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The ALEX VAN STARREX Website


MY BOOK - A SYNOPSIS


BACKGROUND

I'd been interested in computers since I was a child - whether it be watching 'robots' in movies and on TV, or beating the noughts and crosses playing computer at the (then) Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. This interest finally integrated with others, such as psychology and philosophy, as I was studying for my law degree at the University of Technology Sydney. In my spare time, I would occasionally wander away from the law library and check out books and journals on artificial intelligence. The subject aroused a keen interest in studying how humans interact with computers - and kindled a myriad of original ideas for future developments in this field.

I had also became aware not only of the programmed nature of computers, but (spurred on by the works of Dr. John Lilly MD and others) of the programmable nature of the human mind itself. Lilly's notion - that the workings of the mind was akin to the workings of a computer - was a powerful metaphor, in that it accounted for conscious experience as a subjective (and projected) phenomena, whilst still allowing freedom for the individual to learn about and manipulate the conditions giving rise to it.

Unfortunately, my studies also highlighted the level of ignorance, and a huge number of vague preconceptions, that I'd long been maintaining about the workings of the human mind. So, in order to ultimately further the cause of my artificial intelligence ideas, I felt it necessary to clarify my understanding about the nature of 'natural' intelligence - and to explore the workings of the human mind more deeply. I wasn't completely ignorant about the field - after all I'd been pursuing interests in a number of related fields for many years: psychology, philosophy, religion, spiritualism, science, the arts, literature and the law. My primary failure had been not to realise that these subjects all approached the same basic phenomena - the so-called 'human condition' - though from different perspectives.

Once this was recognised, my aim was became one of integration and, over the coming years, I set about outling the things that I either knew, learnt or intuited about these fields, in order to arrive at a definitive statement of purpose about this material. Then I started looking out into to the 'real world' - for confirmation and development of these ideas. The ultimate purpose of the exercise is not only to write and publish a book - but to provide guidelines for developing computer programs and machines which can integrate and deliver this information in new ways.

But the mind does more than reflect on itself - it stores and relates information about the world around us. This necessitates the topics in the work covering a huge area - virtually the bredth on human understanding. And while it would be sheer folly for a single work to attempt such an exposition in depth, this isn't the purpose. I hope to show something of the dynamic relationships that exist between our internal and external realities, and how the two are often confused.

CURRENT STATUS

At the time of writing, I have about 1.5 meg of text-files written - with around a boxful of photocopied material and several books, plus magazine and newspaper articles, videotaped shows, and a mass of handwritten notes to be incorporated into the texts. The final work sometimes looks like it might take a lifetime to complete - but I've finalised the contents and, hopefully, others may assist me with the more menial aspects of the task. Either way, I'm hoping for the book to be completed and available - one way or another - in the next few years. In the meantime, it remains a task at least worthy of contemplation - if not stronger commmitment.


FORMAT- Main sections and sub-sections (note: this format is neither finalised nor fixed)

INTRODUCTION

- introduction
- project history

WORDS

- the development of language/s
- the division of art and literature
- the "conspiracy" of the word
- metaphor and allusion
- context and undertstanding
- style and expression
- assertion, fact and authority
- truth and opinion
- logic and fallacy
- ideas and acceptance
- meaning and interpretation

LITERATURE

- from signal/observation to word/concept
- the oral tradition
- participation and transmission
- from speech to writing
- preservation and protection
- originality and creation
- key-works in literature
- mass-media
- the reduction back to signal

SCIENCE

- history and development
- observation and theory
- the philosophy of science
- method and madness
- good, bad and false science
- physics and astrophysics
- the frontiers of knowledge

THE UNIVERSE: SPACE

- mental, physical and developmental world-discovery
- physical boundaries: macro and micro
- physical properties: dimensions and mathematics
- no single "objective" world
- means of travel: imaginary, projected and real
- current theories and observations

TIME

- cultural and historical constructs
- developments
- mental clocks
- consciousness and perception
- loops and whirls
- distortive phenomena
- biological clocks
- real and relative time
- time-travel

HISTORY

- frameworks
- time-scales and relativity
- fallacies and re-writes

RELIGION

- history: magic and mysticism
- leaders and followers
- proto-science and dogma
- co-development and diversity
- God as concept and expression
- faith, belief and loss of identity
- deceptions and lies
- fanaticism and cults

PHILOSOPHY

- history and tradition
- methodologies
- contradictions of espousal and life
- modern directions

PSYCHOLOGYworking it out...

- history and development
- diversity and contradiction
- interaction and practice
- psychotherapy and imagination
- pop-psychology and the new-age

THE MIND

- history and development
- maps, paradigms and relationships
- thought-patterns: dynamic and static
- dreams and reflections
- experience and expectation
- knowledge and learning
- mental content
- form and function
- symbolism and allusion
- meaning and interpretation

THE BRAIN

- brain and mind
- components and function
- organisation and interaction
- brain waves and quantum activity
- memory and recollection
- function and dysfunction
- perception and imagination
- consciousness as form and content
- control and alteration of consciousness

THE BODY

- growth and development
- the senses in isolation and conjunction
- image and reality
- sexuality, bonding and reproduction
- activity and energy-levels
- acceptance vs. change
- death and dissolution

BEHAVIOUR

- the personality puzzle
- theories and observations
- personality and identity
- self and others: boundaries
- agreement and understanding
- motivational forces
- cause, concern and obsession
- communication and language
- originality vs. conformity

HUMANITY

- history and philosophy
- perspectives and outlooks
- concensus and conflict
- culture, sub-culture and community
- organisation and political structures
- power, class and influence
- laws and ethics

LIFE

- purpose and direction
- fate and destiny
- biology, genetics and ethics
- values and meaning

BOUNDARIES OF KNOWLEDGE

- knowledge as certainty
- logic, zen and nonsense
- life and experience
- extrinsic and intrinsic experience
- hypnosis: suggestion and regression
- chance, fate and destiny
- strange phenomena
- extra-sensory peceptions
- psychic and other-worldly forces
- magic and shamanism
- revelation, deception and fraud

COMPUTERS

- perspectives
- mathematics and logical reduction
- development and history
- information and data processing
- Artificial Intelligence and the Turing test
- robotics and external control
- platforms and politics
- multimedia and hypertext
- the digital world
- fashion and techno-culture

THE FUTURE

- related plans and projects


FUTURE PLANS

I intend assembling the book at home, and will move it online when it is in a state of approximate conclusion. That way people will get a chance to read and comment on it, before it goes any further. A final printed version will hopefully appear some time afterwards. Extracts may be made available on request at any time, provided I am reasonably happy with both the content and the intended use by the recipient.

Finalisation and publication of the book, however, may only be the start. If the concept is successful, the contents may appear in other formats. An independent website would already be in existence (by virtue of the online pre-release version), while a CD-ROM version and other permutations could easily follow, given the chance.

I am inviting expressions of interest from potential readers and publishers alike, even at this early stage. It will certainly assist me with the fairly arduous task of completing the work. Collaboration and assistance would be appreciated, but, so far, I haven't found anyone both capable and willing to undertake the task.

INTERACTIVE VERSIONS

It isn't too difficult to imagine an interactive version of the book, where information is presented not only in linear form and hypertext, but in a multimedia format - or even as programs. This way, relationships between the basic concepts could be demonstrated in a dynamic form. It also paves the way for the production of "splinter"programs, in which artificial intelligence can be shown (or at least attributed) on a smaller scale.

At a higher level, more general or abstract functions of brain and behaviour patterns could be displayed, enabling the creation of virtual knowedge-bases or even whole personalities. These could be interacted with at a much deeper level than is presently possible with normal information, since essentially human-like characteristics can be displayed.

Ultimately, however, I see the present undertaking as a progession from the work of Charles Babbage and Alan Turing. In essense, a framework is being presented for a new type of computer - one whose potential applications cannot be confined or even clearly foreseen. There's also the prospect of serious financial reward, which is nothing to be sneezed at either.

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
EMAIL:
avanstar@tig.com.au
Alex Van Starrex