Home   Science Page   Data Stream Momentum   Directionals   Root Beings   The Experiment

4.5 Mechanisms of the Pulse of Life or More Principles

A. Where are we?

Mini-summary: first an evolutionary arms race

We first established that all animals calculate running averages and deviations in order to make predictions about their environment, in order to facilitate survival through anticipation. Because of this need for calculation, the ability to process information conferred an evolutionary advantage. Hence in the simultaneous evolution of prey and predator, along with speed and strength, the ability to process and analyze information also increased. We will define intelligence in this context as the ability to process and analyze information, (not as wisdom, which doesn't really seem to be correlated with intelligence, for humans, at least.) The prey that were a little quicker and a little smarter survived. Those slower and dumber perished. The predator who was quicker and smarter survived. Those slower and dumber perished - an evolutionary arms race, with the prey one step ahead, to avoid co-extinction.

Second, self-criticality achieved in intelligence

This intelligence finally reached a point of self-criticality. In order to thrive intelligence needs to be stimulated. Hence in a move of self-preservation, intelligence developed a twitch. Our eyes vibrate so that we can see. Our body vibrates so that we can stand. Numbers vibrate to exist. Intelligence created boredom to preserve and extend itself. These words are anthropomorphic, for fun, while we hypothesize that the process is actually self-critical. When intelligence reached its critical mass, it could turn its vision back upon itself and then seek measures to preserve and extend itself. Attaching pain to shrinking deviations was perfect. Intelligence had increased so far that it was able to compute a notion of self-preservation for its own neural networks. The difference for Homo sapiens sapiens was that the neural networks they had set up to compute the rate of change was also infused with life, or the need for self-preservation. Consciousness was then created to discriminate between these competing demands for self-preservation.

Third, Neural Networks and the Pulse of Life

Initially in this Notebook we looked at historical, circumstantial, and almost antidotal evidence. We then proposed a physical mechanism by which the Boredom Principle could be manifested. It was based upon the growing and shrinking of the neural networks set up to compute running averages and their derivatives. We created a hypothetical neural network and watched its behavior over time as it processed new information and adjusted its boundaries accordingly. We focused upon the boundaries of the Realms and Ranges of Probability and Improbability. We called this the Pulse of Life. Now we are going to explore the mechanisms of the Pulse of Life, which we call principles. We will look at the Rush Principle, the Homing Principle, the Emptiness Principle, and reexamine the Boredom Principle.

B. The Rush

This Principle based upon pleasure

In this discussion we have stressed the Boredom Principle, which is based upon pain, but there is also a polar principle, based upon pleasure, which we call the Rush Principle or simply the Rush. While boredom is the pain of shrinking deviations, the Rush is the pleasure associated with growing deviations. The thrill of a roller coaster, the excitement of travel, and the drive to intoxication are all based upon the Rush Principle. At one level the pain of boredom is alleviated; on another level a real excitement or Rush is achieved. Our information processor is stimulated and challenged. Our intelligence is exercised, experiencing self-preservation, and we feel pleasure.

The Technical Mechanism of going for the Rush or the Pulse

We humans in going for the Rush try to extend beyond the Realm of Probability and yet within the Range of Possibility. To experience the Rush, we must move beyond the 2nd Deviation from the norm. Hence the greater the area outside the 2nd Deviation, the greater the potential for going for the Rush. However, as the above demonstration shows, the way to maximize that area is to stay within one Deviation, i.e. the Greater Realm, the inner circle, as long as possible. Each time a Data Piece falls within the Greater Realm the two inner circles shrinks, while the third circle stays fixed. The third circle is the boundary for the Range of Actuality. Each time a Data Piece falls within the Greater Realm the area of the third circle increases, hence the potential to reach the Rush increases. Ironically any time the new Data Piece is in the Rush area, the inner circles expand, shrinking the area of the third Ring, which shrinks the potential for the Rush. The more Data Pieces that fall within the Rush area, the smaller it gets.

The Real Ambrosia: Stimulating the Higher Derivatives

As a brief extension moving beyond the second deviation also stimulates the higher Derivatives. This is the real ambrosia. Simply extending a boundary yields a certain satisfaction, while movement of the higher derivatives is a qualitative leap, stimulating higher levels of consciousness.

The limits of extending into the Range of Imagination

The third circle stays fixed unless a Data Piece falls outside the Range of Actuality into the Range of Imagination. One can only extend just so far into the Range of Imagination because the limits of possibility are bounded, fixed. With each extension the inner circles, the Realm of Probability, expand. This shrinks the Lesser Range, where the Rush occurs. Inevitably when the limits are reached, the potentials for the Rush are almost nil. Data Pieces which used to yield the Rush, now fall within the Realm of Probability, yielding a ho hum response. The exact same behavior used to yield a Rush of excitement because it was so different. Now because of the context of behavior, not the content, the same behavior is boring.

The context of behavior overshadows the content

The human organism seeks to maximize the potential for the Rush by staying as close to the middle as long as possible. This shrinks the inner circles again, leaving the third circle fixed in its expanded position, increasing the potential for the Rush. This cycle balances between increasing the Rush area by not being anywhere near there, and when the limits of Boredom are reached, the inner circles have shrunken as far as could be stood, the human takes advantage of the increased potential for the Rush to dive into the Higher Derivatives. The human quickly learns that the excitement of going down the hill is balanced by the effort it takes to go up the hill. The human remembers that with each taste of the Rush of the higher derivatives it reduces the potential to experience it again. There are no absolutes here. The behavior strategy is purely contextual.

C. The Homing Principle

The Homing Instinct is the Balance to Change

Traveling all the time would be just as torturous as staying fixed forever. The Homing Principle is a mechanism, which creates an island of Stability, a Home, in the midst of the swirl, in order to accentuate the changes. It is like the capacitor effect. Save your charges up and they can create a huge effect, while if they are constantly dissipated then the potential effect is lessened.

Technical Homing

The Homing Principle, integrally connected to the other principles, states that to increase the potential of a Rush, with its ensuing pleasure, that a stable Home must be established. The Home is the nothing that raises the potential for something. Narrowing the Deviations through the constancy of routine increases the area of Improbable Possibility, within which the Rush occurs. Increasing the deviations through constant change decreases the area of Improbable Possibility. This limits the possibility of a Rush. To experience the Rush more extreme action is necessary. As an aside a random number stream has no area of Improbable Possibility, hence no Rush. Because of the lack of Improbable Possibility, it is impossible to extend beyond the brink of boredom. When the area of Improbable Possibility is greater because of a Home base the exhilaration or rush of extending beyond the traditional deviations is much more possible because the area of Improbable Possibility is so much greater.

D. The Emptiness Principle

An Introduction to the Emptiness Principle

The Emptiness Principle states that doing nothing occasionally increases your potential for doing something. The reverse is also true – doing something occasionally increases your potential for doing nothing. In other words doing something all the time leads to stagnation just as doing nothing all the time also stagnates. Activity needs emptiness to increase potential just as emptiness needs activity to increase the depth of the Void. Seeking the Void without being rooted in something is like fishing without a plumb, diving without weights. {See the Emptiness Principle Notebook for a more technical discussion.}

The Emptiness Principle pervades our lives

The Emptiness Principle is at the root of vacations, weekends, seasonal breaks for students, and holidays. Each of these is the nothing that increases the potential for something, which is work. Biblically, the Emptiness Principle is recognized immediately, as God created the Universe and its creations in 6 days and then on the 7th day took a rest. This rest was institutionalized in the 10 commandments in the concept of the Sabbath. This is the root word for Sabbatical, which is education's way of breaking up the annual routine. Even sleep is the nothing that increases our potential for consciousness.

The 7 day work week, a global phenomenon

It is a testament to the power of the Emptiness Principle that the 7-day workweek has been adopted almost globally. Many of the cultures aren't even Biblically based. Of course there are primitive cultures, for instance the Mayans in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, who don't participate in the 7-day workweek, much to the chagrin of the employers. But even they have an institutionalized break in their routine. Let it be pointed out that 7 day week is unconnected to anything real, i.e. the Earth rotating on its axis or around the Sun. It is a purely human construct, although it might have been originally linked to the quarterly lunar cycle.

The Virtual power of intelligence

Let it be pointed out that Homo sapiens sapiens is the only animal to incorporate the Emptiness Principle into day-to-day routine. Presumably this is because their intelligence, i.e. information processing ability, allowed them to perform the necessary calculations to draw the necessary conclusions. Thus computational ability is linked with all the Principles mentioned thus far. None of these principles exist separately from the computations that are necessary to perceive them. Their reality is virtual. It is only based upon perception. Thus Boredom, Emptiness, the Rush and the Homing Principles have virtual power, only. Hunger does not gnaw at the stomach. The lack of physical water is not producing thirst. Each of these principles, which motivate our lives continually, is based upon the virtual power of computations.

The difference between Boredom and Emptiness

Although Boredom and Emptiness are linked, they are not the same. The Emptiness Principle is based upon the fact that doing nothing is outside the Realm of Probability and hence increases the Deviations. Thus the human increases his potential for change, above and below the Decaying Average, by doing nothing. The Boredom Principle associates pain with shrinking Deviations. Hence in some ways the Boredom Principle is an emotional response to the computational realities of the Emptiness Principle. Emptiness, however, has no real emotion associated with it, but has instead been found through the millennium to be an effective strategy in maximizing life's potentials. It could be hypothesized that the pain of boredom arose as an effective way of triggering the emptiness mechanism, but we feel that the Boredom Principle has many more reasons for being beyond Emptiness. The Emptiness Principle takes a while to kick in, i.e. 6 days of work and then a day of rest. On the other hand, the Boredom Principle kicks in immediately. In English we're not even allowed to repeat the same adjective in two consecutive sentences save for deliberate emphasis.

E. More on Boredom

Boredom and the Decay Factor

The potential for boredom is based upon D, the Decay factor, developed in the Notebook, Decaying Averages. When D is very high, boredom comes much more slowly. When boredom comes quickly D, the Decay Factor, is very small. If D is big, then changes happen very slowly. Hence the deviations shrink slowly and set off the boredom alarm more slowly. Conversely, if D is small, then changes happen more rapidly. Hence the deviations shrink rapidly and set off the boredom alarm more quickly. The size of each individual's Decay factor is determined genetically, environmentally and consciously. Perhaps each of us is born with a certain level of impatience. Our environment certainly accentuated this. If we are continually bombarded by change, excitement and stimulation, we become addicted to it and demand it. Our Decay Factor shrinks for environmental reasons. If the constant dissatisfaction associated with the boredom of a low Decay factor is perceived as a problem. Then one has the potential of slowing down, getting out of the fast lane, and cultivating a higher Decay factor for internal peace. In some ways, meditation could be called a conscious technique for lowering the Decay factor.

The Average Deviation as a Thermostat

For whatever reason: the increased mobility of the hand, the need for language, the more complex social structure needed to care for the infant, the size and complexity of the brain of Homo sapiens sapiens increased. With this increased size and complexity came the ability to do and store more complex calculations. One of those was the ability to be aware of the relative size of the neural networks associated with Average Deviations. If the Average Deviation became too large, the organism works to modify and minimize. If the Average Deviation becomes too small the organism works to maximize. The Average Deviation is used somewhat like a thermostat to regulate behavior.

An interesting sidelight: the unpredictability of human beings

Humans because of their propensity for change and diversity are ultimately unpredictable. Whenever a long-term pattern is setting in, the Boredom Principle is about to kick in also. We can't predict when the Boredom Principle will take effect, only that it will. It is like an earthquake in California. We can say that it will occur but we can't say when or upon which fault line it will occur. The Boredom Principle predicts that Homo sapiens sapiens will never be very predictable on certain levels because predictability causes the organism pain.


The preceding discussion focused upon 4 mechanisms of human behavior. These mechanisms, which we called principles, are uniquely human because they require a certain level of intelligence to compute. The following section looks at a meta-principle, which underlies these mechanisms. Hydrogen and oxygen are the component parts of water; by themselves they are not water. In a similar way, our meta-principle leads to our individual principles, while their individual manifestations are unique to themselves.


Home   Science Page   4. The Boredom Principle   Next Section