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Arkady Grudzinsky

TEDCRED 50+

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How can we help a person who lacks motivation or does not know what (s)he wants?

Ernesto's paradigm might work for helping communities. Among several people, it's likely to find someone with passion and motivation. But how do we apply this philosophy to individuals who lack motivation or don't know what they want or want things that we consider harmful to them (e.g., a teenager with lack of experience, a person with depression, or an addict)?

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    Dec 3 2012: Let's generalize:

    Before kindergarten most of us explode by our creativity. We just can't sit sill, because there is so much to explore around us. So much to do and play. So much to discover. Our future profession changes almost daily and is related to what is in our very focus at a given timeframe.

    In kindergarten the first signs of stagnation kick in, as our energy gets controlled, scheduled and set on topics which we might have not choosen ourselfs. Future professions keep changing, yet mayve a little less in frequence.

    At elementary school our creativity and energy get tied up in the corset of conformity and stays this way up to the very point where we are finally allowed to retire from the professional world.

    How do we deal with people who are dropping out of this corset for what ever reason? How do we motivate if the result would be to tie them up again?

    The answer to your question may be found if we look at our process. Something get lost on our way from before kindergarten up to the point were we become professionals. At least for many of us.

    Comments like 'get real' or 'grow up' may be hints on such a search. Are we expecting a different reality when we are young then the 'one' we finally get to see once we enter, once we 'grow' into it? Is this form of resignation and demotivation which occur to some the result of disillusion? If so, what was our illusion when we started?

    Not to know what to 'want' may imply to know what is unattainable and to have no 'good enough' alternative instead.

    As a society our main focus of interest usually don't stick to our children and growing up people, so 'loosing' some of them doesn't really 'ring the bell', as we have no alternative to offer anyway...
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      Dec 4 2012: well put!
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      Dec 4 2012: You made me feel better about not knowing what I want to do yet. I am in my opinion a creative being, and I am a sophomore in college. I am minoring in Spanish, but I am unsure of what I should major in. I enjoy many subjects from Anthropology to Education. I have to decide what my profession will be before next semester. Perhaps I'll never "grow up" haha.
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        Dec 4 2012: It's ok Haley....I'll never grow up either, and I'm 60+! I've had several different careers, businesses, interests and professions in my life adventure, and have totally enjoyed ALL of them.

        It is too bad that college age people feel pressured to decide what they want to do the rest of their lives! How about picking a major that you are very interested in right now? You can always take more courses when/if your preferences change.....yes? I also suggest (if you have time) volunteering in an area that you think you might like to pursue. That might give you an idea if you want to go further with that particular interest or not?
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          Dec 4 2012: Thank you Colleen. I am going to take an introductory social work class next semester that requires volunteer work. I am excited for that. I think I will research more about majoring in sociology or Elementary Education. I work as a Teacher's Assistant at a preschool, and I really enjoy it. Everything always works out! :)
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        Dec 4 2012: Haley,
        Sounds like you are very "grown up" and are taking some good steps toward your exploration of life:>) I have always pursued what I enjoy doing, and often, what evolved into a professional experience, was first a hobby that expanded and became a profession, for which I was paid quite well:>)

        I totally agree with you that "everything always works out" when we have curiosity, and an open heart and mind. I found that with an open heart and mind, the world opens up to us in magical ways:>)

        "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give..."
        (Winston Churchill)

        I like to combine what I get (learning, growing evolving) with what I give:>)
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          Dec 14 2012: Thank you for the compliment! I agree with you that with an open heart and mind that everything will work out.

          I've decided to give Elementary Education a go, by the way!

          Much love
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        Dec 4 2012: Nice to hear that you feel better!

        Creative people like you have little choice but to never really 'grow up', as creativity is just another form of 'playing' and curiosity its source of energy. We do not teach our children how to play, as this comes naturally by our instincts, and so does curiosity. And just for the sake of conformity we discharge our little ones, ourselves, repeatingly ...

        Fortunately, not to 'grow up' in this context got nothing to do with being childish or to have a 'Peter Pan' syndrome. It somewhat describes to have managed to keep some of our childlike nature alive within us and against all the odds.

        So keep up your positive attitude and 'life, the universe and everything' will have no other ways but yours... :o)
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        Dec 5 2012: Wanting to explore what you want to do is not quite the same as not wanting to do anything.
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        Dec 14 2012: Much love to you friend Haley:>) Elementary Education is a GREAT place to share your insight and knowledge about the life adventure and with an open heart and mind, you will also learn from your students:>) It is also a GREAT foundation for anything else you may explore later in your life adventure because we are all students and teachers in this earth school...in my humble perception:>)
  • Dec 4 2012: Excellent question. Being a teacher I've been daunted by this question for a pretty long time. Ernesto gave a simple bullet-proof answer - shut up and listen, and if that doesn't work we should change our job from a motivator to motivated and let others shut up and listen to us.
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      Dec 5 2012: Оце по-нашому :-) Sometimes, it works both ways, doesn't it?
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        Dec 10 2012: Arkady,
        In my humble perception, it ALWAYS "works both ways". If we fail to see the possibility in information traveling both ways between participants, then we have lost the connection with that person.
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    Dec 4 2012: Hi again Arkady!
    In my perception, the best way to help or support anyone, is to encourage them to find their own answers. While volunteering with victims, and/or offenders, teens, depression, addicts, alcaholics, etc., I learned that people who have difficulty making good decisions for themselves have low self-esteem.

    One of the first things many people want to do, is simply tell them what to do, based on the "teacher's" own experiences, which often have no meaning whatsoever to the one they are trying to "teach".

    When I volunteered at the women's shelter on the hot line, I often wanted to simply go pick the woman up and take her out of the abusive situation. It was more important to listen to her, offer support, encouragement and information which might empower her to make her own decisions.

    When working with young men in the correctional facilities, co-facilitating "cognitive self change" sessions, I often wanted to simply say JUST STOP BEING A CRIMINAL!!! STOP VICTIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE!!! I learned that I needed to genuinely listen, and offer support and encouragement. Support and encourage criminals? Yes, because they are insecure, and lack self esteem and confidence as well. No one who is genuinely empowered in him/herself could violate another human being.

    Those who are genuinely empowered may make better choices and decisions, so the best thing we can do for anyone, is to encourage, support and empower them with REAL power, which includes respect, compassion, empathy, and truly listening, with all of our senses, and every cell in our body/mind. We need to let go of OUR personal agendas and preferences, and CONNECT with people before we can ever hope for any change.

    You mention teenagers...one thing that helped a lot when my kids were teens was a book called P.E.T (parent effectiveness training), which is available on line, and in fact, it looks like there is a series now. This book helped me a lot in communications with kids AND adults.
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      Dec 4 2012: Colleen, I want to recommend a book that I think you would really appreciate that connects to some of the work you have done with people who have started out in bad situations, made them worse, and then tried to move forward.

      Mark Salzman's True Notebooks is about the author's volunteering teaching a writing class at a juvenile detention center in Southern California.

      In terms of connection to the thread at hand, one sees the effects on these young people of the writing class and the way various adults tried to reach them to get them on track, what they wrote about, and so forth.
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        Dec 4 2012: I've heard about Mark Salzman and that book Fritzie.....one of these days I'll get to it!
        Writing seems to be a very valuable tool.

        Another one, along the same line, which we used sometimes, is "Houses of Healing" by Robin Casarjian.
        On the cover:
        *Ways to experience freedom, even if behind bars
        *Guidance for healing your relationships with your family, friends and others
        *Simple yet powerful techniques for managing stress
        *Clear roadmaps to self-understanding
        *Entrance into a non-judging, welcoming spiritual life
        *Greater personal power

        It contains many journal type writings, done by men who were incarcerated. It stands well on its own, and also has a workbook, which can be used in workshop sessions.
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      Dec 5 2012: Coleen, thanks a lot for your reply. Inspiring, as always. You are right. Abused women from the shelter often would go right back to the person who abuses her. People who abuse others often don't know any better because they have been abused themselves in their youth. Read about Stalin's youth, for instance. The evil from abuse can grow to enormous proportions.

      I have noticed that people who are too tough on others often suffer from victim mentality. It's a tough problem. Sometimes I fall into this trap myself. It just takes a little stress to start getting irritated at other people. And when two stressed people who feel "victimized" get together, after a while, it's impossible to tell who victimizes whom. There is a vicious cycle of abuse.
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        Dec 6 2012: Thanks Arkady,
        Statistics show that an abused woman will leave an average of 7 times....leave...go back....leave....go back...before she will finally make the move. I agree that most people who abuse have probably been abused themselves. We give out to the world what we have in our heart, based on what we have learned in the life experience.

        There are lots of people who come from abusive backgrounds and because they are aware of themselves and have genuinely explored their experiences, they will not abuse. There are lots of different levels of awareness or lack of awareness.

        I have observed that those who are "tough on others" are often tough with themselves. Those who have expectations of others, have expectations of themselves....those who respect and are compassionate with themselves, are respectful and compassionate with others....on and on....A person tells us a LOT about him/herself by how s/he treats him/herself and others. A person demonstrates what is in his/her heart with every single action/reaction.

        You're right...it does indeed become a vicious cycle WHEN/IF we are not aware of it. When people confront each other in the way you speak about, it takes a hero to stop the cycle. When one person can demonstrate something different, the cycle is broken....if even for that moment. The more we stop the cycle in ourselves, the more we change the thoughts and feelings that fuel the cycle. Change our thoughts, changes our feelings, which may change our life experience:>)
  • Dec 8 2012: I am not sure that I understand what you mean by that, but I'll try to answer properly:). I love your thinking and attitude to help others. Many thoughtful people already answered very well, so I just want to talk about a teenager with lack of experience.

    First of all, we can help teenagers with lack of experience figure out what they really enjoy through experience. Once we provide them with opportunities to experience different types of tasks, they come to think of what they like and dislike, and decide what to do.

    Secondly, counseling is helpful as we know. The teenager isn't an active client in this case, so we should be more careful when we try to make them(passive client) consult special counselors. If personal counseling program makes him/her feel uncomfortable, we can set up group counseling appropriately. It is good to put the client in contact with other people in a similar position, because they feel encouraged and comforted.

    Lastly, we can let them assist other people in need, such as the elderly, orphans, and addicts. Within the course to help those people, adolescents with lack of experience and motivation come to realize that there are many people in need and they also can help someone, so they have the possibility, hope and potential. The bottom line is the chance to think about themselves and realize like that.

    Is there any motive or reason that makes you think about this question, if you don't mind me asking?
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      Dec 10 2012: Re. motive. I have a teenage son who struggles at school. He is very capable. Loves to read, writes well, scored at 98th percentile in language at school... Failed to write a book report for his literature and composition class. He says, when it's assigned - it's boring. Loves music, plays piano since 5 y.o., was a winner at several musical festivals... Hates to practice. Wouldn't do it on his own. We have pushed him all along. If we didn't do it, his talent would have been buried. Loves computers and games... Failed to turn in assignments in his elective computer game design class at his high school. Says, they teach how to use some GUI software, not how to program - excuses again.

      Bottom line, he shuns effort. When slightest effort is required, he loses interest. Rewards or punishment do not motivate him, no matter how attractive or severe. Ambition and fear of failure does not matter to him at all. We cannot say, he is bored because classes are not challenging. For one year in middle school he went to a special class for kids who scored above 98th percentile in math, language, or cognitive abilities. He took high school-level classes there. It was struggle as expected.

      We checked with doctors. He does not have much to be treated from physically.

      How would listening help here? We know what interests him. We know also that if he takes a class in the subject that interests him, he would fail it.
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        Dec 10 2012: Hi Arkady,
        Sounds a lot like my young son....loved to read....appeared to have a photographic memory...did well WHEN/IF HE WAS INTERESTED ENOUGH IN A TOPIC.....was bored in school, didn't pay attention, or do homework....etc. He also played piano by ear....taught himself....played trumpet and drums, which evolved because the school band was without trumpet/drums at a certain time, and the music teacher asked my son to take over different instruments when needed! He got by in school, simply because he quickly assimilated information. He played sports, was in choir, drama, etc. He was tested at about 10 years of age and labeled "gifted". Has your son been tested? I believe it is a law that if a child is having difficulty in school, the school is required to provide cognitive testing.

        I don't like the "gifted" label, because I believe ALL kids are "gifted" and we need to encourage them to use their gifts....whatever that may be. My son sometimes got interested in something and was totally engrosed in that topic for awhile, and we encouraged it, because I believe a person will learn anything better when s/he is interested and willing to learn.

        He began reading and understanding pretty complicated "stuff" at age 3, so I knew he was smart. With that in mind, I pushed and prodded to try to get him to apply himself in school. That was not at all successful, and only caused friction. What helped most, was being engaged with what interested him when he was ready to explore a topic.

        For example, when he was about 9-10, he became very interested in astronomy, so we bought books and a small telescope. As his interest grew, he got a bigger and bigger telescope....he LOVED it! Then, he discovered something else, and the telescope went in storage for years. As a 40 yr. old man, when visiting recentloy, he picked up his telescope and took it to his home:>)

        I think/feel it is important to "be with" people where they are in the learning process....children or adults:>
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        Dec 10 2012: Arkady,
        I didn't have any characters left to address your last statement:

        "How would listening help here? We know what interests him. We know also that if he takes a class in the subject that interests him, he would fail it."

        You know "he would fail"??? How about genuinely listening, hearing and having faith in him?
  • Dec 5 2012: Yes it does. I often challenge my students with the bet: "Who will learn more - I from them or they from me". They are usually shocked to hear how much I've learned from them and that improves their learning process drastically.
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      Dec 10 2012: FABULOUS idea Volodymyr....I LOVE it, because it helps to empower people, builds confidence, which improves learning, while reinforcing the life-long lesson that we can all learn from each other:>)

      When my kids were teens, and we faced communication challenges, I often said....This is the first time I've been a mother, so help me understand. That opened up the possibility for dialogue, sharing ideas, understanding each other, and often provided the opportunity for resolution:>)
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    Dec 4 2012: A number of TED talks are specifically about motivation and others are intended to be motivational. Examples are Tony Robbins, a highly successful "life coach" and motivational speaker and Dan Pink, who speaks about things that motivate us.

    One of the things that motivates people to keep trying at something challenging is to affirm what is good in the person that the person will also recognize in himself. Discouraged people are often in a state of mind in which they see themselves through a lens that exaggerates their weaknesses and minimizes their strengths.

    Another different but related idea, and in this I am thinking of children and teenagers, is to give them a chance to encounter a variety of different experiences. Many people might love to pursue a particular interest if they knew it even existed. For example, it would be difficult to develop a passion for mountain climbing if one never had an opportunity to go to the mountains or to draw or dance if they are not permitted. Related to this, people tend to be more positive and motivated in what they do if they have some choice in how they spend their time.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Dec 4 2012: Why is this your business? The only way to truly help another is to live your own life in such a way that it is an inspiration to others. If you place yourself in authority over another, you teach others that they are inferior. (Talk about a reason to be depressed!!!!! - and very angry)
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      Dec 4 2012: Hi, TED Lover,

      I would assume that children are, very much, the business of their parents. I would also assume that parents should have authority over children. I agree with you that any authority should be earned and based on respect and gratitude rather than on physical or emotional dominance. You remind me again that "charity starts at home" - before helping and motivating others, perhaps, we should first fix our own psychological issues.

      By the way, you mentioned, you used to have depression. Did you "help yourself" out of it or were you inspired by anyone?

      I like to read your comments. You look at things at a different angle. I appreciate it very much.
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        Dec 5 2012: Back in 1984. my worldview CRASHED. All that I believed in (truth, justice, equality, good/evil, god, etc) were exposed for the lies that they were. I was quite crippled, not having any guidelines upon which to base my actions. It was a horrible time.

        I quickly realized that I needed to establish a new worldview, but as the one held by conventional wisdom was so error-ridden, I needed to find one that was fact-based. That's when I started educating myself - starting with what is happening in the new sciences, but it was a very broad education and nothing was off-limits. I wanted to know universal truths. I wanted a fact-based worldview.

        One of the first things that I learned (with the help of a friend) was how to think logically. It turns out that even my definition of logic was amiss. Logic is VERY different from what I thought that it was. The logic of conventional wisdom is very irrational.

        Only after I began recreating a life (based upon very different principles) did I find role models (in life and in books) to inspire me. Before then, I really wasn't aware of much. Now, it's like I have woken up, or escaped from a very tiny box.

        When my worldview was re-established, there was no more depression. There was no reason for it to exist. I was no longer working against my own (and your) interests. I had something worth living for. Such a different world! So much brighter, gentler, and more inspiring.

        So, yes, I helped myself out of it, but I would not have chosen to do so had it not been necessary. If I had not rewritten my worldview, I would still be miserable but not know how VERY miserable I was or why.
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    Dec 4 2012: Hi Arkady,

    You do it like this:
    You do nothing.
    What you do is to stop thinking you are responsible for the outcomes in other people's lives - you are not.
    So by concentrating on your own outcomes, you become the model for others - and this is the only way to infuence anyone. And if you do it, it is not for others - it's just a bonus by-product.
    I have been suggesting quite a lot that people abandon their job and find their work.
    It's a whimsey on my part .. I just like to share. Whether anyone listens is not the point - the point is that I like to do it.
    We get trapped by the churches - all this "I am responsible for the world" and "I am my brother's keeper", "dulce et decorum es" is like the most poison pill the world ever swallowed.

    Anarchy is the way forward - total unmittigated anarchy. No rules, no laws no gods.

    Then - the true potential of life asserts itself - then we become what we are.

    As Ernesto observed - planning is the kiss of death.
    I think that's what Ayn Rand was getting at .. you know, this thing "collectivism" .. it gets associated with communism or socialism - and none of these things exist - and you can equally apply it to capitalism - all these things represent some kind of collection of people.
    Ernesto talks about entrpeneurism .. yah well, that all seems to work, but it's not really capitalism, isn't really socialism.

    What is being missed is that these coalitions happen at need - they are not a structure that has to be enforced or defined - it just happens.

    So what do you do?

    You just get out of its way - and along it comes.
    Leave your job - find your work,
    Leave your church - find your spirit,
    Leave your government - find your community
    Leave your judiciary - find justice
    Stop voting - starve the politicians
    Stop praying - starve the false gods
    Stop using money - starve the banker/slavemasters
    Stop going to court - and every lawyer and judge on planet earth will go cold-turkey for lack of cocain.
    Seek good friends.
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      Dec 4 2012: Thanks, Mitch.

      I was thinking along the line of helping individuals. What if the depressed or unmotivated person is your friend or your child? Just abandon them? Let things go as they do? Shake off the responsibility?

      Being a good and inspiring example is a good advice, though.
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        Dec 4 2012: You see Arkady, we have all fallen into this trap - that we must actively and forcably go and "fix" everybody - and that is called righteuosness and it is satanic to the core.
        I hold all Christians as satanists.
        I only got liberated by accident - i was blessed with an autistic child.
        And he is imune to being "fixed".
        And in my love and nurture and concern, bit by bit my eyes were opened to see that it is in allowing - not fixing or forcing .. the entire evil arrogance that anyone on this planet is qualified to "fix" anyone else.

        I exhort everyone to put down their tools of dominance - take off the blinkers of holy niceness, walk away from this 10 thousand year lie and just come back to life.

        Let it all fall down. It was never worth building in the first place.

        Come home to the tribe and let the tribes come together in festivals of trade.
        Let those who wander wander, let those who farm farm and those who fish fish and take no blood of our brothers the animals.

        It is already done. Babylon is fallen and the false mesiahs are naked.
        The rivers of blood are at the wellspring and prepare to gush forth.
        That which has been "fixed" is full and rebels of your "fixing".

        Why do you think anyone would get depressed in the first place?
        It is because of "fixing" of realising that they live in a place that does not want who they are - and they weary of pretending to be fixed for all you do-gooders who "fix" for the sake of your own illusions and lies.

        Walk away from Ceasar - and stop being Caesed.

        We were sufficient from the start - but it's a long and bloody journey back from the lies we have taken for gospel.

        But the springs are bursting fourth - they cannot be stopped now. So we all might as well walk away.

        Those who get touched by the blood will add to it.
        Those that resist will be drowned.
        THose who cling to lies will find them as anchor stones around their necks in the flod.

        It's all over.

        At last.
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          Gail . 50+

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          Dec 4 2012: .

          @Mitch

          What a hopeful message. Thank you. It is hard to articulate how different and beautiful the world becomes to those who are no longer willingly enslaved to the abomination. Unfortunately, there are few who have the basis of experience to be able to understand what you have said and see the truth in it.

          I would only correct one word. In your first post, you said that anarchy is the only way. May I ask you to use the words "rational anarchy". It means something very different while being essentially the same.

          Rational anarchy requires of self that all actions are rational. The worldviews of most of the world are very irrational but people don't know it. Put a huge group of irrational people together and let anarchy reign and things will disintegrate as they have (which in the context of the question would ultimately be a good thing if the people do not destroy themselves - and if thy do, that would be a good thing too). But put a group of rational people together and all will prosper.

          I loved hearing the words "Babylon has (already) fallen". You're right. I hadn't thought of it that way.
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          Dec 5 2012: Mitch, you sound almost like a biblical prophet :-) I hope, this remark does not sound too sarcastic. I'd say, this view is rather idealistic. It is more concerned with "what should be" rather than "what is". And aren't you trying to "fix" others by saying that they should not try to fix others?

          But we are getting into philosophy again. My question is rather practical. I also have a son who has autistic symptoms. We don't want to get an official diagnosis as we don't expect much from it except stigma. Having a child like this does make you rethink your attitude towards people, happiness, and life in general, doesn't it? I have removed words "crazy", "stupid", or "retarded" from my vocabulary and I do not laugh or get angry when people do something strange that does not make sense to me. I also meet with a fair share of skepticism inspirational speeches on how we should do this or that with our kids to make them successful. ALL children (and people) are different. And kids of tomorrow will be different from kids of today. This is why debates on education will never end. Unfortunately, some things are beyond the grasp of the Science Almighty.

          You might agree, however, that the goal of any parent should be to bring the children to the point where they can survive in this non-ideal irrational world on their own. I don't want to "fix" my child or make him like everyone else. (I'm quite different from others myself - it does not bother me at all). I just want him to survive and be reasonably happy. Were you able to do that with your child? If so, how or what is your strategy?

          If you say that we should let the child grow as is, without teaching him basic survival skills, isn't this an attempt to avoid responsibility by adopting a "sexy" philosophy?
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          Dec 5 2012: @TED Lover
          There is no such thing as "rational people". Your affection for rationality is an irrational emotion.
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        Dec 5 2012: Hi Arkady,

        Yes - I was wondering if you would see the "fix" in my "rant" ;)

        I apologise for taking the liberty. Buit it seemed instructional.

        Many thanks for the opportunity to comment on this issue - I am still of the mind that nurture is more a process of acceptance and assistance than of training and shaping. Of answering rather than asserting.

        For that reason, I had better take my own advice - and I thank you for your wisdom!
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          Dec 5 2012: Re: " I am still of the mind that nurture is more a process of acceptance and assistance than of training and shaping."

          Thanks, Mitch. I'm still working on it. I have not fully joined the acceptance camp. Sometimes, we learn from children about ourselves more than we teach them...
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        Dec 5 2012: @ Mike,

        To know water - get wet.

        In examining the nature of language and behaviour, I am surrounded by giants - the discoveries of Damasio and those like him shows us clearly that our perception is stratified. There is the core and there is the autobiographical. Humanity is lost in the stories it tells itself about itself - most of it is fiction. All the prophets have been telling us this for millenia - "get back into your core self". The western religions invite us further into the labarynth - at the end of which is an abatior - the Taoists and Budhists and the true Jesus reach tenuously through the flaws of language to call us back.
        Who is "Lucifer"? He is the bringer of light and evil - he is language - the place of the stories - the autobiographical self.
        In studying "AI" I see that it is a tool - it should never be mistaken for a self.
        Here is the risk: THe AIs are being perfected, but whilever they work on the behest of an individual, they are tools. However, the instant an AI (such as the ones being used by google, facebook, CIA etc) - the instant they are wired into corporate decision making, the corporation then takes-on total entity. And corporations are structured as psychopaths - they have no compassion whatsoever. And once they are connected directly to AI they will subsume everything. It is inevitable by virtue of teh action of evolution that new creatures will be spawned experimentally. THe corporate AI will be a dead-end - litterally.
        I suspect this rubicon is already crossed - Babylon is already fallen, but it takes time for its rotting corpse to hit the ground - we had best keep clear.
        Walk away - stop telling stories - go look for answers from the core-self: they will be clear to the senses. Learn to put the tool away after the job is done. Entertainment is a drug - and while we are dopey from it - things eat us.
        @TL: there is no rationality - all things are contextual - start first with knowing that you don't know the context.
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        Dec 5 2012: Hi Mike,

        Yes - it's hard to explain a full idea within the 2000 character limit.
        The Damasio connection to AI is a major landmark on a 30 year journey I've been on.
        Most of the neural network AI research is based on the existing model presented by biological brains.And it had hit a wall globally - sure, one could train an artificial neural net to do some clever things, pattern recognition etc, but it was never intelligent by anyone's definition. Part of the problem is our misaprehension caused by the words "body/mind/spirit" they don't actually exist as separate things. The other big blunder was the renaissance notion or "the rational actor" - that intelligence was separate from emotions.
        All these things are fictions. So along comes Damasio to show us how a human neural net works. This helped me find some better words to describe the reality of intelligence as a part of an open system: sensation-->perception-->decision-->agency--> (repeat until death) ... where "self" is the container and motive of the system - generally contained within a porous membrane .. in humans - the skin. The motive-force is survival - this is the measure by which the entire system exists and persists.
        Damasio is important because he demonstrates how the self is organised in a human.
        Essentially, the structure is organised into these components: (internal senses-->internal perception-->internal agency) this unit is the proto-self - then we get (external senses + proto-self + primary perception + persistent memory + motor function{agency}) this unit is the core self. Then we get the autobiographical self that sits over the core self - it is entirely devoted to long-term causality. This includes the decyphering of information in the minute - including the behaviour of other living things, communication and language.
        So then, one has to ask "what is perception?" - end this is where we find the pattern recognition function of adaptive neural networks.
        (continued)
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        Dec 5 2012: (part 2)
        So you see, the autobiograpical self sits in a long-term memory space and forms hypotheses about everything there - these hypotheses are a continuous internal dialogue which frets away at the contents of memory until a useful causal map is generated. Once a causal map is matured and demonstrated to be reliable and repeatable it is sublimated into a thing we call sub-conscious.
        THis description is a bit erroneous - the "memory" in a neural network is not like a computer - it is the shape of the "thinking" itself. We call it memory when the network is fully trained, so what is retained is the adaptation. The adaptation is "stored" by potentiating(cementing) the synaptic connections in the network. The magic thing about neural nets is that they can memorise many of these adaptations over the same set of neurons such that the exit point (perception) is determined by the entry point (stimulus) - and the whole is determined by the context (self).
        Now, the Eastern disciplines recognise this - and they observe that the autobiographical self is a tool, not the seat of "being" . The core self is the seat of being (for humans) - and nirvana/satori is obtained by keeping the identity focussed in the core self - not in the autobiographical self.
        In the west we worship our autobiographical selves - but they are not selves - they are tools. If they become selves, it results in shizophrenia or multiple personality disorder.
        If you examine yourself closely, you will notice that all the things that happen in the internal dialogue and imagination(the autobiographical) is conducted by "actors" - these are simulations of self and the others we observe - and there are multitudes of them.
        So you will see that the autobiographical structure is a container for many autobiographical selves. e.g. you will have a specific "face" which you use for each relationship you have - a different face for everyone you meet.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains.html
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        Dec 6 2012: Hi Mike,

        THere is one other fellow who is worth a look at - but he's in a rarified space. Have a look for Marvin Minski. He's a mathematical topologist, and one of the first to get any real traction on the nature of neural nets. He has a talk somewhere here on TED, but it reveals his eccentricity more than anything else - he has a lot to say about education which is worth a look on his website.
        Lookup the "local minimum" this is an absolute key to understanding why people are so screwy.

        The core self is not so interested in stories - it has the role of integrating the internal milieu(proto-self/survival) with the external senses, the motor systems(agency) and the causal simulations(autobiographical/world view).
        So the core self sits at the centre of the entire resource pool. It makes the decisions about what to do. If the identity gets trapped in the autobiographical, then decisions will be made against the world view(ideology) not the real world(sensory/motor continuum).

        So here is the thing - perception is the neural method by which the "data" of senses is converted into "information". It is the process of sorting data into outcomes measured by the rule of survival.
        And here's the rub - perception is the same thing as what we call "belief".
        When people talk about beliefs, they are talking about their world view - this is a construct of the autobiographical self - it has very little to do with reality.
        A world view consists of a bunch of causal maps in various stages of maturity. It is infested with things we call "assumptions" which are untested causal maps. It is also infested with "local minimae" which are imature causal maps that "think" they are mature - this is called religion in the west. But in the east, it is acknowledged that all of perception/belief is "Maya".
        The core self understands this - and is concerned with living and adapting - no need for "knowing" - except as a convenience of the moment.
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        Dec 6 2012: Hi Mike,

        Understanding and knowing .. well, they both refer to the same thing .. perhaps a nuance of scale? you could say that "knowing" is a subset of "understanding" .. but in what context? Are we talking absolute confidence of short-term predictions that the core self can do without the auto-self? Or are we talking about the tentative maps held in the autobiographical world-view?
        You see, we fall afoul of the world-view whenever we use communication - which is a thing of the auto-self. And here's a riddle: world views attach to single auto-self constructs (a self-model combined with the "other" model in a context (that other usually represents another person - but could be a location or another animal or an object) these form different stories - and can have unique world-view sets that are in conflict with other world-view sets in the same over-all "belief-system"(agregation of world views in the same skull). .. in other words - in teh autobiographical space, knowledge attaches to actors - not to reality - one can have mutually contradicting knowledges that are invoked in the context of teh relationship. But this is not the case in teh core self - it will choose and act based on what is apparent through the senses - and will have a "knowledge" that works for now, but needs no continuity with a knowledge that works at some other point in time.
        I have explored the universal concept of self elsewhere. It is no more than an inflection on the gradient of entropy - a persistent pattern. One could say a "self organising system".
        A "skin" occurs where the negentropic envelope re-crosses to teh balancing super-entropic field - but the entire wave is the self. But even that is simplistic, because the wave is populated on both sides of the skin by other selves which form-up in the super-entropic gradient which transects the skin between the peak of teh negentropic envelop and the trough of teh super-entropic field.
        The conservation of entropy.
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        Dec 6 2012: Hi Mike,

        It takes time, but it all helps.

        Communication with language is always a problem - becasue each word stands at the head of a "macro" - a grouping of maps invoked by the word - often for the sake of the word and no true functional grouping. THese words get loosely attached to macos which are generally of cogence to to some aspect of survival - and therefore roughly equivalent in everyone - but not always - it's just assumed. The macros often have multiple entry and exit points - which are governed by context.

        The entire process of perception is akin to sortation. For instance - anything with whiskers furr and a tail which goes "meow" is a cat. But I have seen cats with no tail, cats with no fur, cats with no whiskers and cats that don't go "meow" .. so you see that the word "cat" does not actually do anything apart from support a vague generalisation for the purpose of communicating in the presence of ubiquitous assumptions (noise and error). Buty because experience is iterative - the error is "ironed-out" in the average, and it woks functionally in the medium-to-long term - regardless of the furr-less, tail-less, whisker-less, non-meowing cats. There are exceptions e.g. what fast food outlets define as "chicken" or what is in dogfood cans described as "meaty chunks".

        One can lie to an autobiographical self by exploiting this generality which is ignored for the function of words, but it is a lot harder to lie to a core self - where one has to falsify the sensory data - not the perception. In this, words are pre-packaged perceptions - and can contain any old rubish. Anything that cannot be directly confirmed by the senses and core self, is functionally lies.

        So, my goal with this kind of discourse is to present things that can be easily confirmed by experience with no special aparatus. The work on conservation of entropy is not yet complete - clear wordsets are not yet constructed.
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        Dec 6 2012: (part 2 again)

        The observation of the selfless process which you see is an observation of what the core self does.
        You will be aware of what is you and what is air, and within you what is blood and what is thought and what is skin. But observing it as an open system does not deny the pattern which is being sustained in the process - your being (or universal self). It is the desire of your being/self to persist. And this desire has no relative measure beyond your skin, it cannot be compared and is no more than a desire. As you allow this basic knowledge to sink in, you can see that it needs no classification or justification. Many mistake it for "spirit" because it is too simple to classify.
        And of course, the desire to be can never die. The pattern it maintains can certainly die - the auto-selves(ego) can certainly die, but the desire to be is no more than that which occurs on an entropy gradient - a ripple. THis is where I feel sorry for all those religious folk who think that their ego is going to heaven after their ripple collapses. And even the easteners who think there is a cycle of incarnation there is nothing but the desire to be. And that desire is identical in all living things.
        The core self sees this and understands it - the thing that is so simple it cannot be said.
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        Dec 9 2012: Hi Mike,

        Many thanks for engaging in this discourse! It's a rare pleasure.

        Firstly, the desire-to-be is an over-complication of "i am that I am" which is also an over-complication.
        This is the nature of simplicity - that it is binary with complexity. Mr Wolfram tries to get at it, but he's a conflicted individual .. rule #30 is the cellular automata that produces a chos system - it is very simple, but the results are completely complex.
        I go at it fom a slightly different angle - chaos and turbulence. You will see in fluid dynamics how the system spawns subsystems recursively until the subsystems cross the subquantum scale limit. But being quadratic, these dynamics are not solvable - one cannot say that the causality lies in the subquantum or the super-quantum - thus it is both top-down and bottom-up.
        So it is with the conservation of entropy. The desire-to-be is created-by and creates the gradient of entropy. The gradient is the ultimate simplicity. The self organising systems which consume the potential of that gradient also incline the gradient creating more potential for other self-organising systems to consume - and so, each "self" recursibely potentiates more selves in a descending fractal scale - down to the singularity which lies beyond the subquantum limit - which is mandated by the flow of time itself. In a sense, time is created as part of the system - all arising from "the desire to be". I like the term "desire", because it invokes a motive - and at the top, there is only one motive - all others are spawned by it. And "desire" is good, because it has no substance whatsoever - it exists as the prime object - and it is a singularity = 1/infinity. THese are the boundaries of the universe: 1/infinity and 1/0.

        I would be very keen to hear about the areas this falls apart - one must keep learning.

        (cont'd)
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        Dec 9 2012: (pt 2 - as usual the devil is in the detail - and detail takes more than 2k characters)

        Pre Damasio? that's a very difficult question - I have to remember who I was in a significant amount of detail .. all i can go on is memories of actual situations that fit the scenario - and what I actually did - and what motivated me to do it that way. OK
        There were a number of stances I took:
        1. Punishment - because that was how it was done to me. It doesn't work - just makes it worse. It's the traditional cop-out used by most people (the vast majority).
        2. Leadership through inspiration. This one is difficult. It has to be done by example, not force. If it is done by force, it induces dependency - and the leader becomes overloaded to the point of failure of himself and his dependents.
        3. Solutions. Finding psychiatric help, identifying root-causes of self-entrapment. Identifying systemic dynamics - ambient entrapments. THe latter are ubiquitous and arise from the slave paradigm of jobs and money. The only way out of these is to withdraw and forego the "benefits" of Caesar.

        Post Damasio:
        All the above, plus an understanding of neuronal potentiation and the different levels of brain plasticity. When the dynamics of the 3-layer self are super imposed, one gets a glimmer of the way forward. It must conform the proto self and arise in the core self .. the way is to look at the story that the victim is playing in their autobiographical world view. These things have power - the Auto-agents are connected to the proto-self and can induce any survival reaction that exists there.
        So - either create another story or exit from the autobiographical world. The former method is the same as propaganda and has no solution except for ignorance.
        Post Damasio, i have to conclude that the stories have to be regarded as any book - close the thing and put it in the shelf with the other books, avoid all written, spoken and visual reality - look beyond the rectangle, go out and enjoy the real life.
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        Dec 9 2012: (part #3).

        Almost forgot - the most important one - I used to avoid depressed people like the plague and have nothing to do with them. I would not do anything unless I was bound to them by family or friendship ties. This did not include slipping a 20 or 50 to desparate street people - I could do that because it avoided entanglements.
        I still do that - one has to be very very careful - these terminal self-stories can be very mesmerising - at best infectious and at worst resulting in failure to help .. very sad.

        P.S. you can see the inference of the conservation of entropy - everything is "alive" - atoms, particles, rocks Earth, Sun, Galaxy etc. We make the distinction where reaction is greater than unity when divided by stimulus - i.e. where an object has more than one choice. Living/not-living is a false dichotemy.
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        Dec 9 2012: (Part #4 damnit - well you asked ;)

        The mechanics of "getting out of the way" and "clearing the way" are the only real method of helping someone out of a depression trap.
        The individual in each skin is the most qualified to manage what happens in that skin. If you violate that, you will screw them up.
        So what does that mean?
        It means that one does not prevent anything except attempts to violate our skin.
        In nurture, it is a process of getting violations and impediments out of teh way of self-realisation.
        So what is that?
        "Love" is a garbage bin word into which all sorts of violation are concealed - as is "god".
        I am instantly on-alert when I hear these words - there is ALWAYS an intent to violate lurking behind them.
        I prefer the word "joy" .. when it is something shared. And I like abstracts like "the conservation of entropy" instead of god - because it is stringent and has only one interpretation.

        We live in a world that has become so delusional that the rectangles define everything - and no one can see it - within that rectangle is all of the stuff that leads us to depression and harm. It is so tangled that it is irredeamable apart fom just walking away from the whole of civilization.
        And that is going to happen anyway - it i9s called the "tower of babel" and it is designed to destroy language utterly so that it can all start agin - which is the "Phoenix".
        However, what is happening now is happening to the entire biosphere - it is not just humans, but teh entire globe which is about to start again - with or without humans.
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        Dec 10 2012: Hi Mike,

        All good - I've sent my email.

        I don't mind evolving discussions like this at any opportunity - all respect to Arkady for providing the opportunity in this case - it's a very cogent topic. If anyone is watching, there might be value - since the exploration is extensive. I would hope that, at the least, some new synapses got formed at the service of my community. But, as you point-out, the discussion interface is limited and a bit clumsy for any more than throw-away opinion .. maybe I should write to teh TED conversations team about that ;)
  • Dec 10 2012: I am in a similar situation. I am new to TED and look for ideas to keep me motivated so that I can
    Set a good example as I was taught to do while growing up as an older sister. Now I am trying to set that
    Same example by walking the talk and sometimes shutting up....... Good luck to you and keep your mind open.
  • Dec 8 2012: How about by treating the depression or addiction?
  • Dec 7 2012: There's no such thing as no motivation or a lack off. Read Insoo Kim Berg and Steve De Shazer (he wrote the article Death of resistance) and you'll find helpfull ways of rethinking about motivation and how to stimulate a good alliance with people.
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    Dec 7 2012: Here is an excellent answer to my questions (one of many, I suppose)
    http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership.html
    I'm not sure if it can be done on purpose. I translated this talk into Russian. May be, I have changed someone's life. Who knows?
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    Dec 3 2012: For someone who realises that help is needed, there is a lot that can be done. An addict may need to be checked into a rehab, an unhappy student may be studying the wrong subjects, a learner with poor grades may need counselling due to problems at home or laziness, a discouraged person may simply need affirming words and the guidiance of an experienced person. For some people, a change of attitude may be the key to progress.

    It is difficult to help someone doesn't know what he or she wants; a session with a counsellor may be helpful. Self discovery and improved self esteem may be the door of doors that has to open before help could be fruitful.

    It is important for the helper to know where help is needed.
  • Dec 3 2012: Good question. Especially for those of us who want to help. I started to write a comment just now. Instead, I think I will listen to what others have to say.