and Experience from the world of sports, specifically baseball.
Every active player is constantly, inadvertently not consciously, generating ongoing DS Analytics regarding the data streams associated with other players and the baseball. The hitter uses these measures, e.g. trajectories, etc., to hit the ball. The fielder employs a different set of measures to catch the ball. Due to their automatic and hidden quality, everyone ignores these measures. They never hit the newspaper. Not even the armchair coach mentions them in passing.
However, if the baseball player hits a home run, this generates emotional excitement. It is certainly recorded in a player’s permanent statistics and might even be mentioned in the newspaper – depending upon context. Those concerned with the game experience the homerun. The game with the homerun is the content – the experience. This experienced event might even leave a lasting memory trace.
Despite their crucial importance to performance, the analytics are entirely transitory – lasting only for the current moment and then immediately disappearing into the mists of time. No one, even the players that utilize them, ever experiences the DS Analytics. They just come and go.
In contrast, we experience the game as a memory because our Attention is sustained upon it in some fashion for the duration. If my wife falls asleep watching a movie, she doesn’t experience it. There are no memories to refresh.
Attention is required for an Experience. Similarly Attention is required to pass Data Stream content into a more permanent biological form – an Experience that might be drawn on in the future. No Attention: No Experience: No Memory.
Attention > Experience > Memory
No Attention > No Experience > No Memory
According to our model, Sustaining Attention upon a data stream generates an Experience. More precisely, when Intention concentrates Attention upon the singular content of a unitary data stream for sufficient duration, this generates an optimal Experience.
This process has a mathematical correlate – supplied by guess who, our friend the Living Algorithm and her mathematical system, Data Stream Dynamics (DSD). The Pulse is one of DSD’s primary mathematical forms. The ideal Pulse corresponds with (models) the optimal Experience.
Ideal Pulse of DSD ≈ Optimal Experience
For this Pulse to attain its maximum dimensions, i.e. amplitude and area, Attention must be complete, undivided and uncompromised. When the entire Pulse is completed, Experience is transferred into memory. When these Pulses of Attention are aborted, i.e. incomplete, or interrupted, the result is a fragmented, low quality experience. The more concentrated the Attention, the higher the quality of the Experience that is transmitted.
These limitations provide the keys to some of the mysteries surrounding Attention. For instance, psychologists are mystified as to why If-Then Rewards inhibit Intrinsic Motivation2. Our model indicates that the product of our creative output is diminished because Attention is divided between task and potential payoff.
Let us examine some biological correlates of the ID system’s process of Experience generation.
According to our model, living systems digest information via an image overlay process. One implication of this assumption is that information is transmitted in discrete bundles, rather than continuously. Rather than information flows, Attention takes in data streams.
This assumption is aligned with our common sense thinking. When listening to music, the info transfer occurs note by note; when reading, one word at a time. We sense each piece of data in a regular, orderly succession – like the frames of a movie. Each data byte, whether note or word, has an equal value in this conceptualization.
According to our model, Attention must be sustained on a series of these data bytes for sufficient duration to generate what we call an Experience3. A single data byte is not enough. It takes a multitude of data bytes to register an Experience. It must reach a threshold for there to be an information transfer. Sustaining Attention results in the Concentration of Mental Energy that is necessary to spark the gap between mental and physical – Mind to Body.
In the above examples, a single word is generally not enough for the experience of a conversation or a single note is not sufficient for a musical experience. In both cases, an accumulation of words or notes is required to have a memorable experience. Further we must sustain our Attention upon the words or notes to have the experience. If we don’t pay Attention, we don’t have the Experience.
There are also some physical examples of this type of information transfer. A capacitor provides us with a good example of the threshold-firing phenomenon. Only when the electronic potential reaches a certain level is information passed across the gap. And of course, sex. The male must be sufficiently aroused to ejaculate and transmit his genetic information to his partner. A single caress is generally not enough.
Neurons provide yet another example of this threshold-firing phenomenon. It takes multiple firings to change a neuron’s orientation, not just one. A threshold must be reached before the neuron’s state will change permanently.
Our ID system adheres to the same process. A threshold must be reached and passed to generate a memorable Experience. Indeed the similarities are so striking that this neurological process could easily be the biological correlate of the ID process.
However rather than leading, the physiological process probably followed the info digestion process. Rather than being determined by material organization, our information digestion system determined the biology. In order to enhance the potentials of the ID system, evolutionary forces naturally selected neurons.
The modern materialist tendency is to claim the exact opposite. Namely: Biology determines the Information system (if it even exists). However, neurons, a type of cell, occurred very late in the evolutionary game. According to our model, all cells have an ID system that behaves in the same way. Neurons are not special in this regard. All life forms, including neurons, require an accumulation of potential to spark the gap. Information system determines neurological process, rather than vice versa.
LA’s mathematical system (DSD) reveals the innate nature of this ID system. According to our model, memorable Experiences occur after a completed Pulse of sustained and concentrated Attention.
Summarizing the steps:
1. Attention focuses mental energy in pulses/quanta – mentons.
2. Mentons immediately attach to a data stream’s information to form infotons.
3. The digestion process transforms these infotons into a composite image.
3. An accumulation of energy charged images generates an Experience.
4. Experiences spark the gap between the mental and the physical – the virtual and reality.
To test our information digestion model, we have casually examined the scientific literature to see if there are any discrepancies or contradictions. Thus far, experimental and experiential evidence, while refining the model, have not contradicted it and have indeed provided extensive validation.
Indeed, a vast array of evidence provides support for the patterns of correspondence between DSD and Attention-related behavior. Having gone through so many refinements due to the tests of time, the model could be considered an anti-fragile conceptual metaphor – getting stronger over time. However due to my personal obscurity, the model has not been subjected to critical scientific scrutiny.
Many others have provided interpretations of our network of scientific facts. Yet these models only deal with partial solutions and are generally somewhat esoteric. We must beware of overly complicated explanations, e.g. filled with technical jargon. Although impressive sounding, these seemingly erudite perspectives sometimes obscure, rather than clarify, crucial issues. Lost in minutiae, they miss what really matters.
Our ID model is appealing due to its parsimony, practicality, and universality. The mathematics is based upon a single algorithm that only employs basic arithmetic functions, i.e. addition (+), subtraction (-) and division (/) – not even a single square root – no mathe-magic. Although it gives rise to complexity, the simple equation embodies elegant simplicity.
Further, the model is based in ‘normal’, everyday constructs and how they apply to our ‘normal’, ordinary reality. The model merely connects a mathematical language to our ‘normal’, commonplace relationship with Attention and Experience. Nothing really far out. Of course, some Readers might have a hard time adjusting the models of our contemporary wisdom to accommodate this unusual, yet fresh perspective.
Finally, the ID model encompasses a broad range of cross-disciplinary phenomena under its simple roof. Rather than many individual explanations for seemingly isolated facts, the ID model unites them all under a single mathematical framework.
1 Generally speaking, Data Streams can consist of bits or bytes. The most basic data streams consist of data bits, 1-0, on or off, right or wrong, in the set - out of the set. They are strictly binary. The existence data stream (does it exist or not?) is of this nature. More complex data streams consist of data bytes. Data Bytes can refer to variable quantities and/or relative values.
3 Experience with a capital E is a technical term in the IDM, as it has some mathematics associated with it – the Pulse. We designate this technical definition with a capital ‘E’ to differentiate it from our ordinary connotations.