Identity and Concurrency

Regarding a resource – dataset, model, tool, standard, agent, etc. – as a single thing can be helpful: in allocating physical space, in dealing with privacy and responsibility, in de-confusing mental activity.1

Are human mental processes actually clean “streams of consciousness”, or is narrative a tool used to “straighten things out”, to simplify the representation of what happened? Is there really a single pipeline of ideas that flow through a mind?

And is a straightened-out story faithful to “raw” observation, or was a schema employed, a design pattern, an archetype, such as The Hero’s Journey?

In computing, modeling a workflow as a single process, a sequence of actions, is easiest for us mentally. As opposed to multiple concurrent processes.

And yet it is often operationally helpful to support concurrency via resource properties like immutability, idempotence, etc., even if we later explain “what happened” – if we later communicate activity provenance to fellow human beings – as a single process, a story, a linear narrative.

This post was adapted from a note sent to my email list on Machine-Centric Science.
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  1. M. Minsky, The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986, p. 51. ↩︎