Homunculus? Ai? – nondual.community

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Homunculus? Ai?

Posted by Holger:

A homunculus is a term used in alchemy and medieval science to refer to a miniature, fully-formed human being that was believed to be created artificially through chemical means. The idea of the homunculus was based on the belief that life could be created through the manipulation of natural elements and substances. In alchemical texts, the homunculus was often depicted as a tiny, fully-formed human figure that was created in a flask or vessel. The concept of the homunculus is also used in modern neuroscience to refer to a map of the human body that is represented in the brain. This map is called the sensory homunculus and it shows how different parts of the body are represented in the brain’s sensory cortex.


Our homunculus is showing

The little person at the control panel,
the one who sees what the retina produces,
the one who decides, the one who speaks up…

(This is the dualist solution
to the free will problem – yes,
I have a physical body, they say,
but I also have a little human inside of me
that gets to make free decisions
separate from that…)

Anthropomorphism is a powerful tool.
When we encounter something complex,
we imagine that, like us,
it has a little person at the controls,
someone who, if we were at the control panel,
would do what we do.

A tiger or a lion isn’t a person,
but we try to predict their behavior
by imagining that they have a little person
(perhaps more feline, more wild
and less ‘smart’ than us) at the controls.

Our experience of life on Earth
is a series of narratives
about the little people
inside of everyone we encounter.

Artificial intelligence is a problem,
then, because we can see the code
and thus proof that there’s no little person inside.

So when computers beat us at chess,
we said, “that’s not artificial intelligence,
that’s simply dumb code that can solve a problem.”

And we did the same thing when computers started
to “compose” music or “draw” images.
The quotes are important,
because the computer couldn’t possibly
have a little person inside.

And now, LLM and things like ChatGPT
turn this all upside down.
Because it’s essentially impossible,
even for AI researchers,
to work with these tools
without imagining the little person inside.

The insight that might be helpful is this:
We don’t have a little person inside of us.

None of us do.

We’re simply code,
all the way down,
just like ChatGPT.

It’s not that we’re now discovering a new sort of magic.
It’s that the old sort of magic was always an illusion.

Seth Godin

One Source

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Created: May 19, 2023 
Last modified: May 19, 2023

This post has 2 Comments. (Click here ❤️ to share your words.)

2 responses to “Homunculus? Ai?”

  1. Magdi Badawy Avatar
    Magdi Badawy

    One could say that the body mind is code and that the entire universe is code like the Matrix hinted.
    But consciousness/awareness, will and intelligence, understanding and the capacity of contemplation, given that they are non-phenomenal, do not belong to the homunculus and do not belong to the code.

    1. Holger Avatar

      Quite amazing all of this!
      And the none-sense aspect.
      Gratitude ❤️

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