If I have mirror neurons, and you have mirror neurons, then together we strange loop.
And yet when I say “strange loop”, I have something else in mind — a less concrete, more elusive notion. What I mean by “strange loop” is — here goes a first stab, anyway — not a physical circuit but an abstract loop in which, in the series of stages that constitute the cycling-around, there is a shift from one level of abstraction (or structure) to another, which feels like an upwards movement in a hierarchy, and yet somehow the successive “upward” shifts turn out to give rise to a closed cycle. That is, despite one’s sense of departing ever further from one’s origin, one winds up, to one’s shock, exactly where one had started out. In short, a strange loop is a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop. Douglas Hofstadter, I Am A Strange Loop
What really happens when we’re wired to the actions of others who are in turn wired to us?
Congruent and Complimentary Mirror Neurons
Watching Monday Night Football is only one mirror. The Cool Medium of TV in general will not relate to us in a way that gives rise to the strange loop. I know some who are ferociously opposed to personalized advertising and the information collection process in which it’s intertwined. But I think that “smart” advertising is just a sign of the emerging strange loop between the individual and the hot medium of sentient technology. Why is a Revlon ad far less likely to appear on my Facebook page than an ad for the Eye-Fi Wi-Fi memory card? Because the the world wide techno system is being wired for empathy. I can see how this would be problematic for some; to have the cold lifeless soulless world machine acting empathetically towards me, but what’s really the difference between acting as if you’re acting empathetically, acting empathetically, and actually being empathetic. ”Stupid is as stupid does,” said Mr. Gump. If something or someone can act with empathy, would we not bestow upon them the ability to empathize? And if so, what is really happening when we hear the world responding to us? How often are we being mirrored without receiving a signal that we are?
What happens to a chameleon when it’s placed on a mirror? Not only does the chameleon take in information about its surroundings, it also acts in a way that is directly correlated with that incoming information. Of the answers I’ve heard, these two stand out as my favorite: a black hole would form (similar, I guess, to the idea of “crossing streams” in Ghostbusters), and, “the chameleon would turn paisley.” I’m left thinking about the specific opportunities in which humans allow themselves to act out in accordance with information from their motor neurons. The research says that mirror neurons are more specific than generic imitation; mirror neurons respond to action. An individual would not mirror a rock, but rather would mirror the action of throwing a rock. The individual throwing the rock would see themselves being mirrored and in subtle or not so subtle ways would become aware of their own method of rock throwing, which would encourage an evolution of technique, and which would eventually and inexorably lead towards the October Classic. But what if a bunch of humans were thrown together and allowed to spontaneously act out the mirrored actions of others who themselves were spontaneously acting out the mirrored actions of others? My suspicious is that you would get something akin to the paisley chameleon and the black hole. What would it look like? Probably like a crowded dance floor.
Missing from this experiment in spontaneously acting out the mirrored mirrored actions of yourself in others is a clear representation of one’s self. I once saw a movie called, Looking For Chan, where two friends of Chan searched all around San Francisco for their friend. Chan was never found, and yet we end up with an image of who Chan is via his imprint on the world. An individual is constantly living in their own imprint, and from within this, one can get a glimpse, albeit an indirect glimpse of themselves. For something more direct, we actually need a mirror of some sort. A regular mirror would work, but it is so very tightly coupled that a strange loop becomes more a strangled loop. But cameras and some computation could present a version of oneself that is not so tightly coupled, and that could give rise to a kind of strange loop. If placed within the context of a group of humans spontaneously acting out the mirrored mirroring of others, a camera/projector facilitated self would add a significant level of complexity to an already strange situation. Seeing others seeing you in others seeing others, but acting it out in real time. Paisley.