Thoughts on Thinking
dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum…”I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am” -Descartes
“If there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.” — “Sam” (Robert DeNiro) from “Ronin.”
“Question Everything.” — Thinking People Throughtout the Ages
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
The above four quotes create something of a thinking proof, if you will:
To doubt, is to think, is to question, is to imagine.
Yet, what algorithm is at the heart of this process? We can discuss neuroscience, but that is really more about storage and I/O — albeit coupled with association. Still, it is the quantum algorithm that we use hundreds of millions of times every day that is the true curiosity.
We can map the synaptic connections in the brain. We can follow the dendrite paths and see where they lead. When it’s question and answer time, though, that’s where the real magic happens. We can visualize the physiology of this, but the quantum expression under-the-hood it not as readily-apparent.
Here I want to briefly distinguish between reactive thoughts (fight or flight) and reflective thoughts. We’re talking about reflective thoughts here. Reactive thoughts never get beyond the cerebellum, or primoridal brain.
Refelective thought, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Further, it is not exclusive to humans, as much as humans would like to believe it so. Rather, reflection is a component of any deeper cognitive process. We see this reflective cognition consistently in the wild, but I digress.
Digression. I’m going to digress here again to say that digression is what thinking is all about, and is in fact a text book example of how we might consider the “path” produced by a quantum algorithm.
Deconstructing a Digression
Again, Briefly: the difference between a binary computer and a quantum computer — from a high-level perspective — is that current silicon-based computers are binary. That is, they store information in the form of 1’s and 0’s, and a bit always knows if it is a 1 of a 0. In the quantum world, a given bit can have 3 possible values (let’s say -1, 0, 1), but it doesn’t decide what its value is until the moment it evaluates its relevance in relation to the current casscading thought. At that point, based on the values expressed by previous quantum bits, it decides its value, and sends this information on down the bits various associated pathways. The relationship here is 1:n, or that this one bit may have any number of relevant associations, and once the decision is made, this information is sent down all pathways.
A digression is when we consider a pathway less traveled, as it were. And that’s important, because it’s down these seemingly less-relevant pathways that we often discover serendipitous relationships. Therein lies the curiosity, personally speaking, and what might be considered the “quantum” in quantum computing: dynamic non-linear-association and relevance.
Metaphorically, think of it as so-called “stream of consciousness” writing, for example, this blog right here. I started with a premise, and I task my worldview with determining the validity of said premise. As the thought casscades over 50 some-odd years of collected experience, my intial premise — in theory — becomes more tightly-focused as it nears conclusion. The pathways to that conclusion are wide and varied, though, and along the way, I need to stop and consider, what, hundreds, thousands, millions of alternatives? I don’t log everything to conscious output, as it were, but I can here it running. I can feel it.
If Everthing is Connected, Non-sequitars are a Myth
So, in the end, it isn’t that a particular thing might not be relevant, only that it is less relevant, or rather (n) pathways removed. Thus as I meander down a digression, I choose pathways that might not be the shortest route to the solution, but they provide valuable metadata along the way such that ultimately what is resolved is much different than the original predicited result.
The Predicted Result. What is that? It’s certainly part of any quantum equation, which is another distinguishing feature from the binary world. It is pre-packaged, pre-approved — that is to say, biased — form of thinking. And given this, it is unfortunately the most common type of thinking. It is essentially taking the wonder of a quantum computer and reducing it to binary thinking. Certainly, this was another digression, but such is the nature of doubt.
If doubt is thought, then is certainty the absence of thought?
You might argue this to be true. Curiously enough, argument is a form doubt.
As I was writing this, my wife interrupted me with some questions about taxes and insurance. I was annoyed, but at the moment I was deep in thought about thinking, and didn’t want to be distracted, because it occurred to me that this was yet another type of digression, and therefore worthy of consideration. Distractions, digressions and detours are the natrual state of the quantum algorithm, yet again another distinguishing feature. For while this type of widely-varied branching logic might seem chatoic, there is a Mandelbrotian order to it all… because everything is connected.
That simple algorithm that generates this endless stream-of-consciousness is elusive, but not unattainable.