It is astonishing that most of cognitive science ignores an obvious reality. That there are two kinds of humans.
Tomasello has a very credible hypothesis that what distinguishes humans from the great apes is the inclination towards shared intentional behavior. What is innate is the disposition and like personalities, it is what defines our cognition as we grow.
If cognitive preference is so critical in cognitive development then why is it that we seem to have completely ignored the difference in cognitive preferences between men and women?
Humans are that species of primates that wandered out into the savannah. The savannah is different enough from a dense jungle to exert the evolutionary pressures that encourage the development of planning and forecasting skills.
Furthermore, human infants required a disproportional amount of effort to rear. This meant the specialization of roles between women who were responsible for rearing offspring and men who were responsible for bringing home the bacon. Failure in either implied death.
To be competent in child rearing, one is constantly challenged in trying to understand the needs of a child. A good mother is one that best understands the needs of a child and how best to accommodate those needs. Needs here isn't confined to immediate needs.
In contrast, the male human in the savannah needs to figure out where the next meal is coming from. In the savannah a human is one of the least physically gifted animals. Humans are relatively slow bipedal mammals.
The only animal perhaps with an approximate speed as humans are bigger mammals. The kind of mammals that can gore and kill a human. So when humans went hunting, there was a real possibility that it would be their last hunt.
So how does a human conjure up the courage to attack another animal that can kill them? They need to develop a kind of cognitive skill that is the opposite of empathy. That is, apathy. A detachment from knowing the consequences of being killed or maimed for life.
So what we thus have are primates a inclination towards shared intentional behavior (i.e. cooperation) that is also differentiated by a preference for empathy or a preference for detachment.
I use the word preference here because humans are complex enough not to be completely devoid of empathy or completely devoid of the ability to detach themselves.
Humans like dogs, dolphins and killer whales hunt as a group. The most cognitively sophisticated of animals are the kinds that need to coordinate a group that seek out energy resources that are also other autonomous things.
Well, it turns out that the most important gender of a social species are the females. We can make an analogy with the human body. Our reproductive cells are encapsulated away from the other cells in the body that is doing all the work.
Biologically, the males of the species are the venturers and also the sacrificial lambs of the species. The females are the ones that are to be protected at all costs. The information to replicate individuals is only available to females.
Organic social groups therefore tend to be matriarchal in nature. Even in human experience, it is usually the women in the family that ensure the maintenance of bonds between other relatives.
But an unnatural thing happened with the scaling up of social groups into much larger societies. The power dynamics of the group changes because the mechanisms of social cohesion has to change from the order of O(n^2) to O(n log n)
Human shared intentionality is made more effective through the use of language. The standardization of languages allows larger groups to communicate. The codification of language allows for information to transcend generations.
The initial usefulness of the codification of language (i.e. writing it down) is to preserve legacy. Legacy in the form of ownership. Writing information of ownership on paper is necessary for resolving future disputes. In fact, going meta means writing down the rules of dispute.
Civilizations scale because norms are written down and agreed upon by their citizens. Not everything can be expressed and written down. These are the tacit norms of society that is carried from one generation to another through practices and rituals.
Now one can make the case that the switch in power dynamics from women to men is a consequence of the written word. See:
The written word emphasizes detachment instead of empathy. In C.S.Peirce formulation of signs, symbols are detached from individual grounding and are instead understood through norms shared by a collective.
The symbol grounding at the level of the collective is different from the symbol grounding at the level of the individual. The effect of abstraction is that the concerns of the individual are coarse grained away in favor of the concerns of the collective.
Because our thought processes are so dependent on the language that influences our thoughts, modern humans are unable to intuit what they've lost through the habit of using symbols to express thought.
What was lost was empathy. But here's the rub, language is not the core of general intelligence but rather empathy is at the core of general intelligence. Humans by virtual of being shared intentional beings require empathy to find meaning in this world.
Humans who commit suicide are the ones who momentarily discover the lack of meaning in this world. How does that happen if not for the same mechanism that allows for the detachment from this world?
Side note: The danger in American society is that the culture is verbal in nature and has a propensity to favor symbols over empathy. What happens when those symbols are discovered to be lies?
Humans are innately equipped with two kinds of minds. The empathic mind and the symbolic mind. The former addresses complexities of human relationships and the latter abstracts away the complexity the arises from combinatorial explosions of states of affairs.
Computers have shown that we can mechanize the symbolic mind. However, as GPT-3 has shown, the mechanized symbolic mind is devoid of meaning. It requires the empathic mind to discover meaning in the words.
That is because it is the empathic mind that is actually embodied, embedded, extended, enactive and affective in this world. The purpose of things that are digital is to transcend our legacy into the futire. The purpose of things that are analog is to live in the present.
Join me in this journey here:

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14 Jan
Genes are to Evolution, Memes are to Culture, Dicenes are to General Intelligences.
Open-ended generative processes like evolution and human culture have a thing that is replicated and propagated by the process. For evolution, these are known as genes. For culture, these are known as memes.
It became obvious to me that there isn't an equivalent for individual brains. Is there something that is equivalent to this in general intelligent systems or biological brains?
Read 29 tweets
13 Jan
Evolution has genes. Culture has memes. What pray tell do Brains have that propagates and replicate useful information? If we can't identify the thing or word, then we got piss poor theories of the brain!
Brains have schemes. Schemes are like memes and memes are like viruses. So they are packages that advertise their utility on the outside and inside they contain the instructions to achieve the utility.
Are schemes an abstract thing or are they real things? There in fact exists a viral mechanism called ARC that packages RNA to be transferred between neurons.…
Read 5 tweets
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It is a very sad state in America when we need to explain the definition of a lie.
Bearing false witness us a lie. So to have witness something and to claim the opposite is a lie. A lie is not a difference of opinion.
Now. Pat Robertson says that Trump isn't a liar because what he believed to be true (although false) what he claims to be true. There are two options here, you believe a fact to be true because you are willfully ignorant of the facts or you claim it to be true absent any fact.
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My understanding of Bitcoin comes from my understanding of the doctrine of investing in gold. Given that the WWW came on line in the 1990s ( 30 years ago ), one would think that a big chunk of the population think anything on the WWW is a natural thing.
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My issue with Bitcoin is more a technical implementation issue. I don't think it is proof of work setup is sustainable. Its lack of developers is also troubling.
Read 4 tweets
12 Jan
A good theory of consciousness is one that predicts behavior that is unexplained by other current theories of consciousness. Einstein's General Theory was given credence because it predicted the bending of light.
What do current theories of consciousness predict that is outside common intuition about the nature of consciousness?
Many theories of consciousness are elegant, but do they predict anything out of the ordinary?
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Conscious and conscience are two words that share the same origin but mean two different things. The bias against explanations of consciousness comes from the conflation of these two words.
In addition, the question of free will is also adjacent to the notion of both consciousness and conscience. The ideas of consciousness, conscience, and free will serve as the foundation of justice in our civilization. (care to add another?)
So when we see people fail to condemn an act that is morally repugnant, we wonder if they have a conscience. But we don't wonder if they are conscious. When we incarcerate a person, we ask if they had "free will" but we inquire if they were 'conscious' during the crime.
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