This text was originally posted on LessWrong.
Frankly, I find the fact that this thought was thought and written quite absurd. It is my fingers, tendons and muscles, jumping over the keys, pressing symbols made of curves. They do so with impressive agility and coordination. I see my skin over them, which is a fascinating material with physical properties. The keys, clicking, input a signal into a silicon-based computation device, running process connecting it to a society-wide system of such devices. The signal—my keystrokes—sent as light, then through a wire, are recorded as sequences of symbols forming semantic chunks, processed again by the brain (that controlled the fingers' motion) into concepts. Electrical-chemical activity within language-synthesizing neural sections (moving ions releasing electrical potential, signals sent down the axion) into the keyboard-typing neural circuit, into the motion of muscles, into the deflection of the membrane, into an electrical signal, into EM wave, into potential across a copper wire, into another information-processing system, back the same way to the laptop, photons emitted via LEDs, absorbed by appropriate sensory cells responsible for visual perception, and processed by the part of the brain just next to the one synthesizing the text.
When reduced to physics, the concepts lose clarity of their meaning and implications. For example, the silicon-based device is not just a computation system; its significance is that it is, functionally, a direct augmentation of the user's instrumental reason, a dynamic medium of thought vectors in concept space. The user, the totality of body parts placed together into a human, engages in behaviors, including ones with other humans. What emerges is too mind-boggling to be systemically described in a book, let alone a short text. From electrical reactions in a brain evolved by a Darwinian process, into language, into a system (society) of dynamics difficult enough to be impossible to grasp by any single intelligent entity engaging in it; it is impossible to create a symbolic state vector of a person's perception, as the observation of the world is fundamentally codependent on the non-symbolic observer.
All of humanity refers to the memory of the past of itself, giving historical character to the system emergent. Stories are told: stories of discovery and invention, conquest and struggle. The historical character means that the present is history, while history is embedded within the present.