Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sampling Theorem


so how often do you sample life?

apparently our whole waking lives can be split into two alternating states. one in which we are thinking about the world and doing stuff in it. habitual tasks (eating, commuting, etc.), vacations, sports, movie watching, working, the list is endless. second state is when we think about the self, am i happy? what am i doing here? why do i want, what i want? who am i?

first state is the waveform of life. every life on earth possesses it. a cell is dividing, a tree is growing new leaves, a sheep is eating them, a tiger is stalking its prey, a human is commuting. the level of sophistication may vary according to species but not the fact that they are living (or leaving :P) out their lives. 

the second state is when you sample this waveform. instead of going about living your life, you stop and look at yourself as an outsider. at the risk of sounding spiritual, i must say it is the state when you become 'self conscious'. it lasts a few fleeting moments before giving way to first state again. but it strikes hard and deep.

first state is nice and simple, but do i really need this confusing second state? i mean what can i possibly gain by asking 'who am i' or 'am i happy' to myself over and over again?

simply put, "i" wont exist without the second state. 'cogito ergo sum' really means that 'i think (about my own self) therefore i am' or 'i think (about thinking itself) therefore i am'. it is this second order thinking that makes consciousness and in turn, self consciousness, possible. a lioness is also thinking when she plans an attack. but she does not _know_ that, does she? she does not even know that she _exists_. it is our ability to turn the subject of our lives (ourselves) in an object of contemplation, that makes us exist.

point being?


the more you sample the better fidelity you get (we all remember Nyquist dont we?). so, to truly understand life (and not just live it out) you have to be in the second state as much and as often as possible.

philosophy is cheap, show me the money.

No. philosophy is cheap when it comes from a loser like me. what about when a Nobel Laureate talks about something similar? 




you dont think that is cheap, now do you? :P (actually its a good working approximation to first look at _who_ is talking rather than _what_ is being said. as long as we dont forget its just that, an approximation. but i digress.) 

the only way to reduce distortion between the experiencing self and the remembering self is to sample life as often as possible. the remembering self aggregates all the points that entered our consciousness. more data points will only make it more accurate.

and yes, about the money. you can save on that vacation you don't really want ;)


(video link via Anand)

Labels:

11 Comments:

Blogger Anand Teke said...

interesting inference...
thats the reason to write diary?

10:26 AM, March 17, 2010  
Blogger Anand Teke said...

for those interested

http://www.princeton.edu/~kahneman/docs/Publications/Living_DK_JR_2005.pdf

12:12 PM, March 17, 2010  
Blogger siddhya said...

i have no idea why people write diaries, so cant comment.

but when i say sample life, i dont mean catalogue your life or the things you do in it. i simply mean that _know_ your life and yourself as often as you can. one way of doing that is by asking those big fat questions i have in bold, over and over again :)

12:29 PM, March 17, 2010  
Anonymous Kedar said...

Probably tangential but related:

According to Vendanta Philosophy, life exists in 5 stages of evolution:

"
Evolution began from the mineral stage (annamaya kosha), then came the living plants (pranamaya kosha), then animals with feelings, emotions and desires (manomaya kosha) and finally human beings endowed with intelligence and intellect (vijnanamaya kosha). The remaining kosha (anandamaya kosha) has yet to be reached by evolution.
"

5:31 PM, March 17, 2010  
Blogger siddhya said...

"..yet to be reached by evolution"

this kinda gives the feel what we have nothing to do with it. when evolution reaches the ultimate state so will we.

i beg to differ. understanding/knowledge (abt life, universe and everything) depends on what we ourself do with our own lives. if we decide to live ignorant, we will mostly likely die the same way.

9:45 AM, March 19, 2010  
Blogger shirin said...

Hmm...interesting

3:12 PM, March 19, 2010  
Blogger Sandesh Dhagle said...

I think there is one problem with this sampling though. The remembering self is output biased so I guess it will still affect the overall result of the sampling no matter how often you sample it.

10:05 AM, March 22, 2010  
Blogger siddhya said...

true. but isnt that bias created due to our own ignorance in the first place? so sampling should help reduce it too.
when you hold your whole life in perspective, even for a moment, the immediate and petty things that most often rig our judgement, seem less important. if you can do it sincerely that is. and thats a big if :P

10:52 AM, March 22, 2010  
Blogger JWOL said...

Brilliant post, thanks.

-Nachiket

8:33 AM, March 24, 2010  
Blogger Maitreyee said...

An engineer speaketh! By sampling you mean, in hind sight think of what you did and why you did it and align it with your ideas of "life" ? Instead why not give a thought BEFORE everything that we do and we will save a lot of time removing the distortions?

9:28 AM, March 25, 2010  
Blogger siddhya said...

not before, not after. sampling means being aware of what you are doing _at_ the moment. why am i writing this comment? why are you reading it? stop. think about it. thats sampling. :)

yes, you will plan (before) and ponder (after) doing things. but both are slightly more prone to distortions, especially if the act is done absentmindedly (i.e. in first state).

10:20 AM, March 25, 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home