Semantic Spacetime Meets Neuroscience
Space and time play central roles in almost everything that happens in the world, but they are also subjects that are designed to be overlooked and suppressed as background issues. Thanks to popular science, we often think of space and time as something to do with the outer space of Einstein or Hawking–the domain of physicists, and the idea of an “inner space” sounds just a bit too New Age and hippy to be scientific. In this short essay, I want to show you that, in fact, our idea about space and time is too limited, and that network science helps to unravel an deeper understanding of processes, especially in connection with neuroscience. With this reorganized understanding, many phenomena reveal space and time to be far more central to explaining behaviours than we imagine. In particular, they lead us to a natural approach to cognition, to reasoning, and to adaptive processes at every scale.
Physics meets Computer Science and Information
As a physicist who turned to Computer Science and Information Science, phenomena in space and time have long been an issue that I’ve been keen to understand. It took me 20 years to unlearn a lot of what I thought I knew about the subject in physics in order to make progress. Like any subject, physics adapts to particular phenomena, but the broader popular narrative around physics today often presents a very curated and simplified view of space and time.
My connection to neuroscience came out of trying to apply the concepts of learning and scaling to the semantics in information systems, in Computer Science–where the concept of scaling is only poorly developed. It was an entirely accidental association — as a prediction of what has to happen in spacetime when you scale process by increasing complexity. Scaling is a subject that touches on fundamental measurement issues, including measurement. Measurement is itself a spacetime issue involving scale.
A decade ago, I began to write a series of papers, and later a book about unifying semantics with spacetime measurements. The aim was to integrate the qualitative with the quantitative. It’s an area that neither physics nor computer science has done a good job at explaining previously. Physics tries to suppress semantics in order to appear universal and impartial, while Computer Science tries to suppress scale by building…