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The striking similarities of psychedelics and Ai

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

— Neils Bohr


Ai and psychedelics are juggernauts that are changing humanity at a rapid pace.


They both connect us but in different ways: Ai through logic and psychedelics through emotion.


And yet, the fundamental mechanics of each have surprising similarities.




The process of training a neural network model is almost identical to brain activity on psychedelics. Let's dive into two examples:


  1. Creating new connections & eliminating bad ones

  2. Neuroplasticity and pattern recognition


Creating new connections & eliminating bad ones


Both neural network training and psychedelics adjust neural paths.


Neural network training is a process of adjusting the activity of neurons, the building blocks of the brain, to make the network more accurate. The process of "backpropagation" adjusts the model’s neural circuitry so it can make better predictions.


Similarly, psychedelics modulate the activity of neurotransmitters which are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain. This alters the connections between neurons leading to the formation of optimized neural paths that can better respond to external stimuli.


Overfitting, addiction, and mental health

Neural networks and the human brain use a process called "regularization" to prevent overfitting. Overfitting is when, in a sense, the network “cheats” by simply memorizing the training data. In Ai training, regularization can take the form of techniques such as dropout or weight decay, which aim to prevent overfitting.


Psychedelics increase the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays a role in the pruning of synapses. In the human brain, regularization can be thought of as the process of pruning unnecessary connections between neurons, thereby helping to keep the brain from getting stuck in stagnant thought patterns.


“Overfitting” in humans may manifest as repetitive behaviors. Had a tough day? Grab a drink, ruminate, or reach for another pain killer. The brain “cheats” and goes for an easy solution that has previously worked.


The powerful impact of psychedelics on depression, anxiety, and addiction may be a result of effective “regularization.”




Neuroplasticity and pattern recognition


“Plasticity” of the brain refers to its ability to adapt in response to new experiences.


Both neural networks and the human brain use a process called "synaptic plasticity" to adapt and improve performance. In neural networks, the process of backpropagation is a built-in form of flexibility where the model's weights are designed to adjust based on the error between its predictions and the desired output.


In the human brain, synaptic plasticity refers to the ability of the connections between neurons (synapses) to change in strength based on new patterns of activity. Psychedelics increase the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin which plays a key role in synaptic plasticity.


Ultimately, the purpose of this plasticity is pattern recognition. The training of Ai models and brains on psychedelics are both focused on identifying patterns and insights that can deepen our understanding of the world.


In the case of Ai, this involves identifying patterns in data. Those patterns are used to make predictions or solve problems. Brain activity on psychedelics involves identifying patterns in our subjective experience. As we make sense of those patterns, they help us better understand the complex paths in our life.



Art imitates life


One very non-scientific similarity worth mentioning: the early days of Ai art and visuals on high-doses are shockingly similar.


Have a look at Ai-generated art from 4-5 years ago. It has a remarkable resemblance to what people describe seeing on psychedelics. This may not be a coincidence.


 

Impact


Ai and psychedelics have the ability to expand how we see the nature of reality, and may reveal new profound truths about our existence.


Ai can provide us with new tools for understanding and manipulating the world, while psychedelics can help us experience the world in new ways.


Together, they might help us create a new reality that’s more in line with our deepest desires and aspirations.




 

raymond.a.christian@gmail.com


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