What is choosing? (Re: Is uploading feasible?

Richard Wilson WilsonR at LILHD.Logica.com
Wed Dec 22 11:35:43 EST 1993


In article <2f4gl2$8pp at nucleus.harvard.edu> Dan Crevier <crevier at husc.harvard.edu> writes:
>Subject: Re: Is uploading feasible?
>From: lmk2
>Date: 17 Dec 1993 19:04:30 GMT
>
>WilsonR at LILHD.Logica.com (Richard Wilson) writes:
>> >	Who says that neural activity can "choose," and what is choosing?  
>> 
>> I do and I agree with you: what is choosing?
>> 
>
>	It seems to me that in our intuitive definition of choosing requires 
>non-determinism.  If a computer program is playing chess, is it choosing 

Right.

>which move to make next?  If you would say yes, then we have a 
>deterministic system that can choose, so you can't really argue that the 
>brain is nondeterministic because it can choose.  If you would say no, 
>then it seems to me that your reason for saying that it can't choose is 
>because you know that the system is deterministic, and that makes the 
>arguement that the brain is nondeterministic because it can choose 
>circular because you would be basing your statement that it can choose on 
>it being nondeterministic.  Do you see what I am trying to get at?  I 
>hate to argue word definitions though.

The reason I say that the computer is not choosing is because it doesn't.
You know how the next-move algorithms go and, yes, they are deterministic.
There is no circularity because I am asserting choice as a fact then
reasoning that it is a non-deterministic process.  

>> >seems to contradict our ideas of consciousness and free-will, but it 
>> >seems to me that you have invoke religous arguments for a soul to get 
>> >free will.
>> 
>> Not so and I don't. Traditionally, the scientific focus has been on
>> linear systems. Even then we still have the show-stopper of the 3 (or
>more)
>> body problem. The activity in the brain is certainly non-linear and no
>> one claims to have a theory to account for it.
>>
>
>	However, no one would argue that the 3 body problem is 
>non-deterministic.  We can write Newton's law for all 3 bodies, which 
>completely describes what would happen.  We just don't have the 
>mathematical tools to write out equations for the positions of the 3 
>bodies over time.  There are lots of chaotic systems that are described 

So it's deterministic behaviour but, as yet, non-computable.

>by simple equations, and I would say that those are completely 
>deterministic, but very complex and hard to predict.

Yes, if they are deterministic i.e. not literally chaotic. 

Richard



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