Mind Hash Tables: An Estimate of Reality

Science and Philosophy are Models

Anyone who’s taken a philosophy course knows that there exists an endless supply of propositions trying to explain anything and everything, from existence to reasoning. Furthermore, anyone who’s taken a science or math course knows that everything science can explain has exceptions. Exceptions will always exist because any time humans come up with a theory, whether it be for further understanding or prediction, it’s simply a model. A model, by my definition, is a simplified version of reality which tries to represent, as accurately as possibly, the aspects and relationships which are most significant to what we are attempting to model. Therefore, by definition, a model has some degree of information loss. If a model didn’t have information loss, that ideal model would be reality.

Philosophy is the discipline concerned with questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic)”
Wikipedia

Models are Hash Functions

An analogy for a computer scientist is that the mind is a hash table, or a collection of hash tables. Following from this model, a scientific or philosophical model is a hash function which is subject to collisions. The sciences are specialized hash functions that have been highly optimized (and generally agreed upon) for explaining certain areas (math, biology, physics, chemistry, etc). The division of areas themselves are models. Scientific hash functions are small enough for undergrads to conceptualize and provide the greatest minimization to the number of collisions in the set of real life it’s attempting to represent.

When starting a mind hash table, just as in computer science, the potential dataset size is unknown. Children start with smaller hash tables because they don’t know how much they will be modeling. They start with much simpler models than most adults use. Much of human calorie consumption is done by the brain so a smaller hash table, which consumes less resources, is desirable when basic survival is critical. Resizing a hash table is expensive because everything must be rehashed. This can be thought of as a paradigm shift or accepting a new model as our own.

Why Deliberate and Create Models?

We build hash tables for more efficient look up and understanding. Hash tables are easier to wrap our minds around and it’s arguably impossible to wrap our minds around all reality at once. It’s also faster to think about a model vs. trying to figure out all science every time. Proving a theory, for example, simply means that for a given set of critical criteria, the theory (model/hash function) minimizes collisions in the mind hash table. Determinists, realists idealists, fundamentalists, and everybody in between will always be able to find collisions in everyone else’s models. That doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong, it simply means their hash has information loss, just like everyone else’s hash.

Deliberation and argument is important because it can be thought of as a catalyst for the process of growing and rehashing our minds. A Grand Unified Theory, by my model of models, seems impossible to find because it means finding a hash function small enough to conceptualize, even with the most intelligent minds, and a hash function with minimal collisions on all input to satisfy the unified constraint. Don’t give up on postulating, though. Try to find as many different models as possible. Though it may be impossible to completely understand reality, through the overlap of models we gain the best possible sense of reality. This can be thought of as finding the area under the curve with Riemann Sums.

If each box inside the curve is a theory about what the reality-curve’s real shape is, then the more theories we have while still holding true to sensible reasoning, the more accurate one’s picture of reality is. A more accurate model may be to have boxes of different sizes, representing the fact that some of our theories are more accurate than others. This leaves the potential to replace a big box with more little boxes that “hash” with less collisions, and therefore, fit more tightly to the curve we call reality. This replacement can be achieved through deliberation.

With the box model it may be tempting to say that no one is ever truely right or wrong. This may be true in the general sense, but if we think of right and wrong as smaller and larger boxes, respectively, then in a certain context, someone’s boxes are always smaller and are therefore more accurate.

To Understand Reality, Create More Models

Minimize input information loss by learning a common set of arguments known as philosophy. Minimize model information loss by learning as many models as possible, known as science.

Of course, this analogy of a mind hash table is a model itself and therefore is ultimately missing at least some key aspects of reality. The idea of reality itself contains information loss but the more models we try and use will cause enough overlap to give a pretty good idea of what reality truly is. That’s probably the best we can do.

“It comes down ultimately to a question of philosophy. Does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world? If you believe the world makes sense, then anyone who tries to make sense of the world differently than you is presenting you with a situation that needs to be reconciled formally, because if you get it wrong, you’re getting it wrong about the real world.

“If, on the other hand, you believe that we make sense of the world, if we are, from a bunch of different points of view, applying some kind of sense to the world, then you don’t privilege one top level of sense-making over the other. What you do instead is you try to find ways that the individual sense-making can roll up to something which is of value in aggregate, but you do it without an ontological goal. You do it without a goal of explicitly getting to or even closely matching some theoretically perfect view of the world.”
Clay Shirky

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