IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

machine brains

ray scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Tue Nov 11 12:51:43 EST 1997

There is a fundamental split in the approaches to designing a machine
that can think, shall I take the mind or the brain as my model?
Artificial intelligence looks to the mind, its practitioners speak of
symbol manipulation, the predicate calculus is their tool.
Connectionists look to the brain, the net of neuromimes is their

Artificial intelligence is philosophy, connectionism is science. Can I
combine the interior world of intentionalism with the exterior world of
extensionalism under one rubric? David Chalmers says I should try, he
is an optimist. Colin McGinn says no, I lack the needed machinery. He
is a pessimist.

I can at least be honest with myself and not confuse mind with brain,
soul with body. For instance, when the AI worker speaks of
connectionism as sub-symbolic manipulation, he does just that. I would
say it should be more fruitful to view the neural net as a passive
filter that does not manipulate or process anything. There is no
information present, no data packages, no labeled lines, no affective
computation, no agent. If  I must anthropomorphize then I will see
things from the point of view of the neuron--Pulses come in and pulses
go out, the neuron lives in a 'Chinese Room.'


email: rscanlon at wsg.net

If you are interested in how the brain works, visit

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net