chapter eleven

Intelligent Holograms

"CIVILIZATION, LIKE LIFE," wrote Durant, "is perpetual struggle with death."[1] The powerful urge to survive against the worst possible odds is one of the birthmark of intelligence, even intelligence in its most primitive form. A block of granite is far better able to survive than the mightiest among us. Yet when the shadow of a sledge hammer cuts across its surface, the stone is utterly helpless in the face of the impending blow. The granite block plays no active role in its own destiny. But even a micro-intelligence can perceive danger while the peril is still abstract. Even a lowly mind cares about its fate and can amalgamate its past memories with its present percepts before the ideal future becomes the present reality.

What do we actually mean by intelligence? I think we could defend the notion that civilization is one manifestation of it. We might point to poetry and pinochle as other examples. But a crisp definition requires something more than simply pointing toward examples.

In defining a subject, we draw a line around it and stake out not only what goes into the discourse but also what stays out. The rendering of an explicit definition implies that we already know the universe of our discourse--the coordinate system containing our subject. The moment we define our universe, we virtually guarantee in advance the presence or absence of certain features in our subject. Indeed, get good enough at the definitions business and you can prove or disprove just about anything you please. And definition can pluck so much off a subject that it's merely the skeletal remains of the original subject.

In ordinary mathematics, recall, we define relations between X and Y (or W and Z) within a prescribed coordinate system. Even when we are not conscious of it, we actually assume the nature of the coordinate system in advance. Our descriptions of X or Y, then, must always fit within boundaries imposed by our definitions. Should we want to transfer X and Y (or Z) to some other coordinate system, we must obey the rules we've imposed on ourselves. Thus, by definition, we can't begin on a Cartesian graph and make a transformation to any and all conceivable sorts of coordinates. But with tensors in a Riemannian kind of universe, we're able to make any transformations we please. How's come? The answer, remember, is that with tensors the coordinate system doesn't come in advance. Tensors reverse the conventional wisdom. With tensors the definition follows rather than leads the description. We must calculate the universe. It's not ours by divine revelation. To reach for the tensor is to imply an admission: we're too tiny to survey all that is and too dumb to know in advance where the edge of the world lies before our journey begins. We need a description of intelligence before we can even attempt a definition.


There's more to intelligence than dimension. Yet if I correctly judge the reader's feelings by my own, there's just too much pi in the abstract sky for us to move directly from analytical hologramic theory to a description of intelligence that will ring true to our intuition. Thus instead of proceeding analytically, let's open with an imaginary experiment.

Let's reach into the technological future and invent a new kind of holography. Lets invent a hologram of a play, but a hologram whose reconstructed characters are life-sized, full-color, warm, moving and whose voices are in "holophonic" sound. Let's even give our characters bad breath and body odor. In short, let's invent the wherewithal for an imaginary experience far more eerie than my very real one with the dissected brain that wasn't there.

Now let's enter the theater while the play is in progress. Let's assume that out mission is to find out if the actors are at work or if they've taken the night off and are letting their holograms carry the show. What test can we use? We might try touching them. But wait! If we were at a séance, touching wouldn't be reliable, would it? If we pass a hand through a ghost, so what? Ghosts aren't supposed to be material, anyway. Just real. Thus for want of adequate controls, we'd better think up a more imaginative experimental test than touching. Suppose we sent a 515-pound alpha male gorilla up to the stage. What would live actors do? Although, their behavior would change, we could never specifically predict just how.

What about holographic images? We can accurately predict their responses with a single word: nothing! If the holographer stays on the job, the show will go on as though our gorilla isn't there at all. Indeed, as far as the holographic scene is concerned, the gorilla isn't there. He is of the present. They are of the past.

What's the theoretical difference between our live players and their holograms? Both depend on the same basic abstract principle--relative phase. And holography can be done with tensors. Yet the holographic players cannot let our gorilla into their universe. Our poor live actors wouldn't have had any choice.

The informational universe in our physical hologram is like a cake that has already been baked. If we want it continuously round (no cutting) instead of square, if we want the gorilla in the scene, we must make up our minds about that during construction--before the abstract dough congeals in the theoretical oven. The tensor calculations have already been made. The coordinate system has already been defined; it is what the philosopher would call, determinate. We cannot add the new dimensions of information our gorilla brings up on the stage.

Our live players? Their informational universe is still being calculated; it is still fluid. Their coordinates are not yet defined-- and won't be while they're still alive. Our live actors' minds are continuously indeterminate. This feature--continuous indeterminacy (ugh!)--accounts for the addition of new dimensions, as well as for our uncertainty about the outcome of the experiments with live players.

Let me review this argument from a different perspective. Remember that any segment of a curve (and our continuum is curves) is an infinite continuum between any limits. In a determinate system, where the calculations have already been made, we know which points along a curve connect with independent dimensions. In our indeterminate system, we never know just which points will suddenly sprout new axes or discard old ones. Indeterminacy is the principle feature of living intelligence!


So far, only living minds let today continuously blend with yesterday. Maybe topologists of the future will teach holographers of their day how to deal with infinitely continuous indeterminacy in an N-dimensional universe. A friend of mine placed a cartoon about holograms in my mailbox a few years back. It depicts a receptionist standing with a visitor next to an open laboratory door. The door has on it "Holography" and "Dr. Zakheim." Dr. Zakheim is apparently standing in the room looking out and at the visitor. But in the caption, the receptionist is warning, "Oh that's not Dr. Zakheim. That's a hologram."

Should holographers and practitioners of chaos theory team up to endow holograms with continuous indeterminacy, it won't make any difference whether Dr. Zakheim is actually there or not--except to Dr. Zakheim. For then holograms would be as unpredictable as we are. Maybe even more so! Now my own hunch on the subject (rather than what we can logically deduce from theory) is that it will always make a difference whether it's Dr. Zakheim or a holographic reconstruction of him. My hunch is that nobody will figure out just what to do with local constants (quirks). But this is pure hunch. And many a savant far more sophisticated than this poor old anatomist had similar things to say about phase information, before Gabor.


Leon Brillouin presents two concepts that will be useful to our discussion: tensor density and tensor capacity. Density and capacity are two independent properties, conceptually. (How much hot air is in the bladder, and how much can the bladder hold?) Density, in a sense, is what while capacity is where. In Brillouin's words, "the product of a density and a capacity gives a true tensor."[2]

An incredible thing happens when density and capacity combine to produce a tensor. The operators of their respective independence eliminate each other. When we have the true tensor, we have the product of density and capacity yet the two independent properties themselves have vanished. Only in Brillouin's calculations can we conceive of density and capacity as discrete entities. The same is true of hologramic intelligence: when we have the tensors of intelligence, we don't have independent capacity over here and independent density over there. Yet without density and capacity--what and where--there is no intelligence at all.

Can we conceptualize the density and capacity of intelligence apart from each other? I know of nothing in science, nor philosophy that can help us out. Nor can we pray or ride a magic carpet to the answer. But the artist can help..

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce gives us a look at the genesis of a genius. His hero is a mirror of Joyce's own boundless inner world. He does in words what Brillouin achieves with calculations. Joyce reinstates the operators and dissects the tensors of intelligence into capacity free of density. It is capacity that seems to intrigue Joyce. He sprinkles density like a few stingy grains of talc, just enough top bring out the invisible surfaces of capacity. If you want waxed, red-gray mustaches wet with warm ale or cod-grease stains on brown derby hats or the sight of spring heather or the musk scent of a pubmaid's unshaven armpits, you'll have to put them there yourself. Yet the capacity awaits. Reading Joyce's Portrait is like looking into a universe of glass. How can you see it at all. Yet there it is, anyway. Artistically, capacities mean dimensions awaiting only densities to occupy them and give life to the intelligence we know.

The creative process itself shows us the meaning of expanding, contracting and transforming dimensions of the mind. Physical holograms don't create for the same basic reason they ignored our gorilla. The property that allows for expansions, contractions and transformations at all--that lets the living mind enjoy an intelligence the physical holograms lacks--is continuous indeterminacy. Hologramic mind is a continuum of relative phase spectra, yes! But we must set the continuum into perpetual, complex and unpredictable fluid motion in order for it to yield intelligence.

The artist is the transformationist of themes too large, too small, too remote, too abstract, too subjective, too personal for science--but too critical to culture to be ignored. The artist creates the telescope or the microscope and the appropriate angle of view to enable a human mind to operate within a cosmos where it has no philosophical right to go, but goes anyway.


So where does our discussion take us? What does our theory show us ?

First of all, it would be silly even to attempt a rigorous definition of intelligence. The calculation is always in progress, and we are always ignorant of the coordinate system.

But description is something else. And hologramic theory does deliver this.

Hologramic intelligence turns out to depend on: independent dimensions, which we've already dealt with; indeterminacy, which we'll soon go back to the lab to examine; and rectification--the correction of size or shape or complexity to fit the mind to the context and the context to the mind.