Recently I’ve played some factorio. The game being about automation, it fits nicely with the theme of the blog.

Quick tangent: The factorio community has produced some great layouts.

I’m especially loving those bus patterns by myhf (1 2 3)

factorioblueprints also have some great layouts such as this All in one 5/6/12 science (up to science 4).

Most impressive of all is this speedrun by AntiElitz in just 2:10:03. (Relatively easy map, Peaceful mode, Launch the rocket in just 2:10:03)

But this post isn’t about factorio, it’s about minds. More precisely, what thinking hard about factorio will do to your mind. Simply put, you will see belts, belt splitters and belts merging everywhere:

Passing someone by moving onto the road and then back to the sideway ? You just took a spliter and now are merging onto the main belt. Make sure to stay on the same side of the sidewalk, the side where you merged.

See a complex road intersection with tunnels ? That’s an underground belt. Tunnel cannot be longer than 4 tiles…

As in any mental endeavor, Factorio will factorioise your mind. But this is actually quite an expected phenomena if we view the mind as tireless analogy/isomorphism drawing machine.

The main point is this: out of any new experience or intellectual activity, the brain will try to incrementally abstract some elements (be it belts, forces, relationships, interactions…), so that those same elements are lifted from the context of the activity. In my example, because they are unconstrained by the context of the game, the splitting and underground belts mechanics could be applied to another situation (randomly jogging and noticing road intersections). And that’s just one example where the analogy was strong enough to enter my awareness, the brain is constantly trying many more.

That might be why perception (let’s assume for a moment that abstracting and perception are the same thing) is taking up so many synapses.

To sum up:

The brain is constantly performing an incremental abstraction of percepts. (As in HTM theory, where the high level invariant representations gets pushed down the cortical hierarchy). This incremental abstraction allows for a constant and parallel automatic drawing of analogies. Stronger ones will be promoted to consciousness. And that’s one aspect of reasoning: being able to pick from a plethora of pre-computed analogies.