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machine brains

Malcolm McMahon malcolm at pigsty.demon.co.uk
Tue Feb 2 16:08:16 EST 1999

On Tue, 2 Feb 1999 14:20:40 -0500, "William Thomas" <wthomas at mint.net>

>I often wonder how an eagle, with very little brain power left over after
>accounting for optics, can accurately make the complex physics calculations
>required for a 100mph+, 1000' dive to snag a fish that is swimming under
>water while the defecated light creates an optical illusion as to the
>position of the fish that varies depending on the fish's depth, the water
>clarity, and the intensity and angle of the sun.

I've got an idea how these things might work, but I don't think you're
going to like it:-)

Regard the future as an quantum superposition of possibilities. It's
possible the bird might catch the fish, it's possible it might hit the
water wrong and break every bone in it's body and there are many
intermediate possibilities. All these things are possible both in terms
of the aerodynamics of the situaion and in terms of the circuitry of the
bird's brain.

The past, on the other hand, is fixed and singular.

Suppose "now" is not, as we usually regard it, only an instant wide but
up to several seconds. The span of time, in fact, between the fixed past
and the distance into the future where the multiplication of
possibilities becomes, in some sense, unmanageable.

Suppose that the bird's will _choses_ one of the possible paths through
the now on the basis, not of the method of achivement, but of the

Having chosen the superposition collapses along the length of the now
and the now becomes part of the past and a new now provides the next set
of choices.

(I go into this wild theory at more length on

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