On Mon, 7 Apr 1997, Eugene Leitl commented:
<??? Not unless you are heavily augmented. Like SQUID arrays, to see
EM activity, and nitrogen cooled imagers to pick up IR blackbody...
Nothing but body chemistry, and interpreting subtle body language.>
On the same day, Anders Sandberg suggested:
<It might feel that, since our ability to interpret the state of other
people is largely subconscious - just think of those pheromones. We
have elaborate limbic systems to deal with this [SNIP] It would be
interesting to develop limbic enhancements; we tend to think far too
much about improving our cognition without thinking of the need to
improve our social abilities. Enhanced Empathy, anyone?>
Perhaps Sylvia was tip-toeing around the subject of 'auras'. The TFE
catalog I mentioned yesterday sells 'aura goggles'
and a whole bunch of stuff under the category of 'subtle energy
I suspect the skeptics have serious arguments regarding this 'subtle
energy' stuff, and I think Anders is probably on the right track in
pointing out that we have a lot of subconscious routines that assemble
all sorts of subtle signals from various senses to produce what we
call our intuitions.
So, when Eugene says "NOTHING BUT body chemistry, and interpreting
subtle body language" (my emphasis), I would say, this is probably the
MOST complex system there is, and harder to study than our
'higher-level' cognitive functions.
Aside from the psychological processing involved, there could be a
whole lot more to the basic processes of 'chemical communication' than
we realize. Linda Nagata builds most of her recent novel, _Deception
Well_, around this subject. Here are a few tantalizing snips from
<The Communion made here was flawed and corrupt. It had no center, no
focus, and so it could not grow by conquest but only by slow
accretion,, a confused, disjointed intellect operating forever out of
sync ... A biochemical dialogue in the Chenzeme way. The suspended
data patterns seek consensus ... Death masquerading as salvation ...
The Cult Virus. A gift from the void, a parasite that had lain in
wait, patiently seeking a new host ... manufactured nirvana,
short-term plan ... a feedback reaction, notably devoid of choice ...
Information streamed in chemical currents through the dust, flashing
occasionally into the electromagnetic spectrum astride erratic signals
barely distinguishable from the static. Halfway down the sheltered
Well, human lives burned in the warm infrared, oblivious of the
whispered exchange. Dust sifted past them, falling into the
atmosphere, into oceans, taken into the colloidal flow, perhaps rising
again with storms, escaping the atmosphere aboard some unknown ferry.
Information was traded and adjustments were made in feedback reactions
working on alien protocols encoded in the dust, long ago, while the
Communion waited: alert, patient. The dust was alive. Lot wondered why
he hadn't understood that before ... Dreaming dust. A system replete
with information, but operating without foresight, without
consciousness, Selective processes rewarding survival ... tiny judges,
forever untouched by mercy or forgiveness ... Maybe success could
never be measured except in the transcendent power of a moment, the
grace of an hour, or a day, short spans of hallowed time, like brief
poems, sparkling gems set in the flowing matter of space-time. There
is no finish line. Only a collection of small victories, and the
choice to go on. Choice was a privilege not shared by the Well or the