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The drop of water that didn't want to dissolve

What is life ? There are thinkers who tire­less­ly think about this ques­tion, such as Karl Fris­ton (who is my age, but who has an h index, real­ly, real­ly high­er than mine… In fact, my Hirsch index sucks!).

If I under­stood cor­rect­ly, what is alive is what is orga­nized. For exam­ple, a col­ored drop falling into a liq­uid vol­ume tends to dis­perse. If, by some mir­a­cle, we could observe that this drop began to con­tract, then to relax, then to con­tract again, we would be cer­tain that a struc­tur­ing mech­a­nism is in place or in the making.

The liv­ing being hates sur­pris­es, chaos. He fights against the inevitable decline of things and beings. He resists entropy by para­dox­i­cal­ly cre­at­ing his own.

Thus, each liv­ing enti­ty is com­posed of a series of shells, inter­de­pen­dent mod­ules (or Markov cov­ers), pos­si­bly mea­sur­able. The brain would thus func­tion in the same way. It cre­ates inter­pre­ta­tions or mea­sures of the world and since it is the very fruit of this world, it would be the inter­pre­ta­tion of this world. This idea goes back a long time.

It also reminds me of a child­hood read­ing that inspired me great­ly, The Crack in the Cos­mic Egg : New Con­structs of Mind and Real­i­ty, in which the author deals with home­osta­sis, the “desire” to orga­nize the world, to sta­bi­lize it (the chal­lenge being to break this shell to reach oth­er under­stand­ings and stabilities). 

Fris­ton says a lit­tle bit the same thing, it seems to me, with what I under­stand of his free ener­gy that the liv­ing enti­ty tries to orga­nize in order to avoid sur­pris­es. This prin­ci­ple can be applied to per­son­al­i­ty dis­or­ders, to the jolts of thought that are as much schiz­o­phre­nia as depres­sion. Faced with the sen­sa­tion of a loss of con­trol, the mind finds refuge in the first cave that comes along. Most of us face these tur­bu­lent times with vary­ing degrees of hap­pi­ness, the nov­els are lit­tered with the com­pli­cat­ed sto­ries of indi­vid­u­als try­ing to pull them­selves out of drown­ing. For oth­ers, the strug­gle is more dif­fi­cult. The bat­tle is won by los­ing it. Alco­hol, sui­cide, loss of san­i­ty, tremors, fever, illness.

The shamans and priests have drawn their con­clu­sions from this, the neu­rol­o­gists theirs and Bud­dha would have taught us a way to get through this imbroglio.

Now, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence seems to want to adopt these same mech­a­nisms of self-reg­u­la­tion. This is not sur­pris­ing since it is the fruit of the human mind which always seeks to mea­sure and under­stand the world. The prin­ci­ple behind this work is called active infer­ence, which in Eng­lish has the same acronym as AI…

Where will all this desire for order lead us ? That, my broth­er, my sis­ter, we will be dead before we see the end of it. 


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