From: the Brain. Subject: Mission and Function of Head Quarters

It’s come to the attention of Head Quarters that clarification is needed about the roles of Head Quarters and the relation of Head Quarters to other segments of the Unit. Unit terminology about itself has become lofty in an unhelpful way. Terms such as Intelligent, Passionate, Amazing, Self-Aware, Idealistic, and Virtuous distort the processes by which Head Quarters coordinates functions throughout each Unit for the benefit of the Unit. The following update might contribute to a more realistic, less hyperbolic understanding of Head Quarters and the Unit.

The mission at Head Quarters is to keep the Unit functioning and to prepare a replacement Unit to carry on after the present one becomes inactive. Different parts of the mission are carried out in Head Quarters’ various departments. Head Quarters continuously interprets streams of data that come in from around the Unit’s Network. It receives detailed data from the hands, mouth, and tongue. Data about external sounds and light sources arrives from the two pair of audio and visual receivers located adjacent to Head Quarters. Other data is handled routinely in round-the-clock monitoring of the Unit’s internal conditions, including levels of fuel, water, waste build-up, oxygen, and blood flow. Together with Lower Quarters, Head Quarters coordinates the processing of food intake. Head Quarters also tracks the position of the Unit’s appendages at any given time in order to coordinate movement.

Brain functions (AWMG.INFO)

awmg.info

The data is stored in Archives. Frequently retrieved data is easily accessed. Older and background data can be difficult to access clearly and accurately, if at all.

Also, Head Quarters is essentially closed for business about a third of the time in order to perform such functions as offline consolidation, re-sorting of Archives, waste removal, and resource replenishment. The Lower Quarters don’t seem to need anywhere near as much downtime.

Head Quarters implements certain Conditions—C-States—that bring on mild or intense sensations in the Unit for various length of time. Such Conditions encourage or force behaviors that are considered to support the Unit’s well-being in the short or long run. Such Conditions might involve energy levels, Unit temperature, and internal tension level. They are triggered by changes in the Unit’s surroundings, often by the presence or behavior of other Units.

Examples of common C-States include:

C-Joy, an energized state, short-lived but recurring, often activated by and reinforcing successful interactions with other Units;

C-Sadness, a low-energy condtion in which the Unit tends to withdraw from activity to recover from a setback;

C-Pain, a distressing state in part or all of the Unit that signals injury or dysfunction;

C-Arousal, the set of conditions leading to copulation; and

C-Anger, an energized state in anticipation of physical conflict with hostile Units.

Head Quarters' perspective based on where its detailed data comes from (Wikipedia)

The Unit as experienced by Head Quarters according to the concentrations of sensory and motion nerves. (Wikipedia)

Equally as refined as Head Quarters’ internal monitoring is its tracking of other Units. Some Units have exchanged signals with Head Quarters for a very long time and have full records in its Archives. Other Units are encountered frequently but briefly and are less familiar. And all Units, whether known well or only briefly, singly or as groups, are assessed for their monitoring of this Unit. Assessments in both directions concern whether another Unit seems friendly, trustworthy, indifferent, a possible sexual partner, higher or lower in status. For reasons of safety, other Units are roughly divided between friendly and potentially hostile ones. In general, Head Quarters views the formation and preservation of alliances as a significant contributor to Unit well-being. For this reason, on many occasions, the smile expression and the laughter sound are important signals in such extra-Unit interactions.

Beyond such basic expressions and sounds, Head Quarters is extremely skilled in arranging visual components—lines, shapes, colors—and different sounds to exchange information or even C-States with other Units. The most widely used exchange method is a complex sound code rapidly acquired early in every Unit’s functionality. The code is in almost constant use between Units about items regardless of whether the items are physically present or out of sight or in the past or anticipated in the future. Such topics include strategies for food procurement, the behavior of other Units, and the expressions of various C-States such as C-Anger. The code is compelling and often runs silently within Head Quarters itself.

As for a visual version of the code, it is being used and demonstrated in this communiqué.

The code includes identification markers for all Units. If a Unit is present and participating in an exchange, such signals as youand we are common. In addition, early in their functionality, each Unit receives a set of two markers, one that indicates its Unit group, the other indicating the Unit itself and its gender. An example is Petersen, the group marker, preceded by Mary, a female member. The Mary Petersen Unit identifies itself as Mary Petersen as well as I and me depending on the situation, and the Mary Petersen Head Quarters continually reviews the Mary Petersen past, the assessments of Mary Petersen by other Units, and the optimal plans and coming schedules for Mary Petersen. Cumulatively, these processes result in the formulation of and the belief in what are known as Mary Petersen’s self and her life.

The multiple and multi-level processes coordinated by Head Quarters are demanding. They entail almost continuous assessment of past events, present circumstances, and future possibilities. It is pleasant, even liberating, to relax those processes for periods of time by narrowing the attention to immediate sensations such as breathing and slowing the frenetic assessment of input.

But while the Unit functions most fully in the present, it must function partly in the past and future as well. Head Quarters functions primarily as a forward-looking instrument—flexible, capable, in constant adjustment as the present moment changes and changes again. For the Unit, no single time frame is secure or complete without consideration of the other two.

That concludes this introduction to Head Quarters.  Questions may be submitted below in the visual code.

The Limits of Happiness?

If our expectations of happiness sometimes seem off-kilter, it’s because our understanding of emotions in general is not always accurate. It is tempting to think that emotions are available in pairs, that each pleasant emotion comes with a distressing version: happiness matched with sadness, bravery with fear, contentment with  frustration. And we might expect that people experience emotions in a wide range of intensities and durations. Depending on the person, sadness might last for a day or a decade, mildly or intensely. And and so might its counterpart, happiness.  As the sign says, “Happiness has no limits.”

happiness limits poster (loesje.org)

loesje.org

In How the Mind Works, Stephen Pinker says not so fast. For starters, “There are twice as many negative emotions (fear, grief, anxiety, and so on) as positive ones.” Try to count the common unpleasant emotions that come to mind, then try to think of the same number of positive ones.

Another clue that emotions don’t come in positive and negative pairs in all varieties, like shoes, is that “[P]eople’s mood plummets more when imagining a loss in their lives (for example, in course grades, or in relationships with the opposite sex) than it rises when imagining an equivalent gain.” Pinker quotes tennis star Jimmy Connors: “I hate to lose more than I like to win.”

So not only are negative feelings more plentiful than positive ones, but they pack a stronger punch as well.

Why? The benefits of happiness and the other positive feelings are, in evolutionary terms, more limited than we might think. Pinker: “The psychologist Timothy Ketelaar notes that happiness tracks the effect of resources on biological fitness. As things get better, increases in fitness show diminishing returns: more food is better, but only up to a point. But as things get worse, decreases in fitness can take you out of the game: not enough food, and you’re dead” (392).

So the dangers of of injury, illness, and enemies call for variable levels of distress to signal the seriousness of the threat—emotional smoke alarms that can grow louder and last longer as the threat intensifies. But the joys of health, sociability, creativity, and even spirituality don’t call for such intensification. In the long run, we wouldn’t gain from a capacity for increasingly intense joy or confidence or satisfaction or excitement. Too much joy for too long and we let our guard down.

So we care more about what could go wrong than about what could go better.