Hey, there, reader! I’m not sure if you’re hypothetical, real, someone’s ML experiment gone horribly wrong, or Google’s crawler, but I’m sure that you’re reading this text (yes, even you, you undesired machine from The Terminator (well, I should just do away with pop culture references)). Random associations? Seriously? Is that the best I could come up with on this blog no one gives a damn about? Unfortunately, yes. I am running out of “creative” ideas and am in a mode (yes, mode, not mood) to type whatever comes to mind. Well, hasn’t that always been the case? But potato.
Random associations are what we all have in our brain, and are quite well depicted (unintended?) by the music video of Do I Wanna Know? by The Arctic Monkeys – yeah, you guessed it right again – it’s the other tab that’s open in my browser window and playing that “.. ! … !… !…” sound. But oh, well, moving on…
Let me post a disclaimer here that I’m not a psychology student or something – I’m just curious about the functioning of the “brain” (in quotes because I can’t say if it actually exists). Despite the field of neuroscience having made so much progress in recent years, it’s quite mind-boggling that we still haven’t figured out how that jelly up there works. Of course, I’m not discrediting all those years of research and hard work that have gone into figuring it out; I’m just marveling at the design (if it really is a “design”). The funny thing is, we can’t ever be sure of the brain’s existence (or for that matter, our own) since we can’t really “step out” of this so-called reality and “perceive” it externally. I doubt my point has reached you clearly, but if it has, yay! In simpler words, we’re using our sensory perception (eyes) to observe their controller (the brain) under the assumption that the brain actually, physically, exists (we can never be sure since the entire world around us is a product of our senses) – what if there is nothing called the brain (or even you) and we’re just simulations…
There’s plenty of stuff on the internet to read up on these musings (another keyword(s): “infinite regress”) and there’s no point delving deeper in this post (What’s the point of this post anyway, again?). The point is, how do all the random associations in the brain originate? Through the perceived world which influences and molds our thoughts? Or is it the other way round, in that we apply “filters” first and then perceive the world? Hmm-worthy, right? It’ll be interesting to find out someday. I guess this curiosity is what drives fellow human beings like us to take up neuroscience and gain a deeper insight.
I was reading a book (pop psych reader amigos, hi-five!) on this, and I came across a very interesting concept, called priming (all due credit to that author; my almost infinite apologies that I don’t recall the name)(Seriously, I don’t). Ever wondered why so many companies put up advertisements on billboards, television shows, the ‘papers, the radio, the mobile apps, the airports…and on and on, here, there and everywhere? (Yeah, The Beatles reference, if you will) It’s precisely because of the random associations our brains make on seeing things (perceiving, rather). You might very well wonder, “LOL did they really think I was going to fall for that?!“, on seeing some ridiculous advertisements (ridiculous being a subjective term, I’m not going to exemplify – it’s up to you) and think to yourself that never in a million years would you buy that product, and that the advertisers are just making a mockery of themselves wasting bucks and bucks on pointless advertising apparatus. But alas! If only we were that rational and consistent! The brain thinks otherwise.
Apparently, thanks to perceiving the same product H, T and E, your brain gets subconsciously molded into wanting it, and ends up making you spend some (or more than some) moolah on it. The “million years” time period of your not-buying-that-product rationality magically gets reduced to less than a million seconds, perhaps. Bam! There you go – rational on the surface, but driven by something we don’t understand underneath!
Random associations are strange – especially when manifested in the form of dreams. Now, I can say with a fairly high level of confidence that we all have “weird” dreams – that is, dreams in which you perceive things that you normally wouldn’t even think of (or couldn’t think of). You may try to conjure up some kind of creative thought right now, but yeah, when you’re in that “dream flow”, this creative thought wouldn’t stand a chance against what your brain draws up while you’re weird-dreaming. It just is so damn amazing!
Random associations make life interesting, and if we assume that this is an all-rational, all-absurd physical world in which we’re doomed to decay and wither away anyway, it is these random associations that make our lives interesting. So hooray! Random associations are something to cherish!
Random afterthought –Random – does this word have any root or is it self-descriptive?