Monday, July 18, 2011


This is actually off-topic — still, well, imagining heaven is a good way to spend time, sometimes. Probably when I was younger, I even believed in one.

What I'd like to tell here, is that, my imagined heaven had all people in it know one another. Not unlike the South Pacific island traditional villages.

With a little fewer than seven billion people in the world, however, even if only a thousandth get there (yes, yes, it's imaginary, but still), I don't see how that could happen.

On the nature of zerairds

In the previous post, I proposed that

1. In addition to all the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and whatnot that we know we all have, we also possess zerairds, and that

2. These zerairds are the source of free will and consciousness, collectively sentience.

These differentiate us from stones and corpses. I believe, also from plants and microorganisms. Possibly, from insects. Not, however, from dogs and doves, cows and crows. Different faiths see these differently: Christianity appears to believe that only humans possess zerairds, whereas the austerest Jains see zerairds in stones too.

Ah, am I agreeing too much with religions? ... No!

All the science we know tells us that matter (matter-energy, after relativity) - that is to say the carbon, hydrogen and whatnot - cannot be created or destroyed. It does not recognize zerairds, hence no comments.

Common religions, on the other hand, hold the body to be perishable, and says souls live forever. Clearly, it is wrong on at least one count. The second law of thermodynamics notwithstanding, we should be able to reverse "material death" - at the cost of a lot of entropy generated elsewhere.

I believe common religion to be wrong on BOTH counts. I believe that our zerairds are created upon our birth, and destroyed upon our death. The assymmetry does appeal to me! Besides, whilst it is possible that the zeraird enters from elsewhere into a baby upon birth, and leaves a person upon their death, we have no evidence of it.

More on this later, but I also find it comforting to believe that one day my zeraird will be completely finished.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zerairds, free will and sentience


I believe in free will. By free will, I mean that I decide what I try to do, and how hard. I may not be able to judge how hard I need to try to achieve something. I may not succeed even if I push myself to my limits.

I also mean I can choose what to believe and what not to, even though I may be grossly limited in finding out what I should believe (usually, the truth), let alone making my beliefs come true.

If I'm wrong about this, it's not my fault.


Intelligence and sentience. Sensing and feeling. Decision making and free will. They all seem intertwined.

Let us say, I keep a jug of water in front of a stone. The stone can see it, inasmuch as if there's light in these surroundings, light reflected by the jug will hit the stone. If the chemical nature of the stone's surface is made up of silver bromide or something, then it will even react to the light. Responding to stimuli?

When we attach a camera to a microprocessor and program it, we can make the processor print out "Hey, you've kept a jug near me!" on a monitor also connect to it — even to announce it through a connected speaker.

We can do a lot more things with the microprocessor: we can have different messages, chosen on basis of time of the day, colour of the jug — may be the people it "sees" around itself, and so on. But, is it the microprocessor's choice? No, it is a direct result of if-elses within the program

The program could use random numbers and make outcomes harder to predict. Purer random numbers can be generated using some of the external inputs the processor gets to generate them. Besides, after quantum physics, we believe that there is some ultimately pure randomness too, which we can cleverly introduce (give a place of significance) in the program. Then, the programmer would themselves be rendered completely unable to predict the processor's future actions.


Getting somewhere?

Would the programmed microprocessor be responsible for its actions?

If it is not, and we are, there is something sophisticated machines don't have which we do. Let us call this "zeraird"+. I somehow perceive the contrast between sensing (as is also done by a weighing machine) and feeling (as we do when we lift a baby) as so strikingly similar, I think that, too, must be a result of our having zerairds. Intellectually speaking, we do not know if weighing machines feel, too, which is why I took this post along the thinking–acting lines.

Thank you!

+ Sadly, very few people who would patiently read through such a load of logical matter and philosophy would not be put off by the word 'soul'. Hence, "zerairds, free will and sentience".