Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Quora Question: What is the strangest message you have ever received from an online dating site?

This was the most unusual message I received in response to a dating ad. Well-written, it does come across as genuine, but why would a married man who has never strayed be perusing dating sites?

Hi Abi

I’m not sure how you’ll take this but it’s a platonic reply amongst the hundreds (? I’m guessing) of replies which will be more on point (and many completely inappropriate and beside the point!). I’d like to meet.

You’ve posted over the last few years on CL and other websites and I think you first posted before your sad family circumstances. On that point I lost my mother a few years ago after a short illness – there was a family discussion between us about life support and what she’d would want and what we should do (I’m one of 5 siblings and we’re very close) and I’m grateful we never had to come to make an actual decision…. it must have been awful for you and yours.

But back to your search, I take it you’ve not yet found The One so you’ve come back for another try! I wish you luck of course even though I’m profoundly not him.

So I’ve never replied to any of your postings for a variety of reasons; you’re clearly looking for a meaningful and emotional and long-term relationship – I am a mature, married guy so that’s out of the question! Probably age inappropriate as well ! Also, you come over clearly as a ‘proper person’ – world-wise but not yet world cynical, buffeted a bit by life but not beaten and still child-like but not childish; you seem to have a small core of innocence (product of a happy upbringing I’d guess) and morals. We’ve never met but that’s how you’ve come over in your postings in recent years. Forgive the cheek in making assumptions about your real character!

Anyway I’ve decided now to get in touch for the very selfish reason that you also come over as interesting and I’m intrigued. There is a further bigger reason which is that I’ve decided to write a short book about consciousness but from a quasi-biochemical point of view. I have an Oxford degree in Chemistry and though, like you, I have never used my degree in my career I’ve kept my scientific curiosity ever since I walked out of the Physical Chemistry lab for the last time. The intellectual ‘niggle’ that has never left me is how brains compute and think. The niggle started at 6 a.m. on a chilly November morning when I left my then girlfriend’s bed to go and finish a program calculating the vibrational modes of the CH2 methyl radical. It was a relationship founded on lust and I resented having to get out of that bed for obvious reasons and shlep off to be some digital slave to a dumb machine. By way of context, to use the University computer, you had to book compiler and processor core time and this meant sometimes anti-social hours in the lab at a terminal. The niggle was the not-very-profound realisation that our brains were not digital and I’ve never stopped thinking about how they work since. At the time I dabbled with the brainwave concept (as you do) but when I got into Fourier Transform analysis (as you do) I realised I was out of my depth mathematically and it probably would be a bit of an intellectual dead end in any event.

My light-bulb moment was a few years back when I was raising venture capital for games companies and met a couple of guys in the sector (one of the guys went on to work for Google Deepmind). The other is the founder of Natural Motion called Torsten Reil. Long chats with these guys and where I got to is the unappealing concept that a brain is a large collection of co-operating and sibling amoebas and, while I came at it from trying to think through how an intelligence might arise, I came to the odd conclusion that consciousness was an inevitable result.

I have no idea how this is coming over!

So why email you? I need scientifically literate people to talk to from time to time and specifically those who have a slightly wider scientific background which, from one of your postings from a while back, you clearly have though I only remember it was medically related. I’m quite shy about what I’m up to so a ‘stranger-on-a-train’ is also on the check list so someone outside my immediate circle. I have a few both male and female signed up to the project so far but I need someone with a high EQ…..this may be you(?). Certainly someone without a hint of imperfection… heh heh

A bit more about me: Irish born and raised, ex-City, sane and sorted, kind, empathetic and easy to get on with. Married (never strayed), 3 kids, over-educated but extraordinarily good at DIY (really!), pretty fit, the silver fox type, 5’9″ not fat or bald, tendencies to mentor, amusing in a dry way and usually non-boring.

Can we meet sometime? A coffee, afternoon tea first? Lunch later if we gel? I’ll tell you as much as you can take on my theory of mind !

Hope to hear back from you – Patrick


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