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machine brains

ray scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Wed Sep 17 12:28:48 EST 1997

Rick Ottolini <rick at pangea.Stanford.EDU> wrote in article
<01bcc388$8702af80$f07a61ce at asdf>...
> Depends on how you define "machine".
> A strict materialist explanation of mentation could saw anything
> mechanical, electrical, chemical or biological is some sort of
> "machine".

Of course.

> The mechanical analogy was a favorite during the Enlightenment;
> the electrical/computer analogy is favorite currently.

Yes. This is the electronic age and my analogy should be an electronic
device if I wish to appear 'modern'.

My interest is in the *actual* modes of communication in *actual*
nervous systems. The communication at the synapse is chemical (except
for gap junctions and ephaptic effects) but the result is electrical.
Possibly another age would concentrate on the passage of ions and say
the effect is chemical. Who knows.

For the last fifty years the extracellular micro-electrode has been the
chief tool of the neurophysiologist and this has tended to concentrate
attention on spike activity in the central nervous system. We can't
deny that, we live in 1997.

At the same time, computers are everywhere. What is one to do?

My choice is the neuromime communicating electrically.

I simulate these neuromimes on a computer and say it is a 'machine
brain'. Good enough for government work.



email: rscanlon at wsg.net

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